§ Brigadier-General CROFT
I beg to move,That this House is of opinion that the system of secrecy in connection with the sources of funds for party purposes has debased our political system and is inimical to the best interests of the country, and calls upon the Government to introduce a Bill to make the publication of the particulars of such funds compulsory; and further is of opinion that recommendations for the bestowal of honours in recognition of subscriptions to such funds should be discontinued.The question which I have the honour of raising in the House to-night is not a party question, but one which affects all parties in the State equally. For that reason I hope very much that hon. Members will feel that it is a free Debate and that a free decision can be come to. I do not propose to expose the conduct of any individual Members or to cite individual cases of corruption unless I am absolutely pressed to do so, because it seems to me 1335 it would be far preferable to discuss the whole question in order that we may look at it from its highest standpoint and thereby be able to redress its wrongs. I ask the House to reform a system the evil effects of which have not only been felt in our political life, but which a flect the power and the prestige of Parliament itself, and therefore the nation. The services which we in this House give ought to be regarded as the greatest honour which can be conferred upon any of our countrymen. Under the growth of the party system it would be idle to deny that a seat in this House is not always considered ample reward for the confidence of the electors, but frequently is a stepping-stone to honour and preferment. I do not think, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I am exaggerating when I say that there is no single Member of this House whose pride is not wounded by the fact that the name "politician" has become one of opprobrium in every part of the country. As individuals, possibly we are not responsible for this state of affairs; collectively there is a grave burden of responsibility upon the shoulders of this House. I propose this Resolution with a passionate desire to see this House re-elevated to those heights which caused the fame of the Mother of Parliaments to ring throughout the world, which was the envy of the older civilisations, and which the younger communities have endeavoured to imitate.
The House of Commons has lost power. That much has been admitted by the Leader of the House. The right hon. Gentleman attributed the loss of this power to "the growth of the party system which caused Members to sink their individual feelings in the fortunes of the party to which they belong." I think hon. Members will admit that this is a most important statement, and one which requires to be looked into. We frankly recognise that parties there will ever be. Men will combine in order to achieve the causes in which they believe. That is perfectly obvious. But we do feel, in spite of all, that we can defend ourselves and our country against the strangling effects of the party system—for it is the system which is at fault. We lay special stress upon the question of secret funds and the sale of honours. Frankly, we admit that to end these twin evils will not be to end all abuses. We do, however, claim that the abolition of this system would be a means of striking at the root of the corrup- 1336 tion. Until we have grappled with this question we do not believe that we shall have any real measure of reform.
I want to deal, first of all, with the question of secret funds. Why are they vicious, dangerous, and subversive of the freedom of this House? First of all, I should like to deal with the question of foreign money. Money from foreign sources can be spent in this country in order to influence our political movements. I would remind the House that the Bolsheviks are spending enormous sums of money in foreign countries. We know that very large sums have gone to Sweden. There is every belief that that money has come on into this country. If that is so, surely the people of this country ought to know which political institution that money has come to. [An HON. MEMBER: "Name !"] I will give an. instance which will probably satisfy the hon. Member who puts that request. Lenin himself has confessed that ho has diverted very large sums of money from Bolshevik coffers into furthering the aims of the Sinn Feiners in Ireland. That being a fact, I say it is desirable—to put it mildly—that we should know what are the sources of the funds of these various political movements in this country. Take another case. Foreign money can at this present moment, unknown to the public, be used to influence the commercial or financial policy of this country. There are some Gentlemen in this House who, no doubt, would tell us that if, for instance, we had a real policy of tariff reform, a real protection of British industry, that that would destroy every British manufacture. If that is destruction for the British manufacturer, it follows that it would be an advantage to our principal competitors on the Continent. It is not, therefore, a great stretch of imagination to come to the conclusion that some German Machiaveli who desires to destroy the industry of this country would, if his belief was the Free Trade point of view, subscribe to tariff reform in this country so as to bring that into force. That might not, or would not, dispose of the tariff reform side of the question, but it is equally true that foreign money might be used to assist the Free Trade movement in this country.
I believe that if wages in this country are continued at their present level, as I believe they will continue, it is absolutely impossible that the industries of this country can continue unless we can have some form of tariffs. That view may be shared by gentlemen in foreign countries. 1337 If so, it is quite likely that they might support the Free Trade Union. I have already exposed the danger of Tariff Reform in this connection. I happened to take a cursory glance at a document which fell into my hands in regard to the funds of the Free Trade Union in 1911. Perhaps I may be allowed to give some of the names of gentlemen who subscribed in that year. They were as follows: Koch, Brandt, Idiens, Tenbosch, Hrapie, Holzapel, Otto Levin, Teichmann, Salomans, Rosenfeldt, Geidt, Zimmer, Schncisar, Bernemann, and Frischer.
§ Brigadier-General CROFT
They were not published so far as I know. I do not for a moment suggest that there were not disinterested Englishmen who also subscribed to that Union. I am quite sure there were. But I say that we may be pretty sure that the Germans considered other points of view.
§ Mr. A. SHAW
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that all these distinguished people whose names he has read out were alien enemies?
§ Brigadier-General CROFT
Not at all. I only stated that it was rather remarkable that these gentlemen of foreign origin subscribed to one party in order to retain a certain system.
§ General CROFT
I will deal with what my hon. Friend says in a moment. In 1911 a Circular was sent out to various Free Traders in this country. It was marked "private and confidential." A copy was sent to a friend of mine by an indignant Free Trader. This is what the Circular:I should like to state that an anonymous friend of Mr. Winston Churchill has subscribed £1,500; Sir Edgar Speyer, Bart., £1,000; Mr. H. G. Kleinworth, £1,000.That must have been a terrible name if it could not be mentioned in such company. I am trying to indicate the desirability of large subscribers to any political institution being known to the general public if they so desire. I think it would be grotesque in this House to suggest or deny the fact that subscribers to party funds are more likely to gain safe seats than those whose qualifications are more of brains than of cash. Those associated 1338 with me would not suggest that aspirants to political honours should not subscribe to party funds. That is most fit and proper, but our contention is that if they are large subscribers likely to unduly influence that particular party, the fact should be known. Such a policy has been proved to be possible by the small party to which I belong, for we have laid down that anybody subscribing to the funds must be of British birth, and if he subscribes more than a certain amount it is possible for anybody to go into our office and ask to see the list of subscribers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is it published?"] If that is not publication I do not know what is.
Under our present system the most amazing candidates turn up in constituencies which they have never seen, and they meet about a dozen members of the local caucus and are selected. It may happen in the safe Unionist or Liberal agricultural constituencies of East Blank shire that some cosmopolitan gentleman may appear on the scene. He may be of foreign origin with a guttural accent, and he may not know the difference between a turnip and an onion, and yet he will be selected. I suggest that he would be a subscriber to the party funds, although the central office has not even the grace to send down an interpreter to explain his, utterances to the electors. A candidate of this kind may get a coupon. Indeed it is almost inexplicable why some of these gentlemen got coupons at all unless it is the fact that they were very large subscribers to party funds. At any rate he is. returned having invested in his party system, and he is naturally reluctant to-receive further preferment, and to that extent he becomes subservient to the party system. Not long after he has been in this House, his wife having mixed freely with the nobility becomes obsessed with the desire to become m' lady, and the husband becomes still more enslaved to-the party system. He avoids black marks in the Division Lobby, and he is a faithful servant of the Party Whips in order that his next instalment on the hire purchase system may be as small as possible. The tendency I have indicated is common knowledge in this House. In the case of a man who has served ten, fifteen or twenty years doing constructive work on the Committees of this House, or has made notable contributions on the floor of the House, or has taken part in winning great causes in the country, such as housing 1339 reform. Imperial Preference, old age pensions, health reforms or any great policy of that description, I am the last to suggest that such a man has not earned the honour of this House, and has not earned a place to be regarded amongst those who have really contributed to our political life.
In those cases where men desire honour they have every right to be rewarded. They have contributed their zeal and energy to the country according to their lights, and they have helped to carry out that policy. But the man in the street cannot understand why someone in this House, who, as far as we know, has never done any of these things, and who has never even caused a ripple in the political pool, should be suddenly elevated to the ranks of chivalry. There is no explanation of this unless he has contributed to the party funds or contributed to the Press, or has shown his fidelity by silent voting. No less than 290 members at the last Parliament either received titles or jobs or preferment. I am the last to suggest that a very large number of those gentlemen did not fully earn that recognition, but I ask the House to think it out. If you eliminate those eighty Irish Nationalists whose presence we miss so much, and the forty Members of the Labour party who only received two or three Privy Councillorships, it will be seen that an actual majority of this House received rewards during the last Parliament.
No one will argue that under such a system you cannot fail to create an unhealthy attachment to parties. Perhaps I have been too moderate in this matter, because I have not included in the category all those who have a dutiful regard for the Whips and a bright expectancy of favours to come. There may be some who will say that the House of Commons has not received more than its just share, but let us test that in the reality of the War. Let us compare those who have received honours because they have offered their words and those who have offered their lives. Since 6th December, 1916, up to 29th April of this year, no less than 155 gentlemen received hereditary honours and 154 went to civilians, a very large proportion of whom were Members of these two Houses of Parliament or backers of political systems in the constituencies or backers of the Prime Minister in the Press, while one went to 1340 the fighting Services. I think 154 to I are rather long odds. The men who attacked the Navy Estimates in 1914, exposing our country to disaster, were honoured even in the Privy Council, but the men who went out to fight the Germans on sea and land received no hereditary honours but the one I have mentioned The men who positively saved thousands of lives do not even receive a baronetcy, and not a single one of these victors of war have been permitted to enter the Privy Council. Ought we not to hang our heads in shame when real honour has been won in this time of our greatest trial to see honours rain in fulsome showers upon this House, which only twice heard the distant rumble of an air raid!
