HC Deb 19 June 1918 vol 107 cc444-73

I wish to raise a different subject from that which has been discussed, and to call the attention of the House to the new Regulation 40D under the Defence of the Realm Act, This Regulation has, up to the present, been the subject of certain questions, and it has already begun to raise a very widespread agitation outside the House. This is, however, the first occasion on which there has been an opportunity of discussing it in the House. I understood from the reply that the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for War gave me the other day that this is a decision of the War Cabinet, and that therefore he himself, although he has to answer for it, is not primarily responsible. If the House will permit me, I will begin by explaining what the Regulation says. It is briefly this. That any woman who has sexual intercourse with a soldier or a sailor can be arrested. Any woman who solicits or speaks to, for this purpose, a soldier or a sailor can be arrested. She can then be taken to a police-station and may then be remanded for a week in order that she may be examined either by her own doctor or the prison doctor to see whether she has venereal disease. It has been made plain in questions that there is no power to compel her to be examined if she refuses, but, of course, if she does refuse it will be left to the Court to draw its own conclusions. If, then, as a result of her refusal, or as a result of the examination, the Court holds her to have this venereal disease, then she can be sentenced to imprisonment up to six months. Meanwhile, so far as this Regulation is concerned—I shall come to the military Regulation in a moment—no penalty of any sort is to be inflicted upon the soldier or the sailor who on his side infects a woman with venereal disease. I think I will deal with this latter question first.

Everybody recognises that it is quite impossible to-day, with 6,000,000 women upon the register, to deal with these questions in the way that they used to be dealt with, and to lay it down that these sexual offences shall be punished with imprisonment amongst women and shall on the other hand be recognised as a necessary part of their lives amongst men. You cannot do that to-day. Every woman who has venereal disease has got it from some man. If she is guilty of a crime in infecting a man, she is the victim of a crime on her part, and it is clear that the Government, the War Cabinet itself, now recognises that it cannot deal with this subject by punishing the woman and the woman alone, and allowing the man to go scot-free. The reply, then, to the first contention that this Regulation punishes only women has been given in answer to questions in this House, but it was given more fully in the Debate in another place by the Secretary of State for War. In that Debate the Secretary of State for War argued that as a matter of fact this Regulation does not bear more harshly upon the soldiers than upon women, because you have to take the military regulations into account. His argument was that by the military regulations any soldier who is guilty of concealing venereal disease is liable, by sentence of court-martial, to two years' imprisonment. As a matter of fact, he has been liable to that for nearly thirty years. One had the impression that this was some new Regulation, passed pari passu with 40D, but that has been the case for thirty years. Then his argument was that any woman, who is infected by a soldier can inform his commanding officer that she has been infected, that the soldier will then be examined, and he can be sentenced by court-martial to imprisonment for two years, not for infecting the woman, but for concealing the disease. That is his argument, but it is an argument which in practice, I think, amounts to nothing whatever. Who imagines that any of these women are going to put their heads into the lion's mouth by, even anonymously, informing the commanding officer of a battalion that they have venereal disease? Apart from that, the soldier may, since giving the woman venereal disease, have reported it. Under those conditions he is not punished at all.

Apart from that, the majority of women under this Regulation are not going to be sent to prison for having sexual connection. They are going to be sent to prison for soliciting. The women who have been sentenced already, in the majority of cases, have been sentenced for soliciting while having venereal disease. There is no parallel between their case and that of the soldier. The soldier is not sentenced for soliciting under the same conditions. The fact is that, so far as soldiers and sailors are concerned, the right of complaint on the part of women, which has been there for thirty years, is inoperative. I can produce already, after three months of this Regulation, a number of cases in which women have been sentenced under it. I think I can say with safety that the right hon. Gentleman will not be able to produce a single case of which he has any evidence that a soldier has ever been sentenced by court-martial on a woman's complaint. The next fact which I wish to urge with regard to this Regulation is that there would be no necessity for it at all if the War Cabinet had nothing in their mind except to protect these young soldiers from temptation. If the War Cabinet wish to prevent them getting venereal disease by the simple method of keeping it out of their way, keeping all opportunities for the indulgence of this habit out of their way, which seems to be the obvious and simplest way, they have full powers to do so already. There is a Regulation which specially empowers them to do so. It was passed a long time ago. It is Regulation 13A, and by that Regulation any woman who is convicted of soliciting a soldier can be, because she has been convicted, expelled from any camp or training centre or any other place where any bodies of soldiers are to be found. Regulation 13A is a far simpler procedure than 40D. There is nothing easier than to obtain convictions for soliciting. A woman can be convicted for soliciting simply upon the evidence of a single police-constable, not corroborated by the man solicited; so that if the War Cabinet are thinking of nothing but to keep the temptation of indulging in these habits with these women out of the men's way and saving them from venereal disease in that way, then they have adequate powers more easily brought into play and 13A than under 40D. What is the meaning of the policy of refraining, as they do refrain, from systematically and rigorously enforcing 13A, and, on the other hand, relying on 40D? It means that the policy is to let the woman came in and then try to get rid of those who are diseased. The Contagious Diseases Acts did not take the opportunities of temptation out of young men's way. They allowed the opportunities for temptation to come into their way, and then, by punishing the women, imprisoning them, and segregating them, tried to make the indulgence of this habit safe. That was the principle of the Contagious Diseases Acts; it is the principle of the licensed houses; it is the principle of 40D. It is because it has been recognised that behind this 40D the old, obsolete, discredited and hated principle is still to be found that it is about to raise an agitation in this country which will be very widespread and which will be very unpleasant for all who have to take part in it. We all know that the higher professional military authorities always want to hark back to the old Contagious Diseases Acts. Those Acts were repealed by this House against the opinion of the higher military authorities. They consider that they are necessary, and they have not yet given up their conviction of their utility.

