§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Gordon Hewart)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
As the House is aware, during the War it was found necessary from time to time to pass special Acts of Parliament., and also, under the Defence of the Realm Act, to frame special Regulations in order to deal with the conditions which the War brought about, or brought to light, and it became clear some time ago that even after the termination of the War it would be necessary to continue some, at any rate, of those enactments and those Regulations. But, if I may say so, I entirely agree in advance with the opinion, which I feel sure will be expressed, that the amount of that special legislation and regulation which is continued should be the minimum, and that no legislation or regulation of that kind should be continued merely upon the ground that, in the opinion of a particular Department, it might be found convenient. There should be a higher plane—that it should not be continued unless it is in truth and in fact necessary. That is the standard which I venture to think ought to be applied to this measure. The measure was introduced some three months ago, but it was, of course, drafted some months before that time, and it represented the result of the deliberations of the Committee, sitting under the chairmanship of Lord Cave, which carried on its deliberations over a long period. In the time which has elapsed since the drafting of the Bill, and since the introduction of the Bill, there have been opportunities to review, in the light of further events, the provisions which the Bill contains, and I am glad to be able to say that as the result finally of the deliberations of the Committee which met some weeks ago, a considerable part of the Bill is no longer thought to be necessary. The proposal which I venture to make to the House to-night is that the Bill, subject to the important omissions -which I will mention in a moment—omissions, however, which cannot be made upon the Second Reading stage—shall be read a second time, and that the Bill shall thereupon be referred to a Committee, on the understanding, if it should appear in the course of the deliberations of that 542 Committee, that any further Regulations contained in the Bill can with safety be omitted, the Government will not only be willing but anxious to consider a suggestion of that kind.
The Bill, as the House is aware, consists of two parts. They are in form three, but they are in fact two. One part relates to statutory enactments, and the other part relates to Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act. The method which has been observed with regard to statutory enactments is to set them out in two schedules, and to provide for the extension of those enactments. I do not think I need spend much time upon these enactments. They are, speaking generally, enactments for the benefit of particular classes of the public, and therefore for the public as a whole, in matters connected with the War. May I give what I think is a fair specimen? There is, for example, at present upon the Statute Book an Act called the Injuries in War (Compensation) Act, 1914. That was amended by a Section of a later Act, and at present that Act is limited to injuries and disablement suffered by persons while they are employed by or under the Admiralty or Army Council in connection with warlike operations in which His Majesty is engaged. It is suggested that hardship would arise if that Act were left in the form in which it is. It is proposed to make the Act apply to injuries and disablements suffered by persons so employed during one year after the termination of the present War in conditions rendered hazardous by acts done during the War, as if in Section 1 of the Act, after the words "war-like occupations in which His Majesty is engaged," there were inserted the wordsor during twelve months after the termination of the present War in conditions rendered hazardous by acts done during the War.That, I think, is a fair sample of the statutory enactments which it is proposed to prolong. In regard to some of them, I am able to say here and now, it is not proposed at present, however necessary it may have appeared when the Bill was drafted, to proceed with them. In the First Schedule, for example (page 7 of the Bill), there is. Trading With the Enemy Amendment Act, 1914; (on page 9) Trading With the Enemy Act, 1916, and a little lower on the page the Naval Discipline (Delegation of Powers) Act. 1916, as amended by the Act of 1917; and on the previous page of the Bill, the 543 Clubs (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1915. These are matters, and there are others, with which I think we can dispense. Now I come to what may perhaps be thought more debatable regions—that is Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Would my right hon. Friend excuse my interruption, but it is important for us to know as we go along, if I may say so, what the Attorney-General proposes to omit. He mentioned "some amongst others." I think it would certainly be for the convenience of the House if, before he departs from this, he would tell us in detail what it is proposed to do.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I bow at once to that suggestion. I was taking the course which I thought might save a little time. Others are in the Second Schedule (page 11), Regulation of the Forces Act, 1871. Air Force Act, Section 108 (a), Naval Billeting, etc., Act, 1914—that is to say, three out of four of the enactments mentioned in Part I. of the Second Schedule; and in Part II. the second enactment, the Aliens Restriction Act, 1914—
§ Sir G. HEWART
Nothing more out of the First Schedule I think. I think I mentioned those teat would be excluded from the First Schedule. I repeat what I said before, that, speaking generally, these were Acts of Parliament which did not increase the power of the Executive or of a Government Department, but improved, in view of the particular circumstances and the particular needs and hardships of the past, the position and the remedies of the subject.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Is it proposed to retain Sub-section (4) of Section 3 of the Act in the Schedule, but not the Act itself?
§ Sir G. HEWART
Sub-section (4) of Section 3 will be retained, and if nay Noble Friend will bear with me for a moment I will, before I finish, say a sentence upon its retention. I come now to the Defence of the Realm Regulations mentioned in the first column of the Third Schedule and what is proposed in regard to them. There are certain Regulations which it is proposed should be extended for a certain period, but I am sure the House will 544 observe this, that the period which is so mentioned is the maximum period; it is not a period during which all the Regulations which are retained must remain in force. It is a period for which at the most they may remain in force, subject to the power of revocation. That power is contained in the words of Sub-section (1) of Clause 3, which says:Provided that it shall be lawful for His Majesty in Council to revoke in whole or in part any of the Regulations so continued as soon as it appears to him that consistently with the national interest any Regulation can be so revoked.It is important that the House realises that it is not proposed that the period named in the Schedule should be the period for which, in any event and in any circumstances, those Regulations shall be continued, t a period for which they may be continued subject to the power of revocation at any time. In regard to these Regulations let me say at once that at the later date which we have now reached we propose to omit—I will mention them seriatim in a moment—the Regulations which provide for the billeting of soldiers and airmen on civilians, the regulations relating to passports, the regulations giving the power to remove persons considered by the authorities undesirable from the areas where there are troops. In referring to that I may also refer to the Regulations committing without trial, persons suspected of doing something or about to do something dangerous to the public safety, and the Regulations imposing penalties for spreading reports considered prejudicial to recruiting and likely to cause disaffection, and other regulations.
It is not only that we now propose to, omit a considerable number of these Regulations. If hon. Members will look at the subject of those which it is proposed to omit, I think they will find that we are omitting some of those to which, if it had not been for the lapse of time, most serious exception might have been taken. Let hon. Members look at the Third Schedule. I will name in their order the Regulations with which it is proposed to dispense. There is 2M (Powers with respect. to Land, etc., for the purpose of maintaining the food supply of the country). There is 2u (Powers of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries with Respect to Fisheries). Take the next page (page 14). There is 7BB (Power to Authorise Increase of 545 Charges on Carriage of Merchandise by Sea between Great Britain and Ireland). Then again 8c (Power to Authorise and Require Use of Registered Designs). There is 9E (Prohibition against Drilling, etc). There is On (Power to Control Canals). Turn to page 15. There is 13A (Power to Remove Persons Convicted of Certain Offences from the Vicinity of Camps); 14B (Power to Impose Restrictions or to Intern Persons of Hostile Association, etc.); 14G (Restrictions on Embarking in Ports in the United Kingdom for Places Outside the United Kingdom); 28A (Power to Prohibit Persons Entering on Government Property, etc.); 30BB (Restriction on Dealings in Interests in Mines and Oilfields). Take the next page. I hope, though I am not at the moment able to say definitely, that we may be able to dispense with 30F (Restrictions on New Capital Issues). But the decision upon that matter must rest on information which is not yet complete in my hands. There is 33A (Restriction on the carrying of arms); 36, 36A and 37 (Control of navigation); 37c (Provisions for securing the safety of ships); 38 (Power to prohibit vessels entering or being in dangerous areas); 39A (Provisions as to the discipline of crews of ships belonging to or requisitioned by Government Departments); 39BB (Power to increase dock charges). And (on page 17) there is 40A (Restriction on the supplies of intoxicants to members of the forces undergoing hospital treatment); 40c (Provisions against malingering); 41D (Restrictions on sending remittances out of the United Kingdom); 42c (Provisions for securing discipline amongst members of civilian corps attached to the forces); 43B (Provisions with respect to absentees without leave). On the next page there is 46A (Prohibition of assistance to prisoners of war and interned persons).
Take now Part II. (Regulations continued for six months after the termination or the present War). Here, perhaps, it will be easier to mention those which it is proposed to retain. We propose to retain 10B (Power to restrict hours in the evening during which business may be carried on); 39O (Regulation of traffic at ports); and 39cc (Restrictions on power to purchase ships), and to leave out all the rest. These omissions, with the exceptions I have named, I am able to announce at once; and they will, I trust, remove a good many of the objections 546 which naturally are to be urged against a Bill of this kind. In the months that have elapsed it has been possible to make a provision of this character. I reiterate what I said a moment ago: I respectfully propose to the House that this Bill should now be given a Second Reading, and that in Committee we should explore with all the detail necessary the case for every one.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
To what Committee is it proposed to send it? A Standing Committee or a Select Committee?
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I think a Standing Committee, to examine every one of these Regulations which it is proposed to retain; for I think it will be found that the case for our proposal will be found to be really substantial and overwhelming. There is a reply I would wish to give to the Noble Lord below the gangway who asked me whether it was proposed to retain Sub-section (4) of Clause 3. I am very glad to have had that point brought to my notice. I have observed in the Press some reference to it. I cannot help thinking that that hostile criticism has been founded on a complete misapprehension. May I endeavour to remove it? What this Sub-section provides is that where any of the Regulations which are continued after the termination of the War provides in a particular way for the price and the compensation payable for acts done under these Regulations that shall be the price accepted for compensation, and that in every case, that is in cases where the Regulation continued makes no special provision as to the price or compensation, then recourse shall be had to the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission, and that Commission, in respect of any losses, shall inquire what sum shall in reason and fairness be paid. According to the newspapers this means that under the Regulations as they are proposed to be continued it will be possible on a large scale to enter upon land and send the persons whose land is taken to the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission for compensation. As a matter of fact, the only. Regulation which it is proposed to continue giving power to requisition is Regulation 2 AB, which provides that it shall be lawful for the 547 Commissioner of Works to take possession of any land, including buildings thereon, which the Minister of Pensions may certify to be required for the purpose of accommodating the staff of the Ministry of Pensions or of otherwise carrying into effect the Naval and Military War Pensions Act of 1915, and which provides also for similar action if the Minister of Labour certifies that the land is required in connection with any scheme of demobilisation, and for the purpose of Employment Exchanges or the accommodation of the staffs of the Department. The second part, which was the larger part of 2AB, is not to be continued. If and where the premises are taken in that way, then compensation shall be sought, not by Petition of Right, not by arbitration under the Lands Clauses Act, but by and at the hand of the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission. During the War a very large number of persons had to be compensated, and, as I venture to think, were fairly compensated, at the hands of the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission. But there is a case at present before the Courts, the case of the De Keyser Hotel, where the owners of the premises did not accept that form of compensation. I make no observation on the matter except to say that that case was taken to the Court of Appeal, where the Lords Justices did not agree in their judgment. The matter is now before the House of Lords, and, as I understand, is likely to come up for final argument there. The suggestion, if I followed it correctly,—and I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Colonel Newman) for reminding me of it—is that in this insidious way the Government are trying to forestall, and to get rid of, and to anticipate, an adverse judgment in the House of Lords. Nothing could be more improper, and nothing could be more maladroit.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to the case of the De Keyser Hotel, and of course there are many other offices which have been occupied by the Government. Will this provision, if passed, deprive the owners of those properties of the right to go to the Courts which they now possess?
§ Sir G. HEWART
I do not so understand it, and I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the following words in Subsection (4) of Clause 3: 548Where by reason of the exercise after the termination of the present war of any power under any Regulation so continued which does not contain any such provision as aforesaid.It is with reference to those cases.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
There may be cases which have arisen between the 11th November and to-day in which the parties have certain rights in Courts of law, and you are now taking them away from the 11th November.
§ Sir G. HEWART
The only other matter is the question of punishment. It is said that the punishments which are permitted by Sub-section (2) of Clause 3 are very severe, and that it is one thing to prescribe punishments of a severe character while war is actually proceeding and quite another thing to contemplate them when, although the war is not technically over, hostilities have for the most part ceased. There, again, I think the criticism is founded on a misapprehension. Under this Clause the most severe penalty which can be passed at any time is, on indictment, imprisonment not exceeding two years, and in the case of summary offences imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of £100, or both. You cannot class those punishments with the punishments under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, which included penal servitude, and, if certain ingredients were present, capital punishment. May I add one final observation? I have spoken of omissions with regard to these Regulations. In doing so I have been speaking of Great Britain and I have not been speaking of Ireland. I understand from those who are immediately responsible for the administration of Ireland that as matters stand they do not at present see their way to diminish the scope of what the Bill originally asks. Therefore, I hope right hon. and hon. Members will quite understand that so far as the Regulations are concerned the omissions which I have enumerated refer to Great Britain and to Great Britain alone.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order, I beg to submit that this Bill is out of order and that, therefore, the Second Reading cannot be proceeded with for the following reason. The title of the Bill says,A Bill to continue temporarily certain emergency enactments and Regulations, and to make provision with respect to the expiration of emergency enactments and instruments mad. thereunder.549 It does not in any way say that this is a Bill to alter the law. If you turn to Sub-section (4) of Clause 3 you will see that that Sub-section alters the law in a very marked degree. The words of the Subsection are,Where by reason of the exercise after the termination of the present war of any power under any Regulation so continued which does not contain any such provision as aforesaid,that is a provision that there shall be a particular manner in which the compensation shall be assessed then,any person suffers direct and substantial loss he shall be entitled in respect of such loss to such payment if any as the Commission appointed by His Majesty commonly known as the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission consider should in reason and fairness be made to him, and no person shall be entitled to any other remedy whatsoever, whether by petition of right action or other proceeding either against the Crown or any other person, and in assessing the amount of such payments the Commission shall act, etc.I venture to say that that Sub-section repeals an Act of Parliament and the right which the subject has always had by Petition of Right of action against the Crown. If these words remain in the Bill that right is taken away. That may be right or it may be wrong, and it would not be in order for me now to argue that point, but I venture to submit with all humility that a Bill which sets out according to the title to be a Bill "to continue temporarily certain emergency enactments" is not a Bill in which a Clause making such a vital alteration in the law is in order. Therefore I beg to submit that the Bill is out of order and that the Second Reading cannot be proceeded with. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman is going to alter the Bill a great deal, I do not think it will hurt him very much if your ruling is in my favour.
Before I come to any judgment on the matter I should like to hear what the Attorney-General has to say.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I think it is important to read Clause 3, Sub-section (4) in relation to the only part of the Schedule to which it has any reference. As I understand, and as I respectfully submit to you, Sir, the only part to which it does refer is that which mentions Regulation 2 AB, which gives "power to take possession of premises for purposes of the Ministry of Pensions or the Ministry of Labour." That, I understand, is the scope of the Sub-section. The matter stands in my submission 550 in this way, the Bill is designed to continue certain statutory enactments and certain Regulations, the Regulations themselves in their turn being made under the provisions of a Statute, the Defence of the Realm Act. Some of these Regulations provided for a mode in which the price is to be determined and compensation is to be awarded and others did not, and I submit that it is quite within the scope of a Bill of which the title isto continue temporarily certain emergency enactments and Regulations and to make provision with respect to the expiration of emergency enactments and instruments made thereunderto fill up that gap and to point out the mode in which the compensation is to be assessed in the cases in which the Regulations do not make specific provision. Whatever may be the merits of the proposal the point of the objection which is now taken by the right hon. Baronet is that it is not within the proper scope of the Bill. I submit that the view he has expressed is wrong and that it is clearly within the scope of the Bill.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
In addition to what my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) has said as to the title of the Bill, I think he might very plausibly have quoted the preamble, which sets out in separate paragraphs what this Bill purports to deal with. As far as I have been able to ascertain by a rather hurried glance there is no indication at all in that preamble of the very sweeping fundamental changes to which my right hon. Friend has referred, and I venture to suggest that the point of Order he has raised is a good one.
