§ (1) His Majesty may by Order in Council make Regulations for any of the following purposes:
- (a)For providing for applications for or relating to certificates of exemption (including appeals) being made to such tribunals, constituted in such manner and for such areas, as may be authorised by the Regulations, and for authorising tribunals to act by committees or panels constituted in such manner as may be provided by the Regulations;
- (b)For establishing special tribunals, committees, or panels for dealing with particular classes of cases;
- (c)For regulating and limiting the making of such applications as aforesaid and the grant, renewal, variation, or withdrawal of certificates;
- (d)For determining the grounds on which such applications or any particular classes of such applications may be made and the rights of appeal;
- (e)For providing for any other matters for which it may be necessary to make provision in order to secure the expeditious making and disposal of such applications.
§ Any Order in Council made under this Subsection may be revoked or varied by any subsequent Order in Council.
§ (2) If any person, with a view to preventing, hindering, or postponing—
- (a) the calling up of himself or any other person for any form of military service or for any medical examination as to his fitness therefore; or
- (b) the operation of any notice duly given for the purpose of so calling up any person;
§ or otherwise in connection with any proceedings before any tribunal or other body established for the purpose of dealing with applications for or relating to certificates of exemptions, makes or connives at the making of any statement, whether oral or in writing, which is false or misleading in any material particular, he shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months with or without hard labour.
§ (3) If any question arises in any legal proceedings under the Reserve Forces Acts, 1882 to 1907, or any Orders or Regulations made there- 60 under whether any certificate of exemption has been withdrawn or has otherwise ceased to be in force, the Court may require the holder of the certificate to give evidence on the question, and if satisfactory evidence is not given to the contrary the certificate shall be deemed to have been withdrawn or to have otherwise ceased to be in force.
§ (4)It shall be the duty of any man holding a certificate of exemption, if the certificate has been withdrawn or has ceased to be in force or if, in the case of a conditional certificate, the conditions on which the certificate was granted are no longer satisfied, forthwith to transmit the certificate to the authority by which the certificate was granted with a notification that the certificate has been withdrawn or ceased to be in force, or that the conditions are no longer satisfied, as the case may be; and if he fails without reasonable cause or excuse to do so he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.
§ (5)A man who holds a certificate of exemption (other than a certificate of exemption from combatant service only), or in respect of whom an application has been duly made for the grant or renewal of a certificate of exemption, shall not be called up for service with the Colours while the certificate is in force or until the application has been disposed of, as the case may be, but any such man may at any time be required to present himself for medical examination or re- examination.
§ (6)If Regulations are made under this Section determining the grounds in respect of occupation on which applications for certificates of exemption may be made, Sub-section (7) of Section two of the Military Service Act, 1918, shall, as respects certificates of exemption granted or renewed after the date on which the Regulations come into force have effect as if a reference to the grounds in respect of occupation specified in the Regulations were substituted for the reference to the grounds specified in paragraph (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section two of the Military Service Act, 1916, or (in the case of voluntarily attested men) to any similar grounds.
§ 4.0. P.M.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "His Majesty may, by Order in Council," and to insert instead thereof the words "The Local Government Board may, subject to the provisions hereinafter set out."
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Is it possible for you, Mr. Whitley, to indicate the Amendments which, in your judgment, you will submit to the Committee?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment standing on the Paper, which I have just called, raises a very wide issue on the Clause, and I think it would be right if I reserve judgment in regard to the number of subsequent Amendments until I see the progress of the discussion on this Amendment. It may be that some of the other Amendments may either increase or decrease in importance by the 61 result of this discussion. Therefore, I think, in the interests of the Committee, it would not be desirable that I should bind myself at this stage as to the ultimate Amendments to be taken.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
May I point out that there are five paragraphs of this Clause, each of great importance? Can you say whether you will, in the discretion which is given to you in the guillotine Resolution, secure that at least a small portion of time shall be devoted to each of these paragraphs when they are reached?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have marked all these paragraphs for my attention and, subject to what may take place on the first Amendment, it is my intention to endeavour to allow the Committee to deal with each of the paragraphs. I think the hon. Member will agree with me that paragraph (d) outweighs the others in importance.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Hayes Fisher)
May I suggest that it would be very much for the convenience of the Committee, Mr. Whitley, if you would allow a general discussion to be taken on this Amendment, which seems to raise all these paragraphs in Clause 4? That might afford tie Government an opportunity of saying what alterations they might themselves suggest in the Clause, and a statement of that kind might lead to a considerable shortening of the discussion on some of these paragraphs.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
The Amendment which stands in my name and the name of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Albion Richardson) is one of a series of Amendments which are, to a considerable extent, interdependent, and intended to secure a combination of the advantages sought by the Government in the bulk of these proposals, with the retention of the Local Government Board as the Government Department supreme on this aspect of the Bill, the retention for His Majesty's sub- 62 jects between the ages of forty and fifty of the right to put forward the same grounds of exemption as is possessed by His Majestys subjects under the age of forty, and also to retain in the tribunals, however they may be modified or altered by the Government, some element of local consultation, and presumably, therefore, of local knowledge; and further, if possible, to deal with the matter so as to avoid the necessity of giving to His Majesty, by Order in Council, the power of repealing Acts of Parliament right and left without reference to this House. On these grounds one ventures to submit this Amendment, and I hope you will allow that each of these points may be mentioned to the Committee, as they really are dependent on each other.
In the first place, this Amendment suggests that the Local Government Board be responsible for whatever modifications are necessary in the personnel of the tribunal, in the procedure, and in the limitation of their actions. I move that because the Local Government Board has been the Government Department which has supervised the Military Service Acts, so far as the tribunals are concerned, since they were passed by this House. The Appeal Tribunals have been appointed by His Majesty on the nomination of the President of the Local Government Board, the local tribunals have been constituted by the local authorities with whom the Board is in touch, and frequent modification of the personnel of tribunals has been done at the instance of the Local Government Board or by the authority of the Local Government Board. The consequence is that that Department, and that Department alone, knows how the tribunals work, what are their weak points, as well as their strong ones, and what alterations ought to be effected in the quickest way and with the greatest amount of knowledge. I submit that it would be helpful to the objects of this Bill if that knowledge were not wasted, but if this particular work was left to the Local Government Board, whose successive Presidents, the present Colonial Secretary and the present President, have shown alike their sympathy with the rights of a free people in these matters and their unbroken desire to get into the Army as many people as could. suitably and properly be brought into it. If you put this matter 63 under any other Government Department, or if you leave it vague as it is in the Bill, there will be a great deal of uncertainty in the country aroused which does not help recruiting but which affects the public mind, which it is more than ever important in days like these should remain in the strongest sympathy with what the Government are trying to do.
The series of Amendments of which this is the first do not in the least interfere with the bulk of Clause 4. Those of us who ought to be familiar with the work of tribunals know quite well that their procedure is often too slow, that there are frequently several issues brought together but not at the same time, and we know that the arts of delay are used by interested people, and that there is unintentional delay through defects in machinery. There is nothing in these Amendments to interfere with the power of the Government or of the Local Government Board to speed up procedure in every way. We want the procedure speeding up. In fact, in one Amendment we have suggested that appeals on different grounds ought always to be heard together. It is not right that a man should exercise his powers of appeal on occupational grounds and then start an entirely fresh hare weeks afterwards, possibly with the object and with the result of causing delay. Not one of us who wants to help his country in these times could countenance that possibility or that method now. Therefore, in these Amendments there is nothing to interfere with the full power of the Local Government Board to speed up the tribunals in every way, neither is there anything to interfere with the power of the Local Government Board to alter the personnel of the tribunals. I am sure that every man, not only in this House but in the country who has done work on tribunals, would only be too glad if you could find other people to do the work better and more promptly. We want to get the work done. We do not find it an easy road to popularity, neither do we find it an ex-hilirating pastime to have to decide whether our fellow citizens are to be sent, it may be to their death, or not. Therefore. we are perfectly willing that the Government should have the amplest power for altering the personnel of the tribunals, to the extent of getting ready of any or all of us who are working on them now if only they will take care to 64 consult local opinion before they finally decide who are to have this responsible and invidious duty.
The third point, which is the more important, is the question of the grounds of exemption. The Committee are discussineg this matter in the light of two Military Service Acts and in the light of the very vigorous—I do not say in the least improper—action of the Minister of National Service. Whatever is done on this Clause, unless the last Military Service Act is repealed, and no one that I know is seeking to repeal it, will be subject to the power that the Minister of National Service is to make clean cuts-and to abolish the application for exemption of large categories in the country. All we ask is that, subject to these emergency powers, the ordinary man over forty-one and under fifty should have exactly the same rights as his sons had when they came before similar tribunals last year or the year before. It is not right, however urgent the demand for men, however critical the position, to say that men over forty shall not have the same chance of putting in public, before a judicial authority, the reasons which others have had and have now if they are under the age which is now to-be brought into this Bill. In asking that the same grounds of exemption shall be continued there is not necessarily any need for delay. There is need that these elder men should have these rights for two reasons. You cannot deal with men over forty without raising twenty times where you raised it once with younger men the most difficult problem of employment and responsibility and the effect upon others who are left or who are dependant. Every year that a man gets older the problem of his serving or not is the more difficult for a tribunal or Government to decide wisely and equitably. If that be the case, and if the problem grows in difficulty with a man's age, is it not all the more essential that he should have the amplest opportunity of the same grounds of exemption being considered in his case as in those of the younger men with less responsibility, which, by the common consent of Parliament, has been the practice with the tribunals for the last two years?
We have heard several times in these Debates that the Government only anticipate getting ultimately 7 per cent. of these persons. If you are only going to get that 65 small percentage—[An HON. MEMBER: "For the Army!"]—for the Army, then I think that strengthens the argument, because the smaller the percentage you are going to get for the Army, the more delicate and difficult is the sifting process of finding out which are to go under that small percentage. If you said you were going to have 90 per cent. it might be argued that in regard to the very small minorities left the ordinary methods of a Government Department would be adequite for the purpose; but when you only expect to get a very small percentage for the Army proper, and when you have to decide what other kinds of national service can properly be asked for the larger percentage, surely the problem becomes so intricate and so complex that you do want to have it thrashed out with even more thoroughness than was necessary with regard to the earlier and simpler problems.
If the Government would accept that view there would be little need then for taking power to repeal the old Military Service Acts, as and when they like. There is a very strong feeling in the country, which has been growing all through this War, of dislike of administrative action, which has not specific legislative authority behind it. It is most necessary in a time of war that the sphere of administrative action should be increased, but that is all the more reason why it should not be widened unless it is absolutely necessary. If these points are put in this Clause—first, that the Local Government Board shall continue to be the authority; second, that regard shall be had to what I have said in respect of exemptions; and third, that in the reconstitution of the tribunals local knowledge shall at any rate be consulted, then I think that there would remain very little which required the ability to repeal previous Acts in the given time. The country would know what was the law under which it was being governed. The people called up for service would know exactly what their rights were, and there would be nothing to prevent the utmost speeding up of the procedure which has been rendered necessary. It is in that spirit and for those reasons that I move the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I wish to say that in any case the Clause as it now stands is entirely unsatisfactory, and changes will have to be made by the Government. If 66 the law remains as it now is, the tribunal is reduced to an absolute farce, and the protection which hitherto has been given by means of tribunals in order to examine and investigate claims goes by the board. The work of the tribunals, done with such trouble, can be swept away by the fiat of the Minister of National Service, and one wonders whether, in all the conditions, men would be found to serve upon tribunals so governed and restricted in respect of authority. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment drew attention to the fact that at least equal care ought to be taken in regard to men over forty as has been taken in respect to men under forty. The Prime Minister has told us that only 7 per cent. of these new men are to be called up, but I am not at all sure as to what that figure, 7 per cent., really means. It has never yet been made clear whether it means that only 7 per cent. is going to be taken for any purpose, and that the 93 per cent. who remain are going to stay where they are. It is a point which ought to be cleared up and on which we ought to have full information as to what is involved. In any case if the quality of the men for military service is so low that they only expect to get seven out of every hundred, that surely is no reason for scrapping the old tribunals and the old protection and the old care. Unless care is taken, you are going to get under those new conditions the maximum of economic disturbance with the minimum of military value. The economic disturbances are bound to be serious. There will be business dislocation, and you will have many of these old men breaking down under the strain of the new conditions. These new conditions establish a dictatorship and sweep away the tribunals for all effective purposes altogether. The tribunals are reduced to a mere shadow of their former self, because the work of the tribunals in every respect is going to be governed and circumscribed by Regulations issued by Order in Council. You are going to have truncated, emasculated tribunals.
The Minister first of all can disregard any decisions of the tribunal. Then he can say exactly how the tribunals are going to be constituted. He is going to decide by Regulation the method of the working of the tribunal, and he is going to decide by Order in Council as to whether any application may be made at all by anybody to the tribunals. In the 67 same way he is going to decide the grounds upon which an application can be made, and these grounds may be entirely limited with regard to new people who are going to go before these tribunals —that is to say, that the grounds which men up to the age of forty-one have had up to the present may be taken away as respects men between forty-one and fifty-one. The Minister is going to decide by Order in Council whether tribunals will grant any certificates of exemption. He can decide by Regulation whether any certificate of exemption will be granted at all. He is going to decide by Order in Council whether any certificates will be renewed, and, if so, subject to what conditions they will be renewed. By Order in Council also, apart altogether from this House, it will be decided whether the certificates can be varied in any form or can be withdrawn. In precisely the same way somebody, some Minister, some Department, is going to have power to set up special tribunals to deal with particular cases. What sort of special tribunal is going to be set up? What sort of particular case is going to be dealt with? That is not made plain in this Bill in any shape or form. Members of this House are asked to give a blank cheque to the Minister of National Service and to say, "Do what you like with old certificates; give exemptions or withhold exemptions."
In my opinion the working of the tribunals in these conditions will break down. As this Clause now stands, the provisions of the Military Service Acts from 1916 to 1918 can be made null and void by a mere regulation issued by a Government Department. At the moment such regulation is issued, if it runs counter in any way to Acts passed by this House, then these Acts cease to be operative, and it is the Regulation which is operative. That is an extraordinary power to propose. I am sorry that the Minister for National Service is not here, because the conditions in which exemption can be given will touch vitally large numbers of workpeople in this country, and may raise the whole question of industrial conscription. We want to know from the Minister of National Service what is going to happen as to the possibility of industrial conscription, and what is going to be done by means of regulation in order to safeguard that matter? I ask Members of this House whether 68 they are prepared, without examination and without retaining powers in their own hands, to vest in the Minister of National Service powers which would enable him to carry out a scheme of industrial compulsion, apart from the will and judgment of this House. The military rule will be over every workman in the country up to fifty-one. Even if he remains in the factory he is still a soldier. The Minister of National Service, by means of Order in Council, can deal with the granting, or renewing, or withholding of certificates of exemption to any workman up to fifty-one years of age, and workmen may be called out of their age and turn, and so on. If an employer has a grudge against a particular man who takes an active part in a trade union movement, who sometimes heads a deputation to lay a grievance before the employer, will his exemption be taken from him on that ground, and, if so, will that man, out of his turn altogether, be liable to go into the Army? If employers are told that they must give up certain men, are the) going to decide as between one man and another as to who is to go into the Army, between a man who is perhaps not a trade unionist and a man who is?
But there is a more important question than that; it is whether a man can be called up, and then, if found unfit or placed in a low medical category, can be returned to industry again practically as a soldier. That sometimes happens now. Is there going to be an enormous extension of that in respect of the men between forty-one and fifty-one? Are they going to be called up as soldiers, examined, placed in a low medical category, and then sent back to industry practically under military conditions? The Minister of National Service ought to be here to answer these questions. Then we want to ask the Minister of National Service if men who are graded in a low medical category are brought before tribunals, and the tribunals will say to them: "We have a chance of putting you into the Army, but if you go and work somewhere for somebody we direct, you will be, on that ground, exempted from military service." It may be that there is a case for industrial compulsion, but if we are going to have industrial compulsion it ought to be done in a straightforward and honest way by means of a Bill introduced into this House and discussed in this House, and it ought not to be brought in by means of vague general powers in Acts of Par- 69 liament. Members ought to know frankly what is being done. They ought not to give a blank cheque to a Minister. Equally they ought to have a definite assurance from the Minister as to what is going to be done.
I brought up in this House recently the question of a leaflet issued to agricultural labourers by farmers in the Frodsham division of Cheshire. Because there had been some difference of opinion with the labourers, the private farmer issued, at his own expense, and published a circular warning the labourer that if any one of them hindered, in any way, the Minister of Agriculture, he was liable immediately to be called up for military service. He was really using an Act of Parliament to keep his own men in order. In what the farmer might be doing, exactly the same thing might apply in this instance. It might be that the farmer was wholly in the wrong, yet he was going to use an Act of Parliament to get his own way. All these are very vital matters, and I want the right hon. Gentleman to give them his attention in connection with the Amendment we are now discussing. For myself I do not mind whether it is the Ministry of National Service or the Local Government Board which is regarded as the competent body to deal with these matters. I certainly thank that the Local Government Board has a great deal of knowledge and experience in regard to them, but I do not care which it is, though I do insist that Parliament should retain control. Indeed, that ought to be strongly insisted upon by Members of this House, for unless that is done all manner of grievances, hardships, and wrongs will arise for which Members will be held responsible, and very properly so, because it will be said, You have not tried in any way to safeguard the rights of these men, but you handed them over entirely to something in the form of autocratic government." I do not know much about the Minister of National Service. He may be an exceedingly able man, but these are tremendously wide powers to vest in anyone. He ought to be a superman before he can exercise such powers. He ought to know about industry and the claims of industry; he ought to know all about business and the claims of business; he ought to know all about relative values, and so on. In point of fact, he has given one or two addresses on human physiology, but I am 70 bound to say that they have not impressed me with the belief that he himself will be able to exercise all those tremendous powers. You ought to continue the tribunal system; you ought to have definitely the powers of Parliament brought into this matter; and from all these various points of view I strongly insist and urge upon the Government that they are bound to make drastic alterations in regard to the form of this proposal in the Bill. I ask the Government that they see to it that they retain power in this House, and also that they do not take away the power of the tribunals that have existed up to the present time.
§ Sir CHARLES HOBHOUSE
The last time we discussed in this House the question of setting up tribunals we took several days to settle what the constitution of those tribunals was to be. This afternoon, under this Clause, the Government propose that we shall give a completely blank cheque as to what shall be the nature of the tribunal which the House has to sanction. I should like to draw the attention of the House to Subsection (1), which says that His Majesty's Government may by Order in Council make Regulations for setting up such tribunals, and so forth. That enables the Local Government Board, if it so desires, to set up a system of tribunals which would be in direct contravention of all that has been agreed upon in the preceding Military Service Act; and, indeed, I think the whole language of this Clause inverts what is to be done, because we really ought to have, before the tribunals are set up, all the Regulations which are to be made and are to have full effect, notwithstanding anything in the provisions of the Military Service Acts, 1916–18. That Sub-section provides not only for the practical repeal of all existing Acts, but also for the repeal of these very Regulations, which the Committee, I suppose, are shortly going to sanction. Therefore you are going to put into the hands of the Local Government Board the most tremendous power that any Department ever claimed to exercise. I do not. suppose that in the legislative history of this Assembly there ever has been given to any Government Department such power, under unknown and unseen Regulations, and absolutely abrogating and repealing the provisions of no less than four Act of Parliament, and, having 71 repealed which, you then set up something of which we are at this moment entirely ignorant.