I am convinced, if you go into this subject, that you will find that the orthodox military view about this method of dealing with the disease is absolutely wrong from the beginning to the end. It is wrong, not only from the moral and ethical point of view, but it is plain now, as the result of experience, that it is wrong from the physical and the medical and the military points of view. The Contagious Diseases Acts were repealed late in 1886, and between 1886 and the outbreak of the War the amount of venereal disease in the British Army had fallen by 80 per cent. and was only one-fifth what it used to be when men were given this protection. The Royal Commission on Venereal Disease deliberately went out of its way to warn the country against reintroducing any Regulations based upon the principle of the Contagious Diseases Acts. May I explain what appear to me to be the reasons for these results? If you once attempt to deal with the disease by making indulgence in these habits easy and safe, you inevitably increase the number of men who indulge in vice, and as you cannot make it safe, as experience has shown that you never can make it secure, in the long run you will increase the amount of venereal disease. I believe that this Regulation must have that effect. Let me explain why. It begins by saying, No woman who is suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form shall have sexual intercourse with any member of His Majesty's Forces. Does not that lead men to think that for them to have sexual intercourse under these conditions is not a very dangerous thing? If no woman who has venereal disease may have sexual intercourse with a soldier, then it is not a very dangerous thing, and certainly it is not a wrong thing. A soldier friend of mine, having listened to one of the lectures which the War Office provides on the dangers of venereal disease, said, "It is all very fine for civilians, but it does not matter to us. It does not apply to us, because the Army protects us from the risk of having the disease." Look at the matter from the physical point of view. I say that this Regulation will have most tragic results unless it does actually secure the protection upon which it teaches men to rely. That protection it will not secure. Compare this Regulation from that point of view with the old Contagious Diseases Acts. The old Contagious Diseases Acts were far more efficient. The women were inspected regularly at definite intervals, and yet those Acts failed to give that security which they were supposed to provide.

Look at this Regulation! If the Contagious Diseases Acts failed to give security, this Regulation will be an absolute delusion. There is to be no system, no regularity. Women are to be arrested spasmodically, when a constable happens to see them talking to a soldier. The majority of them will never be arrested at all. There is one further consideration which I should like the right hon. Gentleman to take into account, because it seems to me to prove conclusively that this Regulation cannot have any result, and that no Regulation of this kind will have any better effect. It is this: In the Debate in the other place the Secretary of State for War acknowledged that his investigations had shown that men infected with venereal disease, in four-fifths of the cases, caught it not from professional prostitutes, some of whom, at any rate, we can imagine coming under this Regulation, but caught it from servant girls, shop girls, and others, whose own friends and families did not know of the habits into which they had fallen, and of whom not one in a thousand would come under the eye of the police or within the scope of this Regulation. That is the essential reason why the Contagious Diseases Acts, and why every attempt to deal with vice and venereal disease along these lines has always broken down, and has always given men a false security which, in practice, proves to be no security at all. That is the reason why from the point of view of the military strength of the country, this is an unwise Regulation. It is teaching men to rely upon a security which, in practice, hundreds of thousands of them will find to be a most tragic delusion, and which will increase the amount of venereal disease.

There is one other point which is important. I do not believe that there is the slightest chance that this Regulation would ever have passed through public Debate in this House and public agitation outside. The Contagious Diseases Acts had to be repealed because of this House and feeling outside. The maisons tolérées had to be closed. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, which contained a provision identical with this Regulation 40D had, because it contained that provision, to be withdrawn. Now the Government, when the House is not sitting, comes down and makes what I think is a very unfair use of its powers under the Defence of the Realm Act to pass, without the assent of Parliament, a provision identical with that which it had to withdraw because of the opposition of Parliament. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the fact that they have made this Regulation under the Defence of the Realm Act without discussion in this House is not going to save them from discussion or from agitation. They know something of the agitation which was arising over the question of the maisons tolérées. That agitation is beginning again. A very widespread and a very unpleasant public opinion will be created, and if this Regulation is continued we shall all of us find ourselves involved in a class of controversy which I am sure nobody, unless he is compelled, wishes to pursue. This Regulation, as I think the Government have already seen, is having very little effect. It can have very little effect. I hope that in view of the fact that it is going to lead to very serious indignation outside, as the right hon. Gentleman must know from the resolutions which are coming in, they will see their way to withdraw this Regulation.


I desire to support the appeal made by my hon. Friend. This Regulation has been put into operation without the knowledge of Parliament, without the assent of Parliament, and over its head. If there is one thing upon which the country is determined more than another it is that the principle of the Contagious Diseases Acts shall not be re-enacted. The Government will find that they have put their heads into a hornet's nest if they do not very early withdraw this Regulation. One of the earliest recollections I have as a very young man was the prosecution of the late Mr. W. T. Stead. I think it was the agitation in which he took part which led to the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts that first brought me into public life. I remember well the contempt with which those Acts were regarded by the women of the land and how, after political agitation for many years, the men of the land also rose against them in indignation and compelled their withdrawal. Since those Acts were withdrawn, the diseases against which those Acts were supposed to be an insurance have gradually disappeared, until now they are fractional compared with their extent in those days. Let me give the House a few figures for 1886 and 1907. In 1886 the deaths per million of the civil population as a whole from venereal diseases were ninety-two, and by 1907 the number had been reduced to fifty-eight. The deaths of children under one year, born with this disease and dying from it, were in 1886 236 per 1,000,000; in 1907 the figure had been reduced to 136. The number of recruits per 10,000 rejected for the British Army in 1886 was 82, and in 1907, 18. Take the hospital cases of the Army itself. In 1886 they were 267; in 1907 they had been reduced to 72. From that day to this the reduction has gone on until the right hon. Gentleman himself, in February of this year, gave us the figure of 43.5 per 1,000, which was the lowest figure in the history of the British Army. There is, therefore, nothing in our experience as a country to justify the re-introduction of this principle. That the feeling against this principle is still strong is proved by the history of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill. I sat for several months on the Committee that dealt with that Bill. We there experienced the opposition which existed outside; we there tried to eliminate, as far as we could, the application of this principle, and eventually the Bill was dropped, and it was not proceeded with. After all, with the evidence of the futility of the old Contagious Diseases Acts, the evidence of the gradual diminution in the extent of this disease both in the Army and in the civil population, the evidence of the feeling against the Criminal Law Amendment Act of last year, this 40D is now introduced without our knowledge or consent, and I am sure against the wishes of the majority of this House and of a huge majority outside, and particularly against the wishes of the 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 newly enfranchised women who will have something to say on the matter when the next election comes.