I am disposed to agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. The title and general object of the Bill is, as he said, to continue certain enactments. and Regulations of a temporary character which were made during the War. But the proposal contained in the words of Clause 3, Subsection (4) is "that no person shall be entitled to any other remedy whatsoever whether by Petition of Right, action, or other proceeding either against the Crown or any other person." That provision does not necessarily hang upon the rest of the Bill. It does not follow because you are going to continue certain provisions for assessing compensation therefore it is necessary that you should take away from a subject the alternative right he already has The right hon. Gentleman said that the Petition 551 of Right dated from Magna Charta. I do not think he is quite right in that, but he is not very far wrong, as it dates, I believe, from Edward I. However that may be, the right which the subject has, as the Attorney-General has pointed out, would only be exercised within a very narrow compass, namely, cases in which the Ministry of Pensions chooses to take certain land and premises. Still, this Bill would deprive the subject of that alternative right which he has to obtain compensation, and therefore I feel bound to hold it does not come within the title or scope of the Bill. Then comes the question whether for that reason I am bound to decline to propose the Second Reading. I think the remedy would be rather too drastic. What I would suggest—and I am sure the Committee will fall in with my view—is that when the Bill goes to Committee these words should be struck out, and that the subject should be left with the alternative right Of course it is always open to Parliament to pass a Bill depriving the subject of his particular right in that regard, but I do not think it comes within the scope of this Bill, and therefore that is the course which I would suggest.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
When this Bill was introduced in August it was described as an amazing Bill. With all the omissions which the learned Attorney-General has proposed that is still a proper and fitting description of it. I suggest that at the very outset, and in view of the ruling of Mr. Speaker as to what might take place in Committee, the Government would be well advised in withdrawing this Bill. Such a course would be much more in consonance with the wishes of the House, and it would be better than any other course that could be taken. But I do not suppose that that is a suggestion to which the Attorney-General will give consideration. I do, however, press it upon him, and I hope he will consider whether he cannot act upon it before this Debate comes to a termination No subject during the past few months, or indeed at the General Election in December last, excited more interest and secured more support from Members of this House than the intention at the very first available opportunity to sweep away the mass of Regulations and enactments with some of which we are dealing here. What has happened? It is very important, I suggest, that we should examine the records of the Govern 552 ment in this matter. After all the knowledge which the learned Attorney-General has just disclosed, the objection of the subject to those provisions which it is intended to omit from the Bill remains. With the knowledge of the constant and almost daily objections raised in this House at Question Time and on other occasions and the demands as to when these vexatious Regulations were to be swept away, the Government in August last introduced the Bill which we now have in our hands. They have learnt nothing in all these months, and they have forgotten nothing.
What is the reason for this change? I think it is perfectly obvious. The House of Commons is slowly but surely beginning to reassert itself. The Government know that it will be quite impossible to get a Second Reading for this measure unless they offer some such bait as we have now dangled before our eyes from the Treasury Bench. Let us examine what these emergency Regulations and enactments are. It is of importance to go back and see what was their foundation. We remember this, that in the early days of the War, in 1914, when this country was in fact a beleagured fortress, the House of Commons gave its assent to the sweeping away of its age-long privileges and rights, and agreed that these Regulations should be maintained only during the War. They were intended for securing public safety, and for the defence of the realm. But these reasons no longer exist. It is quite true that, in a legal sense, there is no termination of the War at the present moment. But can it be seriously argued that even what is still left in the Bill is intended for the securing of the public safety and for the defence of the realm? The real reason we know, for the maintenance of what is left in this Bill is that it would buttress the right of Government Departments to interfere with the liberty of the subject and the development of trade. The whole basis of this legislation has, however, been swept away, and I therefore reiterate what I feel is the view of the majority in this House, that the right way to deal with this is not by the continued maintenance by these methods of shackles on the public, private, and industrial life of the country, but to take this opportunity now to start afresh, and, if any of these Regulations are necessary, to bring them up in the old constitutional fashion by introducing a Bill which can be debated and argued here and be given 553 the necessary Parliamentary sanction. I suggest to the House of Commons that it should demand of the Government that here and now it takes that step. Let me indicate to the House what is the real position. Take the words "during the continuance of the present War." What does that mean?
There was an Act passed in 1918, defining the words, "the present War," and the result of that, as we know, is that the War does not end with the fighting, or when Peace is signed, but is only to be deemed to come to an end when the ratifications are exchanged. And not even then, because after that an Order in Council must be introduced—a very favourite method of the Government—defining the date. If the House of Commons agrees to give these powers they are going to continue for twelve months after that uncertain date has been arrived at. I hope the House will carry that fact in mind. We know that the question of public safety no longer comes in—the basis of the Clause, the maintenance of public safety and the defence of the realm has disappeared. The danger for all practical purposes has gone, and it is high time we should know what the Executive mean to do with regard to defining the end of the War. It is also quite time that this House of Commons and the people of the country reasserted their rights to their liberties. Let me deal with one other point very briefly, and that is the question of coal. What is the basis of the autocratic power which is being exercised day by day by the Coal Controller? Coal is a mineral which is the very life and soul of our trade and commerce, and, indeed, of our daily being. Where does the House of Commons stand now in regard to it? The Defence of the Realm Act was passed, and under it regulations were made subsequently giving the Food Controller certain statutory authority and powers to operate within the administration of the statutory ambit of which we have some knowledge. But how did the Executive get coal under control? It was done by a regulation which is contained in the volume which I have in my hand—Regulation 55 JJ. That gave the Board of Trade, in. connection with coal, the same powers that the Food Controller had by Statute and in the existing regulations. I think it was 9G, page 92. The Board of Trade issued their regulations and they were of opinion 554 that for securing the public safety and the defence of the realm—that was the basis then—they took over the control of the coal mines. They have power also to issue directions and they have delegated their directions to a gentleman who has. no statutory right at all. He is just a man nominated by the Board of Trade and given the autocratic powers of dealing with this vital matter. He has no other basis than that which I have indicated here in and through these regulations. Here they are. There are 672 pages, which by no means exhausts the number of the regulations. There are scores of supplementary volumes to this and we can see the position of a subject of the Crown looking at this Bill and at Clause 1, and what does he read?The limitations on the continuance or operation of the enactments mentioned in the first column of the first Schedule in this Act shrill be modified in the manner and to the extent specified by the third part of that Schedule.This House has a bounden duty in Acts which it passes which affect the rights and liberties of the subject and the trade of the country. Their first duty is to see that they are passed in something approaching plain language. This is an obvious invitation to everyone to consult at once a respectable solicitor, who will promptly instruct highly paid counsel. The whole thing of course is farcical from the view of the ordinary subject and yet in this Bill as we now have it, with all the emasculation, liberty is interfered with and trade and commerce still shackled, and with the War, as far as fighting is concerned, well past, the Executive has the audacity to assume that this House is going to give it these powers under such a Bill as this, after a somewhat perfunctory speech of tile Attorney-General.
Is the House going to do this at this time of day with the whole country ringing with protests? Wherever you go, villages and great cities are all wondering when the time is going to come when the plain man can see where he is going and what is going to be done with him. The House will be wanting in its primary duty if it gives the Executive the powers they ask in this Bill. They ought to withdraw the Bill and come back to the House with a clear idea of what they want. If these powers are necessary, and can be demonstrated by facts and arguments to be necessary, this House I am sure will grant them. There will be no factious opposi- 555 tion in this matter if it is clearly demonstrated. If the House lets this go it will have failed in its duty to the public. This is the first opportunity the House has had of fulfilling its pledges to the country, as I believe it will, and its fidelity to its traditions of the past—that is to see that the Executive has no more power than it can reasonably and justifiably ask for. The right hon. Baronet's services with regard to this measure have been of very great public value. If you give the Executive the power it is asking by the Second Reading of this Bill it is all over. We know what happens. The Attorney-General said they would go upstairs and listen and hear what was said with regard to objections to any further points which might be raised. I urge the House not to let its power over the measure go upstairs. Here is a good chance. If he does not seize it I am certain the people of the country will want to know the reason why.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The country during the War submitted loyally to a great many enactments and a great many grievances which they are not prepared to submit to now that the War is over. They thought after nearly five years of War, shortly after an Armistice was arranged, all the troubles and grievances from which they had suffered, all the incursions of officials into their private life, all the interference which they had willingly and gladly put up with during the War would cease. For some reason which I am unable to fathom, the ratification of the Peace Treaty has been postponed, and a year, all but a fortnight, has elapsed since the date of the Armistice. The Law Officers have stated that the official announcement of the settlement of Peace, which would put an end to the Defence of the Realm Regulations, need not be made until the Treaty with the smallest belligerent has been ratified. As far as I know, the only belligerent with whom we have not yet ratified the Treaty is Turkey. Turkey is proverbially slow, and we might go on for another five or six months before the Treaty is ratified. Under the Act which deals with the date at which Peace is supposed to be concluded, the Government could, if they chose, state at once that. Peace has been concluded, in which case D.O.R.A. would be dead and buried, as has been the case in France. Let us take an example from our neighbours and let us bury this Bill 556 and bury D.O.R.A. She has not been a very popular personage during her existence, and I do not think there would be many people who would attend her memorial service. I ask the House to consider, before it passes the Second Reading, what it is going to do. The Blue Book, which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) has quoted, is a very big book, closely printed, and it takes a long time to read, but it only goes to 31st August, 1918. In the fifteen months which have elapsed since then a very large number of new regulations have been made. How on earth is the ordinary citizen to find out whether or not he is contravening some of these regulations?
Let us take for example one regulation which I understand from the Attorney-General will be preserved. It is on page 12 "2 JJ. Power to regulate articles of commerce other than food." We see that the limitations, qualifications, and modifications of the subjects to which extension is made are as follow:So far as relates to articles of which possession has been taken at the passing of this Act or articles with respect to which existing Orders have been made.Can any hon. Member tell me now to what all that refers? The Attorney-General may possibly, because he has been looking up the Bill, but I should say the Solicitor-General cannot. 2JJ, page 29, ispowers of Board of Trade as to articles other than food and as to timber, horses and horse-drawn vehicles, page 54.You look at page 54 and you find2 JJ. The Board of Trade shall have the like powers as are given to the Food Controller (b)under Regulations 2B, 2F to 2J inclusive, including 2GG and (c) as respects any article of commerce, not being an article of food, when it appears to the Board necessary or expedient to exercise any of its powers for the purpose of encouraging, maintaining or regulating the supply of any such article which is required by the public or by any section of the public or which is otherwise required for the public safety or the defence of the realm and these Regulations shall apply accordingly.I read this Bill, which was introduced in August, and I mentioned in the "Times" that there was this provision in 2 JJ, and they had an article on it. I propose to read a passage from that article, which continues my investigations. I think it will take less time than if I look through all these regulations. Regulation 7 will be enough to go on with. The first part of 2 JJ is "articles other than food."
The "Times" says:The diligent searcher will discover that (c) gives the Food Controller power to make Orders 557 regularising or giving directions with respect to the production, manufacture, use, consumption, transport, storage, distribution, supply, sale or purchase or other dealing in or measures to be taken with regard to any article, including Orders providing for the fixing of maximum and minimum prices.Who on earth, on reading 2 JJ would suppose that all those powers—and 1 have only partly dealt with them— would be included in that reference? I am glad to say that the power to take away from the subject the Petition of Right will have to be dropped. Let the House note, however, that that has not been done willingly by the Government, because the Government in reply to a question of my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) said that they were going on with that. They would have liked to have altered the law to give themselves power to act as judges in their own case, because that is what it comes to. Where a, man's property is taken away, under the Bill as it stood, but for your ruling, Sir, the Government would have said, "Whatever rights you may have, your claim for compensation shall be settled by a tribunal which we shall set up." That is the sort of procedure about which Charles I. lost his head. Whether any members of the Government will be treated in the same way I do not know, but it is a very serious step for the Government to take, and especially the heads of the Government, and it may be followed by the smaller satellites in Government Departments.
Will the House allow me to give a personal explanation of what is done under the Defence of the Realm Act? I happen to be a magistrate, and a Committee set up by a Government Department summoned a certain person for certain offences under the Defence of the Realm Act. A solicitor was employed for the prosecution, and I, as a magistrate, put certain questions to him, which we need not go into. When the case was over the magistrates' clerk wrote to me and said, "The local Commissioner "—a great person living in a town some distance off—"has read your remarks in the local paper; he objects very strongly to them, and he has sent the secretary of the local committee to me to know what steps I am going to take, and what is to be done on account of your remarks. I have told him that I have no intention of discussing either the words or the action of the magistrates with anyone." On receipt of that letter 558 I wrote to the magistrates' clerk and I told him I thought he had done perfectly right. I also wrote to the Minister, and I pointed out to the Minister that in the old days—in the days of Henry VIII.—I am not quite sure of the dates after you said I was wrong about the Magna Charta— and I think in the clays of Charles I., if a judge or a magistrate gave a decision or made any remark which was displeasing to the Crown in any prosecution which they had undertaken, very unpleasant consequences ensued for that judge or magistrate. I pointed out to the Minister in question that that practice had fallen into desuetude, and that I thought it would be a very bad thing if, under these Defence of the Realm Acts, a Ministry, composed partly, at any rate, of ardent Liberals, should endeavour to reinstate those habits which I, as a reactionary Tory, considered to be very bad. The Minister in question acknowledged the receipt of my letter very promptly, and shortly afterwards he wrote that he had been making inquiries into the matter and regretted very much what had taken place, and had taken steps to see that such a thing did not occur again. So far as the Minister is concerned I should like to thank him for the courteous way in which he received my letter and for the action he took. But that does not alter the case Supposing it had been a magistrate who was not a Member of the House of Commons. What would have happened then? He might have been a nervous person, frightened at receiving a threatening letter from a great official in a Government Department, and that might have altered the whole course of justice. As it happened, the official in question made a mistake in picking out me upon whom to exercise this particular form of bullying a magistrate.
I only point out this to show the evil which may result from the continuation of these particular Acts. We have found an evil even with the Attorney-General, who is a most amiable man as a rule. He was endeavouring to abolish the Petition of Right, which dates from the time of Edward III. His evil example is being followed by officials of various Departments, and whenever anybody such as a magistrate or a judge ventures to say or do anything which is displeasing to them their actions are to be called into question. It is quite true that De Keyser's Hotel have exercised their right under the Petition of Right, and it is also quite true 559 that their case has gone to the House of Lords. I would not venture to contradict anything the Attorney-General said, but I understood the Court of Appeal found in their favour.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I do not deny that. What I said was that the Lords Justices in the Court of Appeal were not unanimous.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The fact remains that they found in their favour, whether or not certain of the learned lords were not in agreement with their learned brothers. This Clause is to be left out, but if it had not been left out I am not at all sure that it would not have been possible to have over-ridden the decision of the House of Lords. I had intended to move the rejection of the measure, and I may be obliged to do that, but before I do so I would suggest another course to the Government. The Government have not had a very good time of it, if I may put it quite pleasantly, with this Bill. They were going to take the Second Reading on the Bank Holiday, when the majority of Members were on the Terrace looking at the procession of boats which was going along. I happened to have contracted the bad habit of reading Bills in the old days, and as I had read this Bill I made a little protest, and I am glad that the Government acceded to my protest and did not take the Bill. That was what happened on the first occasion, so that the Bill did not get along smoothly. Now one of the principal Clauses of the Bill is to be dropped, and the Attorney-General has recited a large number of provisions which are to be dropped. I listened very attentively to what the Attorney-General said, but I fail to understand what the new Bill is going to be like or what provisions are to be dropped. I am not casting any reflection upon the Attorney-General, but it was quite impossible for Members of this House or the public to know what is to be done by merely hearing the Attorney-General say that on page 10 certain things would be omitted and that on page 4 certain things would be retained. It is impossible to know what. we are asked to vote upon. Therefore, I suggest that as this is an extremely important Bill in which the public have very great interest, because though the Attorney-General says that two years' imprisonment with hard labour is a very mild penalty—
§ Sir G. HEWART
I must correct that slight mistake. What I said was that it was less than capital punishment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I accept the statement of the Attorney-General, but my recollection was that the Attorney-General said that during the War there was penal servitude for life, there was capital punishment, and there were other punishments which were very severe, but I gathered that he considered that coming down to two years' hard labour was a very great drop. I have never experienced two years' hard labour or any form of hard labour except in this House; but I have been told, and I believe it is correct, that two years' hard labour is about the severest sentence you can inflict upon anyone, and that it is far more severe than five years' penal servitude. Whether that is so or not., I do not know, but I think I am right in saying that judges are very reluctant to impose a term of two years' hard labour upon any person. With these penalties in the Bill is it not right and is it not desirable that this Bill should be withdrawn, and that a Bill should be brought forward, without reference to 2 J and C B, clearly stating that it may be necessary for six months or any other period to continue certain things, and making it quite plain what it is for which people may run the risk of two years' hard labour. Instead of moving the rejection of the Bill, I think that would be a much better course; but I do not know whether you, Mr. Speaker, would accept that Motion. I would prefer it instead of moving the rejection of the Bill. The advantage of that would be that the Bill world not be killed. If the Bill was defeated I do not know how far it would prevent the Government bringing in another Bill during this Session. That would not ensue if the course I suggest were adopted. I do not think the Government would lose anything by it, because if this Bill was sent to a Committee upstairs that Committee would not consist of more than thirty people, and it might be difficult to get a full attendance, and when it came back hare, on Report, there would be a great deal of discussion. Therefore, it would be far better in the interests of the country—and we must think something of the country—that we should see in black and white what it is the Government propose to do. Under the circumstances, I beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned." 561 Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—[Sir F. Banbury.]
