HC Deb 19 December 1919 vol 123 cc892-913

(1) Every former enemy alien who is now in the United Kingdom shall be deported forthwith unless he shall within two months after the passing of this Act make an application to the Secretary of State in the prescribed form to be allowed to remain in the United Kingdom, stating the grounds on which such application is based, and unless the Secretary of State shall grant him a licence to remain: Provided that this Sub-section shall not apply to such former enemy aliens as were exempted from internment or repatriation on the recommendation of any advisory committee appointed after toe first day of January, one thousand nine hundred and eighteen, and before the passing of this Act.

(2) The Secretary of State may, if he is satisfied on the recommendation of the advisory committee hereinafter mentioned that there is no reason to the contrary, grant such licence, subject to such terms aid conditions (if any) as he shall think fit.

(3) The committee may, unless satisfied by reports from the naval, military, air force, or police authorities that there is good reason to the contrary, recommend the exemption from deportation of a former enemy alien on any one or more of the following grounds, namely:

  1. (a) That the applicant is seventy years of age or upwards;
  2. (b) That the applicant is suffering from serious and permanent illness or infirmity;
  3. (c) That the applicant has one or more sons who voluntarily enlisted and served in His Majesty's Forces or the forces of one of the Allied or Associated Powers;
  4. (d)That the applicant has lived for at least twenty years us this country and married a British-born wife;
  5. (e) That the applicant came to reside in the United Kingdom when he was. under the age of twelve years;
  6. (f) That the applicant has served in His Majesty's Forces during the War or resided in the United Kingdom for not less than twenty years, and has rendered valuable personal services to this country during the War;
  7. (g) That the applicant is a minister of religion.

(4) The committee may also where the application for a licence is made on any ground other than one or more of those above specified, if satisfied that owing to the special circumstances of the case deportation would involve serious hardship to the applicant or to his wife or children, or owing to the special technical knowledge or skill of the applicant, would involve injury to any British interest, recommend his exemption as aforesaid.

(5) In granting a licence under this Section, the Secretary of State may include in the licence the wife of the applicant and any child or children of his under the age of eighteen.

(6) A list of the persons to whom such licence is granted shall, as soon as may be after the granting of the licence, be published in the Gazette.

(7) Any licence so granted may be at any time revoked by the Secretary of State.

(8) If such licence is not granted or if, having been granted, it shall be revoked, the Secretary of State shall make an Order (in this Act referred to as a Deportation Order) requiring the alien to leave the United Kingdom and thereafter to remain out of the United Kingdom for a period of seven years after the passing of this Act. The Secretary of State may, by a Deportation Order, require the alien to return to the country of which he is a subject or citizen.

(9) The provisions of this Section shall be in addition to and not in b derogation of any other provisions of the principal Act or this Act, or any Order in Council made thereunder, providing for the deportation of aliens.

(11) This Section shall not apply to a woman who was at the time of her marriage a British subject.

Lords Amendments disagreed with: In Sub-section (1), leave out from the word "shall" ["shall be deported"] to the end of the Sub-section, and insert instead thereof the words and to whom this Section applies shall be deported forthwith unless the Secretary of State on the recommendation of the advisory committee, to be constituted under this Section, shall grant hint a licence to remain.

Leave out Sub-sections (3) to (9) inclusive, and insert instead thereof seven new Sub-sections. [For text of new Sub-sections see OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1919, cols. 385, 586.]

[For Commons Amendments to Lords Amendments disagreed with, sec OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1919, cols. 849–587–591.]

The Lords disagree to the Amendment proposed by the Commons in lieu of the Amendment made by the Lords in Subsection (1) for the following reason: Because they consider that aliens in the cases to which the provision refers should not be subject to deportation unless some complaint is made against them.

The Lords disagree to the Amendment proposed by the Commons in lieu of the Amendment made by the Lords in Subsections (3) to (9) for the following reason: Because it is inconsistent with Amendments already made by their Lordships.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Gordon Hewart)

I beg to move, "That this House doter not insist on its disagreement with the said Lords Amendments, on which their Lordships have insisted."