The tribunals were set up, as my hon. Friend opposite pointed out, for the purpose of protecting older men, and it is the older men who require the greatest care and the greatest consideration at the hands of the tribunals. The tribunals were originally so constituted that these men should get that protection through the medium of those resident in the locality, who were familiar not only with the circumstances of the man of business, his financial position, and his physical ability to serve, but they were able to form a dossier which showed whether or not he was suitable for service at all. We have no guarantee at all that the tribunals of the future will have that local knowledge, that local power of discrimination which has been exercised by the tribunals in the past. I think it very essential to recollect that the primary tribunal, the local tribunal, which was the court of first instance in this matter, really did give compulsion by consent, they made compulsion by consent possible, because it was provided that it should be constituted by the representative local authorities, which were familiar with all the details of the cases. But you are going to sweep away that local knowledge, or you may be going to do so—I do not know whether or not that is the intention—you may sweep away that local knowledge, that local power of control which it is so essential should be given, particularly in the case of older men. What are you going to do with respect to that? In the first place, there is the point of the 7 per cent. mentioned by previous speakers—a most important point. The number of cases at present remaining to be decided by the tribunals is exceedingly small; in the County of London, I think, there are not more than 3,000 of these exemption cases. Therefore the work of the Appeal Tribunal will be exceedingly small. The work of the existing local tribunals is very small indeed, and there would be no delay if you continued the present system of tribunals, for they would be able to deal, through the existing machinery, with the people who are affected by this Bill in this country, apart from Ireland.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
In Ireland they would have to deal with men from eighteen and a half up to fifty, but that is not so in England, the Bill only extending from forty-two to fifty. Whereas there might be congestion in Ireland, owing to the greater number, in England under the present system the amount of work would be comparatively small. If we get rid of the present system we have not the faintest notion of what system is going to take its place. Where are you going to draw your nominated persons? Think of the cases which existed before the tribunals came into existence. The whole country was seething with discontent, owing to the contradictory decisions arrived at by persons who had no knowledge of the circumstances of localities You got rid of those difficulties by setting up tribunals of local representatives. We want to know whether you are going to-continue the present system of local representation, whether you are merely going to abolish a small number of tribunals in view of the smaller number of cases which will come up, or whether you are really going to reverse the whole system and deprive appellants of the local protection which they at present enjoy, and whether you are not, by that means, going to make the Act more unpopular even than it is at the present moment? There is a great deal to be said in support of what was advanced by my hon. Friend. I have correspondence which has reached me in the course of the last three or four days which shows that a real fear exists that this Act is going to be used for the purpose of industrial conscription. People are not at all clear what this 7 per cent. means. They do not know whether it may mean 7 per cent., 8 per cent. 10 per cent., or 6 per cent., and whether some small percentage of men are going to be taken, inspected, and sent to the Army, the rest going to be sent back. either in the form of soldiers, or in the form of potential soldiers under contract, as it were, with the Government, to be summoned again, or to enter industrial employment to which they are going to be confined, either absolutely by enlistment, or by threat of enlistment being 73 held over their heads—industrial work to which they may be strangers, and the conditions of which are distasteful to them. I hope before we continue the discussion of this Clause the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board will give us some guidance as to the lines upon which he is going to set up his tribunals, because we are really beating the air at the present moment, being ignorant of views which may be most reasonable, and which we could accept, but which, on the other hand, may lead to prolonged resistance. I invite the right hon. Gentleman before we proceed further to let us have the views which the Government hold.
§ Mr. FISHER
I am merely going to make a general statement in response to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and it will be open to hon. Members to raise any question that they are desirous of bringing forward, or to make any criticism they wish of the Government proposal. The statement I am going to make will, I think, be helpful to the general Debate on this most important Clause. As the Clause is drawn it does lend itself to a suspicion that the whole of the present tribunal system is to be scrapped, and that the House is to be left in ignorance of the sort of system that is to take its place. It does give some colour to the argument that whereas under previous Acts you set. up local tribunals before which men summoned to the Army might state their case, say, on the plea that their occupation was of national importance, or it may be because of the financial hardship which being called to the Colours would inflict upon them, yet now when you are calling up the whole class of men you are not going to allow any similar tribunal to hear them on these questions of business, financial, or domestic hardship. Let me say at once that that is not intended. For my own part, as President of the Local Government Board, having had more opportunity than perhaps most men of watching the work of the 1,800 tribunals, I say, in the whole history of this War, there is no work that 74 has been done with greater care, greater patriotism, greater self-denial, and greater knowledge, or with a more sincere desire to obtain those men for the Army who ought to be sent into the Army, while at the same time showing proper compassion for those whose business would be ruined and who might perhaps be of more use to their country in their present occupation than if they were sent to the Army.
I agree that there could be nothing more painful and more disagreeable than the exceedingly delicate and painful duty of sending men, it may be your own neighbours, into the Army when you know that by doing so you are doing a great deal to destroy their business and the happiness of their homes. But there is a condition of affairs in relation to the Army and a necessity for the defence of our country that may make it necessary to call on men to give up their own businesses in the interests of the nation. I am asked, are we going to scrap these tribunals? My answer is that we are not. We intend to retain the tribunal system, and it may be for the convenience of the House if I state in what shape it is to be retained, what are the powers we propose to take away from it, and how far the future system will differ from the present one. The pith and marrow of my hon. and learned Friend's objection to the Clause as drawn is that it seems to take away the present grounds for exemption from those who are in the future to be called to the Colours, and that they will not have the same rights as were given under previous Acts to go before the tribunals. I want to say at once that the Government has very carefully considered this question. They have no desire or intention to take away the present grounds of exemption, or rather the present grounds for making application for exemption, from those to whom the new Military Service Act will apply.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
This is a very important matter. We understood on the previous Clause, on Saturday, from the Director of National Service that a very large number of people who are to be called up under this Act will have taken away from them the right to apply to the tribunal for exemption on grounds of serious financial or domestic hardship. We understood that it was intended to make a clean cut with respect to all men up to a certain age.
§ The MINISTER for NATIONAL SERVICE (Sir Auckland Geddes)
Perhaps I may say a word in explanation of my reply on that occasion. I was asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Cleveland Division (Mr. Samuel) how many men could be effected by the Proclamation under Clause 3, and my reply was that it was somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200,000. I believe the exact figure is within a few thousand of that total. But I also said it was not intended that all the 200,000 men would have their exemption rights affected by the Proclamation, and that probably only a. very small number would be so affected.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I was not referring to the numbers but to the fact that there would be a certain number—large or small—who would be affected by the Proclamations and whose rights of appeal to the tribunals would be taken away from them. The general statement just made by the President of the Local Government Board was apparently in contradiction of that, and I think the point should be cleared up one way or the other.
§ Mr. FISHER
In the form in which the Bill is now drawn it would be in the power of the Local Government Board to make Regulations for determining the grounds on which any such application may be made. Obviously, if the Bill gives power to the Local Government Board to make Regulations determining those grounds, it might do so in some narrow and rigid way, with the result that practically the whole ground would be cut away from under the feet of those called to the Colours under this new Military Service Act, and they would have no ground such as has been given to those called up for military service until the present time for appealing to the local tribunals on the basis of personal, financial, or domestic hardship. But when we come to Sub-section (d) of Clause 4. I propose to leave out all words after the word "determining," and to substitute for them the words "rights of appeal." That will leave to those who are called up under the new Military Service Act the same rights as are possessed by those who have been called up under earlier Military Service Acts.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I do not like to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but it may expedite business if he will make it quite clear. It is Clause 3 we have in mind, 76 and Clause 3 says that a Proclamation may be issued by the Director-General of National Service saying there shall be a clean cut for everybody up to a certain age, and that these will be called up irrespective of the fact whether under any previous Act they would have been entitled to exemption on the ground of financial or domestic hardship. Clause 3 goes on to say that when any such Proclamation has been issued they cannot make fresh application to any tribunal for any similar exemption in the future. The Clause, in fact, overrides all previous powers. What the President of the Local Government Board has told us now seems to be contradictory to that.
§ Mr. FISHER
Then I do not know why my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol (Mr. Hobhouse) appealed to me.
§ Mr. FISHER
Clause 3 is an overriding Clause—it is an emergency Clause. I am dealing, of course, with Clause 4, and, as I have said, I propose to leave out all words after "determined" in Sub-section (b), that is the words, ''the grounds on which such applications or any particular classes of such applications may be made, and "—and the result will be that the same grounds for application as held good under the Act of 1916 will remain under this Act of 1918. If the words I suggest are cut out, then those who are called up under the Act of 1918 will have exactly the same grounds for application as regards serious hardship, domestic or financial, to the local tribunal as had the men who were called up under the earlier Military Service Acts.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. FISHER
At the same time, while the Government are willing to meet the wishes of the House and to make it clear that the grounds contained in Section (2) of the Act of 1916 will stand, and that they shall be grounds on which those who are called in the future will be able to apply to the local tribunal, I have to say this, that very naturally looking at the terrible gravity of the situation in which we are placed—I put it in no stronger words than were used by the late Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith)—we must expect that, in the evolution of the practice of the tribunal, "hardship" will be construed more against the applicant and 77 more in favour of the Army. It must be so; the tribunals must really harden their hearts. It is obvious that in the condition in which we are placed it may be absolutely necessary to send into the Army men whom it would not have been deemed necessary to take six or twelve months ago. So far as the Local Government Board is concerned, we have been doing our best to maintain the one-man businesses by a system of co-operation and in other ways, and we are still considering measures by which these one-man businesses can be effectively maintained. But, after all, unless we get men for the Army in sufficient numbers to keep up the supply for the next few months, there will be only one business in this country in the future, and that will be the rag and bone business. Demands are made on all patriotic and public-spirited men to come to the aid of those men who are fighting for us so gallantly today, and not to consider their own convenience, but rather to bear in mind what is due to their country. That must be so. Tribunals must be instructed to take perhaps a harder and a somewhat more harsh view of the cases which come before them, but the men will have these grounds on which they can appeal to a local tribunal. It is not our intention to make any great alterations in the tribunals—at all events, not at first.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
May I ask, Will the same class and character of tribunals be set up in Ireland as exist in this country?
§ Mr. FISHER
That, after all, is a matter for consideration, and I cannot be expected to answer it at the present moment. I think the Committee want to know what alterations we do intend to make in our present system. All our alterations are designed to accelerate the process by which these cases are decided by the tribunals. My hon. and learned Friend, who knows as much about the working of these tribunals as any man in the House, admitted that there has been delay; that there are processes under which sometimes frivolous methods are adopted, for the mere purpose of obtaining delay, by a man who ought to obey the summons and join His Majesty's Forces. Those are the general alterations which we intend to make.
§ Mr. FISHER
The hon. and learned Gentleman will see how far they will be put into the Bill. While we are quite willing to make the alteration I have mentioned in Sub-section (d) of Clause 4, we must keep that portion of it which enables us to deal with the rights of appeal. It is not the intention of the Government to allow applicants a right of appeal from the local tribunal to the Appeal Tribunal except by leave of the local tribunal, while at the same time the Minister of National Service will retain the right of appeal from the local tribunal to the Appeal Tribunal. As regards the making of applications for rehearing, these have been a constant source of delay. We propose that to make application for rehearing shall only be allowed by the Minister of National Service. We propose also that there shall be one application only—that is to say, that whereas now an employer is able to make application on the grounds of a man's occupation, and the man himself may make an application on some personal ground, all the grounds will have to be put into one application in future. The man will have to agree with his employer, and all the grounds of application rolled up into one statement of the case, with one application to the tribunal. With regard to-applications for renewal, we deal with them in this way: Applications for renewal in future will only be made by leave of the tribunal which granted the exemption. Then we come to the cases where. special arrangements have been made. There are many classes of men, such as those in munition works, coal mines and tin mines, from whom we propose to take the right of applying to the ordinary tribunals. There is no reason why they should have two sets of tribunals to which they can apply. Already arrangements have been made for them, already their cases have been dealt with, and we see no reason why they should have the right of making applications to ordinary tribunals when extraordinary tribunals have been set up to deal with their cases.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Do the special tribunals deal with all the other grounds of exemption as well as occupational?
§ Mr. FISHER
They have, we imagine, looked at all grounds at which they ought to look in deciding whether these particular men should join His Majesty's Forces or not. We do not, subject to 79 anything we may hear, see why we should allow these men a further delay by appearing before the ordinary tribunals when exceptional Courts and exceptional methods have been adopted to try their particular cases and hear any reasons they may advance why they should be exempted.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
Is it proposed to extend the powers of the special tribunals and put them on a level with the ordinary tribunals?
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
Yes; I mean the extraordinary tribunals. You differentiated between ordinary and extraordinary tribunals, and said miners were only to come before the special tribunals, whose powers, I understand, are not fully those of the ordinary tribunals, and who are only able to deal with occupational reasons. Are their powers to be extended so as to give them full powers?
§ Mr. FISHER
I think we shall either have to extend their powers or allow these classes and categories to come before the ordinary tribunals on personal and special grounds. I think we shall have to agree to one or other of those courses.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the special tribunals are specially set up for their trade knowledge, and deal with that side of the question only? I want to know whether these special trade tribunals, which are composed of employers and employés, are to have extended powers to enable them to deal with domestic and other questions?
§ Mr. FISHER
I am perfectly aware that the special tribunals were set up to deal with men's occupations. I think my right hon. Friend is right in saying that either you must give the special tribunals some further powers by which a man's whole case may be put before them on other grounds than are now allowed, or you must allow the men, so far as personal grounds are concerned, to appear before the ordinary tribunals.
§ Mr. FISHER
I am speaking for the Government, and I say one or other of these alternatives must be adopted, and 80 some system must be found by which these classes and categories of men may be able to state their cases to one tribunal.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us which of these alternative policies is now the policy of the Government?
§ Mr. FISHER
We have not yet made the Regulations. No one knows better than the hon. and learned Gentleman that it is wise to wait until a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament before you draw the numerous and intricate Instructions which must emanate from that Bill. We have known the hon. and learned Gentleman himself secure such alterations in a Bill as would necessitate considerable alteration in the Instructions.
§ Mr. FISHER
I think it is very necessary. Then we come to, perhaps, one of the greatest changes in the system of tribunals. Hitherto tribunals have been appointed by the local registration authorities, and, very naturally, all kinds of opinion was consulted in the setting up of the local tribunals. As regards the Appeal Tribunals, of which there are something like fifty-eight, the Chairmen of the county councils were consulted. It is desired still to consult local opinion, but, in the main, it is the intention of the Government to make the tribunals nominated; they will be nominated by the Government itself, instead of being appointed by the various registration authorities. There are advantages in that, partly from the point of view that these local tribunals will have the further and very important power added to them of saying whether or not an appeal shall lie from them to the Appeal Tribunal. We intend to keep the Appeal Tribunal very much in the same form as now, but with the nominated local tribunals it is possible we may alter their personnel. We have a great deal of information as to who has been able to give the time necessary for these duties, and who will be able to give the extra time necessary in the next few months. We have a good deal of information generally as to how they can do the work, and we shall take upon ourselves under Clause 4 the power considerably to alter 81 the personnel of these tribunals, if we desire to do so, and to alter the areas over which the tribunals will operate.
§ Mr. FISHER
Some of the very best members of the tribunals would cease to do their work if we limited the age to fifty-six. After all, there are a great many members of tribunals under the age of forty, but they are doing work of great national importance, and nobody would think of taking them for the Army. They are in no way suspected of straining their powers, and can be thoroughly relied on to do their duties. We take the power, then, to set up special tribunals. There are one or two special tribunals now in London and other places, with power to deal with friendly aliens. Then we have special tribunals which deal from a professional point of view with medical men. We think it highly probable that if this Act is made to apply to ministers of religion it may be necessary to set up some special tribunal to deal with that class of His Majesty's subjects, and we conceive upon the whole that this power of setting up special tribunals may be exceedingly useful in more than one direction. I think I have now told the Committee the principal changes which His Majesty's Government intend to make in the present system of tribunals. The Regulations have hitherto been drawn by the Local Government Board for England and Wales, and by the Local Government Board in Scotland. We propose that the Regulations shall still be drawn by the Local Government Boards and not by the Minister of National Service and his Department. He may possibly be looked upon too much as a recruiting sergeant, though no man is more anxious than he is only to get those men for the Army who can do better service for the nation in the Army than in civil life. After all, the Local Government Boards in England and in Scotland have greater knowledge, naturally, of local institutions and of local tribunals and of the personnel in the different local areas. Everybody must be sorry if we have to take more men away from their own particular businesses, and if we have to cause further dislocation to the trade and industry of this country; but, after all, every one of us in the circumstances in which we live at the present moment, and with the perils which we have to meet, must be conscious 82 of that magnificent Order that Sir Douglas Haig has just issued to his Army, and we must all of us feel that it is up to us, as it is to the soldiers, so to conduct ourselves so that we may empower the Government to do everything they possibly can to aid our soldiers in the magnificent stand which they are making.
§ Mr. HEALY
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down began by saying that this Clause no doubt lent itself to the suspicion which has been uttered in regard to it, but went on to say that this suspicion was unfounded. He said it was not intended to abolish the tribunals, but he then went on to tell us that in fact they were abolished, because at present those tribunals are appointed by local bodies, and in future they are to be appointed by the Horse Guards. That is the whole change. The tribunal will still be there—the body will still be there, but the body will be a corpse. The only change that this Clause makes is that the whole thing is dead, and that, as I say, the War Office is to have all the power. Then, using a very remarkable expression, he stated that one of the objects was to relieve these local bodies from sending their neighbours to the Army and destroying their business and the happiness of their homes. What a cheerful thing, the neighbours are to be relieved of the duty of destroying the business and happiness of their other neighbours and the War Office will do it for them! Of all the extraordinary declarations I ever heard made, that of the right hon. Gentleman is the most extraordinary.
Above all—and this is how this Irish business embitters England, and worsens the. position for Englishmen—one of the great safeguards of the Bill as it formerly stood was that you had a business buffer between you and the War Office, that you could not comb out without getting the consent of the employers and employés and, therefore, had a protective buffer between the Government and the man, so that the very business of destroying business was not left in the hands of the Department. That is gone, and, therefore, except for that extraordinary good sense which prevails in this country, and the fact that the ears of this House, as far as English affairs are concerned, are always distended to English grievances, and the House is moved by representa- 83 tions and arguments—as far as England is concerned, it is going to be put on the Irish basis. And why are you doing it? You are doing it because you cannot have one law for England and another law for Ireland, and therefore the tribunal is to be a nominated body. You could not set up any in Ireland except by nomination, and accordingly poor England is to have the same system, with this difference, of course, that you have a House of Commons at your doors; you have the Ministers more or less at your mercy, you can threaten to strike and do a few other things that will get into the English papers. It is Ireland which has brought you to this pass.