§ 7.0. P.M.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
The right hon. Baronet, in the course of his speech, made one or two suggestions which were almost as strange as his historical references. He told us, for instance, that in some strange way, under these powers which the House were asked to pass, an official would be able to say to a subject, "If you do not take care the same sort of thing will happen to you as happened in, the time of Charles II., and you will lose your head."[An HON. MEMBER:"Charles II.‡"] This was not the case of a king, but of one of his subjects, losing 7.0 P.M. his head. The right hon.Baronet, a little later on, came nearer to the truth of the present actual situation when he stated that the danger was not that subjects would lose their heads, but that it would be the unfortunate Ministers of the Crown who would be placed in that position by an exasperated public. That may be possible, but I hope it will not happen. I am going to try to-day very briefly to prove to the House what I said yesterday, namely, how difficult it is to explain these things in such a way that the House will understand exactly what is the issue. In my opinion, we have not been debating at all the points which this Bill is intended to carry out. My right hon. Friend opposite (Sir D. Maclean) made a very impassioned speech. I almost enjoyed it, and it seemed to me that the newspapers of to-morrow will not be under the necessity of writing any leaders; they will only have to take the speech of my right hon. Friend, with its references to the liberty of the subject and all the rest of it, and their newspaper is complete. My right hon. Friend dwelt upon a great many of the evils which are in this Bill, but obviously, in so far as you are dealing with particular points, those are subjects for discussion in Committee, and have nothing to do with the general question of the Second Reading of the Bill, if there be a necessity at all for a measure of this character. This is not, as the speeches would lead us to suppose, some example of the way in which "tyranny grows on what it feeds," an example of a Government which so rejoiced in its arbitrary powers during the War that without any 562 necessity it wishes to continue them now that we have reached the stage of peace. If that were so, the members of the Government would be strange human beings, and they would deserve all, and more than all, that has been said in the speeches so far. What are the facts? We have had, as the House. knows, five years of terrible war. During the course of that War the whole trade and industry of this country was upset. What I want to put to my right hon. Friend and to the House is this: Does he, really think that the time has come now when we are able to do away with all that, and go back to the ordinary methods of private trading exactly as they were before the War? If that were possible,. I should desire nothing better, but is. there a man in this House, with any power of thinking at all, who can picture to himself what the conditions of this. country would be to-morrow, or a month hence, if every one of these Regulations were suddenly withdrawn and everything were left to go on precisely as individual interests and desires would dictate?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
But it can, as soon as the Treaty is ratified. Just listen to that as an example of the kind of arguments which have been used against this Bill. Why is it that we are asking that this Bill should be carried now? it is because there is the possibility that, before the House meet again after the close of this Session, peace will be ratified, and this condition of things will have happened. If we were certain—I think it is possible, and perhaps even probable—that the ratification would not take place until March, I should be delighted, on behalf of the Government, to withdraw this Bill altogether, and introduce it at the beginning of the next Session. There would be immense advantages in doing that. What is the history of this Bill? A Committee representing the Departments concerned met in, I think, June el July of last year, and went carefully into all these extraordinary provisions which had grown up under the conditions of war. The idea of that Committee was to ask for the continuance only of those provisions which were actually indispensable. Those provisions were brought before them by the Departments, and the Committee cut them down enormously. What has happened since? The right 563 hon. Baronet has pointed out that the Government were not very fortunate the day on which they first introduced the Bill. In the interval that has passed, we have found that a number of the regulations which we thought were then necessary, and which I believe were then necessary, are no longer necessary. In the same way, if we could wait until the beginning of next Session, I have not the smallest doubt that a very large number of these Schedules could be taken out. But see what the position is.
My right hon. Friend (Sir Donald Maclean), as an illustration of the fearfulness of what we are proposing to do, mentioned the case of coal—an industry on which the life of the country depends. But I am afraid that he really had not thought about the matter. What does it mean? He would leave coal free. I wish we could, but what would be the result? At this moment, as the House knows, there is not enough coal available to meet the absolute necessities of this country. I do not say whether we made the best regulations that could be made I would remind the House that we were passing through a war, and that these things had to be done pretty hurriedly. Very likely we did not adopt the best methods, or the methods that we should have adopted if we could have had several months to consider the matter. But suppose that my right hon. Friend's suggestions were adopted, and we left the insufficient supplies of coal now available to the conditions of ordinary trade. There would be so great a shortage of coal that the price would reach a figure which no man can forecast.
It is all very well to listen to this kind of talk about the arbitrariness of the Government. That is easy enough, but do hon. Members really picture to themselves such a condition of things as I have described? Does the House realise that all the considerations which are in the minds of hon. Members, and have been expressed to-day, are constantly in our minds also, and are constantly under the consideration of members of the Government? Does anyone suppose that we like such conditions as obtain at present, when you have to regulate the price of foodstuffs, when the Government itself has to buy a large part of what comes into this country, and when many other things are being done which in our judgment, and I believe in the judg- 564 ment of every member of the Government, are the very reverse of what is the real national interest of this country? Do you imagine that we want to continue that for a moment longer than the necessities of the case require? Of course we do not.
There is difference of opinion in this House, as everywhere else, as to the necessity of continuing some of these controls. We are not all of one opinion about that in the Government. There is often discussion, and we do not all take the same view, though after discussion we come to an agreement as to what is the best thing to be done. But that has nothing to do with this Bill. In Committee the Bill can be discussed on its merits and amended as the Members of this House will decree. The members of the Government may say that this regulation or that regulation is no longer necessary, and the House will be free to say what shall continue and what shall not. And it is not merely a question of saying that the control shall or shall not go off. If the House does not approve of the form of any regulation, it will be perfectly free to make any modification which it pleases.
I do not think it is really worth taking up the time of the House to dwell upon the kind of questions which have been raised by the right hon. Baronet, or upon the difficulty of understanding the provisions as they appear in this Bill. These regulations are sent out to the people who arc chiefly affected by them, and they are perfectly plain. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] They are as plain as an Act of Parliament. What is the alternative from that point of view The alternative is, that every one of these regulations which it is decided to continue shall be defined in the Bill. I do not think that that would make it any simpler for those who have to deal with it. Moreover, it must he remembered that all this is temporary. Hon. Members speak as if it were a question of twelve months, but it is not; it is a question of twelve months as a maximum. The fact that already we have thought it to be unnecessary to include a number of provisions which in our view were necessary three or four months ago is in itself a proof that many more will go out in a much shorter time than twelve months. Is it worth while, for a temporary purpose like that, to produce a Bill the length of which I should not like to describe? It would not make it any plainer to those affected by it. But if the House take that view, if they think it is 565 going to make it plainer, it is easy to do that after passing the Second Reading. Instead of barely mentioning these provisions, you can put into the Bill exact words defining every one of these regulations, which I understand is what the right hon. Baronet would wish.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The House itself has no knowledge of what it is passing. What the right hon. Gentleman suggests could only be done in Committee. The Committee, would know, but the House does not know.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
My right hon. Friend seems to be almost as well informed about the procedure of this House as about our history. Whatever the Committee does will, of course, come back to the House on Report.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
That really only enables me to make plainer the point wanted to put. What we are asking the House to do now is not to approve of the continuance of all the matters which are referred to in this Schedule. We are leaving to the House in the usual way full power to modify them in any manner in which it thinks right. All that we are asking the House to do now is to recognise what I should have thought was an elementary fact, namely, that if peace were to come before this Bill or some Bill like it had been carried into effect there would be chaos, and the conditions would be so terrible that we could not contemplate them. All that we are asking is that the House, by granting the Second Reading of this Bill, should recognise that some of these regulations that have grown up during the War must be continued for a certain length of time until we get back to normal conditions. That is all that the Second Reading of the Bill means.
As I have already said, nobody likes this method of doing business. You cannot possibly have restrictions of this kind without the anomalies of them, not to speak of anything more serious, being felt by immense numbers of our people. They dislike them, and they desire to get rid of them. So do we, but it is a question how soon we can get rid of them. We have got back to peace industry much more rapidly, I am glad to say, than I thought was possible at the time that the War came to an end. We have done marvellously 566 in that way, and, in my opinion, much better than any other belligerent in the world. I think that is true, and the sooner we can get completely back the better; but we are not completely back yet, and unless the House enables us during this Session to pass a Bill of this kind we do run a risk. I do not put it higher than that. I am afraid, as I have already said, that probably ratification will not take place till the second or third month of next year. If we were sure of that we would withdraw this Bill now with pleasure, and, I believe, with profit, both to the country and the Government. We are not sure, and, not being sure, we cannot take the risk.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have already said that they are the maximum powers. They can be made less than twelve months, and if in Committee any method can be suggested in the case of particular Regulations either of making the period shorter or by which the House should have a say as to whether or not they should be continued, we are perfectly ready to consider it. What we are not ready to consider is that the country should run the risk of being left without any of these regulations at the time when peace is ratified. We cannot take that risk, and, what is more, we are not going to withdraw this Bill. The house of Commons has got to make up its mind whether or not the kind of clatter outside, which is reflected so much in some of the new speeches to which we have listened, that this Government have not the confidence either of tile House or the country, is true. It has got to make up its mind about it, and I say to the House of Commons: We are asking for no powers which the necessities of the situation do not demand, and I am perfectly certain that whatever Government was on this bench would take the same view, and would insist upon having these powers. I put it to the House of Commons whether or not 'it intends to give them to us.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
My right hon. Friend has made, as he invariably does, a most conciliatory speech, and everyone feels the force of what he said in respect of certain provisions within the ambit of this Bill. Undoubtedly, you cannot immediately revert to a complete system of ordinary unregulated liberty in respect of 567 trade and commerce and some other matters. It is my own personal conviction that the Government would do wisely to abolish all control over trade except in those articles of first necessity which are rationed. I do not believe that the system of control except over rationed articles is wise. There are a certain number of articles for which there is a maximum price fixed and for which there is no rationing system. I believe that such regulations are profoundly unwise, because, on the one hand, you do not stimulate production as you would by a rise in price, and, on the other hand, you do not give that advantage to poor people that the rationing system gives. My right hon. Friend argues that there is great danger if you postpone this Bill to the spring Session that ratification may come —he speaks of it as if it might come by the operation of natural law, like an earthquake—at an unexpected and inconvenient moment, in which case chaos would ensue, but he does injustice to his own legislative skill. The Bill determining the date on which the War is to come to an end provides that it is to be as near as may be—the date to be fixed by Order in Council—to the final ratification of peace. Obviously, that is a provision inserted precisely to meet the case which he has in view. If Parliament should happen to be out of Session at the time when the official ratification is exchanged, it would be open to the Government to postpone for the matter of a few weeks the active operation of the termination of the War until Parliament met and had an opportunity of dealing with the situation. Therefore, there really is no danger of it coining upon us like a bolt out of the blue. My right hon. Friend made some rather remarkable statements. He said that if the Bill could be postponed three months —he did not think it feasible—he anticipated that it would be possible to reduce it still further. What a remarkable statement coming from a Minister recommending a Bill which in some cases is to operate for six months and in others for twelve months—well, for a maximum of twelve months ‡ If in a few months time you would be able to reduce it still more, surely you might at this stage accept a shorter term.
§ Mr. BON AR LAW
My Noble Friend, I am sure, does not wish to misunderstand me; I do not say misrepresent me. I not 568 only said that we had already taken away a number because of the lapse of time, and that if we could wait until the beginning of the Session it was possible that a further number could be taken out, but 1 also, added that in Committee we would be perfectly ready to consider any suggestions for a shorter time or for any other method.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend. I will say one word about the convenience of the procedure as distinct from the actual merits of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, by way of a general statement, said that the Government wanted to get rid of these Regulations as much as anyone. I have not the least doubt that is a perfectly sincere statement, but surely my right hon. Friend does not quite allow for human nature, and, in particular, for official human nature. One does not doubt for a moment that either my right hon. Friend or the various officials who advise him desire the public good, or that they are entirely patriotic people who wish to make the government of the country as well as possible, but there is a natural bias in the official mind in favour of Regulations. The public have got to the point when they do not want the official to be the judge in his own case. They want Parliament to be the judge. They want the official to be obliged to come to Parliament and say, "It is necessary for this thing to be done," and for Parliament to decide whether it should be done, not because the official is not a perfectly patriotic person, but because his bias is always in favour of management and control. I confess that, in my view, it would have been a better procedure if the Bill had been made much longer. My right hon. Friend says that all this can be done in Committee. He says that you can then extend the Bill, if you like, so as to recite at full length all the regulations, or you can alter the terms of the regulations which are to continue, and omit those which you think are irrelevant. It is true that the Committee can do a great deal of that kind, but I do not know whether he has considered what an inconvenient process that would be, or how long the Debates in Committee without the smallest obstruction would necessarily be if the course which lie recommends were adopted. Anyone would be able to put down Amendments to carry Out his own particular view, and it would be exceedingly difficult in the six weeks which remain of this Session to carry the Bill 569 through Committee. Would it not be far better and far more in accordance with' Parliamentary practice if the Government withdrew the Bill now and brought it in again in a shape, which, after listening to this discussion, they think will most conciliate the wishes of the House. If that were done, my right hon. Friend would not only have made a conciliatory speech, but he would also have done a very conciliatory thing which we should all appreciate. I do not know whether I am in order in drawing your attention to a ruling by a previous Speaker when, on 16th August, 1889, the attention of Mr. Speaker Peel was called to very extensive Amendments which it was contemplated that the Government would introduce in a Bill, he saidI could not stop this Bill on a point of Order as constituting a new Bill, but I do unhesitatingly affirm that the practice of the House has been in a case of this kind to withdraw the old Bill and then to introduce a new Bill in the amended form.The right hon. Gentleman has to-day foreshadowed very considerable Amendments, and you yourself have ruled that a particular provision of the Bill is out of order altogether. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) was not very happily inspired when he spoke of my right hon. Friend's (Sir F. Banbury) knowledge of procedure on a Bill on which the Government were entirely in the wrong, and on which my right hon. Friend was entirely in the right. I am anxious to submit to you whether in this particular case the Chair might not express an opinion that it would be more in accordance with Parliamentary practice to withdraw a Bill which must be amended and reintroduce it in a form substantially that in which the Government hope to pass it. If that were done, the Debates in Committee would be shorter and much more intelligible, and there would be much less chance of misunderstandings and misapprehensions and much less difficulty in the Committee, and afterwards the House, finding its way through the Bill, and things would run more smoothly. I submit that as an argument relevant to this question of Adjournment which I understand my right hon. Friend has moved, not as rejecting the Bill, hut as enabling the Government to withdraw the Bill and to bring it in in another shape more acceptable, not merely to the House, but to their own opinions upon second thought. In that sense I shall support my right hon. Friend if he presses his Motion to a Division.
The Bill is the Bill of the Government, and they can introduce it in whatever shape they think best, or they can reintroduce it in another shape if they think well. There is, however, a form which is not often used in this House, but which can be used if desired. The Bill can be committed pro formâ for the purpose of inserting the Government Amendments, and it can then be reprinted. The Attorney-General to-day has suggested a large number of Amendments in the shape of omissions. If the Bill be committed to a Committee co of this House pro formâ the whole of those Amendments would be taken as one question. Those Amendments would be made, the Bill would be reprinted, and it would then appear in the amended form in which it would go to the Committee upstairs. That is a course that could be followed. It has not to my knowledge been followed often, but I do remember some instances in which it has been followed.
§ Sir WATSON RUTHERFORD
May I point out that when this Bill was introduced all classes of the commercial community without exception were practically horrified. The Regulations and Acts of Parliament which arc dealt with in this Bill are 123 in number, and some of those 123 are rather long, intricate and involved, and the problem which is before anyone who really wishes to understand what is proposed to be done by this Bill would take a vast amount of time and attention to solve. The objections which were very largely made to the Bill and were in the minds of the commercial community will he removed after listening to the speech of the Leader of the House, because lie has pointed out that it is intended that this period of twelve months shall not he a fixture, and in fact that the main Clause of the Bill, which makes all these regulations as altered definite for twelve months, is to be modified in some manner which the Government will explain to us later. Each of these regulations which are dealt with here has been altered from time to time during the War, many of them very drastically. If this Bill is to be passed in this form, then for twelve months they will become incapable of further alteration without a further Act of Parliament.
