§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I beg to move "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I wish to make it perfectly clear that this is not in any sense an attack upon trade unions. On the contrary, I think it will strengthen and improve the position of trade unions by removing a very great cause of friction with regard to the political action which they have been accustomed to take. The Bill does not attempt to prevent political action. All it does is to regulate it and make it fair to all the members of the trade unions themselves. What we do really under the Bill is to restore the conditions which prevailed before the passing of the 1913 Act. The original purpose of trade unions was a combination for the purpose of regulating the conditions between employers and employed and obtaining and keeping in force fair conditions of employment and providing benefits to members in times of distress. With those objects we are all agreed. There are some people, I know, who object to trade unions altogether. I do not rank myself amongst those. I have a great many friends who are trade unionists, and they are entirely in favour of this amending Bill. Trade unions under the Bill can take any political action they wish on condition that the members express the wish that their funds shall be used for that purpose. That is eminently fair and just, and I do not suppose anyone will object to it. I might here usefully state for the benefit of those who have not studied the Bill very carefully what are its objects and scope.Without prejudice to the furtherance of any other political objects, the funds of a trade union shall not be applied, either directly or in conjunction with, or by, or through the agency of any other trade union, association, or body, or otherwise indirectly, in furtherance of the political objects mentioned in section three subsection (3) of the principal Act, or any of them (hereinafter severally and together referred to as 'political objects'): Provided nevertheless that a trade union may raise and apply moneys for political objects in the manner, 692 and subject to the provisions and conditions, following and not otherwise, namely: If the furtherance of political objects has been approved as an object of the union by a resolution, for the time being in force passed on a ballot of the members of the union taken in accordance with the provisions of section one subsection (1) of the principal Act for the purpose at which the votes of at least fifty per cent. of the members entitled to vote thereat are recorded, and the votes recorded those in favour of the proposal exceed by twenty per cent., or more, the votes against the proposal.It may be objected that we are putting the percentage of votes too high. I do not see that that can possibly be maintained when we remember that in the case of the amalgamation of different trade unions in many cases the trade unions were able to get as high as 70 and 78 per cent. of their members to record their votes. Surely if they can do that in the case of an amalgamation it is not too much to ask that they shall do it in so important a matter as that of taking political action.
We pass from that to the question of the individual member giving notice of his willingness to contribute. After all it is and always has been the boast of England that we are free men, and it is in order to maintain the freedom of the members of the trade unions that this is introduced. We ask that every member of a trade union should have the opportunity given him of expressing willingness that his funds should be used for political purposes, and that he should express that willingness each year. My reason for that is that trade unions are constantly changing. Old members are going out and new ones are coming in, and it is only right that the new members should have the opportunity of expressing their views as to whether they wish to have their funds used for political purposes or not. Under present conditions great abuses have crept in. A vote was taken many years ago on the question of using the funds of a union for political purposes, and after several years had elapsed no fresh vote has been taken and some extraordinary results have taken place. I have a summary of the figures of 42 trade unions which shows the following results. Approximately at the time of the ballot they had a membership of 1,710,869. The total number of votes recorded was 504,134. There voted, for the using of the funds for political purposes 386,563, 693 and against, 117,571. Of the total membership 1,206,735 did not vote. The return of membership of these forty-two unions on December 31st, 1919, was 3,426,437, an increase since the ballot of 1,715,558. None of these members has had an opportunity of voting. The Labour Party claim that 2,329,199 are members of those trade unions and also members of the Labour Party. The members of the trade unions who are not members of the Labour Party number 1,907,228. The final result is that although only 386,563 favourable votes were given several years ago, the Labour Party claim now to speak politically for forty-two trade unions with a membership of nearly 3,500,000. Although some years ago only 386,563 members voted for political action, the Labour Party are now controlling the votes of a large number of members who have had no opportunity of voting. This is a sufficient answer to the question why the ballot should take place annually or triennially in regard to the question of political action. The Bill provides:All moneys raised and paid in pursuance of such a resolution as aforesaid shall be credited to a separate fund (in this Act referred to as the 'political fund' of the union) which shall be kept separate and distinguished from all other funds or money of the unions.A very large number of members of trade unions have complained to me that it is impossible for them to know how much of the levy which they pay goes to political purposes, and how much is used for the ordinary purposes of the trades unions. It is perfectly reasonable to argue that the members should be asked individually to express their willingness to have their funds used for political purposes, and if they do so they should be perfectly clear in their minds as to the amount of the levy used for political purposes. It should be paid into a separate fund, the accounts of which are kept separate from the other accounts of the union, and can be presented to the registrar for his examination and approval. The political fund is not kept distinct. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is."] I am informed that it is not. It is not made perfectly clear. Members complain to me that they do not know how much of the levy goes for political purposes.
