§ (1) The powers which under Sub-section (1) of Section one of the Aliens Restriction Act, 1914 (which Act, as amended by this Act, is herein-after in this Act referred to as the principal Act), are exerciseable with respect to aliens at any time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen, shall, for a period of one year after the passing of this Act, be exerciseable, not only in those circum- 137 stances, but at any time; and accordingly that Sub-section shall, for such period as aforesaid, have effect as though the words "at any time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen" were omitted.
§ (2) Any Order made under the principal Act during the currency of this Section shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and if an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat after any such Order is laid before it praying that the Order may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Order, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder:
§ Provided that this provision shall not apply in the case of an Order the operation of which is limited to a time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen.
§ Sir E. WILD
I beg to move, in Subsection (1) to leave out the words "for a period of one year after the passing of this Act."
The Clause as it reads is to the effect that an Order in Council may be made for a period of one year after the passing of this Act. I would remind the House in a few words as to what occurred when this Bill was introduced in April, and on Second Reading. At that time it was a very small measure of four Clauses, and with the exception of the third Clause, which dealt with the question of seditious agitation, it was merely a proposition to allow the Secretary of State to make Orders in Council to deal with the question of aliens. It will be remembered that as the Bill was introduced this power was given for a period of two years. The justification for that period was stated by the Home Secretary to be that this was only a temporary measure. He said: "We want to see what happens at the end of two years. We want to see the effect of the Bill. His Majesty will be able to make Orders in Council to deal with that period, and after that we shall review the whole question of alien legislation." There was a very animated discussion on that occasion, and strong opinions were expressed in this House in regard to the policy of Orders in Council. The net result of that discussion was that my right hon. Friend agreed in Committee that he would limit the period of the Orders in Council to one year. So far so good.
138 If the Bill—and I want the House to follow this—had remained in the form which it assumed upon leaving this House on Second Reading in regard to the period of one year, it would have been a great deal better for the liberty of the subject, for the simple reason that this most unpleasant and unconstitutional method of legislation by Orders in Council would have been reduced from two years to one year. Owing to the heroic efforts of Standing Committee A, in spite of every sort of opposition on the part of the Home Office and the Department, we have succeeded in making this Bill a very different Bill to what it was when it left this House. No longer does it merely consist of four Clauses. It now consists of fourteen Clauses. Hon. Members will find, if they run through the Bill, that Clauses 4 to 10 inclusive are new Clauses, and I think 11 and 12 too. At all events, the net result is that we have succeeded in introducing into the Bill a number of propositions for legislation to deal with the alien question, deportation, change of name, pilotage certificates, which matters are put down in black and white in the Act of Parliament. In these circumstances, I submit to my right hon. Friend, or whoever represents the Home Office at present on the Front Bench, that it is much more satisfactory that this power, in so far as it still resides in the Home Office, of Orders in Council should be continued not for a year but for all time. In this matter of positive legislation we have not succeeded to the extent of our hopes, nor, in my humble judgment, have we succeeded to the extent of the wishes of the electorate. We have put into the hands of the Home Secretary the right to make these Orders in Council. Therefore, it seems to me that this, the time when we are dealing with the whole alien question—we do not want to defer it for a year or two years—we want to deal with it now that the iron is hot—is the time when, giving the Home Secretary the power we have to make Orders in Council, we should see that it is not for a period of one year, but until Parliament otherwise enacts. It is no good tinkering with measures, and we want to get the alien question settled. We have not got the settlement we want, but we have got the best we could get, and it does not lie in the mouth of the Under-Secretary to say that this legislation should not continue until Parliament should otherwise enact. I loathe legislation by Orders in Council, because it is 139 unconstitutional and undemocratic. Therefore, as the House in its wisdom has decided that a certain part of the alien legislation should be left to the discretion of the Home Office, we say that we want to deal with the alien question now in order that this Bill may take a corporate form and continue to be law until Parliament otherwise enacts. I think this Amendment recommends itself to my hon. Friends, and I hope it will commend itself to the Under-Secretary and the Home Office generally.
