§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Gordon Hewart)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This is a short and simple Bill to amend the Official Secrets Act, 1911. Unfortunately one of the things which increase and develop in an imperfect world is the ingenuity of spies, and another is the elaboration of the systems and the methods of spying. The Official Secrets Act, 1911, after an interval of 22 years, re-enacted and amended the Official Secrets Act, 1889. Now, after a further interval of nine years, it becomes necessary to amend and extend the Act of 1911. That Act, as the House is aware, imposed penalties for spying, for harbouring spies, and for wrongful communication of information. The present Bill, which is the result of the labours of an inter-Departmental Committee, and springs from the experience of the past few years, deals, and deals temperately, with the same topics.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I speak from recollection. The Departments, among others, were the War Office, the Admiralty, and the Home Office. There may have been others, but there was a large inter-Departmental Committee.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
Can the right hon. Gentleman make it quite clear at this point that the Bill deals only with spying?
§ Sir G. HEWART
I cannot possibly say it deals only with spying. If the hon. Member will have patience he will see that it deals also with certain other things. The function of the Bill is to extend the principal Act, that is to say, the Act of 1911, where experience has shown that it is less than adequate. The period of the War partly revealed and partly created fresh developments in the mischief of spying. During actual hostilities the omissions of the Statute were temporarily made good by Regulations; but some of those Regulations have to-day disappeared, and the rest will disappear before long. Hence the necessity of the present measure, the main features of which I will shortly summarise.
1538 Under the principal Act it is, as the House is aware, an offence for any person, for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, to enter a prohibited place, such as a dockyard or an arsenal. The present Bill usefully supplements that provision by making it an offence for any person, for the purpose of gaining admission to a prohibited place, to wear without authority a naval or military uniform, to make a false statement, or to tamper with official documents such as a passport, permit, or similar document. Experience during the War has made it quite plain that a provision of that kind is necessary if the work of foreign agents is to be checked. The Bill further prohibits the improper retention and the improper communication of official documents, a provision due to the fact that information of a secret nature is too often obtained from or through indiscreet persons. Those—and there are some—who have objected to this part of the Bill ignore at least one important matter. They forget, or they do not observe, that the retention which is made criminal is retention for some purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State.
§ Sir G. HEWART
The courts. Another important provision of the Bill has to do with communications with enemy agents. Modern spying, assisted by contrivances like invisible ink, is extremely difficult to detect, and it happens in many cases that the only evidence available against a person well known to be a spy is the fact of his having visited or communicated with a known foreign agent. Accordingly, it is provided by Clause 2, Sub-section (i) of the Bill as follows:In any proceedings against a person for an offence under Section 1 of the Principal Act, the fact that he has been in communication with, or attempted to communicate with, a foreign agent, whether within or without the United Kingdom, shall be evidence that he has, for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, obtained or attempted to obtain information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.I will only say with regard to that quite deliberately drastic provision that experience shows a provision of that kind to be vitally necessary. There are two 1539 other provisions in the Bill to which I ought in a sentence or two to refer. With regard to the question asked a moment ago, does this Bill relate only to spying? It relates also to two similar and sometimes ancillary matters. The fourth Clause of the Bill contains the power to require the production of telegrams. The postal and cable censorship which we had during the War, and which was of the greatest possible value and importance, was removed shortly after the Armistice. That being so, it is necessary that there should be power at least to compel the production of the originals and the transcripts of certain telegrams. It is not a power to stop telegrams. It is merely a power to compel the production of the originals and transcripts sent to, or received from, any place out of the United Kingdom; and the main purpose or that provision is to enable the authorities to detect and deal with attempts at spying by foreign agents. The other provision upon which I might say one word is this. There are in this country some businesses which consist in the receipt of letters for persons whose real addresses are elsewhere, and this Bill provides for the registration and regulation of persons who carry on the business of receiving postal packets. It is -required that they shall register the names and addresses of their clients, and also register the particulars of business done. No honest or innocent person can have any objection to that provision.
May I add one word more upon a particular kind of objection which, oddly enough, has sometimes been taken to this Bill? It is said that this Bill deals with the -Press. That seems to me to be an astonishing statement, and it is very strange that persons connected with the Press should say that this Bill deals with them. How can it possibly be said that it is the function of a journalist to retain for some purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State an official document that he has no right to retain, or which it is contrary to his duty to retain? So far from asserting that that is something aimed at journalists, I should have thought that the first comment of a journalist reading that provision would be this: "Whoever may be the persons referred to, they are certainly not journalists." It is proposed to put in the Bill, as I understand at the sug- 1540 gestion of some gentlemen connected with the Press, certain words in Clause 1 (c). There the Bill refers to "forging, altering, or tampering with any passport or any naval, military, air force, police, or official pass, permit, certificate, licence, or other document." It is said that that is too general, and it is desired that the words "of a similar character" should be inserted. I am going to propose that in Committee, but may I pause to say this, that the criticism directed against those words seems to me entirely to ignore the fact that the governing words are, "If any person for the purpose of gaining admission to a prohibited place" does these things, and that part of the Bill is not aimed at the alteration of a document as such. It is aimed at the alteration of a document of a certain kind for the purpose of gaining admission to a prohibited place for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State. Again, I should have thought, with great respect, that that is a class of document and a kind of purpose with which the Press of this country has nothing, and will never have anything to do.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day three months." His Majesty's Government have been wise in their choice of the Minister to bring this Bill forward, because from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman anyone who had not read the Bill, or, what is even more important, had not read the principal Act to which the Bill refers, would imagine that if ever there was an innocent Bill this was the one, and that it did not do anything really other than to add to the powers of the principal Act. Let me say a word on the existing powers of the State to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I think it is true to say that within 48 hours of the outbreak of war all the known enemy spies or suspected spies were laid by the heels, and it is also true to say, and here I am speaking with some knowledge, that the powers which were in the hands of the Executive were used with such effect that there was not one single instance of any damage either to person or property by agents or suspected agents of the enemy throughout Great Britain during the War. That is a wonderful record, and it shows that the Executive 1541 was amply clothed with powers to deal with the matter. I come now to the general question. It is of the greatest importance, now that we are free from active warfare though technically still at war, that we should exercise the greatest possible care to see that no legislation is passed through this Chamber which in any degree tends to further restrict the liberty of the subject. The war habit is a habit which the Departmental mind finds it very difficult to get rid of. We have had a very large experience in this House of legislation proposed, and passed sometimes and occasionally modified, which shows that the Departments of State still have the war mind. There has not, I believe, been any measure yet proposed from the Treasury Bench which is more indicative of that proposition than the measure now before us. He asked us why should the Press object to this proposal. There is no body of men in this country who know their own business better than the Press, and throughout the main organs of the Press there have been articles, obviously written by men who have studied the Bill very carefully, which expressed the most determined hostility to the measure now proposed on the ground that they fear, as they think, and they are very good judges, that if this Bill is passed in anything like its present form, their position as public servants in and through the Press would be very completely hampered.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I do not want to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but perhaps he will allow me to say that when this Bill was in another place, where it was passed through all its stages, it was subjected to some criticism at the time, and in the result words were inserted to meet that criticism. It was conceded that those words went a very long way, but it was thought that something still remained to be done. Since June, when the Bill passed through its stages in another place, conferences have been held between those who are responsible for the Bill and those who represent the newspapers, and the Amendments which I indicated that I am about to move in Committee will, as I am informed, remove the objections.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
We will deal with that position when we arrive at it in Committee. What happened in another place was that the Bill was almost passing 1542 sub silentio when I believe Lord Burn ham interfered, and a hasty and rather incomplete discussion took place on the Third Reading. I think the Debate lather shows that the Noble Lords did not address themselves with their customary care to this matter, and it is quite evident from the speech of the Lord Chancellor that they rather left it to this House to exercise the more meticulous care which such a provision as this needs. Let me say a word as to why I conceive that the Press of this country should be more amply protected than at present. There is no proper definition of an official document, and the words suggested by my right hon. Friend are not sufficient to protect them. Then who is to decide what is prejudicial to the interests of the State?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Yes, but the original Act is very limited in its purposes. Section 1 of the Act of 1911 provides:If any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State approaches or is in the neighbourhood of or enters any prohibited place within the meaning of this Act or makes any sketch, plan, model, or note, which is calculated to be, or might be, or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy, or obtains or communicates to any other person any sketch, plan, model, article, or note, or other document, or information which is calculated to be, or might be, or is intended to be, directly or indirectly useful to an enemy,The original Act was obviously aimed at what was definitely spy work. My main criticism of this Bill is that it extends that far wider than the original Act intended, and that it hits at the legitimate exercise of the functions of the Press, and certainly impinges, most harmfully, as I believe, on the liberty of the individual. Let us see what would happen, as I think, under the words of the Bill. I make no objection, certainly no very serious objection, to the powers which are asked for in Clause 1, Sub-section (1), which deal with persons using or wearing without lawful authority any naval, military or air force uniform. But in Sub-section (2) of that Clause the main question is really raised. It provides thatif any person retains for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the 1543 State any official document, whether or not completed or issued for use, when he has no right to retain it, or when it is contrary to his duty to retain it, or fails to comply with any directions issued by any Government Department, or any person authorised by such Department with regard to the return or disposal thereof.As we all know, the Press of this country during the whole of their modern existence have had, and I daresay have now, official documents, and what might happen with regard to them? Some Minister may have given an official document to a newspaper, and for some reason or another he suddenly desires its return, and at once threatens the holder of the document, unless he returns it, with all the penalties prescribed by this Bill. It is quite conceivable that the use which the newspaper makes of the communication may be of the greatest public useful ness. There is no doubt about that. It happens over and over again in all Governments; it has happened in the past, and in the present, and will, I suppose, in the future. The position in which the Press would be put under those circumstances is one which, I think, would very much militate against the public service which from time to time they render. There are very, very few instances in the long record of the British Press where information so given to them, whether strictly in accordance with Ministerial etiquette or otherwise, or official etiquette, has been misused, but there arc countless instances in which such information has been used greatly to the public advantage. The right hon. Gentleman read out these words, and asked what reputable journalists would desire to hold in his possession any in formation which might be prejudicial to the interests of the State. But who it going to decide that?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