The other point is this, that as ministers of religion are to be conscripted up to fifty, special tribunals will have to be set up to sit on the case of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I should like to know who is going into the case of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I should suggest Cardinal Bourne. Remember, this is what will occur in Ireland. The local parson will be put on every special tribunal to decide whether the local monk shall go or not. Special tribunals must be set up to deal with religious questions in Wales, and certainly it will be a delightful effect if the Nonconformist conscience has not become inactive, and has not been led or in any way been made spellbound by the Prime Minister. You will certainly have a curious spectacle in Wales to see the local parson sitting on the question whether the local Baptist minister shall go into the Army.
§ Mr. HEALY
And this is the way in which we are getting on with the War! So that it is a very fortunate thing that we are in better humour to-day than on Friday or Saturday, some of us at least having come to the conclusion that the dangers which existed on Friday or Saturday last have, I will not say disappeared, but been considerably modified. Let us consider this. We have to watch all these English Clauses, because every one of them, as modified or altered, is to apply to Ireland, and you Englishmen must remember that it is not with a view to interfering with your affairs that we intervene, but because these Clauses are as much our affairs as yours, with this difference, that whenever Englishmen get any modification or any Amendment in 84 favour of England, the powers of the Irish Clause enable that Amendment to be negatived. Take the case of disabled soldiers, in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman has put down an Amendment. Every word of that Amendment can be omitted by the Irish Order in Council. When you put in an Amendment that the Proclamation must be laid before the House, the Order in Council can nullify that. So it is in regard to this question, that it can be omitted by the Irish Order in Council, except that we have some hope that the Irish Order in Council will not be drafted by the sabre, and that a lawyer will have the drafting of it. In regard to this dispensing of what I call trade conditions, that is a most deplorable admission made by the right hon. Gentle-man.
Of all the fallacies I have ever heard, the worst was that which was put forward in the House by a military Member, who stated that in Austria and France they had put the age up to fifty. In Austria and France! What a fallacy! If in Austria, and France and Germany men were recruited up to fifty, it must be remembered that all these men had been through their three years' drill already, trained on the barrack square, and put through all the military drill and discipline. But when you are calling up an English old man, unless he has been in the Volunteers, as I was myself forty years ago, the Englishman will have none of the advantages of having gone through military drill and discipline like the Prussian or the Austrian or the Frenchman. And yet it is in regard to these very people that the special tribunals which existed under the old Act are to be abolished. I should like to ask, Will the Government lay on the Table of this House, as they have promised to lay the Proclamation, their Orders in Council on this subject? They have promised to lay the Proclamation with regard to age before the House of Commons, and they have given us certain assurances as regards other matters; tout with regard to this particular matter of the tribunals, which, believe me, is the life and soul of this Bill. are they going to lay their Orders in Council upon the Table of the House?
It is a strange fact that there is not a single Amendment by any English Member on the Paper with regard to this point, and the pretence made to justify the conditions under which we are debating this matter is the threat of obstruction with regard to the Irish Clause. It was 85 never suggested that the English Members would obstruct this Clause —they are all assumed to be patriots—but when we get off the Irish Clause, and ask for a further time for consideration of these points, the same spirit is shown to English Members as to Irish Members, and the Government want the Clause in something like half a day. You would never have got compulsion in the days of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife, but for the comparative moderation of his proposals two years ago. I do not know whether it was in a letter which I read or in a speech in this House, but I know he convinced me when he said to somebody, "I have inserted," said he, "something like six different checks and safeguards against hardship." I think it was that statement more than anything else that no hardship would occur that convinced most people. But what does the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board now say? He first admits—and it was a cheerful admission in regard to Ireland —that these tribunals have the power to destroy the business of every man and the happiness of his home, and j then after this he says these tribunals j must harden their hearts. That might well be said of the tribunals appointed by the local bodies; but what words to address to a drum-head court-martial! You first create the court-martial, and then you say, "Drumheaders, you are to harden your hearts." Believe me, if any words are calculated to alarm the country, those words are bound to have that effect, especially with regard to the one-man businesses. I pray for some information with regard to Ireland. After all, the Minister for National Service is the Minister for the three Kingdoms, as I understand it. If not, who is the Minister for National Service in Ireland?
§ Mr. HEALY
I will say, if I may, that the right hon. Gentleman, though probably right in fact, is wrong in law. Take the Irish Clause. It is that His Majesty may, by Order in Council, extend this Act to Ireland. Now, the Order in Council in that Act refers to the English Privy 86 Council. It is not the Irish Privy Council, and, therefore, it is in England and not in Ireland that these rules for the Irish tribunals will be drawn up. I, therefore, respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it is he, and not the Chief Secretary who will frame those Regulations. Can anybody imagine the present Chief Secretary for Ireland doing it? It is absurd! The Chief Secretary is immersed in his own business, especially at this moment, when, we are told, he is engaged in framing a Home Rule Bill. We must, therefore, assume it is not the Chief Secretary who will have to draw up these Regulations. They will be drawn up and approved in Whitehall. Who are the persons who will constitute for Ireland the tribunals which you are setting up? They will be nominative for both countries.
I may tell the Committee that one of the things at the back of the Irish objection to Conscription is this: To-day you heard at Question Time a statement made by the hon. Member for Belfast that recruits who were coming forward voluntarily in the North of Ireland during the last few days have done so with the assurance given to them that, as shipyard men, they will not. of course, be called up. Now deep down in the Catholic mind is the belief that men in the North of Ireland will be told this, "Remain quiet. You will never be sent to the front; you will be engaged here at home, to put down the Catholics," and that this Bill will be used by the gentlemen who have so distinguished themselves at the Curragh, practically in the Cromwellian spirit, and that we shall see practically a new religious war started. That is at the back of the Catholic mind. Therefore, are we not entitled on this Clause to ask of the Government some assurance of fair play? You want in every Irish county, at all events, a tribunal. Where are you going to draw the ingredients for it? Is it the local landlords? Is it the local bailiffs? Is it the local policemen? Is it the local military men? Is it those who have been engaged in shooting? Is it those who have been engaged in martial law? I should have thought a wise Government would do-something to abate the anxiety and lift the cloud—I would almost say the pall—that hangs over the land in connection with this matter.
We are here dealing with the Clause as to tribunals without one statement from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman got up so cheerfully that I thought 87 he was going to appear at the box almost as a sort of (Ecumenical Council, and that he would tell us he had complete knowledge of the subject. He is asked about Ireland, and he says, "I have nothing to do with Ireland," and when asked who has to do with it, he says, "The Chief Secretary," who, we know, is not a military man. Englishmen and Scotsmen, although they may not be satisfied about these tribunals, are at all events given information. Are we to be left in the dark, and are the peasants of Ireland on this Clause to be satisfied with tribunals drawn from Orange lodges or the local police force? The local police are to harden their hearts; the local military are to harden their hearts, though their hearts, so far as we are concerned, are hard enough already.
You have not left a single Irish regiment in the South or centre of Ireland, and such are the conditions prevailing that, within the last few days, at Cork 400 men of an English regiment on the barrack square mutinied unless their leave was granted—leave which had been refused to them. Such are the conditions prevailing in that country that it was only by the mutiny, and their insistence, that you would release them from so quiet a city as the city of Cork. Is it a wonder, then, that these terrible apprehensions prevail? I beg the Committee, in the spirit of fair play, to see that Ireland 'gets some information as to the people who are to decide, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, whether our businesses are to be broken up and the happiness of our homes destroyed.
§ Sir H. NIELD
I do not propose to follow the last speaker into that part of the subject relating purely to Ireland, except to say one word of regret that there was that tone of bitterness which has been consistently introduced in this Debate. I rise rather with a feeling of curiosity to find that now, in the year 1918, the much-abused tribunals of 1916 are being lauded to the skies, as though they had indeed deserved some of the most distinguished Orders it is in the power of the Sovereign to give. I am not going to mince matters with regard to this Bill, because I have hitherto resolutely supported the Government, and even at a time of crisis like this I am not going to withhold criticism of what I consider to be the mischievous proposals of this Bill. As drawn, Clause 4 was about as vague and 88 as capable of mischief as anything could possibly have been. I am perfectly sure that, although those who, like myself, have had a good deal to do with this matter, who have had the very heavy post-bags, as I have had, calling attention to the grave anxiety that exists outside amongst all classes of men—not merely those who are coming within the purview of the Bill-, but also the employers who are engaged in carrying on business and have to face a further depletion of their employés—were prepared, by reason of the crisis, for a much more drastic application of the rules hitherto governing tribunals, I do not think we were prepared to find in this Bill, when presented to us, the powers were so made that the whole of the rights might be cut away by Departmental decisions. I welcome, therefore, the change which has come over the scene by the pronouncement which has been already made that we are to have an alteration in Clause 4, Sub-section (1, d) by the introduction of words saving the rights of appeal, but I invite the right hon. Gentleman to go further in order to make that perfectly clear, and say "as they would have been under the Military Service Act, 1916."
It is a strange thing—I think it is true—that modern Acts of Parliament do not sustain the same criticism when coming before Courts of law as they did fifty years ago, and I think it is the fault of this House, and the manner in which alterations are made and attempted to be fitted into Bills without due consideration of the matter as a whole. Many questions have arisen under the Military Service Act on which this House, at any rate, was perfectly clear, but the Courts have taken an opposite view. I think, therefore, the words ought to be put in clearly that the rights of appeal which are to be protected under paragraph (d) are to be the rights obtained in Section 2 of the Act of 1916. There must be no doubt whatever, because it is a most vital part of the whole Bill that the public should know that the rights hitherto enjoyed by younger men should a fortiori belong to the older. But there is, I was going to say, a more growing objection to the proposal. While retaining the local tribunals the right of appeal is to be taken away except at the instance of the National Service Ministry or by leave of the local tribunal. Those of us who have practised at the Bar for some years, especially as junior members, know what it is to ask immediately after a decision is given against us, for leave to appeal. One 89 does it with very considerable trepidation, and one covers up one's application with as flowery words as can be found in order that the person who gives the decision which we impugn, should not take undue offence, and over and over again we have been driven to go to the Court of Appeal hot-foot to ask for leave to appeal, which has been peremptorily refused elsewhere. That leave to ask for appeal should be confined to one side only does seem to me to fall far short of the present position, and I do hope the representative of the Local Government Board and the Minister for National Service will seriously consider it. Either time is of the greatest consequence, and, therefore, limitation should be put in the Bill for sending to the other tribunal, or the time may be curtailed within which the appeal may have to be presented. It is short enough now, we all know. But to suggest that the position of the man should be different from that of the representative of the Ministry of National Service is to make a suggestion which I am quite sure this Committee is in no temper to accept. Then there is the suggestion that tribunals which have hitherto dealt with questions of employment from the trade point of view should have power to deal also with domestic considerations. I am not at all sure that is a wise matter. After all has been said and done there has gradually grown up a practice which is generally observed by certainly many of the tribunals that I am acquainted with, and that determine many of these matters, not merely by their real familiarity with the circumstances, but by reason of the matters being classified in the minds of the members of the tribunal. I venture to think that a better plan would be to leave to the men this double remedy; to pursue it at one and the same time. By that means you will deprive them of the least suggestion of anything like unfairness or inequality. There is no reason why the application should not be lodged by the employer or his workmen as a whole, at the time that the workmen personally lodges, at his local tribunal, his claim to be dealt with on personal grounds. Nothing, to us who are accustomed to deal with individual applications, or few things, are more embarrassing than when we are face to face with application by an employer for the exemption of a large number of his workmen, some in Grade 1, some in Grade 2. It shows a want of familiarity with the type of case, 90 and is disposed to throw out of gear the machinery familiar to the ordinary tribunal. Those tribunals with which I am associated have found a difficulty in dealing with the mass, and other tribunals have had, or will have, difficulty in dealing with individual cases, having regard to the different types and grades which are sought.
I do hope that this Clause may be so amended as to preserve the security of the tribunals substantially as they are now. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, if I may say so, that there are here and there tribunals that ought to be reconstituted—it is not for me to say anything about the Appeal Tribunals. But as a whole the local tribunals, with the special knowledge they possess, have worked both ways. Some have given undue exemptions and others have been unduly severe. Local knowledge has very often operated first one way and then another. I think it would be wise to leave the tribunals substantially as they are at present, pruning those that have obviously shown themselves either unwilling or incapable of doing their work. These are matters which I do hope will be looked into. Other hon. Members have developed other points to which, doubtless, a reply will be made. But I do earnestly hope that, grave even as is this crisis, and the need for men, that the Government will consider before they attempt to force through the House the passage of this Clause, so wide and so drastic as it is. I do sincerely hope that we may find, before the Debate ends and we are asked to go into the Lobby, such modifications as will reassure the public mind that British justice will continue, as hitherto, to be done.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I hope before the discussion concludes on this Clause that some statement will be made in answer to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork. Although I differ profoundly from him in the view he takes on this Bill, and generally regarding the views he takes about Ireland, I am bound to say that I think Irish Members of all shades ought to take care in setting up this Bill. I have supported the Bill, and intend to support it to the end, when we really know what it is we are going to do in relation to Ireland. The first observation I would make is this: These Bills have been in force in England for some time, and the circumstances of the country have 91 become adapted by degrees to the working of these Acts—by local Assistance given, and by the particular kind of machinery you set up. Suddenly you propose to apply the whole of the Bill, without having given any time for it to be adapted to the circumstances which have arisen in Ireland, and, as I understand you, you have not yet made up your minds, or, at least, you have not told us, what is the nature of the machinery you are going to apply.
§ Sir E. CARSON
In the first place, one point which ought to be cleared up, and which requires consideration, is that you have taken power to apply to Ireland as much or as little of these Bills as you like. You have done it by executive Act. That is a profoundly disquieting method of applying an Act. Before we have done we really want to know, just as much in the North and the North-East of Ireland—
§ Sir E. CARSON
The hon. Gentleman opposite gives me credit for having the power to obtain information which I am sorry to say I have not got in the slightest degree. But the Government really must tell us what is the machinery that is going to be applied, North, South, East, and West. Whatever it is, do not be ashamed of it!
§ Sir E. CARSON
If it is local machinery, tell us that it is so. Do not say, "We cannot trust Ireland; we cannot trust them to tell them what the machinery will do. I can assure you that is the very worst way you can deal with Ireland. Far better that you should let us know—for better or worse. Really, I find great difficulty in understanding where we are in this Bill in relation to Ireland. I am beginning to have grave doubts whether or not you really mean to put it into operation. The other night I heard it was not to be put into force until Home Rule was passed.
§ Sir E. CARSON
That may have been contradicted the next day, but I find it difficult to understand how the proposition has been brought forward at all, because whatever view we take—and I have supported the Bill—it is a very, very serious step. Nobody will deny that?
§ Sir E. CARSON
The Government must really have, somewhere in their archives, the whole scheme and method in which they are going to carry out this Bill. I cannot conceive their bringing forward this proposal without their having all the machinery. All we ask is that we should know. Believe me, your method of doing this is likely to create a position of grave anxiety in Ireland. I will tell you why. You are playing with hon. Members opposite, and you are playing with us.
§ Sir E. CARSON
And you are telling us that you will give us Home Rule in return for Conscription. What does it mean? It means that you are going to Ulster, and saying, "If you will only accept Conscription"—
§ Sir E. CARSON
No, no! "accept Conscription, you will be rewarded, by Home Rule, to resist which you took up arms."
§ Sir E. CARSON
All I can say is—and nobody realises more than I do the necessities of the present moment—I think you have made a fatal mistake in the manner in which you have brought this Bill before the House. But that state of feeling in Ireland, North and South—and probably for two different reasons—does not matter, because it is the fact that you will make it ten times worse if you keep us further in the dark, and do not let us know the whole of what you are going to do in Ireland for 93 the purpose of carrying out this scheme. Tell us the whole truth. Tell us the whole scheme. I myself have always been suspicious of the fact that you had an Order in Council at all. Why you should not set it all up by the Bill I really cannot under stand. The only conclusion I have come to—can come to—so far, until we hear a great deal more from the Chief Secretary, or the President of the Local Government Board, or the Minister for National Service, or the Home Secretary, or who ever it may be—
§ Sir E. CARSON
— or the Leader of the House—until, I say, we, have heard a great deal more in solving this point I shall not believe you are going to apply this Bill to Ireland at all.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I think the House will admit that we have had a very remarkable speech from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He will not, perhaps, resent a compliment from me if I say it is a very straightforward and courageous speech. The right hon. Gentleman is an Irishman. He has been a long time finding it out. He has found it out now that you cannot trust anybody on those benches opposite. The right hon. Gentleman has some sense of the grotesque; because was there ever a situation so colossally grotesque, when, in a matter of this character, which affects the lives, the businesses, and the very existence of the nation to which we belong, the representative of Ireland is not on that Front Bench?
§ [Mr. Duke at this point took his seat on the Treasury Bench.]
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
He is there because I invited him there. Before I extended to him an invitation, which he has so cordially accepted, he did not come into the House at all when we were discussing this exceedingly important matter which so profoundly affects our country. Why was he on that bench? Because he hates and loathes, in my judgment, this 94 whole transaction. I do believe that the right hon. Gentleman in his secret heart, if he could speak out—and I wish he would, before it is too late—considers, as we do, that this is the greatest criminal blunder ever committed by this country. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has pointed out that we are to have all the indignities and all the evils of Conscription in Ireland without a single one of the administrative or operative advantages of Conscription. Do Englishmen understand the conspiracy that is in hand in order to prevent tribunals from being set up in Ireland upon lines set up in England? They are robbing you of such constitutional rights as you drag from them after weary months of discussion in this House. May I point out to the democratic elements in this House that for thirty years, when we were walking the weary way of the battle for our cause, and when we secured few advantages here, isolated and alone on these benches, we contributed to your democratic strife and the freedom and liberties you enjoy to-day, and now, in order to whip Ireland into this Conscription, in order to force it upon Ireland, you are to be robbed of the liberties you enjoy through the instrumentality of these tribunals, and you are to be subjected to a condition of affairs which, when once understood in England, will raise a revolt all over the country?