§ Sir W. RUTHERFORD
That proviso does not go as far as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to think. The 571 difficulty is we are to have a vast number of these regulations continued definitely for twelve months unless there is some method of getting rid of them meantime, or modifying them, which could hardly be done without another Act of Parliament; and we are also to have another large number of them, and everybody will ask why. I am one of those who are of opinion that probably there are not more than two or three at the very outside out of the whole 123 that require to be continued for five minutes. There is the strongest possible objection in all commercial circles to the whole of these regulations. People who are acquainted with the details inside and outside of these businesses tell me, and I believe it, that the articles would be cheaper and commerce would be better even now without these regulations. They are to be continued however in some shape or other until Peace is ratified and then to go on for a period of twelve or six months. But if you are to have these advantages which the Leader of the House has pointed out, if there is to be some way of getting rid of them earlier, if we are to have an opportunity in Committee of investigating each of these items, then I think our best plan to-night will be to pass the Bill. The sooner we get to work the better, because the Committee work on this Bill is going to take all the rest of this Session if we do our work thoroughly and properly.
Major L. WOOD
The right hon. Gentleman should not be under any delusion that muse of us who had ourselves unable to support him at tills moment shall be unable to do so out of any want of loyalty to aim. It will only be because I feel that he has not so far correctly understood our point of view. What is there to prevent him reconsidering his decision and withdrawing this Bill to-night and re-introducing another Bill in a form that people can understand, stating clearly on the face of it what is out and what is in, the week after next, and then pressing that Bill through its stages this Session? My point of view is not met by the suggestion as far as I understood it that you, Sir, made just now. My objection is an objection to being asked to record my vote blindfolded. I do not know what I am voting about if I vote for the Second Reading of this measure. Therefore I cannot vote for it, and if my right hon. Friend proceeds to a Division for the Ad 572 journment, I shall feel bound to support him. I shall be extremely reluctant to do that. I cannot conceive why my right hon. Friend cannot give way. It will cost the Government nothing and it will avoid our being asked to betray our consciences on this occasion.
No one from our Benches has taken part in this Debate for the very obvious reason that the procedure has taken a very different turn from what we anticipated. Shortly, there are two Clauses which it is proposed to retain to which we take very strong exception. The first Clause, apart from the difficulty of what is taken in and what is left out, to which we object, is 6 A, which gives power to exempt factories and workshops from the provisions of the Act of 1901. Shortly, that means this: During the War the provisions of this particular Act, which were primarily directed towards safety, were abrogated, and we cannot understand why in this Bill we have the Government now proposing still to retain the power which they took for a very special reason, and which was accepted by the working classes at the time. Then on page 18 the power of search is retained. I understand that during the past six months the power, which was exercised primarily under the authority of the Home Secretary, has resulted in trade union secretaries being searched with no vestige of evidence of any kind against them. And still we find that this power is retained.
Then the real fundamental objection is this. After all, this House ought to be in a position to know exactly what it is passing. The Debate, and the items which have been struck out, have shown clearly that the House does not know, and that no Member of this House, if the Second Reading were passed, would be in a position to say what he had voted for and what he had not. That is a position which no Member ought to tolerate. It. could not be justified outside. It is all very well for my right hon. Friend to say that a time may come when the Government may challenge Parliament to say what is really the position. I can quite understand that statement being made. But it should be followed by this statement: that the right hon. Gentleman would have no right to say to this House, "You shall go into the Lobby and vote for something that you could not even explain to your constituents." That 573 would be the position of every Member of this House, from the Attorney-General downwards. The Attorney-General himself put an interpretation that was ruled out by Mr. Speaker, which showed clearly that the Bill was out of order. Another suggestion was made that would have got over the difficulty. That was dropped. The final suggestion that has been made is that all the alterations can take place in Committee. Every Member of this House will not be on the Committee. Many Members may feel keenly on points which they would like to put in Committee, but they would not be present at the Committee stage to do so. For all those reasons I would suggest that the Government would be wrong if they interpreted this merely as an attack upon them. It is nothing of the kind. It is the prerogative and the right of Members to know exactly what they are voting for. They do not know what they are voting for in giving a Second Reading to this Bill. For that reason I suggest respectfully that the Government should withdraw and bring in a Bill setting everything out.
§ Sir R. COOPER
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman wild help some of us who arc anxious to support the Government on the main principle which underlies the Bill on which he is making his appeal to the Mouse, but who, on the other hand, have a very strong objection to what they conceive to be certain objectionable elements in this Bill. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has said, only a certain number can be on the Committee, and I would ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the peculiar position in which this Bill is at present, he would undertake that when we come to the Report stage a full and fair opportunity will be given to Members of this House to move Amendments which they think proper Time after time one finds on the Report stage that the time for moving Amendments is greatly curtailed, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether on Report stage we shall have a full and fair opportunity of moving such Amendments as we think desirable.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I hardly think that that is a suggestion which needs a statement in reply. The only way in which the Government could interfere with the Report stage is by moving the Closure. [An HON. MEMBER: Selection.") We have nothing to do with the selection. We 574 have hardly ever moved the Closure, and we shall certainly be very unwilling to move it on a Bill of this kind. That is the only answer possible.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
The right lion. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) and the hon. Member for Ripon (Major E. Wood) have stated that in voting for the Second Reading of this Bill no Member of this house would know exactly what he was voting for. I think that that is so. But there is this very great distinction to be drawn, bearing in mind what the Attorney-General has said, that a considerable amount will be cut out of the Bill as it is printed and in our hands. If he had said that certain Amendments which he had read out were going to be inserted in the Bill there would have been a great grievance on the part of Members, who would have had no means of keeping in mind what those Amendments were. What we do know is that, at all events, there is. nothing being put into this Bill as it stands, and that a good deal has been taken out. Therefore, I do not think there is really any great grievance on the pars of hon. Members so far as the Second. Reading is concerned, when they know that the maximum for which they are voting is in their hands and that any Amendments that are to be made will be by way of omission. I myself have taken the trouble to compare the regulations with those which are being continued, and I have come to the conclusion that if the ratification of Peace were suddenly to take place and none of these regulations were continued, it would be nothing short of disastrous to the country. I believe the feeling of people outside and of the Press would be ten times more indignant with the Government for allowing regulations to be dropped than it would be at the continuance of many of them. I have no hesitation in voting for the Government on this occasion.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I was a member of a Committee which went into these matters. My attitude is this: What was recommended or even acquiesced in last February may very well have a quite different view taken of it now, nine or ten months later. But after what has been said by the Leader of the House it is surely clear, is it not, that those who vote on this occasion for the Second Beading are merely voting that some regulations must be continued for a limited time, not necessarily the maximum laid down in the Bill? 575 I say unhesitatingly that there are many things in this Bill which I shall vote against if I am on the Committee, or if they come down on Report—some which 1 would have endured nine or ten months ago, and which are no longer necessary but wrong. None the less, some of them,
§ fewer every month, are now necessary. We can only get to the proper examination of those if the Second Reading is now passed.
§ Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 77; Noes, 283.577
|Division No. 1 16.]||AYES.||[7.50 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hayward, Major Evan||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hinds, John||Remertson, J.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bramsden, Sir T.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.||Sitch, C. H.|
|Briant, F.||Hogge, J. M.||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Holmes, J.||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Cairns, John||Irving, Dan||Spoor, B. G,|
|Cape, Tom||Johnstone, J.||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tnomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir 0. (Anglesey)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commanuer||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Tootill, Robert|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lunn, William||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Finney. Samuel||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wignall, James|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Williams, A. (Cnnsett, Durham)|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Williams, J. (Gower, Glam.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C||Williams, Coi. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York.)||Murray. Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gwynne, R. S.||Newbould, A. E.||Wood, Maj. Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||O'Grady, James|
|Hall, R.-Adml. Sir W.R. (Lpl, W. Derby)||Parkingson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Sir F.|
|Halles, E.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Banbury and Major E. Wood.|
|Hartshorn, V.||Ress, Captain J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Campion, Colonel W. R.||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Du Pre, Colonel W. B.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Carr, W. T.||Edge, Captain William|
|Amery, Lieut.-Colonel L. C. M, S||Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)||Edwards, A. Clement (East Ham, S.)|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Casey, T. W.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)|
|Armitage, Robert||Cautley, H enry Strother||Elliot, Captain W. E. (Lanark)|
|Astbury, Lieui.-Com. F. W.||Cayzer, Major H. R.||Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Eyres-Monsell, Commander|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Chadwick, R. Burton||Falie, Major Sir Bertram Godtray|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Chautherlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Child, Brig.-General Sir Hill||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.|
|Barnston, Major H.||Clay. Captain H. H. Spender||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Clough, R.||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Beckett, H on. Gervase||Coats, Sir Stuart||Forrest, W.|
|Bell, Lt.-Ccl. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Cobb, Sir Cyrii||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Betterton, H. B.||Ceckerill, Brig.-General G. K.||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.|
|Bird, Alfred||Cohen, Major. J. B. B.||Gardiner, J. (Perth)|
|Blades, Sir George R||Colfax, Major W. P.||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Colvin, Brig.-General R. B.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Blase, T. A.||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Gilbert. James Daniel|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Berwick, Major G. 0.||Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Glyn, Major R.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith||Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)||Gray, Major E.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Courthope, Major George Loyd||Grayson, Lieut.-Col. H. M.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Greame, Major P. Lloyd|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Green, A. (Derby)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H.||Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Briggs, Harold||Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Davies. Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Griggs. Sir Peter|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Buckley. Lleut.-Colonel A.||Dawes, J. H.||Hacking, Captain D. H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Dean, Com. P. T.||Hallwood, A.|
|Burden, Colonel Rowland||Dennis, J. W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred. (Dulwich)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Dewhurst, Lieut,-Commander H.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Dockrell, Sir M.||Hanna, G. B.|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Donald, T.||Hanson, Sir Charles|
|Harmsworth, Cecil R. (Luton, Beds.)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Seeger, Sir William|
|Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.)||Mcore-brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Seddon, James|
|Hennessy, Major G.||Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Seely, Maj.-Gen. Right Hon. John|
|Henry, uenis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Show, Captain W. T.([...]marnock)|
|Heruert, uenniss (Hertford)||Morris, Richard||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Hewarc, Ht. non. Sir Gordon||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Shorn, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castie-on-T., W.)|
|Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Mosley, Oswald||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Stealer, Captain Sir Beville|
|Hood, Joseph||Murcnison, C. K.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Ashton)|
|Hope, harry (Stirling)||Murray, Maj. C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Stanley, Col. H. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hope, James Fazatan (Sheffield)||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (M idlothian)||Murray, John (Leeds, W.)||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Hopkinson, Austin (Mossiey)||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Horne, Sir Robert (Hilitlead)||Nall, Major Joseph||Stewart, Gershom|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Neal, Arthur||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, M'ddx.)||Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.|
|Hurd. P. A.||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Jackson, Lt,-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Jameson, Major J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Jophcott, A. R.||Pearce, Sir William||Waddington, R.|
|lesson, C.||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Wallace, J.|
|Jodrell, N. P.||Peel Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Walton, J. (York, Dan Valley)|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Perring, William George||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Jones, J. Towyri (Carmarthen)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Wardle, George J.|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Waring, Major Walter|
|Kerr-Smiley, Major P.||Preston, W. R.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Kidd, James||Prescott, Major W. H.||Weigall, Lt.-Colonel W. E. G. A.|
|King, Commander Douglas||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Klnloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Purchase, H. G.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Knights, Captain H.||Rae, H. Norman||Whitla, Sir William|
|Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Ramsdon, G. T.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Williams, Lt-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.||Williams, Lt.-Col, Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Long, Rt. Hem. Walter||Rees, Sir J. D.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Lorden, Jahn William||Reid, D. D.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Remnant, Colonel Sir James||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W.||Tendon, Athelstan||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Lynn. R. J.||Renwick, G.||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks,)|
|M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Richardson, Sir Albion (Peekham)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|M'Guffin, Samuel||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Weimer, Viscount|
|M'Laren. Hon. H. D. (Bosworth)||Rodger, A. K.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|McMicking. Major Gilbert||Roundell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|McNeill. Ronald (Canterbury)||Rowlands, James||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Young, Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Rutherford Col. Sir J. (Darwen)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Mallalieu, Frederick William||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge H ill)||Young. William (Perth and Kinross)|
|Matthews, David||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)||Younger, Sir George|
|Mlldmay, Col Rt, Hon. Francis B.||Sanders, Colone Robert Arthur|
|Moles, Thomas||Scott, A. M. (Gles., Bridgeton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E.|
|Molson, Major John Eisdalo||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Talbot and Mr. J. Parker.|
§ Question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I would like to ask the Leader of the House whether the Government proposed to put this Bill into Committee, pro Formâ, as suggested by Mr. Speaker, in order to introduce their own Amendments before the Bill goes before the Committee upstairs?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am sorry I cannot recommend the House to adopt that suggestion. After all, in spite of all the objections, I think it will be found that there will not be much difficulty in going on with this Bill in the ordinary way. There is a great deal of business to be done and we wish to rise at a reasonable 578 time before Christmas, and, therefore, I do not think it can be done. I am sorry I cannot agree to that course.
§ Mr. HOGGE
So far we have only had a limited discussion on the question whether this Debate should he adjourned or not. There is a great deal of material in this measure which some of us wish to discuss. The initial point which has not yet been replied to by my right hon. Friends opposite deals with the question of time. It has been said that something might happen on the ratification of peace which would leave the country in a rather perilous condition. There is one thing we are entitled to demand from the Government before we give them a Second Beading of this Bill, and that is some assurance from them about the date of 579 the ratification of peace. Members who have taken part in the discussion have not perhaps realised exactly what is laid down in what is known as the Ratification Articles. There are two documents which deal with this point, and from the first one I propose to quote a single sentence. Under the Termination of the Present War Definition Act, 1918, His Majesty in Council may declare what date is to be treated as the termination of the present War, and it is provided thatthe date so declared shall be as nearly as may be the date of the exchange or deposit of the ratifications of the Treaty or Treaties of peace.That is an event which we are told may come upon us so suddenly that the nation may be unprepared for the situation which will arise, but if any member of the Committee takes the trouble to look up the treaty of peace relating to ratification they will find that it is not the date of the ratification of peace that matters, but the date on which the ratifications are deposited in Paris. I will read a sentence from the Treaty of Peace which relates to this question of ratification, and the passage is as follows—The deposit of ratifications shall be made at Paris as soon as possible. Powers of which the seat of government is outside Europe will be entitled merely to inform the Government of the French Republic through their diplomatic representative at Paris that their ratification has been given; in that case they must transmit the instrument of ratification as soon as possible. A first procès verbal of the deposits of ratification will be drawn up as soon as the Treaty has been ratified by Germany on the one hand, and by those of the principal Allied and Associated Powers on the other hand.Then come the important words—From the date of this first procès verbal the Treaty will come into force between the high contracting parties who have ratified it. For the determination of all periods of time provided for in the present Treaty this date will be the date of coming into force of the Treaty.If that interpretation of the dates which are applicable to the ratification of peace are correct, it is manifestly absurd on the part of the Leader of the House and the Government to throw dust into the eyes both of the House and the public by alleging that things may arise so suddenly that they would not know where they are. My right hon. and learned Friend opposite (Sir G. Hewart), whose attention must be called to these matters as a Law Officer of the Crown, will know and agree that a considerable period must elapse between the 580 ratification of peace and the deposit in Paris of the prosès verbal. if it is true as suggested by the Government that the mere ratification should take place in March of next year, then this House might not be in Session, and a difficulty might arise in dealing with the situation. If it were true that Parliament would not be in Session the only period of difficulty would be the period between the date on which the House rises for the Christmas Recess and the date we resume in February. It is suggested that the period provided for would give the Government time to turn round, but it does not take the Government much time to turn round at any time on any subject. The reason I made that point is that although a great deal has been said on the Motion for the Adjournment for the Debate about the maximum time, what the Government seek is the maximum of twelve months over and above the date on which the first proces verbal is made in Paris. That might easily be a period of anything from eighteen months to a couple of years, and that is what the Government are asking for in submitting this Bill.