There is another side to this question: It is the character of the recipients of the honours. It am told, and I think it is generally recognised, that in the recent Honours List gentlemen received titles whom no decent man would allow to enter his house. According to a most distinguished journal, which I do not always fully agree with, several of them would have been blackballed by any respectable social London club. In this connection I heard an amazing story, probably not true, of the present Prime Minister. A friend of his said to him, "Do not you think we have gone far enough in this direction?" The story is that the right hon. Gentleman responded, "My dear fellow, I am not worse than Walpole." Be that as it may, if you want to create Bolshevism and revolution in this country you will continue this practice and allow these scandals to go on. Hardly less invidious has been the bestowal of honours upon the Press which has supported the Prime Minister. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) who has consented to second this Motion, I believe almost suffered a nervous breakdown when he read the last Honours List, because he realised that under the law of averages no distinguished journalist such as he could possibly be excluded from the next list, and then he might have been bodily removed into the Upper Chamber where he could no longer compete with the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. It is quite true that Fleet Street went into mourning for a period because no further honours came to Carmelite House. But the Press was not entirely ignored in the last list, for we find that among those honoured were 1341 people connected with the "Daily Telegraph," "Daily Mirror," "Sunday Pictorial," "Leeds Mercury," "Glasgow Daily Record," "People," "Evening Standard," "Daily Sketch," "Daily Dispatch," "Evening Chronicle," "Sunday Herald," "Sunday Chronicle," "South Wales News," "Cardiff Times," and a well-known news agency. This is not bad, considering that this Honours List was published only a week after the Prime Minister, amid the plaudits of his admirers in this House, had told us of his supreme disregard for a good Press. He can compensate himself with the thought that, in the higher ranks of hereditary honours, the Press did not come off so badly. They had a fair proportion—amongst the viscounts 100 percent., and of the baronetcies 20 percent. These are hopeful proportions, which encourage us to think that the future is indeed rosy for the few remaining journalists in this country who have not been honoured. How true it must be that the pen is mightier than the sword!
May I ask what is the reason for the flood of honours given to the Press. Is it because these gentlemen, these proprietors of newspapers, are patriotic? Surely! But so are the cocoa and soap manufacturers, the chimney-sweep, and the rag-and-bone man. They have all been engaged in business throughout the War, and have played their patriotic part. No one would suggest, of course, that any of these great newspapers have played the German game. It seems to me that there is no other explanation of this than that the men who wear the laurels must in future be confined to a select coterie made up of the House of Commons and of the ranks of journalism. These being the facts, I ask the House to consider whether we have not really passed the limit, and if it thinks so, I ask it to bear with me for a few moments while I suggest the constructive reforms which I think necessary in this state of affairs. Let the House declare this evening that all party funds shall in future be audited by a chartered accountant, and that such accountant should vouch for the substantial subscribers—those over £500—and see that a list of them is lodged in some such place us Somerset House, where anyone who desires to know where these funds come from can ascertain the facts. If you adopt that policy you destroy at one blow the germ of corruption. I know the party Whips and I hope the party Leaders will 1342 rise in their place, and I have a shrewd suspicion they will say that they have nothing to hide. If that be so, then why do not they end the distrust and the suspicion and the secrecy which has caused that mistrust amongst the people of the country? I believe they can only advance one argument against such a proposal, and that is that it would be difficult for some gentlemen who have subscribed largely to the party funds to become the recipients of honours. But if such a gentleman believes that the cause he is subscribing to is just, whether it be a political party or a hospital, surely there is no reason why he should hide the fact? I submit that a man who has not the courage to subscribe to a cause in which he believes and to let it be known, but desires his contribution to be surreptitious and clandestine ought never to be the recipient of a title. If we bring about this reform we shall not judge men by their contributions to party funds; we shall judge them by their services to their country.
With regard to the Honours List recently issued by Prime Ministers, surely the right hon. Gentlemen cannot have been informed of the character of some of the gentlemen whom they recommended for the honours, otherwise they would have been deliberately polluting the fountain of honour by presenting such names to the Sovereign. It seems to me that the remedy for all this is quite simple. We should have an examining body, preferably a committee of the Privy Council and not of Members of this House who are deeply connected with political headquarters. They should inquire into the character of those proposed to be recommended and should be informed of the real reasons why the recommendations are made. And, after all, when a great and proud Dominion, like Canada, petitions His Majesty not to grant any further titles to Canada we must have come to a sorry pass. It is clear that the time has come for the House to examine into this question. It is inconceivable that the patronage of the Prime Minister be interfered with by such a solution as I am suggesting. It seems to me that the only effect would be that his advisers would take scrupulous care that they did not submit any name for a title or honour unless they were quite sure that the suggested recipient was deserving, and they would thus protect not only the honour of the Prime Minister, but what is more important, the 1343 honour of the Throne One ought to have regard to the freedom of. this House which is very much linked up with this question Again I say the remedy is simple. Let us agree to get rid of the evils off snap Divisions. After all, we are not school boys—this is a serious assembly. If the Government is defeated on some chance vote, let them submit the same question to the House shortly afterwards, say a week or a fortnight later, and then if they are again defeated let them abide by the opinions in the House, and having suffered such a defeat let them immediately coma to the House for a Vote of Confidence on their general policy. In that way the private Member would not have to vote any longer for a measure which is obnoxious to him, and he would not feel that in abstaining from voting he was imperilling the fate of the Government in which he believes.
These reforms are, in my belief, the most urgent of all reforms. No legislation can prove successful unless we in this House as administrators have the confidence of our fellow-countrymen; unless the roots of the tree of legislation are pure and disinterested the fruits thereof will not ripen, and the Government will not inspire that respect and authority which it has a right to demand. Some of us feel this subject very keenly—so keenly that we decided to sever our connection with old colleagues and old friends in order that we might go out and fight the battle in the country. We could not honourably have remained parties to a system which we were of opinion it is imperative that we should attack. The House must realise that we did not do that without very real regret, and, indeed, great pain. If we believe that these reforms are essential in the reconstruction of our country and the rebuilding of its institutions, it must be agreed that we were right to seek such a means of trying to end the evil. The well-being of our country and the honour of Parliament were more important than our party careers or even our party friendships. It is because I believe that the vast body of opinion of the country desires to see a change in this connection, and that the vast majority of this House would like to see this scandal ended, that I urge His Majesty's Government to assent to the Resolution. If the Government cannot agree to that Resolution, I ask them at least, in the eyes of their countrymen, to 1344 allow a free vote on a question which is not a party question, and to let every Member of this House vote according to his conscience to-night.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I beg to second the Motion.
In view of certain observations which fell from my hon. and gallant Friend in moving this Resolution, I should like to say at once that I am perfectly disinterested. We are here speaking of party funds and honours. I have no party, very little in the way of funds, and I seek no honours. Indeed, so much do I regard it as one of the privileges of which a British can now be proud that I emphasise it by printing the word "Mr." on my visiting card in red ink, to indicate that I am still uncorrupted. I have among my least valued possessions a letter from one famous leader of society, who suggested to me that certain public services I was pleased to have rendered were worthy of recognition, and that, after certain formalities of the kind the Noble Lord has been referring to had been com plied with, then a great honour would be conferred upon me. That is some years ago. I congratulate the House of Lords on the narrow escape it then had, and I congratulate myself that I am privileged to be on the floor of this House instead of the other. I approach this, matter from the point of view of an unattached, unofficial Member of the House. I have no Whip; I owe no allegiance to any section of the House; I recognise only-one political master, that is my Constituency, and I am on the very best of terms with it, and I do not think we are likely to quarrel. Looking at the matter from that detached standpoint and mixing as one does with people of all sections of the community, I assure the House that, whether there be any ground for it or not, there is a deeply-rooted suspicion in the minds of the general public that what goes on in this Assembly is to a large extent a great game, worked by complicated, well-balanced machinery, that the average Member of Parliament comes here not even as a. delegate for his own constituents but as a mere little integral portion of the great party machine, that he has to leave his political conscience in the Whips room before he enters the House, and that there is really no independent criticism and judgment exercised at all in our Debates. I am far from saying that I think it is true. 1345 One advantage of the existing Coalition system is that the average Member of the Coalition party feels that he may, except on vital occasions, unburden himself of his real, honest opinion, because it cannot do any harm to his party. It is only when you come to dose quarters on vital questions, such as the payment of indemnities, that the frown of the Leader of the House calls them to their senses and they have, to toe the line. As regards honours, the figures given by the Mover speak eloquently that it is the politician who gets the vast majority of the honours. Some times he is a politician in the negative sense that he simply supports the political machine. I support the practical suggestion of the Mover, that it is essential, whenever an honour is conferred by the King upon anyone at all; it should be officially stated for what reason that honour has been conferred. The mere statement of "public service"—a phrase we see a great deal now a days is too vague and indefinite. Let us know what particular service has so attracted the attention of His Majesty as to induce him, on the advice of his advisers, to confer some honour upon one of his subjects. On another aspect of the question, there is another source of revenue awaiting the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the form of a tax on titles. If we are going to introduce finance at all into the question of honours, do it directly and have a scale of charges, beginning with knighthoods and going right up to the top of the scale, whatever it may be—I do not profess to know, because I have not studied the different degrees. An overwhelming case has been made out at least for obtaining from the Government a declaration that money is not taken for party purposes with any kind of understanding, however remote and vague it may be, that the donor should be rewarded by being recommended to the King for an honour.
