§ (1) Every male person who was required to register himself under the principal Act or who is liable by virtue of this Act so to register himself shall—
- (a) If notice requiring the production of his certificate of registration has been given in accordance with the provisions of this Section, produce his certificate to the person, and at the time and place, specified by the notice; and
- (b) whether any such notice has been given or not, on demand by any police constable, or any person duly authorised in that behalf by the Director-General of National Service, either produce his certificate of registration or give particulars as to his name, address, age, and occupation.
§ (2) Any police constable or other person authorised to demand the production of certificates may, for the purpose of the performance of his duties under this Section, at any reasonable time enter any factory, workshop, or business premises and may inspect and take copies of any certificates produced to him.
§ (3) Any notice for the purpose of this Section may be given by any person authorised in that behalf by the Director-General of National Service, and either by delivering it to the person who is to be required to produce his certificate, or by leaving it at that person's place of residence, or by publishing it or causing it to be published at the place where that person is employed in such a manner as is reasonably calculated to bring it to his knowledge, and any such notice may specify a time (not being less than three days from the date of the notice), and a place (not being other than the residence or place of employment of the holder of the certificate), at which the certificate of registration is to be produced.
§ (4) If any person fails to comply with the provisions of this Section or gives particulars which are false in any respect, or obstructs any person in the exercise of his powers under this Section, he shall be liable on conviction under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts to a fine not exceeding five pounds.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I beg to move. in Sub-section (1), to leave out paragraph (b).
908 I attach very great importance to this Amendment. It raises a really vital question not with regard to the principle of the Bill, but with regard to the machinery by which the provisions of the Bill are to be carried out. The paragraph gives authority to any police constable to stop any person between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five and to compel him either to produce his certificate of registration or to give particulars about himself. This Section, apart from its extraordinarily offensive and Prussian-like character, is wholly unnecessary, because under paragraph (a) power is given to demand the production of the certificate from any person by the proper authority. The local registration authority or the proper authority under the principal Act has only to serve a notice upon any person, and under the provisions of Clause 6, paragraph (a), of this Bill the duty is then placed upon that person to produce his certificate at the time and place and to the person specified by the notice. The original Act provides that any person shall on demand by the appropriate civil authority produce his certificate of registration. The advisers of the right hon. Gentleman, in framing this Bill, have gone beyond the original Act in a most extraordinary way, and by this paragraph they give power to any police constable to accost persons between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five and demand either the certificate of registration or compel them to give an account of themselves. I should like to hear the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Colonel Sir H. Greenwood), because I think he would consider the matter for a long time before lending his support to this amazing proposal. There is no necessity for conferring upon the policeman this extraordinary power, because the other power taken under the Act is quite ample to secure from any person full particulars. Is there any parallel for legislation of this kind? I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to produce any parallel for an amazing proposal of this kind. At present the police can only accost ordinary citizens if they are engaged in the commission of some crime or if they are believed to be contemplating the commission of some crime. There is no provision in any other Bill by which the police can accost any person within these ages and demand these particulars either in the public streets or in other public places. The only analogy— 909 it is not a true analogy—is that by which a person directly authorised can make inquiries of men who are believed to be subject to military service. I do not think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman will quote that as a precedent for this proposal. I could point out very essential differences which place that in a different category altogether.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I presume that motor drivers, who are a small class, can only be interfered with by the police if they arc doing something illegal or believed to be practising in an illegal way. I would not, however, put my knowledge with regard to the law affecting motor drivers against that of my hon. Friend. I am sure he knows very much more about that than I do, though not more than my hon. Friend in front of me (Mr. King). May I remind the Committee what happened with regard to the powers that were given to specially authorised persons under the Military Service Bill? Does not the right hon. Gentleman remember the widespread scandal that was caused by the military officials and by persons acting under their direction holding up all those who arrived by certain trains and taking them technically into custody until they had satisfied them with reference to their liability to military service? Similar raids were made upon persons at public meetings, in certain theatres, and other public gatherings; and the right hon. Gentleman knows that I am not exaggerating when I tell him that those raids caused widespread scandal and indignation, and were stopped because of popular expressions of disapproval at such drastic instances of officialdom which in this country, until the War broke out, we had always associated with what we called "Prussianism." The members of the Committee may or may not feel that such a provision in a very modified form and in the hands of specially authorised persons was justified with regard to the operation of the Military Services Act. It hardly follows from that that the Committee will approve of every policeman without any special authority, without necessarily having any grounds for suspicion or inquiry, having the unqualified power vested in him by Act of Parliament of accosting any persons between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five and requiring them to give an account of themselves, not in 910 connection with their liability for military service, but as to whether they have carried out the liabilities which fall upon them under this Bill. I say, without any hesitation, that such a proposal will be extremely repugnant to the people of this country, as I believe it is repugnant to the feelings of the Members of the House of Commons. What does it mean in effect? It means that there may be raids carried out by the police on public meetings; it means that all persons leaving certain railway stations may, if the police so decide, be subject to being held up and undergoing these inquiries; it means that any person walking in the streets at any moment may be subject to being stopped by the police and being subjected to inquiries. Our legislation can be searched in vain for any parallel to such a widespread, drastic, and most offensive piece of officialdom being enacted in a Statute of this country.
