HC Deb 24 July 1918 vol 108 cc1951-70

Ordered, "That so much of the Lords Message [18th July] as relates to a Joint Committee be now considered."—[Lord E. Talbot.]

So much of the Lords Message considered accordingly.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Select Committee of six Members be appointed to join with a Committee appointed by the Lords (as mentioned in their Lordships' Message of the 18th July) to consider the Criminal Law Amendment Bill [Lords] and the Sexual Offences Bill" [Lords].—[Lord E. Talbot]


I do not know whether it is proposed to divide against this Resolution. I had up to this moment presumed it was not, but, if it is, I shall oppose it for several reasons. If it is carried, I sincerely trust the Government will not assume that its acceptance by the House implies that Members generally approve of what it contains, and, above all, what it implies, in the consideration of the question which this Select Committee is set up to consider. First, I trust the Government will understand that there is a considerable volume of opinion in the country against the question being touched at all at this moment, and the reasons for it are sound and unanswerable. No later than 1913 a Royal Commission was appointed by the Government of which I was a member, and it was in the appointment of that Royal Commission that, as President of the Local Government Board, I had a great deal to do with considering the subject, appointing the Commission, constituting the personnel, and taking a hand in the drafting of the Reference and the procedure. But it was never contemplated that when that Royal Commission sat, examined witnesses, and deliberated at considerable length and presented one of the best Reports I have ever known a Royal Commission to present on a delicate and difficult subject like this, that we were to have subsequently a Committee which would necessarily go over almost the same ground and deal with most of the problems to which the Royal Commission gave such detailed consideration. The Government specifically ruled out from the purview of that Royal Commission any reference to the re-enactment of the Contagious Diseases Act, and any idea of resorting to needless repression and to compulsion of a repressive, almost of a brutal, kind, and unless the Resolution is safeguarded by the common sense of the House of Commons, and above all by the careful judgment of the Committee itself, it may happen that we shall see in this country a revival of the agitation against a partial renewal of the Contagious Diseases Act; and what is more, if the Committee felt a desire so to do, it could, within the terms of reference of this Resolution, and within the four corners of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill and the Sexual Offences Bill, revive some of the most objectionable features of the Contagious Diseases Acts of 1880 and 1884, a thing that the Royal Commission would have nothing to do with, and which public opinion would not tolerate for a moment, and which the Governmet has tried to get a partial consideration of last Session, and has been soundly beaten on the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, when a very good Committee declined to have anything to do with this thorny, delicate, and repulsive subject, which is within the four corners of the two Bills to be remitted to this Select Committee.

First of all, the Royal Commission would not touch it, and the Home Secretary—one of the ablest of Home Secretaries I have ever known—in a most insinuating, persuasive, and positive way, did his best to get the Second Reading of the Bill through the House; and upstairs in Committee, after I believe fifteen or sixteen sittings, such opposition was evinced that the Bill, in my judgment, was killed. It was not dropped—that would technically, perhaps, be too severe. But it was not proceeded with, and we have heard nothing more of it for about nine months. But what has happened in the meantime is that what the Home Secretary could not do by the Criminal Law Amendment Bill which he introduced and did not proceed with, what the Royal Commission would have nothing to do with, the Government under Regulation 40 D under the Defence of the Realm Act have done. They have done one or two things which under those Bills were to be remitted to the Select Committee, and which, if the Select Committee were to approve, would, under the operation of Regulation 40 D under the Defence of the Realm Act, have created some precedent, so that they could use that Regulation as some justification for trying to put Regulation 40 D into the form of a Bill which would emanate from the consideration of these two Bills. They would bring that proposal in an amended consolidated Bill to the House, and we should then see an agitation against it. It does seem to me that the Royal Commission, having had nothing to do with this aspect of the problem, the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, which touched the subject matter of this Bill in several forms, having been killed by the House, and the subject having been so properly dealt with both by public opinion and the House of Commons itself, it is gratuitous and totally unnecessary that we should have this Resolution, the Select Committee or these two Bills at all. Under Regulation 40 which is within the four corners of these Bills there have been several cases—I think I am justified in saying many cases—of the grossest injustice to innocent, healthy, uninfected women who, under Regulation 40 D have been brought before the magistrates. They have been accused of solicitation, of prostitution, of suffering from disease which upon examination and upon the evidence of witnessess and their own confessions have been proved to be groundless. Gross injustice has been done to the women of the country in a way which I am positive the women will not tolerate if within the four corners of these Bills any attempt is made to stereotype Regulation 40 D, under which these abominable things have been done, and to incorporate them in an amended consolidated Bill with a view to putting them upon the women. There is an additional reason why this Bill and Resolution are unnecessary. Since the Royal Commission, since the Criminal Law Amendment Bill was killed, since Regulation 40 D was imposed upon a long-suffering community of women and these acts of injustice have come to light, the Local Government Board have taken a brave, wise, and sensible step, entailing much expenditure and money, by means of which all that this Bill seeks to remove will be disposed of altogether.