There is a suspicion that money is welcome to the parties from whatever source it comes. I mentioned once in this House year ago, in connection with a suggested source of revenue, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that connection should not be too particular as to the source of the money. It does not apply in the case of titles. The old Roman Emperor, when up raided for taking money from a tainted source, took a handful of it and put it to his nose, saying, "Non o let"—it does not smell. That is the principle which governs the secret funds of the different parties. 1346 One wonders, as one looks round the present House and thinks of its constitution, where those funds are to-day, and how they are controlled. I do not know whether there is a Coalition secret chest, I do not know whether the Unionist chest has been opened and made common property with that of the other side. I do not know whether Mr. Asquith has handed over the Liberal chest to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) who seems keenly interested in this subject and who, contrary to his usual custom, remains in the House for some private Members business. I do not blame him, because he is a very busy man.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I am nearly always in for public or private business. I have missed my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
My eyes must have misled me. One is getting old and has to wear spectacles sometimes. I apologise for having done an injustice to my right hon. Friend. I do not know, one is not very much interested in knowing, how the present funds of these various parties are controlled, but that they exist and always will exist is obvious. It is no good my hon. and gallant Friend thinking he can abolish party funds. Men, as he says, will combine legitimately for definite settled policies and purposes. Let them have their funds by all means, and I am not anxious to inquire into the identity of the subscribers, provided always—after all we still accept the word of responsible Ministers as sufficient—we can be assured by the Leader of the House that there is no ground for suspicion that any bargains are ever made connecting party subscriptions with recommendations for office. That is the whole essence of the discussion.
We shall shortly have another Honours List. It seems to me rather a cynical way of heralding its arrival to state in the Press, as I read yesterday, that some Whip, I think, of the Government had gone over to the Prime Minister with a draft list in his pocket. I could not help reflecting on the irony of that piece of information, and I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will make a due note of it, that one of the Patronage Secretaries, or Whips, has gone over specially to Paris to submit to the Prime Minister a list of people to be recommended to His Majesty in connection with the birthday honours. It is only a side issue in this question, but 1347 it bears upon it that it is quite safe to predict that there will not be one name in that list whose elevation to the other House would involve a by-election. It is an illustration of the fact that honours have to be considered, having regard to certain political and party considerations. If this House is to regain its lost ascendancy over the imagination and minds of the people, if it is to be regarded more seriously than it is to-day by the man in the street, if you are going to get the typical citizen to believe that we meet here for honest independent work and constructive legislation, it is absolutely essential that there should be a declaration either that if the system has existed in the past it has come to an end, or that it does not exist at all, and that there is nothing to hide, and if there is nothing to conceal why not let us have access to some list of the principal subscribers to the party funds? I think it is called the tea room where these things are exhibited. I do not know where that room is, although I have been a Member for eight or nine years, but I believe there is some place where the documents might be inspected. If the right hon. Gentleman will not do that, I ask him to believe that this is not a personal political party move of any kind. I was going to say the hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Croft) represents the smallest party in the House, but that would not be true. It is twice as large as the one I was thinking of. But we small parties have no party funds, and we do not want them, and we have nothing to gain. We are here because we are independent, and there is no other motive actuating me in supporting this Motion than to be able to go back to my Constituents, and to different parts of the country as one does, and say to them, "This is a new Parliament. A new spirit has come over it. The old party shibboleths have gone. The old party scandals have gone. The old party machinery is rusty and is scrapped on the great waste heap of the War, and they may rely on it that now everything is clean, honest, and above board."
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
I was in the Courts last week for something I said about the gentleman on the other side, and, as Mr. Gladstone once said, now I am unmuzzled I want to relieve my mind of certain things. First, may I say how? 1348 much I agree with what has fallen from the last speaker. If he refers to the Debate that took place in the House of Lords and the Resolutions which were passed then, he will find that his case is true of many others. The Resolution, which was accepted by the Government, said:(1) That when any honour or dignity is conferred upon a British subject, other than a member of the Royal family or members of the naval, military or permanent Civil Service under the Crown, a definite public statement of the reasons for which it has been recommended to the Crown shall accompany the notification of the grant.(2) That a declaration to the Sovereign be made by the Prime Minister, in recommending any person to His Majesty's favour for any such honour or dignity, that he has satisfied himself that no payment or expectation of payment to any party fund is directly pr indirectly associated with the grant or promise of such honour or dignity.That seems to meet the question raised by the hon. Member, but that is not the case that is before the House. The case before the House is the underlying assumption that there is a traffic, a trade, in the sale of honours, but when it conies to the floor of the House, not a single case is brought forward. It has not been given in any single discussion that has taken place up till now.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
You did not move the Motion. You can come along later. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Brigadier-General Croft's did not give one single instance of honours being con ferred where payment had been made. He took the last Honours List and poured innuendos upon the honour and character of men in it. The House has the right to ask who these men are. We do not want to shelter anyone-. It seems to me he-wants to get his nose in any kind of smelly mess. He spoke about Canada having passed a Resolution against accepting hereditary honours. The reason was simply that Canada did not want to be-saddled with a hereditary aristocracy.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to do the proper thing, if he will move that hereditary titles in any shape or form have to be abolished, I will second it. Do not let us play with this thing. If there is a traffic in titles, as he says, the only way to-abolish the traffic is to abolish the titles. Is he prepared to do that? There was cir- 1349 culated in my Constituency, and I suppose in other constituencies, the National party programme, written by the Whip of the National party, with a preface by its leader. I notice that instead of the party consisting of twins on the bench opposite they are now triplets. I do not know whether the greater includes the lesser, or who is the leader. This kind of thing makes one feel you would like to smack somebody:The National party further regards the whole political machine as a dangerous and corrupt instrument which tends to foist upon the country a class of men who prostitute the public service for personal advancement and gain."That was brought up in my Constituency.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
I suggest to the hon. Member for Christchurch that probably he gets information about honours from his Friend on the left(Sir R. Cooper). The members of the National party appear to me to be the most stupid set of men that ever walked. I had a con test going on, and I had a Liberal against me and a National party man, and during the progress of the contest I had an application from the Nationalist party for a contribution towards their funds to enable him to fight the election. Are you not a stupid lot? If that is the kind of way you carry on business you would make. a mess of it. You talk about the con science of the country. When this party began I remember that in the Constitutional Club two years ago they were going round telling about it. They came to me and asked me if I would like a safe seat. I said "Whom is it for?" The reply was "The National party." I replied "No thanks. Who are the National party?" I was told, "They are the party that have nobbled the Tariff Reform movement; they are going to be the party of the future, and their leader is a future Disraeli. He is forming a party now, and you will find that he is going to control the Unionist party in future."
§ General CROFT
I assure the hon. Member that nobody in authority would ever think of asking him to contest any constituency.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
Probably the hon. Member's agents went beyond his authorisation. That offer was made to me.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
I can tell you. No, I will not. I do not want to get the man into trouble, because he probably should not have done it, but he did it. That is what happened. That is the line they were going to take up, and this gentle man of military age came back from the front, in the middle of the War. That was a curious thing. An able-bodied man, physically fit, like our Friend who moved this Resolution, throws up his job at the front and conies back. For what'! [Hon. MEMBERS: "Name! "]
I had the honour of serving in the same Division as the hon. Member opposite (Brigadier-General Croft), and I deny what the hon. Member said.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
I thought the hon. Member was speaking about some person who was not a Member of the House.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
I am not speaking about a Member of the House. The person who came to me is not now a Member of the House.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
I am attacking, him because he deserves to be attacked. Now let us come to the party funds. I agree with what fell from the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley), that there ought to be no connection between the payment of money, directly or indirectly, and any honours. I go even beyond him in saying that if there was the slightest shadow of suspicion of anything of this traffic going on I should be prepared to move or to second a Resolution in: 1351 favour of the abolition of honours altogether. That is the only way to stop it. You speak of the character of the men who get honours. In my young days we used to go into the characters of the men who held high positions. I do not want to insult the living by saying that their forefathers did not get their positions in a very credit able manner. I do not want to insult the living or the dead, but the hon. Member wants to insult the living now. So far as my experience of the House goes, I do not know that I did a good thing in coming here. There is certain disillusionment about it, a certain amount of indefinite-ness about what we are doing, a certain lack of something to get on with, but so long as I am in this House, if there is any thing shady, underhanded, or unsavoury, my vote and influence will be used to put it down. I am not going to go by mere innuendo never accompanied by proof, as is the case in this Resolution.
As a new Member of the House, I am seeking for information, and I would like to know on what system are honours granted I The hon. Member who has just sat down has said that no case has ever been brought on the floor of this House or of the other House where a man has been granted honours through his subscription to party funds. In making that challenge he must know that there are cases, although it would not be right to give the names. I can toll him, for his information, that in this House to-day I was told by a Member that some years ago he was approached by an emissary of the Government of that day to know what he would contribute to the party funds if a baronetcy were conferred upon him.
§ Mr. LANE-MITCHELL
I have gone through every OFFICIAL REPORT of this House and of the House of Lords, and I cannot find any record of anything of this sort.
§ Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY
How can the hon. Member expect a record of a case like that? It is absurd. This is not the only case, and it is absurd for the hon. Member to think for one moment that honours are not granted in a great many cases for subscriptions to party funds, whether it is right or whether it is wrong. I should like to deal with the last list of honours that came out. When we in Manchester read that list in the papers it was the universal opinion that the Gov- 1352 ernment had achieved one object—that they had brought into prominence names of men who were never heard of before. One of those gentlemen, who had a baronetcy conferred upon him, was so unknown that the Press was telegraphing from London to know who he was and in desperation, not being able to find out, they put in the paper a photograph of his cousin.