After it comes into Court? That is where the power comes in; that is where the menace comes in, and that is where the freedom of the Press, and as I venture to say, and the protection of the public comes in. That is where again I say the perpetuation and development of the war spirit comes in. I invite hon. Members to give their very careful attention to the whole of Sub-section (2) and the arguments which 1544 I have just submitted. If hon. Members will do me the honour of looking at Clause 1 (3) of the Bill, they will see what the whole thing really means, and how far-reaching are the powers which are sought here. It says:In the case of any prosecution under this Section involving the proof of a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, Sub-section (2) of Section one of the principal Act shall apply in like manner as it applies to prosecutions under that Section.We have here again an instance of how unfair legislation by reference is, for I will just read Sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the principal Act, and let the House remember that it may be a private individual or an editor of a newspaper who is prosecuted:On a prosecution under this Section, it shall not be necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, and, notwithstanding that no such act is proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case or his conduct or his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State.You are by means of that Section placing any person in precisely the same position as if in time of war, or of war being feared, you dealt with an enemy spy. It is the complete abrogation of any semblance of justice, and it means that the Executive is trying to carry into times of peace all the war powers it ever had. How would they be used? The words, "prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State,'" would bring in the full range of social disorders, not necessarily by an enemy, but any person who is taking action which the Executive think is disruptive to the interests of the State. I am astonished at the attitude of the Government in making any such proposal as this and clothing it under the suggestion of simply developing necessary powers for dealing with spies. It is not that; if it were so, I should take a totally different view of it, but it is really seeking powers to strike at the root of public expression of free opinion in and through the Press and the liberty of the individual. My right hon. Friend spoke about Clause 4, and the powers which were exercised by the State during the War for the censorship of telegrams. That was quite right, and a potent means of protection during the War, but he did not really call 1545 attention to what the words of that Clause are. This is what it says:Where it appears to a Secretary of State that such a course is expedient in the public interest, he may, by warrant under his hand"—That is to say, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for War, the First Lord of the Admiralty—
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Well, there are five or six of them, anyway, and any one of these gentlemen is entitled by this Clause, "by warrant under his hand," whenever he thinks it is expedient in the public interest, to demand from any private cable company copies of any telegrams, between any people, sent anywhere.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I mentioned private cable companies, and there are no such companies for wiring inside the United Kingdom. I was thinking of foreign telegrams, and there is no answer to that. Is the House going to give that power to any Secretary of State? I am quite sure it will not. What power, again, is given in Clause 6?It shall be the duty of every person to give on demand to a chief officer of police, or to a superintendent or other officer of police not below the rank of inspector appointed by a chief officer for the purpose, or to any member of His Majesty's forces engaged on guard, sentry, patrol, or other similar duty, any information in his power relating to an offence or suspected offence under the principal Act or this Act.If a citizen gets a tap on the shoulder and is told he must come and see the officer at a certain time or place to give him information, and that citizen declines to give the information and says, "This is not the way to treat me,' he is guilty of a misdemeanour and to imprisonment for two years. Is that the sort of Bill which was in the minds of hon. Members? Is that the idea of simply strengthening 1546 the powers of the Government against spies? The whole thing is full of confirmation of my suggestion that what the Executive are really after is not giving more power to legitimate authority to deal with enemy spies here, but it is to give them war power in peace time to destroy the liberties of the subject. When you come to look at Clause 8, Sub-section (4) you will find that if, in the course of the proceedings before a court, it seems necessary to the court, they can hear the whole of the evidence in secret, provided always that they sentence the citizen publicly. I find it difficult to confine my language in regard to this Bill within the range of Parliamentary propriety. It is another attempt to clamp the powers of war on to the liberties of the citizen in peace, and unless this House turns away this strangle-hold of bureaucracy, before another 12 months are over, we shall find that this Government has, with the aid of the Members of this House, curtailed in a manner which is most inimical to the true interests of social order those liberties of the British subject upon which the progress of this country at home and abroad has so long rested.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I want to put one point to my right hon. Friend, and I am led to do so by what I must call the extraordinary speech to which we have just listened by the right hon. Member for Peebles, who has to my mind made use of very strong and unfair phrases. First of all, he said that the ordinary legislative powers for dealing with spies were absolutelly ample and satisfactory. That view will not be shared, I feel sure, by a single hon. Member of this House who has served in His Majesty's Forces.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The right hon. Gentleman said that on the outbreak of the War it was possible to round up all these spies. I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend that it is a well-known fact of military administration that you are never going to stop espionage in war time unless you have in peace time adequate powers to deal with it. It is a well known fact, but I only mention that because I do not think it is right that it should be laid down that our powers at the outbreak of War were adequate for 1547 dealing with the spy question. I would put this point to the right hon. Gentleman who is so very anxious for the liberty of the subject, that if this country before the War has a system of legislation which enables practically any ill-disposed person to spy on this country without hindrance, then, when war breaks out, you will have to impose a much more drastic curtailment of the liberty of the subject than if you had in peace time a proper system for dealing with spies. I think that is an important point. My right hon. Friend must have overlooked the fact, when he complained that in another place the position of the Press was not properly considered, that the Bill was a matter of some controversy in the early days of last summer and that there were, I believe, conferences between Noble Lords in another place who represented the Government and representatives of the Press, conferences, for example, with Lord Burnham and Members of the Government. The result is the Bill in the form in which it has reached this House, and it is wrong to suppose that the position of the Press under the Bill was not properly considered in another place. I suggest that there is nothing in this Bill to interfere either with pressmen or any other persons going about their lawful occasions on legitimate business.
There is another ground on which I would base my support of the Bill. Everyone knows we do not live in ordinary times. Everyone knows there are plots and conspiracies against this Realm which are being carried out in foreign countries and some parts of the British Empire, and that, however one may dislike the idea of imposing additional restrictions on the subject, it is necessary for the Government to have that power. I suggest there is nothing to interfere with a person going about his legitimate business. The right hon. Gentleman, for example, made great play with Clause 4 of the Bill. I had not the opportunity of reading the Bill fully through before, but I read it through during his speech, and I compared it with what he said. Surely he does not suggest that in the critical time in which we are living to-day a Secretary of State should not have power, if it seem desirable in the opinion of the Government that he should exercise that power, to find out what is being cabled to and from this country. Of 1548 course, it is a most necessary power, which every government ought to have. If you read the legislative enactments of the United States and France, our two great democratic Allies, you will find they have that power, and considerably fuller than in this country. I know of no country where ill-disposed persons prior to the War were given more opportunities of spying against the State than in this country. They were not allowed to do it in the United States or in France.
I hope that in Committee the Government may see their way to extend the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Clause 1, which says,If any person retains for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State any official document.I should like to make it an offence for a person, who has had an official document in his possession, afterwards to make use of it either in the Press or in any book he publishes. I do not want to go into delicate questions, or to refer to any particular publication, but, in view of the extraordinary disclosures of official information in all sorts of books and papers lately by persons who have had access to such information, it is most desirable that the Government should have power to punish people who make use of official documents by subsequent publications in books, and I am convinced that if this were put to the country, there is not a public meeting composed of ordinary citizens who would not approve of power being given to the Government to prevent, and, if need be, punish the indiscreet publication of official information, even many months or years after the event, as it renders the carrying on of the government difficult, and makes dangerous our relations with foreign Powers. It is not often I do myself the pleasure of supporting the Government in Debate, but I certainly think on this occasion they will have the great bulk of their party behind them, not only in attempting to stop the possibility of spying in future, but also in putting an end to the indiscreet publication of official documents.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
My Noble Friend referred to the impassioned speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but I think my Noble Friend's speech was quite as impassioned as that of the right hon. Gentleman. If an hon. Member is fighting in defence of liberty, he has far 1549 more right to make an impassioned speech than has an hon. Member who is trying to restrict liberty. I myself put down a Resolution on the Paper before ever the Government had their conference with the Press, and I am bound to say the Government have gone some way to meeting my objection to this Bill by proposing to introduce in Committee in Clause 1, paragraph (c) instead of the words "other document" the words "or any similar document," but I am not quite sure yet, because the learned Attorney-General defended the Bill on different grounds from those on which Lord Peel defended it. The learned Attorney-General said that the peccant Clause—that is Sub-section (2) which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) read—is governed by the words at the beginning of Clause 1, "If any person for the purpose of—
§ Sir G. HEWART
That is a mistake. What I said was that the words to which I shall propose to add the words "of a similar character" in paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1) are governed by the words:If any person for the purpose of gaining admission, or of assisting any other person to gain admission, to a prohibited place" etc.I never suggested for a moment that those latter words governed Sub-section (2). What I said about Sub-section (2) was that the retention of the document, to be criminal, must be retention for a purpose prejudicial to the State, and of course what is spoken of as an official document in Sub-section (2) is what is described in paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1).