What does this Defence of the Realm Regulation, thus surreptitiously enforced upon the country, do? It does not make a crime of solicitation. It only makes a crime of solicitation by certain people. A woman may solicit a soldier without being punished for it provided she does not suffer from venereal disease. She may not know that she suffers from it. She may suffer from it quite innocently. I think it is not accurate to say, as my hon. Friend says, that every woman must have been infected by some man. Many babies are born with this disease in their system and it only manifests itself under special conditions later in life. A woman quite innocently speaking to a soldier in the street, without any intention of anything of this kind, might be pounced upon by a policeman, accused of this crime of soliciting while suffering from venereal disease, haled before a magistrate, presumed to be guilty unless she consents to undergo the disgusting and degrading examination involved, and if she refuses is certain to be punished for an offence which she has never committed. The crime is not that of sexual indulgence. Soldiers are not discouraged from sexual indulgence. They are only given to understand that sexual indulgence by this means will be made safe. It can only be because of the old and exploded fallacy held by military men ever since the time of Napoleon, and probably before, that indulgence in sexual intercourse is necessary to the health of the soldier. It is not necessary to the health of the soldier. I will guarantee that many of the finest soldiers in the British Army are young men who have been brought up in pure homes, who taking pure minds and pure bodies into the Army, and refraining from indulgence in this practice, are as brave, courageous, and capable of bearing all the hardships involved in service in the Army as any man can be.

It is not necessary that men should indulge in sexual vice, but it is necessary that the administration of the Army should as far as possible remove temptation out of their way and discourage, instead of in this way encouraging them to do in the Army what, if they were at home, they would never dream of doing. The War Office evidently is still obsessed with the idea that you can make vice safe. You cannot do so. You may examine a woman this morning, you may give her a clean certificate, and if she is living a life of this kind and indulging with different men, she may be diseased by: to-morrow. You cannot examine her every twenty-four hours, and if you could you could not be sure of her being free from disease. You cannot ensure that the men with whom she consorts will be free from disease either. The very fact that the Government have made this provision is calculated to break down the morals of men who would otherwise keep themselves clean. I remember when quite a boy being told that regiments of the British Army were provided with women, and I remember the thought coming into my mind that if the Government provides that kind of thing it cannot be a very bad thing after all, and the horror with which I contemplated any such course of conduct on my own part was removed to some extent by the idea that the Govern- ment provided for it, and therefore it could not be either illegal or immoral. If you create that idea in the minds of young men, thrown as they are into the midst of temptation, you are undermining the morals of your forces, and you are making almost inevitable the breakdown of large numbers of young men who, if the act itself were treated as a wrong, and if the Government made it clear that the performance of the act, apart altogether from its connection with disease, was a violation of right, would abstain altogether from it, and go through this War pure and clean, and come back with bodies as pure as those with which they left home.

But I want to look at it from the point of view of the woman herself. A woman can be convicted and sentenced on mere police evidence. You want to protect the soldiers. Numbers of women are in the vicinity of camps. You have powers under 13A to send them away from those camps. If any woman "contravening any provision in any Act, whether public, general, or local, or any by-law for the prevention of indecent conduct in public places, or anyone who resides in or frequents any place where any body of His Majesty's forces are assembled" can be sent away from those places under the powers taken in that Regulation. The police have put upon them the duty to protect our soldiers from danger from infection. Supposing that for some considerable time a policeman whose duty it is to protect our soldiers has no case of this kind. He begins to think he will lose credit if he does not discover what must be going on. He sees a woman speaking to a soldier in the street. Without the accusation of the soldier he feels it to be his duty for his own credit to drag this woman before a magistrate and accuse her of soliciting, in the belief that she is a person of immoral character, perhaps carrying on the practice of prostitution, and that she will be found to be suffering from this disease. She is examined, or she is given the option of being remanded for not less than a week, which may mean spending a week in prison, and then being examined and, being found free of the disease, of being released. I do not know what compensation she gets for the week she has already spent in prison, for the degradation to which she has been subjected in the sight of her family and her friends, for even having been suspected and called before a magistrate for this kind of thing. The soldier need not, and frequently does not, appear to give evidence. The girl, though she be an innocent girl, will do her utmost not to have the case dragged into the public Press. If she be practising this kind of life she will probably be willing to undergo the examination, much as she may detest it, in the hope that she will be discovered to be free of the disease, but in every case the presumption is against the woman. The most perfectly innocent things will be interpreted against her unless she voluntarily undergoes this disgusting and degrading examination. It is unfair, unmanly, and dishonourable. It is unfair in its incidence It does not bear on the soldier. The soldier is very seldom called before the magistrate. He can only be called before the magistrate if the woman herself makes a complaint against him; and for her own sake, and the sake of her own reputation, she will avoid that as far as possible.

We have had a number of cases, and not a single case I have heard of applies to the soldier. There are one or two rather suggestive oases to which I would like to call the attention of my right hon. Friend. Here are two cases, one at Oxford and one at Cambridge. In the Oxford case the woman was charged with having infected a soldier. He stated that he had been with no other woman since his return from France. Two doctors gave evidence that the soldier was infected. The woman was examined by a woman doctor, bacteriologist and pathologist, who found no trace of disease. The prosecutor's doctor said that they could not dispute her verdict, and consequently the woman was discharged. In the Cambridge case the woman was charged by a soldier with having infected him. He had just returned from two weeks' leave spent with his wife. In this case, fortunately for the woman, she had friends who were able to pay for her defence. There was direct conflict of evidence as to whether the alleged offence had been committed, and whether the woman was suffering from the disease. There was no certain evidence of intercourse; only the soldier's statement. The woman denied the act. She was examined twice by a doctor. Tests were made, and no evidence was found of the disease. But the defendant's own doctor admitted that this did not prove conclusively that the woman was not diseased. All these tests are bacteriological tests. It is quite possible for a woman or a man to suffer from disease without having any bacteriological evidence of it. The bacteriological examination is utterly futile and uncertain. Men may have these bacteria in them and they may be discovered as existing in the system, and yet they may be entirely free from the disease. So much for bacteriology!