There is a yet more serious objection to this proposal. I should myself very greatly regret it if schoolboys of fifteen or sixteen, or, indeed, persons of any age, were arbitrarily stopped by the police more than once and on any sort of occasion and put through these inquiries. I should consider that a most lamentable thing. But there is a feature of this proposal which is much more offensive. I must again remind the Committee, as I reminded the House on a former occasion, that this proposal has to be considered in connection with Clause 7 of the Bill, which makes it lawful by an Order in Council to extend to female persons any of the provisions of this Bill which, as drawn, only apply to male persons. The Clause I am proposing to amend, as drafted, applies only to male persons between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five, but the moment the Order in Council is made under Clause 7 applying it to females, if such an Order be made—power is given for such an Order to be made—the police will then have the right to stop every female between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five and require them to give an account of themselves. That provision has only to be stated in order that it may be condemned. I do not believe that this House would tolerate such a provision, which is repugnant to all our traditions. It is a singularly unfortunate—indeed, I may say, a singularly offensive—proposal to put in the Bill. Nothing like it is to be found in the original Act which this Bill amends. This is not a matter in which there is any 911 middle course. I, therefore, move this Amendment and trust that the right hon. Gentleman, who, during the later stages of this Debate, has shown what I gladly and freely. acknowledge to be a most reasonable spirit in considering the Amendments, will show the same spirit and promise that this amazing provision, subjecting, it may be, males and females alike between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five to this drastic and arbitrary interference by any police constable without any special authority, shall be deleted from the Bill.
§ Mr. KING
I am in complete sympathy with the line taken by my hon. Friend. The employment of a police constable in a matter like this, without any authority, is highly objectionable, and, I am sure, will be resented. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Tickler) interpolated a remark just now about motor-cars. Why is a policeman entitled to stop any motorcar he likes and ask for the driver's licence? He is entitled to do so for the reason that when motor-cars were started everybody was terribly afraid of them, and the unpopularity of anybody who drove a motor-car—I am speaking of about fifteen years ago—was so great that Parliament at first would not allow motor-cars at all. It was only with the greatest difficulty that any motor-car was allowed, and the only condition upon which any man was allowed to have a motor licence was that any policeman should be able to stop him at once and find out whether he had a. licence.
§ Mr. KING
I will not follow them all. They are all on the same principle, that a policeman can stop anybody who, under the conditions Parliament has laid down, he thinks is dangerous to himself or to other people, or to both. In this case a policeman is to be allowed to stop any mortal person, male or female, between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five. Have we got to this point, that our Government 912 thinks that every person between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five is a possible danger to the country? That is the spirit of Prussianism in in excelsis. Prussianism thinks that any man with a conscience and an idea for himself is a danger. I dare say there are Prussians on the Treasury Bench who are of that opinion. They have not reached that height of feeling yet, but they will reach it shortly.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not think that this abstract from one of the hon. Member's speeches on War aims is quite relevant to the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. KING
I quite agree. I may add that I have not, yet delivered a speech on War aims, but I am eminently qualified to do so. I will only appeal very earnestly to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill whether he cannot accept either this Amendment or that standing in my name to cut out the words "police constable or," which would allow any persons authorised to stop people and make inquiries In that case you would get a local registration authority, finding that there were deficiencies or defects in the register in a certain district. The authority could authorise any particular constable for any particular purpose. That would still be objectionable in sonic ways, but it would be reasonable and practical. If my Amendment is accepted the right hon. Gentleman will not be makng any difficulties for himself, and will be removing a grave objection, because it will always be open to a local registration authority to appoint a constable to make inquiries in a certain direction or even in a certain area. Therefore, I sincerely hope some modification will be made in the Bill in this respect, and if the Government cannot accept this Amendment, I hope it may possibly accept mine.