This Bill and this Resolution will in no way stop or mitigate this disease, but by free, secret, and confidential treatment, and in a more successful, practical, humane and scientific way they are actually at this moment engaged in combating the ravages of this disease, which does not prevail to anything like the extent that corybantic females who seem to be more angry with their own sex than men would have us believe. It is a small minority of females who are asking that these few women should be persecuted. The Venereal Diseases Bill, which was passed by the Committee upstairs, prevents the quack and unqualified people from prescribing medicines for the treatment of this particular disease. It insists that only qualified medical practitioners shall deal with these particular cases. Therefore, from all points of view—the Royal Commission, the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, the free and confidential treatment by the Local Government Board and the health authorities, the fact that quacks are unable to apply their trade to the extent of prolonging the incidence of the disease in people who are suffering from it—safeguards are being adopted to-day. It was to the profit of the quack the longer he kept a man diseased. The more money he made out of the poor fellow by the larger amounts of quack medicines and other bogus prescriptions that the poor victim of the disease was capable of paying for.

The ground for this Resolution, and, above all, the need of a Bill, in my judgment, does not exist. Say what you like, do what you may, whatever your intention may be, these two Bills and this Resolution imply differential treatment of women as against men. Whatever you do, you have no right to put upon women, however poor, however degraded, or however miserable specimens of humanity they may be, a differential and disproportionate penalty to that applied to men who are in a similarly diseased condition. Whatever you do you are differentiating against women, and thereby giving preference to men. For the first time in my experience, as a Member of the House of Commons, there are Clauses in both these Bills that mean compulsory detention for offences that hitherto have not been liable to penalties with imprisonment. In one of these two Bilk the compulsory detention can take a length of two years. It seems to me that these Bills will have to be very carefully watched. The Select Committee will have to have regard to public opinion. Above all, we must rejoice in the wonderful progress that has been made on sound, safe, decent lines without imprisonment or compulsion, especially when one realises the wonderful progress that has been made in the diminution of the disease without this Resolution and these two Bills.

