(1) If any alien attempts or does any act calculated or likely to cause sedition or disaffection amongst any of His majesty's Forces or the forces of his majesty's Allies, or amongst the civilian population, he shah be liable on conviction on indictment to penal servitude for a term not exceeding ten years, or on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
(2) If any alien promotes or attempts to promote industrial unrest in any industry in which he is not bonâ fide engaged in the United Kingdom, he shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
§ Amendment proposed [22nd October], to leave out Sub-section (2).—[Mr. Tyson Wilson.]
§ Question again proposed, ''That the words 'If any alien' stand part of the Bill."
Mr. T. WILSON
In again urging the Government to meet us by accepting this Amendment to leave out Sub-section (2), I would point out that, assuming that an alien is a member of the Transport Workers' Union, he can make as strong a speech as he likes at a meeting of the transport workers in connection with hours of labour or other conditions of labour, and he cannot be prosecuted under this Act, but if he goes to a meeting of railwaymen or miners and makes the same speech, or a speech of a milder nature, it is possible under this Sub-section for him to be prosecuted. I submit that that is placing a member of a trade union in an extremely invidious position, and that instead of making for the harmonious working of the Act it will have just the contrary effect. Some hon. Members last
§ night, when I was using this illustration, said that one way out of the difficulty was for the member, in this case, of the Transport Workers' Union, to become naturalised, so that he could then speak at any and every meeting in the country Without fear. Does the right hon. Gentleman favour naturalisation? I do not, and therefore if an alien is a member of a trade union and is dealing with questions which are purely industrial, I would give him the same liberty to make the same speech at a miners' meeting or a meeting of the railwaymen that he could make at a meeting of the transport workers. The Sub-section is absurd on the face of it. Let me put this to the right hon. Gentleman, that a prominent member of one of the societies that I have referred to has made his speech at a meeting of members of his own union, and he makes the same speech at a meeting of the members of another union and is arrested, and prosecuted, and sentenced to one, two, or three months' imprisonment. Is it not quite possible, nay, is it not quite probable, that the members of the Triple Alliance would resent the prosecution of a man for making a speech at one gathering when he had riot been prosecuted for making the same speech at another gathering? I suggest to him that if he wishes to avert unrest and industrial trouble, and if he wants the Act to work smoothly, he will accept my Amendment. If he will not accept the Amendment as a whole, I hope he will accept it in a somewhat modified form; but, speaking from a long experience of trade union work and of labour matters, I think it would be in the best interests of everybody concerned if he would agree to the deletion of the Subsection.
§ Question put, "That the words 'If any alien' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 166; Noes, 50.185
|Division No. 111.]||AYES.||[3.15 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Barwick, Major G. O.||Butcher, Sir J. G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Boscawen, Sir Arthur Grifflth||Campion, Colonel W. R.|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Bottomley, Horatio||Carr, W. T.|
|Bagley, Captain E. A.||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Breese, Major C. E.||Casey, T. W.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bridgeman, William Clive||Cayzer, Major H. R,|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Briggs, Harold||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Brown; T. W. (Down, N.)||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Bell. Lt.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Bruton, Sir J.||Cheyne. Sir William Watson|
|Bigland, Alfred||Buckley, Lleut.-Colonel A.||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Billing, Noel Pemberton||Burden, Colonel Rowland||Clough, R.|
|Bird, Alfred||Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Cockerill, Brig.-General G. K.|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Inskip, T. W. H.||Preston, W. R.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jackson, Lt,-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Jodrell, N. P.||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Richardson, Sir Albion (Peekham)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kelly, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)||Kidd, James||Rodger, A. K.|
|Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Roundall, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Dawes, J. H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)|
|Dean, Corn. P. T.||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Boner (Glasgow)||Seddon, James|
|Edge, Captain William||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Seely, Maj.-Gen. Right Hon. John|
|Edwards, A. Clement (East Ham, S.)||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Eyres-Mansell, Commander||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Lorden, John William||Stanley, Col. H. G. F. (Preston)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Lynn, R. J.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Sturrock, J. Leng.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C.||M`Lean, Lt.-Col. C. W. W. (Brigg)||Sykes, Sir C. (Huddersfield)|
|Gange, E. S.||Macmaster, Donald||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Magnus, Sir Philip||Terrell, Capt. R. (Henley, Oxford)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)|
|Glyn, Major R.||Marriott, John Arthur R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Matthews, David||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Moles, Thomas||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wardle, George J.|
|Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar||Mosley, Oswald||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Murchison, C. K.||Wason, John Cathcart|
|Hacking, Colonel D. H.||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rallox)||White, Colonel G. D. (Southport)|
|Hanna, G. B.||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Harmsworth, Cecil R. (Luton, Beds.)||Nall, Major Joseph||Williams, Lt.-Corn. C. (Tavistock)|
|Haslam, Lewis||Nicholl, Corn. Sir Edward||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Milder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Norton Griffiths, Lt.-Col. Sir J.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Palmer, Brig.-General G. (Westbury)||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Parker, James||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Hurd, P. A.||Pownall, Lt.-Colonel Assheton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Lord E|
|Hurst, Major G. B.||Pratt, John William||Ta'bot and Capt. Guest.|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.|
|Adamson Rt. Hon. William||Hogge, J. M.||Sitch, C. H.|
|Cairns, John||Holmes, J.||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Cape, Tom||Irving, Dan||Spoor, B. G.|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Clynes, Right Hon. John R.||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Lunn, William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thorne. Col. W. (Plaistow)|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Finney, Samuel||Neal, Arthur||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Newbould, A. E.||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Young, Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hall, F. (Yorks. Normanton)||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Henderson, Arthur||Rose, Frank H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Mr.|
|Hirst. G. H.||Rowlands James||T. Wilson and Captain A. Smith.|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Royce, William Stapleton|
Lieut.-Commander KEN WORTHY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "alien" ["If any alien promotes"], to insert the words "other than a bonâ fide official of a registered trade union."