§ Commander BELLAIRS
That makes the matter very much worse, because we are getting back to the old position, that anybody having an official document retained for any purpose prejudicial to the Statewhether or not completed or issued for use, when he has no right to retain it, or when it is contrary to his duty to regain it,that person is guilty of a misdemeanour. When the matter was in the House of Lords we were told by Lord Peel that that Sub-section was governed by the earlier words of Sub-section (1), paragraph (c):Anybody who forges, alters, or tampers with any passport or any naval, military, 1550 air force, police, or official pass, permit, certificate, licence, or other document.You get back to the old position, of which the Press are complaining, unless we know what is governing this Sub-section (2), and I suggest to my right hon. and learned Friend that he should add certain words to Sub-section (2) such as, "If any person for the purpose of gaining admission, or of assisting any other person to get to a prohibited place." We then know it is limited to a prohibited place and to a spy, and will not be used by the Government as a tyranny against public individuals, publicists or editors of newspapers. Or else he might intro duce after the words "official document" the words, "relating to a prohibited place." If he would engage to introduce those words in Committee, it would determine my vote on this matter. My right hon. and learned Friend and my Noble Friend referred to the discussion in the House of Lords. I have looked up the Debate in the House of Lords. There was no discussion on Second Reading. Lord Peel merely introduced the Bill in a perfunctory manner, saying that it embodied our war experience in countering espionage. If the Bill only dealt with that, there is nothing I would not do to strengthen it, and I agree with my Noble Friend in everything he said with regard to espionage. In Committee there were three columns of discussion in the House of Lords, and on the Third Reading five columns. Everybody knows that is not an adequate discussion for a Bill of this kind. Now the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the only point governing this peccant Clause is that referring to the "safety or interests of the State."
I would ask what becomes, then, of Lord Peel's words that this peccant Clause, Sub-section (2), about documents, is really governed by Clause 1, Subsection (1, c), which defines the documents? The Noble Lord who spoke for the Government said the words "or other documents" limited it to those specified articles mentioned in paragraph (c). That, of course, shortened the discussion in the House of Lords, because it was accepted; but now my right hon. and learned Friend puts quite another version on the matter. Even if it were limited to those things, I think it often happens that Members of this House and editors of newspapers have documents 1551 with reference to prohibited places. I remember, during a critical period of the War, when we were very short of shipping, it came to my knowledge that all the prohibited places in the Far East had mine channels extending twelve miles out to sea, and ships were kept till nine o'clock in the morning before being allowed to enter those channels, and lights were obscured on shore, although not a German vessel had been within thousands of miles of the Pacific and Indian ports for many months. These ports were all prohibited places. It is very useful for an editor to know facts like that, in order to bring pressure upon the Government when the Government is obviously neglecting its duty. That is a simple instance of the case in point.
I must echo the protest made the other day by the right hon. Member for Peebles in reference to the complicated character of these Bills, and the difficulty of understanding them. Apparently, Members of the Government themselves do not understand them. I can only say that the Jews were very much to be congratulated that Moses went up the Mount unaccompanied, either by a lawyer or a draughtsman, and came down with the Tablets of Law. In spite of this difficulty, when discussing this very Bill the Lord Chancellor stated that every member of the public ought to know the 1911 Act, and to what he was liable under that Act. I tried to get it in the Vote Office, but could not get it as it was not stocked. I went to the Sales Office, and they said they would order a copy for me as they had none there. Eventually I had to study it in the Library. The Government must remember in regard to any suspicion the Press may feel and Members of the House may feel what are their objections. We have the public speeches of Members of the Government showing their anxiety to curtail the liberty of the Press during the War. It is not the one Government, but all Governments, both Conservative and Liberal. Both the present Lord Chancellor and the ex-Lord Chancellor, Lord Buckmaster, made speeches strongly urging the curtailing of the liberty of the Press, and the present Secretary of State for War has shown the greatest anxiety and made a speech in which he said members of the 1552 Press ought not to be at liberty to criticise the actions of the leaders of the nation, be they politicians or soldiers. The net result of these speeches, of which I have copies in my hand, is to leave on the mind an impression that Governments will always try to curtail the liberty of speech in these matters. With regard to what the learned Attorney-General said, that complete safety is given in this Clause by the reference, "for a purpose prejudicial to the safety of interests of the State," I cannot say that it gives protection. Clause 1 purports to deal with the unauthorised use of uniforms, falsification of reports, forgery, personation, and false documents, but my right hon and learned Friend leaves us in the old position that anybody who has an official document which is recalled by the Government of the day, and refuses to comply with the order is, under Clause 8, Section 2, which gives the punishment, liable to serve two years' imprisonment. I think that is a very drastic Clause indeed. I take, for instance, the lines 20 to 30 on page 2. They are very drastic indeed. Originally they read that the directions could be issued by any lawful authority. Lord Burnham complained that this might subject them to any soldier, sailor, or policeman, and the Government substituted the words, "by any Government Department or any person authorised by such Department with regard to the return or disposal thereof." I fail to see the protection. The Government might authorise anybody to order the return of any document, and everybody has to be a common informer in this matter. One's servant can go anywhere to see what official documents one has. I have dozens of official documents, mostly secret, and so on. Many are really quite of no value whatever. They have been given me at different times, some of the them by the late Lord Fisher. If hon. Members will read Clause 6 they will see that every person has to become a spy for the Government, otherwise that person is guilty of a misdemeanour. There is no safeguard for the subject of the State. I have read the Act of 1911 which really defines that point, "prejudicial to the safety or the interests of the State." It is clearly laid down that Section 1, Subsection (2) of the 19U Act shall apply to this Bill. What does it say about "safety or interests of the State"? This 1553 Section, which is to apply to this Bill, says:On a prosecution under this Section, it shall not be necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, and, notwithstanding that no such, act is proved against him he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the cases, or his conduct, or his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State.I submit that there is no protection whatever in these words. The learned Attorney-General says it is for the Courts to decide whether it is prejudicial to the interests or safety of the State. He does not realise what sensitive men publicists often are. They are men who bear an unblemished character and would flinch from the idea of having a charge like this made against them which puts them in the same category as spies and people working against the State. Therefore the Government by the same law may lessen very desirable criticism in this country. It is necessary for the real interests of the State that things should be made known in the newspapers, in pamphlets, and so forth. What is the limit that criticism and publicity can go I say it is simply this. You cannot allow people to work in the interests of the enemy or a possible enemy, because in that case the safety of the State is in danger; but the safety of the State is never in danger by real honest criticism. I submit that this Bill will promote secrecy, and secrecy, as we found in the later War, ruins the connection between the Army, the Navy and the people. It also leads to industrial unrest. I came across two quotations which show that. Just before the Revolution in Russia, before the Bolsheviks achieved success the "Times" on 11th November, 1916, published these words of Alexieff, the Russian Commander-in-Chief:A hundred and one things could be safely disclosed. … We are unnecessarily deprived in the Army of a precious bond of union with the nation.So far from wishing to establish a maximum of secrecy, the whole object ought to be to establish the minimum of secrecy. And then in regard to industrial unrest. We appointed Commissioners in 1917 to inquire into industrial unrest in the West Midland area, and they reported thatthe Government have all through been too much afraid of the public; they have not 1554 realised how solid and unbroken is the determination to finish the War, and they seem to have been led by a few spasmodic outbreaks and irresponsible utterances to the opinion that there was a dangerous element who might misuse any information it obtained. The result has been that the public has been kept in the dark, not only on military matters, but on matters on which no necessity for secrecy existed.I submit to the Government if this Subsection (2) of Clause 1 really stands as it is to-day we will be creating a very much greater evil than before, and I ask my learned Friend what is the position of newspaper proprietors who are in the Government. In France it is a common thing for newspaper men to be in the Government. Such newspaper proprietors as Lord Rothermere, Lord Northcliffe, and Lord Beaverbrook were in the Government, and under this Bill would have been a privileged class in regard to important documents whereas the others will not be privileged; they will be liable either to be searched or arrested in regard to documents, and they may be called upon to deliver up official documents. I do not for one moment doubt the good intentions of the Government, but I look upon this Bill as a Bill which may be enforced by some other Government. Some time after I put down the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne thought it a good Resolution and said he would support it, but I thought that that was not going to recommend it to my own political friends. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne distrusts this Bill because he distrusts the Government. I am not thinking of the Government of the day, but I am thinking when other people come into power and have this Bill to use, and they may use Clause 1, Sub-section 2 in the way which I disapprove of so strongly. It is not the intentions which matter. I believe that Dr. Guillotine's intentions were unimpeachable when he brought in a Bill to alleviate the sufferings of humanity which was used for quite other purposes, and Dr. Guillotine died of a broken heart. It seems to me evident that two Ministers of the Crown have given two totally different interpretations of this Clause. That is a very dangerous state of affairs, and would have to be remedied in Committee.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