The House of Lords has not seen its way to accept certain Amendments of which, after no little discussion and at least two votes, this House undoubtedly approved. The contrast between the Bill as it now comes back to the House and the Bill as it left this Rouse is perfectly obvious. As the Bill left this House, there was to be a universal rule that the alien enemy was to be deported forthwith subject to certain exceptions which were made, and unless he came within certain named categories. The form in which it comes back to the House to-day is that the burden of proof, if I may use that expression, is put the other way round. The alien is not to be deported unless—again subject to certain exceptions—complaint is made and established against him. I am very far from denying—it would be idle to deny—that is a change of very considerable gravity and importance in this Bill. It is a change introduced into this Bill after this House had quite clearly and unequivocally, on two occasions, expressed its view. But now there arises, as must always be the case in controversies of this kind, the question of expediency. I desire to put that question plainly and not to subtract in the smallest degree from the way in winch it is presented. The point I put is this: Is the alteration of Clause 9 of this Bill of so vital a character that rather than submit—I will not say accept—we are prepared to sacrifice the whole Bill? I do not know what the opinion of others may be, but I do seriously suggest to the House that this Bill, in many of its remaining Clauses, which I need not particularise, does contain valuable provisions, some of them of an urgent kind. Upon the whole I put it to the House that the proper course for us now to take is not to insist upon the Amendments which were inserted in this House but to accept, with reluctance it may be, the course which has been taken in another place. The effect will then be, if this Bin becomes an Act of Parliament, as I hope it will very shortly, the country will have the benefit of all those other provisions unimpaired, and the benefit as well of Clause 9, not, it is true, in the form we desire, but in a form in which it will certainly work with a considerable amount of success.


When this question came before this House the other day we discussed at some length the merits of the two Clauses, the one as it left the House of Commons, and the other as it left the House of Lords. I do not for one moment go back one iota from what I said on that occasion as to the great gravity of the questions which were involved. The House, I am glad to think, on that occasion affirmed their previous decision by a majority of two to one. To-day the question has entered on a totally different phase. It is no longer a question between us of the merits of the two Clauses, although upon that point, I must say, the merit lies with this House, and I shall continue to think so. But to-day the question is a much larger and much more serious one. It raises a grave constitutional issue—the issue whether the House of Lords, as at present constituted, has a right on an, occasion of this sort to flout the opinion of the House of Commons, solemnly recorded on two occasions by a free vote in the House, and in each case by a majority of nearly two to one. They tell us that we do not know our business, that our election pledges amount to nothing, and that they are entitled to decide whether what the country wishes shall be carried through. We have now to say whether we will bow to their coercion.

To my mind this is a grave serious constitutional question. Let me remind the House how the matter stands. This question came before the country at the last General Election at a very recent date—and that is a relevant consideration—and it came before it in the most definte form in which any question could be put forward. The country on that occasion demanded, speaking broadly, that all German and other enemy aliens should be sent out of the country, subject to reasonable exceptions. The candidates who stood for Parliament at that election gave solemn pledges to their constituents that they would carry out their desires in that direction. I venture to think that the spirit. of honour is not dead in the House of Commons, and that those pledges which were given, whether wisely or not I care not one jot—those solemn pledges which Members gave to their constituents, and upon which they obtained election, should be strictly and rigorously honoured. If a man choses to go back upon his pledges let him return to his constituents like an honest man and say, "I have changed my mind; I would like to know whether you have changed your minds." It he is released from his pledge, and votes in a different sense, no one in that case would have a right to complain.

But none of these things have happened. We have come here. The Bill is brought in; a Clause is introduced for the purpose of carrying out the desires of the country expressed at the General Election, and the pledges of those Members who in response to these desires, said they would do certain things. The Clause is carried after prolonged debate, on a Division, by a majority of two to one. It goes up to another place, and the House of Lords say: "We will pay no regard to the wishes of the country, no regard to those pledges on which hon. Members have recently obtained their election, but we will act upon grounds which recommend themselves to us; we shall disregard your decisions, and we shall coerce you into carrying out our wishes." Accordingly they reject the Clause which embodies the wishes of the country and the pledges of Members, and they substitute an entirely and fundamentally different Clause designed for one purpose, and one only, and that is to let all Germans and other enemy aliens who have stayed in this country remain here. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Yes, to remain here subject to no deportation at all. That at any rate is my opinion, and it is the fact as I showed on the last. occasion.

The object of this Clause has been openly professed, and those who support it have made a great show of delight. Those who support it in this House, and in the other House make no disguise of their joy and gratification that this Act will let practically every German remain here. We have only to read their speeches. They say: "Why trouble these poor men any more, why bother them, why not let them stay here?" That has been the open profession of the advocates of the Clause, and that will be its effect, if passed. Let there be no mistake about that. Let us not be deluded with the idea that the Clause is in such a form that it will not allow every German and alien enemy still to remain in this country. Incidentally, may I say a word or two about a class with whom I have great sympathy, namely, the Austrians? It was suggested in another place that Rome consideration should be shown to Austrians on the ground that if they were sent back to Vienna and other places they would starve If any suggestion had been made either here or in another place for giving special consideration to their case, I should have been glad to give every consideration to it. As a matter of fact, it was provided in the Bill as it left this House that in any case where it could be shown that deportation would involve serious hardship on a man and his family or dependants he should not be deported. Any Committee which had to examine this matter, if informed that the sending back of these unfortunate men and women to Austria would involve their starvation, of course would exempt them. If there had been any doubt about it, I should have been only too glad to make it quite clear in the Pill that those considerations should be adhered to.