With regard to a gentleman who is very well known there, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if the Government had inquired into his record they would never have conferred a knighthood upon the Chief Constable of Manchester. I would like the Government to have inquired what the record of that man was with the German Consul before war broke out and what his record with him was after war broke out. I would like them to have inquired as to the way he dealt with the Germans in the city of Man Chester who were not interned but should have been interned, and I would also like to know if the Intelligence Department in the War Office have any record with re grad to that gentleman that would put him outside the pale of any honour what so ever. It seems to me that honours are granted to gentlemen who bear names which, to say the least of it, are not English, while gentlemen living in those same districts, Englishmen to the back bone, who have done good service to their country, arc passed over. And when you ask what is the explanation the in variable answer is that the alien is a wealthy man. Whether it is correct or not, that is the answer you get. And so it is the alien who gets his honour while the Englishmen go without. During this War there has been an amount of work done by men who have sacrificed thousands of pounds and sacrificed their time, and their interest in their business, in a wholly honorary capacity, men who have not done it for a title and who I do not suppose would have a title if it were offered, but the fact remains, that those men—I am speaking now from definite knowledge of their work—not only have never been offered a title but have never even been thanked by the Government Department they work for, while these rich men of alien birth who have never been heard of are getting titles. It is all very well for the hon. Member opposite to talk about assumptions, but I put it to him that even if I had not given these facts, which I know to be correct, what 1353 other assumption can any Member of the House draw from the fact, except that those men who can pay handsomely get the honours and those men who remain in the background and really do the spade work of this country are passed over.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I do not desire to detain the House for any great length, but it is rather important that this question should not be regarded as merely an expression of opinion by men like the Mover and the Seconder of the Motion, men who, notwithstanding their personal ability, do not command a very large amount of confidence of the ordinary public. I think it ought not to be merely an expression of their opinion. I am not very much in love with the proposal of an Act of Parliament to regulate these matters, but I am very strongly convinced that public opinion upon this subject is in such a state that everyone who wishes well to Parliamentary government will have to ask the question seriously what can be done to calm the uneasiness that exists, for it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a large body of opinion in this country which has lost faith in Par liamentary government. We hear of direct action. We hear of a still larger body of opinion, which gives expressions to views more or less contemptuous of both Houses of Parliament. There is certainly growing up a disposition to Believe that Parliamentary government has played its part, that no one now much believes in it, and that you must look to something else though no one knows quite, what. These doctrines make not for judicious reform, but something which might easily end in an attempt at any thing, though I am quite confident that the party of order in this country is strong enough to resist anything in the nature of an anarchical revolution. But still, if there is an attempt it would be mii unspeakable calamity, and we do most earnestly desire that the reputation of Parliamentary government should be placed as high as possible.
The importance of the question to which the hon. and gallant Member for South Hackney called attention is really that whether reasonably or unreasonably there is not the least doubt that Parliamentary government, and the two Houses of Parliament are discredited to some extent and exposed to very damaging imputations, because it is thought that the party funds are discreditably recruited and are 1354 corruptly used. That is really what it comes to, that the honours are, used to get funds for party purposes, and that when the funds are got they are used really in effect to secure the return of Members of Parliament, not of course by direct bribery but by ways and moans, by which not the best men or the men most chosen by the constituencies, but the men most accept able to the party managers are chosen, and that the party funds are really the most important part of a mechanism which corrupts public life. That is the suspicion. I am never disposed to believe that the truth is anything like so bad us the suspicion suggests. We know that there are always people going about who are afraid of the Jesuits and there are others who are afraid of Jews, and there is a class of people who have a similar obsession about the dangerous influence and corrupt recruitment of party funds. What usually happens in all these cases is that there is a small measure of truth behind a great deal of suspicion, and it is exceedingly important that whatever is really is should be put right, and still more important that the matter should be so ordered as to convince all reason able people that, whatever may have happened in the past, in the future proper safeguards will be taken against corruption or the danger of it. Part of this question affects this House and part affects the other House, and, of course, directly the matter is debated everybody is asked to give instances of corrupt bargaining. I should have thought it was obvious that such instances must be very difficult to adduce, even if there be such corrupt bar gaining. Things are not done by naked, shameless bargains. People do not go about in the manner suggested by such stories as we all of us have heard and which, I believe, that they are much exaggerated. As a matter of fact, it is under stood that honours are given for party services, and among party services liberal contributions to the party funds are reckoned. But there is nothing put into a word which indicates any shameless bar gain or corrupt tender of money. A person who gives liberally to party funds has it reckoned to him as an advantage when his claim to some honour within the gift of the Crown is under consideration. I do not think that anything of that kind is easily proved. When people appeal for cases, they, of course, expose themselves to the rather damaging question whether 1355 they would consent to an. inquiry, say before the Privy Council, into the gift of honours and into contributions to party funds; whether they would allow an impartial committee of the Privy Council, of the highest judicial eminence and of unblemished character, to call before them all the recent recipients of honours that might be open to suspicion, and to call before them the party Whips and other party managers and ask them to swear upon oath that nothing corrupt had passed, and to produce their records in justification of what had been done; in short, to have a thorough inquiry into the whole matter. I do not know what my right hon. Friend may say, but my impression is that the Government would never consent to such an inquiry—not, probably, because anything very bad would come out, but because something might come out which they would rather did not I am sure that it is impossible to put aside the whole matter as the cry of a few cranks and suspicious persons who wish to discredit Parliamentary government. I am sure it must be met, and that we must do our best to place Parliamentary government above this sort of attack. I would remind my right hon. Friend, although I am sure he knows it very well, of the tremendous effect that the sandals of the diamond necklace produced upon the French Monarchy before the Revolution. That was an untrue suspicion. Marie Antoinette was not in the least mixed up with it, as a matter of fact, but the scandal arose, and her name was brought in merely in order to dupe one of the other persons concerned. But all the public in France at the time believed her to be guilty, and there is not the least doubt that the squalid discredit of the scandal was one of the causes which subverted the prestige of the French Monarchy. Something of the same kind is in danger of happening to us here. The hon. Member behind me (Mr. Lane-Mitchell) said that he would be quite in favour of abolishing hereditary titles. There is, of course, a great deal to be said against the. reasonableness of an hereditary title, but it does correspond, apparently, to a desire in the minds of a large number of human beings; it does appeal to a very strong human instinct; and therefore it has been maintained in this country, and I think that probably no one seriously proposes to abolish hereditary titlesal together. If we are going 1356 to maintain anything of the kind, if we are going to maintain what is called an aristocratic- element, or at any rate the ceremonial part of it, let us be sure that it is kept as chaste as snow. Otherwise it would be spoilt entirely.
§ Lord H. CECIL
You may get rid of it, but if you do not, then keep it clean. It is no use saying, we want to get rid of it, and therefore do not care how dirty it becomes. I think it will be found that the number of people who wish to retain it is really much larger than of those who wish to abolish it, but if it is to be retained, it must be kept clean and seemly as an adornment of the Constitution, and not a blemish on it. What precautions can you take for that? I will say quite frankly that I do not want to go about raking up and exposing to public criticism transactions which I do not believe are seriously scandalous, but which might, perhaps, by exaggeration be represented as corrupt. I do not want, therefore, to have a searching inquiry into the past, although I dare say such an inquiry may sooner or later be provoked unless something is done to allay public uneasiness on this subject. But I would like to make it impossible for such a suspicion to arise in the future, and I think the Government would be well advised to accept the suggestion which has been more than once put forward of establishing a Committee of the Privy Council, of high standing, which could easily be done, and submitting to it honours before they were submitted to the Crown, so that there could be no suspicion whatever that those honours were corruptly recommended. As I conceive it, such a Committee would intervene between the Prime Minister and the other Ministers with whom, naturally, the recommendations for honours would originate. I do not think it is at all improper for a party openly to reward those who have worked for it, but I would allow all such honours to be laid by the Ministers concerned before the Committee of the Privy Council. That Committee would in quire into the matter, and any Minister who made a recommendation would be required to justify it. If the recommendation were accepted, it would go forward to the Prime Minister, who, of course, would be constitutionally responsible for submitting it to the Crown. It would be improper to allow anyone to interfere between the Prime Minister and the Crown 1357 in respect of his constitutional responsibility. In that way there would be a protection to the Government. It would be a complete answer to suspicions of the kind that have been raised. The Government could definitely state that they did nothing which was not submitted to a careful and impartial scrutiny by people whose character was beyond suspicion, who were not partisans, and would have no motive to play a party game and do unseemly jobs for party advantage. They would be impartial persons of high reputation, and the Government would be able to say that they had justified their recommendation to them. If the Committee of the Privy Council rejected any recommendation, the Minister would either have to be prepared to justify it before Parliament after controversy—which generally he would not be prepared to do—or to drop the recommendation and say no more about it. In that way the whole matter would be put beyond suspicion. Secondly, I think that party funds, as things have gone so far, should be submitted to some form of public audit. The intense secrecy that surrounds them is, I think, open to criticism. I know that there are quite good reasons against disclosing the names of those who make large contributions to party funds, because it gives an appearance of influence, often a quite untrue appearance, to rich contributories who con tribute, very likely from perfectly patriotic motives, to them. Nevertheless I think the time has now come when such secrecy is likely to do far more harm than any that could arise through the publication of the names of contributories. I do not suggest that anything should be done in respect of the past. There is a celebrated Act for putting down corrupt practices which was passed in 1883 by Sir Henry James, afterwards Lord James of Here ford. He had the reputation of having carried methods of making himself popular very far in his own constituency, and it was noticed with some amount of amusement that a strict Clause was in seated in that Act which prevented any retrospective inquiry into past cases. Such was the procedure in 1883, and I do not think it is a bad precedent. But I am sure that, however you deal with the past, it ought to be made perfectly clear that the thing has come to an end. I do not think that there has been anything that could properly be called corruption in the past, or that the tremendous suspicions that exist are really well founded. 