I listened with amazement to the speech which was made by 1555 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles, more particularly having knowledge of the great responsibility that he carries as leader of a certain section of political thought in this House. I am just a new Back Bencher, but I must support this Bill, as I think any thoughtful man must see its vital necessity. What is the position? Those of us who were combatant officers in the war days knew to what a remarkable extent the enemies of this country had knowledge of the vulnerable and vital parts of our country as the result of the lack of application and the insufficiency of the 1911 Act. If the House will forgive a personal note, I will say that when stricken in the field for the third time, it became necessary for me to have other duties in France. My work became the obtaining knowledge of, and to take observations of, what was obtaining in other enemy countries. I was amazed, in respect to my own native part in Lancashire, more especially the towns of Rochdale and Oldham, to learn how the intricate and peculiarly vital knowledge of those towns was outlined fully by officers in connection with the enemy Powers. Those of us who have knowledge of books, guide books, and books of foreign travel know that other Continental nations have books dealing with the history of our country, its geographical position, with its civic administration, its personnel, and other sections to a remarkable and extra ordinary extent, all acquired through the weakness of Acts and Bills that have been brought before this House dealing with the secrets of our country. I want to say this, that if we as a House of Commons, with proper consideration for the full use of expression of every type of political mind and thought (this must be safeguarded), to the full, free use of the greatest educational factor that we have in this country, namely, the newspaper—for, with one or two insignificant exceptions, the whole of the Press of the country, whatever its political colour, is sound patriotically and proved itself as such during the war days—with these reservations, this type of legislation should be pressed and speeded up to see that what is vital for our existence shall be protected. My complaint is that this Bill—and I pay my tribute to the qualifications 1556 of the hon. and learned Gentleman who is one of the finest Attorney-Generals this country has ever had—is not strong enough. Let me take the first Clause, which says:If any person for the purpose of gaining admission, or of assisting any other person to gain admission, to a prohibited place—What is the definition of a "prohibited place?" I ask. The legal definition is very ambiguous, and requires further and clearer definition. Again, the 1911 Act goes on thus:Any work of defence, arsenal, factory, dockyard, camp, ship, telegraph, signal station, or office belonging to His Majesty or any other place belonging to His Majesty.When this earlier Bill was debated here in 1911, Sir Rufus Isaacs, as he then was, said, "also to the Crown." But we want to remember that to-day there are secret processes of defence and scientific research in regard to the defence of this country which go on in premises not belonging to the Crown or to any Department of State. Therefore I do suggest that the Attorney-General would be advised to accept an Amendment covering these processes of defence which some of us hope may never be put into operation—that is to say, some of us who have definite and decisive hopes of the usefulness of the League of Nations, but acknowledging our responsibility for the protection of our homeland it is vital that we should be prepared. Hence I suggest that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should take cognizance of these processes.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
Workshops, laboratories, industrial places which deal with the preparation of the defensive and offensive organisation of the country, both naval and military. These are in business premises not owned by the Crown. I should like also to see a wide power given to the Competent Officer, who shall have the opportunity for search. The very essence of this matter is to ensure that search and, if necessary, arrest should go together with the proper protective measures for legitimate criticism, whether oratorical or journalistic. Protection should also be given in the matter of labour organisations, that they may not be prevented from fulfilling their proper functions in the protection of labour, which I believe is loyal, although it may hold a 1557 point of view not held by everyone. I suggest that it would be well to remember the record of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leyton (Mr. Malone) who is where he is to-day as a result of a speech that the law officers of the Crown considered was not such as ought to be delivered by a loyal man and a loyal Member of this House. In view of the fact that we may have that type of speech, I suggest that this Bill should be so enlarged as to make it impossible for suggested seditious speeches to be delivered, it may be, by some of the aliens who once again are coming to our shores. I ask the Attorney-General to be good enough to carefully consider the points I have tried to put before him; firstly, in respect to the secret processes; second, in respect to a limit to oratorical exposition; and thirdly, in respect of such powers as may be vital to our national existence, the absence of which might be prejudicial to our protection.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down opened his speech with the remark that if this Bill were carried into law, it would be one of the vital defences of the country. I expected to hear something from him to prove what seemed to be rather a wild assertion. In my judgment, his speech was damaging to the Bill and to the continuance of the espion age system that obtained in this country during the War. The Noble Lord (Earl Winterton) who spoke earlier, suggested that we should have in peace time all, or nearly all, the powers necessary in time of war, and the Noble Lord challenged the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles, as did the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, for saying that the powers in force and in the hands of the Government and the Executive at the commencement of the War were sufficient. On the contrary, what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles did say was, that they were sufficient for times of peace. I contend that the powers at present in the hands of the Government are sufficient for a time of peace. I object wholly to giving to the Executive powers such as are contained in this Bill. It does not concern me what particular Government they come from. I do not object to this Bill because it emanates from the present Government. I object to giving to the Executive, whatever 1558 Government may be in power, the extensive and wide powers contained in the measure under discussion.
The Attorney-General said this was a very short and simple Bill. As various hon. Members have, however, pointed out, it contains much that can hardly be described as simple. I was very glad to hear from the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Commander Bellairs) the criticisms that he brought against Section 1, Sub-section (2), of the Bill. He very rightly pointed out how dangerous this would be not only from the point of view of the responsible journalist, but also from the point of view of other individuals. I object to this Section on the ground that it is unfair as between individuals. The hon. and gallant Gentle man pointed out that the Executive to-day may prosecute under this Section the journalist who has been given official documents—we do not know what official documents mean—by, it may be, a particular Cabinet Minister. Similar documents may have been given to other individuals at the same time; and the second, though they were, it may be, given by another Cabinet Minister, will not be subjected to prosecution under this Clause. I am perfectly amazed that the Government should have put Clause 4 into the Bill. It says:Where it appears to a Secretary of State that such a Court is expedient in the public interest he may by warrant under his hand require any person who owns or controls any telegraph cable or wire …to produce to him the original transcript of telegrams. That would allow any Secretary of State to call on the Postmaster-General to produce any telegram in connection with anything whether in relation to offences under this Act or not That at least is as I read the Clause. If, in the opinion of the Secretary of State for War, telegrams are being despatched or received, and it is expedient in the public interest to do so, he—being the judge of what is expedient—may cause these telegrams to be produced. Section 5 is a further deliberate and unnecessary encroachment upon the liberty of the subject. If this Bill were merely designed to tighten up powers in connection with espionage, it ought to be subjected to the closest scrutiny, but some of the additional powers might be necessary. This measure, however, travels outside the powers necessary to deal with 1559 spies. I am sorry that an hon. and gallant Gentleman who had a special knowledge of espionage during the War it not present; and there is also another hon. and gallant Gentleman who had a particular knowledge of this question, and he is not here to defend the Government. I am sorry neither of them is present, but perhaps it is better for the Government that they are not present. This measure travels far outside any powers which are necessary for dealing with espionage. At the present time encroachment upon the liberty of the subject appears to be almost as infectious as influenza, and I shall be bound to oppose the Government when this measure goes to a Division.
§ Mr. CLYNES
The Bill before the House was submitted in a very brief speech, and I hope we shall hear something more from the Government Bench before we go to a Division, in view of the criticisms which have been offered on this Bill. The hon. Member for Royton (Mr. Sugden) claimed some personal knowledge of the ease with which information was secured for the German service during the later years of the War. I think a reasonable comment upon that revelation is that very little information was in the possession of Germany which was not easily obtainable at any shop in this country. Maps and information useful during times of war are in times of peace easily purchasable, and may be sent from country to country. I know nothing which has been revealed to us which could justify the making of a law so extremely rigid, not to deal with German spies, but to deal with British subjects.
My hon. Friend intimated that it was a good thing to deal with suggested sedition. We have seen in this House how full of hate men can become because of actions taken or opinions expressed by hon. Members of this House from whom we differ, and it is a harmful thing to arm ourselves with instruments like these powers to deal with a question of this kind. I fear that freedom is gradually diminishing in face of a Bill such as that which is now before us. After all, what can we do in regard to a good or bad cause by legislation of this kind? At most, some individual can be arrested and perhaps imprisoned, and 1560 what he has said secures a publicity and a degree of public importance which it would never have got if it had been left alone. The tendency now is to regard opinion as harmful to the State if it does not harmonise with the settled opinions of those who guide the affairs of the State at the head of the Government. I decline to accept that position as being a justification of this measure. I would much prefer to rely on the outlet of even foolish doctrines and extreme utterances than exhibit the feeling which has prompted the Government to bring this Bill before the House.