I hope that this Amendment will meet certain hard cases that leave been disclosed in the discussion on the last Amendment, without in any way hampering the Home Office in prosecuting and sending out of the country dangerous characters of foreign nationality. The object of the 186 Amendment is to safeguard the case of the foreigner who is the secretary of a trade union, most members of which are aliens, as, for example, the tailoring trades, and so on, in the East End of London and in Manchester. It is said that these people ought to become naturalised, but this Bill, and Orders in Council that hang on this Bill, are making it far harder now to become naturalised, and, therefore, with the best will in the world, these people may not be able to become naturalised. 187 Nevertheless, I think it is most desirable that these alien trades—tailoring, and so on—which are what is known generally as sweated trades—[An Hon. MEMBER dissented.] I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, who has greater knowledge than I have of the trades in the East End, but I think aliens are employed by other aliens in this country, and have been employed in the past at very low wages. In fact, these men come from the ghettoes of the great manufacturing towns of Eastern Europe, where there was, unfortunately, a low standard of life. They come here, and I think we succeed in a generation or two in raising them morally, physically, and in every way, so that they become a very fair imitation of the natives.
It is most necessary that these people should have some organisation. Their employers are very often aliens, and these people need protection just the same as anybody else. The officials of their organisations have to be of their own nationality, and, for the reasons I have explained, it is difficult for thorn to become naturalised. This Amendment would safeguard the case of the secretary of a Jewish tailors' union or guild who attends a meeting of a trades and labour council, for example, or meets with officials of other trade unions and who would be, according to the letter of the law, liable to prosecution and to imprisonment up to three months. We do not want any sort of persecution of trade union officials, simply because they happen not to have been naturalised. At the same time, this Amendment would not in any way hamper the Home Secretary in prosecuting foreigners. I do not think the English working man concerns himself with any desire to persecute these people, and I know a good deal about English working men, having served with their class for a good many years in ships. I think they pay very little attention to foreign agitators and even less to their own agitators. I think it would be better if they did sometimes. Without weakening the hands of the Home Secretary in any respect, this Amendment does guard the case of a bonâ fide secretary of a small alien union trying to uplift their economic lot, and who might otherwise, according to the letter of the law, be liable to prosecution.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to second the Amendment.
188 It seems to me that this Amendment affords a convenient compromise between the Bill and the Amendment previously moved. I support both Amendments because I believe in freedom of speech. I do not want people to be led away by agitators who put -stupidity into their heads, but I believe in freedom of speech, because unless you allow people to hear nonsense they will never learn to know right. Unless you allow them to go wrong they will never go right. The whole secret of the political education of the working man of this country has been because he was allowed to hear every point of view so that he has now a clear policy and is able to discover what is right and what is wrong. It is on the same principle of allowing a child who is learning to walk to tumble. It is on those lines that England has been built up. The whole object of this Bill is to circumscribe the freedom of the subject in this country.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Shortt)
This is not an Amendment that it is possible to accept. It really is based upon a total misapprehension of the mischief that is aimed at, and the effect of the provisions of the Bill. We have gone as far as we can go in allowing the alien who chooses to remain an alien to deal with matters connected with his own trade. The alien working in his trade will be able to take any part he likes in a dispute, but when he comes to deal with bodies like the Triple Alliance, well, I am astonished to think that the miners, transport or railway workers who wished to decide a matter in dispute would, any one of them, desire as a spokesman an alien—still more, that he should be an alien un-naturalised. The argument is raising up bogeys that do not exist. A man chooses to remain an alien. We allow him to remain in this country. He enjoys the hospitality of this country. He can protect his own personal interests, and in his trade he is there secured in his interests. I do not see why he should be allowed to interfere with other people in other trades.
§ Mr. BILLING
Really, anyone who has read this Clause and the Amendment, and gives any support to the latter, must do so because of some peculiar reason of being anxious to see industrial disturbances in this country. I only wish the Government had strengthened the Clause so as to make it that no alien should be allowed to promote any industrial unrest, 189 whether or not a member of that trade. By this the Government are accepting or allowing the principle of direct action. The alien is not allowed to vote here, which means that he is not allowed to take part in the legislation of the country. Yet we allow him to promote industrial unrest which one must naturally assume is aimed against the laws. To allow such a man to take direct action through the medium of strikes is to admit the principle of direct action; thus holding up the Government. and inciting the British working man. I would put this point not only before the Government but before the Labour members. We have a heavy time ahead of us. We are all agreed that so long as the question of industrial unrest is considered in the light of the good sense of the average British working man who, thank God, pays little attention to the agitation —some Labour members seem to regret that ‡—if I say the thing is left in their hands we shall muddle through without bloodshed. But if the alien agitator is allowed to take a hand in the game there will be bloodshed in this country in the next twelve months.
§ Mr. HODGE
I do not think that this Amendment has exactly the construction that the Home Secretary has placed upon it. We on these benches think the Clause as it stands is very dangerous. For instance, when before the War we have attended international conferences in Germany we have been amused at the presence of the military, who prevented certain people from speaking. There was an ex-Member of this House so prevented. This Clause would give the Government here the same power to interfere in an international conference of preventing a foreign delegate speaking because he might not be palatable to the Government. I hope the Home Secretary will find some words to modify the Clause. We do not believe that certain people should be at liberty to create disaffection. You have the power necessary to deal with this in the previous paragraph of the Bill. So far as trade union matters are concerned, I really think, in view of the point I have made, that the Home Secretary should do something to preserve us from the Prussianism rampant in Germany previous to the War. I desire to emphasise that point. At the Miners' International Conferences in Germany before the war certain people from this country were prevented speaking 190 by the interference of the authorities, because of the fear of the latter of industrial unrest. Do not let us have that kind of thing in this country. I hope, therefore, the Home Secretary will reconsider the position and tell us that he will modify the strength of the Clause.