1358 I do think there has probably been a good deal of the influence of money in the giving of honours, more or less openly and consciously recognised, but still real. I am quite sure it ought to be brought to an end. I am quite sure that suspicion of it ought to be immediately done away with, and that we ought to make on the one side hereditary honours or any honours in the gift of the Crown per featly pure and clean, and on the other hand, we ought to destroy the secrecy of the party funds, which gives an impression of some obscure influence behind the Government, which discredits its character and diminishes its force. I am sure we ought to do that now, because of the necessity of maintaining interest in Parliamentary Government, and of training people to believe that Parliamentary government is the true source of reform and the true security against anarchy.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I should like to endorse what the Mover and the Seconded and my Noble Friend said, in regard to this question. The most helpful suggestion they made was, that all honours should be submitted to a Committee of the Privy Council. I think, if the right hon. Gentleman comes to consider that proposition, he will see it is a reasonable one. I would also like to endorse what my Noble Friend said with regard to the element of suspicion. I think that probably all this talk about party funds is very much exaggerated, but there is a great element of danger. My Noble Friend mentioned the case of prejudice against the Jews. This prejudice had an element of truth sometimes in it, but it led to great massacres of innocent men, and I am not at all sure that the prejudice which exists now in Russia in regard to the Jews will not lead to massacre in the future. But in the case of the party funds the charges levelled all over the country must help the cause which we describe as Bolshevism in this country. Therefore it is very important, that we should get rid of that element of suspicion. The criterion which can be roughly adopted in these matters is to take, in regard to the honours which the hon. Member for Bournemouth spoke about, such a test as this: Nelson got a baronetcy for St. Vincent, and a peerage for the Battle of the Nile. Compare with that the honours which have been given in this House alone—baronetcies and peerages It will be very difficult to mention any ser vices at all commensurate with those which 1359 Nelson rendered. Sometimes hon. Members have got a baronetcy merely for con testing seats—forelorn hopes. I have here what I feel sure will impress my right hon. Friend—a quotation from a colleague of his, the late Lord Rhondda, when be was Mr. D. A. Thomas, in 1912.In this speech he pointed to another danger, and that was the inducement to Members to cross the floor of the House. He referred to those who had crossed the floor in 1903, and he said:Then there were the inducements that were given to men to come over from the other side.This speech was made in what the Prime Minister would regard as God's own country, Wales:Between 1900 and 1906 some ten or twelve men crossed the floor of the House from the Conservative to the Liberal side. He knew only one of these men who had not received some kind of title or honour or position. Of course, that was done in order to induce others to follow their example. Then there was another case not one hundred miles from South Wales, where a gentleman has changed over several times. He had a peerage. In other cases, not only one man, but the whole family changed. He believed that even the little cats and dogs about the house had the ribbon round their necks changed from blue to red. The result was a Cabinet Minister, two members of the Government, two peers, and a couple of Privy Councillorships.In regard to the statement that no particular case is mentioned, Lord Rhondda statedHe knew one South Wales peer, who was paying for his honour on the hire purchase piano system, but ho died before finishing the instalment; of the executors refused to conclude the payments, saying they had no further use for the title.I submit that there have been far too many honours given lately, far too many political honours, and I suggest to the Prime Minister that ho should go back somewhat to the scale that Sir Robert Peel practised in the forties. During the four years and ten months of his Ministry, he gave only two peerages. In the time of Queen Elizabeth, not a single peerage was given, and no one will contend that the country was not then great. Had that system continued, there would be only about seven or eight peerages left, and that would be a great mistake. Apart from the incentive to people to do their best, I think there is a distinct marketable value in the Peerage, not in the sense meant by my hon. Friend below me, who put forward the suggestion of raising revenue, but undoubtedly many peers marry American heiresses, and they 1360 have brought a great deal of capital into this country in consequence One danger we do escape. In the time of Queen Anne, and years later in the time of George 111, peerages were made in order to secure a majority in the House of Lords. We escape that simply because the House of Lords is the Mecca of Liberal dreams, where the Liberal groundling merges from his chrysalis and becomes a Tory angel. So the result is a tremendous Tory majority in the House of Lords.
I do feel this, that if we provided machinery by which the best elements of the nation are assigned to the House of Lords, we must somehow devise machinery by which the least fitted elements in the House of Lords climb downwards. Other wise, the system which Lord Throes described as the accident of an accident must continue—hereditary privileges in the House of Lords, where men succeed and re main in the House of Lords and the Peerage, who are obviously quite unfitted, and bring no honour to themselves, to the country, or to the Peerage. I do not know how such a system could possibly be devised, but we ought to endeavour to obtain it, and then we may get a House of Lords, where every Member is endowed with a conscience but not with a constituency, just as every Member of this House is endowed with a Constituency but——! The party fund is the centre of the party system, and the party caucus which could not exist without the party fund. When John Stuart Mill said that democracy always showed to greatest disadvantage at its fringe I submit he could not have had in mind the party fund of to-day. It is impossible to say that men do not subscribe very large amounts to party funds, and I am speaking of both parties, without some interested motive. They hoped for reward. As my hon. and gallant Friend said they may wish to assist the cause of Free Trade or Protection and may have interested motives, or they may wish to assist the licensed victuallers' trade and they may think the party stands for that. There is a core of self-interest in the matter. We want to see this purified as far as possible, and I do not see what the objection is to granting the request of the Motion that the larger subscriptions should be opened to the public so that they can be criticised, if thought necessary, in the Press of the country. I do not know what line my right hon. Friend is going to take, but I do think we might get rid of that alliance of 1361 the two Front Benches on this question which has always existed, and, just to inform my right hon. Friend, the Liberal Leader of the Opposition, and the chair man of the other Liberal party as to what is the view of the House of Commons on this matter, why does not my right hon. Friend, just by way of experiment to night allow us to go to a Division with out putting the party Whips on.
§ Mr. JOHN JONES
It is very interesting to one of the real aristocracy of this country to sit and listen to this Debate to night. I happen to belong to that aristocracy. The only real aristocracy in the world are the people who produce its wealth. We cannot of course claim any blue blood, and consequently we cannot enter into competition, with some of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in this Debate. I have been surprised to learn that the pure and immaculate Governments of the country in the past have been prepared to sell positions for money, and it seems that the Resolution before us means that there have been times in the past history of Great Britain when guinea pigs could buy seats in the House of Lords, and other titles which might be convenient to their dignity. Even some of my hon. Friends who have moved this Resolution seem to be under the impression that the new aristocracy is something worse than the old aristocracy. After all I admire the man who is prepared to pay in money for what he gets, and I have less respect for the old aristocrat who could not very often tell who his mother was. If the history of this country is going to be seriously considered we ought to have the opportunity of knowing what really denotes aristocracy. Is it intellectual equality; is it physical equality; is it the quality which serves the nation in times of great need. If it is so, then every man who has won the V.C. in the War deserves to be in the highest ranks of the aristocracy, but, as most of those men are poor, it is physically impossible for them to become aristocrats in the new dispensation. Therefore, how ever noble they may be in person, they are barred from occupying positions of nobility merely because of their poverty. Party funds—I want to know what is meant by "Party." We have all sorts of new organisations being started every day. We have people's leagues and other kinds of leagues, and we have national parties which are not national, but are limited by their parochial 1362 interests I could form an organisation, to-morrow morning and possibly by that means be able to masquerade in this-House as the leader of a great party. I cannot even lead myself on occasions.
If we are going to have the publication of subscriptions to the national political parties as at present understood, then every political organisation ought to be registered, but that is not in the Resolution. The National Socialist Party, or the Independent Labour Party, or any other organisation that goes in for political activity ought to be registered and ought to be compelled to make public a statement through the proper channels as to the source from which its income comes. I am prepared to support a Resolution of that kind, but our new found democrats simply want to blind themselves to the past, and only live in the present. I happen to have the capacity of expressing my own opinions even although they may offend my friends, and I want to say that this Resolution, whilst declaring for political purity, does not necessarily ensure it. Supposing a political party is prepared to sell titles, and titles have been sold, are we to agree that titles should be given merely because the parties desire to recompense people who have given them service. I believe in no titles. The greatest title of all is common citizenship. "He who would be greatest amongst you let him be the servant of all." If we are going to have recognition of particular ser vices rendered where are we going to end. Does not the smallest and poorest man in this community who delves and digs and works and toils render as great a service according to his capacity as the most intellectual and those who have had the greatest opportunities I If we are going to have titles it will be a mark of distinction not to have a title, because the greatest work of the community is done by the people who have had the least opportunity. So far as some of us are concerned we protest against nobility in the sense of giving men handles to their names, and we demand real nobility that is a nobility of service with all of us doing our fair share of public service, and taking the reward which that service gives.
While supporting the desire to find out why city guinea pigs are able to get titles whilst useful workers may work themselves to death and get no recognition whatever, I ask who is going to reward the women who all these four and a half years have 1363 sat silently at home looking after the children while the husbands were out fighting Who is going to ennoble them by seats in Legislative Chambers which give them the right to hand on to those who follow them the opportunity of doing the same? I know the right hon. Gentleman opposite when he gets up will say it is impossible to tell us what we want to know. Some of the people who have got titles to-day would have a doubtful possibility of explaining to the House where they got the money from. Some of them who have been ennobled lately would have a difficult job to say they have not got some German money that they have paid over to the State in order to get ennobled. We have no desire to emulate their example. The common people of this country have rendered services without hope of reward, and therefore we cannot understand why it is that there should be all this trouble about giving us the information we desire. We think that secret party funds ought to be altogether destroyed, that every political organisation ought to be registered, and that public service ought to be made public in every possible sense of the word.