Everybody knows why Conscription has been introduced for Ireland. There is not a single man on these benches who believes that this measure will be of the slightest military advantage. Ireland has been brought in because you want to create a series of battalions of English grandfathers. You want to drag men up to fifty-one years of age into the Army. You know you could not do it on the merits, and you know these men will be of no possible advantage in the prosecution of the War The Government are in a state of panic, and they want to cover up their misdeeds. They want to cloak the mistakes of their generals and obscure the issues and chloroform British opinion, and therefore they introduce this Conscription for Ireland in order that by covering up their misdeeds they may create an anti-Irish feeling in this country and civil war in Ireland. Conscription has been in operation in this country for two years, and it has been carried by a process of slow and gradual development. I want to know from some- 95 body on those benches, Is there to be a Registration Bill passed for Ireland? If so, how are you going to register the persons who are to be conscripted or determine who will be conscripted? How are you to know? Are you going to send the recruiting orators and agents that you sent to the three provinces of Ireland and who, in twelve months' operations, stopped recruiting in Ireland?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir D. Maclean)
The hon. Member is going very wide of the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
In some things there is no one in this House I prefer to follow than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College, because I think when I am on his side I am bound to win in this House. The right hon. Gentleman has been successful in imposing his will in other things on the House of Commons, and I am glad to be his comrade in arms in fighting this iniquity. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right. Conscription in Ireland is not a national necessity, but it is a low trick. It is a Ministerial dodge, and the right hon. Gentleman has exposed it. You come to us and say, "Accept compulsory military service and we will give you Home Rule," and you go to the North of Ireland and say, "Accept Conscription and we will give you an Ulster Committee in an Irish Parliament." Will the right hon. Gentleman opposite accept that? What will his Friends think, and they have a right to be considered? I think they have a genuine grievance.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is so interested in what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University said that he has quite forgotten what I said.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I trust that any breaches of order I have committed may be compensated for by the novel experience of the right hon. Gentleman and myself being on the same side. What I want to know is whether there is to be a registration of all the persons who are to come within the province of this measure. Are there to be tribunals, and who are to constitute them? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us on more than one occasion that you have a constitutional right, and that you are going to exercise it by forcing Conscription on Ireland, because it is part of the British Empire and of these Islands. 96 and, therefore, Ireland is bound to conform to your decision. Are you going to give us equality? Are you going to give us the same tribunals as in England? You take up your stand upon the principle that you have the physical right—I do not think even yourselves that you have the moral right to impose this scheme upon Ireland—but, be it so, and we will see about that later on. In the meantime we are to have this Conscription imposed upon us because we have no rights or liberties or Constitution of our own. You are not going to give us the administrative privileges that you enjoyed when Conscription was being imposed upon you. All I have to say is that the whole thing has been seen through in all its nakedness, and I am glad the right hon. Gentleman opposite has not only seen it, but has exposed it.
I tell the House, in conclusion, that you will find our speeches in this House on the question of Conscription are very mild expressions of the national temperament and feeling in Ireland. I know perfectly well that anything we say is unheeded here—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—at any rate, in the ultimate adjustment and determination it is. We have been told that we know nothing about our own country. As long as we spoke in a constitutional way in this House we did not count. It takes a rebellion and things of that sort to bring home the grim realities of the Irish situation to those Gentlemen. We warn them now, before there is another rebellion, seriously now to beware of the future, of the terrible and tragic future, which lies before them if they press this matter. I hope to-night, on the Adjournment, the Chief Secretary will tell us something as to what the feeling is in Ireland. Above all, I appeal to the Labour Members of this House.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I appeal to them to safeguard some of the liberties we helped to secure for Labour when it was not strong here and to see that Ireland is not being used for the purpose of robbing them of their liberties, or such of them as will be left after this Bill is passed.
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
I rise not to continue this discussion, but to make a suggestion to the Government in regard to the course of the Debate. At an earlier stage this afternoon we had some conversation with respect to the details of this Clause, and 97 we had an interesting statement from the President of the Local Government Board in regard to its application to Great Britain. Something was said about appeals and other matters of that. kind. Since then a somewhat separate issue has been introduced by hon. Members from Ireland, and the same appeal has been made to the Government by the hon. Member for Cork, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College, and the hon. Member for West Belfast, a very interesting and impressive combination, asking the Government for some information as to the machinery to be set up in Ireland, a country to which this Bill applies with far greater scope than to Great Britain. I think it would be for the general convenience if we could have some reply from the Government with respect to the machinery which it is proposed to set up in Ireland.
It is difficult in. dealing with this Clause, for the House to go back to the most interesting but serious situation which has been created by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, a speech which I very much regret was not delivered on the Second Reading of the Bill, when I endeavoured to point out in connection with the particular Clause which we are now debating, that it was impossible to apply it to Ireland without destroying everything that was a safeguard, so far as this country was concerned. What is the position? The late Prime Minister, when introducing the first Conscription Bill, was urged to recognise, first, the widow's son, secondly, the business connection, thirdly the conscientious objectors, and others, and he met all those claims by suggesting to the House that every possible safeguard for those who objected on those various points should be put into the Bill, and into the Clause that we are now debating every one of those safeguards is ruthlessly torn up. The right hon. Gentleman who has already spoken for the Government makes this interesting announcement. He says, "We are going to prevent any local authority setting up a tribunal." In the first place, that which was a safeguard, ensuring that in dealing with local interests there should be local knowledge, is now to be taken away under the provisions of this Bill; and, in the second place, the right hon. Gentleman announces that a man's right of appeal against the injustice of a local tribunal is to be absolutely taken away. If the local tribunal decide on the merits of the case, 98 the Minister must have the right of appeal, although it is denied to the man. That is the exact situation that the House is in at this moment. The local tribunals are to be represented only in so far as the Government may determine; they are not to be elected by the chosen representatives of the people. Then, having got their own nominees in their own way without consultation with any of the local authorities, the man is to have the right to put his case. If he is dissatisfied with the decision he is denied the right of appeal; but if the Minister is dissatisfied he is to have the right to say, "Never mind what the people that I selected say. I will now proceed to override their decision." Imagine the position that we are in ! If it were necessary to protect the interests of boys at eighteen by these tribunals, what is to be said when you are denying that right to the men of fifty-one? The Government and this House said that there might be hardship to boys of eighteen, but this House is now asked to say that there can be no hardship to people of fifty-one years of age. I would ask the House to remember that only 7 per cent. of the people will be used for military service.
I am taking the Minister's estimate for the purpose of my argument. Supposing we had a proper and a representative tribunal, and there appeared before it a man in business having a turnover of £20,000 or £30,000 a year, would it not be a safeguard if we had a tribunal that would demand from the military representatives a statement as to what they intended to do with the man? The tribunal would then know whether he would be going to clean drains or something else, and would be able to decide whether it would be better for him to go or to continue in his business. That is exactly the practical side of the question, and it is what is going to happen. You are going to have people taken from large businesses, and someone, not the duly elected representative of the people, will have the voice of saying, regardless of considerations, "You must go into the Army." All this is done, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) points out. in order to try and deceive the British democracy, but it will not come off. We see through the whole business, and we are not going to be deceived in this way. 99 We are not going to agree to having our liberties, such as they are, absolutely swept away in order to provide some excuse and some pretence for setting up in Ireland what the Government know is absolutely impossible. I further submit that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman is not satisfactory. I want to guarantee that the tribunals, elected by the people in a representative way, shall remain in existence, and that if the right of appeal is given to the Minister on the one hand it shall be given to the applicant on the other. It is because of that dissatisfaction that I ask the House to remember the exact difficulty at this moment, and not to accept the statement made on behalf of the Government.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir G. Cave)
I have been asked—[HON. MEMBERS: "Duke!"]
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I certainly hope that the Committee wishes to hear what the Homo Secretary has to say. Very important questions have been asked, and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will have full opportunity of hearing what the Chief Secretary for Ireland may have to say from their point of view in due course.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
On a point of Order. There has been a very powerful appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson), and that appeal has been strengthened by Members from this side of the House, representing all elements in Ireland. The Chief Secretary, who was absent, has come into the House in response to our mutual appeal, and we want to know now whether the right hon. Gentleman is going to give us an explanation and reply to the questions that we have submitted to him and the Government? If the Home Secretary gives us the assurance that after he has spoken and at some other period—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Obviously, that is not a point of Order. How does the hon. Member, or any other hon. Member, know what the Home Secretary is going to say?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am quite sure that I shall not have to appeal in vain 100 to the hon. Member for West Belfast to allow the Home Secretary to make his statement.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
On a point of Order. We do not want to prevent the Home Secretary from going on—we are anxious to hear him—but this is not a matter of Parliamentary procedure to us; we want to know where we stand in Ireland.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am sure the hon. Member will not wish me to intervene again and call him to order. It is quite obvious that the way to get on with the Debate and to get the information that he wants is first of all to allow the Home Secretary to make his statement.
§ Sir G. CAVE
May I remind the Committee that points have been raised affecting all parts of the country, and I think it is only right, as Minister for the moment in charge of the Bill, that I should deal with those points as well as with those which have been raised with respect to Ireland? In the midst of a debate, I admit of great importance, with regard to the constitution of the tribunals and the right of appeal, there has sprung up a question in connection with the Irish Clause. With regard to Ireland, we have had speeches, first from my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson), who is a supporter of the Bill and of the Irish Clause, and secondly from the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin), in which they raise once again the questions which we have discussed on more than one previous occasion. The hon. Member for West Belfast suggests that we have included this Irish Clause in order, as he puts it, to cover up our misdeeds by creating civil war in Ireland. It is obviously hardly necessary for me to repudiate so foolish an intention, and I do not think that my right hon. Friend, who the other day gave us his strong support, would adopt that view of the purpose which we have in our minds. We have no other purpose in our minds except that we should be in a position to call upon the whole of the manhood of the country to take part in the defence of the country against its bitter enemy. We have no other purpose of any kind in our minds, and, with that purpose in view, we have not only called upon Irishmen to give us the help which, I think, they owe to the country, but we have, at the same time, called upon Englishmen, Scotsmen, and 101 Welshmen to add very greatly to the sacrifices which they have already made. Both those matters are in the Bill, and no one, speaking really what is in his mind, will fail to admit that it is for that purpose and that purpose only—the defence of our country—that we bring in this Bill. My right hon. Friend, with little warrant, I think, expressed a doubt as to the intention of the Government to put the Bill into force. Our intentions have been expressed more than once from this box, and to bring in such a Bill as this with no intention of using it would be a proceeding which I doubt whether he, or anybody in the House, really attributes to us.
§ Sir G. CAVE
If my right hon. Friend thinks that we do not intend to use the Bill, why does he give it his support, a support which I freely admit that he has given throughout the War to every measure intended to promote the carrying on of the War?
§ Sir E. CARSON
May I tell my right hon. Friend that my doubts were founded on the speech of the Chief Secretary?
§ Sir G. CAVE
I think my right hon. Friend may take the speeches delivered from this House as a whole, and I do not think that ho need have any doubt as to the intention which we have formed.
It has been suggested that, having regard to the wording of the second Clause, we are going to apply to Ireland a system different from that which we propose to apply to this country. In my view of the Clause, that course could not be taken. I am sure that it is not intended.
§ Mr. DILLON
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has read the Clause, "With such modifications and alterations as the Irish case requires"?
§ Sir G. CAVE
That is exactly how I should put it. In every one, or, at all events, in very many, of our Bills applying to the whole of the Kingdom you find an Irish as well as a Scottish Clause. They contain the modifications which are necessary to adapt the law to the particular circumstances of those countries.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I think the House will understand what I mean. The purpose of the words is that we may insert in the Order the modifications that are necessary to adapt the Act to the Irish circumstances.
§ Sir G. CAVE remained standing.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I should under ordinary circumstances be glad to give way to the hon. Gentleman. If hon. Members will listen to my speech with ordinary courtesy, I will give way to any interruption. It is quite within the right of hon. Members to exercise the right of courteous interruption, but it is not fair to interrupt by shouts and cries almost every sentence of my speech. I was saying that the purpose of the words is to enable us to adapt the Bill to the special conditions of the Irish Clause. Our desire and intention is that the Act applied to Ireland shall be similar to the Act applied to Great Britain.
§ Sir G. CAVE
That is just one of the kind of conditions to which you have to have regard. We are asked, "What exactly do you intend to do" We intend, as we have said, to make changes for the whole country. We have explained—I endeavoured to explain myself in moving the Second Beading of the Bill—that we think the time has come, owing to the urgent circumstances of the time, when it is right to make changes in the constitution, in the powers, and in the procedure of the tribunals. That is necessary, in my view, in this country, and it is urgently necessary when the conditions which we apply here come to apply in Ireland. It is, perhaps, more necessary in Ireland for this reason: That whereas in England we have had a year or more in 103 which to work out the conditions and have found them wanting and have to alter their shape, in Ireland the urgency applies at once. We must make the same changes for both countries and nominate these tribunals and accelerate their proceeding.
§ Sir G. CAVE
It is not without precedent The Appeal Tribunals are to-day nominated in England by the Local Government Board and in Scotland by the Scottish Office, so that no doubt in Ireland they will be nominated by the Irish Local Government Board. The procedure in appointing tribunals under the Bill will be the same as it is in appointing Appeal Tribunals to-day. I do not think any exception whatever is taken to the work of the Appeal Tribunals or to the manner in which they have used their powers. I fail to see why, if that method of appointing tribunals has been successful in this country, it should not be equally successful if extended to Ireland. It is true, as one hon. Gentleman said, that there is no Registration Act in operation in Ireland or any intention to apply the Registration Act to Ireland. I remember very well that in a previous Debate, I think it was a Debate on the Registration Bill, the Minister in charge of that Bill, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, pointed out that whereas in England and Scotland an Act was necessary to establish a register, in Ireland the material to a great extent already existed, and that we did not want the same Bill for Ireland as we had for England.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I am told, rightly or wrongly, that the steps necessary for getting a list of men of military age can be carried out in Ireland without all the machinery of the Registration Act and that a list exists or can be readily created so that time will be saved without passing a Registration Act for Ireland.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Let the Chief Secretary tell us. You do not know. Let the Chief Secretary speak. He is muzzled like Barnes was.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I am endeavouring to deal one by one with the points that have been raised. I do not think I have attempted to evade any one of them. It is proposed to set up tribunals that will be, I hope, and I do not doubt, fair tribunals. Of course, they have not yet been selected or chosen. It is for that reason, among others, that it must be some time before the Clause can be put into operation in. Ireland. They will be fair tribunals, appointed, I suppose, on the recommendation of the Irish Local Government Board, and they will be tribunals for the purpose of administering justly the provisions of the Bill. That is an answer to all questions that have been raised—
§ Sir G. CAVE
—I mean as to Ireland. I have told the Committee all that is in my mind and I am sure all that is in the minds of my colleagues on the matter. We want to hurry on the process, to simplify the whole proceedings, and to get the men in Ireland, as in England, as quickly and as fairly as we can.
I will now deal with what is, of course, an important point—the question of the right of appeal. The object of the proposal to limit the right of appeal was, as the Committee knows, to prevent avoidable delay in dealing with applications for exemption. I am told that to-day an appeal often means a delay of a month or more before a decision is reached in regard to a man's liability to serve. If these delays continue, it would mean a serious diminution in the man-power at the disposal of the country. The only object of the proposal to limit the right of appeal was to diminish that delay. I feel, however, the force of the argument used in favour of giving a right of appeal as much to one side as to the other. As a lawyer, and I am afraid rather an old lawyer now, I have a prejudice in favour of that view, and I propose, if the Committee assent, to meet their view in this matter. With the consent of my colleagues, I propose to extend it to both sides. At the same time, I must tell the Committee that we must limit the time allowed both for giving notice of appeal and for hearing an appeal. I am sure that 105 will meet the general view, and, subject to that caution, I propose to meet the views of the Committee on that important point.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Will the right hon. Gentleman make it perfectly clear that this right of appeal which is given to both sides can only be granted from the local tribunal to the Appeal Tribunal, and not from the Appeal Tribunal to the Central Tribunal?
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I do not propose to go into the question—mainly affecting Irish. Members on both sides—of the application of this Clause to Ireland, which obviously presents great and serious difficulties. My object is simply to say, with regard to the objections which many of us felt—Englishmen, Scotsmen, and Welshmen—which I ventured myself to indicate when I spoke on the Second Reading—to this Clause in the form in which it originally appeared, that I am glad to recognise that those objections have come home to the mind of the Government and that a very substantial attempt has been made to meet the more serious of them. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, some of the more serious of them. In the first place, as I understand now, by the omission which the President of the Local Government Board a short time ago proposed of the larger part of the words in Sub- section (d), the statutory grounds which Parliament devised and assented to will continue to be of full force, and may not be swept away by an Order in Council through the action of the Executive. That is an important point.
Perhaps equally important—I am not sure it is not more important—is the statement made just now by the Home Secretary, that the right of appeal is to be preserved to both sides. I, like himself, am a lawyer, and I confess that I listened with a great deal of surprise and a certain amount of more than merely professional resentment when I heard that the Ministry of National Service was to have the right of appeal, but that the person mainly affected was to have none. That seemed to me a proceeding not in accordance with natural justice or with the best traditions of British fair play. I desire to acknowledge, in the fullest and most grateful spirit, the concession which I felt sure the Home Secretary, when his fair mind 106 had been brought to bear upon the matter, would make. If the right of appeal is to be preserved at all, it must not be a nugatory right, but must be available as much to the one side as to the other. Those are two important and substantial modifications in the machinery of the Clause, and the Committee in all quarters will be glad that the Government have seen fit to allow them.
I said a moment ago that I did not propose to enter into the question of the application of this Clause to Ireland. I do not profess to possess the local knowledge which would enable me to give any fruitful or even useful opinion upon that point. But it is quite clear from the course of this Debate, and from the speeches that have been made from both sides of Irish Members reflecting almost every different shade of Irish opinion, that the Government will be well advised to proceed with great care and caution in this matter. I am quite prepared, as my right hon. Friend has asked us to-day, to give him credit for the intention to apply the Bill to Ireland in a fair and an equitable spirit, and by reasonable and businesslike procedure. But the more closely you approach the actual problems, the administrative problems, which will present themselves, the more you realise the difficulties of the special case of Ireland.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I am speaking purely as an Englishman, who is a Scottish Member, without professing to have any local Irish knowledge. I remember very well that when we were considering, on the original Military Service Bill, the question of its application to Ireland, that was, I will not say the most formidable—it was by no means the most formidable—but it was a very serious, and at the time it seemed an almost insuperable difficulty in the application of the Bill to Ireland. If that is to be overcome, it can only be by much patience and care, and by a careful, and if I may venture to say so without being accused of sentimental ism, a really sympathetic apprehension and understanding of the special conditions of Irish life. It is difficult enough to impose compulsory military service upon any community when the opinion of that community is not ripe for its application, and is not prepared to sympathise with it. That is a 107 grave difficulty under which you start, and it makes it all the more necessary, if you are going to attempt the experiment, which I regret, which I regard as ill-timed, and which I think unnecessary—not because I do not think Irishmen ought to be subject to exactly the same obligations in the defence of the Empire as all other parts of the United Kingdom, but because of the special conditions which obtain in that country—if you are going to try the experiment—I wish you were not, but if you are—be careful that each step you take on the road you do not create for yourselves fresh difficulties and more formidable obstacles and still more embittered opinion.