Let us remember the simple fact that within the last fifteen years venereal disease in our Indian Army has diminished to such a large extent, through wise precautions and counter-attractions against undesirable places, which, to his credit, Lord Kitchener initiated, thereby deserving the gratitude both of the Army and the public. Owing to the counter-attractions, which kept men from undesirable places, and to the excellent way in which medical officers in the Army have done their best to persuade the soldiers to a better course of conduct, the figures of admission to hospital for venereal disease in the British Army in India have dropped from 550 per 1,000 to 50 per 1,000. In the home Army when you had the Contagious Diseases Act—a suggestion which is in both these Bills, and which is possibly within the ambit of this Resolution—274 per 1,000 of the British Army at Aldershot were admitted into hospital in the course of the year for venereal disease. That figure had declined to 42 per 1,000 before the War, and since then, when we had had as many as 200,000 men in the Aldershot command, I am glad to say that according to the latest information the figure has fallen still further to 29 per 1,000 per annum. In face of this wonderful progress there is no justification for these two Bills nor for this Resolution. And when one reads of the wonderful improvement in the control, moral discipline, and fine example of the officers, and in the wonderfully responsive conduct of the men, which has produced this marvellous change for the better in the Army, it is only right to say that the same ratio of decline prevails with regard to recruiting, and that while in 1884 there were 165 per 10,000 of recruits who presented themselves rejected because at the moment of recruitment they had venereal disease, that figure has dropped down to 16 per 10,000, a rate of progress which shows that it is not by means of detention, imprisonment, compulsion, repression, and penal treatment of the woman as against the man, which will be the programme if these Bills become law that improvement is effected. But there is a more excellent way in which we can grapple with this disease.

One last word to the Government is this. Beware the women! Since the Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed and the Royal Commission sat, the free and confidential treatment of venereal disease has been instituted, Parliament has given the vote to 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 of the women of this country. Is it fair, before these women have had an opportunity of expressing themselves at the next election and in kindred ways, to proceed by this Resolution and by these two Bills to prejudge the consideration of a problem on which every woman has a right to be consulted, and on which, if she was consulted, I am convinced she would support the view which I now respectfully put to the House, when I say that in the light of the progress which is proved by the figures that I have quoted, and in the light of the steps that have been taken during the last three or four years to combat this disease, it is not fair to prejudge what the women will do on this question. It is not fair to rule them out of the controversy as you are doing before they have had an opportunity of voting on the question. The Contagious Diseases Act of 1884 gave the women of this country, without the Vote, the opportunity of forcing upon the Government, the revocation of an obnoxious and oppressive measure, and it almost turned one Government out of power. I beg the Government, whatever the Select Committee does, not to finish these deliberations until after the next General Election, and the women have had an opportunity of voting. We shall have a lively, excitable, and in some respects a revolutionary election between now and the next six months, and the women will have an opportunity to see that you do not, by means of a Select Committee, re-introduce, either in shadow or substance, what was abolished when the Contagious Diseases Acts were taken off the Statute Book. Whether or not that will be done is for each man in his own opinion to decide, but on behalf of six or seven millions of women I respectfully submit that this question of compulsion should not be decided until the women have had a fair, open, and honourable opportunity of deciding for themselves, in a way we men are not capable of deciding for them, what their verdict is to be on this proposal. If the Government try, through the means of a Select Committee, to deal with this problem, they will be dealing with one that it is not at all necessary to handle during the War, and, above all, they will be inflicting disabilities on the women of this country, and denying to them equal rights with men, as well as the exercise of their votes to safeguard the liberties and wellbeing of their sex, with the possibility, also, of their being detained compulsorily in prison up to two years. That is a problem, with all the indignities to them which it involves, upon which the women of England should be committed, and which, I believe, they will unanimously reject.


I shall certainly divide the House against the Resolution. I was a member of the Grand Committee to which the Criminal Law Amendment Bill of the House of Lords was referred. We sat for a very long time, and had twelve or fourteen sittings. We debated the subject at great length, and the Government Bill was riddled with criticism and cut up with Amendments. The Bill was not proceeded with; I do not think it was formally dropped; at all events, it was not passed. Another attempt was made to get it through the House by other means, but, meeting with opposition, it was again abandoned.