§ Mr. STURROCK
The object of this Amendment is to put this Bill as a permanent measure upon the Statute Book, and my hon. and learned Friend who has moved it declares that while so far he and his Friends have not secured all they desire, yet they feel it would be a great pity to lose an opportunity of making permanent all the Clauses they have secured in Committee. I should like to point out that there are many hon. Members who object to every one of the additional Clauses which have been put into this Bill in Committee. A great many hon. Members who have taken no part in the Committee stage realise that this country is going to be made by this measure the laughing stock of the whole world, and for this reason I think the activities of my hon. and learned Friend opposite (Sir E. Wild) and those who act with him ought to be severely curtailed. We have just passed through the greatest crisis in our history, and we have survived a great number of perils during every stage of the War, and now we have the old stunt hunters saying they must have a thoroughgoing Act, under the operation of which it will be impossible for any alien to creep into this country even in any disguised form. It seems to me that if those hon. Members can only see themselves as the vast majority of the people in the provinces of this country see them, they would realise that they are looked upon as acting like a pack of old women gazing under every bed towards midnight to see if there is a burglar there. The whole thing is a travesty and a piece of preposterous nonsense, worked up in a way that is so common nowadays. When my hon. and learned Friend claims that the result which he and his Friends have secured must not be lost for the permanent good of the 140 country, I do say that I hope this House will not allow this Bill to be passed in any permanent form. When once the excitement amongst certain extreme members of the community has died down, even many of those who are supporting these proposals will realise that this Bill is the product of a panic, and ought never to become a piece of our permanent legislation. I offer this proposal a strong opposition, and I trust the Home Office will not accept it.
§ Major BAIRD
Although I cannot agree with the description given of this Bill by the last speaker, I do not think it is a sort of legislation which we should like to see permanently placed on the Statute Book. It is a measure based upon war-time experience, but it will have to be applied in peace time. I do not think it will be contended that time is not necessary in order to be sure that this measure is just and meets the requirements of the case. When we: are dealing with a matter so complicated for the purpose of controlling the influx of aliens, I do not think anybody will contend that we have had up to the present experience sufficiently wide and prolonged to enable us to lay down a definite policy. That was admitted when the Bill was brought in, and it was in deference to the representation of my lion and learned Friend who moved this Amendment, and those who act with him, that the time was reduced from two years to one year.
I do not agree that the Bill has been so much improved by the additional Clauses added during the Committee stage that it can now be looked upon as a perfect piece of legislation to be allowed to run for all time. We cannot be expected to admit that the Clauses introduced in Committee are improvements, and nobody would be surprised if we tried to get modifications in the House which we were not able to get in Committee upstairs. So far from the Bill being improved by the changes which were carried against the Government upstairs, it is quite obvious that, in our view, the Bill is not so good as it was originally. Therefore we must look upon this as a temporary measure, and it must be the duty of Parliament to review this measure after a sufficient time has elapsed in order to see whether these proposals really achieve the objects in view. For these reasons it is impossible for me to accept the Amendment which has been moved.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
As I understand it, this Amendment makes permanent the arrangements which have been made during the War with regard to aliens who come into this country. I cannot imagine that the hon. Member really wishes all Americans for all time to sign these forms at every place, to report to the police wherever they go, and to do all the hundred and one more or less silly things that have had to be done by aliens during the War. This legislation, I suppose, is necessary because the anti-Semitic people are in the majority in this House. Do let us take a commonsense view and prevent this country being made ridiculous by requiring unfortunate Americans who come to these shores to go through all the trouble and expense that the hon. Member opposite wishes them to go through. I maintain that this Bill is wrong from beginning to end, but to make the Regulations for registering everybody permanent seems to me to be the last word in insanity.