9.0 P.M.

There is another case which is reported in the "Folkestone Herald" of 11th May, where two women had in their possession certificates of health from local doctors. The policemen who gave evidence said they supposed the women had obtained the certificates to show to the men they accosted. The prisoner in one case said she obtained the certificate after what the police had said. Both prisoners were sentenced to fourteen days and recommended for expulsion. There is the danger. Some women will get certificates in order that they may safely solicit soldiers without the risk of being imprisoned for doing so. There is another aspect of the question. Sexual intercourse means cooperation. It takes two. When I was a boy at school, if two or more boys got into a scrape and one got found out, if he implicated the others in order to save himself we called him a sneak, a cad, and a coward. In these cases, where soldiers and women co-operate to do wrong and the soldier suffers as a consequence, the soldier who exposes the woman through whom he suffers is a sneak, a cad, and a coward, and this Regulation is helping to make our soldiers, whom we call gallant and whom we believe to be brave, to be just that kind of men. I say, further, that the Minister or the Member of Parliament who will defend that, is scarcely less guilty than the soldier himself.

The Prime Minister, who I understand is primarily responsible for this Regulation as head of the War Cabinet, addressed an assembly of the divines of the Free Church Council at the City Temple at the time that this Regulation was inaugurated. He said we were fighting a holy war, and he begged the ministers there assembled to see that we went through it as a holy war. We pray every day in this House that victory may attend the efforts of our soldiers and sailors. To sanction a practice of this kind and to encourage sexual vice amongst our soldiers and sailors by this illusive safeguard, and then to pray that God will bless our arms, and to claim that we are conducting a holy war, is the rankest blasphemy. Is there not a better way of dealing with this? Other Regulations already in existence, with slight modifications, would meet the case very much better. Take the Regulation preceding this one, Regulation 40C, which says that if any man of His Majesty's Reserve Forces, not for the time being subject to the Naval Discipline Act or to military law, or any man who holds a certificate of exemption from military service, produces any disease or infirmity to himself, presumably with the object of escaping military service, he comes under this Regulation and suffers the penalties that it involves. That, I presume, is the condemnation of an attempt to escape military service. If a man actually in the Army becomes subject to disease that might have been avoided, he also is acting disloyally to his duty and to his country. Why not amend that Regulation so as to make becoming diseased a crime and not the concealing of it, and let the soldier realise that he will undergo punishment if he becomes diseased through this practice?

Why penalise the woman and let the man go free? Why punish a man for concealing the disease and not for getting diseased? The crime consists in the getting of the disease and not in the concealing of it. I have been in correspondence with a friend of mine who has had a lot of experience on the subject. He is a Canadian officer. I will read an extract from a letter which I received from him the other day dealing with this subject. He says: To my mind no man is urgently solicited by women on the street who is not willing to listen to their solicitations. The fellow who gets the glad eye will not receive a second one unless in the meantime he has made a favourable response. I have been on the street as a private, as an officer, and as a civilian, and out of my experience in definitely studying the question I have come to this conclusion, that solicitation is usually a double-party matter. Besides this, why make it necessary to prove two things? Why burden the question of conveying infection with providing proof of prior solicitation? It would surely be easier to prove one thing than two, and it makes no material difference whether the woman simply talked to the man or urged the man or whether the man solicited the woman. The whole thing hinges on whether the one person infected the other with venereal disease. That is the crime. We had upstairs the other day a meeting of delegates of women's organisa- tions with a membership of over a million. They do not represent anything like the total feeling of women throughout the country with regard to this matter. They warned the right hon. Gentleman that if he cannot give satisfactory assurance as to the withdrwal of this Regulation there will be an agitation throughout the country in spite of the Defence of the Realm Act, and that course will be taken, even in face of prosecutions under those Acts and denounced, until the Regulation is withdrawn. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend is not responsible for this Regulation. I thank him for the prompt action which he took on the question of licensed houses of ill fame in France which he put out of bounds. If he has not already got the sanction of the War Cabinet, will he urge upon the War Cabinet the withdrawal of this unfair and and unchivalrous Regulation, and then endeavour by moral means, or by such means as I have suggested, to reduce still further this disease and make its disappearance still more rapid? It is along that line rather than along the line which is being followed that the evil should be combated. One other matter. I think that the Government's greatest failure during the course of the War has been its failure to deal with the question of strong drink both in and out of the Army. If you could prevent the soldiers from getting strong drink not one in a dozen of these cases would occur, for the evidence proves that in a very large proportion of these cases men only become the victims of women when they have already become the victims of drink.


I am sorry that this Debate should take place in so small a House, and particularly that we should not have on the Front Bench one or two more members of the Government, though I quite recognise that this matter lies in the hands of the Under-Secretary of State for War, and that he will undoubtedly deal with it perfectly openly and with capacity. This question is much larger and much more important than some people think. The issue of this Regulation has caused a revival of the great public opinion which years ago did away with the Contagious Diseases Act, and which I am perfectly certain will sooner or later, and I hope sooner rather than later, do away with this Regulation. We have the great mass of opinion of the women of this country protesting against it, and I have no doubt whatever that, if we were free to agitate against the Government, which no one wants to do in present circumstances, we could raise an agitation as strong as that which was raised by Mrs. Josephine Butler years ago. In addition, I submit that the Government have no right to issue this Regulation under the Defence of the Realm Act without reference to this House, and for one very special reason. This subject has formed the basis of a Report by the Royal Commission on Venereal Disease. In that Report the Commission went out of their way to state their conviction from the evidence that a return to the Contagious Diseases Act was most inadvisable and could not be recommended. The result of that Report was that the Government introduced a Bill dealing with this very subject of the transmission of venereal disease, and that Bill passed through Committee of this House, but was not proceeded with last Session. It was not withdrawn until the last moment, and was not proceeded with for want of time and because there was some opposition. But it has been reintroduced into the House of Lords this year, and it has been generally understood that the Government were going to proceed with that Bill.

That Bill deals with this question on the broad principle that any law that you make with regard to this matter must equally affect men as women. That was one of the difficulties which we had to meet in dealing with this Bill last year. The only way in which you can legislate on this subject is to legislate with absolute impartiality as between men and women. This Bill is proceeding through the House of Lords, and meanwhile a Government Department, without consulting this House, make a Regulation which is absolutely inconsistent with the main principle of that Bill, because it is a Regulation which affects the woman only. What is the reason for making this penal for the woman and not for the man? If there is any guilt about it the man who transmits the disease to a woman is equally guilty, and yet there is no Regulation to prevent him except a Regulation, which Lord Derby has tried to explain in the House of Lords, that a woman may accuse a soldier and the soldier may be dealt with under the discipline of the Army. This idea of penalising the woman and not the man is a wrong conception altogether of the way in which this problem ought to be treated, because it at once gives to the man the idea that he is in a different position altogether from the woman, but the Government recognise that he is permitted to have relationship with a woman, and that the woman alone is to be punished if she happens to be affected with this disease and transmits it, and, while giving rise to that impression, it, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, gives rise to the idea, which is undoubtedly prevalent, that the Government recognise this procedure as one which, if not laudable—I will not go so far as that—is at any rate inevitable. I believe myself that that is a great mistake, and that, in face of the evidence that was given before the Royal Commission and other bodies, to say that promiscuous intercourse is so inevitable that you are bound to make rules to safeguard people from the results of it is a very great error.