§ Mr. SHORTT
May I allay any fears that my right hon. Friend has? I can assure him there is absolutely nothing in the point he has raised. If he will read the Clause as it stands he will see that it deals with the promotion of industrial unrest in a definite industry. That would not affect any foreign delegate who came over here to attend an international conference and discuss general policies, general principles, and so on. This Clause will not touch him; he would be free as to-day. But if he comes over here, and, abusing his position as a delegate, endeavours to promote strife in an industry lie is guilty of a great breach of faith, and abuses the hospitality of the country, and this Clause would touch him. So long as he observes his position as a delegate and confines himself to the general conference discussions and avoids mixing himself up in a definite industry he is perfectly safe under this Bill.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
Instead of allaying the fears of my right hon. Friend and those associated with him the explanation of the Home Secretary has confirmed our doubts and fears. Some of us on these benches have attended international conferences, and we have been much amused in the various countries to discover the presence of a representative of the law taking notes for the purpose of seeing whether the delegates were, by their speeches, creating disaffection. We used to twit our foreign friends because of the presence of these representatives. Well, but that will be the exact position here if this becomes law. After the explanation of the Home Secretary I do not doubt that if this is passed we shall be just in the same position as that at which we used to be amused. After all, does the Home Secretary really require the power that this Clause gives him? I do not think so. If you take Subsection (1) of Clause 3 you will find that the Home Secretary has there all the powers he requires.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
If it gives the power to the ordinary law then it accomplishes exactly what I was saying. Sub-section (1) reads,(1) If any alien attempts or does any act calculated or likely to cause sedition or disaffection amongst any of His Majesty's Forces or the forces of His Majesty's Allies, or amongst the civilian population.What more power does the Home Secretary require in order to carry out the objects of this Bill? The powers given under Sub-section (2) of the Clause under discussion are not required. There will be a representative of the. law sitting at any international congress that may be held here in the future for the purpose of discovering whether anything said in the speeches of the delegates is likely to cause industrial strife in this country, and if anything of that kind does occur those particular delegates will be taken in charge and put over the border. We have had that done in the past to some of our own men, and we cannot be consenting parties to legislation of that kind being put on the Statute Book. I hope the Home Secretary will give serious consideration to this matter.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I sincerely hope that the Government will stand firm. The Leader of the Labour party seems to think that under Sub-section (1) of the Clause you have got everything contemplated in Sub-section (2). If he thinks that I would point out to him that that is not qualified by any such words as are now proposed to be added to Sub-section (2). Under Sub-section (1), whether a person is a bonâfide member of a trade union or not, he will be liable to prosecution if he promotes industrial unrest or disaffection, but I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that there is a fundamental distinction between what is laid down in these two Clauses. One provides for general disaffection amongst the civilian population, and the other is quite distinct from the specific strike in a particular industry. The object of that Sub-section is that, whether he be a member of a bonâfide trade union or not, nobody is entitled to take steps to promote strikes. What puzzles rue is to understand the anxiety of the Labour party to procure an increased army of strike leaders. Have they not got enough leaders now, or are their present leaders so discredited or out of favour that the old supply is failing and they are prepared to welcome the alien strike promoter? I hope the Government 192 will resist this proposal as a preliminary to accepting the next Amendment, which prohibits the alien from promoting strikes even in an industry in which He is engaged. The alien is not a citizen of this Realm and he has not got a vote, and it is absolutely an abuse of the hospitality extended to an alien to permit him to take any active step to undermine the industrial safety and prosperity of this nation.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
The right lion. Gentleman the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Adamson) expressed great apprehension on exactly the same lines as those expressed by another hon. Member last night as to the effect this proposal would have on an international labour conference. I think the nervousness of my right hon. Friend rests upon a very slender foundation. I do not believe for a moment that any international labour congress will be hampered in any way by this Clause. Both he and another hon. Member last night based their fears on the experience of other countries. There would be a great deal more force in that point if my right hon. Friend had given us any indication of what is the law of those countries. I do not suppose that the law upon which steps were taken in the case of the conferences in Germany and perhaps in Scandinavian countries were parallel with this legislation, and probably the law there was infinitely more stringent. Unless we have some evidence that the law on which action was taken was not really more drastic than we are proposing, I do not see why we should be alarmed by the apprehensions of the right hon. Gentleman.
There was another argument upon which the hon. Member opposite based his case for this Amendment which had nothing to do with an international congress, and that was the apprehension that bonâfide trade union leaders in this country would be interfered with under this Clause. Both on this Amendment and the last there has been a great deal of the same fear expressed from the benches opposite. It has much surprised me that none of the hon. Members who have raised that point have thought it necessary, as some indication of the substance of the point, to state how many bonâfide trade union leaders in this country are aliens, or how many within a recent period have been aliens. I should have thought that, in their own interest, they would have thought it necessary to give us some 193 information on that point. Anyone listening to the points that have been raised would imagine that the trade unions of this country were mainly manned by aliens.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I recognise that a point of principle is important. I take that as an admission that this is purely a matter of principle, and that it has no substance as a practical point. That is very material, and I think that a great many of us will vote with a very light heart in face of that fact, if we have the assurance from the Leader of the Labour party that, although it is a matter of principle, that in point of fact there are no aliens w ho are bonâ fide trade union leaders. [An HON. MEMBER: "No‡"] I am inviting some hon. Member who has the information to tell as and let us know whether this is so or not. I am assuring the House that a substantial number of trade union leaders are aliens, and I understand a Labour Member says "No." I want to know who is right. But whether there are many or few, I think the explanation of the Home Secretary is sound, and under no circumstances whatever, even if there are plenty of alien trade union leaders, can they be hit by this Clause unless they go outside the jurisdiction of their own trade to stir up labour unrest. I really do not think that it is an unreasonable proposition that whatever may be done for the people of our own country, with the extreme liberty that we all enjoy in that respect, there might be at all events to that extent a restriction on the mischievous activities of those who are not of our own country.