What is to be regarded as prejudicial to the State? Opinions are now freely help by many persons connected with two or three political parties in this country which I dare say by the Government would be regarded as prejudicial to the State, and under this Bill, should it become an Act, we have only to repeat or express our convictions to be at once pointed at as criminals and person? putting the State in some position of prejudice with a view to doing it some serious harm. During the War the other place often stood out as the exponent and defender of personal liberty. Many Members of the House of Lords did take a stand fully in keeping with the very best traditions of British liberty. The Bill now before us comes from the other place, and it certainly is not in keeping with the reputation earned during the course of the War.
I find in this Bill what I regard as a totally new doctrine of law. I am not versed in the law, but I understand that we commonly regard a person innocent until he is proved to be guilty. The terms of this Bill require anybody proceeded against under it to prove himself innocent or else he is deemed to be guilty. Under this measure it would appear that a man may be arrested on the ground of having committed some offence under this Act, and if he does not establish his innocence he is to be regarded as guilty. I am, I think, clearly within the terms of this Bill, when I say that that reversal of British law, not to say common justice, is a step which I hope that this House will not sanction. I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite that this, on the whole, appears to be a measure more or less on the lines of scare legislation. There may be some exceptional cases for which due provision 1561 should be made, but they do not justify so sweeping a Bill as that now before the House. The present powers certainly are stern and extensive, if we are to judge by recent arrests, by some convictions, and by the imprisonment of persons of some note in this country and at the same time of persons more or less obscure. I think the Government would be well advised to rely on the present extent of the law, and not, at this stage of the Session ask the House to give it extensive powers which come so much in collision with the prized liberty of the individual in this country. It is all well for hon. Members who look on the State as having attained such a settled position of permanency in the affairs of the world as never to require any change or modification whatever, with the result that to attempt to modify or alter these conditions would be more or less an offence prejudicial to State interests. But many of us go the length of believing it would be for the good of the land to completely transform many of the conditions and customs upon which the State has been built. If we elaborate our views in strong language, and express them publicly, are we to expose oruselves to the risk of legal proceedings? Is the nation to be attacked in this way by strengthening the arm of the policeman and compelling us to show we are innocent of the crime with which we are charged? I think the Government have made out no case to justify the Second Reading of this Bill, and I trust, therefore, the House will reject it.
§ Captain THORPE
An hon. Member congratulated the Government and the world in general that on the occasion when the original laws were given to Moses, there was not present either a barrister or a draftsman. I think it was a matter for congratulation that on the same occasion there was no discussion and no amendments. I must say, as I read this Bill, I can personally see no ground for taking exception to any of the parts which have been attacked to-night. The explanation of the Noble Lords in another place for not attacking it more vigorously was a comment on the very good sense and judgment of the Bill. I have listened to-night to what I consider with perfect honesty is a very poor and very fatuous attack on a very reasonable request of the Government. In my view, 1562 the attack on each occasion has been founded on a fallacy. The right hon. Gentleman who first spoke against this Bill suggested that it should have been brought in during a period of war, and that it ought never to have been brought in during a period of peace. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is an optimist. Where is peace? Is it peace to go into the Lobbies of the House and see oneself protected by Scotland Yard detectives and double police patrols? Is it peace to walk along Downing Street and find that even a Member of this House is not entitled to pass through Horse Guards because he may be a dangerous person? There is no peace, and no soft words from the Opposition Bench—no sweet platitudes can make peace. In my view the State is in great danger, and no power which would tend to protect it should be withheld from the Government. We heard something from the same right hon. Gentleman of the liberty of the subject. In my view, the subject has no liberty when it is in conflict with the good-being of the State. When the liberty of the individual conflicts in any way with the well-being of the State, then it becomes license.
§ Captain THORPE
This, after all, is a matter of discipline. After the War, when I had the good fortune to be in the Intelligence Service at Cologne, I was amazed at the discipline of the ordinary German citizen suffering, as he was, under most galling defeat at the hands of his enemy. What is at the back of this Bill? I find in the first Clause the words, "purposes prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State." Surely no patriotic person will quarrel with those words. Then in Sub-section (2) I find the words, "retains for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State"; later on, in Clause 4, the words, "Where it appears to a Secretary of State such a course is expedient in the public interest," and later on still, the words, "any proceedings which will be prejudicial to the national safety." These are general terms to be interpreted not by the Attorney-General or by a Judge of the High Court, but by a jury of 12 Englishmen. Are hon. Members afraid of such a body? Are they afraid that a jury would be domineered by the 1563 wiles of the Attorney-General, or carried away by the eloquence of one of his devils? Surely any subject may rest assured that he will be perfectly safe if a charge of this kind is made against him in relying on the good judgment and common sense of a British jury, although some hon. Members opposite appear to doubt it. Personally, I would have no hesitation in asking a jury of British subjects to say whether I had, either as a newspaper offender or an editor, or a Cabinet Minister, committed any act prejudicial to the safety of the State. The right hon. Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynes) said he was not a lawyer. I have the good fortune or misfortune to be one. In referring to Sub-section (2) of Clause 2, where it says that "for the purposes of this subject, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision" a person shall "unless he proves to the contrary, be deemed to have been in communication with a foreign agent," the right hon. Gentleman said that this was a new principle in British law: that it is a new principle that a man should be deemed guilty until he has proved his innocence.
May I tell him there is nothing new in that? One of the most common instances in criminal law is that of the doctrine of recent possession. If a man is found having in his possession goods which have been lately stolen it is immediately assumed that the onus is on him to prove how he came by them. You assume immediately that he stole them, and the onus is thrown on him of proving how he came by them. You say to him, "We assume that you are a guilty man. These things are found on you, and you have got to prove your innocence." What does this Bill do? It says in so many words that, if it is established that a man has been visiting the address of a foreign agent, either within or without the United Kingdom, or if he has the name or address of, or any other information regarding, a foreign agent, he is immediately regarded as a suspected person, and as a man whose possessions and conduct call for an explanation; and the onus is thrown upon him of proving what his friends were doing, or what was his reason for knowing them. I hope that this Bill will have, the support that it deserves. We are not at peace, and we want special legislation and special 1564 powers to deal with emergencies that may arise. Any emergency that is found to be prejudicial should be dealt with quickly and properly. The law-abiding citizen, the man who says that his country is his first consideration, need have nothing to fear whatever from the Clauses of this Bill. My right hon. Friend asked what the State was, and what is to happen supposing that I take a view that this country should be a republic and you take the view that this country should be in a state of absolutism. The answer to my right hon. Friend, surely, is that it is not prejudicial to the State to have different views. Every man in England is entitled to his views. But the State says this, that the minute the application of those views incites to violence, or is likely to cause a breach of common content and discipline, then those views become prejudicial to the State. These are the cases which are dealt with, and which, in my humble opinion, should be dealt with. The patriotic man, who honestly holds his own views, and is prepared to pursue the ordinary constitutional methods of instructing others and to rely on the ballot box, has nothing to fear. The only man who has anything to fear is the man who puts self before country, the man who says, "I want liberty, and the State can look after itself." He is a danger, and I congratulate the Government on the efficient manner in which they propose to deal with him.
§ Mr. D. M. COWAN
I am sure that we have all listened with great pleasure to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down. He has given us a very clear explanation of his view of the case, and has shed a legal light upon it which is of advantage to some of us, at any rate. I am sure that no one in the House would seek to obstruct any legislation which was calculated to assure the safety of the State, but I cannot but feel that this measure is drafted in such fashion that we are not quite sure it will not go beyond assuring the safety of the State, and infringe upon what is really the treasured possession of this realm, that is to say, the liberty of the subject. We have heard from the Attorney-General a statement that there is no fear of that, but still the Bill, as it now stands, seems to me to create what might be termed indefinite misdemeanours. In Subsection (1) of Clause 1 we have a clear statement of what is meant, and the mis- 1565 demeanour is there made patent to all, but in Sub-section (2) there is no such clear definition. There we have loose phraseology, such as "any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State." That, of course, would be determined by the Courts. Further down we find the phrase, "when he has no right to retain it," and, after that, "when it is contrary to his duty to retain it." How is a person to determine when he has a right to retain a document, or when it is or is not his duty to retain it. On these matters the holder of any document will be entitled to make up his own mind, and a person who thought that he had the right to any document, and who thought that it was within the competence of his duty to retain it, and even to use it, may find afterwards that he has committed a misdemeanour.