§ 10.0 P.M
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
If it had been left to me to select a subject on which I was to speak I should not have selected this one, and I am sorry that the exigencies of the ballot have given me the opportunity at a time when the Prime Minister obviously cannot be here. So far as it affects the Government, it is a question which primarily affects the Prime Minister, and I am sure of this, that whatever views may be held about the Prime Minister by anyone in any quarter of the House, they will agree with me when I say that he is never afraid to defend his action when it is challenged, and I am sure he would be very ready to take his part to-day. In the few remarks that I am going to make, I admit that I am in more of a dilemma than usual, and for this reason. I do not want to treat this as if It were a matter of no importance, for if the statements which are frequently made, not in this House to-night especially, but constantly, were true, if there was any solid foundation of truth in them, it would represent a state of things which would be discreditable to the Government and to the House of Commons which permitted it. On the other hand, I am a party leader. A great deal of this opposition is based, not upon the giving of honours, but upon the 1364 strength of the party system I remember very well that my Noble Friend below the Gangway (Lord H. Cecil) before the War used to give us frequent and interesting dissertations on the vices of the party system as practised in this country. I never agreed with him then, and I do not now. This is certain, that wherever there is a democratic country carrying on its government by democratic institutions, there must be parties. There always have been, and there always will be, and the only choice really in this connection is between what in the past has been the system in this country of two large parties, or great groups of parties. I think the organisation of the National party was started not entirely on this 10.0 p.m. system of honours, but it was started, I think, main lyon the badness and wickedness of the party system. My hon. and gallant Friend (Brigadier-General Croft) took a curious way to cure that evil by immediately starting another party, and it is not his fault that he is entitled to give the excuse, "It is only a very little one." I really do not think that that attitude is justified, and I believe we have had the best proof of it during the War. When the War started there was a party system in full blast in this country. A great danger came, and I am sure I am only expressing what every Member of this House feels when I say that as a whole the Members of the parties rose superior to party and used their parties in the great, national emergency.
At this moment we are in an unusual condition in this country. We are trying to continue the War system more or less in the period of uncertainty which has followed the War. I do not know how it will work. It is not easy to work, because the moment the pres sure disappears the forces which drive us to form parties become stronger and stronger. But I do know this, that as a party leader, which I am for the time being, it is far easier to run the Government or the Opposition without this attempt to act on something more than party lines. And this at least is certain, that in this House of Commons, as well as in the last, during the period to which I refer, the Government were under this necessity, of producing measures which they could defend and justify because they knew they could not rely on the party support, but must depend on the way in which they could make what they brought in acceptable to the House as a 1365 whole I have said that for this reason, that so far as all this is directed against parties I do not believe it is effective, or can be. I do not believe it is a disadvantage that parties should be reasonably strong and reasonably coherent. Let us come down to the sort of statements which have been made to-night. First of all, the hon. and gallant Member for Bourne mouth (Brigadier - General Croft) put figures before the House which I think were entirely misleading. He spoke of the number of honours given to civilians and those given to soldiers, but nobody knows better than he 'chat there are immense numbers of honours of the kind that soldiers have always been accustomed to and that soldiers appreciate, infinitely greater in numbers than the honours which have been given to civilians, which have been given to soldiers, among them the C.M.G., K.C.B., D.S.O., not to speak of the D.C.M. and the Military Medal. So it is wrong to suggest that in point of numbers civilians have been treated much more favourably than have members of the fighting forces.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
How many would like them? I do not think they ever thought of them, and I am certain, from my knowledge of soldiers, that they would appreciate a K.C.B. quite as much as or more than the offer of a baronetcy. So it is quite wrong to raise the argument that there has been any special favouritism of civilians as against members of the fighting forces.
There is another point to which I would like to direct attention. My hon. and gallant Friend's Motion has really very little to do with his argument. His Motion is to the effect that this evil is to be cured by auditing party funds, and by giving no honours as a reward for money. But what was the bulk of his charge? It was that a tremendous lot of honours are given to Members of the House of Commons and to the Press. That may or may not be right, but no one who has been any length of time in the House of Commons would allege that Members of the House of Commons or members of the Press give money for the purpose of getting titles. The object of my hon. and gallant Friend's Motion is to prevent the giving of honours being influenced by money. Yet in the particular cases to which he refers of a large number of Members of the House of 1366 Commons and the Press, as everyone knows, they have never given money to any party fund. It was for other reasons they were given. I remember a little "cave" formed in this House, and my Noble Friend below the Gangway, as I understood him to say a few minutes ago, was the leading spirit in that "cave." He never, of course, received any reward, partly because he would not have wished it, and partly because, although he was willing to oppose the Government on particular points, in principle he agreed with them. Another charge made by my hon. Friend is that rewards are given in this House purely for obedience to the party Whips.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Whoever made it, it was not true. I will instance the case of my Noble Friend, who was given the highest honour, in my opinion, it is in the power of the Prime Minister to recommend, that of a Privy Councillor. No one will suggest it was because of the dutiful way he obeyed the Whips. I have said that I do not wish to treat this as if it were a matter of no importance. But I would like the House to consider the case of the honours bestowed on Members of this House. It seems to be a fact that a great many people like honours, although it has been suggested that only their wives like them. There are not many people who take the view of some famous man in the ancient world who said that when he went to the Forum, he did not want to see his statue there, but he wanted people to ask, "Where is his statue?" That is not an example of humility, but I can say I would prefer it if that were the spirit which actuated all the members of my party in the House and out of it. I do not know whether I will take the disease first or the remedy, but I think I will take the disease. It has been asserted to-night that there has been a widespread belief—I believe it went further—that it is the fact that honours are in effect bought and sold. T say that if it were true that the party Whips either go to individuals and say to them, "If you will give such and such a sum to the party fund, you will get an honour," or—and this, in my opinion, is equally bad—if when a man is selected as suitable for the honour, he is then told by the party Whips that he must pay a certain sum of money—I say if that is true it ought to be put an end to by the House of Commons. I do 1367 not believe that it is true, and on this point I think I can speak with more know ledge than probably anyone else in the House at this moment. It is, of course, the Prime Minister who recommends these distinctions to His Majesty; but since the Coalition Government was formed I think it is generally known that it has been understood that I, as Leader of our party, should, as a rule, recommend to the Prime Minister members of that party who ere qualified to receive political honours. I wish to say at once that, so far as the suggestion is concerned, that there should be a clear statement, if the actual traffic in honours has not taken place, it has already been made, not on my own behalf, but in behalf of the Government. I was asked a question about it, and I gave this answer, after consultation with the Prime Minister:I do not believe that any Government would be prepared to admit the principle that subscriptions to party funds should debar sub scribers, who would be otherwise suitable for recognition at the hands of the Sovereign. The Prime Minister has made, and will make, no recommendation to His Majesty as a reward for contributions to party funds.I wish now, so far as the distinctions which are disputed are concerned, to say not only do I not know of any such bargain, direct or indirect, but I have asked the Whips, and they have told me there has been, and there will be, no such bargain.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am perfectly ready to accept that part of the Resolution. It has already been accepted on behalf of the Government in the House of Lords If the hon. and gallant Gentleman chooses to put his Resolution in some form like thisThat the House is of opinion that any re commendations for the bestowal of honours should not be given directly or indirectly as a reward for subscriptions to party fundsI will accept it at once on behalf of the Government. I wish to say a word or two more about that aspect. Do my hon. Friends who dislike this system think that political rewards should not be given for party services? If they take that view, then it really means that all these honours, at a rule, which are given to Members of the House, ought not to be given. I do not take that view. I consider that, so long as we have, a party system—and that has very much been recognised in this country, for the Opposition has been de- 1368 scribed as "His Majesty's Opposition"—so long as we have a party system, if men believe—as I believe they do—that the party to which they belong, for which they are willing to give their services, is the party which is aiming at the things which are good for the country, then I think to the best of their lights they are serving their country, and it is proper that their services should be recognised. Look at that in connection with money. I think it would be a great mistake to say that giving money for such a purpose is some thing that is almost reprehensible. I do not think so in the least. I know in my own experience I have listened to many men of the kind who do not give money. I am talking now of the time when the other party was in power. They were always grumbling about what was being done, and that the country was going to be ruined. I have often said: "'What are you doing to try to prevent it 1" Whether right or wrong, men who take the other view that I have indicated are really acting more patriotically than the men who grumble and do nothing. I am bound to say that giving generously for objects in which a man believes is, to a certain extent, a service of which a man ought to be proud. But it is not a service which in itself entitles him to be recommended to the King for honours; T quite agree with that. For this country, at this moment, of all forms of what is termed aristocracy, a plutocracy would be the worst. Still, money plays an important part.
Now I come to another charge made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth, which was that the people who contribute to the party funds are chosen for that reason as candidates. That was said to me by him once before. I thought it incredible, and I at once went to the Whips of our party and inquired whether that was done. I was told it was never done. It is common sense that it should not be. The party Whips wish to win the seat, and they wish to select the best man they can get for that purpose. Instead, therefore, of these party funds being a disadvantage from that point of view, they are from that point of view a very real advantage, and for this reason: If you do not allow them, the inevitable result will be that the constituency will select some man because he can pay all the expenses. It is bad for the party as well as for yourself, unless you have some central system of getting good men who are 1369 able to pay their way but who are not able to pay all the expenses of the election. From that point of view, therefore, I do not think the party system is a bad system. I say at once that if it would be useful to those concerned to have a Resolution affirming the principle that traffic in honours is wrong I shall gladly accept it on behalf of the Government.
Let me come to other suggestions. One is that party funds should be audited. I am not in favour of that. I do not think I should take other than that view if I were the leader of the party. It is rather difficult to judge of a proposal of this kind. Let me put my reasons against it. In the first place it would be utterly ineffective. Anyone who knows how the political life of this country is carried on knows that you could not get any system of the kind that would not be evaded. It would be easy enough if the ordinary party funds were to be audited, but when you also say that the funds of the Free Trade Union or the Tariff Reform Society should be audited, how in the world are you to prevent people who feel strongly about any question Home Rule, the Education question, or any other—forming associations and organising in the constituencies to help those objects, and at the same time helping the candidate? To interfere in any thing of that kind could not be done. It is not practicable. You could get round it in some way. Then as to this evasion in the matter of party funds. You get some- body who contributes a large sum. Is it suggested that the party funds in every constituency should be audited? What is easier than making arrangements, instead of giving the money to the Central Fund, which a certain amount shall be given to, say, the Conservative Associations of Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, and so on? It is an absolute certainty that if you attempt anything of the kind you will only invite people, to evade it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
If they successfully evade it they are not liable to prison. But I think the matter goes a great deal further than that. If you set up a system which is not accepted, and which is open to evasion, you simply give a premium whereby those who would be most strict would be handicapped, as would the party which endeavoured to play straight. I do not think that anything of the kind is practically possible. No reference has 1370 been made to-night to what is happening in America. I confess I have no intimate knowledge of how it works. There is there a policy of party funds. I wrote yesterday to a friend of mine who happens to be in London and who has some little acquaintance with American politics. I am only giving the information I have been told to give about it, and it came from a person in America, who said the rule is to give an account of all the money which is spent at the election, but that gentlemen friends of his who did not form an association of any kind pay money which does not come under any law and of which he ostensibly knows nothing, and I am told that the name which is given to this system in America is called "fat frying." The real truth is that you cannot cure an evil of this kind by attempts like this, but only by public opinion.
