§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill is not intended to apply, and could not by any possibility apply, to any ordinary industrial dispute between employers and workmen, on any question affecting strikes to raise the conditions of their lives. It is not intended to apply to such a strike, and it could not by any possibility apply to it. It is, therefore, quite beside the mark to suggest, as has been suggested, that this Bill is an attack upon trade unions, because it is nothing of the kind. On the contrary, if hon. Members will consider what is the nature of the powers which would be required in such an emergency, they will see that there will be quite as much justification, and I think a great deal more, for saying that it is an attack upon the rights of private property in this country. This Bill can only come into operation and apply in the event of certain contingencies arising. These contingencies are described in the first Clause of the Bill, and I will read the governing words to the House. Clause 1, Sub-section (1), provides:lf at any time it appears to His Majesty that any action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any persons or body of persons of such a nature and on such extensive a scale as to be calculated, by interfering with the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel, light or other necessities, or with the means of locomotion, to deprive the community or any substantial portion of the community of the essentials of lifeThen, and then only, will this Bill come into operation. It is my belief—indeed I am sure—that the powers for which we ask in this Bill are possessed by the Government of every great country in the world to-day. More than that, Parliament itself in the past has recognised that there is a marked distinction between an ordinary industrial dispute, and action which interferes with the life of the community. For example, in the Act of 1875, it was made not only illegal, but it was made a criminal offence for anyone engaged in supplying the esentials of life to strike without 1400 giving sufficient notice That is the position.
Such an emergency would be a very critical thing in the life of this country, and there is nobody in the House who doubts that such an emergency might arise. We have had experience of it. We know in some degree what it might mean. In connection with the railway strike at the beginning of last year, it is certain that if the Government had not then been able to exercise the powers which are asked for in this Bill, it would have been quite impossible for them to take the steps which were taken, in order to supply the community with the necessities of life at that time. Our experience alone has made it plain to us that not only would this Government, but in my belief no Government, would be able to under take to deal with such a situation in such a contingency, without the powers which we are asking from the House of Commons.
What is the nature of those powers and the emergency? It is obvious that if such a contingency arose, it would be necessary for the Government, in order to prevent people in this country from being starved, to take and keep under their own control all the food of this country. Without that power the nation might starve. It does not apply to food only. I am glad to say—and I gladly endorse what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), as to the peaceful nature of the coal miners' strike—the contingency in regard to the coal miners' strike could not arise until the strike has lasted much longer than it has now. The House of Commons must realise that the time might come when, if we had very cold weather, there might be huge stocks of coal held up, and kept by those who owned them at extravagant prices, and available only to those who could pay extravagant prices. It is obvious that if we are to deal with a situation of that kind, we must have the power, if necessary, not merely to take possession of that coal, but to ration and distribute it amongst those of the nation who require it. It is equally obvious that we must have under our control the means of transferring those necessaries of life. We must have the power to commandeer, for example, any vehicle of any kind which is necessary to transfer these 1401 essential commodities from where they are not required to where they are most required. That is the kind of power for which we are asking in this Bill.
I would remind the House that, under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, we had these powers in connection with the railway strike to which I have already referred. I think it is possible—but I have not examined this point minutely—that by the restrictions laid on these Regulations the powers necessary are not now available: but, apart from that, the Government have come definitely to the conclusion that in an emergency of that kind we should rest our powers not upon an Act framed to deal with the common enemy, but on an Act which is passed by the constitutional authority of this country to deal with the situation as it arises. That is the reason why this Bill is not only necessary, but why we should proceed with it at once. Any of these powers taken under the Defence of the Realm Regulations are not open to examination by Parliament. In the whole framing of this Bill our aim has been to put the power in the hands of recognised constitional authority of this country.
In the Bill these Regulations cannot have effect for any considerable length of time until they have been submitted to the House of Commons, and have received approval. From that point of view, it is obviously much better to deal with the situation under a special Bill than under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. It is obvious that it is quite impossible to give in detail the steps which it might be necessary to take. It is equally obvious that the powers must be very wide, because it is emergency legislation, to deal with a situation the full effects of which nobody can foresee. It is impossible to put into an Act of Parliament precisely every Regulation which it will be necessary to adopt.
I hope I have said enough to show the House of Commons that should a contingency arise, these powers are absolutely necessary, not to this Government alone, but to any Government which tries to carry on the life of the nation under such conditions. I think there must be a small minority who think we should not have these powers at all. There are two forms of criticism suggested against the Bill. The first is that it is a Bill to deal with an emergency, and that it should not be made a part of the general 1402 law of the land. That is true, and I think it is necessary. From the point of view put at Question time—that in proposing this Bill we are provocative—I would remind the House that this Bill has been drafted for some months, and that, apart from the present difficulty, the-Government had decided that it must be carried this Session, because obviously no Government could be left without such" powers when the Defence of the Realm. Regulations have lapsed.
Let me say quite plainly why it is that in our view this Bill must be part of the general law of the land. If the House of Commons were always sitting, it would be possible, in case of an emergency, to carry through such a Bill, and to make it permanent would not be necessary. We know a contingency might arise when the House of Commons was not sitting. As a matter of fact the railway strike I referred totook place when the House was not sitting, and if we had not had powers under the Defence of the Realm Regulations similar to those we are asking for now, it would have been absolutely impossible for the Government to deal with: the situation at the time it was necessary to deal with it. I say again that for this reason it really is essential for any Government that, in the event of a sudden emergency of this kind, power should be in the hands of the Executive to deal with an emergency which might threaten the life of the whole nation.
The other criticism is that this Bill is provocative. I cannot agree with that. We are very anxious to do nothing on our part which would render a settlement of this unhappy controversy more difficult, and we feel that as strongly as any hon. Member of this House. But let us consider the position, and look at it from the point of view of the miners alone. It is quite true that negotiations have been reopened, but they have not reached a stage when it is possible for us to say anything whatever about them. I hope most fervently that they will be favourable, but I think, judging by experience in past negotiations, that it is very likely, even though they do end favourably, before the end is reached we shall be up against some particular point on which neither side is willing to yield. Supposing 1403 it happens two or three days hence, and we then introduce this Bill, it would be described as much more provocative than it is to-day, and if it be necessary surely the best time to put it forward is when the controversy is not so acute, and it cannot be regarded in itself as provocative.
I have said that we are grateful to the miners for the manner in which the strike has been carried on up to the present. I certainly do not want to say a word against the railwaymen, with whom I have taken part in many negotiations. But the House knows that only last week they decided on a sympathetic strike. It would have been a lightning strike, and, as I gathered from the speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Thomas), they did so against the advice of their own leader. I do not think that would happen again. A Government, however, cannot take risks in a case where, as I have said—and the House must bear it in mind that this is the essence of the whole thing—the very life of the community is at stake. In such a case it really is necessary to provide us with the powers which are essential to deal with such a situation should it arise.
I would like to say one word more, and it is all I propose to say in connection with the introduction of this Bill. It has been said that the action of introducing it is provocative. It is not provocative; it is not a threat. It is not provocative to let those who are concerned in the country know precisely what the action of the Government must be. Just consider what is the situation. Suppose a great wide-spread emergency of this kind arise, and suppose to make it worse that action is taken, as it would have been by the railwaymen, not to forward their own interests, but out of purely sympathetic motives: suppose the issue is a clear one, as to where the power in this country rests, for that is what the issue would be—it is quite obvious if you have an issue of this kind, when not the Government, which can be changed at a moment's notice, but the House of Commons, in approval of the action of the Government, has taken a particular line, if that line is to be upset by direct action by anybody, however important, then power in this country is changed. That is the view taken by the Government. Their action is really not provocative. It is an endeavour to let everyone understand what 1404 is the real position, and in appealing to the House of Commons to give us this Bill I make that appeal, not on behalf of this Government—for I sincerely believe it would be just as necessary to make it if a Labour Government were sitting on these Benches—I make it, not on behalf of the Government, but because, in my belief, it is necessary, if we are to retain the whole constitutional system upon which the government of this country is founded.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
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."
I think it is a matter for profound regret that the Government has introduced a measure of this character at the present moment. We have just learned from the newspapers and other sources that the negotiations between the miners' executive and the Government have been resumed. We have also heard from some sources that those negotiations seem to have taken a rather hopeful turn. For the Government, at such a stage as that, to introduce a measure of this character is, I think, a matter to be deeply deplored by all sections of the people of this country. For the past week we have had 1,200,000 mine workers on strike, and, as was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), there are possibly nearly as many, at any rate there are a considerable number of other workers, involved by the strike engaged in by the miners. Notwithstanding that this huge body has been idle for a week, little or no disturbance of any kind has taken place—none such as would justify the introduction of a measure of this character. I want to say to the Prime Minister and other Members of the Government present that in my opinion, and in the opinion of those who are associated with me on these Benches, action of this kind is calculated to arouse the suspicions of the working classes. Already too much of that sort of thing has taken place in connection with this crisis in the mining industry.
It may be remembered that at the beginning of the dispute the Prime Minister warned the miners that in the event of a strike arising with regard to the dual claim they then put forward, the Government would use all the forces of the State. I think that that was an unfortunate 1405 expression. Already it has had certain results. It is an expression which I can assure the right hon. Gentleman has been in the minds of the workers ever since it was uttered. People in his position or in any position of responsibility during the course of a crisis of this kind cannot be too careful of the words they use. It was a threat which should not have been used by the Prime Minister in connection with negotiations which were proceeding at the time. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must very quickly have changed his opinion of the miners. We have heard him several times in this House pay glowing tributes to them, and outside this House he has been in the habit of paying even more glowing tributes to the miners as a class. I have before me at the moment a quotation from one of his numerous speeches in which he says:I have seen the miner in many spheres and capacities. I have seen him as a worker, and there is none better.If that is his testimony regarding the miner, surely he is a man against whom there is little need to use all the resources of the State. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:I have seen him as a politician, there is none sounder; I have seen him as a singer, there is none sweeter; I have seen him as a footballer, and he is terrible to behold; I have seen him as a soldier, there is none better in Europe. In all his capacities he is always in deadly earnest, always conscientious, always loyal, a steadfast friend, a dangerous foe.That is the opinion of the Prime Minister—at least it was.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The right hon. Gentleman says he stands by that statement now. I tell him that if that is his opinion of the miners, there was no need for threatening, when they were making what they believed to be a just demand so far as wages were concerned, that all the resources of the State would be used against them.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I think my right hon. Friend is wrong. Perhaps he has not quoted the sentence which I used. I did say that if it was intended by direct action to take the government out of the hands of the constitutional authorities of this country, we should have to meet it with all the. resources of the State; and that is true.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that his statement was used in connection with the case put forward by the miners for an advance of wages, and I do not think that there is any necessity for introducing legislation of the character we are discussing this afternoon, in view of the high opinion of the men, which is not only held by the Prime Minister, but acquiesced in by the whole of" his colleagues. The Lord Privy Seal, in the few words in which he introduced the Bill this afternoon, told us that it was not intended to use this legislation in ordinary disputes as to wages and working conditions, but only in the event of a dispute that would involve the national life. That was what I understood him to say. But it will be impossible for this or any other Government to distinguish in that way between trade disputes that may occur in the future, and for this reason. You have industries in this country which may make claims for wages and be refused, just as the miners have been refused on the present occasion, and, although they may be unassisted by other workpeople in the country going on strike, they are so numerous and so important to the national life that their striking would involve the food supply of the nation. Take the miners, for example. If they were to be on strike for, say, 10, 12, or 17 weeks, as they have been before, it certainly would involve the very life-blood of the nation. Not only would the food supplies be threatened, but every other phase of national life would be threatened. The dispute the miners are now engaged in is a wages dispute. It is impossible for this Government, or for any other Government, to discriminate in the way which the Lord Privy Seal tried to make us believe the Government would discriminate in the future.