What I object to is that, having on two occasions failed to get the Bill in the face of strenuous opposition, the Government then resolved to do what I must describe as an attempt to enforce behind the back and without the authority of the House provisions which it is perfectly plain that, without the authority of a Coalition Government, they could not have got through the House, although they strained things to the utmost. In the first place, Regulation 40 D was introduced, and a more scandalous act of executive government in my recollection never was attempted. If it had been before this House, instead of being done under the Defence of the Realm Act, it would never have been allowed to pass without safeguards. Nobody who voted for the Defence of the Realm Act ever dreamed that it would be perverted to such uses as that. The outcry was so great against that Regulation that the Government, if they did not abrogate it, are certainly not putting it into force very actively. They were undoubtedly ashamed of it, and they were obliged to withdraw from that position. Then they take refuge in the House of Lords. Having failed to get this legislation through the House of Commons, they introduce two Bills, the Criminal Law Amendment Bill and the Sexual Offences Bill, into the House of Lords. Why did they not afford the House of Commons a proper opportunity of debating these measures after what had happened with regard to the original Criminal Law Amendment Bill? I want to know what the exact procedure is in this case. I am a little rusty in the procedure of the House, although I thought I understood it pretty well after all these years, but this is a novel proceeding. Two Bills come down from the House of Lords with a message, and we are invited to consider the Lords message and appoint a Select Committee of six Members to join with a Committee appointed by the Lords in order to consider the two Bills in question. There are a certain number of names in a subsequent part of the Resolution to form that Committee. I find no fault with the names, but it is a very small Committee, and I think it is a very bad practice that a Bill of this character, on the same lines as that which was submitted to a Grand Committee of this House, should now be withdrawn from the Grand Committee and sent by this circuitous method before a very small Committee of six or eight Members of the House of Commons.

It looks to me very much as if the Government propose to come, during the Autumn Session, with the Report of this Committee and try to rush the Bill through the House before the General Election. I say that that is a procedure that will arouse unquestionably the bitterest possible opposition in this House, and I certainly would do anything in my power to support that opposition. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns) that it is nothing short of a scandalous outrage that after what has occurred this should happen. I recollect myself, as a member of the Grand Committee, that we received, and I read out to the Grand Committee myself, protests from every women's association in this country. I do not think there was a single women's association of any standard in this country that did not protest, and in face of those protests you are by a circuitous and rather obscure method endeavouring apparently to smuggle on the very eve of the General Election an odious measure through the House of Commons which affects in a particularly unfair and one-sided way the women of this country before they have had the opportunity of exercising the franchise which you have given them. I think that is a mean proceeding, and it is ridiculous to say there is a war urgency in the matter. We debated the matter at enormous length upstairs, and we had experts there, and the conclusion forced home to my mind was that there was no case for some of the objectionable provisions. Even now, although this is a somewhat emasculated Bill and some of the objectionable provisions are amended, there are some provisions in it of a very odious character. There is one Clause in the Bill, which I think we defeated in the Bill upstairs, providing for the detention of any young women who are found to be loitering or walking about the streets in a riotous manner, and who are to be treated practically as if they are prostitutes. Was such a proposal ever heard of? Any of us might be arrested while walking in the streets. "Riotous manner" is a matter of opinion. Every woman in the country is placed at the mercy of a policeman who can swear he saw her walking the streets in a riotous manner. He would not have to prove she was a common prostitute, but simply that she was riotous in her demeanour. It was condemned in Committee upstairs.

There was another provision which, I think, we debated for two days, and it was simply riddled and turned into ridicule by every person with any expert knowledge, and that was the provision to make it a penal offence to communicate venereal disease to anyone. Any doctor—many years ago I was a doctor myself—knows what that means. Think of the enormous avenue you open to blackmail! If this Bill were denominated a Bill for the promotion and facilitation of blackmail, I think it would be a better title than the title it bears. I have never heard of such a proposition. Under the infamous Clause of which I have just spoken it was the women only who were to be prosecuted as criminals if they communicated venereal disease. A man could do it as much as he liked. The provision is disgraceful to any civilised country, but in this Bill the provision is that anyone who communicates the disease can be treated as a criminal and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. We debated that for many hours upstairs, and the result was that the Home Secretary, who is rightly described as one of the most persuasive Home Secretaries who ever occupied the office, was turned inside out and perfectly helpless. It is a monstrous thing that, having brought forward these proposals and debated them in this House, sent them before a Grand Committee, put on specialists in the subject, and had the thing thrashed out, the whole thing lapsed and turned into ridicule, then, by a circuitous method, you try to smuggle it through the House of Commons before the 6,000,000 women have an opportunity of voting at an election. I beg to warn the Government that at this stage and every stage I shall give it every opposition in my power.