§ Mr. NEAL
The proposition has proceeded up to now on the basis that the words "industrial unrest" are synonymous with "a strike." I respectfully suggest that is a wrong basis altogether. So far as I know, these two words are being introduced for the first time in any Statute, and I invite the Home Secretary to consider what interpretation, judicially, may be placed upon them if they find their way into the Act of Parliament. I respectfully suggest to him that "industrial unrest" is an inapt phrase which has passed into common parlance as being a comprehensive phrase, because it may mean a great variety of things. I venture 194 to say [...]ere is not an hon. or right hon. Me[...] of this House who has not at some; [...] or other endeavoured to stir up industrial unrest, not in the sense of desiring [...]tir up strikes, because you may have [...]litical unrest, [An HON. MEMBER: [...]e are dealing with industrial unrest. [...] I can only deal with one thing at a ti[...] I promise the House that I will not let the other matter escape me. You may have unrest as to high prices, you may have unrest as to the government of the country, you may have unrest affecting the conditions of an industry, or you may have unrest in an industry quite apart from its own conditions. I ask the Home Secretary to consider if it means, as his speech indicated and as the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) interpreted it as meaning, strikes, the desirability of putting the word "strike" plainly into the Bill. It would be something that could be understood.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not the point that we are now discussing. The point is whether this Sub-section is to be made applicable generally or whether bonâfide officials of registered trade unions are to be excluded from it. That is the only point.
§ Mr. NEAL
I will follow your ruling most carefully and closely, but, subject to that ruling, the point is as to how far a member of a trade union who is a bonâfide official of that union may encourage industrial unrest. I want to deal with it from that standpoint, and I respectfully suggest that these words are capable of a variety of interpretation and that the bonâfide official of a trade union will not know the position in which he is placed. The Home Secretary said that this only dealt with the stirring up of unrest in a particular industry. Does the Howe Secretary mean then that it would be legitimate under this Section to advocate a general strike, to advocate direct action, and to advocate things affecting more than one industry, but an offence when dealing with a certain industry? Surely the greater danger to this country is from a combination of industries rather than from a single industry. If I interpret this Subsection aright, the agitator resident amongst us or imported could argue in favour of, and do what he liked to stir up, general unrest, though he would be—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not confining himself to the Amendment. The House has accepted [...]ally the whole of Sub-section (2) [...] he exception which is now prop[...] is that it should not apply to bonâ fide officials of trade unions. That is [...] only point that we are now discussing.
§ Mr. NEAL
I do not [...] and I am sure if I do so it is [...]vertently, to transgress your ruling i[...] the slightest degree, but within your [...] may I put it that for a bonâ fide official of a trade union to do those things which I suggest reduces the matter to an absurdity? I will not follow some of my hon. Friends who preceded me and deal with the earlier part of the Clause, but I suggest that requires some reconsideration, because the words "sedition or disaffection" are introduced with reference to the civilian population in a curious manner. I am quite unable to vote for the Amendment, because I do not see why there should be any differentiation between the official of a trade union and an ordinary member of a trade union or of the public, and I hope that the Government will give further consideration to this matter before the Bill gets to another place.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
In reply to the hon. Member for the Canterbury Division (Mr. R. McNeill), who asked if any alien was a trade union leader, I wish to point out that a certain strike took place in this country not so very long ago. It was the misfortune of the chairman of the Trades and Labour Council not to be born an Englishman or a Scotsman. The Trades and Labour Council formed itself into a strike committee, and, although his trade union was not affected, yet, as he happened to be the chairman of the Trades and Labour Council, he acted as chairman of the strike committee also. Under the wording of this Clause that individual would be liable.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear ! "] Now we know your meaning. You are prepared to strike at the working man, but you will allow an alien of the wealthier classes [HON. MEMBERS: "No ‡"] You have them here today promoting unrest with regard to Russia among your own class. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO ‡Yes, wealthy aliens whom you let in and whom you support. There is no question about it. You are paying £5,000 per week to train Russian officers who are aliens in this country, and they belong to your class. But when it is a working man, a 196 man who has to earn his bread either in this country or elsewhere, his interests do not concern you. They do, however, concern us.
The trade unionists I refer to would be liable to arrest on the evidence of a police constable, and could be sentenced to three months' imprisonment by a magistrate who might be interested in the particular industry whose workpeople were out on strike. We are told, of course, that they ought not to abuse the hospitality of this country. But if this country is to be hospitable, let it show that hospitality to the individuals who come here to earn their living and enable them to enjoy their life as you enjoy it. The Home Secretary says that this proposal will not affect international delegates who may be employed in another country in the particular industry whose workpeople are out on strike at this moment of their visit to this country. That foreigner may have particular information as to the working-class conditions in that industry in his own country which might be beneficial to the workers in this country, yet he is not to be allowed to take any part in assisting those who are on strike, although they are of his own trade and his own class. I beg to suggest to the Home Secretary not to allow us to have panic legislation, for that is all that this amounts to. The Government and a few otherss have been stirring up industrial strife, hatred and animosity against sections of the community who do not happen to have been born Englishmen or Scotsmen or within the boundaries of the British Islands. Are we the only good men in this country? Possibly we on these benches are, but I question if that is the case elsewhere. Show at least some toleration. If you are afraid of industrial unrest, if you are afraid of foreigners or aliens mixing themselves up in the industrial unrest, why not change the conditions and make industrial unrest impossible? But you will not do that; you prefer to leave things as they are. You are refusing to allow any, change for the better. Your housing problem is solved. We are not satisfied with our housing conditions.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not in the least necessary. If we followed that rule we should never get on with the business.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I only have one other point to put with regard to promoting industrial unrest. It is not necessarily the conditions that a man works under or the wages he receives that lead to the condition which is classed as industrial unrest. We had a great agitation going on in Glasgow during a certain period of the War in which certain individuals believed they could hold a section of the community by the throat because they thought the opportunity was in their favour. The workers came out on strike and the result was that the Government, after offering opposition for some months, finally wiped out the cause of unrest by passing their Rent Restriction Act. In that particular agitation certain individuals residing in Glasgow, who were foreign to this country, stood side by side with the native-born people and fought with them against this particular injustice. And why not? Why should a foreigner be asked to pay more for his rent than is just? Why is he not entitled to the same conditions as other people? Why should he not have the same home life? Because he is a foreigner he ought not to be charged more. If a similar set of circumstances should crop up again, as may possibly be the case when bite Rent Restriction Act is ended, you are going to have these people accused of promoting industrial unrest; they will come within the scope of this particular Clause and may be arrested and sentenced to imprisonment. I hope the Home Secretary will agree to the inclusion of these words. I hope he will not give way to this alien stunt. If he does, he will be faced with a fresh stunt to-morrow.