What are they asking power to do? We have gone through them seriatim, and although there are twenty pages in this Bill, only five are occupied with general matters and fifteen with particular instances in which the Defence of the Realm Act is in operation. Members of the-House have gone through with the Attorney-General those fifteen pages of references to powers which are to be continued, and we have taken out a few. After all, we have only taken out four in the Schedule, but we have done better in the second half; but in the third we have not taken very many. In fact, it was only in one case that the Attorney-General found it easier to tell us what was retained than what was left out. If you look at some of the powers still to be retained, they raise questions which ought not to be left to discussion in Committee. There is a question of vital importance to the liberty of the subject which ought to have been restored long ago. On page 18 there are two, powers which affect the individual very closely, and which have been slightly referred to already in the course of the Debate. Take No. 51 and 55 on page 18, which deal with the power of search and power of arrest, and the limitations to be put upon the power of search. In England and Wales this will only now be with the consent of the Secretary of State, and 581 in Scotland only with the consent of the Secretary for Scotland. With regard to the powers of arrest, it is limited so far to offences continued by this Act as if in proviso (b) the wordsand in any case forthwith after the termination of the present warwere omitted.
We have had enough during the War of the inquisitorial methods of the police, and many innocent people during the War have had their homes searched without any indication that they were doing any harm. People who were innocently engaged in perfectly legitimate paths had their homes invaded by the power of the law under the scheme of the Defence of the Realm Act. It is now said that that is to be limited in the future to be exercised only by the Secretary of State in the case of England, or in other words, the Home Secretary, and in the case of Scotland by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
What does that mean? Does it mean by the personal consent of these two Ministers, or does it mean at the whim and fancy of the satellites of those Departments. Does it mean that personally the Home Secretary in the case of England, or the Secretary for Scotland, has to give his consent with full knowledge of the facts before the police are able to enter upon the premises of the individual and make a search? What are these powers of search to be about? One can conceive that even apart from the question of the country being in a state of war there are occasions on which it might be necessary to have the power of search, but we know what the real power was during the War, and one would like to know what kind of offence, either potential or actual, the Secretary of State in either case would designate as one which necessitated the power of search. Would it confine itself entirely to conspiracy, or would it give the Government the right to invade the home or the office of any individual in this country arbitrarily? During the War we know very well that the Government did this. It was not possible even to make an ordinary speech in the country on almost any subject that had no connection at all with anti-war feelings without that speech being adequately reported and communicated to members of the War Cabinet. I remember myself a member of the War Cabinet bringing a speech of my own which I had delivered in the country to a meeting of discharged soldiers, of a 582 perfectly harmless character, as to whether they were entitled to the pension rights which the Government have now given them. I presume it was reported by some emissary or spy of the War Cabinet. I do not know whether the reporting of that speech to the War Cabinet shortened the War or not, but that was the kind of proceeding which was conducted during the War.
The Bill simply says powers of search. What kind of powers? Suppose we belong to an organisation which promotes a levy on capital, and the Government thinks that is a criminal offence and that it is not in the interests of the State, are they to have the right to enter our premises if we are an organisation, or into the house of an individual supposing he is particularly interested, on tile signature of the Secretary of state for the Home Office or of the Scottish Secretary? That is what we mean when we say that we are not willing on Second Reading to give carte blanche to the Government and that we want the powers defined before we allow any two men, however respectable, eminent, and trustworthy, in the Government to have the power to give a policeman or any other emissary time power to enter one's house. If you go a little further you will see that power is taken to create special police areas, and the restriction is so far as it relates to existing Orders issued thereunder. What are the existing Orders? I challenge anybody in the House to tell us anything about them. Under that power you might have power given to the Government to interfere with an ordinary industrial strike. That may be right or wrong, but if the Government are going to have that kind of power it ought surely to be explicitly stated what time power is before we grant it. There is a great deal in these Schedules of which one could make almost as much fun as one could make serious remarks. I notice, for instance, that power is taken to retain the prohibition of whistling.
§ Mr. HOGGE
And people who are not in hospitals would strongly object to being kept awake by the whistling of the porters at those clubs that members of the Government frequent and hold discussions at to a late hour. I want lastly to put this point to the Attorney-General: What is to hinder the Government from 583 withdrawing this Bill, except the fact that it would mean a loss of pride so far as the Parliamentary position is concerned It is agreed that there are certain things that must be carried on, and one of those that was mentioned, of course, was the subject of coal, to which the Leader of the House referred. It is obvious that if there is not sufficient coal to run the industries of the country something must be done to control it. Those powers that are necessary are now very few, and my right lion. Friend could pick them out easily from the fifteen pages of this Schedule. What is not necessary is about ten or twelve pages of this Schedule, and where it is necessary it is not defined, and I would respectfully suggest to the Attorney-General, with regard, say, to the powers of search, that it is easily possible to bring in a definite form of new Bill stating what powers the Government take for that particular purpose. That could be done quite easily before Christmas. There are none of the powers that the Government want which apply to the catastrophe which might happen if Peace came suddenly except those that deal with the carrying on of industry, and I think you want to make that clear. Surely it is a very different position to safeguard the distribution of coal for industrial purposes by the continuation of those Acts from assailing the liberty of the individual. That does not depend upon Peace being signed. While it may be necessary for the purposes of industry, or shipping, or transport to maintain certain powers so that the State shall carry on, there are not and cannot he the same reasons for continuing to infringe upon the personal liberty of the individual. The power of search, for instance, should only be used in the most remote circumstances. I think my right hon. Friend will agree that it is the last thing he would like to do to invade the privacy of the individual, either as an individual or as a person associated with a trade union. What is to hinder the Government considering, at any rate that suggestion? It seems to me that if that were done, some of the edge might be taken off this method of continuing the war emergency laws. Too much is made of the bogey of the ratification of peace. There is a kind of idea that something is going to happen at any moment. It will not find us any less prepared than we are now, with the products we have got for the use of industry 584 at this precise moment. I respectfully suggest that opposition to this Bill should be continued until the Government are prepared to drop all these attacks on individuals, and confine their attention under the Defence of the Realm Act to those things which are absolutely essential to the continuance of the commercial life of the country.
§ Sir T. BRAMSDON
I do not think it is fair to ask the House to pass this Bill in its present shape. There is so much in it that no one can follow or correctly understand that the House should not be asked to pass the Bill until some more information is available. I have always taken a great objection personally to legislation by reference, and I remember in a previous House putting down a notice on the Paper to the then Prime Minister, and asking him if something could not be done to make the House understand what they were legislating about. I made the very modest suggestion that there should be placed at the foot of every Bill a quotation from the Section and the Act of Parliament to which reference was made. By those means legal and non-legal Members of the House would be able to understand what it was they were voting about. The then Prime Minister said he did not think that would be possible, because sometimes there were a great number of Sections of Acts of Parliament mentioned in a Bill, and the thing would be impracticable. But I learn t afterwards from a member of the Government the true reason, which was that if the Government disclosed too freely what it was they were referring to, it would be very difficult for them to get the measure through. I think that is the case more intensely at the present time. If the Government were to disclose fully what it is they are asking us to vote upon in connection with this Bill, I think even their own supporters would reject the very Bill itself.
I have been searching for a long time to get light and information on this point, and I do not know whether it is in the Bill or not. It is a regulation under D.O.R.A., I believe. I want to know whether this Bill continues the power to commandeer places, hotels, houses, and so on, under the Defence of the Realm Act? If it is in the power of the Government or a Department to continue to commandeer places, then I want to bring before the House to-night a very grave 585 matter affecting a place in my Constituency. There was a certain temperance hotel in Southsea, my Constituency, that was commandeered for the purposes of the W.R.N.S. The proprietor was turned out, and the W.R.N.S. were installed. The hotel was kept during the whole of the War, muc4 to the proprietor's inconvenience, loss of profit, and so on. Then, after the W.R.N.S. had been disbanded, and the hotel given up, the owner resumed his possession and tried to get the hotel restored and taken over by another person. The contract was entered into, the hotel was about to be arranged and let, when, at the very last minute, in came another officer under the same Defence of the Realm Act, upset the contract, and contended that the hotel was wanted for the purposes of the Ministry of Pensions. My Constituent came to me in great grief, because he had been deprived of his hotel for a long time, and just when it seemed he was at last going to get it restored to him it was taken a second time under the Defence of the Realm Act. I suggest that is most unfair and most unjust, and if there is to be a continuation of that power, then I think a great deal of discontent will arise. I hope my right hon. Friend will tell me whether I am right in assuming that it is to go on. I have been trying to find out under which Department a remedy in this particular matter is to be sought. I approached the Ministry of Pensions, only to find that the matter would receive attention and be delayed, as it always is in these cases, and a fortnight or three weeks has gone in trying to find if some other place could not be appropriated for this particular purpose. I am assured on the best information possible that there are other places equally suitable for this establishment. Indeed, it is argued that there are some places far more suitable, but because it happened to meet the wishes of a particular section of persons represented by the Ministry of Pensions, this particular hotel is to be commandeered, an injustice is to be continued, and the whole matter is to be proceeded with as the Ministry of Pensions may like. I am still in hopes that I may be able to find out to which Department this really applies. I learnt quite recently, on coming into the House, that I ought to have made my application to the Commissioner of Works. I am only instancing this to show the difficulty one is in. First of all, does it come under this 586 Bill, to which Department should one apply, and what is the remedy I anticipate my right hon. Friend will say, "You will get your remedy; you will get compensation."Those of us who know what that compensation is, know very well how very unjust it very often is.
Surely the time has arrived when we ought to have a free hand in these matters and assume, without these difficulties, that we can get our properties back. Let the Government, if they want accommodation, get it in the ordinary way, as though this system had been clone away with. I cannot help thinking that if the same kind of difficulty arises in the other conditions to which reference has been made, the time has arived when all these things ought to be done away with. We want to live more in a condition of freedom. We want to feel that we are not hampered, and not left under the impression that when we least expect it we may be brought face to face with some Government establishment or other, so that we cannot move hand or foot. The thing is altogether wrong. We want to get back to the old condition of things. We have actually reached the condition of peace, and are only waiting a technical ending to the War. I want to ask whether really all this is wanted at the present time. Ought there to be any one of these conditions kept now upon the Statute Book? Of whom are we afraid? Arc we afraid of Turkey? I believe that is the only nation with whom we have not made peace. We are certainly not afraid of Germany. Germany is helpless and obsolete, and Austria is the same, and perhaps worse. What then is the use of continuing these objectionable, out-of-the-way and unreasonable conditions for no real purpose at all? I shall certainly oppose this Bill.
§ Mr. SPOOR
I am extremely sorry that the Attorney-General has not been influenced by the quite evident wish of this House that the Bill, now being considered, should be withdrawn. I know that a short while ago the Government secured a very decisive majority—at all events so it appeared to be—for the continuance of the object of this discussion; but anyone here during the early stages of the Debate must have been impressed by the fact that a very large majority of those present were quite obviously of the opinion that the Bill, as at present introduced, is extremely unsatisfactory. It required all the persuasive power, not to say the threat of disciplinary 587 action on the part of the Leader of the House, to secure the majority that was secured. I was rather wondering when I saw certain Members pass through the Lobby in support of the Government, Members that used to belong to the Liberal party, whether they realised upon what their political faith was supposed really to rest. I have always understood that Liberalism came into being to emphasise the doctrine of personal liberty. I submit that this Bill from start to finish denies it. We are in an extremely difficult position, because we hardly know what this Bill does contain. We are asked to accept something which—with all respect to the learned Attorney-General—has certainly not been clearly defined We may admit that he has indicated briefly the Clauses proposed to be excluded, but we have no detailed treatment of what the Bill actually does mean. It appears to me that if the House passes the Second Reading of this Bill it will pass it—and I think I can speak on behalf of a large percentage of Members here—in an almost entire ignorance of its real inner meaning.
It is an extremely dangerous step to take, especially at a time like this. I do not want to go detail by detail over the proposals. One or two have been referred to. So far as the Members of the Labour party are concerned they are only interested in certain restrictions retained under the proposed Bill. It seems rather curious that whilst the Attorney-General has been constrained to drop many things which we all agree require to be dropped, he has not been consistent in dropping other things of quite a similar character for whose continuance there is apparently no justification. The power to exempt factories and workshops from the Act of 1901, whilst it may have been necessary while the country was at war—and even that is a debatable question—can surely not be necessary when the War has been over for practically twelve months. There is the other point to which reference has already been made in this discussion. The retention of the power of search is a very much more dangerous thing than many hon. Members appear to realise. Within the last few months a number of houses have been visited by representatives of the police and perfectly innocent people have been subjected to the indignity of having their premises raided, their property disturbed. and their papers investigated. So far as I have been able to ascertain, in all 588 these cases no proceedings were possible because nothing of a compromising character was discovered. We know that after the War ceased prosecutions under the Act as it has existed up to the present rather changed their form, and men were proceeded against, not because they had done anything against the military interests of the country, but because they had happened to hold opinions that did not agree with the opinions held by the Government. If any unfortunate individual happened to suggest that probably Bolshevism might not be as black as it was painted; if anybody suggested that behind the movement in Russia that has been going on for months it might be there were some intellectual ideas; if somebody happened in their innocence to suggest that there was another side to the terrible story of atrocities that have been again and again served up in hysterical speeches in this House; if anybody happened to hold opinions like that they were subjected at any moment to have their premises visited by the police and to be subjected to the indignities of which I have spoken.
I have always believed—and I imagined men of all parties, whether they called themselves Liberal, Tory, or Labour, believed—that one thing which distinguished Britain amongst the nations of the world was Britain's faith in personal liberty. I do submit that to ask the House to consider a Bill from which apparently has been eliminated many objectionable features, but which still contains many of these, especially under present conditions, when everybody is in a state of obscurity regarding the true inwardness of these proposals—I do submit that this is altogether an unwise, not to say an uncertain thing. There are restrictions which tend to prevent the free development of trade and commerce. We are trying to get things re-established in this country, to get back to the normal. For my part, I cannot imagine, nor do I suppose there is any thinking person here who will imagine, that the provisions of this Bill, if passed into law, and continued as they have been operating for so long, are going to help us to get back to the normal. One thing is certain, that whilst there is a great deal of unrest in this country, and a great deal of justifiable discontent, we are not likely to remove that discontent by a continuance of irritant proposals of this character.
It. is because I feel that, and because I agree with the speakers who have ex- 589 pressed the opinion that it would have been wiser for the Government to act otherwise; that it would have been treating Members of this House with perhaps a little more courtesy if we had had submitted to us the complete Bill that the Government actually want to pass, instead of this measure about which there is so much confusion in the minds of everybody who has attempted to road it, that I feel that the Attorney-General would be, even at this late hour, well-advised to reconsider his policy. It may be that certain restrictions are necessary, that certain laws will still have to be continued to safeguard important interests. But I do submit that the time is long past when laws which are apparently merely irritating in their character, and seemingly serve no useful purpose, should remain on the Statute Book. I would urge men of all parties to remember that there is a very great danger of the people of this country, and more particularly the Parliament of this country, losing the character that has been its distinctive mark for so long. I would urge the House to oppose this Bill in its present form and to try to do something to restore the authority and prestige of Parliament itself.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
Whatever Members may think of the merits of this measure, there must be a sense of humiliation on the part of all sections of the House that the Government consider such a measure necessary now that the War is over. Remembering the conditions of this country—and probably no country in the world equals it for the standard of freedom that has always been enjoyed here—it does seem unfortunate that the Government were not prepared, now that the War is over, to trust the people. I think I am right in saying that the French Government have approached this matter in an entirely different way. 'Unless I am mistaken, I think immediately the Treaty was ratified they swept away all their objectionable legislation that had been secured for the purpose of carrying the War to a successful conclusion. What was good for the French Republic ought not to have been bad for a country that has boasted of its freedom for so many centuries. I, for one, regret that the learned Attorney-General has not seen his way to respond to the many invitations that have been made to him to withdraw this Bill. I listened to his statement ex- 590 plaining what the Bill contained at the beginning and what he endeavoured to show to us it would contain at the end, but I am not quite sure that the House followed him in all the emendations that he proposed to make. I did hope when the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) raised a point of Order, and a very substantial point, and that when he obtained the decision of Mr. Speaker, I thought that the learned Attorney-General would have seized that opportunity for withdrawing the Bill, and removing the Clause which Mr. Speaker ruled out of order, and bring up a Bill in the course of a few days that would have contained only those parts that the Attorney-General said he desired to detail. If I know anything of the House, I think he would have saved time on the whole. Even in Committee it will be very difficult for Members to follow the details, just as it has been difficult for Members to follow them to-day.