Lord E. TALBOT (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)

I have listened to the very forceful arguments brought forward by my right hon. Friend and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and the very facts brought forward show the importance of the Committee to inquire into this matter. I think the hon. Member for East Mayo is wrong in supposing that the object of appointing this Committee is to legislate in any hurry on this question. The matter was explained by the Home Secretary the other night, and this Committee has been set up with a view to inquiring into these Bills. Unless I am very much mistaken the proposed members of the Committee very much share the views of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Burns)—


Oh, no!


My impression is that way, and that the points made by the right hon. Gentleman will be most carefully considered, brought forward, and supported.


I should like to add my voice to those already uttered against proceeding at all with this legislation. I was one of those who sat for many weary months discussing the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, and we tried again and again to devise a method that would be fair as between the sexes. We found it absolutely impossible. The new form these Bills have taken aim at the same thing. In practice it is absolutely certain that the women will be the sex that will suffer most. They realise that already, and probably every hon. Member has received word, or memorials, from the various women's organisations who are determined that this legislation shall not be put on to the Statute Book until they have had a say in the matter. They are right. They suffer disabilities under the existing law. Only a few days ago two perfectly innocent married women, the wives of soldier-husbands in France, were walking along the streets in the West of London when they were arrested by the police and accused of the foul charge of solicitation. They were taken to the police-station. There they were able to satisfy the magistrate—by no means an impartial judge from the accounts subsequently given of the way he led the police in their defence—that they were perfectly innocent. They have no remedy whatever against the police. They were victims of this outrage.

If these Bills become Acts of Parliament they will make things even worse for women than now. You have laws enough dealing with solicitation. There is also the law against grievous bodily harm, under which, I should have thought, the communication of disease might very well be brought. There is absolutely no need for any additional legislation to deal with this matter. There is less need to-day than probably ever before in the history of the country. In the Debate here on 40 B I gave figures somewhat similar to those given by my hon. Friend showing that really the high-water mark of this disease was reached at the time of the Contagious Diseases Acts, and that from the time they were abrogated there has been a steady decline; until quite recently, we were told by the Under-Secretary for War that cases in the Army had reached a point lower than ever before. The figures I gave showed that the disease had declined amongst the civil population and the recruits for the Army, whilst other evidence shows that the existence of Acts similar to those, abrogated in 1886, tend to increase instead of to decrease the disease. This kind of legislation is based entirely on false principles. It has a tendency to increase the practices which lead to the disease, and therefore to the increase of the disease itself. This House has more than once declared its opposition to this kind of legislation. The Government were behind the back of the House, under the Defence of the Realm Act, introduced Regulation 40 B as they at one time recognised maisons tolerées in France. They have been driven back by public opinion. That public opinion will be ten times stronger if this legislation is passed. It is a gross injustice to the women electors who have the vote to say that they shall not be allowed to give a judgment on the question. I sincerely hope that the Government will not proceed with this, although the personnel of the Committee is one to which I have no objection. Indeed, I have every confidence in the gentleman nominated, but my view is that this legislation ought not to be considered until women have a right to pass judgment upon it.