I would like to say this much to the House. It is undoubtedly a very bad thing that there should be this kind of suspicion. I quite recognise the force of what was said by my hon. Friend and others, that you cannot easily specify particular cases. I think that is true, but I must say that I listened with surprise to what my hon. Friend below the Gangway the Member for Bournemouth said about the last Honours List. He implied that there were any number of people there who were discredited. I quite understand that there is a great deal of feeling in the House, and people do not like to select individuals and pillory them, and I think it is just as well. There arc others who say that there are whole categories who are discredited persons, and who ought not to be in the Honours List. I admit that the mere fact there is so much of this talk shows that it is a great evil. I used to hear a great deal about it in former days. I think it is a great evil that all this sort of talk should go on, because it does a great deal of harm. This giving of honours is apt to be treated at least carelessly and indifferently by the Prime Minister of the day, but I think any Prime Minister who ever lived would like to have as little to do with it as possible.
I say that it is a good thing that public opinion should be directed to this question, and that the Prime Minister should feel in giving these recommendations that ho is doing something for which he is responsible, and then I think that it is bound to have it's proper influence It is no use trying to adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend that you should have a Com- 1371 mittee to judge these matters Is the Prime Minister to make the recommendations for honours himself or is he not? If he is does the House of Commons suggest for a moment that any Prime Minister who has ever lived would allow the recommendation which he had deliberately made to be turned down by any Committee that could be appointed by any body? It must be the responsibility of the Prime Minister. He is responsible for many things which more concern the House of Commons. The House must trust the Prime Minister to exercise his responsibility with the same sense of duty in this as in other matters.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I fear that any intervention of mine in this Debate may lay me open to the charge in connection with the historic party of which I have the honour to be a, member, of "sour grapes," but the opportunity which would come if I were the leader of the party of making recommendations to His Majesty is such century distant to make it perfectly justifiable for me to speak. First of all, I am very glad indeed that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has treated this question seriously. It is a matter of really serious public import. There is no doubt a tall that the discussion of the question of the bestowal of honours has in the past and is at the pre-sent moment exercising a largo measure of public concern, and no precautions which could be taken with regard to the maintenance of the sanction of authority should be omitted so as to see that no section of the public has any just cause for making a charge against the Executive responsible for advising His Majesty in these matters that they have been improperly moved in the exercise of those functions. There are two points which have obviously been kept perfectly clear—the first, that the prerogative of the Sovereign should be carefully safeguarded, and the second, that the practice of the recommendation coming through the channel of the Prime Minister should also be safe guarded. Of course, in the end, the responsibility is his. What we have to do, of course, is to deal with the public position and there is a very marked measure of public uneasiness with regard to this matter. What we have to suggest is this. Would the mere passage of the latter part of this resolution meet that? A pious opinion expressed by the House of Commons, that it is undesirable that the 1372 gift of honours should have any connection at all with gifts to party funds—would that meet the case? Would that satisfy the public mind in this matter?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
The Debate which took place in the House of Lords in March, 1918, had this outcome—a determination on the part of the Government that a declaration should be made as to the reason for the bestowal of the honour. Has that allayed public anxiety and uneasiness with regard to it? I think not. There still remains this public dissatisfaction which it is to the interest of all of us to remove. How can it be done? It is extraordinarily difficult, I agree, but along the lines suggested by the Noble Lord lays a feasible solution of the difficulty, namely, that the Prime Minister of the day should be fortified in his recommendations by the advice tendered to him. by a Select Committee drawn from the Privy Council. In the Privy Council there are men of all parties. The whole range of our party system is reflected in the Privy Council of the day. Some such body as that, set up to deal with this quite important matter, would go a very long way to solve the problem with which we are faced. It might not be necessary for it to deal with the whole range of military, naval and Civil Service recommendations, but all questions of the bestowal of honours outside them might very well come before a select body drawn from the Privy Council, and the Prime Minister would be guided and fortified in his re commendations in that respect. These are the only remarks that I can profitably add to the Debate.
§ Sir RICHARD COOPER
May I say to the Leader of the house that those of us who support this Motion regret that we cannot for a moment consider the offer which he suggested we should accept in place of the Motion on the Paper, be cause it only amounts to what the Government promised in the Upper Chamber in October, 1917, and what it is understood is actually put into practice. That we are entirely dissatisfied with, for the simple reason that since that date honours have been conferred on people in this country, a very large proportion of whom the public cannot recognise as having contributed in any large measure any special services to their country. As the Leader of the Opposition has just said, the unfortunate fact is that there is grave unrest in the minds; 1373 of the public, largely, I suggest, because they see honours given to people whom they cannot recognise as having done anything whatever to merit them. It is an extremely important matter indeed, both for the dignity of this House and in the interests of the purity of public life in this country that His Majesty's Government should, without delay, remove any evils which can be proved to exist.
There were two points in the right hon. Gentleman's speech with which I entirely agreed. I should like to refer to them, especially the first. He pointed out to the House that during the War parties rose superior to their party claims. I appreciated that reference, because in 1915, at the end of May and the beginning of June he will be perfectly well aware that there was a large number of his own most devoted Friends in this House—of whom I was very proud to be one—who never could understand his action in making the enormous sacrifice which he apparently did. We knew it was done at the moment solely from his desire to sink everything to obtain unity between all parties in this House in order to carry the War to a victorious conclusion. I want to take thisopportunity—I have never had one before—of saying that I always recognised that, and naturally I most warmly concurred in the sentiments which actuated the right hon. Gentleman then.
The second point to which he referred is that it is very unpleasant indeed to be forced to pillory any particular individual in this matter of the sale of honours when, in reality, we are dealing only with a sys tem, or as I prefer to describe it, a great nation al evil. Not only my right hon. Friend, not the hon. Member (Mr. Lane-Mitchell), the only other Member who opposed the Motion, doubted whether the situation is as bad as one represents. The hon. Member asked specifically: Where arc the cases? He had searched the OFFICIAL REPORT of both Houses and he could not find a case. I walked across the floor of the House and took him a copy of the Debate of 1917, where Lord Selborne gave five cases. He said he had read it, but they were not representative cases.
§ Sir R. COOPER
One of those cases was that of Sir George Kekewich, who was offered a knighthood by the party whips 1374 on condition that he stopped his opposition to the Government Licensing Bill and contributed £ 5,000 to the Liberal party funds. If that is not a fair and straight forward case in support of the principle with which we are dealing I do not know what can satisfy the hon. Member.
But the Leader of the House said if the principles enunciated in this Motion were true it was a state of things discreditable alike to the Government and to this House, and later on when speaking explicitly on the disease with which we are dealing he said that if the Whips offered honours for money it was an evil that ought to be put a stop to immediately. I avow that, at any rate up to recent days—I cannot say they are doing it at present—honours have been sold by party Whips, and I am prepared to bring forward a man who has acted as agent for a party Whip in days gone by and had to approach people and bargain for the sale of knighthoods and baronetcies. I can bring definite cases, I am sure no hon. Member wishes me or anyone else to pillory individuals when we are dealing with the system as a whole. It is idle for my right hon. Friend to pretend that there is not generally a good foundation for the principles which my hon. and gallant Friend has brought before the House. There is a foundation. I would remind him of something ho must have forgotten. On 29th August last a letter was sent to the "Times," signed by twenty-five of the-best known and most respected public men in this country. Sixteen of them were members of the Upper house, and the other nine were well-known public men who were thoroughly respected in every section of this House. In that letter there are one or two references of which I must remind my right hon. Friend, as being as good a support of the principles enunciated in this Motion as I am sure he him self could desire. In the first place, it says:When the discussion came on, the scandal was neither denied nor defended."and later on thatThe root of the evil remained." while the third paragraph says:Unless the bestowal of honours and titles is protected from the danger of a peculiarly mean kind of pecuniary corruption, and reserved for real merit, honours may come to be regarded as place honours, leaving no way out except their complete abolition."In the next paragraph these twenty-five-responsible men refer to the disgraceful traffic in honours, and at the end is the 1375 suggestion which the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University made to the House to-night, that the one practical way—and I advocate it here again—to remove the evil, which the Government itself admits ought to be removed if it exists, is that the Prime Minister should have the assistance and advice of a Committee of the Privy Council, who should go over all names recommended before the Prime Minister assumes the great responsibility of laying them before His Majesty. Let me say to my right hon. Friend that we recognize—I am speaking for my hon. and gallant Friend and myself, and those who are associated with us—we recognise that there have to be party funds. No hon. Member of this House has ever heard either of us say anything different from that, and let me impress upon those who seem to find some amusement in this view of public life that I am trying to take, that we are actually practising what we preach. We have funds. They are, unfortunately, very small, but the name of every person who has contributed to those funds is published, and it is open to any hon. Member of this House to know the name of every one of them. There is nothing hidden: all is absolutely above-aboard. All we arc asking is that what we have done ourselves, and what, I admit, has created enormous difficulty in the task we have undertaken, shall be done generally. That is the right standard of public and political life for all parties in this country. I want to see all parties compelled by law to publish the names of the large subscribers to their funds. It is significant that in no other direction that I know of in this country does anybody subscribe £ 5,000, £ 10,000, or £ 50,000, "unless his name appears in almost every London paper, and in most provincial papers as having given that money. It is only when it is connected with our political system that this matter becomes one of the most pressing secrecy. If there is nothing dishonourable, if there is nothing in the insinuations which we do not hesitate to embody in this Motion, what is the objection of the Government and of all other parties in this House to accepting the principles which we are asking the House to give effect to? The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the responsibility of the Prime Minister in making recommendations for honours. We do not suggest, and never have suggested, that any Prime 1376 Minister has knowingly made a recommendation which it was not fit for him I to make. What we complain of is that Prime Ministers and the leaders of all parties are deliberately and avowedly kept in ignorance of these facts. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Unionist party does not know anything whatever of the funds of the Unionist party. I say that he is not allowed to know. I say he docs not desire to know, and if he should be Prime Minister in the days to come, ho will go to His Majesty with a perfectly clear conscience in making such recommendations as he may feel bound to make. It is not right that the leaders of a party should be deliberately kept in ignorance of where the funds which support it come from. The very fact that it is deliberately done—nobody can deny it, and it has never been denied—surely suggests that there is something dishonourable if such a peculiar state of affairs is necessary.