The question arises, is there any necessity for this Bill? There is the greatest 694 possible necessity, because members of trade unions claim very strongly that they should have freedom to give or withhold their consent to the spending of their funds for political purposes. If you are going to allow trades unions to use their funds for political purposes, you cannot possibly object to a trade union or combination of employers doing the same. [HON. MEMBERS: "They do."] You might get a member of a trade union placed in this position—he has a levy from his trade union, which he is obliged to pay, and which supports the Socialist party. He might have a levy from an employers' union who might be Liberals, to which he would be forced to contribute. The man might be a Conservative, and if he wants his views to be put forward he must pay a further contribution to his own party. Therefore, he has to pay three contributions to three different parties, to the politics of two of which he entirely objects. That is an absurd position in which to place a man, and it is possible that such a condition of things does arise. I received a very large number of telegrams and letters on this subject. I have been inundated with letters and telegrams from trade unionists and members of associations of labour wishing me success in getting this Bill passed.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I can give the names. I have a whole pile of communications here. They are indexed, and any hon. Member who wishes to see them can examine them.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
The Bridgwater Labour Committee, the Doncaster Unionist Association, the Doncaster Unionist Labour Committee, the Lancashire Unionist Labour Committee, the Derby Unionist Labour Committee, the Rochdale Unionist Labour Committee, the Northumberland Unionist and Labour Committee, the Merthyr Unionist Association, the Llanelly Labour Committee, the Accrington Unionist Labour Committee—[Laughter]—and also from my own constituency of Handsworth. I am glad that hon. Members have shown so much approval. All these associations have urged upon me the necessity of getting this Bill through. The approval which hon. Members have shown con- 695 vinces me of the thorough fairmindedness with which they are prepared to approach this question, and I am sure that they will assist me in getting the Second Reading. I commend the Bill to the favourable consideration of the House.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
I beg to second the Motion. I do not think I have ever addressed the House with greater enthusiasm, and with greater confidence, that I was attempting to discharge a duty on behalf of the great mass of workers in this country. I never felt more confident of my ground than I do on this occasion. I do not think I should be overstating the case which has been submitted to the House by my hon. and gallant Friend if I claim that the title of this Bill should be a Bill for the emancipation of trade unionists. [Interruption.] I am greatly astonished at the observations made on my right. When people who take an opposite view to that of the speaker cannot sit and listen patiently to a reasoned statement it shows that they feel the weakness of their case when they indulge in constant interruption and refuse to lay their minds open to reason. I hope that I shall, when hon. Members make their case, whatever that case may be, sit and listen patiently perfectly ready to be convinced and to change my ground provided hon. Members can submit some new fact or can adduce some new reason which has not yet been submitted to the public as to why I should change my ground.
The position to-day is that under the 1913 Act trade unionists automatically contribute to the political fund. That is not denied. It is common ground. Again we are on common ground when I say that the 1913 Act was brought about by the Osborne Judgment. The Osborne Judgment succeeded in establishing that a trade union could not levy for political purposes. This was the normal condition of free Britons, freedom for labour men, freedom for trade unionists, freedom for those who differed from us, and any departure from that condition at that time was to be the voluntary act of a free Briton. The ground on which we proceed to-day is to maintain that position, a position which will safeguard for the sons, grandsons and great grandsons of hon. Members the liberties which they enjoy, because in times past people stood their ground determined to leave free and un- 696 fettered to their successors real genuine liberty. If you depart from that, your descendants will not have the advantages which have fallen to your lot, because of the protection afforded to you—due to the prudence, wisdom, and forbearance of your predecessors. The voluntary rights of the citizen were enunciated clearly by two of the judges who declared their views in connection with the Osborne Judgment, and while we all dislike quotations, hon. Members will bear with me if I read a few words from the judgments of these two judges. Lord Justice Omens-Hardy in the Court of Appeal on 29th November, 1908, said:Trade Unionists comprise members of every shade of political opinion, and I cannot think it is the intention of the legislature that it should lie competent to a majority of the members to compel a minority to support by their votes and still less by their subscription political opinions which they may abhor.Lord Justice Farwell in the Court of Appeal on 29th November, 1908, said:Freedom of choice is the very corner stone of representative government, the withdrawal of which would destroy the whole fabric. The man who throughout desires the return of A, and yet wittingly and willingly assists the return of B by subscriptions or otherwise, stultifies himself and ranks in point of intelligence with the man who votes at the poll for both of the opposing candidates. To constrain a man to such imbecility is to insult him, and is besides an injury to the community in preventing freedom of election.