When we had the Contagious Diseases Acts the effect of their operation was so unjust, so cruel, so disgusting that the people of this country rose against them. I believe that if you attempt to make laws of this kind it will inevitably be found that such legislation will sooner or later disgust the people of the country. Even with the small experience which we have had up to the present, we can make good that contention. My hon. Friend who raised the question quoted the first paragraph of the Regulation, which makes it a penal offence for a woman to be suffering from the disease, either having communicated with or soliciting any member of His Majesty's Service to have intercourse with her. But I should like to quote the next paragraph, because I want to show this House and the Government what most undesirable results arise from legislation of this sort— A woman charged with an offence under this Regulation shall, if so required, be remanded for a period of less than a week for the purpose of such medical examination as may be requisite for ascertaining whether she is suffering from such disease as aforesaid. The defendant shall be informed of her right to be remanded as aforesaid, and that she may be examined by her own doctor or by the medical officer of the prison. When this Regulation was passed I put down a question. I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for War whether under Regulation 40D, under the Defence of the Realm Act, by which it is made an offence for a woman suffering from venereal disease, to solicit or have sexual intercourse with a member of His Majesty's forces, a woman charged with this offence can be medically examined against her will, and, if so, whether it is intended that women so charged shall be so examined. The answer was in the negative. Therefore, according to the advice we have received, under this Regulation the woman could not be examined against her will, and that is quite right. That is the answer I expected. But it is not the answer that most people read into this Regulation. This Regulation that I have read out to the House I believe will convey to any ordinary mind the idea that if a woman comes before you and you say to her that, if she so requires, she may be remanded for a period for the purpose of a medical examination which is requisite, I venture to think that most people would say that that was an obligation on her to submit to it. As a matter of fact, that is precisely what has occurred, because in the case to which reference has already been made this is what happened. On 8th May, at Newport Pagnell, Alice Cowley, of Stony Stratford, appeared on a charge under this Regulation. She was arrested by the civil police. The man in the case gave evidence, and the woman was defended by a solicitor, who said there was no case for him to answer; but the police superintendent said that the onus of proof was on the defence. That was the view of the superintendent of police. I asked a question of the Home Office yesterday on this case. I wanted to know whether these facts were correct, and the answer given was: I find on inquiry that the facts are as stated, the police superintendent appears to have misread one of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and to have made the statement attributed to him, but his mistake did not affect the decision of the justices, who, after hearing the defence, dismissed the charge. I do not think that the Home Secretary could issue instructions to magistrates as to what evidence they should take, nor does there seem to have been any need for them in this instance. What happened in the case is that, after the superintendent of police had put forward this statement of his view of the law, namely, that the onus of proof was thrown on the defendant, evidence was called as to the examination made by Dr. Bull, who said that he found no trace of disease. Therefore, this woman was put on her defence, and, although it was clear that there was no trace of disease, had yet to undergo the examination, though it is true that the examination was made by her own doctor, in order to prove her innocence. I ask the Home Office and the Under-Secretary for War to consider the position very carefully. No woman can be compelled to be examined against her wish. That is perfectly clear. It is also perfectly clear that if a case is brought against a woman there is no obligation upon her to prove anything against herself. The obligation in all criminal cases is for the prosecution to make good their case. I submit that in this case the position was that it was for the prosecution to prove not only that the woman solicited the man, but that she herself was infected. That leads us to this, that unless you can by illegal means and by illegal pressure force a woman into the position of being examined in order to clear herself, the Government have no means of interfering under this Regulation at all. I put that very clearly to the Home Office and to the Under-Secretary of State. It all comes to this, that you have tried to legislate by this Regulation 40D, and to legislate in defiance of the right principle of law—that is, that the prosecution should not put the woman on her defence, but that the onus of proof is upon the prosecution. What the Government have done in regard to this is to put on their defence these helpless women. Any woman is in danger of suspicion, and can be brought up on any kind of accusation by any soldier, and when she is brought up it is represented to her that she has either to defend herself or undergo this examination, which she does not understand she can refuse to undergo, but which is used for the purpose of proving her guilty. I say, with great respect, that this system of trying to frighten these poor women, prostitutes though they may be, and who as a rule, have no knowledge of their rights in these cases, into the position of submitting to such an ordeal, is a thing that not a single Member of this House would allow a single one of his female relatives to undergo in any Court whatsoever.

I am not going to try and detail to this House the horrors of that examination. It is all very well to call it a medical examination. It is something far worse to any woman, whether innocent or guilty, and I do protest against the Government passing a Regulation which forces upon these women anything so degrading. Here is another account of what is going on at Grimsby: "There is an active campaign commenced by the police against women of a certain class. On the suggestion of the naval authorities the police are proceeding, under Regulation 40D. Women are apparently arrested for solicitation, remanded for medical examination, and, if found guilty and free from disease, sentenced to fourteen days' hard labour; but if they are diseased, then they get a long term of imprisonment." I have a case here of a young woman who thus got three months' hard labour. Here you have precisely the same process growing up which you would have had under the Contagious Diseases Acts. You have the police in Grimsby proceeding against prostitutes and arresting them for solicitation; then they are remanded for medical examination, to which no one is legally bound to subject herself, and those who are proved guilty and found diseased get a long term if imprisonment, while those proved guilty, but who are not diseased, are let off with fourteen days' hard labour. Was there ever a more outrageous method of carrying out the criminal law against any class of the female community? I hope, at any rate, that this Debate will show the War Office that they are acting quite outside public opinion in the way they are trying to deal with this particular danger to the country. I admit it is a danger, but I cannot help thinking that if the War Office adopted a higher tone they would be more successful in stopping the transmission of disease. We must all remember the message that was given by Lord Kitchener when first he sent out his first great Army to the front— You have before you a task which will need all your courage, energy, and patience. Remember the honour of this Empire depends on your individual conduct…. You may find temptation both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy with them. Do your duty bravely, fear God, and honour the King. I wish the War Office would keep up that high standard in this matter. It can only be done by appealing to the troops of this country in the words of Lord Kitchener. There is no other solution of this question at all. It rests with men and not with women to protect themselves against this evil. I ask the War Office to consider whether they cannot withdraw this Regulation. Will they ask the opinion of this House as to the desirability of withdrawing it? If the right hon. Gentleman will not agree to submit the question to the House of Commons, why will he not do so? Is it because he knows what the verdict will be? I do not know what the verdict would be in the least. But let us ascertain what the feeling of this House is upon this legislation. Or if the Government will not adopt that course, let us have some committee of inquiry into it. Let us see how it works. Let us see if there is any evidence to show either that it is useless or harmless. Let us have something in the nature of an inquiry by men who represent the people of this country, and who know what the feelings of the people are.