One of the great differences between life in England and in certain parts of the Continent is the freedom with which people Call go about without interference from any official authorities whatever. Persons who are suspect are liable now to be interfered with by the police, and can be made to give an account of themselves, and can be taken to a police station, but this is placing in the hands of the police a power which they have hitherto not been able to exercise. Any person, however innocent, is liable to be called up, to be made to 913 produce his registration card, or to give an account of himself and his life history, and prove that he is innocent of anything suspicious. That is introducing the Prussian system into this country, and it will do this: At present the relations between the public and the police are very friendly. Generally speaking, a policeman, especially to a stranger in a strange place, is a help and a friend. This will make a policeman look upon every stranger whom he sees as a suspicious person, and will place on him a kind of duty to keep watch on people who are going past him in the streets, and it may lead to a complete change in the relations between the, public and the police, and there will be a feeling of mutual suspicion, the public feeling that the police are watching them in a hostile sense and the police feeling that it is their duty to be constantly watching the public. It is most unnecessary and undesirable that this power should be placed in the hands of the police, because the power which we place in their hands will become a duty which will be exercised at first perhaps sparingly and occasionally, but it may later on come to be exercised as a regular part of their duty. That would be insufferable. This inquisitorial official interference with the private life and even the movements of perfectly innocent, and at present free, citizens, will be simply intolerable against all precedent in our history and against all our cherished ideal of personal freedom, and I hope the Government will either modify or consent to do without this paragraph.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. S. WALSH
I remember that in this House, on a very small Bill, a right hon Gentleman said that that Bill was the beginning of the dismemberment and downfall of the British Empire. I hardly remember any Bill so trumpery as that Bill was, in 1906. The speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Chancellor) remanded me of it. Within this very innocent provision are embodied the most awful possibilities. I know nothing so nonsensical. What does it really require? A police constable may stop a person and ask him, not his life history, not a single word of his history, but his name, age, address and occupation. Is that anything of the life history of a person? Is there anything inquisitorial in that?
§ Mr. WALSH
A person is only called upon to act in accordance with the provisions of this Clause, and the moment any other particulars except those here mentioned are asked for the man or boy can turn upon his heel and say: "I am giving you no further information." To say that that is inquisitorial and is Prussianism is really to play with the English language altogether.
§ Mr. WALSH
Of course, if the hon. Member is prepared to keep on that line of argument and retort, no one can prevent him, but what is really asked is exactly what I say, and we really desire to keep this a wholly civilian measure. There is no authority that we know that performs its many duties, often invidious duties, so well and with such exceedingly good feeling between the public and themselves as the police constable. The hon. Member himself has said that is there going to be a sudden change in the nature of the police constable? Surely they have already analogous powers. Under the Military Service they are entitled to perform very similar functions. Has there been, amid the hundreds of thousands of exemption certificates issued, any serious complaint? That there have been a few complaints must be admitted, because no human society and no person is perfect, but the action of the police constables in the performance of their duty in respect of finding out from the general public whether they did or did not possess exemption certificates, and whether they had them in their possession, invidious as it may seem upon paper, has been performed in a most splendid manner. The duty here is not nearly so serious as that. If a person is accosted, to use the term put forward by the hon. Member (Mr. King), he simply gives these small particulars, and to say that this is bringing Prussian inquisitorial methods into our English life is something I cannot possibly understand. We want to make the register as complete as possible, because of 915 the social purposes for which it will be needful, but those are in no sense military purposes, and if the Amendment that follows later is carried it will confine the duty of finding out whether a person does or does not possess a certificate to people authorised by the Director of National Service. It would, as a matter of fact, on those lines have a much more invidious tendency than the lines which we suggest in this Bill. The Ministry of National Service is largely associated in the public mind with military service. Here we bring in the civilian element—the man responsible for the general peace of the locality, the man well known to the mass of the people, and the man who, in the performance of his duty, is generally in friendly relations with the people among whom he has to live. That is the man who is to perform this special duty, the man between whom and the people there has been good feeling in the past. We need his help from time to time. It is admitted that the register must be complete and made as perfect as it reasonably can. All the young people of eighteen years of age and under are to be enabled as freely as possible within our system of local government to get this work done for them, and there is no penalty attached to them. But it must be admitted that the local registration authorities may from time to time not be able to get all the information as complete or as exact as is desirable. Shall there be no help given to them? If the local registration authority thinks it right they may say to a police officer, "Will you see So-and-so, and ascertain whether he possesses his certificate?" Can there be any harm in that? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] I say for myself, and I am quite sure that I speak for the vast mass of the people of this nation on this question, that the fears entertained by the hon. Gentleman opposite are groundless. We are going to stand by this Section.