§ Mr. SMALLWOOD
I as heartily distrust this Bill now, even with the concession which has been, made, as I did before, because it seems to be nothing else but the abolition of all civil rights for men between eighteen and fifty-six. My Irish Friends have seen and do see something in view which we had not seen before, but with the knowledge that I have gained during the last few weeks and the revelation which has been made to me from all parts of the country in respect of the action of the military authorities, I heartily distrust the idea that this is to be a nominated body to take the place of the tribunals. We have been told this afternoon that the tribunals have done exceedingly well. We have been told by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench that although there have been certain bodies which might have done a little better, on the whole, the work could hardly have been better done than it has been. But we are now told that these bodies are to be killed, and in their place nominated bodies, probably nominated by the War Office, are to be set up. Those of us who have had some experience of what the War Office can do in respect of its unfairness and its tyranny are decidedly against giving any more power to the War Office in this matter.
§ The UNDERSECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Macpherson)
It will not be the War Office which will nominate these bodies at all.
§ Mr. SMALLWOOD
I was bearing in mind what my hon. Friend opposite said, that it virtually came to a drumhead tribunal, and it is from an official Department, and wherever these bodies are nominated by official Departments you get 108 the same spirit always introduced. I have had perhaps during the last few weeks, from all parts of the country, fair illustrations of what an official Department can do, and I very profoundly distrust any more power coming into their hands, and I know that that feeling is very much shared by people outside this House. When the Bill was first brought in people did not quite understand what it meant, but they are gradually beginning to understand that what seems to be the view, is that all parts of the country and all ages of mankind shall be brought under official rule and domination, and that their civil rights and privileges are to be taken away altogther. Although the demands of the War are exceedingly great, and although the situation is exceedingly grave, we have practically given all up to the present time that has been asked for, but there are rights on the side of the people themselves, and they have not been, and are not being, safeguarded. When we are told that it is necessary that more men should begot into the Army, and more quickly than ever they have been, we want to know the reason why, and we have not yet been told the reason why. We have been told that up to a certain time we had in the field three to two. We have been told also that when the present German push commenced we were equal in men and were superior in respect of Cavalry and guns and aircraft, and yet we are told there is a positive demand that more and more men should come in, and come in quickly. But we have not been told that these brave men of ours are going to be safeguarded by having their lives put into the hands of men who know how to use them.
§ Mr. SMALLWOOD
I hope not So we ought to be careful as representing the people here. We represent the people who have sent us here, people whose sons have been sent into the Army, and people whose families have been practically denuded of sons, and those who have sons left are asking us to safeguard them to some extent, and we have a right to ask why there is all this great and indecent haste to send move and more men by the hundred thousand and place them at the disposal of officials. We have only just been told that we are to have a right of appeal, and that has been conceded by-reason of pressure, but I distrust even 109 these new bodies which are going to be set up, because they are nominated bodies. If I had sons I should want them to have a right of appeal not only to an official Department, but to a civil Court composed of men who have sons still in the War. It is our duty, as representing the rights of the people outside, to say that they must be safeguarded to this extent, that we must know the reason. We were just now told it was in order that they might get men more quickly. When the people of Great Britain are absolutely convinced that there is a great and still greater need for men it will not be a question whether we are fifty-one or fifty-six. We have only to have the absolute truth told us, and that has never been told us. I am a new Member and I have sat here trying to learn again and again, but I am always impressed with the fact that something is being kept back and that I am right up against something which docs not and will not tell me the truth, but T am absolutely assured that if the people of Great Britain are told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, it will not be a question whether a man is eighteen or fifty-one. He will step into the ranks and will do anything that is necessary before the barbarous horde shall ever put foot in this land. But I say in cool blood that sooner than I would be dominated by the official class, from what I know about them, T would sooner perish by a bomb from a German aeroplane. That is not only my feeling, but that of men and women all over Great Britain, that more and more the official classes are trying to get all the other classes in this country under their domination, and I hope the people of Great Britain will rise against it, and that the Members of this House will not only protect the people of Great Britain, but will join hands with the people of Ireland and say, "This thing shall not be !"
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
There are three points I should like to put to the Government. The first is this: The Regulations which are to be made under this Clause are of such great importance, both to Great Britain and to Ireland, that I suggest there ought to be some Parliamentary opportunity for their discussion before they finally come into, force. With respect to several other provisions of this Bill and the last Military Service Bill, the Government, have agreed that Regulations shall 110 be laid upon the Table of both Houses, and if any Address is passed by either House it shall be subject to modifications. This appears to me to be essentially a matter to which a provision of that sort should apply. It should not be left to the unfettered discretion of the Government to make Regulations of so vital a character, establishing entirely new machinery in Ireland, modifying fundamentally the machinery which has already been set up in Great Britain, without Parliament having cognisance of these Regulations and an opportunity, if it so desires, of expressing its opinion upon them. The first question I should like to address to the Government is whether at this stage or on the Report stage they will be good enough to meet the feeling of the Committee by inserting the same provision as has been inserted in previous Clauses, such as I have described?
The second point is this: I referred to it while the President of the Local Government Board was speaking, but, owing to the somewhat unsatisfactory method of interruption, the matter has not yet been finally cleared up. The President of the Local Government Board said the people affected by this Bill would have the same right of recourse to tribunals, modified in their composition as they may be, as they had before the Bill was passed. On the other hand, Clause 3 provides that a Proclamation will be issued declaring that all exemptions issued by tribunals on the ground of special, financial, or of domestic hardship are to be overridden, and are to be null and void, and where such a proclamation has been issued with respect to all that class of cases no fresh application may be made to any tribunal for a fresh exemption. The Director-General of National Service told us on Saturday that he would agree, and he did agree, to the insertion of words to the effect that a saving to that provision might be made where in the Proclamation the Minister of National Service had declared that appeal might be made to him or his Department in exceptional cases. That is a matter passed and dealt with, but I want to ask him, in connection with this Clause, and in reference to what the President of the Local Government Board has said, whether he can give the Committee an assurance that the provision inserted on Saturday will be made use of, and that it will not be merely a dead letter in the Act of Parliament, but that he will, when 111 he issues his Proclamation, provide that there shall be some hearing in some quarter for these very exceptional cases in regard to which much injustice and excessive hardship may be inflicted. My third and last point is this: we do not know what is to be the fate of the 93 per cent. of older men. After the 7 per cent. have been called up to the Army, what is to be the position of the remainder? Are they to be left entirely unaffected, or is their exemption to be with condition, and, if so, what is to be the condition? This is giving rise to the very gravest and most harassing concern in the minds of a very large number of loyal citizens in this country. I sincerely hope the Government will be able to state in clear, unequivocal terms what is their intention in respect of this body of men, and that it will be such as will to some extent relieve their anxiety.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
I would like to answer two of the questions asked. The first question I propose to deal with is the question of the 93 per cent. I imagined that I had made the position in regard to these men clear, but apparently not. In order to make it quite clear, I propose to go back to the age period that has been affected by liability for military service now for two years. I take the age period from thirty-nine to forty-three inclusive. Up to the present moment, after two years recruiting, there are 80 per cent. of the men of that age period remaining in civil life, holding exemptions or protection certificates or not called up simply because they are of too low a category or too low a physical grade. In the first year during which these men were under liability to military service something less than 10 per cent. of them were recruited. Recruiting has fallen upon them more heavily the second year of their liability. The Prime Minister said, in introducing this Bill, that 7 per cent. of the men affected by the extension of the age to fifty would be liable to be called up this year. That is to say, it has been estimated by the responsible Department that the rate of recruiting of these older men, even under the pressure for men which now exists, will be rather slower than the rate of recruiting which has affected the men of the age period immediately junior to them. Of the balance unrecruited, the estimated 93 per cent. of the men now brought in under the Act who will be left in civil life will be in a position as far as 112 military service is concerned exactly similar to the men now between the ages of thirty-nine and forty-three in civil life. That is to say, a large number of them doubtless will bold protection certificates under what is known as the munitions area recruiting scheme, a large number of them will hold exemptions for the colliery courts, and a considerable number of them doubtless will receive exemptions from the tribunals. Those who are not protected or exempted and who are fit will, we anticipate, amount to 7 per cent., and will join the forces for service, not necessarily the Army, but perhaps the Royal Air Force.
The other point raised by the right hon. Gentleman was in regard to the effect of the Proclamation to be issued under Clause 3. Obviously, if the Proclamation be issued under Clause 3, if it be an absolute Proclamation covering a certain age, that will wipe out the tribunal rights and the tribunal exemptions of the men of that age block. It is contemplated that the Proclamation to be issued under Clause 3 will deal with men by age blocks beginning with the most junior men. Obviously, if the need be not overwhelmingly great it is in the interests of everybody that consideration should be given to specially hard cases, and it is perhaps because of the recognition of that position that the Committee inserted words in Clause 3, Sub-section(2). If, however, the need for what I termed on Saturday "those priceless assets of youth and fitness" is overwhelming it may not be possible in respect of the younger men to give such concessions. That, one is not in a position to foretell. Therefore, it is not possible to give a pledge that circumstances may not arise in which every young and fit man has not got to be called up, regardless of his personal circumstances. But obviously—and I think the whole spirit of the administration of the Military Service Acts shows this—if it be possible to give consideration, consideration will be given.
§ Mr. ALBION RICHARDSON
I think the Amendment has been, on the whole, fairly dealt with by the Government, and there is only one point. outstanding, which I think is of a very serious nature, to which I would draw the attention of the Minister in charge of the Bill. Under Clause 4, Sub-section (1), paragraph (d), the right is taken by the Government by 113 Order in Council to abolish all exemptions. That is to destroy with a stroke of the pen the whole of the existing grounds of exemption as applying to the new class of men who come under this Bill. My right hon. Friend has intimated, however, that that Sub-section will come out, and that it is his intention to meet the claim that the existing ground of exemption should be left and should continue to be applied until further legislation is introduced to the new classes of men coming under this Bill. But I suggest that even if you take out paragraph (d) you still leave power by Order in Council in paragraph (c) whereby the Government can achieve precisely the same thing, because that paragraph says, "For regulating and limiting the making of such applications as aforesaid." Therefore, they have power to regulate and to limit the making of applications for exemption, and they may by that means deprive the new class of men brought in under this Bill of the right which they profess to have conferred upon them by deleting the subsequent paragraph (d). It is because of that that I ask the. Government to accept the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield), and also in the names of my hon. and learned Friend Sir Ryland Adkins and myself, which provides thatEvery person liable to service under the Act shall be entitled to appeal to a local tribunal and from its decision to an Appeal Tribunal on the same grounds as are open to men of military age under the Military Service Acts, 1916 to 1918.It may be a point of construction as to whether I am right in thinking that the Government have the power I suggest under paragraph (c), but we cannot make certain. This will have to be construed by a Court of law, and it is certainly open to the construction I have suggested. This is the last point of the series of Amendments which we are raising on this Clause and I think the best course will be to accept the Amendment I have mentioned. I am glad that the Government have preserved the right of appeal to local tribunals. I have presided for two years over an important division of a London Appeal Tribunal and I am not overstating the case when I say that 50 per cent. of the appeals to that tribunal have been either varied or allowed in favour of the man. To say that the leave of the local tribunal shall be necessary is practically to abolish the right of appeal, because from what I know of local 114 tribunals, whilst they have good qualities, they are not quick in recognising that they ever give wrong decisions, and it is the very last thing the local tribunal would do to grant leave to appeal against their own decision. There is no instance in my knowledge of leave to appeal resting with a judge of first instance as the final decision. The application always lies to the higher Court.
§ Captain GWYNN
I have listened with interest to this discussion in so far as it affects England, and I am glad to think that my hon. and learned Friend who moved (his Amendment has obtained considerable concessions which may be of value. So far as I understand his concessions they will apply to Ireland in so far as the Act comes into operation there, but I do not think they will be of any advantage to us in Ireland. I think that the Act as it applies to Ireland will be absolutely and entirely different in character from what it is in this country. I have down an Amendment suggesting that the Act in its application to Ireland should take the form in which you at first introduced compulsory military service into this country. Some weighty observations were made by the late Prime Minister, in which he expressed his view that if you are introducing Conscription into any country you ought to do it slow and temperately. When you introduce Ireland within the ambit of Conscription you will bring it for the first time under Conscription in its extremest form. I would like to test the opinion of the House by direct vote as to the age limit in Ireland, as to whether you are going to begin to apply Conscription in Ireland by introducing the highest age limit that is known in any country at the present time, and as to whether it would not be well to give to Ireland some special rights of appeal. But on the whole it does not seem worth while to do so in reference to what is only a little less or a little more.
It is not merely that you will be applying Conscription to Ireland for the first time in its extremest form, but between the case of Ireland and the case of England there is, of course, this difference to start with that in England you apply Conscription to a consenting country. You are applying Conscription to England with the consent of an overwhelming majority in this House. If you take the opinion of the representatives of Ireland there is an equally overwhelming majority against the application of Conscription to that 115 country. But in the application of Conscription to Ireland for the first time you not merely have the majority of Irish opinion against it, but you actually have the weight of opinion in this House against it. Everybody knows that although the vote given against the Government in regard to Ireland was grave it did not at all represent the opinion in this House which was swayed and influenced by the counsel of the late Prime Minister. In the last resort the difference is that you are applying Conscription in Ireland as a measure which has no moral right behind it. Your whole procedure in Ireland—and that is why I think that what is put in this place matters little—will be procedure by court martial. I have only one thing to say to the Government. One may as well say it on this Amendment as on any other. The Government are creating, they have already created, in Ireland, a situation that no English Ministry, either this or any other English Ministry that may take their place, can deal with effectively, and that even no Irish Government can deal with effectively, and they are creating for men like myself, some few of us here, a situation in which the only alternative open to us is to ask to be relieved of our commissions, or to resign our seats in Parliament, or to do both.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
In view of the concessions which the Government have made now, I suggest that is hardly worth while to make any of the changes which are proposed in the Clause as it will stand. The Government have now undertaken to omit the power to make Regulations for determining the grounds for applications, and also as to rights of appeal. There arc only two substantial questions outstanding. The first is as to the nomination of tribunals. No right hon. Gentleman who has spoken from that bench to-day has attempted to make any case for a change in respect of the tribunals as they at present exist in Great Britain. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board delivered a great eulogium upon the tribunals. He said that they had worked admirably, that they had discharged their difficult and delicate duties both with satisfaction to the Government and with a general approval of the people among whom they worked. After that eulogy, is it not an absurdity at the same time to be destroying this admirable institution? We have had speeches also from the Home Secre- 116 tary and the Minister of National Service,. and neither of these right hon. Gentlemen has suggested any reason at all for changing the tribunals. The only reason which has emerged in the course of this Debate which can in any way justify the proposals is that it is necessary to have nominated tribunals in Great Britain under this Bill, because in the application of the Bill to Ireland it would be impossible to have tribunals selected there on the same principles as those on which they had been selected in this country.
If that is the only reason, why should not the Government be honest and say that is the reason? Why should not they tell us, "Your system is admirable in Great Britain. We are not going to change it. As we have given a security to men of eighteen years and twenty years in Great Britain for two years under the existing law by tribunals selected locally, we are going to continue to give this security to men between forty-one and fifty years of age in the future in this country also. But it is impossible, owing to the state of feeling in Ireland, to get tribunals so appointed, and we arc going to have them nominated by some obscure body in Dublin Castle.'' Let them say that honestly. They have power to do it under Clause 2 of the Bill. They have power to make the modifications in regard to this Bill which are necessary. If they have power to make these modifications in applying the Bill to Ireland, why do they not let us have the institution which has worked successfully in. this country without any change at all? Unless they announce that they are going to do this, I think that we ought to divide against this Clause. There has never been such a gratuitous interference with an institution which has been working admirably as this which is now proposed. I suggest to the Government that they have been thoroughly beaten in argument upon this question. The Government have lost all credit. They are simply dying on their feet. I have no doubt that this Government will never be able to put the Act into operation anywhere, but I want to put it on the Statute Book, as far as possible, in respectable form. Consequently, I would suggest, let them withdraw (a) and (c), and they can leave the former Acts practically where they stand in regard to constitution and applications to tribunals. There is really so little left in it now that it is not worth while going on, and it would be unnecessary to have 117 the provisions suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland about laying Regulations on the Table, because the Regulations would be purely administrative matters dealing with tribunals, and nobody would want to have an Address proposed in this House regarding such matters as these.
Then there is another point upon which we should have information. The President of the Local Government Board first made a definite statement and then qualified it. He said that it was the intention of the Government to withdraw, from men who were subject to special trade tribunals, the right of appeal to local tribunals on grounds of domestic hardship. Then he evidently was not quite sure of his ground, and he said that the Government would have to deal with these men in either one or other of two ways, namely, these men would either have to make application to the trade tribunal or go on as at present and make application to the local tribunal. That is obvious to everybody. What we want to know is which is the course which the Government are going to set up by Regulation under this Bill? When I pressed the right hon. Gentleman on that, ho said that they had not made up their minds. I had great difficulty in believing that, because time and again, among all the professions with which this Bill has been introduced and supported in this House, we have been told that this is an urgent matter, that the Government before the House met had been spending nights and days in elaborating machinery to carry this out. Obviously this is part of the machinery, yet the right hon. Gentleman expects the Committee to believe that they have not made up their minds about the matter. Either they have or they have not. If they have not made up their minds about the matter, then it is a sufficiently important matter that they should make up their minds upon it here and now and tell us where we really are, and that these men should have the right of appeal to the local tribunal on domestic grounds, because the local tribunal is the only appropriate body to decide upon such questions. If the Government made a definite statement upon that, it would also very much advance the position.
There is a further matter which arises. As I understand, the Government are not taking powers to diminish in any way the present grounds of appeal that are available. Therefore, I now take it that the grounds of appeal in relation to a man's 118 physical fitness will continue as they are at present, not only by Statute, but also by Regulations made by the Ministry of National Service. I hope that the President of the Local Government Board will give his attention to this point, which has not been made in the Debate up to the present time. My belief is that the grounds of application and appeal in. respect of medical unfitness are not all only statutory grounds, but have also been modified by Regulations. I think that the mode of appeal is a matter of Regulation which has been made since the Report of the Committee on Medical Examinations. The new Regulations were made at that time in regard to appeals on medical grounds, and I am now asking the President of the Local Government Board whether he cannot make a statement that the position in regard to medical appeals, and in regard to grading and so forth, will remain the same after the Bill has passed as it was before?