I do not think panic legislation of this kind can be good legislation. Panic legislation is always dangerous legislation, and the Government would be well advised, even at this stage, to withdraw the Bill, or, at any rate, to hold it over until they have ascertained whether a settlement with the Miners' Executive is possible. I think that the action of the Miners' Executive, and, if I may say so, the action of the Railwaymen's Executive, 1407 are, indeed, lessons in diplomacy and tactics to the Government itself. Notwithstanding the importance of the matter in which the Miners' Executive and, later on, the Railwaymen's Executive with them, have been engaged, they have shown an amount of restraint which should earn the commendation of, and should also provide an example for, the Government. I think that, even now, the Government should agree to suspend the Second Reading of this Bill. I can assure them that it will do much to arouse the suspicion of the workmen of this country, and the situation is grave enough and serious enough without that. It devolves upon every one of us in our respective spheres to do all that we can to allay suspicion and to remove danger. If this be danger, as I profoundly believe it to be, it is the duty of the Government to remove it. That can be done by suspending the discussion of the Second Reading and leaving it over until the negotiations are completed. If the negotiations end successfully in the course of the present week, as I sincerely hope they will, then this Bill ought to be withdrawn altogether. I can assure the Leader of the House that, if he intends to get this class of legislation in a permanent form, as appears to me to be the case in this Bill, then the members of the party with which I am associated on these benches have no alternative but to fight it every inch of the way. We cannot put into the hands of this Government or any other Government, whether it be of the type of the present one or a Labour Government, permanent legislation of this kind. I would again strongly impress upon them the necessity for suspending the consideration of the Second Reading of this Bill. In the event of their still refusing, I now move the rejection of the Bill.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
As the Leader of the House informed us, a few moments ago, that the bringing in of this Bill was not intended to be, and was not, in any sense a provocative step, I think that we independent Members of the House ought to realise that, in anything we may say upon the subject, we should be very careful to avoid anything which could be either provocative or offensive to those who take a different view from ourselves. I am not going to say anything upon the point, with which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Adamson) concluded 1408 his speech, as to the desirability of the present moment as the selected time for bringing in this Bill. I am content to leave that to the Government, in consultation, if necessary, with the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite. I am not on the question of time; but I am convinced, if only by the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that, upon the general consideration of the conditions obtaining to-day, when a suitable time is chosen, it is very necessary, not only for this Government, but for any Government, to have some such powers as this Bill aims at placing at the disposal of the Executive. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said a good deal about threats which he attributed to the Prime Minister. I do not say it in any offensive spirit whatever, but it appears to me the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that they may use on these occasions as much of the language of menace as they like, but that anything in the nature of the mildest possible warning that counter steps will be taken against the action that they support is an unjustifiable threat.
In the Debate in which we were engaged the other day, I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Brace) gave what I thought was a perfectly legitimate warning that, in certain eventualities, destruction might be wrought in the mines by neglect, and the Prime Minister afterwards pointed out that that would mean their destruction for ever. That language, which, as I think, was quite a legitimate warning, would, if it had been used by the Government, have been denounced from the Front Bench opposite as a menace or a threat. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), in the same Debate, quite legitimately, as I thought, pointed out that, unless a settlement were arrived at with the miners, it might be quite possible that there would be a very serious complication by his own union taking part. I did not notice that anybody on this side of the House objected to that on the ground that it was a threat, but it certainly was quite as much a threat as was the language of the Prime Minister on some former occasion when he pointed out that, if there were action of this sort, which, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite put it, threatened the very life of the country, it would, of 1409 course, be the duty of the Government, representing the country as a whole, to take any legitimate steps that were within their powers in order to protect the majority of the people of the country against the evils of starvation or deprivation of the necessities of life. I should be very glad if some hon. or right hon. Gentlemen opposite would be perfectly candid with the House as to their attitude in this matter. Do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, for example, agree with a very distinguished trade union leader who has told us that it would be an outrageous thing to use municipal buildings for the purpose of distributing food? Do they really agree with that, and, if so, are we to understand that their attitude is that, unless one side in a trade dispute prevails, the whole country is to be starved? One right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, and I am very glad to see him do it. I want really to know, because sometimes their actions and their words, unless they are very much misunderstood on this side of the House, appear to us to be open to no other interpretation. Do they desire that, if the side in this dispute which they advocate—and I am expressing no opinion whatever as to its merits—do they desire that, if it does not prevail, the community at large shall be starved and be deprived of the necessities of life to such an extent that the Government shall not be allowed to distribute food at all? Unless they mean that, I cannot understand the attitude of any leader who says that, if the necessary distribution of food is to take place, it will be a positive iniquity and a threat and a menace to the working classes of the country if municipal buildings are to be used for the purpose.
§ Mr. McNEILL
It has been put forward in the most public way by one of the most prominent Labour leaders within the last few days. I want to put the domestic point of view of an ordinary Member of Parliament with none of the responsibilities of Government, but, of course, with a certain amount of responsibility to his own constituents. My right hon. Friend has said that it is not a question, or, at any rate, not exclusively a question, of putting down disturbances. Let us take the case of my own constituency, in regard to which I, naturally, feel a certain 1410 responsibility. Supposing that, in the course of some weeks, my constituents, owing to lack of communications and lack of production, either of coal or of any other commodity, find themselves with a diminishing supply; that every household is more or less pinched, and that actual starvation or destitution is being brought to their doors. They naturally turn to their Member and say: "Well, but the Government ought to take some steps. We are told that there are certain supplies of coal, or sugar, or wheat, or whatever it is, in London—that there are some in Bristol. Why are we not getting any in this constituency, because we happen to be in an isolated part of the country? Why do not the Government send it down? "Am I to reply to a question of that sort: "Well, the Government are anxious to deal as fairly as possible with the supplies as between man and man, and to prevent the rich from obtaining the whole of this diminishing quantity,. but the Labour party will not allow it "? The Labour party step in, when the Government ask for these powers, and say," No, we will not let you do anything—even distribute food. We will not allow you power to commandeer a motor car or a lorry." Why? Because the Government must not be allowed to do anything to alleviate in the smallest degree the distress that may be occasioned, and because one side of the dispute is to prevail, no matter what consequences accrue to the majority of the nation. Looking to the responsibility of that sort which, as it appears to me will be thrown upon every one of us who represents a constituency in this House on such an occasion, and without expresing the smallest opinion—I do not feel competent to do so—upon the merits of the great dispute which is now so unhappily dividing us, I do feel bound, seeing that the consequences may be so very serious to the men and women, and especially the poorest men and women, whom I represent, to give my support to the Government in asking for these powers, which I think they ought to have at their disposal.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SEXTON
Like my right hon. Friend (Mr. Adamson), I wish to express my regret that, at a moment like the present, any such legislation as this should be introduced. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. McNeill) asked us to 1411 be frank. I am going to accept his advice and be frank and candid. I quite agree that, under the circumstances mentioned by the Leader of the House, if such circumstances ever arise, the first object of the Government ought to be to feed the people, and they should leave no stone unturned to carry out such a commendable and humane object. So far, I quite agree with the Leader of the House. I also agree that the Government of the country should, so far as the safety of the people is concerned, take full constitutional action to that end. I may not, perhaps, be in accord altogether with some of the members of my own party, but I do say that, while we live in a constitutional country, we should be expected and compelled to act constitutionally, and to obey the laws as they exist, no matter how much we may disagree wih them. I hope I shall never depart from that principle. May I point out to the Leader of the House, however, that, so far as I can see, all the powers that he asks for he has already in case of emergency. If the right hon Gentleman is so enamoured now of the necessity of commandeering all the necessaries of life, I can only regret that he did not put that principle into operation during the War when the profiteers were depriving people of the necessities of life. If it is good now it was good then. This death-bed repentance comes to me with a very suspicious look upon it. Is it intended to do more than the right hon. Gentleman suggests?
May I point out one or two passages in the Bill. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reassure us as to what these mean. It says:Regulations may confer or impose on a Secretary of State or other Government Department or any other persons in His Majesty's Service or acting on His Majesty's behalf such powers and duties as His Majesty may deem necessary for the preservation of the peace, for securing and regulating the supply and distribution of food, etc… The Regulations may provide for the trial by courts of summary jurisdiction of persons guilty of offences against the "Regulations.First of all, I am curious to know what shape those Regulations are going to take. As it reads at present any person guilty of offences against the Regulations is liable to trial, liable to imprisonment, and liable to fine. Those Regulations may be 1412 easily construed when plainly put down and when we know what they are, but for the distribution of any commodity necessary for life, such as water, fuel and light, this would mean, as the Bill stands, that if there was a strike, or threatened strike, of municipal servants in a municipal water works they would be liable to be tried or imprisoned or fined. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] May I read the words:The Regulations may provide for the trial by courts of summary jurisdiction of persons guilty of offences against the Regulations.The Regulations are to provide fuel, water and food. If a strike occurs amongst the employés of a municipal water works it is an offence against the Regulations as to distributing fuel or water. If that" is so, and to all appearances that is what is meant by the Bill, every strike or threatened strike would be an illegal act and against the Regulations.
I am not fond of strikes. Under ordinary circumstances the paid agitator, as one is called sometimes, has a pretty easy time of it. But when a strike occurs, you talk about an eight-hour day, but if there were 30, 40, or 50 hours in a day he would have to work every one of them, and he would get no overtime neither. So I am not fond of strikes. I have said, and I say it again, that in the case of a big upheaval, in the case of possible starvation some necessary machinery for the distribution of commodities ought not to be wanting. An hon. Member asked us to be perfectly candid. He asked us to make a statement as to what we thought of the public expressions of what he is pleased to call responsible leaders of the trade union movement. I assume he referred to a statement made the other day by a gentleman, with whom I am associated in the transport trade, about condemning the use of muncipal buildings in the case mentioned by the Leader of the House and by himself. I am not one of those who would subscribe to any such policy at any time and under any circumstances. But why was not the hon. Member fair? Why does he not complete the statement made by the person he referred to? In that speech he also said that the trade unions of the country, and the transport workers particularly, were prepared to co-operate heartily in the distribution of food if such a thing as that ever 1413 happened, and to see that nothing was left undone so that the food would reach the people. Why was not that statement added to what he had said already? The objection taken, and it is a very natural objection, too, was that municipal buildings should be used for the purpose of housing strike-breakers—not members of unions at all, but volunteers from what are known as the middle classes. I want to warn the House, and the Leader of the House, that you can go a bit too far on this alleged middle-class opposition to organised labour.
No one wants to get up class hatred or class distinctions. I do not, and I do not agree with those who do. I am going to be frank now—franker than the hon. Member asked me. I thoroughly and vigorously disagree with the evil spirit that is going about to-day talking about bloody revolution. Men like that are neither friends to the country nor to organised labour. In fact they are deadly enemies. But how is this Bill going to pass? If it helps in the direction of stopping this kind of thing I will welcome it. I consider that if Labour is at some time to occupy the Treasury Bench, whenever it comes, sooner or later, the same responsibility may be cast upon them. I believe the best investment Labour can make is to study and propagate constitutional action as opposed to direct action. We may have to wait a few years, but to my mind it is much cheaper and better to wait for that than to hasten ruin, chaos, and confusion. My only fear is that the Bill will be used, not for the purpose which was laid down in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but will be used, improperly, for the purpose of preventing legitimate trade unionism organisation. I should not have taken the slightest objection to the machinery proposed by the Leader of the House, but one or two sentences occurred in his speech which gave me pause. One was that whatever legislation was proposed it would not be hurried. Why has it been hurried now? I assume, not only the Second Beading, but the Third Reading of this Bill is to be rushed through if possible in one sitting of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It may be delayed a day.
The right hon. Gentleman says if Parliament is not sitting, no action can be taken without summoning Parliament, and the example he gave us was the railway 1414 strike. But may I remind him that Parliament was not sitting at the time and he took the powers he is asking for now without asking Parliament to meet at all. [Interruption.] That is what I say. The powers existed. I do not speak with any vindictiveness towards the present Parliament. I am merely stating a matter of history. Is there any doubt what the present Parliament would do in a case of that description? If I may use an Ibsenite phrase, is there any doubt what the present Government would do with its damned compact majority behind it? There is no doubt in my mind, and I do not think there is much doubt in the minds of the Government itself. If the question ever came up it would be merely a matter of calling Parliament together as a matter of form and the thing would go through. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that if it is clearly laid down that the powers are going to be confined purely to feeding the people and are not to be used to imprison men who are using the only weapon they know how to use, I want to see the time come when legislation of such a character will be framed and passed by this House which will rid us of most of these troubles. Ever since the War has ended I have deplored, and will continue to deplore, the lost opportunities of this country to recover its world trade. But the fault does not lie on one side. The responsibility must be shared equally. We are not living in the glorious land we were promised after the War was over. Only last week evidence of the most awful and startling character came before me with respect to the inland water traffic of the country against which a brute beast would rebel and which this Bill may affect when it comes into operation. In the inland water transport of this country to-day families are reared from infancy to manhood and womenhood inside the narrow confines of canal boats, in narrow fly boats where, to use a figurative expression, there is not room to whip a cat. The women reared in these places have to lie on their backs and push the canal boats through dark fearsome tunnels by means of their feet. If they struck, as they ought to do, their action might be construed as an offence under this Bill because, heaven save the mark, it might be interfering with the distribution of fuel or food. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to force us into a position like that? In so far as this Bill 1415 stands at present it appears to me that the danger of these things is liable to happen. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that, so far as I am concerned, and I speak for many of my colleagues, if a contingency such as he described occurred, and there was danger of starvation, the most ardent trade unionists would decry any interference with the distribution of food. When it is said that volunteers are coming forward in their thousands, and when appeals are made to the so-called middle classes or the upper classes to come in and to do the work that the men in the trade unions themselves are prepared to do and have offered to do, the right hon. Gentleman is subscribing to the very policy which he has so vigorously denounced both in and outside of this House. He is raising that class distinction which any sensible man either a labour man or otherwise wishes to avoid. I am not satisfied with the Bill. So far as I can read the provisions they do not carry out the object or the interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman, and I sincerely trust that he will accept the advice of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Adamson) at a moment like this, when everything hangs upon a peaceful solution of our present difficulty, and withdraw the Bill and introduce it later, if necessary, when the present friction does not exist.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I am not surprised to hear from my right hon. Friend that it is not the intention of the Government to proceed further than the Second Reading stage of the Bill during the present sitting. My object in rising now is to make the strongest appeal I possibly can to the Government, and I make it I believe in consonance with a sentiment which is widely prevalent in many different quarters of the House, not to proceed at this moment with the Second Reading. In days gone by I have been concerned, perhaps more than almost anybody sitting upon those benches, with great industrial disputes. As head of the Government I have been through a railway strike and a still more severe and desolating experience, the coal strike of 1932, which lasted for the best part of six weeks. I am glad to say that on both these occasions we were able, ultimately, not without difficulty and not without friction, indeed with a certain display of legitimate and not unnatural temper, both 1416 on the one side and on the other, but without any serious disorder or any actual privation so far as the great bulk of the community was concerned in regard to the necessaries of life, to arrive at a settlement. Do not let it be supposed when I recall these experiences that I think that the Executive of to-day is adequately provided with the machinery and the resources which, in emergencies which we are obliged to contemplate as possible, we might be called upon to use in the interests of the community. I do not think they are, and I would welcome the opportunity, and I think all other Members would welcome it, not least my hon. and right hon. Friends representing the Labour party, for a dispassionate, impartial deliberate consideration of the question whether it is possible, and if so by what legislative means, to give the Executive of the Government of the day, to whatever party it might belong, adequate equipment for safeguarding, in the event of serious widespread industrial disputes, what I might call the primordial and fundamental interests of society as a whole. I do not think anybody in the Labour party would differ from me in that statement.