The House of Lords have passed this Clause in a form directly contrary to the sill of the people as expressed at the last election and directly contrary to the pledges that were then given. Not the Toast significant is the reason by which they try to justify their action. They say, "We are the real judges, not you, of what the wishes of the country are. We are the real arbiters, not you, of whether you should carry out your pledges or not. We in our wisdom think that the country has departed from the wishes it expressed at the last election. We think and we know much better than you that the country no longer desires that your pledges should be carried out. Therefore we will coerce you into repudiating your pledges." Apart altogether from the merits of this particular question, a great issue immediately arises. Ought the House of Lords, as a Second Chamber, constituted as it is at present, to be allowed to assert its rights in that form? Personally I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the House of Lords, as at present constituted, has gone far beyond any rights existing or duties incumbent upon it in treating the House of Commons in the way it has done in respect to this Bill. I am a strong supporter of a Second Chamber. I hold that we ought to have a properly constituted Second Chamber in this country. I hold that good government demands that that Second Chamber should have wide and extensive powers. But we are unfortunately to-day dealing with a Second Chamber which is not properly constituted. Therefore, I say to hon. Members who support the action of the Lords in this matter, most of whom are opponents of the Second Chamber principle alto- gether, that when you come here and, in the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), thank your God that there is a House of Lords, it will be remembered against you at a future time. It will be remembered against the right hon. Gentleman, and, perhaps, will act as a rod for his own back and the backs of those who support him in this matter. He may say that he likes it. Sometimes the sinner likes the rod, but sometimes people who are not sinners do not like it. Be that as it may we have the so-called democratic party, which is opposed to the principle of the Second Chamber, saying that they desire that the House of Commons should be overruled and its wishes flouted, that the country should have its wish destroyed by this House of Lords, for which they thank their God that it exists. I am glad to take note of their wishes. I trust the country will take note of them. If ever the time should come when they happen to disagree with the House of Lords and they desire to upset that House, let their thanks to God be remembered and let it be remembered that they not only desired but insisted that the House of Lords in this matter should be allowed to overrule the wishes of the country and that they compelled the Lords to coerce us to break our pledges and to act in a manner totally irresponsible. The Debate has had one beneficial result if only it has brought out the love of the democratic party for the House of Lords.


I shall have occasion to disagree with them later this afternoon.


I had anticipated that inconsistency occurring at a later date, but I hardly anticipated such inconsistency that you should thank God for them and oppose them on the same day. In these circumstances what should be done? The issues are plain. Only one of two courses is possible. The first is to wreck the Bill, with all its valuable provisions, and the second is to submit to this almost intolerable coercion. If this Bill only consisted of Clauses about enemy aliens, I should gladly wreck the Bill for two reasons—first, because I do not want to submit to coercion, and, secondly, because the Bill so far as it deals with former enemy aliens is absolutely absurd, inconclusive and useless. Therefore, if it were wrecked so far as enemy aliens are concerned, we should get rid of a, sham and should not be doing any harm.

The Bill, however, contains many valuable provisions which even the members of another place have not ventured to challenge or dispute, and which some of them have had the candour to admit are extremely valuable. It contains provisions preventing incitement to sedition on the part of aliens. It contains a whole series of Clauses passed in this House with almost unanimous consent regarding aliens in the Mercantile Marine. It provides that no master, first officer or first engineer in the Mercantile Marine shall be an alien it puts considerable restrictions on the employment of alien seamen in the Mercantile Marine. It provides against aliens entering our Civil Service in all these matters the interest of the country is deeply affected. We know that the members of the Mercantile Marine—that splendid service to whom this country owed so much during the War and to which we desire and intend to show our gratitude—feel the strongest interest in the Clauses dealing with that service, and desire that they should be maintained. The House of Lords, apparently, are willing that all these provisions should be wrecked and that injury should be inflicted upon the Mercantile Marine and other large sections of the public which would be inflicted if the Bill were wrecked. They are willing that that should be done provided that they may have their way and allow the Germans to remain in this country. That is the issue between us. They are willing to wreck the Bill in the interest of Germans and against the interest of Britishers. I am not willing to wreck the Bill. If it inflicts great injury upon large sections of British subjects, even then the effect might be in some way to touch the Germans. In this matter I think the Britisher is more entitled to consideration than the German, and there we differ profoundly and entirely from the view taken by the House of Lords. Therefore I am prepared to accept the advice of the Attorney-General to agree to the Lords Amendment in this respect, in order to reserve the other valuable parts of the Bill But, while I agree, I desire in the strongest language I can command —and I only wish I could command something stronger—to protest indignantly against the action of the House of Lords in over-riding the opinion of the country and coercing and intimidating us into a departure from our pledges; and the only reason I assent to that course, which I regard as unconstitutional on their part and a gross dereliction of their public duty, is because I think the wider and the greater interest of the community and the Mercantile Marine and those other large classes who are interested in the Bill demand that we should set all personal feeling aside and all smaller issues, and do our best for the country as a whole.