§ Mr. T. DAVIES
I have listened very carefully to the Debate on this Amendment and to the answer that has been given, and I cannot understand the arguments put forth in defence of keeping this proposal in the Bill. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board says that if you take this proposal out of the Bill the whole thing will be under the Director of National Service. It seems to me that if you keep 916 it in he will have power to appoint anyone to ask anything as to age and other particulars, besides occupation and residence. He thinks there is not much danger of our running ourselves into a second Prussia, but my experience of the last few months is that if we go on in this way, piling up Bill after Bill to restrict the liberty of the subject, we shall get pretty near to that. We have been told twice this afternoon, once by the President of the Local Government Board that this Bill is not required for military purposes. We have been told again that this Section is not required for military purposes of any kind. I thought we were passing this emergency Bill in order to strengthen our military position and to win the War more easily. If that is not the purpose, there is no reason in passing the Bill. If the powers are to be used after the War and for no military purpose, then why pass them? I do not know whether this Amendment is going to be pressed to a Division, but if we do not get a better answer than the one which has been given I shall go in the Lobby in support of the Amendment. The police in London have been on very good terms with the people, but the more of these powers you put into the hands of the police the more strained the relations will become. I am surprised at the attitude of my hon. Friend (Mr. Walsh), who usually, when he sat on the Labour Benches, defended the liberty of the subject, whether it affected London or Lancashire. If we place in the hands of the police duties which they do not like and which interfere with the liberty of the people, we shall find that the people and the police will not be on such good terms in the future as they have been in the past. I hope the Government will reconsider their decision, and agree to leave out this Section.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I am sorry that the Government are not prepared to accept this Amendment, and I am particularly sorry after listening to the speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. Walsh). I can remember the time, not long ago, when the tone of the hon. Gentleman on a question of this sort would have been very different from what it is to-night, and he would not have denounced, as he has done, the people who are attempting to stand up for liberty in this country. I can assure him that I view with regret the corrupting influence of the Treasury Bench, and 917 I would invite him to bethink himself before he stays there too long. After all, he no longer has the right hon. Member for Trinity College by his side, and he might follow that right hon. Gentleman's good example. I look back with regret to the old days when I remember the different tone of the hon. Member. I protest against the notion that this is a trivial Amendment or an unimportant point. I think it is a. very important point, because it is quite clear that this power which the Government is asking, to authorise a constable to stop persons in the street—men, women, girls, or boys—and to demand their name and address is a power which is not necessary for the working of this Bill. It is perfectly clear that you could get as complete a register without these powers as you can with them. It means increasing arbitrarily and unnecessarily the already very large powers of the police. Under Section a the authorities will have power to send notice to a man requiring the production of his certificate of registration, and after proper notice has been given to him he is bound to produce it at the time and place specified by the notice. Is not that enough for the Government? Why do they want to have the police going about the streets and stopping people? Why cannot the authorities give proper notice to a man to produce his certificate at the right place? That is the sort of thing we have always had before us in legislation. What is there so urgent that you must have people stopped in this way by the police?
We understood that this Bill was vitally necessary for the winning of the War. Now we are told something quite different. We are told that it is a Bill for social purposes, that it is a Bill for reconstruction, that it is a Bill to give valuable information to the Food Controller, that it is to enable some other Department to get vital statistics, that it is to increase employment, and all sorts of things, and above all that it is to get a complete register of everyone from fifteen to sixty-five years of age, although there is no effective machinery for obtaining a complete register. We know perfectly well that you will never have a complete register under this Bill, because in the last resort there is no compulsion—and I think it quite right that there should not be—as regards anyone below the age of eighteen, and there are thousands of young men and women under that age who will never be registered 918 under this Bill. Therefore, all talk of the importance of having complete vital statistics has no application.
Why, then, are we asked to submit to this police supervision? It is contrary to our traditions, to the liberty of the people, and to the healthy government of this country. I am inclined to think that, perhaps, after all, the object of the Bill is to give fresh power to the police. No one respects the police more than I do, but I have noticed during recent years that the tendency of the police to interfere is growing greater. I sit as a magistrate on a bench in the country sometimes, and I notice the great number of petty cases brought before the magistrates, and in almost every case brought before the magistrates by the police you can have a fine of £100 or six months imprisonment, or both. The other day a man pleaded ignorance of the Regulation and was actually fined 10s. because he filled up a return in ordinary pencil, instead of indelible pencil or ink. I was on the bench and protested, but the decision was carried against me by the majority. That is the sort of police interference that is growing enormously in this country. The hon. Gentleman says that it is not Prussianism. I do not know what else Prussianism is. I have travelled in Germany and France before the War. I know that in France the police could have you up any time and you could be examined by them. That is the sort of thing we protest against here. It leads to very bad results. If the Government could not accept this Amendment, at least- they could have accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Somerset, so that if you are going to exercise powers of accosting people in the street and examining them as to their occupation and addresses and everything else, this should be done by some person duly authorised for the purpose, and not by any young police constable who may be inexperienced. This is a bullying, Prussian proposal. I strongly object to it, and shall vote against it if it goes to a Division.