The community ought to be protected. I do not care from what quarter the menace proceeds, whether from the employers or the employed, or from any other quarter. The community ought to be protected through its constitutional agency, the authority of the Government of the day, against privation and against avoidable suffering and loss. While I should be very glad to consider, and I believe all parties in the House would be glad to consider, any carefully devised legislation for that purpose, and aiming at that end, I cannot exaggerate the strength of my conviction that to attempt legislation of that kind in the atmosphere which at this moment surrounds us is, I will not say provocative, I do not want to use that word, but is calculated to prejudice the object which we all ought to have in view. It is not as if the Executive of the Government of the day do not possess powers ample and adequate to meet any risk with which we are at present threatened. The experience of the railway strike of last year was sufficient to show that the Government did possess those powers and they were exercised, if I may say so. with 1417 discretion and to the advantage of the community. True, they are powers which were conferred upon the Government under emergency legislation in the time of war and which were intended to come to an end when the War came to an end, and peace was re-established in the world. I entirely agree that it would be an extremely unsatisfactory thing if when peace is brought about and those powers came to an end that the Government of the day should be left, as it were derelict, naked, stripped of adequate capacity to deal with emergencies of this kind. However, for the moment they possess the powers which I have mentioned, and I allude to that to show that there is no immediate urgency for carrying new legislation of this kind.
The Government have in their possession all the powers that are needed for any risks or dangers which at present confront us. That being the case, surely the elementary dictates of political prudence, not to say statesmanship, indicate that it would be better, for the time being, to rely upon those powers, and not at a most inopportune time, to pass permanent legislation of the kind contemplated by this Bill. It is not a matter of urgency at all. There is no emergency which calls at this moment for legislative action. On the other hand, if ever there was a serious question which requires for its elucidation, and still further for its settlement by legislation, calm and dispassionate action, from which, for the time being, the element of acute dispute and controversy are banished—if ever there was in the whole range of possible political legislation a topic to which that description applies—surely this is the one. Take this Bill. I am not going to enter upon anything like a critical analysis of it, but I would indicate two or three points to show how controversial it is, and how full of difficult problems, without imputing any insidious intention to make unnecessary inroads upon the rights and privileges either of trade unions or any other form of industrial activity or of the common law itself. Take the first Clause:If at any time it appears to His Majesty that any action has been taken or is immediately threatened "—1418 Threatened. That in itself is a phrase of very dangerous ambuiguity—by any persons or body of persons …interfering with the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel, light or other necessities "—There again, that raises a legal canon which is very familiar to every learned Gentleman opposite, more particularly the Attorney-General, the canon of ejusdem generis. One would like to know to what particular class of commodities or services those words apply. There may lurk there, as there does lurk so often in general terms, the possibilities of great danger and misunderstanding… to deprive the community, or a substantial portion of the community "—There again we have a very elastic and very risky phrase. What is "substantial"?
§ Mr. ASQUITH
What is "substantial"? [HON. MEMBERS: "Mr. Thorne!"] A few more interjections will illustrate the enormous range and variety of the use of the word "substantial." Then we come to the last words: "of the essentials of life."
What are the essentials of life? That is a phrase that occurs again in a later Clause of the Bill. I could mention, and my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General and the Home Secretary can imagine from their own experience in the course of the law, endless controversy as to the meaning of these terms.
These are not Committee points. They are points of substance and reality. Come now to the second Clause, first Subsection. This gives power to make regulations for securing the essentials of life, whatever they are, for the community, and those regulations may confer or impose upon a Government Department such powers and duties as His Majesty may deem it necessary—what for?—for the preservation of the peace. That really includes the whole domain of social order. Regulations in compliance with those words would fall within that category which have really nothing whatever to do with light, fuel or even the essentials of life. The preservation of peace is a separate category. The next Sub-section is very important from a constitutional point of view:Any regulation so made shall be laid 1419 before Parliament as soon as may be after they are made and "—this looks like a great concession to the authority of Parliament, but what does it really amount to?shall not continue in force after the expiration of fourteen days from the time when they are so laid unless a resolution is passed by both Houses providing for the continuance thereof.That is a very proper concession, but it does not go nearly far enough, because it gives a free run of nearly fourteen days for these regulations during which they will have the validity of an Act and everything done under them will be valid and effectual. When you are dealing with an emergency situation fourteen days is usually sufficient, or more than sufficient, and it ought to be, if the administration is reasonably competent and efficient, to put into operation, to get upon their legs all the regulations which the ingenuity and skill of Government Departments can devise. Therefore, to say that Parliament has a power of veto after they have had a run of fourteen days is to pay lip homage to Parliament and not to give it any really effective control.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
My right hon. Friend misunderstands the intention, and I think the words. As I understand, Parliament on any one of the days after the Regulations are made could turn out the Government and put an end to the Regulations.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
It may be that perhaps the draftsmanship has not been as lucid as it usually is, otherwise I do not understand the use of the words, "after the expiration of fourteen days." I want to impress on my right hon. Friend that I am not dealing with this from the Committee point of view. I am only pointing out the extraordinary difficulty and complexity of legislation of this kind. At every turn you are confronted, even with the best draftsmanship in the world, and, further, if you like, with the most innocent intentions in the world, with problems both in intention and expression which require for their proper settlement, not only a calm atmosphere but prolonged and careful Parliamentary discussion. Is it reasonable to demand from the House of Commons, in the situation in which we now stand, I will not say in one day, because the Government have conceded us 1420 another, but that in a couple of days we should put in a permanent shape on the Statute Book—because this is permanent legislation—I have no objection to it for that reason; I quite agree that It should not be left in a temporary position under the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations—provisions which, disguise them how we may, do give to the Executive of the day very wide powers of interference, not only with the Common Law, but with the ordinary rights and privileges of the British subject? I come back to the point with which. I started. So far as the emergency is concerned, the Government are amply equipped for dealing with it. So far as the future is concerned, I quite agree, and I am sure that my hon. Friends here would agree, though I have no authority to speak for them, that it is desirable that the powers of the Executive should clearly be defined by legislative action, whatever those powers may be, but is it unreasonable—and I do not urge this on behalf of any particular section, but on behalf of a very large body of opinion both inside and outside this House—that they should suspend the further discussion to a more convenient season—I do not ask them to withdraw it—until these menacing clouds which have been darkening the sky for the last few weeks, and which we hope are now going to be dispelled, have been, as we all trust and believe they will now be, finally dispersed?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I have felt a real anxiety with regard to this Bill, not because some such Bill as this is not-needed. I am convinced by the speech of my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the House, that it is desirable that the Government should have power given them to deal with difficulties such as that which might arise at present or in the future or which arose last year. My anxiety is of an entirely different character. It is an anxiety as to any alteration in the constitutional position of the House of Commons. I am not arguing that powers should not be given, for the Leader of the House has convinced me that powers should be given to the Government. But this Bill in effect rivets for all time the provisions of these Defence of the Realm Act Regulations on the country, and does it without any interference by Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition told us that the Regulations made by the Government might 1421 last for fourteen days. Under the provisions of this Bill, if it is passed and Parliament is not sitting, the Government may declare that an emergency has arisen, and then Parliament need not be summoned for fourteen days, during the whole of which time the fresh powers under this Bill and any Regulations made under them, could be put into operation, and then when Parliament meets there is a further fourteen days during which the Regulations apply until a Resolution is passed by the House to the contrary. So it is clear the Government may make any Regulations they like within the four corners of this Bill. Heaven knows the Bill is wide enough, and those Regulations may enure whatever Government is in power for twenty-seven days at least if Parliament is not sitting.
I am not at all sure as a Member of the House of Commons that it is wise to give any Government such enormous powers as those uncontrolled by the action of Parliament. This Bill deals with the preservation of peace, with questions of food, light, transport, in fact everything which conduces to the well-being of the people of this country. The Government can make any Regulations. They may commandeer under these Regulations any man's property—it may be right or wrong—food or coal, and the Government have the power to do that without the intervention of the House of Commons. I am not at all sure that under the Bill as it is now drawn they cannot go further and make Regulations—I believe they can—declaring enforced labour on any one of us in regard to the distribution of coal, transport, or what not. They are in effect taking such vast powers under this Bill that I want to warn the House that they should, at least in the Committee Stage, insist on very serious alterations in the provisions of the Bill. I am not opposed to the principle of certain powers being given. I think that they must be given in regard to certain possibilities. I do not want to say a word that might exacerbate in any degree the tension existing at present between the miners and the Government. I am assured that hon. Members above the Gangway do not look on me as one of their friends, and personally I hold very strong views with regard to the miners' dispute; but because I did not want to say anything which might in any way go against the possibility of negotiations for peace, I 1422 abstained from speaking and did not attempt to catch the Speaker's eye in the Debate which took place a few days ago. But we must have adequate amendments if we are to give the Government the possibility of exercising such enormous-powers as these, powers which I believe have never been given by any Parliamentary Chamber in the history of the world. The Leader of the House said that these powers were exercised by and granted to other Governments, but I really do not think that he can produce-any Acts of any Parliament according such extreme powers to any Government without the assent of Parliament for the time being.
I would ask the Home Secretary, who is in charge, whether he would not consent to some modifications in this Bill. First, that Parliament should meet, not within fourteen days, but should be called together the moment this necessity arises. After all, we in this House are supposed to control the Executive of this country. That is our real object in being here. Some people think that our object is simply to file through division lobbies and vote as the Whips tell us. I do not think that that is the view of our constituents or the real reason why the House of Commons was instituted. The House of Commons grew up in order to control possible tyrannical action of the Executive of the day, and I hope that the Government will assent to an Amendment in the Committee Stage that the moment that Regulations under this Act are made by any Government and Parliament is not sitting, Parliament shall be summoned at once. It could be summoned within three days. It certainly could be done within seven, and I desire, not that the Regulations should last for fourteen days unless they are ratified by the House of Commons, but that Parliament should be summoned by express summons to have the Regulations placed before them and to ask their assent to them. I believe that this House, or any House, would, when an emergency had arisen, give those powers to the Government. My objection is to giving powers which can be exercised without Parliamentary sanction, and I ask the House as guardian of the rights of the House and of the people of this country to say that, while we are prepared to give powers to the Government, the Government must summon us if we are not sitting and put the proposed Regulations 1423 before us and ask us whether or not we are prepared to assent; in other words, that it shall be ourselves and not the Minister of the day who will decide whether such emergency has arisen or not. I believe that if the emergency arises and the Government come to us and say, an emergency has arisen, no House of Commons would refuse to grant the power, but I object to giving them a blank cheque which they can use for twenty-seven days without the assent of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. CLYNES
It would ill become a Member of this House to say anything complimentary about the House of Commons, but I go the length of saying very sincerely that I think the House of Commons has done well, since it re-assembled a few days ago, in its discussions on these unhappy industrial troubles, and the contributions from all sides of the House, expressing every degree and phase of opinion, have tended to create an opinion in the country which I hope is helping towards a settlement of the present trouble. What has been said from this side of the House has been so described from that, and what has been said from that side, we say sincerely, appears to us to have been designed towards bringing together those great and powerful parties to a dispute which exposes the interests and the well-being of the country to such real peril. We are therefore anxious to maintain the reputation of the House of Commons. I want to assure the Government that our hostility to this Bill is directed mainly to the end of playing a helpful part in the negotiations which are still proceeding, and which we hope will finally reach a settlement. We understand—we have good reason to believe—that we are nearer a settlement now than we have been during recent days. Public opinion and, I think, the opinion of the Press are all being focussed on the task of producing that temper and feeling among the industrial population, and particularly amongst the miners, which must be a helpful contribution to a satisfactory settlement. Accordingly, I am driven to the conclusion that this is the most inopportune and the most unsuitable moment that could be chosen for bringing forward legislation of this kind. It may be. said that it is not only inopportune, but that this move is a move which must make for mischief between the parties 1424 who are shouldering the responsibility for reaching a settlement.