This is very important. I believe it is not only important from the point of view of the number of men unfit, but I think it is a bad thing that unfit men should go into the Army. I have heard a great deal about the shortage of doctors in the Army, but the reason is that during the past twelve months you have had so many unfit men in the Army filling your hospitals. It is known that something like 200,000 men have been discharged from the Army without ever having been out of this country at all. At the present time there are large numbers of unfit men in the Army who are in and out of hospital constantly, and they would be far better discharged from the Army and doing civilian work. I think it is of the utmost importance, from the point of view of these men and from the point of view of the Army and medical service, that they should be secured in their position, which was brought about as the result of the Report of a Committee of this House. I would only make one further observation, and it is in regard to the announcement made by the Minister of National Service. He told us exactly the number of older men he expects to get under this Bill. He says he expects to get 7 per cent. this year, that is, during the twelve months. That is an average of not more than 10,000 a month, so that, of the men of higher ages, ho is only getting 20,000 men available for this campaign. Does not that prove the hollowness of the claim that is now being made? If you take the younger ages, 119 under Class 3, I am credibly informed that only 200,000 men have been exempted by Appeal at the present time all over the country, so that he will only get 67,000 under Class 3. I say, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College has said, that the Government are playing with us; they have put up this Bill simply and solely to divert the attention of the country from their own disgraceful failure. We are here wasting our time on a measure useless for the defence of the country, in order to prevent the country from seeing the consequences and the extent of the tremendous blunders committed by the most incompetent Government of modern times.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
On a point of Order. I wish to ask you Sir, what in substance And in form will be the Government Amendments which have been promised, and for which I am grateful? We have a series of Amendments before the Committee, and I understand that the Government are willing to accept my first Amendment, which provides that the Local Government Board for England, and the Secretary for Scotland, for that country, may issue Regulations for certain purposes instead of His Majesty by Order in Council.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I hope the Government will. I understand that the Government are prepared to leave out paragraph (d) altogether, and that they are prepared to consider whether the word "limiting" in paragraph (c) is ambiguous, and does not give them power expressly, and whether that will be remedied by some Government Amendment making it clear that it does not impinge upon grounds of appeal. There are other and further Amendments which the hon. Member (Mr. A. Richardson) and myself have put down, and it might save time if I state now that we do not propose to go on with the first as to whether the President of the Local Government Board shall consult the county council or the county borough in whose area the tribunal is, to act before the personnel of the tribunal is determined. As to the third Amendment, relating to grounds of appeal by employers in respect of employés, the President of the Local Government Board said that under the Regulations every person who is liable under the Act is entitled to 120 appeal as before. I hope that the Government will put that in even if they think that it is covered by Sub-section (2), and the Sub-section as to interpretation. I wish to understand what is the position in which we are now in regard to those Amendments.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I submit that it is time we had some statement as to these Amendments. It is the duty of the Government to put down their own draftsmen to prepare them, and it is draughtsmen to prepare them, and it is not right that they should embarrass the Chairman with matters of this kind.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have had handed in by the Government a series of three Amendments which I presume are intended to carry out what has been said this afternoon. The hon. Member has described the Amendments, which cannot be taken, of course, at this stage unless we reach them before 9.30 p.m., except so far as concerns the first Amendment, which is accepted by the Government with the omission of certain words. There is some variation of that Amendment, and that is the only point before the Committee.
§ Mr. MAURICE HEALY
The obstinacy of the Front Bench opposite in not giving information which is asked for about Ireland is evident; certainly to Irishmen it is obvious. On this, the most extraordinary measure ever proposed in our time, appeal after appeal has been made to the Government for information, even on the most elementary points, and up to this moment we have not been given a reply. The President of the Local Government Board brushed Ireland entirely aside. He said he knew nothing about Ireland. He rose to inform the minds of Englishmen, and he told us quite frankly that Ireland did not trouble his Department, and he gave Irishmen no satisfaction. The Minister of National Service was appealed to, and he said Ireland was not in his Department. We asked him in whose Department Ireland was, and he said that of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. There was a universal cry from these benches for the Chief Secretary's presence, and he came in and sat on the -Front Bench for a quarter of an hour, and then walked out, leaving Ireland as wise as it was before he entered the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary did devote a few minutes to Ireland, but he only pre- 121 tended to deal with the demand of Ireland. He did not give us the information we require, and he practically left us as wise as we were before. Before the right hon. Gentleman comes to speak, as I suppose he will on this Amendment, I hope he will give us specific information on some points as to how this Bill can be improved. This question touches the kernel of the Bill for England, and, to a large extent, it is the kernel of the Bill for Ireland. I rather agree with the observation of the hon. Member for Lanark, that this Bill takes away the popular element in the administration of the Act, but in these matters England can always protect herself. No matter what is put in the Bill there will be always English members to see that England gets her rights, or that none of her rights are altered. Parts of the Bill that have very little application to England would operate in their full scope in regard to Ireland.
I understand that this Amendment which we are now discussing has been accepted so far, that the Government are willing that the Order in Council to be made in England shall be made by the Local Government Board, and in Ireland by the Chief Secretary. With great respect I submit that it is not of the smallest consequence who makes the Order, the important point is what is to be in the Order when it is made. It will not matter the toss of a button whether in England it is made by the Privy Council or the Local Government Board; that will not in the least change its contents, probably the same hand will draw it up in both cases, and so, in Ireland, it will matter very little whether the Orders which govern Ireland are drawn up by the Privy Council or the Chief Secretary. But it is all important for us to know what is to be in the Order when it is made. In the first place, which is the body which is to appoint the tribunal? I do not know whether information has been given on that point in regard to England. Up to this time in England the tribunal, as we know, has been appointed by local bodies, district and municipal council—local elective bodies. That is to be abolished. The first thing I want to know is what is to be the body substituted who will have the appointment of tribunals? Is it the Local Government Board in England that is now to appoint the primary tribunals, as they are called, and, if so, is it the Local Government Board for Ireland that is to perform a similar function in that 122 country? That is a plain question that deserves a plain answer. But it is not the most important question. The body that is to appoint the tribunal is no doubt important; what is still more important is the class from which the tribunal is to be drawn. It is there you get the difference between England and Ireland. The body from which the new tribunals will be drawn in England will be practically the same as the body from which the old tribunals were drawn. The local governing authorities had the selection, and naturally they appointed members from their own various boards. The county councils, I presume, appointed members of the county council. The municipal councils appointed municipal councillors, and district councils followed that example. Therefore in England you have at present what I may call cadres from which to create your new tribunals. The Local Government Board has only to take up a list of the existing tribunals and select from it the men who are to constitute the new tribunals. But what is to be done in Ireland? There no such bodies exist. There are no cadres, no lists from which to select the tribunals, and those who are to appoint the new tribunals will have to-strike new ground. Therefore it is only fair we should ask the Government from what class the new tribunals are to be drawn.
It is all very fine for the Home Secretary to tell us that it is intended to do for Ireland exactly what is done in England, and that what is meant by modifications so far as Ireland is concerned are such modifications in machinery as the Irish law may make necessary. But that does-not answer our question as to the constitution of the tribunals. For the creation of those bodies in Ireland it will be necessary to open new ground. We know that the existing tribunals in England were popularly appointed. Will you select the Irish tribunals from the class from which the English tribunals were drawn? That also is a plain question to which I respectfully submit we are entitled to a plain answer, and that answer will make the greatest difference in the operation of this Bill in Ireland. At present you are keeping us in the dark, and, in spite of the emphatic protest of the right hon. Member for Trinity College, we are unable to extract any information from the Government on this point. I hope before the Debate closes we shall have information on these points: First, what is the body 123 in Ireland which is to constitute the new tribunals? Secondly, from what class are the new tribunals to be drawn? Thirdly, what are the Courts who are to work the Act in Ireland? And fourthly, what is to be the machinery to be substituted for the National Registration Act? With regard to the third point, the Bill does not give us very much information. It tells us that the law is not to be enforced by the same tribunal that is to enforce it in England. The Government take power to constitute a Court for the purpose. We are entitled to know what it is to be. We have our suspicions, and we can probably make a very tolerable guess. We have heard before now of Courts of removable magistrates. That is a system we discussed in a former generation, and I presume it is something of that kind the Government are contemplating now. It is very difficult to drag information from the Government. There is no National Registration Act to be used for the purpose. But the right hon. Gentleman has stated that in Ireland they already have materials which a National Registration Act would have provided. Will he be good enough to tell us what those materials are? I have some acquaintance with Irish law and procedure, and I cannot understand what they are. We have had an assurance that the confidential information given by the Census is not to be abused by being used for this purpose. Therefore I cannot understand where the right hon. Gentleman is going to get the information he suggests. It cannot be from the registry of births, deaths, and marriages, and I think it is altogether false to pretend there is any sort of reservoir in Ireland which did not exist in England before the National Registration Act was passed. We ask for a plain answer to these four questions. I am anxious to know what machinery is to be substituted for the National Registration Act.
§ Mr. M. HEALY
Of course, the Registration Act applies in a modified form to Ireland, but we arc told it is not to be used, and so far as I know there is no register in existence which will give the Government the information they desire. Can we have a plain answer to the questions I have put?
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for having mot some of the criticisms which have been passed in 124 regard to the tribunals. But I desire to call attention to the fact that this is the first time the system of nomination is being adopted. Our local authorities are representative bodies, and I think the new proposal will give rise to considerable objection. I desire to know from the right hon. Gentleman who is to nominate the members of the local tribunal and on whose recommendations the nominations are to be made. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Chairman of County Councils, and, I suppose, of borough authorities, will be consulted, but it is rather important to know whether their recommendations will be accepted. It is very easy to promise to consult these Gentlemen, and it is equally easy to ignore their recommendations. I raise this question because in Wales we have suffered a good deal from military authority. At the beginning of the War we had most unfortunate experiences of what the military authorities are capable of doing, and although we drew the attention of the Prime Minister and of Lord Kitchener to our grievances our nationality was despised and men who spoke only the language of their own country were abused. There are a very large number of these Gentlemen of whom we have complained in Wales. We want to know if they are to nominate these tribunals. Are they to submit the names for appointment by the Local Government Board? Then there is another question, and that is, How far the English element in Wales is to be represented on these tribunals? We have had to complain over and over again that not only in the Army but in connection with the administration of military service the work has been entrusted to gentlemen who have had absolutely no knowledge of the Welsh language and have no sympathy with our nationality, and as a result the greatest injustice has been done to Welsh-speaking Welshmen. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some guarantee that the recommendations of chairmen of the county councils will not be ignored, but that they will be accepted, and we would be willing, too, that the Lords Lieutenants should be consulted in the same way, but we do not think that the nomination should be made by the military authorities, and we also urge that the nominees should be Welsh-speaking and in sympathy with Welsh ideas.
There is another matter of considerable importance, and that is as to the position 125 of Nonconformist ministers. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is aware of the bitter feeling which this Bill has created in the Principality. I have to-day received a letter from the Secretary of the National Free Church in Wales, usually a most docile body in regard to matters with which the Prime Minister is concerned, and he writes that the effect of this Bill in Wales will be to close a very large number of Nonconformist churches, because nearly all the theological students have already gone to the War and are serving in the R.A.M.C. and other units. He suggests that the only way in which the Prime Minister's pledge not to interfere with the ministration of religion can be kept is to exempt Nonconformist ministers altogether from the operation of the measure. It is very important for us to know who are to constitute these special tribunals which are to deal with Nonconformist ministers. I pointed out the other day that this Bill may inflict very serious hardship on the Nonconformists, for this reason. Very often their minister is not what is called the rectory minister, and, in addition to preaching and taking ministrations on Sunday, he has probably a small farm or something of that kind to help him to make a living. There is a very large number of these churches spread over the Principality, and we owe these men a debt of gratitude which we shall never be able to repay, because their influence on Welsh life has been remarkably beneficial. Who is going to decide which of these ministers is to be taken, and who is going to decide whether these churches are going to be deprived of their ministers? I need not remind the right hon. Gentleman of the bitter feeling that exists in Wales, not only on political but on religious grounds, on the question of church and chapel, and I want to know whether the bishops, whether the high dignitaries of the Welsh Church, are to be consulted in the nomination and selection of these bodies. If so, I can only come to the conclusion that grave injustice may be done to the smaller Nonconformist bodies. Take, for instance, the position of the parson. He is by law charged with the care of the souls of the parish, and he may well argue that his legal position makes him indispensable. On the other hand, the smaller Nonconformist churches have ministers of their own. They have theological ideas which differ, and because 126 they differ are held, as a rule, with greater intensity, and I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman can assure us that in the constitution of the tribunals which are going to deal with the-Nonconformist claims in particular there will be representatives of Nonconformists, and that Nonconformity will be completely represented.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I should like to be allowed to say a few words on the question which has just been put by the hon. Gentleman, because I pressed the Committee on a previous stage to allow us to reserve until the Report stage the question of the manner in which we should deal with the ministers of religion. I am now prepared to present to the Committee a reply to the hon. Gentleman's question. We were influenced in proposing to abolish the exemption of ministers of religion by a number of representations we had received from authorities and ministers of certain churches who felt it somewhat as a grievance that they were not put in the same position as the rest of the manhood of the country. I know, of course, how tremendous has been the volume of service rendered by ministers in connection with the Army. Not only do they furnish the necessary chaplains for the Army itself, but they render the most admirable service in connection with hospitals, canteens, the homes of rest, and all the many institutions which the War renders necessary. There has been in my mind, and I think in the mind of most men who have knowledge of the facts, no kind of reproach to that body of ministers that they have not done their best for the country. Nevertheless, I do know that in my own church, which I only mention because I know it best, and I daresay in other churches too, there has been the feeling of which I have spoken, a desire to be put on the same level as the rest of the male population. On the other hand, Members of this House and others elsewhere have used arguments which, no doubt, must have force with all of us. I believe it is necessary to keep alive the religious ministrations of this country. We had hoped to provide for that not by means of a tribunal which could not possibly represent all the denominations, but by consulting members of each church and religious body with which we had to deal. We had in mind a scheme for that purpose which I am sure would have satisfied one of the points the hon. Gentleman has just raised. Still, 127 even that would have involved, a diminution of the number of ministers who are now in active work in our country. It has been represented to us—and I have no doubt it is true—that at no time has the counsel and the assistance of these ministers been more required during the War than now. Again, there may be a tendency on the part of the children to break through the bounds of discipline in the absence of the control formerly exercised over them, and therefore the ministers of all denominations may render and continue to render useful service.
The Committee knows that in this Bill I have not attempted to solve the many questions which arise in connection with military service except in so far as they bear on man-power. I have had one object and one object only throughout, the increase of man-power, and therefore we have asked ourselves how far the abolition of this exception would increase the man-power of the country. I have made inquiries, and I do not think the amount of man-power would be large. I think, after you had allowed enough for the religious needs of the country, you would not obtain a large increase of military man-power from the remainder of the ministers of religion. On the whole, we have come to the conclusion that we will not press this element of the Bill. We are willing to reinsert in the Schedule an exception for ministers of religion, leaving out Sub-section (2) of Clause 1, which relates to the same matter, and we will leave it to the judgment of the different ministers and Churches who desire to join the Army to offer themselves for the purpose. I have no doubt that there will be a satisfactory response.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question that. as at the present time Labour is assured of representation, provision will be made in regard to these tribunals to continue that assurance?
§ Mr. LOUGH
I do not intend to delay the Committee at any length, but I want to say that I know enough about the local circumstances in Ireland to attach grave weight to the questions asked by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy), especially in view of the speech to which 128 we have listened from a Member for one of the divisions of Cork. If we could have an answer, not of any length, to those questions, I think it would greatly improve the chances of the Bill. There are, however, two or three matters that we want cleared up which have been left in an unfinished state, and I appeal to the President of the Local Government Board, or to the Minister for National Service, who is here, as to whether, in the case of one question in particular, he did not leave it in an unfinished state, and told us that we would get an answer about it? It was pointed out that if you use the special tribunals that deal with labour questions, they are now disqualified from taking into consideration matters which other tribunals can deal with. The Bill provided that there should be only one tribunal in future, and that anyone dealt with by the special tribunal cannot go to the other tribunal. That was left over, and the provision was left in that they can only go to one tribunal, which will probably be the special tribunal. There appeared to be agreement on the point, and I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to say whether the power cannot be given to the special tribunals to take a broad view of the question, or whether an appeal to the other tribunal will not be permitted as it is at the present time? My right hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel) made a strong appeal that the Order in Council which is to be issued under this Clause 4 should be laid on the Table of the House and dealt with in the same way as the Order in Council under Clause 3 and Clause 1. There again, without elaboration, I would ask one of the right hon. Gentlemen to state that that course will be followed. In pressing these two questions, and one other, I would like to acknowledge that the Government, although I do not think they have met my Irish Friends at all, have met many of the criticisms brought forward from the British point of view, and I think my hon. Friends are to be congratulated on the concessions they have obtained. I think, however, the matter ought to be cleared up by the Government, and that these two-points ought to be dealt with. The third point is, Can the President of the Local Government Board give us some assurance with regard to the constitution of the local tribunals? All the arguments we have had here in the Committee have been in favour of not robbing the tribunal of its local character. The speech of my hon. 129 Friend himself was a high tribute to the way in which these tribunals have discharged their duties. It has been admitted generally that there is something to be said for the nomination of the Appeal Tribunal, but in the case of the local tribunals I would suggest that it is a very strong measure indeed where you have 1,800 local bodies existing at present to sweep them out of existence and put 1,800 other local bodies, that may be nominated from the centre without any of that excellent element which has worked so well up to the present, in their place. If we could have answers to those questions, I think it would do a great deal to clear up a great many appeals that have been made to the Government in those connections.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
This Debate is a justification for the strong protest that was made against the guillotine Motion under which we are working to-day. There has never been a Debate in this House on a Bill more important, but we have had only an hour or two in which to debate this Clause, and a part of the time has been taken up by Ministers who have spoken not once but twice and thrice, and who have had in common with each other only this characteristic, that they each contradicted the last speaker. There is hardly an important statement that was made by the President of the Local Government Board which has not been repudiated either by himself or by the Ministers who followed him, and the result is that at this moment the Committee has no knowledge whatever as to how it stands with regard to this Bill.
One of the things we have now immediately to protest against is the latest addition to the Debate from the Home Secretary. After rising to make his third, fourth or fifth speech, he introduced an entirely new point. I regret to remind the Committee that 300 Members of the House the other day voted for the retention of the clergy in this Bill. I was the only Member who, in speech, opposed the Conscription of clergy. Three hundred of my colleagues went into the Lobby to demand that they should be conscripted, and to-day the Home Secretary rises and tells us that the clergy have been taken out of the Bill altogether. That means that they have not been taken out of the Bill because of the demand in this House, unless the Government are going to do me a very great compliment of saying that my own speech—the only speech delivered on this matter 130 —converted them. [An HON. MEMBER: "You did it!"] Gratified as I am that that is the only logical interpretation that can be placed upon the action of the Government, I know them too well to believe that that is the true explanation. The true explanation is that there has been a great revolt of the clergy behind the scenes, and the archibishops and bishops have been busy with the Government. Indeed, I was very interested to see that the Home Secretary, in announcing this change in the Bill, actually used the words used by the Bishop of Chelmsford in to-day's "Times," because he said it was necessary that the clergy should stay at home to keep in order the unruly children of soldiers.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I agree that it was a most improper observation to be made, but let me hasten to do him the justice to say that I was paraphrasing his remarks, and did not pretend to quote them. One of the other reasons, he said, why they should stay at home—I do not like the language, but it was his—was that they might pile up the spiritual munitions. I will not inquire whether these unruly children referred to are the children of Church people or Nonconformists, but I only mention this matter to show how shamefully the House is being treated with regard to this Bill. We are working under a guillotine Motion, and here we have the Home Secretary announcing a most important alteration in the Bill, based upon some influence of which we have no Parliamentary knowledge, which has been denied in this House previously, and on these grave questions raised in this Clause we have these mutually contradictory speeches by members of the Government. I want to show to the House that the main objections to Clause 4 all remain, in substance, undisturbed by the shadow of concessions which have been announced, so far as they have been announced or so far as we can understand them. First of all, the tribunals, so far as they are appointed by local bodies, are swept away; they become nominated tribunals. You might, under the powers of paragraph (a), appoint a military officer in each town to be the tribunal. You might put your military officer in civilian attire, and call him the civil tribunal for that 131 area. That is the main blemish that remains in this Clause. You abolish tribunals and set up what are practically military tribunals under another name, and by that means you place the whole of the country under military law without going through the formality of doing it by an Order in Council. It means that Parliamentary government, so far as the persons affected by this Clause are concerned, is at an end, and that Parliamentary safeguards are at an end. That is the first blemish, which has not been removed in any way by the speeches which have been made. Incidentally, I should like to protest very strongly—I am not going to make any personal attack on the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayes Fisher)—against the methods with which he dealt with the speeches that have been made in opposition to this Clause. I speak in the recollection of the Committee when I say that, instead of meeting the objections which we made, whenever he got near a serious objection he went forth into a peroration which had no relation whatever to the question. I think that, as rationing schemes are becoming so general and drastic, a rationing scheme for perorations might well be adopted.