§ Mr. A. ALLEN
I do not want to let this Clause pass without registering my protest against it. We were told by the Secretary to the Local Government Board that there was some great social object of this Bill. It appears to me a very singular way of promoting social objects to give to the police the right to accost any man in the street and ask him various 919 questions as to his age and occupation. I cannot believe that in Scotland, at any rate, that way of promoting special objects will be very popular. So far the police have been on very good terms with the public, because they have been the servants of the public. This puts them in a totally different position, the position of stopping and making inquiries of people who are doing no ill at all, people who may have carried out every provision of this Bill, and I am inclined to think that this will have a very serious effect on the happy relations existing at present between the police and the public. I also oppose this Clause because I agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Morrell) that this is a strong advance in the direction of what we have all been opposing in this country, the introduction of the Prussian spirit into our life. I heard the hon. Gentleman opposite say just now that it was ridiculous to make a fuss about a small matter of this kind. After all what we call the Prussian spirit is a combination of small things, and if this is a small thing—and I am disposed to think that it is a big thing—at any rate it is eminently characteristic. Like my hon. Friend I have been in Germany, and I know from -study on the spot what the Prussian spirit is. This is eminently characteristic: of what we know as the Prussian spirit, and I shall certainly support my hon. Friend if he goes to a Division.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I had hopes, after the speech of the Secretary to the Local Government Board and the subsequent course of the Debate, that we should have had an opinion from the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. Munro), who is the only person on that bench qualified by profession and training to advise us on the legal aspects of this proposal. I am very sorry that he shows no signs of guiding the Committee to a decision in this matter. I am profoundly disappointed at the tone adopted by the Secretary to the Local Government Board. The President of the Local Government Board before lie retired to dinner had become most gentle and patient. The somewhat exclusive note that was noticeable in him at the beginning of the Debate had disappeared entirely, and nothing could have been more alluring than the demeanour which he displayed before he Withdrew. But the hon. Member (Mr. Walsh) having had the advantage, which I have not had, of 920 having his dinner, comes into this House and with great physical energy and great emphasis and great copiousness of words denounces not only this Amendment, but everyone who supports it, pooh-poohs the arguments as being trumpery and absurd, without taking the trouble to know what they are, much less to offer any reply, and finally sits down, having run amok on this question. My hon. Friend has taken a course which will not expedite the passage of the Bill, and is not just to those of us who, with great economy of words, have throughout this Debate attempted to fasten attention upon certain words and facts of the Bill. My hon. Friend would have been far better advised if, instead of indulging in invective and rhetoric, he had addressed himself to the task of replying to the arguments which were put forward, particularly in view of the fact that when he took part in the Second Reading Debate on this Bill he was so badly informed as to make remarks which were not strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Bill, as he will see by referring to his speech on the Bill.
What is the proposal that the hon. Member dismisses in this high-handed way? The Amendment simply takes out of the Bill this novel proposal, introduced in this form for the first time, and giving any police constable, without any special authority, the right to accost any person, male or female, between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five. A police constable may accost a person in the street, he may visit a private house and cross-examine him there, he may accost him in a place of public entertainment, he may accost him under almost any condition that he likes, and demand this particular document. This is precisely what we are objecting to, and it is no good for the hon. Gentleman, in rising to reply to this Amendment, to brush aside the arguments and say what noble persons the police are, and how we all love and revere them as an important element in our consolidated social life. The hon. Member knows very well that these remarks are not relevant to the Amendment. When he talks of the police he must not talk in such a way as to suggest that anyone has attacked the police, or that those of us who resist this preposterous proposal have any intention of attacking the police. In regard to myself, I have always supported any legislation brought forward to improve the lot of those who do so much arduous and honour- 921 able service to the public. This Amendment is not attacking the police; it is attacking the Government for the way they are going to give to the police a control under which the population would be subject to police scrutiny and police inspection which exists only in those countries that we have reprobated and at which we have pointed the finger of scorn because of their system of officialdom, which is more familiarly known as the system of Prussianism.