I do not believe that this is an attack upon trade unionism. I cannot think that a Government, with all the limitations which we believe the existing Government has, could seriously think of framing legislation designed to undermine the power and authority of the trade union movement of this country. If that authority and that power are undermined it will be due, not to the action of the Government; it will be due to the outside follies of the trade union movement itself. Why do I think that this legislation is not so intended? The strength of the miner is not in what he does. His strength is particularly exhibited when he is doing nothing at all. The Government could pass 20 Acts of Parliament, but it could not get a million people to go down into the pits and handle coal in place of the men who are coal producers, and the miners' strength lies in the fact that you cannot get men to fill their places. That is true in a very large measure of the men who run the trains, of the men who carry on generally the transport services of our country. We well know that in some sort of manner, temporary and very greatly limited services can be improvised by those who must to same degree carry on the transport service, if for no other purpose than that of feeding the community, and even of feeding their strikers; but by no stretch of imagination can the country be made to believe that by Act of Parliament you can smash trade unionism in the sense of getting people to fill the places of those millions of men, or in the sense of destroying the moral of those who compose the trade union movement.
Let me reinforce the appeal which has been made by the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and especially to urge that this of all moments is the wrong moment for this particular purpose. That has already been said, but there is one thing in relation to it which has not been said. The course of this miners' trouble, as is well known, produced a decision on the part of the railwaymen's executive. The merits of that decision I am not going to discuss. For the time being that decision has been reversed—I am not so sure about my qualification as to whether it is for the time—but at any rate the decision of the railwaymen's executive to 1425 ask their men to cease work is not to take effect, for the reason that a great national special congress of the whole trade union movement is to be held in this city on Wednesday. Are we then to have the conference assemble in a mood of suspicion such as I am certain that the passing or forcing of a Bill like this through the House to-day and to-morrow would be absolutely certain to produce? If this Bill became law that conference on Wednesday would think more of this Bill, and talk more about it, and would probably be moved more by it than by any other consideration. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why"] I will try to explain why. Although this Bill may be perfect in its terms and expressions as a legal instrument for doing certain things, the Government in a matter like this wants advice, not merely upon points of law; it appears to me it wants advice on points of psychology; and in such a conference, that would consist to a great extent, no doubt, of men predisposed to a national strike and men who do believe that this is an attack on trade unionism, men whose beliefs will be further sustained and strengthened by the passage of this Bill, there would quickly develop the mood to regard this as a challenge from the Government, and it is human nature in these circumstances not to run away from challenges, but to accept them.
If for no other reason than that the Government ought to see that this is a most inopportune moment for pressing this measure upon the House. I know the Government might say that they must not be afraid; that they have a duty to do. Discretion is an attribute not unknown in some governments, and it is well at these moments of crisis and exceptional national temper to act discreetly as well as courageously. It would not be a discreet thing for the Government to provoke a national strike by passing a Bill of this kind at a time, when they might well have avoided it and enabled the trade union movement to take a more composed and reasonable view of matters, and to leave the negotiations which might then be proceeding as between the miners' representatives and the Government to take their course. We object to the Bill on its merits, though we would rather address our objections under that head at a time when we would have a fuller opportunity of dealing with them in detail, for under these conditions of rush it would be impossible for us to 1426 address our views fully to the House and the country on many points of outstanding detail. An emergency, I conclude, is considered by the Government already to have arisen.
§ Mr. CLYNES
The Government consider that we are approaching a time, say, within a few days, when there may be need for legislation of this kind or else they would not be pressing such a Bill upon the House at the moment. It must be that they have a fear that such legislation as this is necessary now in order that it might be applied in one degree or another in the course of a very few days. That is ir the event of a railway stoppage. Who is to show us that the powers already possessed by the Government are not ample for the purposes which, in the main, are mentioned in this Bill in relation to the supply of food, water, light, fuel, and other necessities? In what respect docs the Government lack power to give effect to any Act? What action is there that the Government cannot take legally in regard to the supply and maintenance of any one of these essentials? Indeed, the Home Secretary is well aware that steps in relation to all these matters have already been taken by the Government, and I think properly taken by the Government. That is to say, public institutions, public schools, public bodies, individuals, Government offices, and estate offices have already been put into use by the Government for the purpose of inviting persons who might be willing in certain circumstances to assist the Government in the maintenance of supplies of food, light and so on.
The Government rightly calls for emergency powers to deal with the great emergencies occasioned by these strikes, and I think that on this side of the House there would be agreement that, for very exceptional circumstances, exceptional facilities must be at the hand of the Government, and that provisions must be made in an exceptional way in order to meet the life needs of the nation. I do not regard steps of that kind as breaking a strike. The striker would not like to be compelled to live in a state of semi-starvation any more than the rest of the community. We grant, therefore, that food must be produced, must be imported, must be distributed, 1427 must in all its sections and detail be supplied to the various shops. But what we say also is that no one of these steps need rest at all upon a Bill of this kind. In the main what does' the Bill do? It threatens bodies of men with the penalties of the law. It threatens to fine them up to £100, a sum so large that perhaps a few workmen would even enjoy the very idea of being called upon to pay such a sum. It threatens them with terms of imprisonment. The Home Secretary has had a long enough experience in every branch of the law, and in the particular office he now fills, to know that if you make threats when you are dealing with enormous numbers of men, not merely thousands, but hundreds of thousands, your threats are so many empty words. They are mischievous words. They have the effect of producing illegalities and of causing men to break the law because of the little respect they have for it on account of the way in which it has been forced through at a time when there is no need for it whatever. Your large bodies of men will not be deterred from any tendency to misdeeds by the term of three months' imprisonment or by fines of £100. Your gaols could not be enlarged or made big enough to accommodate the number of men who, in the view of some people in this country, would be committing illegalities in connection with any extension of the strike, if one unfortunately did occur. In so far as this Bill proposes permanent legislation, I doubt whether there is a single Member who would urge in this Debate that this is an appropriate moment to ask the House to pass legislation of a permanent character. It has been said that this Bill has been under the consideration of the Government for a considerable time. Let us grant that. The House is to sit in the ordinary way until some time approaching Christmas. Surely we may hope that between now and then there will be peace or intervals of peace and industrial composure in which there would be a very different frame of mind, not only in the country but in this House, to do justice to legislation intended to be of a permanent character dealing with industrial employment. So I urge that there is no need for this Bill in relation to any present tendency arising from existing strikes or 1428 threatened strikes, and that in so far as it proposes a permanent change of the law, the present time is an entirely wrong time to pass legislation of this sort, and at this moment it will have a very harmful effect on existing disputes.
The Leader of the House in submitting the Bill used one argument, and from it I want to draw a certain conclusion. He told us that there was a certain Act of Parliament dating from 1875 which places limitations in regard to strikes upon men who produce gas and water. I personally have had some 20 years' experience in relation to that Act and I can say that the results are simply these. That Act requires the men to give a fortnight's notice if they intend to strike in regard to the supply of those needs. The men who are on strike now gave due notice. I am not justifying their strike, and I am only pointing out that they did conform fully to the requirements of the law, and they not only gave notice, but even extended it because of certain negotiations that were proceeding. But suppose they did not, or suppose that the railway-men giving no notice ceased work suddenly, are we to be told that there will be an attempt to put into practice the provisions of this law and call upon some 600,000 or 700,000 railway workers to go to prison for three months or even pay fines of £100. No such folly of that kind would be committed by the Government which would have this Act to administer. Gasworkers and those concerned in the supply of water have struck without giving notice, and in such large numbers as to make it impossible for the law to be carried out. Only a few months ago we had an experience of this kind. The gasworkers, without a moment's warning, struck work in Manchester and in several other Lancashire towns and in a few other places in the Midlands, and yet no proceedings were taken against those men because they committed an illegality, never thinking there were illegalities, in such large numbers as to make it wholly impossible to apply the law to them. Therefore I hope that the Act of 1875 will not be taken as a guide for the conduct of hon. Members in giving their vote on this particular Measure.
Hon. Members who take part in these Debates, sometimes quite justly and quite accurately, taunt us who sit on this side of 1429 the House with speaking for a following which sometimes we cannot control. There is much more in that than meets the eye. The real way to make weaker and weaker the authority of the moderate Labour man is to play more and more into the hands of the extremists by giving him the arguments and excuses that he desires in the country for showing the powerlessness of those of us who are on this side, and with taunting us that these appeals that we make fall on deaf ears in this House Let the Government not mistake me and think that we feel that we have the right whenever we ask for anything to get it. I do not mean that; but here is something we could get and something that would, so to speak, do an enormous amount of service from the point of view of the moderate Labour man, and which the Government could give without the slightest fraction of loss or sacrifice of any kind whatever. Pass this Bill and on Wednesday at the great special conference we shall be taunted with the failure of our efforts and with the impotency of Parliamentary methods, and we shall be told that it is no use appealing to the House of Commons even, as they will say, for such slender concessions as we sometimes beg the Government to concede. I therefore say on the ground of discretion, if not on the wider grounds of wisdom and generosity, this is a most inopportune moment to press either temporary or permanent legislation of this kind, and I trust our appeal will not fall entirely on deaf ears.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I cannot help expressing my great regret that urgent calls on the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House, and I have no doubt they are urgent, have prevented them from hearing the speech which has just been delivered. I am sure hon. Members who heard it, whether they agree with his conclusions or not, will agree with me in saying that the statement of the case could not have been put better, more moderately, or more persuasively. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Clynes) will forgive me if I say that I do not think he quite apprehended rightly the scope of this Bill. He regarded it as a Bill the object of which was to put into prison strikers by the thousand. I shall be very much surprised to hear from the Home Secretary that the Government thought or desired to take any such action as that 1430 under the provisions of the Bill. I did not understand the Lord Privy Seal to make that case for the Bill at all. His case was that, suppose there is a sudden threatened cessation of the supply of the necessaries of life, or of the means of transportation, which is practically a necessary of life under modern conditions, then the Government should have power to take measures to supply the deficiency that was thus caused, and that they should be allowed to commandeer this lorry or take possession of a building or whatever it might be. I sometimes have my doubts about the wisdom of the present Government, but I do not think they are quite so mad as to endeavour to stop a strike by putting the strikers into prison. That is a perfectly insane idea which nobody in this House would dream of entertaining. I do think that the Bill goes a great deal further than the Lord Privy Seal represents it. I daresay it is necessary as a matter of drafting, but undoubtedly it does take very, very wide powers. My right hon. Friend said it is only to be put into force when certain conditions exist. That is not quite accurate. The Bill says when it appears to His Majesty, and that is when it appears to the Government, under our Constitution, that certain conditions exist. That is a very different thing, and if it is left entirely to the Government to say that an emergency has arisen, it is for them to put the provisions into force. In the same way, I think the Lord Privy Seal under-rated the powers given by the second Clause. Under that Clause, assuming that the emergency exists, the Government are entitled to issue Regulations which, as my hon. Friend (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) pointed out, gave them almost despotic power over a very vast field. I agree that all this power is very materially limited by the fact that the Regulations can only remain in force for a limited period, unless a Resolution is passed by both Houses of Parliament. That is the real security. It may well be as a matter of drafting that it is not possible to devise exactly what you may have to do, and a very considerable check ought to be exercised by Parliament. I agree that the check does not go far enough. I think 14 days is absurd, and that seven days should be the very limit of the time; but that is a matter for Committee. There are other Amendments 1431 which I venture to submit to the Government, or rather to the House. I hope that there will be considerable modifications in the times mentioned in the Bill. There is also what I think must be a slip in the drafting. Some limit should be placed on the duration of the proclamation of a state of emergency. At present, so far as I can see, it need never come to an end, and you would really always have power of issuing Regulations. I do not think that is right.
The Main proposition is whether this is a necessary and desirable Bill. I must say I think some measure of this kind is necessary. I am not sure that my hon. Friends on the Labour Benches always realise that a general strike is really different in kind from the old industrial disputes. It is not the same kind of thing at all. Take a general coal or railway strike. The object is not to hit the owners of the coal mines or the owners of the railways. The old industrial dispute was this. The owners did something or failed to do something which their employés thought was an injustice. Thereupon the employés said, "You shall not make any profit out of your undertaking until you agree to remedy this injustice." That was the substance of the old strike and that was the purely industrial dispute. When you come to so big a thing as a general strike, you do a great deal more than that. What you really do is to say, "We will inflict great inconvenience or hardship on the whole community unless our particular demands are conceded." That is a very serious matter, and I venture to submit to my hon. Friends on the Labour Benches that it is a matter for them very carefully to consider whether a general strike is really consistent with the action of a constitutional party. You can be a constitutional party or you can be a revolutionary party, but you never can be both, and if you try to be both the only result will be that you will lose the confidence of the people as a constitutional party and you will not be effective as a revolutionary party. Therefore, putting it as a pure, dry proposition of logic, I venture to submit to them that it is a matter for them very carefully to consider whether the general strike is a weapon that really can be used in a constitutional country, and whether they are not running very grave risks of losing 1432 support and popularity in the country, and ultimately the chance of seriously affecting the legislation of the country in the way that they desire, by adopting tactics and methods of this kind.