Further, Clause 6 appears to me to be far too wide. It throws open the door to official interference with perfectly innocent people. It may be, as the hon. and gallant Member has just said, that we are each of us willing to submit ourselves to the judgment of 12 good men and true. That may be so, and the result may be right; but it is not well that people should be in danger of being dragged even before 12 good men and true if there is no absolute occasion for it. Therefore, while I should be very reluctant to vote against this Measure, because I believe its intention to ensure the safety of the Realm to be perfectly honest, I should like to have, if possible, from some Member of the Government, an assurance that they are not too closely wedded to the present wording of the Bill, but will be willing to accept in Committee such Amendments as will make its purpose more definite, and at the same time secure the object in view. I hope that we shall have some such assurance from the Member of the Government who is to reply.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. and gallant Member for Rusholme (Captain Thorpe) will, I am sure, take no exception to my remarking that his speech might have been taken from the very pages of Treitschke. There were the same glorifications of the State, the same contempt for the liberty of the individual against the State—the whole doctrine that led to the downfall of Prussia and the miserable condition in which Germany is to-day. After what has come and gone in the last six years, 1566 to find oneself listening to such a speech in the House of Commons, which is supposed to be the guardian of our liberties, is, honestly, almost like a miracle. I was astonished, and I admire the courage of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, when he said what was in the mind of the Government themselves in plain, honest words. The learned Attorney-General did not display the same honesty as the hon. and gallant Member for Rusholme, or my hon. Friend the Member for Royton (Mr. Sugden), or the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). The Government talk about defence against espionage, and means of dealing with foreign spies, but we have heard from these three hon. Members the real intention—the mind—the Geist, if I may use an expression from Treitschke—behind this Bill. If I had any doubts about voting against it, those speeches have confirmed me in my intention to do so. This Bill has been introduced in an atmosphere which is possibly appropriate—barricades in Downing Street, secret police scattered about this very building, the galleries cleared, everyone apparently in a panic—the fear of the people. It started before the wonderful Sinn Fein documents were discovered. It started on Armistice Day this year, when barricades were put up to keep people from seeing the Cenotaph, the monument to their own fallen soldiers. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The mind of the Government was displayed there—the fear of the people. On the original Armistice Day nothing much happened, no barricades were put up. Now the Government have—
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
It is no good the hon. Member opposite saying "Shame." Those barricades were an insult to the people, and a Government that can show its fear of the people in that way is well fitted to bring in this Bill, and deserves the support that it has had. The hon. Member for Royton who, I am sorry to say, is not now in the House, talked a lot about the terrific efficiency of the German espionage system, and shared the admiration of Prussianism that the hon. and gallant Member for Rusholme had. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] At any rate he admired the discipline, and the hon. Member for Royton admired the espionage. The espionage methods of 1567 the Prussians, however, were contemptible. Their lack of information was simply astonishing. We had very much more information about the German defences than they had about ours. At the beginning of the War we had a complete account of the defences of the Heligoland Bight, and of the vital strategical centres in Germany. I regret that one or two hon. and gallant Members are not here to bear me out. Our Intelligence Service before the War was admirable. The Germans were misinformed entirely. Had they known anything of the defenceless state of some of our naval bases they would have been able to inflict disastrous damage on our fleet at Scapa Flow and in the ports. Prisoners taken from the German submarines told us that the reason they had not made a frontal attack on the main entrances at Scapa Flow and the Forth was that they could not believe we had no secret defences. If the Germans had had any sort of espionage worth one-tenth of the money they spent on it they would have had us in an awkward position indeed.
Hon. Members who talk about the wonders of the German espionage do not know what they are talking about. They have been misled by scare headlines in the newspapers. The German espionage system was rotten. I can speak, at any rate, of the naval part of it. Ours was infinitely better. This Bill is yet one more example of the creation of fresh offences. The Government, as I remarked the other day, are unique in discovering new crimes that the King's subjects may commit. We have got one or two more new crimes in this Bill. Some hon. Members may welcome these powers. They may say it is alright that any person with the address of a foreign agent shall be guilty of an offence unless he can prove otherwise, and shall receive, two years' hard labour. Perhaps the Attorney-General will correct me when I say that I do not think we are going to have the safeguard of the jury at all, because it says in Sub-section (4) of Clause 8 that the trial at the request of the prosecution may be held in secret. I rather think that means that there is to be no trial by jury. The trial for these misdemeanours will be before a police magistrate, who will pronounce judgment in public, but try in secret. I do not see where trial by jury is going to come in. Have hon. Members observed 1568 Sub-sction (5) of Section 8, under which it is provided:Where the person guilty of an offence under the principal Act or this Act is a company or corporation every director and officer of the company or corporation shall be guilty of the like offence unless he proves that the act or omission constituting the offence took place without his knowledge or consent.That sort of Clause was inserted in the original Profiteering Act, and if I am not mistaken the Government, in answer to criticism from all parts of the House, took it out. They would be well advised in Committee to drop that Sub-section out of this Bill. The learned Attorney-General told us this is not aimed at the Press. There has been a great deal of criticism in another place and in the newspapers, and of course the Attorney-General would try to counter that if he could. I would like to know at whom it is aimed other than newspaper houses. The little people who keep postes restantes are not companies. The companies are the great newspaper houses of the country, who may have some documents in their possession—as, to quote Lord Burnham, every editor in the country has at one time or another—some document that the transient Government of the day may object to. These are the people who constitute the companies, and these are the people who are to be held guilty under this Act. To bring in a Bill of this kind two years after the so-called peace is asking too much even of this House, and in spite of one or two speeches we have had I hope that this Bill, if it is not rejected on Second Reading, is going to be seriously cut about in Committee. I sincerely hope it will. It is all very well for hon. Members to think it is a good thing to have these extra powers, I believe, and the speeches we have had to-night confirm me, that the Government mean to use this Bill to crush out opinion of which they disapprove. This matter of finding addresses of foreign agents will be extremely useful. Those of us who belong to my party in particular, and who take an interest in the affairs of the colonies and dominions and foreign countries generally, get a tremendous number of letters from abroad. I get all sorts of letters from Switzerland and Spain and so on, and some of them I do not trouble to read. Some of them I never see; my secretary deals with them. But some of these might be found in my house, and they might contain the 1569 addresses of foreign agents. Then again, if I had more ability and more oratorical power, the Government might object to my criticism and they could put me away for that sort of thing.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I thank my hon. and gallant Friend for the compliment, but they would if I was more deadly in my criticisms. And if they could not find these things, what is to prevent some unscrupulous secret service official—some member of the corps d'espoinage which is now flourishing at the Home Office—to send to me under cover the address of some foreign agent, and then to search my house next day? This is not quite so far-fetched as some hon. Members may think. The other day a case occurred of an hon. Member of this House. I am not going into the merits or demerits of that case, but documents were produced in evidence which were supposed to have been found in his abode during his absence. Our private houses might be raided, and some unscrupulous police official might go out of his way to make it quite certain that he would find some such document. These secret service men very often are men of low moral character. Anyone who has had anything to do with the Intelligence Departments of the fighting services will bear me out when I say that very often the most successful spies are men that no ordinary person would have anything to do with at all, the sort of people who ought to be in gaol, who live by their skill and quick wits, and who very often are released from gaol for just this sort of work. What is to prevent them, if they have to earn their pay and make their reputation, cooking up a case against anybody objectionable to the temporary Government of the day in that sort of way? Hon. Members who accuse us of not having the welfare of our country at heart because we criticise the temporary Government of the day are under a complete misapprehension. It is because we have an affection for our country and its ancient institutions that we resist all sorts of attempts like this Bill to curtail them. Objecting to the Government of the day is not the same thing as not wishing well of our country, and the sooner Members get to know that the better, because this Bill might 1570 be very useful under different circumstances with another Government in power. Let us suppose a Labour or a Socialist government came into power. Such a government might go in for drastic legislation affecting the rights of property and so on. There might be an objectionable Opposition, and in order to get rid of that Opposition—again from the point of view of the good of the State as against the individual Members—they might think it very useful to apply the provision of this Bill to their principal opponents in this House. There are past Members of Governments and Members who have held high position, who have documents in their possession which might be dealt with under Subsection (2) of the first Clause of this Bill. The hon. and gallant Member below me (Major-General Sir Charles Townshend), who has been in command of troops, may have documents of great importance which are now in his possession. The historian, the man who carries out research into historical facts, has again and again been able in the past to extract great truths and facts of great value in history from the private documents kept by ambassadors, Ministers of State, generals and others. Under this Bill, if anyone dares, especially if he is a critic of the Government, to keep any document, which might possibly be construed as confidential or secret, it might be interpreted by some pettifogging bureaucratic in the Office of the Secretary of State as being prejudicial to the transient government of the day.
That we should be bringing in to-day a. new espionage Bill is a pretty commentary on the state of mind of the present Government and its supporters. It is a nice commentary on the settlement of the world by the Supreme Council that two years after the armistice with Germany we have to bring in a special Bill to deal with espionage. I am not talking about the objectionable features of this Bill, which it is possible to use against the perfectly honest critics of the Government, but I am talking about the purely contra-espionage sections of the Bill, which may be necessary, and I am afraid are necessary. To that part of the Bill I can give my support to the Government, because things being as they are such provisions may be necessary; but it is a pretty commentary on the war to end war, on the great peace that was coming to settle 1571 mankind, that two years after the armistice with Germany we have to introduce an even more drastic contra-espionage Bill than the Bill which was brought in in 1911. That is a commentary on the pretensions of the Government in the heat of the War as to what they would do if the country would give them their confidence.