I propose to address myself to the proposition so cogently put before us by the Attorney-General when he put the dilemma in which this House is placed. Is the Clause so vital that we are to sacrifice the whole Bill? That is the only question that is before us. That means, as I understand constitutional practice, that if we disagree with the Lords Amendment we should reinsert our own Clause. That would go to the other place, and if the other place again disagreed with us the Bill would be dead. That puts the House in this happy position with regard to the real superiority of the other place. It means that we are perfectly entitled to insist upon the Clause which has been twice freely voted upon by the House, and if we did the Bill would not be dead. It would only be dead if, when it gets back to the House of Lords, the House of Lords was so enamoured of their Clause 9 that rather than accept what the representatives of the people had said they would kill the Bill. Therefore, it would be up to them to kill the Bill. But what I understand of the constitution, I will not say of the House of Lords but of the few learned lawyers who apparently monopolise the Debates in the House of Lords, is that they would be so arrogant that they would even go to that extent, and rather than give in upon this matter they would insist -Loon their own Clause and kill the Bill. I want people to understand that if the Bill is either killed this afternoon, or goes through in this truncated form, the whole fault rests with the House of Lords and not with the House of Commons.

That being the position, if we debate at all, we shall more usefully debate the position in which we find ourselves with regard to the history of this Bill. What is it? The country was appealed to before the General Election. There was an attempt to interest, the country in the various measures which were said to be going to make the land fit for heroes to live in. The country was entirely uninterested in any of those measures. Thereupon there were certain other cries submitted to the country because the country was interested in them, and of the three cries which were issued one was with regard to the punishment of war prisoners, the other with regard to indemnities, and the third in regard to the question of the treatment of enemy aliens. There is no doubt that the great majority of us were returned upon those issues. It is unnecessary to quote, though I have here the statements of tae Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor, and other leaders of the Government. The Prime Minister himself says, speaking of the Germans: I have repeatedly said that in my judgment these people, having abused our hospitality, shall riot get another opportunity of doing so. The Lord Chancellor said the same thing. They all said it. Most of us said it, and most of us are here because we said it. The Government, which is not free from blame in the matter, made the initial mistake of postponing the alien legislation till just before the Easter Recess. Then they brought in the Bill, consisting of only a few Clauses, and dealing with the matter by Order in Council. Then, after the Recess, at length we got into Grand Committee, and we remoulded the Bill and insisted upon positive legislation instead of Orders in Council. That was carried. We came here and had a long Debate upon it, and the Government was defeated upon a Clause. The matter was reconsidered, but there never was any dispute of principle between the Government and ourselves except as between Orders in Council and positive legislation. I am not making any attack on the Government's desire to deal with aliens. I am only saying that the real dispute was whether we should deal with it by Order in Council or not. That is quite different from the point of view of the House of Lords. Then it was obvious that the House of Commons insisted upon this matter being dealt with by positive legislation. We debated this Clause, and, much to my surprise, the Leader of the House left it to the free vote of the House, and we carried the Clause by 226 to 116. I have had the Division analysed. There are certain great Olympians on the Front Beach who are called chief officers of State, and of these chief officers of State thirteen voted with us and only one against us. The matter went back to the House of Lords, who threw out our Clause and substituted a formless, hopeless Clause which is calculated to prevent the deportation of any enemy alien at all. It means that you have to make a complaint and you have to give particulars, like a summons or particulars in the High Court, or a formal indictment, and the person can then be called upon to answer the particulars which have been given.

As the whole thing has to be done in a month or two it simply means that, in fact, nobody would be interfered with. The hon. and learned Member for York said, and I agree with him, that if the Lords had said, or if it were possible at this stage to say, "The worst quarrel we have is with the Germans and not with the Austrians," it might have been different. I do not entirely agree with all the good things said about the Austrians. The Austrians can be just as brutal as the Germans, and they have shown it. If they had suggested a compromise and said, "We do not want Austrians interfered with," I would say, "Well, I do not know how many have Austrian governesses, but I know that sonic have Austrian friends." If they had said that, this House would have met them by limiting the Clause to Germans. That is not what they have done. They have pat in this Clause a provision which to all intents and purposes kills any real prevention of these enemy aliens being in this country. Lord Phillimore said that, "Never before has this country ceased to treat enemies as practically friends as soon as they have ceased to be enemies" The people of this country are not prepared to treat Germans as practically friends. Superior people-like some of those who have spoken, particularly the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil), who always moves in an atmosphere that is too rare for ordinary mortals, and other superior people of that sort, many of whom exist in the other House and a few, unfortunately, in this, may deplore this feeling on the part of the people. But there it is. Lord Salisbury says it is a passing impulse. Lord Salisbury only represents himself, and he always misrepresents the Unionist party. As one result of this question we hope to Heaven that he will cease to pose as, the chairman of the Reconstruction Committee. It will be my first business and those who think with me to see that that ridiculous position is stopped. He says that it is only a passing passion of the people. I do not believe it, and this House does not believe it. I would like to know how near these Noble Lords are to the people. They move either right above them or below them.