Whether that be so or not, I myself am of opinion that a community and a Government faced with a thing like a general strike are bound to take measures—it stands to reason—to prevent serious disaster happening to the country, and I think they are right in saying that it is better that they should take those powers by a Bill designed for that purpose rather than rely on the operation of the old Defence of the Realm Act, which is a singularly tyrannical measure and which we would all like to see abolished and destroyed from the legislation of this country. But, having said that, I very earnestly appeal to my right hon. Friends to consider whether they are wise in proceeding with the Bill at the present time. I agree most fully with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Miles Platting has just said. This is not asking the Government to do anything which could possibly injure their prestige or look like weakness. Sometimes very weak-kneed people are afraid to do a thing because it looks like weakness, but I am sure that that would not apply to so strong and resolute a Government as we have now. They tell us that the Bill was drafted months back, but why on earth did they not introduce it then? Why wait till this moment to introduce it, when the negotiations are proceeding and are, we hope, on the point of arriving at some solution of this great difficulty? I cannot think it is right to do it. It is quite true my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Bonar Law), with that northern love of logic, explained very elaborately that this is not in fact a threat, and is not in fact provocative. It may not be, but to me it is not very material whether it is or is not provocative, if it is so regarded by one of the parties to the dispute. That is the essence of the matter; and what is the reason that he gives for pressing it on now? Why does he want it immediately?
I have listened in vain for any adequate reason for passing the Bill at this moment. He says that the coal mines emergency has not arisen, and he says very truly that when Parliament is sitting this Bill will not be necessary at 1433 all, because Parliament would always hasten to grant the necessary powers, so that if an emergency does arise with reference to the coal dispute, you could always come to this House and in a few hours obtain all such legislation as this without the slightest difficulty or, I should think, the slightest opposition from anybody in the House. Therefore, I do not understand why it is that he wants to press it forward now. I have heard it suggested by acute Parliamentarians that it is thought to be a good time to get it through, that the Parliamentary atmosphere is favourable for a measure of this kind. I cannot believe my right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench are foolish enough to indulge in any calculations of that kind, for the mere suspicion that that was the cause of pressing on this Bill would be enough to convert the Parliamentary atmosphere into a very bad one instead of a good one. Besides, what do they want with an atmosphere in this House? Do they seriously think that many of the hon. Members whom I see in the House would refuse them anything in the world they asked for? Of course they would not. The real appeal I make to my right hon. Friends is this: that the Government should consider the matter very carefully, and that they should not do anything which could possibly imperil the negotiations or which can lead people outside to think that they are indifferent to the success of the negotiations. I am convinced that nothing could be so disastrous, and I think that if the Government could bring themselves to adjourn this Debate, say, for a week or something of that kind, they would really meet the whole case. I am satisfied that there would be no serious opposition to the Second Beading of this Bill at the end of that time. They would have avoided the terrible risks that they run should they insist on passing this Bill through now, and they really would obtain everything they possibly could require.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I think I am right in saying that the great majority of the Members of this House felt a shock of surprise when the Leader of the House, in reply to a question by my right hon. Friend the leader of the Labour party, intimated the intention of the Government to proceed with this measure to-day, and certainly it was a shock and a surprise 1434 to the public Everyone expected, and I think rightly expected, that now that the parties to the great dispue were in close personal touch once again with each other, everything which might be assumed to bear any unkind interpretation or suggestion of irritation or provocation would be omitted. I am quite sure myself that not a single member of the Government desires to introduce any element either of irritation or provocation, but as my right hon. Friend the Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynes) so clearly pointed out, what all Governments really need to study is not so much words which form proposals for legislation, but the psychology of the situation with which they have to deal, and it is perfectly clear to anybody who thinks for a moment that to-morrow morning, if this Measure receives its Second Beading, there will be created an atmosphere outside this House which will be distinctly harmful to the progress of friendly negotiations. That, I very much regret to say, is a fact which cannot be very well disputed. The next point which I would make is, that being the case, where is the justification for the emergency? Unless the Home Secretary or the Attorney-General is prepared to spring some legal surprise of which I have no shadow of an idea at present, it is commonly accepted that suppose the lightning strike occurred to-morrow and every railway stopped working, the Executive are clothed to-day in every substantial aspect with the same powers as they had at this time last year for dealing with it. Unless that is not the case, it places the Government in a very awkward position to justify pressing on with this legislation to-day.
The third point I would make is this. The proposals of the Government contain elements of more drastic and sweeping alterations in the existing law of the country, apart from the Defence of the Realm Regulations, than have been proposed in relation to the liberty of the subject and the control over his own property at any time during the past 50 years. That is a matter which calls for, on the part of this House of Commons and any House of Commons, the most careful and cautious consideration, because one of the chief functions of this House, next to the preservation of peace—and indeed not next to it—is the defence of the liberties of the subject, and there never has been a time, except where the thing feared 1435 had actually arisen, when this House of Commons has ever granted sweeping drastic changes in law. That contingency has not yet happened, and there is very much reason to hope that, given goodwill and the right atmosphere, it will not happen. That being the case, what justification can the Government find for pressing on with this Measure in the haste that they are showing to-day? It was only by pressure, after questions from this side of the House, backed up by a general agreement of Members on all sides of the House, against pressing all stages of this Measure to-day, that the Leader of the House at once gave way to it. I am sorry that neither he nor the Prime Minister is here at the moment. There is one other remarkable fact which I hope the Home Secretary will convey to his colleagues. There has not yet been in any speech from these Benches disagreement with the position that the Executive ought to be clothed with exceptional powers for dealing with the new state of affairs which has arisen. That is not denied by any speaker yet from these Benches, and that seems to me to be a very remarkable factor with which the Government must deal in the decision which they are going to take as to whether or not they are going to press the Second Beading of this Measure to-day. I hope they will not. I really think there is good ground for believing that they will alter their previous decision in the matter, and I have got a suggestion to make to the House.
In the absence of the Prime Minister, I would rather address myself very respectfully through you, Sir, to the House. My suggestion is this. Agreeing that the emergency has not arisen, and will not arise, this week—I do not think it will—and agreeing also that the subject ought not to be indefinitely shelved, what I suggest is, that the Government should set up one of the finest instruments of the House of Commons, namely, a Select Committee to inquire into the proposals of the Government, and to have before it representatives from the various Departments to ascertain what their ideas are as to the Regulations they would suggest. If that is done, we shall know what we are in for. You cannot tell what the Department have in their mind, and, after all, we know as practical men that it is the departmental chiefs, with all the 1436 vast store of knowledge and experience handed down from one chief to another, that really formulate the proposal. The political head, as we know, is a man who changes from one Session to another. It is in the experience of the Departments that you really get at what the proposals are. A Select Committee of fifteen Members of this House, or more, could be set up They could hear from the Departments themselves what the proposals are with regard to these Regulations, and in that way they could recommend a form of legislation which would, at any rate, have seen the daylight. The public would be instructed in it, Members of this House would be instructed in it, and, best of all, you would restore the atmosphere which at present is being seriously deteriorated. Above all other things, what is really necessary is to prevent the atmosphere getting wrong.
There can be no doubt that the result of the proposal of the Government and the continuance of this Debate to-night will be a serious handicap, and may, for all we know, when these things are on the balance, tip down the scale on the wrong-side. I put these suggestions to the Government, and I earnestly trust that they will see what is the right thing to be done. Over and over again they have said—and I am certain they have been thoroughly sincere in it—that no question of amour-propre, or anything of that kind, is going to weigh with them in these great matters. The same with regard to right hon. and hon. Members of the Labour party. Things are much too serious for that. I do hope and pray, therefore, that the Government will give way to what, I believe, is something approaching the general sense of the House, and allow this Second Reading to be adjourned.
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
While I am generally a loyal supporter of the Government, while I do not think it has lost all capacity or authority because the Noble Lord and myself have withdrawn from it, and while experience has proved to me the necessity of some sort of legislation of this character, nevertheless I regard it as extremely unfortunate that it should be introduced at this juncture. I am aware of the extraordinary endeavours being made by many of my Friends on the other side to re-establish peace in the community. I know something of the 1437 psychology of a Labour conference, and I am sure that if the Government persist in passing the Second Reading of this Bill it will result on Wednesday in the one issue being presented to the conference, namely, the endeavour of the Government to force through legislation for an emergency which has not really arisen. I think the most powerful point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) was his explanation on that point. Therefore, I do venture to join my appeal to others that have been addressed to the Government and ask that they do not proceed with the measure further on this occasion. Still, I have stated my conviction that some such legislation is necessary. Undoubtedly, industrial disputes in this country are changing in character, and I feel that, even if my hon. Friends on the other side come into power, sooner or later they will require some such powers as are set forth in this Bill if they are to carry on the government of the country. I believe that they will carry with them the concurrence of the majority of organised labour in the community. During the railway strike of last year I happened to be Food Controller. I was of course subjected, as everybody else was who was connected with the Government, to a good deal of criticism, and it was alleged—and wrongfully alleged—that because I carried out the duties of the office, necessarily I had taken sides against the railwaymen. But whatever party is in power, it will be charged with the imperative need of feeding our people and furnishing them with the necessities of life. Therefore, I am sure that we can get a large measure of agreement, and endow the Government with powers to carry out those primary duties in whatever emergency may arise.
Thus, I would like to associate myself with the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend who has just spoken. I had already noted the suggestion, but I am glad that he made it. I believe that there is a larger measure of agreement regarding the general principles of the Bill than will appear if we continue the discussion in the present atmosphere. So far as I am able to understand, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Labour party, the Liberal party, and all others who have spoken, admit that it is desirable that a Government should have full power to carry on the life of the community 1438 in the event of such a catastrophe as a national strike, or methods of direct action being adopted by a large number of people in the community. Therefore I think we can say there is a general agreement respecting the basic principle of the Bill. But I have not had time, nor do I regard myself as competent, to follow out all the implications of the Bill. It may be, as some have urged, that the powers taken are altogether wide, or the explanation may be, as given by the Noble Lord, that the draughtsmen were bound to frame the Bill widely, but that, of course, the restraining factor is Parliament. I am not sure whether that is the case, but I do feel that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, and I support the suggestion made because I honestly feel that it meets the occasion. I want a Bill of some character passed. I believe that the Government must have power. I believe that, whatever party is in power, they will realise it, and I would rather that my hon. Friends on the other side were relieved of having to do that if and when they come into power, because their action will be even more difficult than that of the present Government.
If the Bill can be subjected to proper analysis by a Select Committee, with a clear understanding that reference to such Committee is not intended to destroy the measure, but that all parties will cooperate in order to produce as early as possible a measure which will carry general acceptance, I believe that that will meet the necessities of the case, for, after all, what has occurred within the last few days to warrant the introduction and passage of this Bill? I have some knowledge of the fact that some such Bill has been on the stocks for a long while. I know that it is difficult to select a time for the introduction of such a measure as will not create misunderstanding anywhere. 'But it is not applicable to the present situation. The miners' strike, we hope, is going to be resolved. I am not going to discuss that matter here. My views are well-known, and I regard anybody to-day, whether employer or employed, who fails to do anything possible to avert a strike, as not only a danger, but a real menace to the whole community. But there is nothing exceptional happening now, and I cannot see that the Government will lose anything by adopting 1439 the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean). During the strike last year I had many of the strikers giving me assistance. It is a fact that officials of the Railwaymen's Union rallied to the support of the Ministry of Food, because they recognised, at any rate, that the women and children of the land ought to be fed, and I believe that it is the general view of organised labour, and that they will be prepared to support the Government in the enactment of a measure in order to secure that in a case of national emergency. Therefore, you may assume, I think, that you will carry the concurrence and support of all the community which is worth having.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
I rise to support the various Members of the House who have urged the Government not to bring in this Bill just now. I agree that it is not really a provocative Bill, but it will be used by our provocative amateur Bolshevists throughout the country, and, unfortunately, they are not confined to the House of Commons. They abound in trade union meetings, and I feel that this Bill, if passed at this moment, will strengthen their hands and weaken the hands of members of the trade unions and members of the Labour party who are doing everything in their power to bring about a settlement. I agree that this Bill is not brought in to break trade unions. The Government knows perfectly well that it cannot break trade unions. The Government knows that the only thing that will break trade unions will be for trade unions to try to break governments. It has been put by my Noble Friend opposite, and various Members who have spoken, that the Government does not really need this thing, and that it has powers which most of the House of Commons, I believe, want it to have under D.O.R.A. The people who do not want the Government to have these powers are very few. I do not want to appeal to the Government, because there are so few of them present to whom to appeal. I do not like" to appeal to the minority. I like to appeal to the majority. I do not want to appeal to Members whom the Noble Lord opposite said—I think he called them abject Members.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
Or perhaps it was quiet followers of the Government. I do not believe they are. I have a pretty high opinion of Members of the House of Commons. I feel they have got a great opportunity now of showing the Government what is the spirit of the House. If the Government really needed these powers we would all of us vote for them, and I believe in doing so would have the support of the country. But they do not need them at this moment, and we must take the matter at the psychological moment. I know what trade union congresses are. I know the temper of the ordinary miner, and I feel what will happen on Wednesday if this goes through is that the delegates will not talk of anything else. I am not referring to the leaders, but to the amateur Bolshevists, who, whether they are in or out of the House, are a nuisance—they will have the power to make a noise. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Miles Platting put it clearly: Are we going to strengthen the hands of the real Labour leaders or the hands of the Bolsheviks? I think the temper throughout the whole of the country is so extraordinary now that the Government—owing a good deal to its conciliatory manner and determination—and the Government, too, is firm!—I do not take so bad a view of the Government as does the Noble Lord opposite nor as the Labour leaders—I think the Government is one far better than either of them could produce. I want to strengthen the hands of the Government by begging them to postpone the Bill—and not so much the hands of the Government, but the hands of the House of Commons. We have seen in the House of Commons Members even from these Benches who are political profiteers abusing the profiteers on the other Benches, and I do not know which profiteer is worse. They are both bad enough in their way. There are also plenty of political profiteers in the Labour party. Do not make any mistake about that, and they are taking great advantage of the grievance of the War.