This is rather a difficult and painful subject to be discussed in this House, but I should like to say one or two words. Like my right hon. Friend (Mr. Dickinson), with whom I sat on the Grand Committee upstairs on the Criminal Law Amendment Bill last Session, certainly I do not think anyone would be justified in quoting that Bill, especially-after it was amended in Committee, as any justification for the Regulation now under discussion. The Bill certainly did not contain the right to medically examine to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded, nor did it apply to one sex only; neither was it framed in the interests of only one particular class of the community. The whole question of the practicability of applying methods which obtain in dealing with infectious diseases to contagious diseases is exceedingly difficult. There are the methods of applying compulsory notification, compulsory isolation, and compulsory disinfection to the particular diseases dealt with in this Regulation, and the whole thing bristles with difficulties. It sounds very simple to say that you can deal with contagious diseases in precisely the same manner as you deal with infectious diseases, but anybody who studies the matter practically is at once confronted with difficulty. May I express my sympathy with my right hon. Friend in the very difficult task which he has to perform in justifying this Regulation. I have no doubt he is obsessed with the seriousness and horrors of these particular diseases, and no one who has witnessed them clinically and studied them pathologically can fail to grasp the fact that any solution or any proposal must be attended with practical difficulty. I suggest it is most important to see that any method, whether by legislation or by this more dubious method of Regulation under the Defence of the Realm Act, has behind it that expert opinion or that authoritative support which ought to be capable of being quoted in justifying any serious action such as this. So far as I can recall, there has been certainly a change in medical opinion in regard to questions touching contagious diseases. There was a time, thirty or forty years ago, when the bulk of the profession was inclined to support that method of dealing with these diseases to which reference has repeatedly been made in Debate. The most recent Report of the Royal Commission, set up in 1913 and published as recently as February, 1916, illustrates that change of view. It is quite true that the reference to that Commission laid it down that it must be understood that no return to the policy of the Contagious Diseases Acts of 1864, 1866 or 1869 was to be regarded as falling within the scope of the inquiry. But notwithstanding that the Commissioners, who included five medical men of great distinction and one medical woman also of great distinction, came unanimously to this conclusion: That although the Commission are precluded by their terms of reference from considering the policy of the Contagious Diseases Acts, they wish to place on record their view-that the evidence they hare received, which included that of several Continental experts, points to the conclusion that no advantage would accrue from a return to the system of those Acts. So far from this being the case, it is to be noted that the great improvement as regards venereal disease in the Navy and the Army has taken place since the repeal of those Acts. Certainly if reference were made to authoritative medical opinions, one could quote the well-known work by Professor Flexner on "Prostitution in Europe," published in 1914, in which page after page is devoted to showing that the method of police regulation and medical examination had not been instrumental in reducing the prevalence of the disease, and sometimes had even been the means of propagating it. In 1870 there was a Royal Commission which inquired into this subject, and they investigated the very proposal which is contained in this Regulation 40D. With regard to a suggestion to make it penal to engage in sexual connection when infected with venereal contagion, they reported that (1) it was objectionable as adding to scandalous and demoralising judicial inquiries; that (2) an accomplice in guilt should not be allowed to set the law in motion for the punishment of the offender; and (3) that proof of the offence would be almost impracticable, that corroborative evidence would be difficult, and that the law would be used as an instrument of malice and extortion. On the other hand, there have been military inquiries. I think there was an inquiry in 1903, set on foot by the Army Medical Advisory Board, of which I think Sir Alfred Keogh was a member, and the conclusion that that Committee came to was quite in harmony with what we have heard recently from the President of the Local Government Board in favour of educative means and the opportunities for voluntary treatment, which the President of the Local Government Board only a few months ago urged as a far more satisfactory mode of dealing with this disease than by such penal measures as those contained in Regulation 40D. I feel that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, no doubt with the best intentions, in endeavouring to deal with an evil which oppresses all those who have contemplated the seriousness of it, has not found a practical means of dealing with the subject, but has hit upon a method which is bound to give rise to great resentment throughout the country, and for which there is very little authoritative or expert support.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Macpherson)