So far as we on these benches are concerned, our position has been quite frankly stated by the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Spoor). We are opposed to all this form of legislation. We were quite prepared to have it during the War, and some of us assisted, and I myself assisted, in getting some of the measures placed on the Statute Book in the early days of the War. We were exceedingly anxious to give to the Government all the power that was necessary in order to carry the War to a successful conclusion. But now that the War is practically over we want to know why it is continued, and I am quite sure the Attorney-General will bear with me when I say that no argument was advanced to-day to show why this objectionable form of legislation by reference, arid legislation by reference in matters so vital to the interests of the public, ought to be continued during the days, and we hope the years, of peace. I think the House owes a debt of gratitude to those Members who raised objections to this Bill when introduced in its original form. I venture to say that by the objections then raised they exercised considerable influence either upon the mind of the Attorney-General or the Government, and secured the very substantial withdrawals from the Bill that were reported by him earlier this afternoon. But it is still objectionable and it is still difficult to understand, and, as I have already said, it is one of the worst forms of legislation 591 by reference that I have known during the fifteen or sixteen years that I have been associated with this House.
Let me take one or two illustrations to show what I mean. Clause 1 refers us to the Schedules of the Bill, and I think I am right in saying that the Bill as introduced referred to nineteen Emergency Acts and ninety-seven Defence of the Realm Regulations. I am quite prepared to admit that that considerable number has been reduced, but how far I cannot say. Imagine the position of the common people of this country, many of whom in workshop life and in social life and in their forms of propaganda may have to refer to Clause 1, and from Clause 1 to a Schedule containing something like, I think, 106 Acts of Parliament, and different regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act ‡ It seems to me that the Attorney-General would have been serving the interests of all if he had clarified the position as much as possible to Members of the House who are responsible to their constituents, so that since the Government of the country consider so much of this legislation is still necessary that we might be able to know what we were doing in the discussions on the various stages of the Bill. Let me take one of the Regulations. I must say I express my great satisfaction to the Attorney-General for having deleted several of the provisos under Regulation 27. Some of us know something about the dangers to which we have been exposed by any mistaken step or any step that one might have innocently taken and which might have landed us into difficulties under some parts of Regulation 27. But, as I understand the position, there is one part of Regulation 27 which still remains, and I should like the Attorney-General to correct me if I am wrong. I think that Sub-section (d) of Regulation 27 still remains, and Rub-section (d) is very interesting, having regard to the stage in the proceedings of this House that will be reached to-morrow. To-morrow we enter upon what may prove one of the most important arid far-reaching financial discussions that has ever been associated with this House. What does Sub-section (d) say? Sub-section (d) deals with spreading reports or making statements intended or likely to undermine public confidence in connection with any bank or currency notes which are legal tender in the United 592 Kingdom. The next is the part to which I specially want to call attention, and it readsor to prejudice the success of any financial measures taken or arrangements made by His Majesty's Government with a view to the prosecution of the War.I do not know quite what the latter words apply to, but it did occur to me that if the Government promulgated some financial policy to-morrow, and hon. Members of this House might be privileged to criticise such measures in the House, what is to be the position of the critic who goes outside on to public platforms under Sub-section (d)? It appears to me that a little healthy criticism, even of financial proposals made for the purposes of carrying on the successful prosecution of the War, is desirable. I suppose I may be told in legal phraseology that our Order in Council has not yet declared the War at an end, and, to that extent, it may be said that it is being successfully prosecuted. I may be wrong—if so, I hope the Attorney-General will put me right — but are we going to be at liberty if Clause (d) is retained to go into the country and say what we can say on the floor of this House regarding any financial measures which the Government may bring forward to-morrow or the next day, and which they consider necessary for the completion of the work of the War or for the liquidation of the heavy war debt with which the country finds itself burdened at this moment?. Perhaps before the Debate closes we may have a word or explanation on that point. I should also like to ask whether it is really necessary to continue two points under Regulations 51 and 55. My hon. Friend who last spoke called attention to one of them, and asked was it necessary in these days to continue Regulations which might be of essential importance when we are actually engaged in hostilities, but which surely are no longer necessary now we have reached times of peace? My hon. Friend asked is it necessary to retain the power of search even although only exercisable in England and Wales with the consent of the Home Secretary and in Scotland with the consent of the Secretary for Scotland? I ask is it necessary to retain for purposes which might be of essential importance during the period of the War the powers of arrest under Regulation 55? So far as I have been able to 593 follow the Debate to-day, no case seems to have been made out for the retention of these very oppressive Regulations. The people of this country behaved very well, taking them as a whole, during the whole of the five years of war. This does not apply merely to one class or to one section of the community, but it applies to all classes and to all sections. If anybody had predicted when the War began that it was going to last five years and that the conduct of people of this country would be so exemplary as it has been, they would have been laughed at. Yet we have passed through the most trying period of our history, and can congratulate all classes not only on their splendid patriotism and loyalty, but also on their devotion and their splendid services and sacrifices. In spite of all that they are still to be mistrusted ‡ This objectionable legislation is to be continued for six months longer and in some respects for even a further period. It seems to me the Government would have been well advised if they had taken the people into their confidence—business people—because I may point out many business People are complaining strongly of some of the oppressive regulations that are going to remain if this Bill is passed even as amended in the way described by the learned Attorney—General. Business people, and indeed all sections of the community object to this form of legislation, and I hope that even now that the Government may see their way to abandoning sonic of the very worst of these provisions. I can promise the Attorney-General that we at any rate, whatever be our position in connection with the Second Beading, will do our best in Committee to secure the removal of some of these Clauses from the Bill.
§ Sir G. HEWART
If I rise to speak again on the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill it is only because some of my right hon. and lion. Friends opposite have put to me questions to which it is only proper an answer should be given. I was asked first whether under the regulations we propose to continue it will still be possible to requisition premises for Government use. I think I have already explained, and if not I will endeavour to make it clear now, that the only power of that kind which is continued by this Bill is the power in 2 (A B) to take possession of premises for the purposes of the Ministry of Pensions and the Ministry of Pensions alone. My hon. Friend opposite 594 is aware that that regulation in the form in which it stood related to premises required for the Ministry of Pensions or-for the Ministry of Labour. The regulation is continued after the termination of the War solely for the purpose of premises required by the Ministry of Pensions. As far as I am aware that is the only respect in which that particular power is continued. With regard to the observations of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Henderson) I entirely agree with him that there should be continued by this Bill no subtraction from personal liberty which is not absolutely essential. I think my right hon. Friend will do me the fairness of recognising that in the opening statement which I made to-day I was able to point out that in a great many respects we proposed to omit from the Third Schedule Regulations which, however necessary in time of war, might at the date we have now reached in our view safely be put an end to.
May I add this further observation with reference to the suggestion that the Bill should be withdrawn in order that something else might be substituted in its place. I am sure my right hon. Friend will accept my word when I say that the drafting of this Bill was given great consideration and took up much time, and with his Parliamentary experience he will realise the difficulty of the problem which had to be dealt with. On the one hand we had to deal with a large number of Acts of Parliament and parts of Acts of Parliament which it was necessary to continue for some period; and, on the other hand, we had to deal with a large number of the Defence of the Realm Regulations as to which the evidence of various Departments, given before the Committee to which reference has been made, was that they must be continued. My right hon. Friend said that the total of these enactments and Regulations taken together came to something over 100. Assume for the moment that that amount, that variety and that complexity of subject matter had to be dealt with, what was the workmanlike way of doing it? My right hon. Friend seems to say that a member of the public might be embarrassed on taking up this Bill to see exactly what was provided. Would he have been any less embarrassed if he had had to take up 106 pages? The difficulty would have been the same. This is a compendious way of dealing with a large variety of subject matter. It is one thing to say it should not be dealt 595 with at all. That is a proposition I can understand. It is a different thing to say if it had to be dealt with it should be dealt with in a clearer or simpler way. My submission is that this Bill, whatever may be its faults, and we shall have an opportunity of exploring them hereafter, is a workmanlike attempt to grapple with a very difficult and quite unprecedented subject matter. We have taken the enactments, we, have described them, we have set out the periods for which they are to run at present, and we have set out the extended periods for which it is proposed to continue them. We have taken the Defence of the Realm Regulations which it is proposed to continue, we have described their subject matter, and we have described how far and to what periods it is proposed to continue them. What more could we have done? The only thing which 'has been suggested we could alternatively have done is to take every one of these Acts of Parliament or Sections, or Regulations and reprint them within the limits of the Bill. That would have been a far less concise and I should have thought by no means a more intelligible compilation.
I pass from form. If difficulties of form really exist we shall have opportunities of altering them. Upon the point of substance, my right hon. Friend upon two grounds suggested that even at this late stage this Bill should be withdrawn. The first was that Mr. Speaker this afternoon had given a ruling that a particular part of a particular Sub-section of a particular Clause was not within the scope of the Bill. Does my right hon. Friend really appreciate the dimensions of that ruling? It related to that one of the Defence of the Realm Regulations which has to do with the possible acquisition of premises after the termination of the War for the purposes of the Minister of Pensions, and it provides that in such a case the person whose premises were taken should not go to the Courts for his remedy, but should go, as so many of his fellow taxpayer have gone before him, to the Defence the Realm Losses Commission. Mr. Sp deer thought that matter was beyond the scope of the Bill. I loyally bow to the decision, but do not let us exaggerate the effect of it. What was the second point on which it was suggested that at this late hour the Bill should be withdrawn? It was because of the enormous number of different things dealt with in it; but so far as they are necessary they will either have to be dealt 596 with in the new Bill, which will take the place of the Bill which is withdrawn, or they will have to be dealt with each in a separate Bill. Then my right hon. Friend referred me to Regulation 27 (d), and with regard to that 1 cannot help thinking that he is under some slight misapprehension. He referred to what may take place tomorrow or the day after to-morrow. Regulation 27, nut only as regards paragraph (d) but as regards the totality of the Regulation, is at present in full force, and will so continue until the termination of the War is reached. What is proposed is to continue Regulation 27 not necessarily for the period which was named, but for not longer than that period so far as relates to reports and statements in paragraph (d). So far as this Bill is concerned, we have nothing to do with 27 (d) until after the termination of the War, and then the effect of the Bill, so far as it relates to 27 (b), will make it, until the Regulation is revoked—and it may be revoked any day—an offence toSpread reports or make statements intended or likely to undermine public confidence in any bank or currency notes which are legal tender in the United Kingdom or any part thereof, or to prejudice the success of any financial measures taken or arrangements made by His Majesty's Government with a view to the prosecution of the War.Once you recollect that the operation of the continued Regulation will not begin until after the termination of the War, it is quite obvious that comments of the kind which the right hon. Gentleman referred to could not be said by any prosecuting counsel, and would not be held by any tribunal, to be statements prejudicing the success of financial measures taken or arrangements made with a view to the prosecution of the War. I think my right hon. Friend may dismiss that suspicion entirely from his mind.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Would the right hon. Gentleman's explanation parry the criticism which was made at the time, say, a Loan was being raised for the payment of the War, or is the liberty of the subject to be restricted in criticism of any Loans which may be arranged after the passing of the Act?
§ Sir G. HEWART
There was once a very learned lawyer who wrote a book showing all the things which a man might do and nevertheless keep himself outside the limits of the criminal law. It was a very interesting book, but when he had written it he burned it because he came to 597 the conclusion that it would be a very mischievous thing to publish. 1 really cannot advise how far a man may go after the War in criticising the financial arrangements which are made.
§ Sir G. HEWART
With great pleasure. I think that is the fourth time the point has been raised during the Debate. That point of time is defined by a little Act of Parliament called the Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act. It is reached when an Order in Council is published terminating the War.
§ Sir G. HEWART
No; there can only be one. That Order in Council is to be published as soon as may be after the exchange or deposit of the ratification of the Treaty or Treaties of Peace. It may be after one, it may be after the last, but that Order in Council will be made once and once for all. But, apart from dialectical difficulties which my right hon. Friend may take a certain pleasure in raising, it is quite clear that in order to come within the prohibition a person has to spread a report or make a statement which is intended or likely to prejudice, and so on. I cannot imagine that there will be a large field for the operations of the second part of paragraph (d). I suspect that the main purpose, at any rate, for which it is desired to preserve any part of paragraph (d) is because of the reports or statements intended or likely to undermine public confidence in any bank or currency notes which are legal tender in the United Kingdom. At the moment I find a difficulty in imagining the kind of statement to which they would refer, but 1 shall be very glad to consider that matter further in Committee.
With regard to 51 and 55, one is the power of search and the other is the power of arrest. It is fair to remember the limitations within which those Regulations are proposed to be continued. With regard to 51 it is a power to be exercisable in England and Wales only with the consent of a Secretary of State, and in Scotland only with the consent of the Secretary for Scotland. With regard to the power of arrest, the extended power of arrest given by 598 Regulation 55 is only so far as relates to offences under Regulations continued by this Act.
My right hon. Friend spoke, and others have spoken, as if the elect 0I carrying this Bill would be to continue all these Regulations for the maximum period which is suggested. That is not the case. It is expressly provided by Clause 3, Subsection (1) of the Bill thatIt shall be lawful for His Majesty in Council to revoke in whole or in part any of the Regulations so continued as soon as it appears to him that consistently with the national interest any such Regulation can be so revoked.We are dealing not with a fixed and certain period in which it is proposed to continue the Regulations but only with the maximum period, with power to revoke at any time during that period. I have endeavoured to the best of my ability to deal with the various points which have been mentioned. May 1 reiterate that so far as the enactments are concerned, the enactments contained in Schedule 1 are mainly enactments which give the benefit to the subject. So far as the Regulations are concerned we propose to omit a great many of those to which exception might most obviously be taken. When we come, as I hope we very soon shall come, to the Committee stage I will cause a printed statement to be put in the hands of all Members showing exactly what it is proposed to do. We are not proposing to add anything at all to the Schedule. There shall be in the hands of Members a printed statement showing exactly what is proposed to be done.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I presume that the Paper will be circulated in the ordinary way to every Member of the House, and when that is done, I think with a little goodwill and a little patience and carp on the one side and the other we shall be able to reduce this measure to the smallest dimensions which are compatible with the public interest and public safety.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I thank the Attorney-General for his promise to lay a White Paper. May I make one further request, and that is that the Amendments which the Government propose to make to this Bill shall be put down forthwith, or at any rate five or six days before we enter upon the Committee stage? It is 599 important that we should have the Amendments in our possession as early as possible in order that we may trace the different references, and also consult those we represent.
§ Sir G. HEWART
That shall certainly be done. I did not use the word White Paper, because I am not sure that that will be the way to present it; but I am prepared, whatever form the document may take, to promise that information shall be in the hands of Members at the earliest possible moment.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Will the Attorney-General consider the advisability of laying it in the form of a White Paper which would set out clearly the difference between the Bill as it is now and the Bill as it is intended to be? I think I am right in saying that that has been done on former occasions to the advantage of hon. Members.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I have listened with great interest and personal pleasure to the speech of the Attorney-General in explanation of the Bill and also his speech answering the points that have been raised. Speaking as one who is very troubled in his mind about this Bill I welcome the promise to let us have the information in the form of a child's guide, which will tell us what is to be left out and what is to be left in. I wish the Attorney-General would agree that further discussion on the Bill should be adjourned until we could have the White Paper. I do not know how long it would take to prepare it, but there cannot be very great urgency for this Bill. As the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) reminded the House, an attempt was made to smuggle this through as a matter of no great importance last August, and because the hon. Baronet resisted the Bill on the Bank Holiday it was not proceeded with. It was not brought forward on the first day when we resumed business, but it is brought on in the second week. Therefore, there cannot be any very great urgency. Those of us who have been approached again and again by our constituents know how vexatious and harassing the Regulations are, and it would be a relief and better for all concerned if we knew which of 600 these Regulations were to be removed. Therefore, it would be better if this White Paper were circulated first, and if the Second Reading were not taken to-night until we have had an opportunity of seeing where we are. This is a leap in the dark. I have listened carefully to all that has been said, but I do not know really what we arc voting for. Let me give an instance of the confusion in which we find ourselves. Take Regulation 2 (o)—The keeping of pigs. This is not one of the Regulations which the Attorney-General said would be abolished. Is it necessary to keep on this Regulation under which people have to apply for permission to keep pigs? The Lord Privy Seal told us in impassioned accents that unless this Bill were passed and if peace was not ratified, and a war was suddenly started, it would be necessary to carry on these precious Regulations, and practically everything would be in chaos, the world would fall to pieces and there would be riots and revolution. Surely it is an anticlimax to suggest these things if we do not continue Regulation 2 (o), relating to the compulsory keeping of pigs. Is this Regulation to be carried on for another twelve months, and is it necessary for the defence of the realm? That is one example I have picked out at random. There is also the question of the arrest of persons without warrant and keeping them in gaol without trial. Apparently anyone can now be arrested without warrant and put in gaol without trial, and all the age-long safeguards of our liberty are to be abated by the mere signature of a document by a Secretary of State.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am sorry I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. It was very difficult to tell what he did say. I understood him to say—
§ Sir G. HEWART
I am sure the hon. Member does not want to make a false point. If he will be good enough to look at Regulation 51, which is referred to on page 18 of the Bill, he will see that the power of search is to be exercised in England and Wales only with the consent of the Secretary of State, and in Scotland only with tile consent of the Secretary for Scotland. That is with reference to the power of search. The extended power of arrest given by the Defence of the 601 Realm Regulations is under No. 55. The limitation there is not the consent of a Secretary of State, but that the offence, in respect of which the arrest is being made, is an offence under one of these continued Regulations.
§ Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is competent for the Secretary of state to issue a general consent to the police to search indiscriminately, without the necessity of having a search warrant from a magistrate? Is that the power intended to be continued under this Regulation?
§ Sir G. HEWART
I do not think it is, but in order that there may be no doubt about the matter, I will refer to the very words of the Regulation, which is Regulation 51. What it provides is this:The competent naval or military authority, or any person duly authorised by him or any police constable may, if he has reason to suspect that any house, building, land, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other premises or anything therein are being or have been constructed, used or kept for any purpose or in any way prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the realm, or that an offence against these Regulations is being or has been committed thereon or therein, enter, if need be by force, the house, building, land, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or premises at any time.
Does the right hon. Gentleman know that that has been exercised in the case of trade union secretaries without any proof?
§ Sir G. HEWART
I was not aware of that, but however that may be, that is an exercise of the existing Regulation.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Which it is proposed to continue, subject to the new Regulation which this Bill proposes to insert.
§ Colonel P. WILLIAMS
Why should not the competent military authority go in the ordinary course to the bench of magistrates for a search warrant? That is the principal protection we have against illegal search to-day.
§ Sir G. HEWART
That is a different question from the question asked me just now, which was as to whether the warrant for search would be a general one. I should think it would be particular and not general. Win, regard to the question now put to me, that, of course, involves 602 the whole question whether or not that particular Regulation should be continued. That is a matter eminently worthy to be discussed in Committee, but the decision on that point is not in the smallest degree prejudiced by reading this Bill a second time.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I thank the Attorney-General for having consented to explain the extraordinary position in which we find ourselves regarding search and arrest, which apparently may happen to anyone at any time in this country. I was making the point that simply on the signature of a Secretary of State anyone of His Majesty's lieges can be arrested. Now I am told that it is not even necessary to have the signature of the Secretary of State. The power of arresting and keeping in gaol without trial remains. There may be other safeguards of which I do not know. This is a matter which will not he welcome to the country as a whole. With regard to search, if there is anything the English people pride themselves on it is the sanctity of their own homes. The Regulation that a. man's home can be ransacked and searched for proofs against him is totally unnecessary. Although during the War we have put up with a good many things, this is asking too much from a long-suffering people who have played the game. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) did not quite understand the matter of search. The Attorney-General had to explain it to him. That is the very thing under discussion now, and I am sure my right hon. Friend is taking steps in his trade union to look into the matter of search. He has had the matter brought before him. It will disgust everyone that you should search a man's premises looking for proof that there is an anarchist plot. I maintain that the Second Reading should not be taken until the White Paper is given to us and we know exactly where we are. May I appeal to hon. Members who do not usually agree with me? The present Government may not last for ever or for many weeks longer. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh‡"] It may not, and I hope for the sake of Europe that it will not. We may have a Government of a very different complexion. It may possibly be a Labour Government—I say this without any prejudice—and they may bring in necessary legislation of a most drastic nature in order to meet an emergency. because if we have some sort of financial breakdown 603 in the next few months very drastic steps will be required, and this Defence of the Realm Act, or such part of it as the Committee in their wisdom retain, will be extraordinarily useful in expropriating property, stocks and shares and making investigations and inventories as to which property is going to be levied upon. It is even possible that hon. Members who so blindly vote for this measure may become very unpopular in the country for doing so and may regret their haste. They may find themselves hoist by their own petard. I put that as a pleasing suggestion of what may happen.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Being an official member of the party in this case, I can inform my right hon. Friend that the official Liberal party are prepared to take over the government and guidance of the country at any moment. I do not think they could do worse than the present Government. There is also the question of the trade restrictions. Is it suggested that all these Orders under this Bill are necessary for the restraint of trade, because they amount to that'? The commercial classes of the country—I represent part of a large commercial city—are unanimous in saying that they are not required, and they ought to know. I suppose they are as patriotic as His Majesty's Ministers, and they say that a great many of these Regulations are not required. I do not know in the very least which of them it is proposed to keep or which of them it is proposed to drop. I have tried to look through them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh‡"] Has any hon. Member, outside his own trade or profession, any knowledge of what the different Regulations are or affect? I do not think so. Possibly the Attorney-General knows, but I do not think any other hon. Member of the House does. We do not know the extent of the Regulations. We are told this Bill will go to a Grand Committee and be thrashed out there. The Grand Committee system, in the opinion of a large majority of the Members of this House, is not satisfactory. I do not know whether I shall be a member of the Committee. I do not know who will be a member of it. It is bound to have a preponderance of the party which has just voted for this, 604 and I am not prepared to trust the Committee. We have seen that again and again already in connection with other Bills, and especially the Aliens Bill. Not only do hon. Members of this House not approve of the Grand Committee system, but, obviously, the Government themselves do not approve of it, because they often try to reverse the findings of the Committees upstairs. This is the most unpopular measure in the country. I suppose there is not a single Member who at the last General Election did not pledge himself to do all in his power to get rid of the Defence of the Realm Act, and people now arc more angry about the Defence of the Realm Act than ever, because they fondly hoped, if they returned a certain party to power, that the Defence of the Realm Act would be done away with, and I am sorry to say that they have been disappointed. We do not know for what we are voting, and I do make a last appeal to my right hon. Friend to hold his hand until this White Pa-per, this child's guide, which we have been promised and which I hope will make these entangled things clear, is issued. Otherwise, I am very sorry that I shall again have to vote against the Government.
I just want to make one or two general observations. It is no disgrace to confess ignorance of this Bill. Almost every Member on both sides of the House who has spoken has confessed his ignorance. I notice also that before dinner hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were very brave in their opposition to this Bill, but when the Leader of the House conjured up before them the ghost of a General Election, and when the Prime Minister came down and overawed them, their attitude became very different. We have got accustomed to their brave words. They are beginning to pall upon the House. The empty benches just now are an eloquent testimony to the extent of the courage of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Leader of the House attributed this opposition to the clatter of the papers outside. The clatter of the papers outside is a very useful sort of thing when it is pursuing a vendetta against Liberal statesmen, but when it makes a little lively criticism on the present Government it is a very inconvenient and not a very nice thing for Members of this House to follow. It is not the clatter of the papers outside. There is no doubt that the general sense of the House, 605 despite the silence on the other side at the present moment, is against this Bill. What a farce Parliamentary government has come to when the right hon. Gentleman will get the Second Reading of his Bill to-night in face of the fact that nine-tenths of the House are against it‡ That is what Parliamentary government has come to under tins Coalition. Here we have a Liberal Minister, a year after the War, proposing these shackles and chains for the public of this country. As a matter of fact, it is simply the continuance of the war mind.
This Government cannot get out of the war atmosphere in any department of their activities. The same thing is causing a great deal of the extravagance in almost every Department. There was a clatter in the papers outside, and the head of every Department got busy dismissing flappers and young people of that sort, forgetting that extravagance depends upon policy. This is the continuance of the war mind in the direction of suppressing the personal liberty of the subject. It the policy of Ca' canny as applied to the work of the Government, and it is much more mischievous in its effect in every Department of Government than in our industrial life. Almost every point that has been raised here to-night has had to be referred to the Attorney-General to give, as my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) has expressed it, a child's guide, simply because this is legislation by reference. I have no doubt that the Minister of Labour in his youth paid some attention to what we in Scotland call "gowk." You send some simpleton with a note—" Do not laugh and do not smile, but send a fool another mile." You cannot find out from this Bill what it means. You have to go to some other Bill or some other Regulation, and you come back as wise as you went. It is about time the Government got out of this war atmosphere. It is about a year since the cessation of hostilities, and when the Government. by the continuance of these various Regulations, remind the people that they are still under war conditions it is bound to have a disturbing effect upon many activities of our national life. Therefore, I hope that there will be a Division upon this Bill to-night. in which case I shall have much pleasure in going into the Lobby against it.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
In approaching a Bill like this we have to remember, first 606 of all, what human nature is. Every single Government Department that has been created during the War has an instinctive desire to keep itself going. Everybody who has a Government job, or any other sort of job, wants to keep. his job, especially under present circumstances. Therefore, every Government Department will make out the very strongest possible case for the perpetual continuance of that particular Department. That was proved in the last Parliament, when there was a Committee set up to consider when the end of the War' should be. Before that Committee all these various Government Departments gave evidence, and, while they all deprecated the perpetual existence of the other Departments, they all made out a perfectly watertight case for the perpetual continuance of their own Department. That is only human nature, and I think we ought to look at this hill in that light. Every single Government Department will make out a very strong case for that particular enactment or regulation is the backbone of that Department. Therefore, you have this special regulation about tae keeping of pigs preserved. There must be some Department which requires that regulation in order to keep their own jobs.
Every Member of this House will acquit me of any desire to preserve Luis abnormal state of interference with the life of the community. I believe that the whole of Defence of the Realm Act might be swept away without involving any of the tragedies that have been pictured by the Leader of time House to-day. They are bogies created partly by the Departments and partly by the Leader of the House himself in the desire to do something which is not strictly connected with the War itself.
The provisions of the Bill to which I wish to draw attention as indicating desire on the part of the Government not to end up-the War but to preserve control over the country in an extra legal manner are these. There are in the Bill as before us powers to continue penalties for the following things—for spreading reports considered prejudicial to recruiting, to Government loans, or likely to cause active disaffection. There is an article by myself in the "Westminster Gazette'' today on the extreme propriety of a compulsory funding loan. Now compulsory funding of Treasury Bills might very likely be 607 held by Government Departments to be discouraging people from putting their money into Treasury Bills. It is impossible that I should suffer under the Defence of the Realm Act because Acts of Parliament such as this do not apply to the governing classes. But if somebody else had written this article he might find himself in the difficult position of having to defend himself against the Attorney-General and the Public Prosecutor. Then if I went about saying that recruiting for war in Russia is recruiting English people to commit murder which, I thoroughly believe, I should be liable to penalty under the extension of the Defence of the Realm Act as saying something which is likely to cause disaffection. I hope that I never made a speech which is not likely to cause disaffection. The bulk of the speeches which I hear at the meetings which I attend are also in the same direction. Nobody will be prosecuted under it, but it is a great mistake to make laws which are not put into operation, because it brings contempt on all laws, even those laws which ought to be put into operation. If you have laws which make what you or everybody else on these benches does constantly week after week illegal you bring the law into contempt with the vast body of the public.
Then you continue powers to impose restrictions on persons suspected of hostile associations. I do not believe there is anybody, certainly not on these benches, who does not believe, nine months after the termination of hostilities, that every interned alien ought to be released, but there is no adequate reason for keeping these people interned, and still less for interning them at the charge on the community as a whole. To continue to intern these people without warrant and without trial is to abrogate the Habeas Corpus Art, which was passed under Charles II. We are going back on what our ancestors did 250 years ago. That is a pretty strong step to ask this country to take nearly a year after hostilities have closed. We are continuing power to prohibit public meetings and processions and to remove persons considered by the authorities as undesirable from areas where there are troops. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear ‡ "] If you still consider that desirable nine months after the close of hostilities, I do rot. We still continue power to billet soldiers, sailors, and airmen on civilians, and 608 we continue restrictions on imports, trading with foreign enemies, on new capital, and the issue of passports. Anybody who goes abroad knows what trouble there is with passports now. You continue powers relating to railway traffic and all businesses, and you may prevent anybody starting a new fried-fish shop. It is so essential to the salvation of our country that nobody should enter into the fried-fish shop business.
These powers point to the desire of the Government not to end the War, not to close up the Departments which have been created during the War, but the desire on the part of the Government to fight against strikes and labour disturbances arid labour agitations. They are all relics of our war legislation for preventing strikes, and for carrying on somehow or other during those trying years. I protest that these Regulations are really the child of the fears of timorous persons as to Bolshevik revolution in this country—people who spend sleepless nights thinking of the Bolshevik revolution. These Regulations inspired by fear are just the very things to create discontent and sedition in the country. It is the existence of Regulations such as these that produce the amount of froth that we have on the soap boxes at street corners at the present time. If they wanted to encourage sedition on the streets they would continue the provisions of the Defence of the Realm Act. People to-day know perfectly well what the Defence of the Realm Act is being continued for. They know quite well what its mechanism has been used for during the War—for the control of Labour—and that it is being continued in order to continue the control of Labour. You had much better control Labour by agreement and common sense. You had much better deal with it frankly and openly on the basis of the old laws of England. We are a conservative people. It may seem strange, but we are, and we stick to the old laws rather than accept the new enactments of an Executive, and subject the citizens of the country to the irresponsible restrictions of the Executive instead of the law of the country. There is resentment of anything which puts power into the hands of the police or the Home Secretary. It exists everywhere. No one who goes about the country can possibly deny that it exists.
I do protest that whereas it may be necessary to close down departments, and therefore continue some of the enactments 609 which are embodied in this Bill, it is not necessary to continue all these Regulations which are aimed at controlling Labour. It is not necessary, because there is no danger of revolution in this country, and it is undesirable because it creates the very spirit of unrest which it is desired to control. The reason why the people of this country are not revolutionary is that because in the past they have been allowed to hear any sort of nonsense talked. They have been allowed to hear revolutionary doctrines, wrong doctrines, heretical doctrines just as much as true doctrines. Consequently, the ordinary man in the street in this country is accustomed to using his own judgment as to whether what he hears is true or false, sound or unsound; but now, because this new Coalition Government are afraid of the people, they are depriving them of the opportunity of hearing both sides, and therefore narrowing down and stunting their natural education in political matters. If you want to have an educated electorate, which must be the object of everybody in this House, surely you must allow them to hear what is wrong in order that they themselves may learn to choose what is right. Unless you give the opportunity to a man of going wrong he will never go right of his own accord.
It is because these Regulations fiy in the face of old traditions of liberty of speech and of the Press that I protest againt their continuance. There is no need for them, because there is no danger to the State of any sort of revolution. The only danger is when you bottle people up, and push them underground, and make these Regulations which can be interpreted by the man in the street in a hundred more ways than they have ever been interpreted by a Home Secretary in this country. Of course all these things will be reported at public meetings. A man will get up at a street corner and explain that in saying what he does say he is breaking Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act. He will not be arrested; he prides himself on breaking these laws, and he is making all law more difficult to enforce. For all these reasons I beg the Government to drop this Bill, and when they deal with the necessary enactments, which must be extended for a year, to deal with them by a special continuance of each and not by an omnibus Bill. We shall then get a rational solution instead of a solution 610 which will arouse opposition throughout the country, and bring not this Government but all Governments into discredit.