I think the House has a right to-complain that there is no representative of the Home Office here, or, if there is, that he has only just come in, has not listened to the discussion, and apparently has no desire to reply to it. We have reason to complain of that, because the Noble Lord who moved the appointment of the Committee told us just now there is no intention on the part of the Government to use this Committee to hasten unduly any legislation. In fact, we are led to think that the appointment of this Committee is for the purpose of inquiry rather than to proceed as quickly as possible to legislate on the previous proposals. But only yesterday the Government gave quite a different answer to the same question. They were asked in another place whether in connection with this Select Committee it was going to lead to legislation with the greatest possible expedition, and the answer of the representative of the Home Office was: I can assure my Noble Friend it is our earnest desire to pass a Bill on this important subject as soon as the Secretary of State can manage it. Therefore, while we are told here that the appointment of this Select Committee is not going to hasten legislation, but will rather delay and show caution, in another place it is stated it is being done with the object of getting everything through with the greatest possible expedition. The real fact is that the Government has not made up its mind. Some of its members would like to bury this subject altogether or to put it off for another year, while other members of the Government, disappointed at previous failures, want to legislate as quickly as possible and with as much hugger-mugger as possible. The Home Office is in the latter category, and the fact that that is so is quite apparent from this, that these two Bills received their Second Reading in another place in May, and on the 8th of that month a request was sent to this House to join in appointing a Select Committee. Yet for ten weeks no action was taken here.


My right hon. Friend explained the cause of the delay the other night.


And it was a very poor explanation. He said it was because he had been at The Hague. But he did not start for The Hague until the middle of June, and thus for six weeks after the request came down from the other place nothing was done, although he was here. I put it the true explanation is that the Leader of the House knew that our time was fully occupied with legislation, and that there really was no chance of getting this legislation through if it was to be fairly debated this Session. Surely the Government were sensible enough to know that a Bill to which they had given weeks of time last Session could not be carried through this Session. In taking this question up now, they are doing so in the hope that when the country is turning its mind and thought to a General Election, when hon. Members of this House are engaged otherwise and in other places, they will be able at the end of the Session to get this Bill rapidly through without fair consideration. I do not think that is treating the House of Commons or the country or the women electors we have just enfranchised in a fair and proper way. I warned the Government a week ago that they would not embark on this question in this manner without getting opposition and obstruction. They have got opposition now from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, who has a peculiar right to speak on this subject, inasmuch as he set up a Royal Commission on Venereal Diseases, and we know his peculiar authority and interest in all these social and moral problems. I think the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made, and the fact that he told the Government at the very beginning of his speech that if there was any Division he would go into the Lobby against the Government ought to be a warning to them that they are embarking upon a policy which will only waste time and cause a great deal of disappointment in those quarters which were expecting this Bill to pass. It is going to make them become unpopular at the time of the General Election. If they persist, I believe it will be a real burden about their necks at the General Election, and on these grounds I hope they will have the good sense to delay and adjourn this Debate, and put this Motion on the Paper again if they think fit. But do let them consider carefully, not once, but twice, all the possibilities and all the facts of the case, and I

believe they will come to the conclusion that the wisest and safest course for them to pursue is to drop this proposal and not have anything more to do with it this Session.

11.0 P.M.


I very much regret that the Government have decided to assist in this Motion. Its object is to get consideration for Bills which have passed the Second Reading, and whether the Government know it or not these two Bills will raise the old controversy of the Contagious Diseases Acts. It is necessary to point out that we have had speeches from members of the Government, which unfortunately show that there are members of the Government who hold opposite views on the question of the Contagious Diseases Acts. Therefore, these Bills do raise all that old controversy naturally will give rise to much discussion and suspicion. I really think that there is no reason at all at a time like this for raising this old issue. It is highly undesirable. There is one other point which the Government would be wise to take to heart and consider in this matter. I understand that we are within a very few months going to embark upon a General Election in which for the first time a large number of women will take part. Personally, I can think of nothing more deplorable and undesirable than that the first election in which women are going to take part they should be occupied to a large extent in discussing this old, worn-out controversy of the Contagious Diseases Acts. Everyone would regret that in exercising their vote for the first time they should be perplexed by that issue. For that reason, and seeing that there is no prospect of getting this legislation through this Session, I hope that even now the Government will think better of it and will not waste the time of this House appointing a Committee to explore ground which it is useless to explore.