The next point that has not been met is the question of the right of appeal. There were several contradictory statements made on this point, as on others. We were told, first of all, that there would be no right of appeal, except for the military representatives. Then we were told that both parties would be placed on the same footing. But, when the final concession was announced—and I want the Committee to notice that—promising that both parties would have the same rights, whatever they were, the Home Secretary added these words, "But we must limit the time in which these appeals can be made, and when they can be heard." These powers exist already, and I read another meaning into those words. I see, in any provision to carry out those ambiguous words, a method by which the right of appeal, though granted in words, may be taken away in reality through no fault of the applicant. I want it to be made quite, clear, whatever delays take place in hearing the appeals, that in so far as they are not delays for which the applicant is responsible, they shall not in any way prejudice his right to make the appeal. The Government must not visit on the applicant the supposed 132 sins of the members of the appeal committee. The right hon. Gentleman, in one of the most eloquent flights in his address, delivered a very extraordinary panegyric upon the members of the tribunals. I listened to it with amazement, because I could not understand why such a eulogy of the members of the tribunals should be followed by the announcement of their abolition. Why men who, so far as the language was to be understood, were as nearly perfect as we could hope for in this human world, should be summarily abolished I could not understand, and I think a great part of the Committee were similarly mystified. I want to point out to the Committee, further, that if paragraph (d) is taken out wholly, as we understand is now the position, paragraph (c) should also come out, because paragraph (c) gives the Government practically the same powers to do what it was going to do under paragraph (d). If the Committee will look at paragraphs (c) and (d) they will see that they overlap, and that the same powers are taken in both paragraphs. I understand that while paragraph (d) goes, paragraph (c) remains. Paragraph (c) gives the Government the power, not only of regulating, but of limiting the making of applications for exemptions. A Government that has the power to limit applications has the power to decide upon what grounds these applications should be made, and whether they should be made at all.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
My hon. and learned Friend suggests that that must go, too, and I hope he is right. But he will confirm me when I say that the proceedings upon the Front Bench were so confused, Ministers hastened so frequently to contradict each other; there was such a competition in obscurity; that we are entitled to make this clear. In order that we may do our business in the light of day, may I ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is going to alter paragraph (c) and either abolish that paragraph altogether, or take out the words "and limit." I wish the right hon. Gentleman would even nod his head now, because that is the usual reply which is made from the Front Ministerial Bench to important questions, and I should be quite content with just a nod. As I do not get any sign of assent whatever from the right hon. Gentleman, I must 133 assume that this, too, is a matter upon which they have not made up their minds. That is another reason why I so very much regret that we are working under a guillotine Motion. The weight of argument has been unanimous in Committee to-day against every proposal embodied in Clause 4. I have sat here the whole day, and I believe I am right in saying that not one Member, except a Member in receipt of an official salary, has risen to support the proposals of the Government. On the Debate to-day and on the unanimity of the arguments the whole Clause should be deleted, and I sincerely trust that when the Division is taken upon the Clause that result will follow.
Finally, the Committee has not previously had its attention called to one of the most amazing features of this amazing Clause in this amazing Bill. If the Committee will refer to the last sentence but one in Sub-section (1), they will find that the Regulations to be made under this preposterous proposal as drafted are to override previous Acts of Parliament. We are not even told what are the actual Clauses or parts of Clauses of Acts of Parliament which are repealed. We are simply told that when the Government make the Regulations that they may make under this Clause, nominating tribunals and limiting the right of appeal, taking away, it may be, the grounds for medical appeal—when all those Regulations are made, if there is anything inconsistent with the provisions of any previous Act of Parliament, that part of such Act of Parliament which is inconsistent with those Regulations is repealed. I think the right hon. Gentleman will consult his Parliamentary draftsmen for a long time before they are able to give him any precedent for that proviso in an Act of Parliament—a proviso which allows a Departmental Regulation to override a previous Act of Parliament without in any way specifying which part of the Act of Parliament can be overriden. I earnestly hope, therefore, that before the guillotine falls upon this Clause we shall have the opportunity of voting upon each of the separate paragraphs (a) to (e), and also of voting not only upon the whole Clause, but upon this proviso that a Government Regulation is to overrule an Act of Parliament. It is in one way fortunate for the Government, in trying to get this Bill through the House of Commons, that the Irish question was included. It allowed the Government to have less criticism 134 upon those portions of the Bill which affect England, Scotland, and Wales, and I think, perhaps, the fact was not altogether removed from the idea of the Government that the concentration on the Irish question might in some way obscure—
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I am sorry that for a moment I was led away. The Clause, to my mind, has been covered with criticism which has not been answered by the Government. So far as an answer has been attempted by various members of the Government, it has been a contradictory answer. So far as we can understand the concessions that have been made, they do not meet in any vital degree the criticisms that have been made. The Clause remains a bad Clause, a Clause that cannot be defended, and I sincerely hope it will be rejected by the Committee.
§ Colonel HAMERSLEY
I hope this Clause as proposed by the Government will be carried, and that nothing will be done to whittle it away or to cause in any manner its delay in operation. There is no shadow of doubt that, while the tribunals in many instances have worked well, they have not done so in many others. There are a number of instances throughout the country where tribunals have struck work altogether at different times, and the authorities have not had the power, which they should have had, to deal with the tribunals.
§ Colonel HAMERSLEY
It is of enormous importance that two evils should be remedied—namely, delay and uncertainty. The present method of tribunals causes delay in many cases, and one tribunal in one district may make entirely different rules and work on different principles and methods from a tribunal in a neighbouring district. One matter to which I hope the Government will not agree is the proposal to lay this Proclamation or Order in Council on the Table of the House. That, again, will create delay. We are now in the great crisis of our history, and all delay is of danger. I am absolutely convinced, from my personal experience, that one of the great drawbacks we have had in fighting the Huns is the want of training of our troops. If you put men into the 135 trenches and the front line after a few weeks' training, without the necessary discipline which long training can alone give, it is almost a criminal thing, and particularly hard on the men.
§ Colonel HAMERSLEY
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that time should be given to training, and every day lost in getting these men into the ranks means a day taken away from their training That being the case, we must do all we possibly can to eliminate that delay, and this Clause as proposed tends to do so. That increases the efficiency of our troops, and therefore helps the cause we are all so anxious to see supported.
§ Sir A. YEO
I have no desire at all to hamper the Government, or in any way to retard the Bill being passed into law if it is necessary. I do take exception to some of the things that are said in this House, because two years ago men who sat on that Front Bench had listened to many of us when we appealed to them on this question of manpower we should not have had the tragedy of the last few days in this House, and if there, is any fault to find it is in those who sit on the Front Bench in charge of this Bill. They are responsible for all the discussion and waste of time that has taken place here. If it had not been for the prejudice of the class which wants to dominate this country we should not only have had all we desired, but we should have saved this discussion, and the idiotic caricature which has been going on up and down the country for the last few days. Personally, I made a suggestion to the Government, and to the Department, but it was ridiculed. If we had taken these men, those of the one-man businesses, who wore then being catered for by the tribunals, taken them compulsorily and trained them, what should we have had to-day? We should have had 300,000 or 400,000 men fully trained, ready to have gone into Home defence, or wherever the Government might have wanted to send them. If these tribunals are swept away, I am going to say here very frankly there will be very few men in this country who will have any confidence in what is said from the Front Ministerial Bench, or if what is said is not incorporated in the Bill. Hon. Members repeat speeches of other men in this House, saying that certain gentlemen 136 have got to be kept at home in order to keep the children of soldiers in order. If that is all their office claims them for, the sooner they get into the trenches the better. If that kind of thing is to be told to a thinking audience whilst this country is at war, that men are to be kept at home from the fighting line—well I never heard such cool rot in all my life! To imagine that the children of the soldier are the only children for whom certain gentlemen are to be kept at home—well, I believe, honestly, that if the men who have been taken out of this Bill were only to spend three months in the trenches with our men, they would have more influence in the matter of their spiritual life than by twenty years of sermonising—
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
May I remind you, Sir, that the Home Secretary was allowed to bring in the whole question of the clergy which has been disposed of by a very important Division so far back as Friday? I had hoped that we should be allowed to discuss it.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The difficulty is that I was not in the House at the time, and I can only deal with the Debate as it is before me.
On the same point of Order. May I say that the Chairman of Committees was in the Chair, and the Home Secretary specifically asked for time on this particular Clause that we are now debating to announce the concession in regard to the clergy? It was at his request that this was done.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am afraid I cannot allow this Debate to run beyond the Clause. There are other Amendments on the Paper, and if I allowed a general debate that would be unfair, for I would be allowing a debate on general lines, possibly to the exclusion of those Amendments.
Our difficulty is this: The House voted on this Clause—I am not going into its merits—and by an overwhelming majority decided in a certain way. The only debate that took place on it was not that they should be excluded, but that the words "non-combatant" should be struck out. We now have an announcement that they are to be excluded. Surely, after the Home Secretary's announcement, the same expression of opinion ought to be allowed as to whether or not other people are equally entitled to this exclusion?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am sorry, but I cannot allow it. It would be unfair to the other Amendments. Besides, there is another opportunity on the Report stage to raise this question, which is clearly outside the Clause.
§ Sir A. YEO
I apologise to the House for breaking away from the Clause. I do, however, want the House to realise in all seriousness that this trouble could have been averted and avoided—that we could have had all the men we wanted without waste of time and without bringing in Ireland and causing all this unrest. I still stick to my own opinion. I am certain that the men of the one-man businesses only wanted their case properly dealt with without fear or favour. We have been told to-day that the tribunals have done magnificent work. With that in many cases I agree. Why, then, abolish them? Why sweep them away, to put in their places possibly some men nominated by the Department. You will never strike a note of confidence in the man who has to go before the tribunal and to be told that he is to go into the Army whilst the men there are of military age. Whether the man be in khaki or civilian clothes makes not a bit of difference. If confidence is to be had in the tribunals you have to get out of these tribunals whoever is there of military age, and put in their places men who are not eligible for the Army, whether in khaki or civilian clothes. We must have these properly-elected people from our borough councils, or other authorities, and no man should be under fifty-six years of age. If you adopt these methods you will get all the men you require. We have dozens of discharged soldiers who are ready again to go into the Army to do their bit, if they can be thoroughly assured that in the position they take up they are not in any way running the risk of being deprived of their 138 pension or their disability allowance. I should like the House of Commons, if it wants to keep the confidence of the country, to take out the Members of military age and send them to the front. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Why not? Why should men in khaki be allowed in this House at all? If a man is connected with the Army let him go out and do his bit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Take them all," and "Shut the shop up!"] Why should we not enrol at once the Volunteers and call them in for service exactly on the same lines as we did the Territorials? Some Members do not realise it, but if military service is good for the working man, and it is good for a man to have given seven sons in this War, it is good for the men in this House to go and do their bit.
I have been two years recruiting, and I count myself as patriotic a man as there is in this House. I want to say that I think the public outside are getting somewhat sick of the show we are making here. The House may or may not agree with my views, but I say that if we do not have some assurance to-night that these tribunals are going to be established on grounds that people can go before them with confidence, we shall account it not only our duty, but our right to go into the Lobby against the Government. If the Government will say one word to-night that these tribunals will not be swept away, because they have been of such good service to the country and in the national interest, I believe we will be able not only to save a Division, but the time of the House, besides the impression we shall give to the people outside. If we are going to win this War—and I feel sure our boys are going to do that, and we need not worry about that—we shall have to show a better front to the enemy outside from the inside of this House. Let us inspire confidence in our actions. I know there is a good deal of prejudice against men on the Back Benches who utter certain opinions. Men on the Back Benches are going to have their say, and they are not coming here to be shut up. They are going to speak for the people they represent, whether their language is Parliamentary or otherwise, and that will be in the hands of Mr. Speaker. I appeal to the Government even at the last moment to listen to the Debate that is taking place, and give us the tribunals in the Bill that have existed during the last two years under the 1916 Military Service; Act.
§ Colonel ROYDS
This is a Bill to make further provision for military service during the present War. It is true that under the provisions of this Bill all men between the ages of nineteen and fifty-one are made liable to service with the Colours. I do not know whether the Committee has quite realised that while in one respect it does make provision for military service with the Colours, in another respect it depletes very largely the Volunteer Force we have for Home defence. That point has not been raised, and I think I am entitled to raise it, because under Clause 4 and under the decisions of the tribunals set up by that Clause all those exemptions will be made, and it is in relation to those exemptions I wish to say a few words.
§ Sir A. YEO
I never raised the question of the Volunteers as at present enrolled. My point was that you should raise them in the same way you did the Territorials, and use them.
§ Colonel ROYDS
I was not referring to what the hon. Member said. I consider that this is a highly important matter. Here we are depleting our Home defence. the only force we have in any considerable number at a time when they want augmenting. I had a Sub-section down on the Paper, and as I may not have an opportunity of moving it, I want to refer to the matter now. I want the Government to say clearly what they intend to do in regard to Home defence, and we ought not to let this Bill leave the Committee without a clear statement on the point from the Government. The present condition of the Volunteer Force is unsatisfactory. I do not know whether the House realises that 70 per cent. of the present so-called Volunteer Force consists of men of military age who have been sent to that force by the tribunals. Those men are drawn not from the general body of exempted men in this country, but from a special class who happened to go before the tribunals, with the result that they are not the men in many cases who would have been selected had there been the whole class of exempted men to choose from. Men are sent to that force who ought not to be sent there, and I do not wish to have a single man in the Volunteer Force who ought not to be there. At the same time, we want in that force every man who ought to be there. Under present arrangements we have no chance of getting into that force the men who ought to be there, 140 because the only class who come before the tribunals are quite a limited class. Three-fourths of the exempted men of military age are men who never come before the tribunals.
§ Colonel ROYDS
The hon. Member mistakes what I mean. They have not been before the tribunals because they have been exempted by the Minister of Munitions, the Board of Trade, or the Board of Agriculture, or some other Department, and their cases never come up for consideration at all as to whether they should or should not join the Volunteer Force. They compose three-fourths of the men who are exempted, with the result that the Volunteer Force consists of 70 per cent. of the men sent there by the tribunals of military age. The House will see at once that the best men are not sent to the Volunteer Force, because we have not a large enough selection. In my Amendment I wanted absolute equality of sacrifice and service for all exempted men, and I put down my proposal that every man on obtaining a certificate of exemption, whether by a tribunal or other authority—and that would cover your protected workers—should be liable for Home service in the Volunteers, not that he should necessarily join, but be liable when his services were required. I understand that there would be a very large number of men of military age exempted, and I imagine there would be something like 3,000,000 under the provisions of the Bill.
Here you are proposing to send abroad 7 per cent. only of your men between the ages of forty-one and fifty, while you are retaining here 1,500,000 men between that age and 1,000,000 or more under that age, and you are imposing no liability whatever on those men to protect our shores. While you are sending this number away you are leaving these men at home with no one to protect their hearths and homes. That is a very dangerous situation in which to place the country. Not only is the present Volunteer Force insufficient, but the men in it are not the class entirely that ought to be there, and you are going to deplete it to what extent I cannot say, but I know it is to a very large extent. May I ask that someone representing the War Office should be present, because I think it is grossly unfair that there is no one here representing that Department, because I gave notice of what I was going 141 to say. I am addressing the House under unparalleled circumstances that this country has never been in before on a matter of very serious moment, and there is no one here representing the War Office.
§ Colonel ROYDS
As they will not come, I will read a letter which I have received. I wish to show that these men are needed for the safety of the country, and I thought it necessary to inquire of Lord French, the officer responsible for the safety of these shores, and I wrote this letter to him this morning to ask his opinion:You are aware that the Amendment I am to move in Parliament to clay imposing liability on all men between the ages of eighteen and fifty-one, who may be exempted from serving with the Colours, to join the Volunteer Force for Home defence if and when called upon. It is important to know whether you, as responsible for Home defence, feel any need for the measure of this character. I shall be grateful if you will let me have a reply which I may read if necessary to the House of Commons.I got this reply:In reply to yours of this date, I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that the men in question are badly wanted and will supply a most necessary help towards Home defence.That being the state of affairs, I wish to ask the Government perfectly plainly—I have notified them of it over and over again—what steps they are going to take to supply those men which Lord French says are necessary for the defence of these shores? I do not think that this House ought to let the Bill go through until we have a perfectly satisfactory answer on that point. I do not know whether they are afraid of labour. Labour is the most patriotic and public-spirited body of men in the country. You have only got to impose the liability for Home defence on every man in this country of military age. Let every trade and every industry furnish its quota; only give up the men who can best be spared, and who will be of most use in the Volunteer Force. We know that they are all, or mostly all, fully worked at the present time. What the men of the country want is finality and equality of sacrifice and of service. I am perfectly certain that labour and every other class in the country would willingly submit to a provision of that character. If I go and ask the men if they will join the Volunteer Force, what am I told? They say, "We are perfectly willing to join the Volunteer Force if our services 142 are needed, but the Government now are telling us in every respect what we have got to do, and if the Government want us we are perfectly sure that they will make us join." That is the position that they take up. Most people in these times have plenty to do, and you cannot go round recruiting. If the men are wanted, you have got to tell them to come, and they will come gladly. What happened in the case of the miners the other day? You called for 50,000 miners, and they came up in their tens of thousands, and there were more than you wanted. There would be the same response if men were asked to join the Volunteer Force. If Parliament told the men of this country that their services were needed for Home defence, I am perfectly certain that they would come, as and when wanted, without any compulsion at all. You have your tribunals, and under the provision that I propose they would be able to say with regard to any man or any class of men that the condition of compulsory Home service should not apply if any special circumstances were put forward.