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
I have been a Member of this louse for many years, and during almost the whole of that time have been working side by side with the Labour party, doing what I could to improve their condition. If there be one thing that has come out during the War—and this is known best to those who have been out at the War—it is that the Englishman, in organisation and in holding his own, has proved himself fifty times better than the foreigner. The whole object of this Amendment is to exclude foreigners from having power to lead Labour organisations. Surely the men who sit on the bench opposite and the Labour party 198 throughout the country must know that as far as capability, organisation, common sense, good understanding, and knowledge of their trade are concerned the Englishmen are far ahead of the foreigner. The whole point of this Amendment is that the Labour party are seeking to keep the foreigners who somehow have climbed into some sort of leadership in the Labour party under the limelight. I appeal to the Labour party not to be led by foreigners, not to take foreigners as their leaders, not to countenance them in that position any more than I would countenance them in any other position. Surely we have good enough Labour men in this country to hold their own and to do the great work for the improvement of the conditions of the labouring classes without calling in the assistance of the foreigner, who may only be able to talk a very little English, and who is working now, and has been working throughout the War, not in the interests of Labour, but in the interests of the foreigner against England. It is acknowledged that some of these men have been proved to be no friends of Labour, but friends of the enemies of this country. They ought, therefore, to be excluded. They ought to be kept out of this country, and surely the Labour party can afford to sacrifice the small amount of help they get from these incompetent foreigners. I appeal to them not to continue this alliance with the foreigner who may be the enemy of this country. This proposal cannot do the Labour party any harm if it removes certain foreign Labour leaders. It will, on the contrary, strengthen the Labour party. We do riot accept foreigners as leaders in any other connection. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about banking?"] Yes, they have got there somehow, but they have not got there by the sympathy of their fellow men; they have bought their way in, as some of your leaders have bought their way in. Let us be quite straight. Let us accept the lessons which the past has taught us. We do not want the foreigners to lead us, whether in the matter of labour or anything else. We shall be ready to be advised by Britishers rather than by foreigners. There is no question of preventing the foreigner earning his living. All that is desired is that he shall be prevented from leading agitation—from taking the leadership from Englishmen. I hope the Home Secretary will not accept any of these Amendments in favour of the foreigner.
§ Mr. SWAN
I hope the Home Secretary will see his way to accept this Amendment. There seems to be a strange contradiction between the words as applied to working men and as applied to masters. There may be in the ranks of workers a man or a woman who really is a member of a trade union, has shown his or her fidelity to it, and won the confidence of the workers in it. He or she may be selected to the responsible position of leader, but if this proposal be carried that person may become liable to prosecution and imprisonment for leading the working classes. Yet when it conies to the masters they are not to be governed by the same standard. They sit behind closed doors. They refuse the reasonable request of the workers for higher wages and improved conditions, but when the responsibility comes to be placed upon them the leadership sinks into obscurity. We think that this Clause imposes a big injustice on the working classes, and we hope, in the interests of democracy and of peace, the Home Secretary will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. GALBRAITH
I have not got up to talk in parables. Here is a real opportunity for some of my Friends to give effect to their own doctrine. I am just as hopeful that the Home Secretary will not accept this Amendment as some of my hon. Friends are that he will. I am a trade unionist and have been one for fifty-six years, although I am not now identified actively with any organisation. I know the trade union world, for I was
§ one of the delegates to the first Miners' International Conference that was held. I was at the last one which was held in Austria-Hungary, and I have been at practically all of them. I remember being at Zurich along with my late colleague and revered friend, Dr. John Wilson, who was a Member of this House, and another old colleague, Mr. John Johnson, who was also a Member of this House. We had something to say, and we heard something in reply from a lot of the German delegates who were there. My friend, Mr. Johnson, knowing that I had never trusted the Germans from the beginning, said to me, "After that hearty welcome, you will have nothing more to say about the Germans." I said to my honoured friend, "John, I am old enough now to know that it is never wise to put too much confidence in a dog because he wags his tail that he is not going to bite." I am in favour of the fullest freedom; my sympathies are as broad as the Cross and as wide as the world so far as right is concerned, but we want to be sure as British people that we do not give licence to an enemy. I hope in the name of all that is British trade unionism, because the working peoples' interests are too serious rightfully, constitutionally, and legally that the Home Secretary will riot accept this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words ' other than a bonâ-fide official of a registered trade union.'" be there inserted in the Bill.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 44; Noes, 231201
|Division No. 112.]||AYES.||[4.20 p.m.|
|Adamson Rt. Hon. William||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, C. H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastie, E.)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Holmes, J.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Cairns, John||Irving, Dan||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough. W.)|
|Cape, Tom||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampten)|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Kiley, James Daniel||Thorne. Col. W. (Plaistow)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lunn, William||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Morris, Richard||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Murray. Dr. (Western Isles)||Wignall, James|
|Finney, Samuel||Newbould, A. E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Guest, J. Hemsworth. York)||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Lieut.-|
|Hall, F. (Yorks. Normanton)||Royce, William Stapleton||Commander Kenworthy and Mr.|
|Henderson, Arthur||Short, A. (Wednesbury)||Swan.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Barnston, Major H.||Birchall, Major J. D.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Bird, Alfred|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Blades, Sir George R.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Bell. Lt.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Blair, Major Reginald|
|Bagley, Captain E. A.||Bennett, T. J.||Borwick, Major G O.|