§ Mr. SPENCER
This Bill is one more affecting the spirit of the country than having anything to do with the mere machinery of putting an end to espionage. The ostensible purpose of the Bill is to put an end, as far as it is possible and practicable, to the system of espionage. We who have not had a military training cannot understand the very fine, punctilious points that are raised in relationship to diplomacy; but it does seem to us a very strange thing that the Government should be guilty of promoting and assisting the method of secret service for the purpose of collecting foreign information, and at the same time in its own House it should be passing an Act of Parliament to prevent foreign spies coming to this country. One would have thought, even with our limited knowledge, that the better plan would have been to have attempted to have come to some mutual understanding with the countries of the world for the purpose of putting an end to conditions which demand that spies shall be sent from one country to another to gather secret information, either for military or naval purposes. We are alarmed, and so far as this side of the House is concerned, we cannot disabuse our minds of the impression that the real intention of the Bill is not so much to deal with enemy spies, as to deal with the opinions of men in this country at the present time. I think it was Emerson who once said:Difference from me is the measure of absurdity.It appears to me that difference from the political opinions of the Government is the measure of offence, and not so much the measure of absurdity. If you dare to differ from the prevailing political opinion in this House it seems to be an offence. Burke said in relationship to the French Revolution that we were at war with an armed doctrine. Burke was alarmed at the spread of ideas at that particular time, and he did his utmost to raise this country into a fever of military ardour 1572 for the purpose of stamping out the prevailing opinions and doctrines in France. Nearly all his prophecies have been falsified. The opinions which he sought to stamp out have become assimilated in French life. The point is that they did not harm the French nation as Burke thought they would. In so far as any Government Department conceives the idea of stamping out opinions which men may be holding in this country at the present time, because they happen to be different from the opinions that may be prevailing in this House, it is the worst possible thing that any Government could do, because if you begin to restrict the liberties of men in regard to their expression of opinion, if you begin to suppress their rights, either in speech or in pamphlet or in newspaper, immediately you drive these people into secrecy, and the natural consequences are that opinions which would perish if they are not founded upon morality and justice, and on the great cardinal principles of virtue, will have a tendency to grow and spread in secrecy and in darkness. The condition which gives them force is not the inherent moral force in the opinions themselves, but it is the set of circumstances which is created by secrecy, repression and intolerance which gives to some of these opinions a force and power that they would never have otherwise. If the Government are afraid of some of the prevalent foreign thought, political and economical, if they desire that that thought should be destroyed, the best way to destroy opinion of that character, if it can be destroyed, and if it ought to be destroyed, is by letting it have the utmost daylight, the utmost freedom of expansion. One might quote from a very thoughtful and very learned man somewhere in the New Testament to the effect thatIf this thing be of God it will certainly live, but if it is not of Him it will perish.In relation to foreign opinion, if it is not based on equity, justice and the great cardinal virtues, it will perish of itself, but if it is based on these great cardinal principles, it has a right to live and flourish.
Some time ago the Secretary of State for War sent out a circular to the Army as to what would be the opinions of the soldiers in relationship to trade unions. A certain journal got hold of that cir- 1573 cular and printed it, and it created in labour circles quite a sensation for the moment. What would be the position of that journal, if this Bill were passed, if the paper got hold of a document of that character and dared to publish it? Would it be an offence against the State? Could that journal be dragged into the Law Courts, and would the Court have the right to say that it had published the document whose very publication was a danger to the State, because it might have the effect of making organised labour more discontented, and might lead in some cases to what we call "direct action" and a strike? Could a journal be prosecuted for publishing a document of that description, which in my opinion they were justified in publishing? Because, so far as labour is concerned, the Government will make for contentment and peace in the labour world more by being candid and straight with labour than by seeking in secret to organise forces against labour to defeat them in their honest attempts to improve their position.
I do not know a single foreign agent. I have never been in contact with one, and I do not know that I want to meet one, but letters come to our home from time to time and they are sent on. Would it be an offence by a Member, if he has in his possession the address of some particular person whom he has never seen, simply because the letter is sent on? There does seem to be that danger in the Bill in Clause 2, Subsection (2):either within or without the United Kingdom the name or address of or any other information regarding foreign agents being found held in his possession.A Member of Parliament may receive communications from a foreign agent whom he has never met or seen and it becomes known to the police. He has this in his possession. It might bear a foreign postmark and the postman who delivers the letter might tell the police that he brought a foreign letter to the house of a certain Member of Parliament. The police will have the house searched and if they find that particular letter here is the provision under which he might be held guilty of an offence and dragged before a Court of Law and punished. If that is not the case I shall be delighted to have the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman when he replies.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. There is no one in this House who has a greater love than I have of personal liberty. During all the years I have been in this House I have always thought, in cases concerning the party to which the hon. Member belongs, that men should have the right to do what they like as long as they do not act against the personal property of someone else. Therefore, if the Bill did all that the hon. Member says it does, I should certainly vote against it. But, looking at the Bill, I doubt very much whether all the terrible effects to which he refers are likely to result. The hon. Member told us that in his opinion the proper way to deal with Bolshevism—he did not use the word, but that was what he meant—was to give it plenty of rope and allow its advocates to preach their pernicious doctrines where they liked and that the good sense of the majority of the people of this country would prevent them from being adopted and that these doctrines would die a natural death. To a great extent I agree with him, but I am not sure that you can carry that principle to too great a length. If there is any attack made on a Royal authority or something of that kind it might be necessary to take strong steps, but I agree that on the whole it is better to allow people to talk seditious nonsense provided they do not go too far, but there is nothing in this Bill which would prevent the hon. Member if he likes from going to Trafalgar Square and dilating on the low wages and long hours of members of trade unions.
§ Mr. SPENCER
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at Clause 1 and the words "orally or in writing" he will see what I mean.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am not a lawyer, but I do not think that the passage referred to means anything except that if a person has a document and makes a false declaration concerning that particular document or forges another document he shall be punished, and I do not see why he should not be. I do not think that that touches the point raised by the hon. Member. The hon. Member referred to a circular which had been issued by the Secretary of State for War to the troops some years ago. I forget exactly what the circular said, but I know that it gave offence to trade unions. If the 1575 hon. Member will look at paragraph (b), Clause 1, he will find the wordsor having obtained possession of any official document, by finding or otherwise, neglects or fails to restore it to the person or authority by whom or for whose use it was issued.I suppose that by straining those words, in the event of a newspaper having an official document and not returning it to the persons or authority by whom it was issued, or to a police constable, it might possibly be held that the newspaper editor was liable to punishment for two years with hard labour. I am not sure that I am right, but I think I am. It would not prevent the newspaper from publishing a document. The defence of the newspaper would be that it found the document or obtained it, "or otherwise." The words "or otherwise" are very vague, and provided they did not obtain the document by bribing some person who had no business to part with it, provided they obtained it from one of the soldiers to whom it was issued, and who handed it over to them, and, having published it, they immediately returned it to a police constable, the matter would end there.
I would like to congratulate the Attorney-General upon having brought in a Bill which has only one fault—an extraordinary thing for the present Government to do. I remember in the last few- months their having brought in only one Bill with which I could wholly agree. I remember telling a Noble Friend that at last the Government had brought in a good Bill, and I came to the House in great joy, but to my horror they left out the only good part of the Bill. I hope they will not do that now. I can see no objection to any part of this Bill except the four lines I have just read. I think they are a little strong. Supposing I happened to find, on the Floor of the House or in the Lobby, an official document, and I put it into my pocket intending to give to a police constable, but I happened to forget it and did not give it to a police constable. I presume I might be punished with two years' hard labour. I do not know whether the Attorney-General would be sorry if I was absent from my place. I think he probably would be sorry. Therefore he would exercise all his official powers to see that no punishment fell upon me. None the less, I think these words should be amended in Com- 1576 mittee. As they can be readily amended in Committee, I shall have very great pleasure in voting for the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Sir G. HEWART
By leave of the House I should like to say a word or two in response to the criticisms directed against the Bill. I am bound to say that I have listened to the discussion with a good deal of interest, and, if surprise were any longer possible, I should add with a good deal of surprise. It has long been so clear that there are those who desire their predictions of evil to be fulfilled rather than have their apprehensions removed, that I cease to be surprised. One remembers the words of Swift about the prophets who predicted his death:They'd rather that the Dean should die Than their predictions prove a lie.Critics of the Bill have adopted that attitude of mind to-night. They would rather that the Bill should be as mischievous as they represent it to be than that it should be made plain to them that it is nothing of the kind. I am not in the least complaining of that attitude, but I suggest that when criticisms of this tremendous character are to be made right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, if only for their own protection, should take the trouble to read the Bill. That is exactly what has not happened with our critics here. There was the hon. Member (Mr. Spencer) who regaled us with Burke, Emerson and the New Testament, and actually permitted himself to say that the real intention of the Government in this Bill is to deal, not with spies, but with the opinion of men in this country. One might wonder how it is that those who profess the loftiest sentiments are always willing, or are frequently willing, to impute to their political opponents the greatest dishonesty and meanness.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Then the words I suppose were used in a Pickwickian sense. What is the matter with the hon. Member is that he has not taken the trouble to read the Bill.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Well, the great bulk of the unfavourable criticism has been founded upon Sub-section (2) of Clause 1. 1577 After listening to my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) I was a little surprised that such an experienced parliamentary hand as he should have fallen into the error which has beset so many. He said that in his view this Bill had only one fault, that that was limited to four lines, and that those four lines could be rectified in Committee. I think I shall be able to establish to his satisfaction that the Bill has not even that one fault. What was the foundation of that criticism, as it was the foundation of most of the criticisms that came from the Benches opposite? It was that in making these provisions in Subsection (2) of Clause 1 about official documents we were endangering, not merely the Press of this country, not merely individuals who, from generals, admirals and others, might have got into their possession documents which were the property of the Government, but that we were endangering the most harmless persons who had somehow got a document which someone might describe as official, and had kept it. There is only one thing to be said about those criticisms, but it is a serious thing. There is not the slightest foundation for them.