The right hon. Gentleman said that if he took steps to bring about a publication of the party funds it would be evaded. I admit frankly that he is practically right—there would be evasion. I admit that we are asking for something which in practice could never be absolutely assured, but if a principle is right, why refuse to adopt it on that ground I Make it a penal offence to evade it, and that fact would prevent many people from practising something which they ought not to practice. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the United States I can make some claim to know a little about affairs in that country. Everyone who knows any thing about that country knows that a quarter of a century ago in that country there was in municipal and public life a, great deal of corruption. The United States Government from time to time took steps, such as passing a law for the publication of funds, which no doubt were not entirely effective, but nevertheless, during the last quarter of a century public life in the United States has proceeded from a bad condition gradually to a better and better condition, and political life in the. United States to-day is vastly more pure than it was a quarter of a century ago. In this House the very opposite has taken place. There was a great sense of honour among most of the old nobility referred to by an hon. Member on these benches, but since then the other Chamber in particular has been flooded by a number of peers who, as we know, in this House never did any- 1377 thing of outstanding merit by way of ser vice to their country—many a one, as we know, was sent there because he was an awkward customer, and the Government had to get rid of him. A principle like that if accepted and supported not only by the Government, but by other Members of the House can only have the effect of leading this country down in the mire of corruption of which I do not hesitate to say during the War we have not a small amount of evidence.
We cannot accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. Let him, as Leader of the House, take some steps on his own account to satisfy himself whether there is any truth in the principle which we enunciate, and which we ask him to inquire into. Will he make that inquiry, and if he finds that we show a primâ facie case, will he take steps similar to those laid down in this Motion or others to the same effect which the wisdom of his advisers may suggest? We do not care one into for the particular letter of this Motion. What we do care about is the general principle underlying it which is perfectly well known to the Government and to every Member of the House. We have made every sacrifice that men can make to accomplish this excessively difficult task, but in pro portion as Members ascertain the facts and realise that there is justice and honour in what we are trying to attain they will support us, until the House takes steps to remove one of the greatest blots on the public life and political system of this country.
§ Mr. STANTON
I desire to support this Motion briefly. Although I think that it in deserving of a much more lengthy period of Debate at the same time it has served to promote a very healthy interest throughout the House. Although I have heard an explanation from the Leader of the House in regard to the party system, I admit at once that I have very much to learn with regard to the political system of this country and though I have made it my business to try to understand it since I was old enough to read anything with any interest, yet what it really is I have not quite discovered. I have discovered that all sorts of things are wrong, and I have tried in my simple way to put them right, and my hon. Friends opposite who are making this Motion, and who have greater experience than I have, are entitled to the full sympathy of the House. I am not in agreement with the Leader of the House 1378 when he declares that there must be parties. There have been parties. We have had them here and at the street corners, but immediately our great Empire was threatened with the greatest danger that has ever threatened her, you discovered that it was necessary to drop your silly old party game and go in for Coalition—a national party. My hon. Friends opposite were twitted by the Leader of the House for setting a rotten example by attacking partyism and then forming another party. You have to form something, but there are parties and par ties. There are parties calling themselves Liberals, Tories, Labourites, or something else; and there is another crowd who declare for the State and the State only, and who declare for a united Parliament. I am entirely in sympathy with the people who declare that they will set on one side party and work for the good of the country. That has been realised during the War with the Coalition. It was argued during the last election that Coalition was necessary, not the old party game, but Liberals, Radicals, Tories, Labour men, and some who are called Socialists joining together to play the game for once. Are we to end that? I hope not. As to the question of party honours, nobody has made any direct charge against certain people. Hon. Members will admit that that is a dangerous thing to tackle. I heard what, was said about the late Lord Rhondda, who was a personal friend of mine, and he told me something in regard to this question. I knew Lord Rhondda long before he became a lord and he held fine democratic views. I may appear to be a Bolshevik by shouting "Away with titles," but it is not a new idea on my part. It is an old-established view- of mine. I find myself in agreement with my Friend the hon. Member for Silver town (Mr. J. Jones) who declared that the real aristocracy is the aristocracy of service to the community and the State. I feel that we should realise that without discrediting many of our great noblemen and those who by accident of birth have been placed where they are. I have no desire to besmirch, belittle or decry them. Many of them are great and good. But that does not alter the fact that there are people who have no greatness but in their money—people who secure their wealth, their ill-gotten gains—if I may use the expression—and use it not for any party which they admire, but to serve their own purposes and to get honours. On the 1379 other hand there are distinguished and honest men who secure their position by-honest service to their country.
You discredit every man and woman who has rendered honest service to the community and has been honoured by His Majesty, by granting even one favour or distinction to a person entirely unfitted for that distinction—a mere money-grubbing person who has secured his money by evil means and uses it further to prostitute party or principles. The sooner the Rouse realises that we have to set up a new order of things the better it will be. We want to do it now. We appeal to the Leader of the House, to the Government, in this period of change and reconstruction, to set about the task. Do not let us hark back to the dirty old game of partyism or allow anyone to have the chance of twitting us with the charge that honours were granted because money was given to party funds.
Major C. LOWTHER
I have but two things to say. I listened with great pleasure to the right wing of the National party and to the left wing of the National party, but I suppose I shall have to attend
|Division No. 38.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Ranisden, G. T.|
|Ainsworth, Capt. C.||Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hartshorn, V.||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Astbury, Lt.-Com. F. W.||Hayday, A.||Taylor, J. W. (Chester-le-Street)|
|Barker, Major R.||Holmes, J. S.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.||Hurd. P. A.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Wignall, James|
|Cairns, John||Ken worthy, Lieut-Commander||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||King, Com. Douglas||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Capt, Tom||Lunn, William||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Casey, T. W.||M'Lean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.);||Moore, Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.||Young. Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Morgan, Major D. Watts|
|Clough, R.||Murray, John (Leeds, W.)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||OGrady, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Brig.|
|Gould, J. C.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Gen. Page Croft and Sir Richard Cooper.|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)|
|Amery, Lieut-Col. L. C. M. S.||Dockrell, Sir M.||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hudson, R. M.|
|Bagley, Captain E. A.||Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)||Hurst, Major G. B.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Johnson, L. S.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||forestier-Walker, L.||Johnston, J.|
|Back, Arthur Cecil||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bell, Lieut-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)|
|Bennett, T. J.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Knight, Capt. E. A.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Glyn. Major R.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Lelc, Loughboro')||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, N.)||Hailwood. A.||Lewis, T A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)|
|Burton, Sir J.||Hall, Capt. D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Henderson, Major V. L.||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford)||Lyon, L.|
|Cory, J. H. (Cardiff)||Milder, Lieut-Co). F.||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)|
|Court hope, Major George Loyd||Hope. John Deans (Berwick)||M'Lean, Lt.-Col. c. W. W. (Brigg)|
|Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)|
|Dewhurst, Lleut.-Com. H.||Horne, Sir Robert (Hjilyhead)||Macquisten, F. A.|
§ a debate in another place if I wish to hear what the centre of that party has to say. The hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall asked a question. He said, why was it that the names of those who had sub scribed to the party funds were not published? I will supply him with an answer. It is to save the feelings of those who have not subscribed. I sadly confess that I am one of the latter, and I look to the Leader of the House to protect me and many others, since I consider that we are probably the majority of people in this country. With that sincere hope, I trust that the Leader of the House will not give away the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth.
That this House is of opinion that the system of secrecy in connection with the sources of funds for party purposes has debased our political system, and is inimical to the best interests of the country, and calls upon the Government to introduce a. Bill to make the publication of the particulars of such funds compulsory; and further is of opinion that recommendations for the bestowal of honours in re cognition of subscriptions to such funds should be discontinued.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 50; Nose, 112.1381
|Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lanes.)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Mitchell, William Lane-||Rodger, A. K.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Moles, Thomas||Roundell, Lt.-Col. R. F.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)||Weston, Col. John W.|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Samuel, S. (Wands worth, Putney)||Whaler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Mosley, Oswald||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur||Whitla, Sir William|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Seager, Sir William||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Heal, Arthur||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, W.)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)||Stephenson, Col. H. K.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|parry, Major Thomas Henry||Stewart, Gershom||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Younger, Sir George|
|Perring, William George||Sugden Lieut. W. H.|
|Pownall, Lt.-Col. Assheton||Surtees. Brig.-Gen. H. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E.|
|Pratt, John William||Sutherland, Sir William||Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Purchase, H. G.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Renwick, G.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|The Orders were read and postponed. Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now Adjourn," put, and agreed to.|
§ Adjourned accordingly at Ten minutes after Eleven o'clock