I would refer to a most striking omission in the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton has referred to some of the objections to the system of police inspection. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board failed to reply to one of the most serious aspects of this matter. Why did he not deal in his speech with the provisions of the Bill which permit all females between fifteen and sixty-five to be accosted by the police, and have these inquiries made of them? The hon. Gentleman said the Government would stand or fall by this Section, or at any rate that they would stand by this Section. Why did he make that heroic, that very heroic declaration, upon which I heartily congratulate him? Why did he rise to this almost sublime height of heroism? He failed to deal with the most serious aspect of this extraordinary proposal. The most serious feature of it is the power of the police to accost women between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five, and the hon. Gentleman cannot ride off from this argument by saying the provision is not in the Bill. If he will carry his memory. back, and I am not putting a great strain upon it, he will recollect that I particularly called attention to and described the way in which this provision might affect females between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five. I reminded him that there is a later Clause in this Bill making it possible for an Order in Council to be passed at any time after this Bill becomes an Act, extending all its provisions, which now apply to males, to females, and in that way females between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five will be subject to inspection.
§ Mr. WALSH
I would like to say a word here. I mentioned on a previous occasion that we were perfectly willing to consider that point on Clause 7 in Committee, because, I said, there was a danger of the power being used under the Order 922 in Council. As Clause 7 stands, it applies to male persons only, and no Order in Council has been made. The reference made was to male persons. The reason why I did not take this point at the time was because I was dealing entirely with Section 6; but I did promise, arid to that promise we adhere, that on Clause 7, in so far as at a later date an Order in Council may affect females, the whole matter shall be fully and fairly considered.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, and I will wait until we come to the discussion of Clause 7, when the Bill will be extended to females. I have shown good reason why the Amendment should be accepted, and I shall certainly go to a Division.
Will the right hon Gentleman allow me to put one point? It has been pointed out by the hon. Gentleman that the police could only ask for the name, address, age, and occupation of a person. I wish to ask the Secretary for Scotland, before he replies, this question: Supposing a policeman is not satisfied with the answers he gets from the person, has he any power to inquire into the past life of that person whom he is accosting in the street? Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly deal with that point?
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
I readily respond to the request made to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lanarkshire to give any help I can the Committee in arriving at a decision on this matter. The hon. Gentleman rather assumed that I was not going to reply on the Debate, but I can assure him that it was only when I saw him rising that, through courtesy to him, I refrained from rising until now.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I really think that the dangers adumbrated by various hon. Members in connection with the operation of this Clause have been largely exaggerated. My hon. Friend referred, quite rightly, to the operation of the police law. It has been my lot to have a good deal of association with the administration of the law in Scotland, and I have been in touch with Police Courts on the other side of the Border. I am bound to say that if the Clause of the Bill is fairly administered, as I have no reason to doubt it will be, then many of the apprehensions expressed 923 are, in my judgment, wholly without foundation or justification. The Debate has proceeded on the assumption that there is no precedent for this Clause. My hon. Friend spoke about this being a novel and amazing provision. I do not really think that the Clause deserves such a flow of adjectives as those which he applied to it. There is a precedent, as every member of the Committee well knows, for this Clause in the Military Service Act of 1916 by which the police are empowered to require any man who holds a certificate of exemption from military service on being required by a constable to produce it and give certain information. That Clause has been in operation for a considerable time. It has worked, as far as my information goes, smoothly. It is for military purposes, but the character of the Clause is just the same in one case as in the other. Having made inquiries into the operation of that particular Clause, I am informed that it has worked without friction and without resentment on the part of the persons affected. I will tell the Committee my own personal experience in this connection. I chanced to be in a South coast town when one of these "rounds up," as they are called, by the police took place. Under that particular Clause I, with a great many other persons, was asked for the particulars which the police were empowered to ask. No one refused the information that was asked, and no one resented the questions which were put with perfect courtesy and with perfect fairness. Indeed, a more good-humoured crowd than the crowd on that occasion I have never seen. There is a case where you have precisely, the ante principle in operation and in operation without friction or resentment.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I have given my own experience and I am endeavouring to meet the argument that this is an entirely novel and amazing proposal. It seems to me, from the information I have received, that this provision is necessary in order that the register shall be properly compiled and kept up to date. If it is not properly compiled and if it is not kept up to date, then it will really be useless for the purpose for which it is designed. With regard to the question as to the exact measure of police powers they are the 924 powers which are conferred upon them by this Section. If any excess of those powers were used, and I have no reason to suppose it likely, by the police, then the question could be raised at the proper time and in the proper way.