§ Sir H. NIELD
I overheard the Under-Secretary say that you could not expect the Government to accept as improvements the alterations which have been made, and he wound up by saying that of course it was ridiculous to suppose that this was permanent legislation, and that they would ask Parliament to review it. Why does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman drop this hyprocrisy of asking Parliament to review anything. When the Bill was before the Committee upstairs Whips were issued from time to time and men were sent wildly round to find anybody to make up the numbers, and now the Government say that they are going to disregard the work of the Committee, and they talk about Parliament reviewing it. That shows the folly of this Grand Committee system which purports to divide the work among Members upstairs. The whole system has now been reduced to a scientific farce, and the sooner we shut up the doors of this House and allow the officers in Whitehall full scope for their abilities the better it will be for our time.
§ Mr. ROTHSCHILD
I beg to move, at the end of Subsection (1), to add the words:Provided thatThe Under-Secretary's description of this Bill as a purely temporary measure perhaps in some way detracts from the first part of my Amendment, but I hope that the Home Secretary will not refuse the Amendment without giving it careful thought. All that it proposes is to give an alien who wishes to come to this country the right of being heard by three people, or, rather, by a board, instead of the case being in the hands of one Government official. At the same time, it gives to an alien who is under an order for deportation the right of being heard before a magistrate instead of leaving him at the mercy of the Home Office, which, translated literally, means the police. I have the greatest possible faith in the integrity of the police, and I believe that they try to exercise their powers to the very best of their ability. I also believe, if these functions were given into their hands, that they would try their best and that the Home Office would see that no injury was done. But it has never been the principle of British justice for any individual to be at the mercy of one man. There has always been an appeal allowed him before he is sentenced. And for an alien who has resided in this country for many years, who, perhaps, has made this his home and has no other home, and who might have been naturalised had it not been for the War, to be deported without trial is not, I think, worthy of the dignity of this great country. The freedom which has been given to all will, I hope, still last, and I sincerely trust that that bitter feeling which I am afraid has pervaded some of the speeches to-night against my poorer co-religionists in this country will not stand in the way of elementary justice being done these poor people. This Amendment is not put down with any idea of allowing in alien enemies or of interfering with the deportation of alien enemies. It is put 143 down at the request of the representatives of the Jewish body in this country who believe that it is a necessary safeguard to protect the poorer Jews from that spirit which I am sorry to say has pervaded some of the speeches here to-night. It is with the earnest hope that the Home Office will consider it that I venture to propose it.
- (a) where leave to land in this Kingdom is withheld from an alien by the immigration officer, such alien or the master, owner, or agent of the ship on which he has travelled to this Kingdom may appeal to
142 the immigration board of the port (as constituted under Section two of the Aliens Act, 1905, and the regulations thereunder), and that board, if they are satisfied that leave to land should not be withheld, shall give leave to land, and leave so given shall operate as the leave of the immigration officer;
- (b) in exercising the powers given by this Bill and the principal Act no Order for the deportation of an alien shall be made unless a certificate recommending the making of such Order has been issued by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, or by Court of Assize, or the High Court before which the alien to be deported has had an opportunity of stating his case."
§ Sir W. WHITLA
I have great pleasure in seconding the Amendment, and I appeal to the sense of fair play and justice of this House to accept it.