Is it in order to have this attack upon Members of the House of Lords, sometimes by name and sometimes not by name? Is it consistent with the dignity and order of our proceedings?


Is it not perefctly legitimate to consider the arguments by which this change was introduced in the other House, and to answer those arguments? Can we answer those arguments if we do not say what those arguments were?

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir E. Cornwall)

The question before the, House is that this House does not disagree with certain of the Lords Amendments. It is desirable that the hon. and learned Member should confine his remarks to this question.


I am sorry if I was in any way led to make an attack upon the friends of my hon. Friend opposite.


I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that they are not friends of mine.


I will take your hint, Sir. I was not attacking anybody personally, but only their political views. I quite agree that it is undesirable, although a great deal has been said about us. However, it is undesirable to bring in personalities, and I will not do it again. The Bill came back to us, and then came the constitutional issue. When it came back to us the other night we debated it at some length, and again, to my surprise, the Government left it to a free vote of the House. I was surprised and somewhat disappointed, because. I thought it was the duty of the Government to support the free decision of this House. At all events, we could not complain in the result because on the free vote of the House we carried Lord Finlay's Clause by, I think, 128 votes to 66. Again I noticed, because I had the honour to be one of the Tellers, chief officers of State and Under-Secretaries one after another coming into the right lobby. After what had taken place one would have thought the Government was under some form of duty to do something in the other House, whether they succeeded or not, to let the other House know what the House of Commons thought. What happened was that Lord Onslow got up and moved our Clause, and there was no other spokesman of the Government from start to finish. One after another of the Noble Lords who had already spoken in the previous Debate, and who are known by their pro-German views—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!" and "Withdraw!"]


I shall not retract that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"]


Is it in order to call Members of the House of Losds "pro-Germans?"


I did not say that. I said their "pro-German views."


Is it in order to accuse Noble Lords in the other House of having pro-German views?


When we are having a discussion on matters relating to another place it is desirable, in the interests of the decorum of this House, to be respectful to Members of another place.


I will do my very best to be respectful, and can best do that by saying nothing more about them. But I am entitled to say this, that there was no Division, that there was no spokesman for the Government, except Lord Onslow, and that our views were not in any way put forward by the Government.


Move a Vote of Censure on them.


The Government has an unprecedented majority in this House, and one would suppose that it has some influence in the other House. However, here we are with this Bill hack again. I am not going to follow my hon. and learned Friend (Sir J. Butcher) into an attack on the House of Lords, hut we are here to consider their action, and in spite of any interruption, I am going to consider what is the constitutional principle. I am very much tempted to say that if the House of Lords chooses to take the responsibility of killing the Bill let them take it and justify their action afterwards; but I do feel the weight of what my hon. and learned Friend—who has done so much in this matter and who deserves our gratitude for his assiduity and zeal in draughtsmanship and in other ways—has said, and in spite of losing the principal Clause of the Bill in spite of losing the Clause which is the Clause we were returned to this House to support, there are many other good things in the Bill, and rather than lose what is Left in the Bill, I, with the very greatest reluctance, will not oppose the Motion.

Captain W. BENN

If it seemed worth while I might pursue the hon. and learned Member in some of his arguments. He said it was within our power if we liked to reinstate our Clause and send it back to another place, and that the responsibility for killing the measure would rest with another place. That is totally in- accurate. We only have to decide now whether we will agree to the striking out of a Clause, and the responsibility for the fate of this measure rests absolutely with this House. It is constitutionally impossible for the Bill to be sent back again to another place, but we have been so accustomed to being inaccurate in the construction of the law—


I asked the learned Attorney-General his opinion on the point, and I understood him to agree with the position I have put forward.

Captain BENN

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman, recently chastened by Mr. Justice Sankey—


Do not be insulting.




If that is intended as a pleasantry. I will leave it to the House to say whether it is in good taste or bad; but, if it be seriously meant, protest against it in the strongest possible manner as a most improper observation with reference to a judge of the High Court who is not here and, to a case which, as the hon. Member knows perfectly well, is the subject of appeal.


On a point of Order. May ask the hon. Member to say whether this is meant seriously or as a joke?


May I remind the House of the terms of the Question which we are debating, and ask that hon. Members should confine their remarks to a discussion of that quetion?

Captain BENN




Captain BENN

If hon. Members will permit me to be heard, I need hardly assure the House that the remark I made was an ill-conceived pleasantry, which I withdraw unreservedly and immediately. I would not for a moment dream of doing anything else. I am sorry that I was misled into it, though I would not like to accept the hon. and learned Member for York as an arbiter of what is in good taste. The hon. and learned Gentleman this afternoon made a roost impassioned speech about the relations between the two Chambers and the iniquity that in this ease the other place should impose upon us this coercion. I have had the honour of being a fellow Member with the hon. and learned Member for a considerable time, but I do not recollect any of these protests being made by him when we were endeavouring to put into the hands of this House an instrument for the purpose of overcoming the very coercion of which he is now complaining.