|Balrd, John Lawrence||Betterton, H. B.||Boscawen, Sir Arthur Grifflth.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bigland, Alfred||Bottomley, Horatio|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Billing, Noel Pemberton||Bowies, Colonel H. P.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. W. E.||Griggs, Sir Peter||Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Guinness, Capt. Hon. R. (Southend)||Parker, James|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Gwynne, R. S.||Pearce, Sir William|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hacking, Colonel D. H.||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Briggs, Harold||Hall, R.-Adml. Sir W. R. (Lpl, W. Dby)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, N.)||Hallas, E.||Pownali, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bruton, Sir J.||Hanna, G. B.||Pratt, John William|
|Buckley, Lieutenant-Colonol A.||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Preston, W. R.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Haslam, Lewis||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Herdert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovll)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||[...]rn, Sir William|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Higham, C. F. (Islington, S.)||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Campion, Colonel W. R.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Carr, W. T.||Hood, Joseph||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Reid, D. D.|
|Casey, T. W.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Remnant, Colonel Sir James|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Richardson, Sir Albion (Peckham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt, Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)||Hurd, P. A.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesalt)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Hurst, Major G. B.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Inskip, T. W. H.||Roundell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Clough, R.||Jodrell, N. P.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General G. K.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Coote, Colin R. (lsle of Ely)||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Seager, Sir William|
|Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)||Kelly, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W,)|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Kidd, James||Simm, Colonel M. T.|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Henry Page||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Davidson. Major-Gen. Sir John H.||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lorden, John William||Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.|
|Dean, Com. P. T.||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Dockrell, Sir M.||Lynn, R. J.||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Macdonald, Rt. Hon, J. M. (Stirling)||Terrell, Capt. R. (Henley, Oxford)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||M'Guffin, Samuel||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Edge, Captain William||M`Lean, Lt.-Col. C. W. W. (Brigg)||Thorpe, J. H.|
|Edwards, A. Clement (East Ham, S.)||Macmaster, Donald||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Elliot, Captain W. E. (Lanark)||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Waddington, R.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wardle, George J.|
|Falcon Captain M.||Magnus, Sir Phillip||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Mallalieu, Frederick William||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Farquharson, Major A.C.||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Whitla, Slr William|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Marriott, John Arthur R.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Matthews, David||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Forrest, W.||Mitchell, William Lane-||Williams, A. (Censett, Durham)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C.||Moles, Thomas||Williams, Lt-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Gauge, E. S.||Morison, T. B. (Inverness)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Ganzoni. Captain F. C.||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mosley, Oswald||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murchison, C. K.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Glyn, Major R.||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Wilson, Lt,-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Gould, J. C.||Nall, Major Joseph||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir E. A.||Neal, Arthur||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Young, William (Perth and Kinross)|
|Green J. F. (Leicester)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Younger, Sir George|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Greenwood. Col. Sir Hamar||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Capt.|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||F. Guest and Lord E. Talbet.|
|Gretton, Colonel John|
§ Sir H. NIELD
I beg to move, to leave out the words, "is not" ["in which he is not bonâfide engaged"], and to insert instead thereof the words "has not been."
I will not move my first Amendment, as I think this covers the whole question more satisfactorily. The object of this and the next Amendment is to restrict the activities of an alien in matters of industrial 202 unrest and dispute to one who has been here bonâfide in the industry for at least two years immediately preceding the occurrence. I realise that our naturalisation laws require that a man should have been here for a definite time before he, can apply for letters of naturalisation. That operation can only take some considerable time if a man has left his own country and 203 definitely decided that he is going permanently to remain in this country, and if he engages in industry and continues in industry he should not be deprived in a moment of industrial trouble from taking part with his fellows in the trade union in work within the legal scope of trade unions. But I take the strongest objection to an alien either coming into this country for the purpose of assisting in stirring up trouble or coming perfunctorily and under the colourable plea of residence for a very brief period and then claiming to be an Englishman in relation to trade matters. I think the last debate that took place has intimated pretty clearly that there are many very able men who are now at the head of the various trade combinations who are perfectly well able to put the British case and to do whatever is necessary to forward the case of the British worker without enlisting the aid of the Continental, and particularly the South-Eastern European. We are not accustomed in this country to accompany these disputes necessarily with violence or with acts of incendiarism. No better illustration can be given than the late railway strike. For the most part throughout the country during that week order prevailed. Here and there, of course, there were hotheads, but in the main order prevailed. That was very different from the methods which have been adopted everywhere in Central and South-Eastern Europe since the Armistice. We have seen how the workers behaved, particularly in Russia, when they took in hand matters of dispute, and it is for that reason that J hope the House will accept this Amendment, so that no one who is not an Englishman or has not been resident in employment for two years immediately preceding the trouble shall be permitted to constitute himself a leader of industry for the purpose of intervening in a purely British dispute. I am not wedded to the period, but I think two years is really the shortest limit which could be reasonably asked before a man ought to go out of his way to interfere in purely British affairs.
§ Mr. STEWART
I beg to second the Amendment.