I appeal to the House of Commons to show the Government to-night that they are unwise in pressing this measure. Do not let us dwell on the merits of the Bill. They will come on later in Committee if the Government want this passed, for they have a large majority, and can bring 1441 it about. But they do not need it now. We may weaken the hands of the Labour leaders and strengthen the hands of the Bolshevists. Anyhow, we do not want to give the impression that the Government want to fight this thing to a finish. I do not think that that is the spirit of the House of Commons. I believe the spirit of the House of Commons is that they desire a settlement; of this matter as amicably as possible. The Government is strong enough to give in, and I hope it will give in, to the wishes of the majority of the House of Commons to-night. I trust that these abject followers will show that their spirit is as strong as that of the Labour leaders, for we want to do everything that we can to help to strengthen their hands in the conference on Wednesday. I think, on the whole, we have got the country behind us. If it comes to a fight, the Government will always have a vast majority of the people behind them if they are fighting for the country. But this is not a question of fighting. The Bill looks a little like panic legislation. We in the House of Commons are not in a panic. We are most sober, and wise, and we are neither afraid of the Government nor of the Labour leaders. Once more I urge upon the Government that we do not to-night want this. It is an unwise thing from the psychological point of view to press this Bill on.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
The Noble Lord who spoke from she Bench beside me (Lord R. Cecil), addressed some very serious and solemn words to the leaders of the Labour party opposite, with regard to them deciding on which side they were—whether they were on the side of revolution or on the side of constitutional government He assured them that they must make their choice, and that they could not be on both sides, for they would inevitably fall in any attempt of this sort. I would not be surprised if some of them do not retort by addressing some serious and solemn words to the Noble Lord, asking him to make up his mind whether he is for or against this Bill. He cannot be both for it and against it. He made two very excellent speeches. The first part of his speech was in strong support of the Bill, and the second part of a very able and powerful speech urged the Government to withdraw the Bill.
Well, I could not understand it. I had some difficulty in understanding what was meant. I listened very carefully to the speech of the Noble Lord, and I could not make up my mind, after listening, in which lobby he intended to vote, or whether he intended to vote in any Lobby. I doubt whether in these circumstances abstention from voting and delivering double speeches is an attitude which is really helpful in a situation of this kind.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I can explain in two words, if my hon. Friend will allow my interruption. I am in favour of adjourning this Debate for a week.
My Noble Friend referred to hon. Members opposite who support the Government. He referred to them as adorning the Benches opposite. I am sure that he has a decorative effect upon these Benches. But I cannot think that by the attitude he is adopting at this moment, and has on other recent occasions adopted, he is adding much to the enlightenment of these Benches.
I approach this Bill naturally, as I would approach all similar proposals, with an attitude of suspicion. I listened very carefully to the two speeches of the two right hon. Gentlemen who lead the Opposition to ascertain on what grounds they based their opposition to the Bill. There was first of all the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, Paisley!"] No, I mean the hon. Member for East or rather West Fife (Mr. Adamson). He used some strong language, but he did not condescend to particulars. "He was very much opposed to the Bill." "It was profoundly to be regretted." "It was deeply to be deplored." "It was provocative." And he referred with a contemptuous wave of his hand to proposals" of such a nature and" legislation of this character." But of what character and of what nature? What is "deeply to be deplored "? What is "profoundly to be regretted"? I listened carefully throughout his speech. There was no condescending details. The Bill was profoundly to be regretted because he did not like it! We must take his word for it. For there was no argument, reason, or statement of the particulars in which the Bill was to be condemned.
1443 The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) was different in character. He did condescend to particulars. His objection, I think, was on two grounds. The first objection was that the Government had already got the powers that were proposed in this Bill: therefore the Bill was unnecessary. I will later refer to that particular objection. Here, how ever, I would merely say that that was not in any sense an objection to the principle of the Bill. There was nothing in that to be construed into anything in the way of argument against the principle of the Bill. The second objection, and I think the only real objection, of my right hon. Friend was this: he read out seriatim a number of particular phrases which he held were ill-defined. There was first of all as to what was meant by action being "immediately threatened." Then he asked what was meant by the words water, fuel, light, "and other necessities." Then, again, what was meant by the "essentials of life"? Lastly—I think this was the last of the objections quoted—there was the suggestion that fourteen days was too long a period after the meeting of Parliament for the Bill to remain in operation. Everyone will, I think, agree that there is not a single one of those objections which is an objection to the principle of the Bill or directed against any of the powers of the Bill. They were all Committee points—important Committee points. It is very desirable that these phrases should be well considered as to what is meant by them, but the points could all be put forward consistently by a strong supporter of the principle of the Bill.
I submit, therefore, that neither of the two leaders of the Opposition put forward, or attempted to put forward, any objection to the principles contained in the Bill. It would be very difficult to do so. After listening to the speech of the Leader of the House what is it to what one would object? Power as stated by him is taken in this Bill in the event of the vital necessaries of life of the people being prejudiced. Power is taken to commandeer all supplies of food, coal, cars, and to use them for securing adequate distribution to the people who may be starving for the essential necessaries 1444 of life. Who objects to this? These are the very things which hon. Members opposite on the Labour Benches would be the first to advocate, and these are vital and essential purposes of the Bill. If the Bill goes beyond that, or if it fails to secure these purposes, the Bill could be amended in Committee. It is true there is a suggestion, I think it was from my hon. and learned Friend opposite in the corner seat, in a clearer way than from any Members who spoke from the Opposition Bench that if this Bill were passed it might be used to impose forced labour. Let me carry it further. It might be used for the purpose of strike-breaking and to put I forget how many hundreds of thousands of miners in prison.
§ 7.0 P.M.
That argument can be carried further. There is the same idea in other words. The idea clearly expressed in reference to forced labour can be carried further, and the suggestion made that this Bill might be used for putting into prison so many hundreds of thousands of miners and so many hundreds of thousands of railwaymen. For my part I do not believe it would be possible, legally, to frame Regulations under this Bill which could have that effect. In the second place, I do not believe, even if it were possible to frame Regulations under the Bill, that it would be possible to put them in operation. You cannot imprison hundreds of thousands of people, and, even if you could, it would merely be playing their game, because you would be providing them with free sustenance and free lodging. If a strike, involving large numbers of men, were proceeding week after week until the men's funds were exhausted and the women and children were feeling the pinch, then, as a means of prolonging the strike, the whole of these men would welcome being put into prison. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense!"] Therefore, it is not feasible to think that any such operation could be carried out under the provisions of this Bill. Thirdly, even supposing it were possible to do it under the Bill, and that a Government would attempt to put it into operation if it were possible, the House would have complete control. If it were sitting it could deal with the matter the next day, and if it were not sitting it would have to he called together within a fortnight, and it could 1445 deal with the matter then. I do not think there is any substance in the argument put forward by my hon. and learned Friend opposite. I cannot conceive a Bill which could be framed in a more democratic and constitutional form. The whole character of this Bill is democratic and constitutional; the whole power which it confers is based upon the consent of this House and upon the consent of the elected representatives of the people. It is provided that if any Regulations are made under this Bill, the House, if it is not sitting, should be called together within a fortnight, and that these Regulations shall lapse altogether unless both Houses of Parliament pass a Resolution accepting and adopting them. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not for 14 days, though."] My right hon. Friend said it was the intention that the Regulations should lapse if the House of Commons, immediately on its meeting, failed to endorse them. Seeing that that is so, even if it were held that under the wording of the Bill as it is at present there must be an interval of 14 days, that could be altered in Committee. [An HON. MEMBER: "If Parliament is not sitting it must be 14 days."] If it is important to call Parliament together, as my hon. Friend suggested, that period could be altered to seven days, or even less. There is no substance in that objection. It is a mere Committee point. I submit that if and when the Labour party come into power, if they attempt to carry out the very numerous provisions in their programme, they will be bound to ask from Parliament powers as large as these and very much larger. They will be quite right in doing so. They will fail absolutely to carry out many parts of their programme—quite a constitutional programme—if they did not equip themselves with some such powers as are here referred to.
I promised at the beginning, when I was dealing with the first objection put forward by the right hon. Member for Paisley, to refer to it again. That is the objection that the Government already have all the powers which are conferred under this Bill. I am doubtful if it is so; I am not quite sure. I understood the Leader of the House to say that it was not so. I wish to leave no doubt as to the line I am taking, and on which I shall go. If the Government have already got the full powers which are being sought in 1446 this Bill, then I think they are not doing right in proceeding with it at this moment. Why do I think so? Before the House rose for the Autumn Recess I begged the Government to proceed forthwith with other important and imperative legislation dealing with the state of affairs in Ireland. In spite of that, the House was adjourned. The situation in Ireland has certainly not improved. We were told that the first business of this House on its reassembling would be to deal with the imperatively pressing matter of the situation in Ireland. One week has already gone away, and the second week is going. If the Government are already armed with the full powers which they seek here, then they have no justification whatever in postponing dealing with the matter of the situation in Ireland, which was put down for the first day the House met and also for to-day. I would therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, or whoever is in a position to speak for the Government with legal authority, to address himself to this question, and to tell the House what is the position with regard to the powers already possessed by the Government. Have they in full, at the present time, the powers conferred by this Bill? If they have I shall certainly vote for the postponement of the consideration of the measure. If they have not these powers, then I shall certainly vote for the Bill.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
Having listened to the greater part of this Debate without any bias, as an abject follower of the Government, the matter has, so far as I can understand it, come down to a very narrow point. We have not really been discussing for a long time—except the last speaker—the merits or demerits of this Bill. We have been discussing the simple question whether the Bill ought to be read a Second time to-day. If such a measure as this is necessary to save the lives and the comforts of the people, or to deal with anarchy arising out of general strikes in the country, I have not heard from any of the Benches any real objection to the Bill at all. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting said that of course, under such circumstances as that, whatever Government were in power would have to get such a Bill as this. As I understand it, the case made is this: there is a great deal of fear expressed on 1447 the Labour Benches and other Benches that to go on with the Bill to-day or tomorrow may interfere with the very delicate negotiations which are now in progress between the miners and others and His Majesty's Government. It is said that there is to be a Trade Union Congress meeting on Wednesday, and that this Bill will upset them. I do not know how far that is so or not.
I cannot but imagine that all these matters must be present in the mind of His Majesty's Government. Surely it must be present, above all others, to the Government, who are carrying on these negotiations, and whose sincerity in wishing to get these negotiations successfully through I cannot imagine anyone "questioning what will be the effect of the course they are taking to-day. They take a very serious responsibility, in face of these facts, in saying that they want the Second Reading of this Bill. In a crisis like this, and at a time like this, if the Government, who above all others have charge of the peace of the country and who must be praying for peace from day to day, say, "Notwithstanding all these considerations we want the Second Reading of this Bill," I should find it very hard to say that I know better than the Government, The Government burden of keeping the peace of the country, they bear the burden, if anything goes wrong, of supporting the men, women and children, and their absolute duty is to take any measures that will prevent starvation and disaster to the homes of the people. While I am greatly affected by the speech of the right hon. Member for Platting, who put his case very fairly, and while I take the whole of it as being a matter which requires the very gravest consideration, I could not take upon myself, however I might be affected by these considerations, the responsibility of not voting for a measure which the Government themselves say is necessary for the country.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I want to reply at once to the very fair statement made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I believe he has touched the essence of the case. I do not believe that the majority, not only of hon. Members in this House, but of the trade unionists of the country, even those who are engaged in this dispute, would for a moment desire 1448 to support a policy, or to lay it down, that in an industrial dispute the duty of the Government was not clearly to feed the community as a whole. Even in the railway strike, as my right hon. Friend the ex-Food Controller said, although I was leading that strike, I took the responsibility of publicly saying to my people, and urging them to realise, that in a matter of this kind the community must be the first consideration. So that there is common agreement between us as to the intentions of the Bill. I think I am entitled to say that. There is not, however, common agreement as to how far the Bill goes or as to the wisdom of introducing the Bill at the present time. The Leader of the House, in introducing this measure, did not disguise from the House, in fact, he stated it clearly and distinctly, that all the powers under this Bill are already enjoyed by the Government, but it was under war emergency legislation. He said, "Our reason for not exercising those powers is because we may be accused of using emergency powers obtained during the War in times of peace." I think that is not unfairly stating the right hon. Gentleman's view, because he has already stated that the Government have used those powers during peace time, and no one complained. The Government used those powers last year in the railway strike. You had the same powers then as you have got to-day. You had precisely the same powers then, and you exercised them, and no one challenged you. This House certainly did not challenge you, but readily supported the Government.