§ Mr. MUNRO
That is a question of law. Whether or not they are bound to accept the information as satisfactory is possibly for the police constable to decide and possibly for his superiors to decide. All I say now is that the measure of police powers is contained in this Section. Tributes have been paid to the fairness of the police with which I entirely agree. The assumption upon which the Debate has proceeded on the part of those who opposed this Clause is that the police powers will be abused. I venture most respectfully to dissent from that view. From the experience I have had of the police administration on the other side of the Border and from the knowledge I have of administration on this side of the Border, I have no such fear. I am sure that,this provision is necessary for the proper compilation of the register, and I would respectively invite the Committee to accept it in the view that it will work without undue friction, just as the provision in the Military Service Act, to which, I have referred, has worked.
§ Mr. KILEY
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he resided in the East End of London the story which he related to us would not have been quite so pleasant. Constituents of mine were pulled out of motor-buses and were taken off the streets and were kept from three to six hours, although they had their proper registration cards and exemption cards with them. Those did not suffice, as the police wanted them verified, and the police kept the men until they sent to their homes and made inquiries. I can quite see the same thing happening here. There is mention in the Clause of this power being extended to any person duly authorised by the Director-General of National Service. Does that mean that it is to be confined to the paid officials of the National Service Department or are the powers to be given to any person to 925 whom the Director chooses to give them? Under the Military Service Act those powers are given to members of the Advisory Committee, who can go into any of their competitors' places of business. I think that under this Section they would have the same power. I suggest to the Minister in charge that he should find some form of words that would limit or place some restriction on the vast, un-
|Division No. 147.]||AYES.||[9.43 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., A ltrincham)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling||Hanson, Charles Augustin||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Archdale, Lieut. Edward M.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. George H. (Norwich)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Barnett, Captain R. W.||Haslam, Lewis||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecciesall)|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Robinson, Sidney|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T.||Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Samuels, Arthur W. (Dublin, Univer.)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Boyton, Sir James||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hills, Major John Waller||Shortt, Edward|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hinds, John||Smith, Sir SwIre (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Cater, John||Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Edin., Midlothian)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Staveley.H Ill, Lieut.-Col. H.|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Jones, Henry Hadyn (Merioneth)||Swift, Rigby|
|Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthcn, East)||Sykes, Col. Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Colvin, Col. Richard Beale||Larmor, Sir J.||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord Edmund|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Layland-Barratt, Sir F.||Thomas, Sir A. G. (Monmouth, S.)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton||Tickler, T. G.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. Robert C. A.||Ward, W. Dud ley (Southampton)|
|Feli, Sir Arthur||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Waring, Major Walter|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Weston, Col. J. W.|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescua||Macpherson, James Ian||Whiteley, Sir H. J.|
|Fleming, Sir J. (Aberdeen, S.)||Maitland, Sir A. J. Steel||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Morgan, George Hay||Williams, T. J. (Swansea)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Newman, Major John R. P.||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Parker, James (Hallfax)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Pease, Rt. Hon. H. Pike (Darlington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Perkins, Walter Frank||J. Hope and Mr. Pratt.|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis J.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Arnold, Sydney||Kiley, James Daniel||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts., Cricklade)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Morrell, Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Nuttall, Harry||Chancellor and Mr. King.|
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, b), to leave out the words "any police constable, or."
After the very strong arguments put forward on the last Amendment, and the very strong plea—very different from the expression in the Division Lobby, where Members came in, of course, without having heard the discussion at all—will the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill consider this Amendment? It would allow any person authorised by the Direc
§ limited powers in the Bill before us. If not, I shall have to support the opposition to this Clause.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out down to the word 'any' ['by any police constable'] stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 115; hoer, 12.
§ tor-General of National Service to make these inquiries, and possibly it might be followed by an Amendment which would allow any person authorised by the local registration authority to do so. I believe that if this were done it would be less objectionable. I do therefore hope that this concession may be made, feeling sure my proposal will not in any way affect the proper administration.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (2).