§ Major BAIRD
This Amendment is governed very largely by the same considerations which led me to refuse to accept the last Amendment. As my hon. and gallant Friend will remember, this Clause applies for the period of one year after the passing of this Act. He desires by his Amendment to re-establish the Aliens Immigration Boards that were set up under the Act of 1905, and which have been in abeyance since the Act of 1914, which controlled immigration during the War. There are various reasons why the present is hardly a good moment to reestablish with regard to one section of immigrants legislation which has been in abeyance during the period of the War. The whole of this legislation which we are submitting to the House is in the nature of an experiment. The boards were not wholly satisfactory. We have to deal with cases of immigration on a local rather than on a national basis—the very opposite basis to that which should be applied in dealing with this question. Although it will be desirable to have some form of appeal it is our hope that the appeal afforded by the machinery which my hon. and gallant Friend desires to re-establish will not be pressed at the present moment. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will recognise that it is not in any spirit of hostility towards those in whom he is interested that I am obliged to oppose his Amendment. It is because we do not consider that the moment is opportune for setting up once more the boards which he desires to see re-established. We recognise that the whole of this problem of immigration can only now be considered to be in the experimental stage, and I therefore hope that my hon. and gallant Friend will not seek to interfere with the proposal we are putting forward for dealing with the matter for a period of one year.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
All lovers of liberty in this House who have thought out the interests involved in this very important Amendment must be disappointed at the extremely lame reasons given for its rejection by the last speaker. Many Members of the House must be well aware of the existing state of affairs. I see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Platting Division of Manchester (Mr. Clynes) is one of the supporters of this Amendment. There is a very large Jewish population in Manchester and at the present moment cases are occurring in which poor Jews of good character have been sent out of this country merely at the instance of a special policeman whose suspicions have been aroused by statements by trade rivals. An alien can be deported on the mere ukase of the Home Office. There is no appeal whatever. This Amendment proposes to give a right of appeal, either to a Court of Summary Jurisdiction or to the High Court, and all who have any regard for liberty at all or for constitutional government should be willing to give the stranger within our gates this safeguard. I am proud to say many of these men have appealed to me, although I am not a co-religionist. I have taken up their cases, and one always receives the greatest assistance from the Home Office in investigating them. Men have been sent to an unknown destination on the word of the secret police, and very often the police have been informed either by a trade rival or by a person with whom the deportee has quarreled. There is also the case of unfortunate Russians who cannot get back into this country, although their wives and children are living here. I know of one particular case of a man, a poor little Polish tailor in Hull, who went out to join the Russian Army. He is now trying to get back to his wife at Hull but has been refused permission to land. I have had letters from the Lord Mayor of Hull and other leading citizens testifying to the bonâ fide and good character of this man, declaring that he is quite harmless and a good citizen in every way. His wife and child are there. He is not given permission to land, and I would like to ask the Home Secretary whether it is the fact that Russians who volunteered to go from this country to fight in the Russian Army are now being refused permission to return If it be the case, then I say it is a blot on our escutcheon. We ought to have an answer to that question. 145 At the present time the wives and children of these men are in this country; they are wanting to get the breadwinners back. If they are refused permission I want to know if that is acting in accordance with the letter of the agreement we made with Russia, and if it is to the honour of this country. Should we have any complaint to make if reprisals are taken against Englishmen who came from Russia to fight in this War, and who may want to go back there when a stable government has been set up? This Amendment is a very useful one. It will not hinder the keeping out of undesirables or of criminals, but it will do justice to the strangers within our gates or rather who should be within our gates and who are being kept out on very slender evidence. There is a certain amount of feeling in this country which is responsible for much of this class of legislation, and these unfortunate men require this safeguard.
§ Mr. KILEY
I hope the hon. and gallant Member will not consent to withdraw his proposal unless he obtains an assurance that there will be some Court of Appeal to which persons whose entrance is challenged may go. The system which he desires to re-establish has been in vogue and worked very successfully during the last ten years. During the period of the War it was not necessary to call these Committees together, because the Home Office dealt with all such cases. But there is now no reason why the Committees should not consider them. Still, if the Home Secretary will give an assurance that instead of re-establishing these boards he will refer all such cases to the Special Committees which have for many months been dealing with cases for deportation, he will go some way to meet this case. These provisions which the Government are proposing to continue may be good enough during a time of war, but when a state of war no longer exists, I submit the principle underlying them is one which should be opposed by every section of this House. There is, in fact, no justification for them. At the present time in my Constituency there are a number of wives and families of Russians. These men went back for military service to the country of their origin. They are now anxious to return to support their families, but they are forbidden to land by order of the Home Office. Their wives and children have up to now been kept by the State, but the State has come to the 146 conclusion to no longer support them. Therefore they must now become a charge on the Poor Law in the districts in which they reside. It is only natural that the Poor Law authorities of the districts object to this responsibility and say, "Let the men come back and support their wives and families." These men are perfectly willing and anxious to do that, and are only prevented by the action of the Home Office. It may be that some of these men are not fit to be allowed back. Let their cases be considered. If the Home Secretary will set up a tribunal like the tribunals already in existence or some other tribunal I am quite prepared to accept one or the other, but that there should be some appeal is beyond all question.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
I understood that the Under-Secretary said that some Court of Appeal would be established or some authority would be set up to which the aliens might appeal.