I put it to the right hon. Gentleman if that be the case, and if there is common agreement, it cannot be said that there are any special circumstances at the moment with which the Government have not got power to deal. I would ask that whatever was the feeling a week ago, surely this is the occasion for saying at this moment that strong as has been the Government's case and that of the miners, we are all entitled to say that the conduct of our people has been of the best. I venture to say that in no other country in the world could you have so many men and women unemployed, and such an upheaval in the industrial arena with so little disturbance and so much good feeling on both sides. We all feel that we are entitled to be proud of it because, after all, that is the barometer 1449 of the future of the country, and it is the clearest indication that so far as the people as a whole are concerned they do want to play cricket; they may disagree with you and take opposite sides, but in main they do want to play fair.
The Strike has gone on for nine days, and is it not true to say that the position is more hopeful than it was a week ago. I know it is so in the railway world, and I think we are entitled to keep those things clearly in mind. If there is no danger so far as the powers possessed by the Government are concerned then there can be no danger to the community, because we would not be entitled—I say it quite frankly—to stand up here and say to the Government you have no right to take these powers because we do not think something will happen, and then if it did happen they could say, "the responsibility is yours." We do not take up that attitude. We say quite clearly, "You have admitted that all the powers for dealing with these disputes are now possessed by you, and why seek further powers that are unnecessary?"
The right hon. Gentleman made a statement that, in my judgment, warrants us begging of him to withdraw his proposal. He said: "Let the House be under no misapprehension; we have considered for several months the advisability of legislation of this kind, and we have chosen a time for introducing it when negotiations are taking place." I know that neither my right hon. Friend nor the Government intend to be provocative. I have no hesitation in saying publicly that, in my view, the Government are as anxious for peace as anybody else. On the other hand, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to visualise a conference in two days' time where six million organised workers will be represented, and the issue there will be what is to be the attitude of six million organised workers towards the miners' dispute. There will be people there who without hesitation will say: "This is not an industrial dispute, this is not a question of 2s. a day for the miners, but this is an organised attempt by capital, supported by the Government, to fight trade unionism." You all know that that has been said already, and the Prime Minister has replied to it. I am merely dealing with what will be said. What is the answer? It is that, although the Government for months have been contemplating legislation of this kind, 1450 although the Leader of the House admitted that they had all the powers which they now are seeking, although there was common agreement amongst the Government that there was no danger to the community because every power they want they now possess, although all that came out clearly in debate, yet they have chosen this moment, above all others, to go on with their Bill.
I put it on those grounds. They are not only legitimate grounds, but they are the kind of things we must take into consideration. I will go further. If the Government were in a position to get up and say: "Not only had we not the powers, but we do not believe that this House would pass them," that would be a legitimate argument. But everyone knows that in a crisis such as we are now passing through, there is no power that the Government could seek which this House would not give them very speedily indeed. Everybody knows that perfectly well. I will take some of the language of the Bill, and I will deal with one Clause only. Regulations must be framed for which the Government are responsible, and one Regulation is to the effect that if the railwaymen this week chose to meet and threatened to strike, that is actionable under the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] There are responsible legal gentlemen who say that is so. That is an interpretation which responsible legal people say could be placed on these Regulations.
All I plead for is this. I do not think the Government gain anything by taking the Second Heading now. Many of the speeches which have been made and much of the matter contained in them will not be debated on the Second Reading again if it is found necessary to introduce the Bill again. I think I am entitled to put that point, because we are not pleading for obstruction and that is not our intention. I say that quite frankly. We are not taking this course from that standpoint at all. We are merely saying that you gain nothing by this course. We believe you have all the powers which are necessary, and we believe that you lose by pressing the Second Reading at this stage when you originally intended to get the whole Bill in one day. It means now that you have to have another day, and you can get all the same powers in that one day that you would get by pressing it at this moment. It is because I do not 1451 believe there is any advantage to the Government or that there is anything gained—you have already indicated that you do not seek additional power, and we are as anxious as you are for peace—it is because I believe it is essential to the future of the country that this dispute should be speedily settled and an honourable settlement be arrived at that I appeal to the Prime Minister to withdraw the Second Reading of this Bill. Later on the right hon. Gentleman can get all he wants in one day just as he will get it even if we proceed to a Division now. If this course is taken it will be another indication of the many instances that the Prime Minister has given of his desire to arrive at an honourable settlement of this industrial dispute.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not think that anything will be gained by discussing now the legal interpretation of the various Clauses of this Bill. There is at any rate no intention on the part of the Government to seek powers of the character which the right hon. Gentleman has described in reference to the railway-men. That is not the purpose of the Bill, and if the right hon. Gentleman says there are legal advisers of his who place that interpretation upon it, the matter can easily be put right in Committee. It is therefore not necessary to discuss whether the interpretation placed upon it by our legal advisers or by his is the correct one, because that can be set right by Amendments in Committee. I should also like to deal with the suggestion which has been made that there are people who say that this is an attack upon trade unionism. I think my right hon. Friend (Mr. Thomas) himself did not endorse that opinion, and no one who reads the Bill can possibly do so.
Even if you had a trade union Government they would find it just as necessary to be equipped with this Bill as a Government which is commonly called a capitalist Government. The purpose of the Bill is of a totally different character. It is one which is rendered absolutely necessary by the contingencies with which we have been confronted not merely this year but last year. The Leader of the House has already told us that this is a Bill which we have been considering for some time and that we have found it absolutely essential to introduce it now. My right hon. Friend says that we have these 1452 powers under the Defence of the Realm Act. That is not the advice we get from the Departments, and I know that there are some essential particulars in which it is exceedingly doubtful whether we have those powers or not.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, we have not exercised them. It is true that we have had them by voluntary assistance, and they were not challenged. If they were challenged we could not possibly enforce them. They are powers which are vital to the carrying on of the essential services of the nation in the event of there being a strike. As far as I can see there is no difference of opinion in the House as to the desirability of having a Bill of this kind. It is purely a question whether this is an opportune moment for pressing it. I will take that point. I do not think any moment would be regarded as opportune. Let us take the possibilities. Suppose the threat of the Railway Executive, carried against the advice of the most experienced leaders of the railwaymen, had materialised. On Sunday night we should have had a stoppage of the whole railway system of the country without these powers. So serious was the position that we really had to discuss the question whether we should not have a Saturday sitting and take steps for a meeting of the House of Lords, because we should not have been justified in going on for a single day without having the powers which are contained here. My right hon. Friend says that the strike is off. That is so for the present, and I hope it will be off altogether. But I am not going to say that it will, and while negotiations are going on I do not think it would be an advantage even to indicate an opinion whether I am hopeful or whether I am not.
I understand that the Miners' Executive are meeting in the course of the next half-hour. It is conceivable that they might not see their way to accept the proposals which have been made. Just see the position we shall be in. The railwaymen have only postponed their strike. There are talks of a transport strike in sympathy. The railwaymen have claimed what the miners have never claimed—the right to strike without notice or with a very short notice. We 1453 should be in a position where we could not, without some inevitable delay, secure these powers. There would be a gap which would be a very serious one. What is to be gained by delay? This discussion has been conducted very calmly. There is no one here who has pointed out anything in these powers which is outrageous or tyrannical or despotic. Up to the present the opposition has been entirely on the ground of time. If it were a Bill that could fairly be described as an attack on the rights of trade unions, then I could understand there would be a very bitter Debate. But these are powers which everybody regards as essential, if there were a strike of the character I have described, powers to enable us to commandeer vehicles, to enable us, under certain conditions, even, to commandeer food. My right hon. Friend said the representatives of 6,000,000 trade unionists are meeting on Wednesday. These 6,000,000 and their families are just as interested in getting these powers as anyone. My right hon. Friend must not assume that they are not interested in the fair distribution of food. They do not want large accumulations of food in favoured neighbourhoods, whereas in the neighbourhood where they may happen to live there might be a shortage of food. They do not want the Government without any power to see that the food is fairly distributed.
These are powers which we had during the War. Of them, I am told, some of the most vital, we have not at the present moment. As to others we are very doubtful. Apart from that, there is always the objection—it is an objection that has been raised repeatedly in this House—that we are using, two years after the War, powers that were given us for the prosecution of the War, for the purposes of peace. That would be much mere provocative. It would have been said, you "are using powers which you got for the purpose of fighting the Germans in order to fight the trade unionists! Let us have the civilian powers with which every Government ought to be equipped for feeding the community, and not merely for feeding the community, but for providing the community with coal. You do not want the East End to be starving while the West End has plenty of coal. This is only a Bill to equip us with the necessary powers for the fair distribution of these 1454 necessaries. What is there unkindly about it? It is said to be provocative. Is it provocative to ask the House to give us powers to enable us to see that the working classes are not without food when other neighbourhoods have plenty, and not without coal while others have it in abundance? Is it provocative to ask the House to give us the necessary powers to see that the lighting stations are running, and that the trams are running as far as possible? How can that be regarded as provocative? Frankly, I see no signs of irritation and exasperation being caused by this Bill. We have been engaged practically all day in discussing very grave matters which are in issue between the miners and the nation. I have seen no signs that this Bill is provocative.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is inaccurate, for the simple reason that we stated the first thing this morning that it was not to be withdrawn. Therefore no one assumed that. The negotiations proceeded with that full knowledge. We stated quite clearly why we wanted these powers—we wanted them in order to get an equitable and fair distribution, and to do that it was essential that we should have these powers. I say, speaking on the responsibility of the Government for conducting the affairs of the nation, in view of contingencies—not probabilities, but possible contingencies with which we have been confronted in the last two days, and of which we have had notice, contingencies which have been organised—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
My right hon. Friend knows perfectly well that tentative arrangements have been made by what is known as the Triple Alliance which would paralyse the whole life of the nation. Let us be quite open on each side. Are the Triple Alliance to make arrangements in advance and the Government to make none. What is there provocative in that? They made arrangements and discussed them among themselves. I am not complaining of that. The House of Commons has a responsibility, not to 6,000,000 people but to 46,000,000, which includes the 6,000,000. Our responsibility is just as great as that 1455 of the right hon. Gentleman to the railwaymen. It is wider. The right hon. Gentleman's responsibility is wide but limited—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Let me finish my point first. I am not asking a question, but putting an argument.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I can only refer the right hon. Gentleman to the resolution passed last week, and protested against by him—a resolution which was carried twice against him by the railway-men. The railwaymem and the miners are the two most formidable parties in the Alliance. We have heard for months and months about an alliance between the various trades that have got in their hands the whole carriage of commodities inside the country and to the country. Just think of the position we should be in with a complete paralysis of transport and no power: no Government can accept responsibility for these contingencies which are discussed and debated and decided upon, and which are common talk in the trade union world, without making preparations for them. For that reason this Bill was prepared weeks and even months ago. It was intended to bring it in during the Autumn Session.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I say so now. It is not a Bill drafted in the last few days. It was a contingency, and we should have been guilty of criminal neglect if we had not thought of it. There are certain powers which are vital, and grave doubts exist whether we possess them. Some of them we know that we do not possess. Under these circumstances, seeing that there is no one here who thinks there is anything outrageous or unfair or unjust in the Bill itself, I ask the House of Commons, realising the responsibility which we all feel, realising the possibilities which all hope will not materialise in the next forty-eight hours, but as to which we would be criminally negligent if we did not recognise as possibilities—I ask the House of Commons to give us this Bill now. To debate it when the conflict began would be a way rather to create 1456 excitement, irritation and provocation. We should then have to discuss it in an atmosphere of heat instead of in that atmosphers in which we have been discussing the position, whether in this House or in the room in Downing Street, in the calm atmosphere of considering possibilities.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The Prime Minister[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, Divide! "]—has asked us not to discuss the Second Reading of this extraordinary Bill in an atmosphere of heat. One has to examine that request of the Prime Minister in the face of facts as we know them. We were told earlier in this Debate that this Bill was one of many measures which the Government had intended to put through as part of their legislative programme this Session. As a matter of fact, as both the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister know, when any government comes before the House of Commons and the country with a legislative programme, they always do the House of Commons, at any rate, the courtesy of letting them know which measures they intend to put through during the Session. I would remind the Prime Minister that neither in the King's Speech nor in the statement of business made by the Leader of the House when we resumed for this Autumn Session was any mention made at all of this Bill. It is making a great call upon the credulity of those of us who, after all, however much we may respect the Government, are bound to question every statement that they make, to assume for a moment that it is true that the Govermen ever had any intention of passing into law, as part of their social and industrial or economic programme, a Bill which would give to the Executive—not of this Government alone, but of any government of whatever kind—the power to do what is asked for in this particular measure.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I would remind my hon. Friend opposite what the circumstances are. He is as good a parliamentarian as there is in this House. He is as keen on a Government promise about any measure as any private Member of this House that I know. If it were a question concerning the pensions of civil servants, I am perfectly certain that my hon. Friend opposite would not accept with the same credulity the statement that has been 1457 made from the Treasury Box this afternoon. I have heard him cast doubt upon the statements of the Government very many times. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it, and if for a moment it be the fact that the Government contemplated either this strike or any other kind of industrial disturbance, and had a measure for it which they thought would solve it, there are many channels open to them by which they could have communicated it to the public. It could have been done by question and answer in this House, 01* some of the newspapers or other ordinary channels of that kind could have been used, and we could have known that part of the policy of this Government was to set up, for the first time in this country, some kind of machinery whereby any government pressed into a corner by any industrial crisis could protect the nation. Therefore, for myself, I say that I do not believe for a single moment that the Government ever contemplated any such measure until the present emergency arose. I hesitate altogether to accept as correct the view expressed by my right hon. Friend that this was part of the policy of the Government. I say this further: We were asked this week to meet and discuss what the Government considered to be a much more important matter from the point of view of the unity of the Empire; we were asked to come together this week and discuss from day to day until it was finished the Home Rule Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—never mind the name—in order to get out of a position in Ireland which is worse from every point of view—from the point of view of food, of transport, of what is described in the Bill, to use their own words, as the "distribution of food, water, fuel, light or other necessities." In order to get Ireland out of that position, we were asked to continue the discussion of that Bill and to finish it this week. Surely the Government are as keen on settling the difficulty which exists in Ireland, which is present to them every moment of the day, which we are going to discuss, I believe, at a quarter-past eight to-night—surely they are as keen on discussing that, and on providing machinery for its solution, as they are on providing machinery to deal with a situation which has not arisen.