Question put, "That a Select Committee of six members be appointed to join with a Committee appointed by the Lords (as mentioned in their Lordships Message of the 18th July) to consider the Criminal Law Amendment Bill [Lords] and the Sexual Offences Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 50; Noes, 36.

Division No. 73.] AYES.

[11.1 p.m.

Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Baldwin, Stanley Beck, Arthur Cecil
Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.) Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Barnett, Capt. Richard W. Brace, Rt. Hon. William
Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton) McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. Robert C. A. Samuels, Arthur W. (Dublin U.)
Colvin, Col. Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur
Fell, Sir Arthur Mount, William Arthur Shortt, Edward
Foster, Philip Staveley Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Spear, Sir John Ward
Gobbs, Col. George Abraham Parker, Jomes (Halifax) Stewart, Gershom
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John Pease, Rt. Hon. H. P. (Darlington) Thomas, Sir G. (Monmouth, S.)
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Perkins, Walter Frank Weston, John W.
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray Williams, Aneurin (Durham)
Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian) Pratt, John W. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Pryce-Jones, Col. Sir E. Winfrey, Sir R.
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Pulley, C. T. Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Larmor, Sir Joseph Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)
Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Roberts, Sir Herbert (Denbighs.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt. F. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.
Levy, Sir Maurice Russell, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W.
Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Rutherford, Sir W. Watson (W. Derby)
Anderson, William C. Jowett, Frederick William Reddy, Michael
Booth, Frederick Handel Kilbride, Denis Robinson, Sidney
Byrne, Alfred King, Joseph Roch, Walter F.
Chancellor, Henry George Lambert, Richard (Cricklade) Rowntree, Arnold
Devlin, Joseph M'Ghee, Richard Scanlan, Thomas
Doris, William MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Sheehy, David
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Marshall, Arthur Harold Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Mason, Robert (Wansbeck) Toulmin, Sir George
France, Gerald Ashburner Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co.) Watt, Henry A.
Harbison, T. J. S. Morgan, George Hay Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, South) O'Shee, James John
Hearn, Michael L. (Dublin, S.) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Burns and Mr. Dillon
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Durham) Raffan, Peter Wilson

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Message be sent to the Lords to acquaint them therewith and to request that their Lordships will be pleased to add a Lord to the Joint Committee."—[Lord E. Talbot.]


I beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."


I beg to second the Motion.

I do so in the Government's own interest. The Leader of the House does not really appreciate the position at all. I warned him at Question Time that there was going to be opposition. He seemed perfectly surprised that any such state of things should arise. There is serious opposition if the Government can only summon fifty Members as against thirty-six. There is a number of Members in this House who would not vote. I think that the Government would be very well advised to reconsider the position, and I earnestly ask that the Debate may be adjourned in order that the Government may reconsider the position, and save the House and themselves from a position which is most undesirable, and certainly will lead to no good result.


I rise to support the Motion. I really think that the Government in common decency ought to agree to it. It is manifest now that to persist with this attempted legislation will be a pure waste of the time of the Committee and of the House, and it is a wanton thing to do. Then there is another aspect of the matter to which attention has been called. Here is an important subject which has been before the House over and over again. We have had a Division in which the Government only carried their Motion by fourteen votes, and there are sixty-seven paid Ministers in the House. We are entitled to assume that of the fifty votes, thirty at least were those of paid officials, and therefore of independent Members there was nearly a two-to-one majority against the Motion. The sensible and decent thing for the Leader of the House to do would be to agree to the Motion and drop the matter until an election takes place and the country has an opportunity of expressing its views.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)

I am grateful to the hon. Member (Mr. King) for the kind interest he takes in the welfare of the Government. Very likely he is right, but I do not happen to take his view. It seems to me there is no reason whatever why this Committee should not be set up. The fact that there is not a large attendance is what happens at this stage of the Session. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that if there had been any suspicion that this kind of opposition would take place, there would have been plenty of Members here.