I feel sure the House will realise that I do not like at any time to deal with this subject, which is at all times painful and difficult and a hundred times more painful and difficult in the crisis we are now in. But I have no reason to complain of the general trend of the Debate. Those who have spoken have all spoken against the Regulation with candour and, if I may say so, with fairness. I think I ought first of all to remind the House of a statement which was made by my right hon. Friend and colleague the Home Secretary in answer to a question put, I think, by the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King). He explained on that occasion why it was that it was necessary to introduce that Regulation at that particular moment that it was introduced, Hon. Members will recollect that last year there was an Imperial Conference composed of the most authoritative and most responsible statesmen of our great Dominions, and it is now an open secret that upon that occasion they made it their duty, their pressing duty, to make it clear to His Majesty's Government that on no future occasion would they be responsible for the conduct of their troops unless it was made plain to them that the Government was prepared at once to take some action to prevent the spread of venereal disease in this country. They raised the question in that acute form with refer- ence particularly to their own gallant soldiers, who had left good homes in the Dominions to come to fight for the Empire, and it was the duty of my right hon. Friend and colleague the Colonial Secretary to press this matter upon the War Cabinet, with the result that all the Departments concerned were consulted, and the War Cabinet decided that this Defence of the Realm Regulation should be issued. It is also an open secret, for I think I have stated it in answer to a question in this House, that the Army-Council strongly urged that if the Regulation were to be promulgated it ought to be a Regulation dealing with the entire population, civil as well as military. I very often resent, and have occasion to resent, the implication that our Army to-day is a segregation camp for venereal disease, and I was very glad indeed to hear an hon. Member avow that our present Army is no such thing. I will go farther and say that there is a less percentage of venereal disease among our gallant soldiers than among the civil population in the same proportion. At the same time, the House will appreciate that we feel strongly that we ought to do everything that is humanly possible to preserve their health, not only that they may fight our battles, but that they may go back unstained and unsullied to the homes from which they came. My hon. Friends made a great point of the fact that this was a one-sided Regulation. I have attempted to make it clear on more than one occasion, and certainly my Noble Friend the then Secretary of State for War tried to make it clear in the House of Lords, that it was no such thing. [An HON. MEMBER: "He failed!"] I have an entirely different opinion. I think my Noble Friend made it perfectly plain that the soldier who inflicts himself with this disease, instead of getting off scot-free, is very severely punished.


For getting it? For concealing it!


The soldier is penalised not only for concealing it, but for getting it. This Regulation is not a one-sided Regulation. The woman in this case is punishable either with six months' imprisonment as a maximum, or with a fine of £100. The soldier in the first place if he conceals the fact that he has got the disease is liable, after trial by court-martial, to two years' imprisonment with hard labour; but supposing he does not conceal his disease, but goes to the appro- priate officer, and acquaints him with the fact that he has inflicted himself with that disease, he is penalised very severely, and so is his wife, by hospital stoppages. We deduct 7d. a day, we deduct proficiency pay if he is in receipt of it, 3d. or 6d., or corps or engineer pay if he is in the Royal Engineers, the Army Service Corps or the Royal Army Medical Corps. The rates vary from 2s. to 6d. per day. We also deduct the increased pay upon pre-war rates recently granted to soldiers.


That punishes the wife and children.


It is a most regrettable fact that that should be so, but my hon. Friend will be the first to recognise that that is part of the punishment. A good husband will be deterred from taking any such risks.


We are not dealing with good husbands.


In the course of this Debate it has been presumed that every man is good and every woman is good, and so they are in the vast majority of cases; but surely it is a deterrent to place in the way of any man who is likely to commit any offence of this sort the fact that if he does commit it, and if he does get the immediate consequence of sexual disease, his own wife may be punished! That deters any man with any spark of domestic love or desire for domestic happiness from committing such an offence. It has been pointed out to me, too, that it is also a heavy penalty upon the woman that she has got to make this public confession. She does not need to do so at all. All she has got to do is to write anonymously to the commanding officer. Her name need not appear either in public or private, and if the commanding officer acts, as he will no doubt, upon this information, the soldier is penalised. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, developing this point of one-sidedness, pointed to the fact that all women so far had been punished, and no soldiers. I quite frankly confess to the House that I have not been able to get any information as to whether any soldiers were punished under this Defence of the Realm Regulation or not. Such information is extremely difficult to get. There are thousands of court-martial cases, and it would mean that I should have to direct the whole of the staff of the Judge- Advocate-General to search through the whole of the files of that very vast and ever-increasing Department in order to provide this information to the House.


Is there no punishment of the soldier under this Regulation for infecting a woman?


Not under this Regulation.


There is no punishment for it under these Regulations!


My hon. Friend went on to say if the War Cabinet wished to deal with this question properly it ought to have dealt with it by keeping opportunities for indulging in this habit out of the reach of the soldiers. I can quite well imagine that that sort of alternative might appeal to the House. He went on to say we have the powers—and the hon. Member for Haggerston emphasised this point—under 13A and 40C. But the powers there are very definitely limited. The powers you have under those two Sections, either taken together or taken separately, are powers to keep certain women away from the precincts of the camp. But that Regulation does not apply at all in the case of a large city like London. We discussed that subject very thoroughly, and I can assure my hon. Friends that we thought of every possible alternative before we came to the conclusion that it was in the interests of all, and not only of our own troops, to pass this Regulation. I was rather astonished to hear the further point which was made by my two hon. Friends opposite. They both drew pictures of women being spasmodically arrested by interfering police constables. In the first place, for what reason would these women be arrested? I assume for accosting or soliciting. My two hon. Friends were introducing for the purpose of their argument an offence for which this Regulation is not at all responsible. It is an ordinary criminal offence. Indeed, the first case which was brought to the notice of this House under this express Regulation was the Manchester case. My hon. Friend will bear me out that that unfortunate young girl was not first of all arrested under this Regulation. She was arrested under powers which the police had got for arresting women who solicited, and it was only subsequently found that she was a person suffering from this disease, and, knowing that she was suffering from this disease, had sexual intercourse with a member of His Majesty's forces. The hon. Member for Haggerston, the hon. Member for Northampton, and also my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras made a very strong point of the feeling outside. Nobody is more aware of it than I am. I will go further and say people feel not only strongly but very passionately about it. But the Government in this case was in a very difficult position. Under the Defence of the Realm Regulation, it could not legislate for the entire population. That would be ultra vires. If there is a strong feeling in this country against this Regulation, there was an equally strong feeling in the Dominions for this Regulation or for a Regulation of this sort. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]


The Regulation does not hit them.