This is only a precautionary Amend went. It provides that adventurers shall not come over here to teach us our business, when, perhaps, they have not resided long enough in tile country to under 204 stand our ways. The limit of two years seems a reasonable one, and it gives a. man the opportunity of acquainting himself with our conditions of life and our way of looking at things. It was admitted in the previous Debate that there were certain risks of international delegates criticising the politics and the life of the country they visit. I have been at several commercial conferences abroad, and I do not think in any one of them any member who attended has said anything about the conditions of the country in which we met. I am not enamoured of the idea that we should invite foreigners too much in our own domestic affairs. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Wedgwood) last night wished Americans excluded from this Bill. Had British citizens behaved in the same way as the three Americans who recently visited this country and Ireland, American public opinion would have strenuously resented it. I think, although intercourse is most advisable, people should he left to manage their own domestic affairs, and that too much activity by foreigners only makes for trouble. If foreigners have good doctrines to preach, let them preach them and convert their own people, and let our people put forward the views which they have received from their foreign friends.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I hope these Amendments will not be pressed. The provision at present is that the test shall be bonâ fide employment, and that completely protects you from the incursion of people whose sole object is to stir up unrest either for industrial or for political objects, which means injury to this country. What we want to protect ourselves against is a man who comes here, not for the purpose of getting work but for the purpose of making mischief, and I think the best test is not really that of years or months but whether the man is there bonâ fide or not. That the judge of the tribunal who heard the case would have to decide. He would not care twopence whether the man had been here two years or three. The point would be was he here bonâ fide, and if the judge found as a fact that he had come here for the purpose of mischief lie might lie in the country thirty years and he would still be convicted. Equally a man who had been here for six months might have come bonâ fide and been properly admitted and might be a bonâ fide member of a trade union. So long as we allow aliens to work in this country and belong to trade unions, 205 it stands to reason that we must allow them the privileges accorded to members of trade unions. I can understand the logic of saying definitely that no alien shall come here, or I can see the logic of saying that no alien shall be a member of a trade union, but so long as we allow them to be bonâ fide members of trade unions they ought to be allowed to take an ordinary part in the work of the trade unions. We prevent them, and it is a fair and legitimate limitation to prevent any alien interfering in any industry in which he is not bonâ fide engaged. There is really not a great deal in it, but I think the bonâ fide test is the better and more certain test, and if you put in a limitation of two years there is always the temptation to say: "This man has been in the trade for two years, or perhaps more, and he is no doubt bonâ fide engaged." I think the House will find that on the whole the better protection is for the judge to find as a fact whether his employment in an industry was bonâ fide or not. There is nothing between us in intention or in our motives. The only point is which is really the better. I do not pretend to any strong views about it, but I think the bonâ fide test is the better of the two.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I think the right hon. Gentleman is making a somewhat futile attempt to hold out the olive branch to members of the Labour party in this matter. He tells us that if we allow an alien to become a member of a trade union we must necessarily logically give him the privileges of that membership. That is rather begging the whole question we are here to discuss. The whole spirit of the Bill is what restrictions are we to place upon aliens, whatever their rights hitherto and their position in this country. I wish the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir H. Nield) had stuck to Ids first Amendment, but since he has not done so, let us at least put some limit upon the freedom of an alien to promote a strike. The Home Secretary said in a previous discussion that we merely allowed him to promote a strike in the industry in which he is engaged. I dare say the Home Secretary has heard in the course of his career of what are called sympathetic strikes. Once a man promotes a strike in one industry it frequently automatically leads to strikes in many other industries and the provision here gives any man who can show that he is bonâ fide engaged in that particular industry, although he is not a British 206 citizen, has no British blood in his veins and no British sympathies, and may for aught we know be in foreign pay, the right to upset the whole industry of the nation. The Home Secretary says it will be a question for the Courts to determine whether he is a bonâ fide member of the industry. Any alien could get round that by coming over here a month before a strike and proving that he has been engaged in industry abroad and that he has been engaged in it here for a month before the strike. A bonâ fide member of a trade means a qualified member of it and receiving its wages, and no judge, and certainly no competent lawyer, would say that a man was not a bonâ fide member of his trade if he said, "I was apprenticed to it; I earned my living at it in Russia or in Timbuctoo. I have come over here out of love for the dear British people, and I have worked in the trade ever since I have been here. There is my book, there are my wage receipts and the rest of it." What judge and what lawyer, except a partisan political lawyer, would say that that was not legal unanswerable evidence that that man was a bonâ fide member of that particular trade?
I know that length of time does not prove bona fides. A person may in law be party to a criminal conspiracy or any conspiracy, but may not have been actually directly interested in it. If a man is charged with being in a conspiracy and he can show that he has nothing to gain by it, it rather suggests to the judge and the jury that perhaps the evidence against him is not altogether trustworthy. If a man can show that he has been engaged in a trade in this country for two years that ought to stand in his favour and ought to some extent to influence the decision in his favour, but if he comes before a Court and says, "I arrived a week or two ago and I can prove that I am a bonâ fide member of this trade," then under this Bill you have no right to interfere with him, none whatever. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be wedded to the verbal sanctity of his Bill. He seems to regard it as a sacrilege on the part of any member of the Committee upstairs or of any hon. Member down here to attempt to make the Bill a little more workable. I beg the Home Secretary, whom we have supported so loyally up to the present, and whom we want to help, to accept our proposal, especially when he says that he does not feel very strongly on it. As he says he is not very strongly wedded to the 207 phraseology, I would urge him to accept the words of the Amendment, because they cannot do any harm, but on the other hand they would strengthen it.
§ Mr. HODGE
The Home Secretary had a good deal to say about "bonâ fide engaged." Let me give him the case of a man who has worked as a waiter, either in one of the hotels or in a restaurant. We all know the conditions of the waiters in London and in the provinces were extremely bad, that their wages were very low and the hours of work very long. The men had really to depend upon the tips. They formed a union, and an alien waiter becomes a secretary of that union. Under this Bill, being an official of the union, he would not be bonâ fide engaged in the industry.
§ Mr. HODGE
He would‡ I am afraid that a judge would not read it in that way. We trade union officials do not fear the competition of aliens. We can hold our own. I belong to an industry into which aliens never seek to enter, because the work is too hard. This country having permitted aliens to come in we find that in certain industries they have become a dominating factor. Take the tailoring trade. We all know what the conditions are there. I do not think it could be questioned that an alien tailor, speaking the language of the aliens engaged in that industry, is the more competent individual to organise that trade than an Englishman. This Bill is striking a blow at that particular feature of organisation.