I hope that the Government will give a very plain answer to the question that I have put. I do not know what possible objection there can be. I cannot believe that the House of Commons would ever pass a measure ordering every single man in this country up to fifty-one years of age to be liable for service overseas without making any provision whatever for any compulsion or any liability for the defence of these shores in the case of the men, some two or three million in number, remaining in this country. That is the plain position that I have put before the Committee. I am pleased to see that the War Office are now represented, and I hope, before this Debate closes, that I shall have a very clear statement as to the intentions of the Government in this matter. I hope that they will accept the Amendment that I have put down. I am sure that it would be acceptable to the House, and I feel sure that there is nothing in it to which anyone can take exception. I believe that the men of this country wish to undertake the obligation to defend these shores. Under the common law of the land every man has got to defend his country in case of danger. Are you going to leave them to do that and yet never train them or put a rifle in their hands? You have got 143 to do what Germany and all the other countries engaged in this War are doing. You must be prepared for Home defence with your reserve of men here. You must train all those who are required for that purpose. At the present time you have a most unrivalled opportunity for training them. You have a large number of officers who have been wounded or invalided home, or who have been serving and are now too old. They are all available for training the Volunteer Force. There never was such an opportunity for training men, and as each month goes on we get more and more of these officers. There is no difficulty whatever in putting the right officers over them if we get the right men in the force. You could have a force of a million men if you wanted them, and it would be a security to this country, a real tower of strength. I never forget what Lord Kitchener said. I, for one, looked on Lord Kitchener as a very big man. "England wants to be stronger when we settle the terms of peace than she has been at any other period of the War." I hold that view very strongly. With her Armies suffering attrition abroad, how can she be stronger when she comes to settle terms of peace?
§ Colonel ROYDS
I apologise. I will close my observations, because really I have nothing further to say. I have made my point, and I hope that I shall have an answer.
§ Mr. KILEY
The question the Committee are now called upon to deal with and to vote upon is the abolition of the tribunals, and before we vote I think we are entitled to know of what crime, if any, these bodies have been found guilty. Two years ago I undertook the chairmanship of a local tribunal. I undertook that task knowing Ml well the difficulties and the painful duties that were before me. It would interest the Committee to know what the tribunal in one of the most difficult districts in London have done with the caess that came before them. Out of 11,500-odd decisions, including some boys of eighteen, there are 637 certificates running, and of these 447 consist of men in the class equivalent to Grade 3. Apart from Grade 3 men, therefore out of these 11,500 cases there are 290 exemptions run- 144 ning in respect of men of Grades 1 and 2. These 290 cases consist of men in certified occupations and men who have been granted exemptions for medical reasons, as proprietors of one-man businesses, and on all the other grounds which exist. You have, therefore, in one of the most difficult districts in London 290 men available Although these men have certificates, they have had to go to the tribunal in order to prove their case. Very often they have-had to go to the Appeal Court. Then they have had to come back to the local tribunal, to which the local and National Service representatives have called them to have their cases reviewed. Therefore, it is not an easy matter for a man to get a certificate of exemption in those days, because he has to satisfy the local tribunal, often the Appeal Tribunal, and then he can have his case reviewed by the local tribunal again, which is constantly being done. Out of the district which has already dealt with 11,500 cases, outside Grade 3 men, which the Director-General of National Service says he is not open to receive, there are no more than 290 men at the outside. If that is the experience of all the districts of London, as I believe it is, the Committee will see-that, so far as the tribunals have granted exemptions, there can be no ground of complaint that they have been lavish or reckless. In view of the fact that the President of the Local Government Board told us this afternoon that these tribunals had done their work magnificently, I do not know why, in these circumstances, they are to be abolished, extinguished, or executed—I do not know which word to use. I am sorry it is not worth the while of the two right hon. Gentlemen on the-Front Bench to listen to comments on their proposals.
§ Mr. KILEY
One has listened patiently, both on Saturday and again to-day, to learn the reason why the tribunals, who, according to the President of the Local Government Board, have done their work, and have done it so well, should be abolished altogether. I understood that when the Director-General of National Service was appointed his task was to find men willing and anxious to do work of national importance. Here are a thousand and more who have been doing work of national importance, and, in return for 145 their services, the Director-General of National Service proposes to abolish them at one fell swoop.
§ Mr. FISHER
There is no intention to abolish them. If the hon. Gentleman had listened as patiently and closely to my speech as I have listened to his, he would not make that statement. It is the intention to keep the local tribunals and to turn them into nominated bodies, in order to extend their personnel. In the main we rely upon these local tribunals, although somewhat altered as regards personnel and powers, and possibly, also, in some cases, with regard to area.
§ Sir W. BARTON
This has been the most extraordinary Committee stage of any Bill I have experienced in this House. We have wandered over all the points of a Second Reading, and the Bill has been passing through a constant transition stage, which I am old-fashioned enough to think has not been entirely profitable. I would ask the Committee to come down to a purely Committee detail in regard to which I have an Amendment standing on the Paper. I take it that the business of the Director-General of National Service is of a dual character. In the first place, he has to find all the men that can be rightfully found for the Army; and, in the second place, he has so to direct the non-effective military labour that the largest national product can be secured. It is towards the second of those duties that our minds are directed at this moment. The Amendment I have on the Paper emanated from the employers and the employed associations of the cotton trade, representing in that connection some hundreds of thousands of people. They realise that the tribunals under this Bill will be different in kind and character from the tribunals which existed before. Rightly or wrongly, urgency is of the essence of the case, and although possibly we should have liked to see the same tribunals continued for the older people as were given for the younger, we do recognise that the circumstances require great urgency, therefore we say that on these special tribunals which it is the intention to set up, nominated, I believe, and different in personnel, there should be some specialised representation. When you 146 start to deal with men of forty to fifty years of age, you of necessity encounter a large percentage of cases which may be said to be indispensable. The mantle of indispensability has been thrown over many men by the old tribunals. Now it will be necessary to examine them carefully. What we desire to ask from the Director-General of National Service is that on these special tribunals, in so far as they deal with special trades and special circumstances, there shall be on each a representative of the employers' associations and a representative of the employés' organisations, not necessarily to secure a large number of exemptions, but especially to secure that such exemptions as are necessary for the conduct of the trade shall be granted to that trade. I desire most earnestly to impress this upon the Director-General of National Service, because he fully realises that it is of the greatest national importance that our industries shall be carried on as efficiently and effectively as possible in the special circumstances in which we are placed, and these great trade organisations are convinced that if we will make this concession, it will greatly help in that direction.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
On a point of Order. May I ask you, Sir Donald Maclean, whether, if the discussion on this Amendment has not ceased by 9.30, it will be possible for you to put from the Chair the Government Amendments which have been promised or whether they will have to stand over until the Report stage?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If this Amendment is not disposed of before 9.30 I shall have no option but simply to put that Question, and I shall not be in a position to put any of the promised Government Amendments, because they are not Amendments of which notice has been given in accordance with the time-table under which the Committee is working. Therefore, this discussion must cease before 9.30 if the Committee desires—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will wait until I have finished. I say again that unless this discussion ceases before 9.30 none of the promised Government Amendments can be put into the Bill at this stage.
§ Sir W. CHEYNE
I wish to put a rather important question to the Minister of National Service. Last Friday I stated, what I still adhere to, that I had no doubt the medical profession would be quite willing to come in and do anything that was required up to the age of fifty-five. I understand what they were wanted for was not merely to go to the front, but practically industrial conscription—that is to say, to go and take up similar appointments elsewhere. I am quite sure the members of the profession would not object to that. But I want to know where the powers of the Act are which enable the Minister of National Service to do this? I only want to make sure that he puts those powers in. I am advised that there is no power in the Bill which will enable him to call on medical men to do civil work
Colonel Sir J. HOPE
I wish to ask the Government to consider favourably the proposal that when they frame the rules for tribunals they shall make it a rule that any exemptions given, except in very special cases, shall be conditional on joining the Volunteers. I think I can put forward a good argument for it. We all regret very much the necessary calling up of men between forty and fifty. We realise the sacrifices these older men are being called upon to make. The Minister for National Service has assured us, though we did not want his assurance, that he will only call up as many of these older men as are absolutely necessary in this time of vital danger. It is obvious that these older men will only be required for Home defence. They cannot be used satisfactorily overseas, but they will be required for the Home Defence Army in order to release the younger men for 'service overseas. If the Volunteer Force is large and efficient, it will not be necessary to retain so great a force for Home defence, and, therefore, by improving the efficiency and increasing the number of the Volunteer Force, relief will be given to whole-time soldiers or men between forty and fifty. I think it is open to question whether even a half-time Volunteer, if he only trains a few hours in a month, will, if he is a young man, in time of real danger not be almost equally useful with a man, say, of fifty who is doing whole-time 148 soldiering. Anyhow, no younger man who is exempted from full-time service should complain of the small sacrifice involved in joining the Volunteers. Reference has been made to the long hours that men already work. We all realise that, but everyone has to work hard in these times some way or another. All that is required in the Volunteer Force is fourteen hours a month until the members are efficient, and ten hours a month afterwards. This only means a couple of evenings a week, or Saturday or Sunday afternoon or evening, and surely, after being employed in an office or workshop all day, it is a change and almost a rest to spend a few hours in the fields or on the musketry range. I hope that the Minister for National Service will seriously consider this. I should like to see it in the form of an Amendment giving Parliamentary sanction to the principle that every citizen in this time of danger should contribute in some form or other to the defence of the country, and I submit with confidence that it would add to our defensive force by greatly increasing the number of Volunteers, and would also add to the economic defence of the country by retaining in civilian employment men who would otherwise be called up, because the Volunteers would take the place of the men of forty and fifty who would otherwise be called up.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
In view of what the Government have promised, which I am certain they will carry out, I should like to ask leave to move only the first part of my Amendment, leaving out the words "subject to the provisions hereinafter set out." Two of those provisions I have already said I do not propose to go on with. The other I understand the Government proposes to accept. The Government is also leaving out paragraph (d) and considering a modification of paragraph (c), as to which we shall hear on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendments made: Leave out the words "His Majesty" ["His Majesty may by Order in Council"], and insert instead thereof the words "the Local Government Board."
§ Leave out the words "by Order in Council."—[Sir R. Adkins.]
§ Mr. FISHER
The hon. and learned Gentleman has rightly expressed the intentions of the Government. As we can- 149 not do it to-night owing to the guillotine, we shall incorporate the Amendments on the Report stage of the Bill.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I called that Amendment in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Pringle), but there was no response, and I called upon the hon. Member (Mr. Whitehouse).
§ Mr. RAFFAN
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Oldham as it appears on the Paper is out of place, and I think should take precedence of the Amendment now before the Committee.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I am glad to have heard the statement that the Government are not moving their Amendments tonight and do not propose to move them until the Report stage to-morrow. I am glad to be able to move this Amendment and to have the opportunity of dividing the Committee. Paragraph (d) is to be deleted in accordance with a promise made by the Government at an earlier stage of the sitting. Paragraph (c), which I am moving to delete, covers the same ground as paragraph (d) to a very large measure. Paragraph (d) takes the power to determine the grounds upon which applications can be made and to determine rights of appeal. That paragraph is to come out, but paragraph (c) takes powers which overlap, because paragraph (c) takes the power by Regulation, not only to regulate applications for exemption, but to limit the making of applications for exemption. I always speak with great deference of the wisdom which is embodied in the language of Parliamentary draftsmen, and I speak with great reserve, but I suggest that the Parliamentary draftsman, with or without the authority of Ministers, have taken good care to secure their object twice over. I do not think you can take powers by Regultaion to limit the making of applications without by inference deciding upon what grounds those applications can be made. It follows that if you are going to limit applications you are not going to give a free and unfettered right 150 to the persons who make application on grounds set forward in the previous Military Service Acts. Therefore the powers sought for in paragraph (c) are unnecessary. If the powers in paragraph (d) are to come out, the powers in (c) should come out. The matter has been argued in the limit of time given which has proved altogether inadequate. Members of the Government have contradicted themselves as to the meaning of these paragraphs and have finally expressed great doubt and Suggested leaving the matter over, so that they might find out whether they could leave out the word "limit."
I understand that the Government have undertaken to alter this Clause, because the word "limit" may mean limiting the persons or the subject-matter of application. It may limit it to one objection or to one class of person. The Government having undertaken to do that, there is no necessity for dividing on this matter.
§ Mr. FISHER
I think the Home Secretary said earlier in the Debate that he was considering a form of words which he would bring up on the Report stage which would not take away certain rights which the Committee desire to preserve. He is considering that form of words, which is not yet agreed upon, and it will be far better for the Committee to deal with that matter on the Report stage when they see the words in print.
§ It being half-past Nine of the clock, the DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 11th April, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at half-past Nine of the clock this day.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided; Ayes, 276; Noes, 134.153
|Division No. 22].||AYES.||[9.30 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||M'Laren, Hon. H. (Leics., Bosworth)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Eyres-Monsell, Bolto, M.||Macleod, John M.|
|Agg-Gardner, sir James Tynte||Faber, George D (Clapham)||Macmaster, Donald|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Faber, Col. W. V. (Hants, W.)||McMicking, Major Gilbert|
|Anstruther-Gray, Lt.-Col. Wm.||Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray||McNeill, R. (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Archdale, Lt. Edward M.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Archer-Shee, Lt.-Col. Martin||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Astor, Major Hen Waldorf||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham)||Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-|
|Baird, John Lawrence||FitzRoy, Hon. Edward A.||Malcolm, Ian|
|Baker, Maj. Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William||Marriott, J. A. R.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Foster, Philip Staveley||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South)||Gastrell, Lt.-Col. Sir W. H.||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Geddes, Sir A C. (Hants, North)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Barnett, Capt. Richard W.||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Mitchell-Thomson, W.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Barran, Sir Jonn N. (Hawick, B.)||Goldman, Charles Sydney||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Goldsmith, Frank||Morrison-Bell, Colonel E. (Ashburton)|
|Barton, Sir William||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Morton, Sir Alpheus Cleophas|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc. E.)||Grant, James Augustus||Mount, William Arthur|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Greig, Colonel James William||Newman, Major John R. P.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gretton, John||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis Jones||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Benn, Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Guinness, Hon. R. C. L. (Essex, S.E.)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry||Haddock, George Bahr||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|B[...]d, Alfred||Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Parker, Rt. Hon. Sir G. (Gravesend)|
|Blair, Reginald||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. Fortescue||Hamersley, Lt.-Col. A. St. George||Parkes, Sir Edward|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Altrincham)||Pearce, Sir Robert (Leek)|
|Boscawen, sir Arthur Griffith-||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid.)||Hanson. Charles Augustin||Pease, Rt. Hon. H. P. (Darlington)|
|Boyton, Sir James||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence (Ashford)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Brassey, Maj. H. L. C.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)|
|Brocklehurst, Col. William B.||Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Brookes, Warwick||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Haslam, Lewis||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Prothero, Rt. Hon. Roland Edmund|
|Bull, Sir William James||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Torquay)||Henry, Sir Charles (Shropshire)||Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert|
|Butcher, J. G.||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Randles, Sir John|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Hewins, William Albert S.||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Remnant, Col. Sir James F.|
|Cator, John||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Richardson, Albion (peckham)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Geo. H. (Norwich)|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Roberts, Sir Herbert (Denbighs.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugn (Oxford O.)||Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Rothschild. Major Lionel de|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Royds, Major Edmund|
|Cheyne, Sir William W.||Hunter, Maj. Sir Chas. Rodk.||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Clynes, John R.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur|
|Coats, Sir Stuart (Wimbledon)||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scott, A. M'Callum (Bridgeton)|
|Colvin, Col.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones. Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Jones. Wm. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Sharman-Crawford, Col. R. G.|
|Coots, William (Tyrone, S.)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Kerry, Lieut.-Col., Earl of|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Keswick, Henry||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Courthope, Maj. George Loyd||Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Craig, Ernest (Crewe)||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Stanier, Capt. Sir Beville|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Aston)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Layland-Barratt, Sir F.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Levy, Sir Maurice||Staveley-Hill, Lt.-Col. Henry|
|Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Stewart, Gershom|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Stirling, Lt.-Col. Archibald|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N.)|
|Denison-Pender, Capt. J.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Swift, Rigby|
|Denniss, Edmund R. Bartley||Lonsdale, James R.||Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Lowther, Claude (Eskdale)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Duke, Rt Hon. Henry Edward||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Otley)||McCalmont, Brig -Gen. R. C. A.||Thomas, Sir G. (Monmouth, S.)|
|Du Pre, Maj. W B.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Thomas-Stanford, Chas. (Brighton)|
|Edwards, A. Clement (Glam., E.)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Thompson, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Thorne, William (West Ham)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Winfrey, Sir R.|
|Tickler, Thomas George||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Tryon, Capt. George Clement||Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.)||Wood, Hon. E. F L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Walker, Col. W. H.||Weston, John W.||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.||Worthington Evans, Sir L.|
|Walton, Sir Joseph||Whiteley, Sir H. J, (Droitwich)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.||Younger, Sir George|
|Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Williams, Col. Sir R. Dorset, W.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Wardie, George J.||Wilson, Capt. A Stanley (York)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Waring, Major Walter||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)|
|Alden, Percy||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Guiney, John||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Arnold, Sydney||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Dounell, Thomas|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Harbison, T. J. S.||O'Dowd, John|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, South)||O'Grady, James|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Leary, Daniel|
|Black, Sir Arthur W.||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William|
|Bliss, Joseph||Healy, Maurice (Cork City)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Boland, John Pius||Healy, Timothy M. (Cork, N. E:)||O'Shee, James John|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hearn, Michael L. (Dublin, S.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hill, Sir James (Bradford, C.)||Partington, Hon. Oswald|
|Buxton, Noel||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles, E. H.||Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Hogge, J. M.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Holt, Richard Durning||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hudson, Walter||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Clough, William||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Collins, Sir William (Derby)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Rushcliffe)||Reddy, Michael|
|Cosgrave, James (Galway, E.)||Jowett, Frederick William||Redmond, Capt. W. A.|
|Crean, Eugene||Joyce, Michael||Rowlands, James|
|Crumley, Patrick||Keating, Matthew||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Cullinan, John||Kelly, Edward||Runciman, Sir Walter (Hartlepool)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Kilbride, Denis||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir Charles (Mansfield)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kiley, James Daniel||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.||King, Joseph||Sheehy, David|
|Dillon, John||Lambert, Richard (Cricklade)||Smith, Albert (Clitheroe)|
|Doneian, Captain A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Donovan, John Thomas||Lundon, Thomas||Snowden, Philip|
|Donnelly, Patrick||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Doris, William||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Thomas Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. sir James B.||M'Ghee, Richard||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Duffy, William J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Esmonde, Capt. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Maden, Sir John Henry||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meagher, Michael||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co.)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Field, William||Molloy, Michael||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Finney, Samuel||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Morrell, Philip||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Muldoon, John||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nolan, Joseph|
|Fletcher, John S.||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir G. Baring and Mr. Anderson.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Nuttall, Harry|