I am able to express what I know to be a fact, that there was a very pronounced feeling in the Dominions that some steps should be taken. It may be they think this Defence of the Realm Regulation is not an adequate one, but at the same time we were bound to take notice of the very strong representations made to us. My hon. Friends opposite said that this was an attempt to make vice safe. I can assure my hon. Friends the Department for which I am responsible, and I think I can speak for other Departments feels that that is not so, and I think the House will agree with me that not by a single instance have my hon. Friends opposite proved that statement they have made. We have no desire to make vice safe. Unfortunately, vice may often be prevalent. It is our duty to make it as difficult as possible. I am now speaking for the War Office, who do not desire that our soldiers should be broken in health in any way, or in morals. That is the purpose of this Regulation. My hon. Friend, in a very interesting speech, made it plain, or at least attempted to make it plain, that there was a great anomaly in regard to this Regulation. He said that we punish under this Regulation with fourteen days' imprisonment a woman who is not diseased, and that we punish with six months a woman who is found to be diseased. Again there is confusion of thought and confusion of fact. If the woman can prove herself to be innocent she is not affected by this Regulation at all. It is only when she is arrested and found to have solicited intercourse when she has this disease in a communicable form that she can be punished under this Regulation. The only other point of significance raised was the point raised by the hon. Member for St. Pancras, and I think perhaps by two or three other Members opposite. The Government was asked why was this Defence of the Realm Regulation not notified to the House. I do not know any case in which a Regulation of this sort has been so notified before it was put into force. My hon. Friends very often seem to forget that we are in the midst of a great crisis and that they were amongst those who gave Parliament power in great emergencies, to pass Regulations of this sort in this way. Now they are the first to come forward and accuse us of employing the powers which were unanimously given to us by the House at the beginning of the War. The Government, rightly or wrongly, came to the conclusion that this was a case not for the more dilatory methods of statutory legislation, but for the exercise of those powers given to it unanimously by the House. Upon what ground any hon. Member can now come forward and complain that we have, in our discretion and in the exercise of those powers, put into force a Defence of the Realm Regulation which we are firmly convinced will do, if not any very large amount of good, in any case a certain amount of good, I cannot conceive. It is true, as my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras says, that if we passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act, particularly Section (5), we should certainly have been able to meet the case made by the two hon. Members, namely, equality of treatment for men and women. I have explained the reason why that is impossible. I explained that it would be ultra vires of the Defence of the Realm Act. You can pass regulations dealing with the members of the military forces of the Crown under the Defence of the Realm Act, but you cannot pass such regulations referring to the civil population, so that administratively our procedure was perfectly proper. I do not think that there were any other points made to which I need reply. I should, however, like to remind the House that the subject is one which is engaging the most earnest and most serious attention of the Government. I myself, at the present time, am chairman of a very large conference which has met once and will meet again soon. It is a conference composed of Dominions' representatives, American representatives, and clerical representatives, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Bourne, and representatives of the Free Churches, together with officers from the War Office who are interested, administratively or medically, in the subject. The House may take it from me that, while we do not admit that this disease is more prevalent in the Army than in the civil population—in fact, I think it is the reverse—we are doing everything possible to find some way of combating the disease. The House will realise that it is most important that it should not exist. It is painful for those of us who follow not only with interest, but with affection, the lives and fortunes of our gallant men at the front to think that any temptation of that sort should be placed in their way, or that, at any moment, thousands of others may be laid aside in hospital. We cannot get rid of these things, and I do not think we will get rid of them, unless there is more charity exercised by Members of Parliament. Nobody wishes to discuss this subject on the floor of the House of Commons. Nobody wishes to keep it in the public eye—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"]—though at the same time everybody is anxious and vigilant about it. While I cannot, on behalf of the Government, say that we will withdraw this Regulation, because we believe it is useful, and it may prove effective in a very difficult, a very delicate, and a very dangerous situation, I can assure the House that as a Government we will go on by means of the conference of which I have just spoken, to do everything that lies in our power to preserve the health of our troops and eradicate this malignant disease from our country.


I think if I had had to act as the mouthpiece of the War Office on this question, I would have said less than has the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He would have made a stronger case if he had simply said that in the view of the War Office this is essential to the safety of the country, for that is what it comes to! I for one do not see that there is any use in our trying to argue with the War Office. The view of this House is that this is the meanest persecution of a helpless body of women. If it had been said that this is essential to the salvation of the Army we could only have shrugged our shoulders at the present time. Certainly there is a certain body of opinion in this country which believes that woman is a sort of superior animal. Until the women electors come on the scene to change that body of opinion to something a little more charitable and sensible, we shall have a continuation of these sort of questions. But I do not want to go on with that subject. I want to take the House back to the subject that we were previously discussing—the urgent need for economy at the present time, and the best methods of securing that economy. We should realise that economy is more important now than at any other time. Of course there is a possibility of this War dragging on for many years, and our success may depend on whether we can conduct the War economically or not. It so happens that in South Africa during the Boer War the Government there was faced with the same problem, and for a year after that war money was very plentiful in South Africa, and the different Government Departments were extravagant and built up Departments there just as they have been built up in recent years in this country. New Departments were started and everybody seemed interested in those Departments in getting as many people as they could in them in order to say, "See what a big staff I have got!" This extravagance naturally comes when money is plentiful, when a boon is expected, and when the Government [...] doing everything and private individuals are doing nothing. That sort of thing went on merrily in South Africa for a year, and then the slump came. Now the gentleman responsible for the Government of South Africa at that time was Lord Milner, who is now responsible for the War Office in this country. He at once took the bull by the horns, and an order was sent down to all the Government Departments that expenditure was to be cut down to the extent of 10 per cent., or 25 per cent., I forget which, and it was stated that no excuses would be allowed. In course of time, I got a note to say the expenditure in my branch had to be reduced by this amount, and either some men had to be got rid of or the salaries cut down, and all through the country each Department cut down expenses by the percentage ordered by Lord Milner, and I need hardly say that the public service did not suffer in the least.

It only wants somebody at the head of affairs to say that some definite retrenchment must take place. If you have a firm chief who says that expenditure has to be cut down in that proportion, and declares that he does not care how it is to be done, provided 25 per cent. is saved on the Estimates, that curtailment will take place without any loss to the public service. All the propaganda in the world and all the cinema shows will not be able to persuade the people much longer that the War is being run satisfactorily when they see these swollen offices started everywhere and see all these people getting "cushy" jobs in Government offices. The feeling against bureaucracy is much stronger to-day than hon. Members in this House seem to think. It is stronger in this respect than in regard to any other mismanagement of the War. It is not merely that the people see and feel that money is being wasted, but they see and feel that the whole standard of patriotism in the country is being destroyed by people taking pay for work which they feel is not necessary work. There are many people hanging on to jobs and making work to keep the present positions which they occupy. As soon as the people of this country get an idea that that sort of thing is being done, then they cease their patriotic efforts and cease making sacrifices, and spread slackness right throughout the whole country. There are those two real sound reasons for practising that form of economy which will amount to a considerable sum, and the sum saved will be as nothing to the stiffening up of the public backbone throughout the whole of the country.

Question put, and agreed to.