§ Mr. HODGE
The Home Secretary shakes his head. At any rate, I see the danger of this particular Section of the Bill. The Bill without it was quite strong enough. So far as I am concerned, I do not want any alien to come into this country, but if you permit them to come in, treat them fairly. There are grave dangers in the phraseology of this particular Sub-section, and I hope, in spite of the Home Secretary's faith in his offspring, that between now and the time when the Bill leaves another place the position will be considered and he will see if he cannot do something to meet the objection that we have urged.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
The Home Secretary has fairly and candidly told us that he 208 does not feel very strongly about this Amendment. He is anxious to make as strong as possible the protection against aliens coming and illegitimately stirring up industrial strife in this country. If he does not feel strongly about it, it would not be unreasonable for us to ask that the House should be allowed to express its opinion without compulsion from the Whips. There is nothing objectionable in the Amendment; the Home Secretary does not suggest that there is. He thinks that the Clause as it stands is better without the Amendment, but there is a very large number of hon. Members who think that it would be better with the Amendment. Therefore, the right thing to do would be to leave it to the House freely to decide a matter of this sort. There are aliens who have come to this country, and who will come to this country in the future, for political reasons, to stir up industrial unrest and to do their best to ruin our country. The Home Secretary admitted that last night when he said that one of the main objects of this Clause was to prevent people who come over to this country from making mischief for any selfish political purpose in their own country. There are aliens who come over for that purpose, and I do not think that the House wishes to allow aliens of any kind to come over here to interfere in our industrial affairs and to promote industrial unrest.
We do not wish to treat aliens unduly harshly, and we say that if they are bonâ fide engaged in an industry for at least two years in this country, then they should be able to take their part in industrial disputes. The Home Secretary says that we are amply protected by the words bonâ fide engaged. That is not an adequate protection. As the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) pointed out, a person may come over to this country from Russia or Germany or some other country where political movements are on foot in order, if possible, to stir up revolution in this country. That person may come over for the set purpose of creating industrial strife. He may remain here for a month or two in order to give colour to his actions, and he may join a trade union, and when brought before a magistrate for committing the offence aimed at in this Section he might say that he was bonâ fide engaged in the industry, and unless there was some positive proof against him of his malignant desires it might possibly be that he would 209 get off. We want some better protection besides the words bonâ fide. We leave the words "bonâ fide" in, but we put in an additional provision that before an alien can take part in any industrial strike he must have been here for two years. That would be evidence of his bona fides, and would suggest to the magistrate before whom the case is tried a means of forming a fair opinion as to his bona fides or his mala fides. I beg the Home Secretary to acknowledge that this is a point which really deserves to be met. The Amendment cannot do injustice to anyone. It cannot do injustice to the alien, because we tell him that if he is engaged bonâ fide in the industry for two years he can engage in industrial disputes like any other people. While it cannot do harm to the alien it might be a. means of doing very great good for us in a time of industrial unrest, when we are confronted with great danger. I hope the Home Secretary will leave this matter to the unfettered decision of the House. If the House arrives at the decision that this Amendment should be included no harm will be done; the opinion of this House will have been honestly and fully taken without any prejudice or compulsion, and I am sure that no one will object to the result.
§ Brigadier-General CROFT
It is very difficult to prove who is and who is not a bonâ fide worker in a trade. One hon. Gentleman who addressed the House on the last Amendment mentioned the extraordinary fact that seven leaders in the Glasgow strike were aliens. That is such an amazing proportion of the leaders of industrial unrest that one can only come to the conclusion that they had somehow managed to convince their fellow-workers that they were bond fide workers, although they had come into this country in order to make disturbance and unrest at a time when it was a very great peril. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman believes that two years is an unreasonable period, and I cannot think that the Labour party feel that the mantle of leadership in industrial disputes should fall upon foreigners until they have had at least two years here. May I give one instance in which neither the Home Secretary nor the Labour party discovered the true charter of a gentleman who was welcomed into this country at the time of great crises? I refer to Mr. Litvinoff, who was hailed by the whole of the Labour party as the ambassador of the new Republic of Russia. 210 Mr. Ramsay Macdonald and his colleagues were very much upset that anything should be said derogatory to Mr. Litvinoff. The Home Secretary apparently gave him protection in this country, but at last it was found that the Russian ambassador in that case was spreading revolutionary literature, that he was known by half-a-dozen names of various descriptions, that his real name was Finklelstein, that twice he had been convicted of fraud, and that he had been convicted of taking part in a bank robbery at Tiflis, but that is the case where the man completely hoodwinked the Labour party into the belief that he was a friend of the Brotherhood of Labour and was not a notorious character, and even in the case of the Home Secretary it does take time to prove whether a man is or is not a bonâ fide citizen of this country. I do not think that the proposal of my hon. Friend is unreasonable, and I hope it will be accepted.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Nobody seems to have risen to oppose the two years, and therefore I would gather that the desire of the House is to have it inserted in this Bill. In my opinion, the period of two years should not be specified, for the wily aliens, most of whom are here for more than two years, would do all they could, but if the House thinks differently I shall not press a Division against the Amendment.
§ Mr. BILLING
Would it not be possible for the Home Secretary to make it five years, or, seeing how essential it is to strengthen the Bill, make it no period whatever, which was what the Amendment really was? That would receive hearty support from this side of the House. As the Clause now stands it will certainly provide an enormous amount of work for the legal profession because of its vagueness, though it makes it less vague. I agree with the Home Secretary that to put in a period of two years is a mistake. Before he finally decides, I will appeal to him to make it illegal in this Bill for any alien to stir up any industrial strife in this country. It seems to me a perfectly clear-cut issue. We either allow the alien to come to this country and stir up industrial strife or we do not. We should say, "at such period when you have qualified for a vote in this country, then you shall have the right to take part in all trade union movements, but until such time you shall not be allowed to take part in any Act which is directed against the Constitution," 211 as nearly all strikes are now, more or less, because each day as this country gets, shall I say more democratic or bureaucratic—I rather think the latter —so all the fights are gradually developing between Labour and the Government as such, or the Government great subsidised institutions, and that an alien should be allowed to come and foster such strikes in this country seems to me to be amazing. I would ask the Home Secretary to accept the first Amendment, and I am sure that the Mover of this would be only too pleased to accept the original Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.