I thought that I had made it quite plain in my speech that I regarded this as practically a unique case.

Captain BENN

If it were possible, we might chance an agreement on the lines that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have a Parliament Act for the purpose of enabling him to force through another House all the Bills which he supports, but that it would riot be available for other measures of which he disapproves, but that would lead us a long way from the point before the House I should be very sorry indeed by any pleasantry to hurt the feelings of the parents whom we see here to-day taking part in the funeral of Clause 9. Of course we must expect a certain amount of sorrow and anguish on the part of parents who find that the swaddling clothes of their infant are also its shroud. On this occasion we have a funeral which is the funeral of an election stunt. The hon. and gallant Gentleman read out a passage from the Prime Minister's speech, and I might read one from a speech of the Lord Chancellor to show that this was an election stunt produced in a hurry in a moment not of actual, but of prospective, reverse, to secure the support of the country.

Then we come to the course of events in this House itself. May I remind the House of what is the actual history of this puling, infant? The Bill was introduced without this Clause 9 at all. The Government proposed what steps they considered necessary for the safety of the Realm in a Bill which had not Clause 9 in it at all. The Bill was referred to a Standing Committee. In the Standing Committee the hon. and learned Member for York proposed this Clause, whereupon the Government opposed the Clause and announced that it was not possible to accept it. Then the Bill came down on Report, and on a preceding Clause a totally different question arose in regard to keeping faith with French pilots. On that the Government, suffered defeat. After defeat on the question of the pilots, a conference took place between certain Members of this House and the Government representatives at Downing Street No bargain was made, but as a result of the conference the Government Motion for the rejection of Clause 9 was removed from the Order Paper. This Clause was proposed on Report by the hon. and learned Gentlemen who are its sponsors. Though it is quite true that a free vote was taken, the Leader of the House spoke strongly in favour of the Clause. Now that the Clause has been rejected, or, rather, amended and put into a more reasonable shape, in another place, I think that we shall all be glad that we have seen the last of what I may be permitted to call, both as regards the Government and the promoters of this Clause, a most unfortunate, if not discreditable, episode.


I have again and again in this House heard speeches from the Front Bench above the Gangway, and notably from the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Benn), distinctly opposed to the, best interests of the country, as declared by the electors themselves. There is never anything proposed in the interests of this country but it is opposed by the hon. and gallant. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme.


Thank you!


I desire to say what I have, to say without any passion, if I can. The hon. and learned Member for Upton (Sir E. Wild) has mentioned that this Clause has been consistently supported in three Divisions by the principal members of the Government. They have shown that in their deliberate judgment it is a proper Clause. The Clause which went back, after foil debate, to another place, was a Clause which was framed by Lord Finlay which was intended to remove the criticism that had already been passed by some of the ordinary members of the other Chamber who are imbued with a. sense of their own importance, but who are consumed with sentimentality. This Clause was designed to remove any possibility of harshness, particularly towards women. Every effort has been made to meet the other House with regard to these minor questions, while preserving the principal question, which was the affirmative policy against enemy aliens. There is no one who dare deny that the Clause which has been put in in another place and insisted upon last night is the very negation of any action at all; it is never intended that any alien should leave the country in future unless after being dealt with under the criminal law. I turn to the Debate in the other Chamber, and I notice that Lord New ton said: We on our side—I am speaking of those who support the Amendment—the Labour party, and, as far as I know, the whole of the Bishops. We have every member of the tribunals that were set up to consider this question, with the exception of one individual, and last night I had the astonishing experience of hearing the official Leader of the Literal party in the House of Commons deliberately and ostentatiously thanking God for the presence of the House of Lords, a thing which I never expected to live to hear. I hope the Noble Lord will not be disappointed in future. Whatever happens, never a finger shall be raised to save him from his friends, and I would say, with regard to the Noble Lord and the Labour party, that he forgets, if he ever took the trouble to try to analyse the feeling of the Labour party in this House, that the Labour party represents what is called the International—they want a kind of brotherhood all over the world's surface, which they know they will never get, and they are out of touch with the bond-fide workers in industry. If the Noble Lord thinks he has arty encouragement by citing the Labour party as supporting him, I wish him joy of it- in future, when the time comes for him to test its friendship. He spoke also about the Liberal party, avid its official head. I am not going to descant on the domestic trembles which attach to the Front Bench above the Gangway.


There are none.