If my right hon. Friend (Sir D. Maclean), who was talking so eloquently about the strangle-hold of bureaucracy, would condescend to look for a moment at the Bill, I think he would see that there is not the slightest ground for what he said. Everything depends upon the words, "official document," and, as I said, I am prepared, and I intend in Committee, to ask the House to insert, after the word "document" in line 23 of paragraph (c) in Clause (1), Subsection (1), the words "of a similar character." They are not strictly necessary, because, as the words stand, they would be construed as limited to documents of a similar character to those named before, but in order that there may be no doubt we have undertaken to propose the addition of the words, "of a similar character." The words will then read:forges, alters or tampers with any passport or any naval, military, air force, police or official pass, permit, certificate, licence or other document of a similar character, hereinafter in this Section referred to as an official document.That is what an official document is. It is a passport, or pass, or permit. The 1578 House will observe that the words are "hereinafter in this Section referred to as an official document," not "hereinafter in this Sub-section." When one comes to Sub-section (2) of Clause 1, it is still the same thing:retains for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State any official document,That is a permit, pass, certificate, licence or something of that kind. In other words, a passport may be issued to A B, and it may get into the hands of C D, who is a very different person. C D may retain it, having no right to do so, for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interest of the State. The words "official document" have nothing whatever to do with the kind of thing which has been mentioned, such as a circular, a Cabinet paper, a memorandum, or something stamped with a statement that it is the property of His Majesty's Government. They have no relation to that kind of document. We are dealing, and dealing only, with passports, passes, permits, certificates and the like. That is the description of official documents, and it is as clear as words can make it.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I had no intention of interrupting my right hon Friend when he gave way. I simply made a remark to my hon. Friend on the Bench beside me. Since he has given way I will state what was in my mind.
§ Sir G. HEWART
: I was not inviting the right hon. Gentleman to make another speech. I thought he made a particular remark.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
What I said was, "That was not, I thought, in the Bill." I specifically stated in my speech that if the proposal was confined solely to Subsection (1) of Clause 1, I did not see much objection to the Bill. I said quite clearly it was because of the words of Subsection (2) and their general application that I objected to the Bill. It is a matter of relief to me to know that is not my right hon. Friend's intention; but it is not in the Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I overlooked the words to which my right hon. Friend has referred, and they remove my objection.
§ Sir G. HEWART
When my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles says the 1579 words are not in the Bill, I would refer him to Sub-section (1) (c), which says, "hereinafter in this Section referred to as an official document." That is what is described in paragraph (c) which deals with passports, passes, permits, certificates, licences or other documents "hereinafter referred to as official documents." The mischief which is aimed at is the mischief of somebody finding or getting or wrongfully keeping a passport or permit which would admit to certain places, and which might be used for purposes prejudicial to the safety or interest of the State. The scope of the Clause is limited to that.
Having said that I think I have really answered a very great deal of the criticism which has come from various quarters. May I refer particularly to the questions put by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Spencer), who said that the real intention of this Bill was to interfere with opinion. He asked what would happen to a newspaper which got a circular about trade unions. This Bill has nothing to say to that.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I did not say about trade unions. I said a report by the Secretary of State for War to his troops.
§ Sir G. HEWART
This Bill has no relation to that at all. The same hon. Member asked what would follow if there happened to be in his correspondence a letter from a foreign agent, and he referred me to a Sub-section of Clause 2. With great respect may I say that one cannot understand a Clause in a Bill by reading three or four lines of it. One must begin at the beginning, and if he looks at Sub-section (1) of Clause 2 he will see these opening words:In any proceedings against a person for an offence under Section One of the principal Act.The offence is that of approaching for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State a prohibited place, or making any sketch, plan, model or note calculated to be or intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy. The mere fact that the hon. Member had in his possession a letter from someone who was a foreign agent would be of itself, so far as this Bill is concerned, immaterial. But in a prosecution, if he were prosecuted, for going to a dockyard or arsenal or pro- 1580 hibited place for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, it would be material to show that he had that letter in his possession, as something ancillary to the offence mentioned in Section 1 of the principal Act.
I do not suppose that there are any further criticisms I have to deal with. All the wild talk that we heard about this Bill being directed against opinion and against criticism falls to the ground when once hon. Members take the trouble to read the definition of the term official document. But, it was said, because under this Bill trials may take place in camera, it follows that the accused is not to have the benefit of trial by jury. That, again, with great respect, is a complete misunderstanding. Clause 8, Sub-section (4), provides:In addition and without prejudice to any powers which a Court may possess to order the exclusion of the public from any proceedings if, in the course of proceedings before a Court against any person for an offence under the principal Act or this Act or the proceedings on appeal, or in the course of the trial of a person for felony or misdemeanour under the principal Act or this Act, application is made by the prosecution, on the ground that the publication of any evidence to be given or of any statement to be made in the course of the proceedings would be prejudicial to the national safety, that all or any portion of the public shall be excluded during any part of the hearing, the Court may make an order to that effect, but the passing of sentence shall in any case take place in public.The House is well aware that every Court has an inherent right to hold its proceedings in a proper case in camera, and all that this Clause says is that, in addition to that inherent right, it may be a ground for holding these proceedings in camera that the prosecution alleges that the publication of evidence to be given or any statement to be made would be prejudicial to the national safety. That has nothing whatever to do, and is not in the remotest degree connected, with the question whether or not there is to be trial by jury. Under the Incest Act, trials for that offence must take place in camera, but they always take place before a judge and a jury, and the question whether or not the proceedings are in camera is not in any degree whatever related to the question whether there shall be a jury or not.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Certainly. It says:Where the person guilty, of an offence under the principal Act or this Act is a company or corporation, every director and officer of the company or corporation shall be guilty of the like offence unless he proves that the act or omission constituting the offence took place without his knowledge or consent.What does that mean? The law recognises two classes of persons, the real person, the living individual, and the artificial person, or company. It may be that the offence was committed by a company, and the question arises as to who is to be held responsible. This Bill says, as many other Bills have said, that in such circumstances we shall hold the directors and officers responsible
§ unless they can show that they are not. We are not going to be foiled by the difficulty that we have not got a living person, but an artificial person, called a corporation. I venture to think, when this Bill is looked at fairly, without prejudice, and with the desire of ascertaining what it really does mean, and not with the desire of ascertaining that it means something tremendous which has no relation to it at all, that it will be found to be a Bill which deserves a Second Reading by this House.
§ Question put: "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 143; Noes, 34.1583
|Division No. 381.]||AYES.||[9.49 p.m.|
|Addison. Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Mosley, Oswald|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Goff, Sir R. Park||Neal, Arthur|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Parker, James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Herbert Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Remer, J. R.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H (Devizes)||Hinds, John||Renwick, George|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hood, Joseph||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Hurd, Percy A.||Seager, Sir William|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Jephcott, A. R.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Sugden, W. H.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lonsdale, James Rolston||Waring, Major Walter|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S)||Lorden, John William||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Donald, Thompson||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. C. A.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Doyle. N. Grattan||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Edge, Captain William||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Macquisten, F. A.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Mallalieu, F. W.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wise, Frederick|
|Foreman, Henry||Mason, Robert||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Mitchell, William Lane||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Moles, Thomas||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gardiner, James||Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Dudley Ward.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Cape, Thomas||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Graham, R. (Nelson and-Colne)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Galbraith, Samuel||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Glanville, Harold James||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Hayday, Arthur||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Kenworthy, Lieut. Commander J. M.||Sexton, James||Wignall, James|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Midlothian)||Sitch, Charles H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Spencer, George A.|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Swan, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Mr. G. Thorne and Major Barnes.|
|Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy.]