Earlier in the Debate we had a speech from the Leader of the Government, and I do not think I ever heard a poorer speech delivered by any Minister from 1458 that bench—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—unless it be the one to which we have just listened. On the introduction of a Bill of some importance—and I gather that the Government consider this to be a Bill of importance—we are usually entitled to an explanation from some responsible Minister as to the necessity for the particular Bill. The Leader of the House gave no substantial reason why this Bill was at all necessary He contented himself with three dialectical arguments, which were really intended to persuade the House to give him the Second Reading of the Bill to-day. What were they? His first argument was that it was a Bill that he had meant all along to introduce. I have already said that I doubt that very much indeed, for the reasons which I have given. I do not believe for a single moment that, if we had not got the industrial circumstances which obtain outside, the Government would ever have postponed—assuming for a moment that they are in earnest, which is difficult to assume—the discussion of the Home Rule Bill in order to introduce a measure to create new powers, permanent powers, over and above what they have at the moment, to deal with the situation. For that reason I believe that the intention and purpose of the Government are entirely directed to this strike.
The Prime Minister, before he sat down, drew the juxtaposition of the Triple Alliance and the Government, and he said, "The Triple Alliance have made certain arrangements, and if those arrangements come into force, would it not be culpable on the part of the Government if they had not taken precautions to deal with that situation?" Presumably the Prime Minister knows something about the Triple Alliance. The Prime Minister spends the bulk of his time, or so it seems to an ordinary outsider, in meeting deputations and everybody that can be met except Members of this House. The last people in the world that he ever dreams of coming to are the Members of the House whom he leads. Therefore, he ought to know something about the Triple Alliance. If he does, he knows perfectly well that what he said about the Triple Alliance cannot be true, and the reason why it cannot be true is that the Triple Alliance is organised in such a fashion that it could not possibly come to the decision to which he said 1459 it had come without reference to its members. It is perfectly true that two parts of the Triple Alliance have greater powers than the third part. The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that the third part of the Triple Alliance can come to no decisions without reference to the different bodies that make up that part of the Triple Alliance. Then what does the Prime Minister mean? He wants us to face the facts, to talk quite frankly to each other. If he wants us to talk quite frankly to each other, why does he, at that box, make a statement which cannot be true, and which he knows is not true when he makes it? [HON. MEM-BEES: "Order, order!"] The Prime Minister is there. He is listening to what I have got to say. If he says that he is not, it only reveals the type of mind to which we object in a Prime Minister of this country. Hon. Members may laugh. They may think, in their present numerical supremacy, that they can laugh this small opposition down. They may try, but they will not prevent us from saying what we think. After all, we are not so much concerned whether hon. Members opposite listen to us or not; it is the great constituency outside these walls that listens. Hon. Members laugh again. If they had a little more notion of arithmetic and a little of the idea that the Prime Minister wanted to instil into all our minds the other day—the idea of what he called "perspective "—they would remember the number of votes by which they were returned to this House, and they would remember that, although they are numerically superior in this House, the number of votes cast in their favour in the country was nearly equal to that cast in favour of the small opposition.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOGGE
In reply to my hon. and gallant Friend below the Gangway (Lieut.-Colonel Croft), I am not worried by thinking about votes; I should not have been talking about this but for the interruption of some of his friends, who do not seem to remember that, although they are in a numerical supremacy in this House, they do not represent the opinion of the country. I say that we have to bear that 1460 in mind. The Leader of the House took. as his second dialectical argument, the question of provocativeness. What has been said this afternoon about provocativeness? How did the Leader of the House deal with that argument? He did not deal with it from the point of view that this Bill was not provocative; all that he said was that, if anything had happened between now and, say, Wednesday, which was the day he mentioned, and if it were introduced on Wednesday, then it would be more provocative still. That means, surely, that the Leader of the House accepts the criticism that this Bill is provocative, and that, because nothing has happened since Sunday in the negotiations which has lead to any disaster such as he contemplates, it is less provocative to-day than it would be on Wednesday.
I do not belong either to the Triple Alliance or to the Coalition. I represent, I suppose, the average onlooker at these events. I will tell the House what I think of it. During last week the miners were on strike. The railwaymen threatened to come out on Sunday night unless the Government entered into negotiations for a settlement of the strike. With his hand on his heart the Prime Minister on Thursday night, after the Unemployment Debate, told us and the country that he would never be threatened by the railwaymen into accepting a settlement of this strike. That was made for outside consumption. We know it was made for outside consumption because the Prime Minister, in spite of what he said, did settle with the miners on Saturday in spite of the protestation that he and his Government made. They have got to square themselves with the public and with the Members who support them in the Coalition, and they come here to-day and want us to believe that they are a courageous crowd of people and that they are not afraid of what is going to happen. As a matter of fact they are going to settle this coal strike, and they know it all the time, and this Bill is intro duced for outside consumption in order to show the great public of this country how little they are afraid of this organised industry outside pressing for its legitimate demands.
The third dialectical argument used by the Leader of the House was this. He said, "Supposing Parliament were not sitting." It suits the right hon. Gentleman 1461 and his friends not to have Parliament sitting. The longer they can have Parliament in recess the better they are pleased. What nonsense to say Parliament cannot be called quite easily in emergencies of that kind. You, Sir, before the Recess, were endowed by this House with power to call the House together on 48 hours' notice for an affair which did not concern the people of this country, for a foreign affair, for a question of Poland and Russia. The same power that was given you to do that in a case of foreign emergency would readily and easily be conferred upon you in a domestic emergency. However much the Government may protest, they will never be able in what they say to-night or during the course of the Debate to make good to the people of this country any other than the view that this is a case of false pretences, that they are attempting to secure their own retreat and that they are doing it by a method which is alien to all the traditions of this House. I am
§ not going into the details of the Bill, because that would be unnecessary at this moment. We will consider this from line to line in Committee. But if this Government really honestly wishes us to believe that this is a matured scheme of theirs, that there is no coincidence between the events which are happening outside and the introduction of this Bill, they will have to give us very many more arguments and very many more facts to prove that they ever had it in their minds at all to introduce any such measure. I am loth to believe that when I read the Bill. If the Bill as printed is the matured judgment of this Government, Heaven help us when they introduce an emergency Bill on the spot.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 255; Noes, 52.1463
|Division No. 326.]||AYES.||[8.10 p.m|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Carr, W. Theodore||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Casey, T. w.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gregory, Holman|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Clough, Robert||Guest, Major O. (Leic, Loughboro')|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Coats, Sir Stuart||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hall, Rt. Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l,W.D'by)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hanna, George Boyle|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock)||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart.(Gr'nw'h)||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hinds, John|
|Bigland, Alfred||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Dixon, Captain Herbert||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Hood, Joseph|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Donald, Thompson||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n,W.)|
|Blair, Reginald||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hlllhead)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Fitzroy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Foreman, Henry||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||France, Gerald Ashburner||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Frece, Sir Walter de||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Gange, E. Stanley||Jesson, C.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gardiner, James||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvll)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Jones, Henry Haydn, (Merioneth)|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Simm, M. T.|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Nield, Sir Herbert||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Norris Colonel Sir Henry G.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Parker, James||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Sugden, W. H.|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Pratt, John William||Taylor, J.|
|Lonsdale, James Rolston||Prescott, Major W. H.||Terrell, George, (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Lorden, John William||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Lynn, R. J.||Purchase, H. G.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Rae, H. Norman||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Vickers, Douglas|
|Macmaster, Donald||Ramsden, G. T.||Waddington, R.|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Randles, Sir John S.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Reid, D. D.||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Maddocks, Henry||Renwick, George||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||White, Lieut-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Moles, Thomas||Rodger, A. K.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Moison, Major John Elsdale||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie. (Reading)|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wise, Frederick|
|Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Morris, Richard||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Morrison, Hugh||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Brldgeton)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Seager, Sir William|
|Neal, Arthur||Shaw, William T. (Forlar)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Shortt, Rt. Hon E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Captain Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Holmes, J. Stanley||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Swan, J. E.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomas, Brlg.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Briant, Frank||Lawson, John J.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cairns, John||Lunn, William||Tootill, Robert|
|Cape, Thomas||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Mills, John Edmund||Waterson, A. E.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wignall, James|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Myers, Thomas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wintringham, T.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rose, Frank H.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Sexton, James||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Sitch, Charles H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. G. Thorne.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1464
§ The House divided: Ayes, 257; Noes, 55.1467
|Division No. 327.]||AYES.||[8.15 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Brassey, Major H. L. C.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Breese, Major Charles E.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Benn, Capt. Sir l. H., Bart.(Gr'nw'h)||Broad, Thomas Tucker|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Brown, T. W. (Down, North)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Betterton, Henry B.||Bruton, Sir James|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bigland, Alfred||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Blair, Reginald||Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Butcher, Sir John George|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Borwick, Major G. O.||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith.||Carew, Charles Robert S.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hills, Major John Waller||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Carson, Ht. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hinds, John||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Casey, T. W.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pratt, John William|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hood, Joseph||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling&Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.(Birm., w.)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Purchase, H. G.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rae, H. Norman|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hilthead)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Howard, Major S. G.||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hume-Willlams, Sir W. Ellis||Randies, Sir John S.|
|Clough, Robert||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hurd, Percy A.||Reid, D. D.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Renwick, Geor|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rodger, A. K.|
|Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock)||Jessen, C.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, G. W. H:(Stoke Newington)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Croft, Lieut-Colonel Henry Page||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Seager, Sir William|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Dockreil, Sir Maurice||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Donald, Thompson||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Simm, M. T.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Lindsay, William Arthur||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Lloyd, George Butler||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lonsdale, James Rolston||Stewart, Gershom|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Lorden, John William||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lynn, R. J.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Foreman, Henry||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Macmaster, Donald||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Taylor, J.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James l.||Thomson, F. c. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Gardiner, James||Macquisten, F. A.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell. (Maryhill)|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Maddocks, Henry||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Middlebrook, Sir William||Vickers, Douglas|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Waddington, R.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Moles, Thomas||Wallace, J.|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Moore, Major-Generai Sir Newton J.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Gregory, Holman||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Morris, Richard||Whitla, Sir William|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Morrison, Hugh||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Guest, Major O. (Lelc., Loughboro')||Murchison, C. K.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Guinness, Lieut-Col. Hon. W. E.||Nail, Major Joseph||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Neal, Arthur||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finehley)||Wise, Frederick|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l. W. D'by)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Hanna, George Boyle||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Worthington-Evans, Ht. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Nield, Sir Herbert||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Parker, James||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Kenyan, Barnet|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Galbralth, Samuel||Lawson, John J.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Glanville, Harold James||Lunn, William|
|Briant, Frank||Grundy, T. W.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Cairns, John||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Cape, Thomas||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Mills, John Edmund|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Hogge, James Myles||Morgan, Major D. Watts|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness and Ross)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Jephcott, A. R.||Myers, Thomas|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|O'Connor, Thomas P.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Wintringham, T.|
|Rose, Frank H.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Sexton, James||Tootill, Robert||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Waterson, A. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sitch, Charles H.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. T.|
|Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Wignall, James||Griffiths.|
|Swan, J. E.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Cornell)|
Question put, and agreed to.