The hon. Member says there are none, but the wish is father to the thought. He knows the troubles and how easily they show themselves, but I am not going to pursue that. I do say, and say deliberately, that the Noble Lord allies himself with a party whose tradition has always been that they are the friends of every country but their own. That is the company which is cited with approval by the Noble Lord. I would say that, although as a matter of constitutional practice it would be a vote to wreck this Bill, we are not quite so dense in these days riot to know what is the right thing to do, and that the real responsibility rests with those sentimentalists who are determined to prevent any enemy alien leaving these shores, although the country has unmistakably declared that it wants to be quit of them. What is the evidence? This week I have had letters of protest from different parts of the country against the way in which aliens are creeping back, and are apparently getting preference. They are getting houses where a Britisher cannot; they are opening businesses where a Britisher cannot do so, and particularly a returned soldier. The Noble Lords have deliberately wrecked the important parts of this Bill, arid if I had my way they should wreck the whole Bill, because I think that that is the consistent position. We are not too blind, nor is the populace too blind or too uneducated, not to understand perfectly well that it is the action of that little coterie in another place, saturated with sentimentalism, who care nothing about the true interests of the workers of this country, and those Noble Lords will know in time to come that they have done a very grave disservice to their country by their action.

3.0 P.M.


I would not have risen to take part in this Debate but for the charges of pro-Germanism and of being the enemy of your own country and all that kind of thing, which have been thrown about in so foolish a manner. I am not going to attempt to reply to those charges; they are not worth replying to. I am simply going to say that I vote on this Amendment because I believe that the form in which the Clause comes back to this. House is much more in the interests and to the honour of tins country than the form in which it was sent up from this House. I maintain strongly that this country is entitled to protect itself against dangerous aliens and dangerous people of all sorts. It is entitled to expel dangerous aliens. It is bound to do so where there is proved cause for doing so. The Clause as it went to the I louse of Lords, in my opinion and in the opinion of many patriotic people, went fat beyond what was necessary, and inflicted a great deal of hardship and cruelty and a great deal of unnecessary expense, upon this country in reconsidering the eases of thousands of people against whom there was not even the shadow of a prima facie case for expulsion. We believe that the Clause as it comes back from the Lords does avoid that unnecessary expense to the country, and does avoid that cruelty to many quite innocent people, and at the same time it will give the country all the protection that it needs and will afford efficient machinery by which any dangerous person in this country can he singled out by the police or by any other responsible person so that that dangerous person may be expelled.

Colonel BURN

This Bill was passed by the unanimous vote of the House of Commons, or what might practically be called the unanimous vote of the House of Commons, and it was sent to another place. I think it is outrageous to have it thrown back into the face of this House after the long discussion that took place here, all sides being represented. When we were discussing the Lords Amendments two nights ago I heard the Member for Mid-Antrim (Major O'Neill) refer to British fair play. There is no greater upholder of British fair play than I am, but first of all I claim British fair play for the British people. Anyone who knows the Germans as well as I do, anyone who realises the amount of harm done to this country not only before the War but during the War by those Germans who were here receiving our hospitality, anyone who knows what those men did by their espionage and their knowledge of the daily relations of British life, knows that they did more to prolong this War than anyone. To my knowledge the Germans were here living at our seaport towns, and all the time they were collecting evidence which would be of great value to the military party in Berlin. They knew what was going on here and how far we were prepared to fight them when "the day" arrived. We people alto have the interests of our own country at heart wish to make it impossible in future that that sort of thing can occur again. We have learned our lesson, and some of us in this House have learned a more bitter lesson than many; we have paid the penalty, the best that we had to give, and so we do not lightly forget. I have been in Germany, and I have known for many years past what was going on. I have, on public platforms, ever since I entered the political arena, foretold that this German war was as certain to come as the night follows the day, and every word that I have said has conic true. I, firmly and honestly believe that German preparation for this War was greatly assisted by the knowledge that they got through their spies in this country. Personally I should like to go into the Lobby and reject the Lords Amendment, but I do not blind myself to the fact that by so doing we should wreck the Bill altogether and for that reason I mean to consider it. It is heartbreaking to those with whom I am associated, to feel that after all the work we have done, and the trouble we have taken to try and get on to the Statute Book a measure that would prevent the undesirable German living in this country, that the Lords in another place have entirely turned clown our proposal. I shall consult with my Friends as to what is the best course to take. I can only say that I feel convinced if we do not get the Bill, the whole Bill as we sent it to the Lords, that this country in the future will very seriously suffer.


May I at this hour make an appeal to the good sense of the House? It is quite clear there are some who approve of the course which was taken in another place, and that there are many who do not. The merits of the controversy have been entered into, not for the first time in this House, and I suggest that the moment has now come when the House might reach a conclusion on the Amendment.


The simple point at issue is this. After very mature consideration in this House we came to certain conclusions as to what is good arid necessary for the future welfare of the country. We sent all our proposals to another place, and they have been returned, and we are being forced by the Upper Chamber to take a decision which is contrary to the considered judgment of the people's elected representatives in this House. For my part that is a course to which I will never submit.