I believe that at election meetings and other meetings I have been asked whether I was in favour of the discontinuance of the Defence of the Realm Act more often than I have been asked any other question, or as frequently as I have been asked whether I was in favour of direct action. At every meeting I said I was in favour of the earliest and the immediate. destruction of the Defence of the Realm Act. I believe that most Members of this House have given the same answer to that question. We talk a lot about pledges. There is a definite pledge. Are we going to scrap that? It is a definite pledge to vote for the destruction of the Defence of the Realm Act. I am in favour of keeping my pledge, and I hope that other Members will also keep their pledge, not because it is a mere pledge, but because it is to the honour of England that we should put an end at the earliest possible moment to these very un-English Regulations.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. C. WHITE
Like other Members of this House I was often asked during my candidature whether I was in favour of discontinuing the Defence of the Realm Act as soon as possible. I think the time has come when it is possible to discontinue altogether the Regulations under this Act. I am, perhaps, a rather unsophisticated Member of this House, but I reckon to have a little common sense. For the life of me I cannot understand what provisions in this Bill are put before us to-day. The Attorney-General has said that there are to be many Amendments. I should have preferred much, before giving my vote, to see what those Amendments were. It has been said that many Members will not be on the Committee which considers this Bill. I know it will be open to them, when the Bill comes down on Report to move some Amendments. But what will happen? It will then be made a party measure, and even if the Government are defeated it will result only in a few of the malcontents being invited to Downing Street again, the whitewash brush will be used, and they will come to heel. I have had some experience of several Government Departments, not high salaried appointments at all. I happened to be Substitution Officer for Derbyshire. May I say. without egotism, that owing to the fact that I did not hesitate to break regulations I 611 substituted more men than any other Substitution Officer in the country. When National Service became law I happened to call a meeting at my own expense to explain it. I was not satisfied with the methods adopted by the Ministry of Labour. What happened? Under the Defence of the Realm Act, I suppose, I had a telegram from London ordering me to cancel my meeting as I was going to criticise some other Government Departmerit. I said, "You can have my resignation but I will not cancel the meeting unless law or force prevents me from holding it." They sent down from London to report even a man like myself, holding a. small position like that. A shorthand note was taken of everything I said, and although I was not prosecuted I had to go before my chief, who, as is usual with heads of Departments, knew little or nothing about the job he had to do. He advised me that if ever I intended to make a speech again, even if it was an after-dinner speech, I should have to submit it to the head of my Department. I said that perhaps that would be difficult; it would depend upon what one had for dinner. No action was taken on that. Am I still to be in danger if I say something outside this House that is detrimental, say, to recruiting or demobilisation? I notice in Regulation 42 for the words "successful prosecution of the War" there are the words "in connection with the demobilisation of the forces." I am free from arrest in this House I understand, but I am here to say this—that there is no more scandalous thing than the miserable methods adopted in the demobilisation of the forces of this country., During the past few months you have had men demobilised who have never seen a shot fired, while out in Mesopotamia and in India, and in some parts of Russia, there are men who have been there practically from the beginning of the War—men forty years of age, with wives and children. Here we have to-day the power vested in officers who want to keep their position to say which of their men are indispensable. Let me illustrate what I mean. It was said in this House by the Secretary for War that the men coming from Mesopotamia had all volunteered to remain in India till the trouble was over.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir E. Pollock)
I think the hon. Member is mistaken on one point. It has been under 612 taken that both 42 (c) and 42 are to be withdrawn. I am not sure that I caught his observations, but I thought lie referred to a continuance of these.
§ Mr. WHITE
On page 19 are the words I have read as it for the words "successful prosecution of tile War" there were submitted the words "in connection with the demobilisation of the forces.'' If I made the observations outside this House that I have made inside that would be doing something detrimental to the demobilisation of the forces, and, in my opinion, I should be in danger of prosecution. What happened in India? A soldier goes to his club and says, "I have not volunteered, and the first thing I know about it is that I see reported in this newspaper that the Secretary for War said we had all volunteered." The colonel says, "And you will be the last man to be demobilised in this camp for asking that simple question." That is only an instance of what will go on under Bills like this. Are we to be kept in the dark as to when there is likely to be a ratification of peace? We had a lot of discussion as to when the termination of the War was to be, but now we appear to have the same delays as to when the ratification of peace is to come about. Why is the extension of this Act necessary when, as was said by the Prime Minister and reported in a paper which I believe was purchased so that he might have a good Press, "I am sure we have no enemy at the present moment in any part of the world."
If we have no enemy, why keep continuing these Defence of the Realm Regulations? There is no country in Europe in a position to go to war with the single exception of ourselves, and who are we going to fight? Public opinion in this country would prevent us again being plunged into war. We have had enough of Orders in Council issued by Government Departments under the powers of the Defence of the Realm Act, and of restrictions on imports and ex- 613 ports which, I suppose, come under the same Act. I have given an illustration of what happened in Hull. There last March a man came to me and said, "I have an order from Sweden for 250,000 sacks, and I have been trying to get a licence for months. To-day I have received a telegram to say that the order has been given to Germany because we cannot undertake it soon enough." I think it is time we should have done with all these restrictions and of Government Departments, and it is time we reverted to Parliamentary control.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
I am against the continuance of the various restrictions and- controls which this Bill desires to continue, and I do not think I am alone in that respect. Certainly when I have spoken at any meetings and answered questions I have answered them most unequivocably on this point. I think most hon. Members have done the same. When 1 saw this Bill down for the Second Reading I knew the Government would have a difficult time again over this measure, because in the newspapers which represent the parties which form the Coalition the campaign and outcries against these controls and restrictions is just as vigorous in those papers as it is in those Which are more ostensibly against the Government. If that is so, if it is a fact that the Members of this House are really against, a continuance of those restrictions, how is it that the Government can come down here and bring in a Bill which has already been shown, and which I shall try to show, is very premature? Why have they come here with a Bill including all sort of conditions which nobody understands, and which it is not proposed now shall be retained in the Bill before it has passed its final stages?
How can they ask for a Second Reading blindly with any hopes of obtaining it? The only answer is that pressure has been exercised. We have had a continuance of the various machinations which go on behind the scenes for the purpose of the kind of Parliamentary government which we have at the present time. I read with amazement in the newspapers the announcement that after the last Government defeat the Government had called certain prominent Members into conference. This information was published in the Government organs as well as other 614 newspapers, and it was stated that everything was now all right. Those particular men who have been selected arbitrarily are satisfied. It was said there is no question at issue now, and the whole thing will go through. I thought to what a pitch Parliamentary government had come in this country. Now we have another instance where we have heard cheers have been given whenever objections have been raised to these controls and restrictions, and we find this House agreeing to them. Why? I expect there have been threats of resignation, and the whole thing has to be passed. How is it this Bill has to be passed in its present form? When suggestions are made that we should have the Bill specified and made complete they are not carried out, and it is said it can be left to the Committee. That concession has merely been granted because of the opposition raised to this Bill, and the opposition has been quietened by influences which are not on the surface. If that opposition had not been made this Bill would have gone through in its present state. Now it is admitted that quite a considerable portion of the Bill can be dropped. If so, why were those things put in? If the Government, is sincere in saying this, why were such things included? The very fact that these omissions are to be made is a confession that they are not necessary, and what guarantee have we that those to e left in are required?
The main objection I have to the Second Reading going through is that this is another example, of which the Military Service Bill was the first, of Bills being brought in long before the time they are necessary, and that very fact is the cause of the gravest suspicion, and it demands that every man who is honest on this question should give his vote against it. [Laughter.] I see some hon. Members opposite are amused at my reference to the Military Service Act. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear ‡ ''j Let me explain, because the same thing applies to this Bill. The Military Service Act, which was in existence before the new Act, has the same provision about the termination of the War. We have had a very clear definition given by the Attorney-General as to what is the termination of the War, and we are told it is an Order in Council which is to be passed after the ratification of a, 615 certain number of them. The point is that it is an Order in Council which has to be made by the Government itself, and this after ratification. The Leader of the House said to-day that ratification will probably not take place till the second or third month in next year Anyone knew at the time when the Military Service Bill was brought in that ratification could not possibly take place until late this autumn, and now we know it cannot take place till next year; but even then the Order in Council has to be passed. Surely the right, the honest course in dealing with a measure of this kind, where it is admitted that these restrictions are evil things, when nothing must be retained except what is vitally necessary, surely the proper and honourable course is to wait till nearer the time when this Bill is necessary. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University clearly showed that there is no urgency for this Bill at all, that before this Order in Council is passed any urgent legislation which is necessary for the continuance of any control could be passed rapidly, as Bills have been passed rapidly in this House before now, and there could be no objection. I say, therefore, that this premature bringing in of legislation, the attempt first of all to bring it in secretly, and now the insistence upon it against its necessity, is a cause for the gravest suspicion, and when we have, combined with this, the fact that hon. Members who have openly stated their objection to these proposals are now, through various subterranean measures, quietened, it needs a protest and a strong vote against it
§ Colonel WILLIAMS
I hardly think I exhausted my right to speak. I did not intend to do so, and I have only a few words to say now.
§ Colonel WILLIAMS
I merely put a question to the Attorney-General, Sir. I believe that in the North country, if there is one thing that Labour and Capital are agreed upon, it is that D.O.R.A. should go at once. I believe really that the workmen and the employers are agreed upon that. I believe also that the Regulation which compels a workman to produce a leaving certificate in order to leave his employment created more industrial unrest in our district than anything else, and I am perfectly convinced of this: that the business community are intensely annoyed at the way in which they have been handled under the Defence of the Realm Act; and unless they have some prospect of relief I believe the Government would have been met not only with passive resistance from the business community but with active resistance to any further Regulations. I do not believe the commercial community, like the workmen, are going to stand an indefinite Defence of the Realm Act, and the point I really wanted to raise was this. Under what Regulation is the Board of Trade prohibiting the export of metals from the North-East Coast? We have never yet been able to find out. It may come under the Regulation which gives the Government power to regulate articles of commerce other than food, but that Regulation is very seriously affecting our export trade in the North of England, and even during the railway strike, when we could have carried on to a certain extent by means of shipments abroad, the Board of Trade was refusing licences for the export of metals to Continental countries, especially Belgium and the North of France. The only other point I want to make is this. I do not believe that this House ought to part to the Executive with these extensive powers to interfere with the liberty of the subject for so long as is proposed. Three months from the termination of the War is ample. I hope the House will vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, and I believe fall in with the view of the general public, and protect the interest of the subject.
Question put, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 233; Noes, 63.619
|Division No. 117.]||AYES||[10.21 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Greig, Colonel James William||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gretion, Colonel John||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Peering, William George|
|Armitage, Robert||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic, Loughbord)||Pickering, Col. Emil W.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. F. W.||Gwynne, R. S.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hacking, Captain D. H.||Preston, W. R.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hailwood, A.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Balowin, Stanley||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.(Altrincham)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hanna, G. B.||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hanson, Sir Charles||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barnston, Major H.||Harmsworth, Cecil R. (Luton, Beds.)||Rae, H. Norman|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Hennessy, Major G.||Hepburn, Sir William|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Bell, Lt.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Betterton, H. B.||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Blades, Sir George R||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Reld, D. D.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Remer, J. B.|
|Blane, T. A.||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Renwick, G.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Hinds, John||Richardson, Sir Albion (Peekham)|
|Borwick, Major G. o.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hood, Joseph||Rodger, A. K.|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Hope, Harry (Stirling)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roundell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Rowlands, James|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Reyds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead)||Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Howard, Major S. G.||Scott, A. M. (Glos., Bridgeton)|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Seeger, Sir William|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Seddon, James|
|Campion, Colonel W. R.||Hurd, P. A.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Carr, W. T.||Jackson, Lt,-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)||Jameson, Major J. G.||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||Jephcott, A. R.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Jesson, C.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Jodrell, N. P.||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Child, Brig.-General Sir Hill||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Clough, R.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General G. K.||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Kerr-Smiley, Major P.||Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Kidd, James||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Colvin, Brig.-General R. B.||King, Commander Douglas||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Knights, Captain H.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Waddington, R.|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Boner (Glasgow)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Dean, Com. P. T.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Wardle, George J.|
|Dennis, J. W.||Long, Rt. Hen. Walter||Waring, Major Walter|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander H.||Lorden, John William||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Dockrell, Sir M.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lynn, R. J.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Du Cros, Sir Arthur Philip||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Edge, Captain William||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Elliot, Captain W. E. (Lanark)||Mitchell, William Lane-||Williams, Lt-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Moles, Thomas||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, Cal. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Moore, Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Morris, Richard||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Forrest, W.||Mosley, Oswald||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Gange, E. S.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wolmer. Viscount|
|Ganzonl, Captain F. C.||Murray, Maj. C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Murray, John (Leeds, W.)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Young, Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Nall, Major Joseph||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Younger, Sir George|
|Gray, Major E.||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Oman, C. W. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E.|
|Green, A. (Derby)||Pearce. Sir William||Talbot and Mr. Parker.|
|Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, V.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayday, A.||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Bean, Captain W. (Leith)||Hayward, Major Evan||Sitch, C. H.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Calne)|
|Bramsden, Sir T.||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Briant, F.||Holmes, J.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Irving, Dan||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Cairns, John||Johnstone, J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Cape, Tom||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Casey, T. W.||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Lunn, William||Thorne, Colonel W. (Plaistow)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Tootill, Robert|
|Edwards. C. (Bedwellty)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Finney, Samuel||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, J. (Gower, Glam.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Richards. Rt. Hon. Thomas||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)||Roberts, F. 0. (W. Bromwich)|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Robertson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hallas, E.||Rose, Frank H||Hogge and Mr. Tyson Wilson|
§ Bill accordingly read a second time.620
§ Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House."
§ The House divided: Ayes,67; Noes,224.621
|Division No. 118.||AYES.||[10.33 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hayday, A.||Royce. William Stapleton|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Henderson, Rt. Hon Arthur||Snort, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Berm, Captain W. (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, C. H.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Holmes, J.||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Bramsdon, Sir T.||Irving, Dan||Smith, W. (Wellingobrough)|
|Briant, F.||Johnstone, J.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Cairns, John||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Cape, Tom||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Casey, T. W.||Lunn, William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thorne, Col. W. (Plaistow)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Tootill, Robert|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwelity)||O'Grady, James||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Finney, Samuel||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, J (Gower, Glam.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Young. Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)||Robertson, J.|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Rose, Frank H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Hallas, E.||Roundell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.||Hogge and Mr. Tyson Wilson.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Broad, Thomas Tucker||Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Courthope, Major George Loyd|
|Armitage, Robert||Buckley, Lieutenant-Colonel A.||Curzon, Commander Viscount|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Con'. F. W.||Bull, Right Hon. Sir William James||Davies, T. (Cirencester)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Burdon, Col. Rowland||Dean, Corn. P. T.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Dennis, J. W.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Butcher, Sir J. G.||Dockrell, Sir M.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Campion, Colonel W. R.||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Barnston, Major H.||Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Du Cros, Sir Arthur Philip|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Carr, W. T.||Edge, Captain William|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Carter. R. A. D. (Manchester)||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)|
|Bell, Lt.-Col. W C. H. (Devizes)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Elliot. Captain W. E. (Lanark)|
|Betterton, H. B.||Cayzer, Major H. R.||Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)|
|Blades, Sir George R.||Chadwick, R. Burton||Eyres-Monsell, Commander|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|BlanceT. A.||Clough, R.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Coats, Sir Stuart||FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Cockerill, Brig.-General G. K.||Flannery. Sir J. Fortescue|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith||Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Forrest, W.|
|Brassey, H. L. C||Colfox, Major W. P.||Gange, E. S.|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Colvin. Brig.-General R. B.||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.|
|Brldgeman, William Clive||Conway. Sir W. Martin||Gardiner, J. (Perth)|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Samuel, A.M. (Farnham, Surrey)|
|George, Rt. Han. David Lloyd||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Larder, John William||Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Scot, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Lynn, R. J.||Seager, Sir William|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Seddon, James|
|Green, A. (Derby)||Macmaster, Donald||Seely, Maj.-Gen. Right Hon. John|
|Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Macquisten, F. A.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic., Loughboro)||Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Gwynne, R. S.||Mitchell, William Lane||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Hacking, Captain D. H.||Moles, Thomas||Stanley, Col. Hon. G.F.(Preston)|
|Hailwood, A.||Melson, Major Jahn Elsdale||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)||Moore, Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Hanna, G. B.||Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hanson. Sir Charles||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Harmsworth, Cecil R. (Luton, Beds.)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Hennessy, Major G.||Mosley, Oswald||Surtess, Brig.-General H. C.|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||Murchison, C. K.||Sykes, Sir C. (Huddersfield)|
|Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gerdon||Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Murray, John (Leeds, W.)||Waddington, R.|
|Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Nall, Major Joseph||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke, Trent)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Ward, Colonel L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Hood, Joseph||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hope, Harry (Stirling)||Oman, C. W. C.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pearce, Sir William||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Welgall, Lt.-Colonel W. E. G. A.|
|Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Perring, William' George||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Pickering, Col. Emil W.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Horne, Slr Robert (Hillhead)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Wigan, Brig.-Gen, John Tyson|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Pratt, John William||Wild, Sir Ernest Edword|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Preston, W. R.||Williams, Lt-Com. C (Tavistock)|
|Hurd, P. A.||Prescott, Major W. H.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Jameson, Major J. G.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Jenson, C.||Purchase, H. G.||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Jodrell, N. P.||Rae, H. Norman||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Raeburn, Sir William||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Ramsden, G. T.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Wood, Major Hon. E, (Ripon)|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyder|
|Kerr-Smiley, Major P.||Reid, D. D.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Kidd, James||Remer, J. B.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|King, Commander Douglas||Renwick, G.||Young, Sir F.W. (Swindon)|
|Knights, Captain H.||Robinson S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Younger, Silr George|
|Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Rothschild, Lionel de||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Rowlands, James||Talbot and Mr. Parker.|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.