§ Major BAIRD
I do not think I went as far as saying that they would be established. I said that experience might show that it was necessary.
It is necessary that the Government should give a promise that either now or in another place they will put in words providing that the people who are affected by the Bill should have the right of appeal to some Court. That would ease the situation, and certainly no injustice would be done to anyone by putting in such a provision.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Does the hon. Gentleman mean that the permanent provisions of the Bill should be subject to an appeal? I cannot give a pledge with regard to the temporary provisions, because that would be presuming to bind Parliament a year or eighteen months hence or whatever it might be. To move in another place something dealing with the permanent provisions of the Bill would be another matter. It is very difficult for me to give any sort of pledge as to what will be done in the future with regard to the temporary provisions of this particular Bill, but so far as the permanent provisions are concerned that is another matter.
May I make clear what is in my mind? The Amendment says:Where leave to land in this Kingdom is withheld from an alien by the immigration officer.147 There are several immigration officers. I understand there is one at every port. Is that so?
Then one immigration officer might allow an alien to come in while another might refuse permission under exactly similar conditions? It is fair, not only to the person affected but also to the immigration officer, that there should be a standard of admission to the United Kingdom. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept the Amendment, he ought to put some provision in the Bill whereby what might be an injustice or an anomaly might be prevented; for instance, an immigration officer might refuse to admit John Brown at Hull and another immigration officer at. Southampton might admit him. In a case of that sort there should be a right of appeal.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I understand that this Amendment refers merely to one year after the passing of this Bill. It is during that time that we want to have some form of Appeal Court so that people who are arbitrarily prevented from landing on these shores or who are deported on arriving at these shores should have some Court to which to appeal. Only the other day M. Longuet arrived from Paris, I believe for the Trade Union Congress at Blackpool. He was arbitrarily deported, and had no appeal. That is the sort of thing which happens at present. The case is far worse than that, because if you do not accept this Amendment it means that the right of any alien to come back to these shores depends upon Sir Basil Thomson's secret police. It is a question of purely executive action by a newly-formed body, a new importation from Russia. We are leaving it to these people to decide whether or not an alien shall land. In these circumstances we ought not to allow even one year to go by without some sort of Court of Appeal, particularly as my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) has shown that this provision affects primarily those people who went to fight in the Russian Army and are now finding difficulties in getting back to this country. Certainly I have had correspondence with the Home Office on this subject, and I gather that they are giving permission to land. I had letters from the Under-Secretary 148 stating that they were giving permission to every Russian who fought in the Russian Army to return.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If that is not so, we ought to have a clear statement on the matter at once. If the matter is in doubt it makes it all the more essential that we should have some Court of Appeal to which these people returning to their own work and to their wives and families, should be able to appeal. Some are married to English women. There was the case of one man about whom I wrote to the-Home Office, who were good enough to say he could return. There is a number of cases of these people anxious to return, but their return depends now upon the report of a secret police. In these circumstances it would be a monstrous crime if we allowed one year to go by without some sort of Court of Appeal instead of a mere appeal to the Executive. I hope the Mover of the Amendment will at least press it to a Division, to show that there are some people who still prefer justice to the alarming varieties of anti-Semitism which have been displayed in this House to-night.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I have rarely listened in the course of one speech to so many misstatements. So far as the Russians are concerned, the sort of Russians who are taken up by hon. Members opposite are the men who deliberately preferred to go back to their own country rather than to fight for this country.
§ Mr. SHORTT
These men deliberately left this country. They came back here and pretend that they have fought. Whenever we have had a chance of testing their statement it has been untrue. It is, suggested that they are hardly treated, innocent persons. They are nothing of the sort. They chose their own beds; they chose to leave this country of their own accord. They would not fight for this country. Any Russian, any alien who has fought for this country—I am signing dozens a day of such orders—is entitled to become naturalised and to become a 149 citizen of this country. We gave that pledge and we are carrying it out. But a man who deliberately says, "I will not fight for you, I am going back to Russia," well let him stop there.