Will the right hon. Gentleman analyse the Division List to-morrow and see how many of the fifty Members—that typical number; it was once called the "Devil's Half-hundred"—are paid officials of the Government, coming in to say "No" when he says "No," and "Yes" when he says "Yes" I The right hon. Gentleman is like the centurion in Holy Scripture, who says to one man, "Go, and he goeth." Seventeen of them were allowed to go, and they went, and fifty remained. We want to know something about the lost Ministerial sheep. Surely he will see that, after all,

Question again proposed, "That a Message be sent to the Lords to acquaint them therewith and to request that their Lordships will be pleased to add a Lord to the Joint Committee."


I think that the Government should explain why we are making a suggestion of this sort to the other House. I think that originally they suggested five—


The hon. Member has already addressed the House on this topic.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Sir William Collins be a member of the Select Committee."


We are now considering six names.


We are considering the name of Sir William Collins.

this House still bears the name of the House of Commons. It is still representative of the people, and that you are decidedly committing a shameful insult on every honourable woman. You will have Women Suffrage very soon, and I wish you joy of it. We will take care that these fifty heroes are immortalised.

Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The House divided: Ayes, 26; Noes, 50.

Division No. 74.] AYES. [11.15 p.m.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Roch, Walter F.
Devlin, Joseph McGhee, Richard Scanlan, Thomas
Dillon, John MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Sheehy, David
Doris, William Marshall, Arthur Harold Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Mason, Robert (Wansbeck) Watt, Henry A.
Harbison, T. J. S. Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Hearn, Michael Louis O'Shee, James John
Jowett, Frederick William Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Booth and Mr. King
Keating, Matthew Rattan, Peter Wilson
Kilbride, Denis Reddy, Michael
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Pulley, C. T.
Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dunbartonshire) Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian) Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)
Baldwin, Stanley Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Samuels, Arthur W.
Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South) Larmor, Sir J. Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur
Barnett, Capt. R. W. Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Shortt, Edward
Beck, Arthur Cecil Levy, Sir Maurice Spear, Sir John Ward
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W. Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Stewart, Gershom
Brace, Rt. Hon. William McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. Robert C. A. Thomas, Sir A. G. (Monmouth, S.)
Bryce, J. Annan Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Weston, Col. J. W.
Carew, C. R. S. Mount, William Arthur Williams, Aneurin (Durham)
Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Colvin, Colonel Parker, James (Halifax) Winfrey, Sir Richard
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n) Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Fell, Sir Arthur Perkins, Walter F.
Foster, Philip Staveley Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Edmund Talbot and Capt. F. Guest.
Gibbs, Col. George Abraham Pratt, J. W.
Gilmour, Lieut.-Col. John Pryce-Jones, Col. Sir E.

Question put, and agreed to.


I have no objection to the hon. Member, but I do not think the method of selecting these names can be considered satisfactory. Apparently these Members are selected, even including this hon. Gentleman, on party considerations. There are two Liberals, two Conservatives, one Labour representative, and one Nationalist. This hon. Member, I suppose, is nominated by the Liberal Whips. Although I have nothing against this particular name—I would far sooner see him appointed on his merits than certain other gentlemen—yet my objection is on the ground that he is nominated by a party Whip. I think the party Whip's nomination should be done away with, since we are a united Government.

Question put, and agreed to.

Sir Willoughby Dickinson also nominated a member of the Select Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson be a member of the Committee."


Although I do not intend to oppose this name, I would call attention to the fact that so many members of this Select Committee are officials directly connected with the Home Office. I think there are two in the Upper House, connected with the Home Office, and it is now proposed that a private secretary should be appointed. As this is a Committee which ought to have obtained independent opinion, I must call attention to the fact that undue weight and influence is being given to the official element, especially the official element connected with the War Office.

Question put, and agreed to.

Mr. Neville, Mr. John O'Connor, and Mr. Tyson Wilson also nominated members of the Select Committee.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.

Ordered, That Three be the quorum,—[Lord E. Talbot.]