This Sub-section gives power to police constables, in order to discharge the duties which fall upon them under this Bill, to enter any factory, workshop, or business premises, and examine the workpeople, and take copies of any certificates presented to him. I have no intention of repeating here the very numerous arguments—arguments of great weight, I think — which were addressed to the Government on the previous Amendment in connection with this police inspection, but I desire to point out that the case—and it is a singularly poor one—the Government put forward for the support of the Bill on that Amendment falls to the ground in connection with this. I wish to submit—and I think I can show that this Sub-section giving the police this power is wholly unnecessary. "Workshops, factories, and business premises," to use the words of this Clause, are already subject to inspection. There are numerous Acts of Parliament regulating labour. There are the Acts we roughly refer to as the Factory Acts, which require special visits to factories and workshops and business premises. All the legislation regarding the factory laws has been placed in the hands of the Home Office, which maintains a very large staff of inspectors for the express purpose of visiting these places to see that the provisions of existing legislation are observed. There is no reason whatever why if the Government suspect that in any factory or workshop the proprietors or workmen are avoiding the provisions of this Act an inspector of the Home Office should not at once make a visit to investigate the matter. This is not only an obvious business arrangement, but it would be 928 much more efficient for the Home Office inspector who knows the factory to make the visit and see that the provisions of the Act are being carried out.
The right hon. Gentleman will not contend for one moment that it is proposed there should be any general visitation of factories and workshops. If that were so the services of the whole police force would be required to carry it out. But it amounts to this in practice. You may find isolated cases where you suspect that the law is not being observed, and I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should accept this Amendment, and, in these exceptional cases, which could not be very numerous, direct the Home Office inspector to visit and make a report. All that is needed is a little friendly co-operation between two Departments, and it would have this additional advantage, that it would point the way for a much-needed reform to put an end to the present overlapping of inspection in factories and place it on a. scientific and businesslike basis.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think this Amendment will cover the next three Amendments on the Paper dealing with this Sub-section.
§ 10.0 P.M.
The object of this Bill is. as far as possible to induce every person between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five to register, so that we may have an accurate knowledge of the man-power of this country, and as an inducement to get them to register we provide that those who do register shall produce their certificates of register at certain times, in certain places, and under certain conditions. If that is to be the practice I can imagine nothing more convenient to those who hold the certificates, that police constables should be allowed to enter premises where people are working who ought to be registered, and to remind them of the necessity of getting their certificates, and at the same time stating the information which has to be given on registration. I believe that in practice this will be the most convenient way in which to enforce registration, and I do not believe it will be resented. I have found in these matters no reluctance on the part of people to register or to show their certificates, and they certainly are willing to be informed if they have omitted to register. I do not believe there will be any objection at all to police constables entering premises at 929 stated times and asking for certificates, or using their influence with those who ought to have registered but have not done so. We will consider very carefully before the Report stage the question of penalties, but I repeat what we desire to bring about is the most accurate registration possible, and we believe this will be one of the best methods of making that registration complete.
§ Mr. KILEY
I have had some experience of visits by officials in connection with recruiting for National Service, and I must say the results have not been altogether satisfactory. First, we had one visitor who discovered, as he thought, some little informality; he went back and reported it, then we had another visitor to check his statement. Eventually the number of visitors rose to four before the matter was satisfactorily cleared up. Therefore, I am not sure I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we would welcome with open arms these visits of constables; but, seeing that under the Defence of the Realm Regulations we have no option in regard to them, I see no object in opposing this Sub-section.
§ Mr. WING
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman by what means he proposes we shall be able to distinguish the "other person" who is to exercise this power. I am not so much concerned about the police constable; he is a man who can be recognised, but in what way are you going to clothe or garb the "other person" so as to avoid the danger of some individual, under the guise of a representative of National Service, gaining access to premises and demanding to see this, that, and the other for purposes of his own and not for the purposes of the Act? How is it proposed to make this "other person" easily distinguishable by the individual of whom he may be demanding information?
It would be possible for anybody to dress himself up in the uniform of a police constable and to represent himself as being authorised by the Minister of National Service. All we can do is to see that the person who does appear as the authority authorised by the Minister of National Service shall have the best possible credentials. That is a matter to which we will apply our minds, and will see how far we can perfect our arrangements, so that anyone who presumes to appear for the Minister of National Service shall not only have the authority, but shall be able to persuade the person affected 930 that he is a duly authorised person. I cannot say exactly by what means that will be done, or what form the authority will take. I agree it is a matter to which attention ought to be given, and I will see to it that the matter is studied and that we shall, as far as possible, guard against anyone entering premises who is not authorised to do so by the Minister of National Service
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Mr. Whitehouse), to leave out Sub-section (4), I think, perhaps, this point has been met by the Government Amendment, which has now been handed in, to insert, after the word "person," the words "over the age of eighteen years." is that so?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Yes; that entirely meets my point, and I was about to move my Amendment in that form.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (4), after the word "person" ["If any person fails"], insert the words "over the age of eighteen years."—[Mr. Hayes Fisher.]
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.