To turn to the really responsible question of the hon. Gentleman, there is a considerable difficulty about arranging any appeal. For the purpose of getting uniformity there is at present always an appeal to the Secretary of State. He gives his instructions and he endeavours as far as possible to see that there is uniformity. The Courts of Appeal which have been set up have not been a success at all. They have been actuated purely by local considerations. There has been far less uniformity amongst them to that extent than there is now with the immigration officer acting under strict regulations from the Home Office. I quite agree that eventually we ought, if possible, to have some form of appeal. I cannot pledge myself to any form of appeal to-night. I cannot pledge myself that by the time this Bill gets to another place we shall be in a position—I do not want to give a pledge that I cannot carry out—to bring in a measure of appeal which would be suitable, satisfactory and reasonably efficient. It is not an easy matter. The question of landing is not so difficult. If a man comes and he has to show that he conies within certain regulations and he cannot do it, he must go back until he can do it. Deportation is a much more difficult matter. The principle that we have gone upon in the Home Office has been this: Whenever the ground of deportation was the accusation of a crime which could be tested in the Courts, we have made no order until the man had been charged and tried. Where someone reports that so-and-so has been guilty of an offence you can have the man charged, and if the Court acquits him or refuses to make an order for deportation on the expiry of his sentence, no deportation order would be made. The really difficult cases are where you have very strong evidence that a man is really a danger to the country and has yet been too adroit to bring himself within the law, and it is very difficult—I hope the House will not minimise the difficulty—to establish a really satisfactory Court of Appeal for them. It might be necessary to have private sittings. Ail kinds of things are essential. My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) suggests that the whole thing is at present conducted by a new Secret Service, which 150 does not exist. There is nothing new about it. He knows nothing about Sir Basil Thomson or his secret service, but he can tell the House all about it. Those are the difficult cases. I am so far agreed that I think some method should be found by which a man who has been once admitted to this country should have had some form of appeal before he is deported from it. I put him upon a much higher plane than the man who is not in a position to satisfy the conditions of his landing. That is his own fault.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Of course lie is, and any man who is ever asked to state his case has had his case put for him and any man who wants to approach me can do so at any moment.
§ 10.0 P.M
§ Mr. SHORTT
No. The question referred to deportation, which is a totally different thing. If a man who comes here unprepared to bring himself within the regulations it is his own fault and he must go back and try again if he likes. Deportation involves that a man has at some time been admitted here as an alien proper to be admitted. Therefore I quite see that where a man is going to have something taken away from him which has been given to him there ought to be some method of having his case tried and tested. I cannot pretend to have thought out a scheme. It is very difficult. For the moment I cannot say I know any scheme which is successful. You cannot keep in being Mr. Justice Younger's Tribunal, which has done such admirable work, for ever, and it will be impossible for them to do the work. Whatever the tribunal is it will have to be a permanent tribunal doing its work in a permanent and uniform way, and it will involve an establishment, expenditure and salaries. In answer to a question which was not reached this afternoon I was prepared to say that the extension of the Departments of the Home Office is entirely due to the extension of that portion of it which deals with aliens. There has been practically no extension in other directions. It has all been with regard to extending the personnel dealing with aliens, and if you have an appeal it involves all that. I cannot 151 give any pledge with regard to temporary provisions. The object of making them temporary was that Parliament in its wisdom should deal with them in the light of greater experience at a future time. It would be presumption for any Minister to attempt in these circumstances to give a pledge as to what would be done. With regard to those measures which are permanent I think there ought to be some sort of appeal. If anyone can put before me what I have not been able to think of for myself, a really satisfactory Court of Appeal, I am prepared to consider it and endeavour to have it introduced in another place, but I cannot give a definite promise that I will myself think of something and have it ready in time. I could not do it, but I agree that some form of appeal is really necessary and ought to be found if possible. I cannot go further than that.