As on each former occasion on this matter, the Government have removed their Whips,

may I ask if the same course cannot be observed to-day. You, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have invited us to discuss the Clause, and not to be guilty of any irrelevancies. Let us look at the point at issue before we give our votes. The whole point is that by the Clause as it left that House every enemy alien was to be deported unless he could show that he was an honest [...]citizen of this country. As the Clause comes back to us, it is provided that no enemy alien shall be deported unless somebody can make a charge against him and prove it. We know that before the War it was the apparently innocent people who were hunting in Ireland and in other places, who were really spies for the German people, and acquired information against this country, and those were people no charge could be brought against.


Hitherto when a vote has been taken, the question has been with regard to a particular proposal in the Bill. The question today is not that. The question to-day is whether the view taken by this House is that the questions involved in Clause 9 are so important that rather than give way upon them we are to sacrifice the whole of the Bill. In those circumstances it is not possible for the Government to take the course which is recommended and take off the Whips. In substance the life of the Bill is involved, and it would be necessary for the Government, which desires the Bill, to put on their Whips.

Captain S. WILSON

I wish to dissociate myself entirely, as a member of the Constitutional pasty, from the attacks that have been made by members of that 'Arty upon another place. I hope that this House will record their votes and support the action the House of Lords has taken.

Question put, "That this House doth not insist on its disagreement with the said Lords Amendments, on which their Lordships have insisted."

The House divided: Ayes, 124, Noes, 31.

Division No. 165.] AYES. [3.12 p.m.
Adamsom, Rt. Hon. William Birchall, Major J. D. Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Berwick, Major G. O. Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)
Archdale, Edward M. Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith. Cozens-Hardy. Hon. W. H.
Baird, John Lawrence Bowles, Col. H. F. Dawes, J. A.
Baldwin, Stanley Brace, Rt. Hon. William Dockrell, Sir M.
Barnston, Major Harry Britton, G. B. Edge, Captain William
Barrle, Charles Coupar (Banff) Buchanan, Lt.-Col. A. L. H. Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)
Beck, Arthur Cecil Cautley, Henry Strother Elliot, Captain W. E. (Lanark)
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh (Oxford U.) Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.
Benn, Captain W. (Leith) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.) Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray
Farquharson, Major A. c. Keliaway, Frederick George Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)
Fell, Sir Arthur Law, A. J, (Rochdale) Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur
Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales) Seager, Sir William
Ganzoni, Captain F. J. C. Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.) Seely, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. John
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)
Gibbs, Col. George Abraham Lonsdale, James R. Smith, W. (Wellingborough)
Gilbert, James Daniel Loseby, Captain C. E. Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Gilmour, Lt.-Colonel John Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Stirling) Stephenson, Colonel H. K.
Gaff, Sir Park Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian) Sutherland, Sir William
Graham, W. (Edinburgh) Magnus, Sir Philip Talbot. G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)
Green, J. F. (Leicester) Molson, Major John Elsdale Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Greig, Colonel James William Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Griffiths, T. (Pontypool) Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Grundy, T. W. Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles) Walsh, S. (Ince, Lanes.)
Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York) Neal, Arthur Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Hailwood, A. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Aitrincham) O'Neill, Captain Hon. Robert W. H. Wardle, George J.
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Waring, Major Walter
Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness-shire) Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow) Watson, Captain John Bertrand
Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.) Parker, James Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Hayward, Major Evan Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Weigall, Lt.-Colonel W. E. G. A.
Henry, D. S. (Londonderry, S.) Pearce, Sir William Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)
Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.) Williams, Lt.-Cc-m. C. (Tavistock)
Hinds, John Pratt, John William Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Holmes, J. Stanley Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G. Wiiloughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Pulley, Charles Thornton Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley 'Hold'ness
Home, Sir Robert (Hillhead) Purchase, H. G. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Hughes, Spencer Leigh Raw. LI. -Colonel Dr. N. Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, c.)
Inskip, T. W. H. Reid, D. D. Younger, Sir George
Irving, Dan Renwick, G.
Johnstone, J. Rose, Frank H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Lord E.
Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke) Rothschild, Lionel de Talbot and Captain F. Guest.
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)
Allen, Lt.-Col. William James Hennessy, Major G. Murray, William (Dumfries
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Herbert, Denniss (Hertford) Nield, Sir Herbert
Barnett, Major R. W. Hogge, J. M. Perkins, Walter Frank
Blair, Major Reginald Hood, Joseph Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles
Bruton, Sir J. Hopkins, J. W. W. Seddon, James
Burn, Captain C. R. (Torquay) Hurd, P. A. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Curzon, Commander Viscount Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Simm, M. T
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln) Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford) Yate, Col. Charles Edward
Dean, Com. P. T, Moles, Thomas
Gretton Colonel John Morrison-Bell. Major A. C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Sir W.
Hambro, Angus Valdemar Murchison, C. K. Davison and Sir Richard Cooper.
Hanna, G. B.

Question put, and agreed to.