With those two judgments we have the whole case for this Bill. Many at the present moment are unaware of the right to contract out of this political fund. I have no doubt that other speakers who will follow will give a clear illustration of the difficulties which many trade unionists find in contracting out of this political fund. Are we asking too much of hon. Members if we say that we do not want to trick trade unionists into supporting by their money a political fund for purposes to which they as trade unionists may object. Let them knowingly and willingly say that they wish to contribute to that fund. Reverse the present process. Do not as at present under the Trade Union Act of 1913 say that every member who is a trade unionist must contribute to the political funds, but strengthen your position as trade unionists, and say that 697 every man in the trade union who wishes to contribute to a political fund should express that wish. That is the honest and fair course. The Bill means nothing more than that. I regard the Bill as guarding the liberties of the people. A measure such as this will guard not only the liberties of trade unionists but will guard the liberties of all political associations such as the Labour party.
The 1906 Act was, I think, the first great departure which put one party above the law. We are so familiar with all that that Act meant that it is unnecessary to say much about it, but in the view of many of us who follow the question very closely, from a point of view probably very different from that of members on the Labour benches, it established what may be termed industrial Prussianism. The 1913 Act was the next, and that established political Prussianism. This Bill is simply put before you to get back to the natural order of things, and to leave a man free to contract himself into what we may describe roughly as a political body, instead of having as at present a right to contract out. What we want is to leave him liberty to make a choice as to the obligation which he will put upon himself. There is no connection between real trade unionism and politics. They should be absolutely separate. Why should not every trade unionist cast his vote freely through the ballot box at a general election, and why should the Labour party, if they are going to continue as a great political organisation, have any fear of not being able to command a sufficient number of the votes freely given at a general election through the ballot box without such a political agency as the political fund set up under the Act of 1913?
At all costs we must restore liberty to the trade unions. I say so deliberately and hon. Members cannot raise any objection to that. They may say there is greater liberty under their scheme than we propose to give them. That is an honest point of difference. My point, however, is we must at all costs endeavour to restore liberty to the trade unions. I think it is high time both sides should speak plainly, drop all platitudes, let us battle it out, discover what the real truth on the subject is, and what this really means to the men. When all is said and done, surely this is 698 a non-political question, a question on which we can rise above petty party issues and say what is the real inwardness and the real truth of the matter. Is the cause of hon. Members of the Labour Party or my cause founded upon fundamental truth When we have established that fact, then we can act. I hold when we dig right down to fundamental facts this Bill will prove to have justified itself. This Parliament assembled as a Parliament of reconstruction. It is the Reconstruction Parliament and I cannot conceive a greater measure of reconstruction, than tackling this trade union legislation, getting back to the re-establishment of real liberty and founding our whole political structure constitutionally on the one sure solid bedrock foundation of liberty. I do not think I can finish better than by repeating a few words of John Stuart Mill in the famous essay "On Liberty":A people, it would appear, may be progressive for a certain length of time and then stop. When does it stop? When it ceases to possess individuality.The Trade Union Act, 1913, is a crushing blow at individuality and progress. I ask hon. Members who differ from this Bill, to carefully consider this problem in the light of their own interests and to see whether by maintaining individuality and liberty they will not enhance the cause they have at heart. I feel sure if they look into it impartially they will, after mature consideration, agree to support the measure.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day six months."
This occasion warrants a quotation which comes to my mind:—O Liberty! how many crimes are committed in thy name!We have had repeated so frequently in this Debate, the pretension that this Bill is designed to secure a larger degree of Trade Union freedom that I cannot avoid the comment that those of us who are closely associated with trade unions would never think deliberately of looking in those quarters, to find the real guardians of working class freedom. This Bill does not surprise us. The surprise would be if attacks upon trade unions were to cease. These attacks have lasted as long as the trade unions themselves.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I distinctly said this was not an attack on trade unions. What I want to put right is the question of the use of political funds. It was not intended that there should be any attack on the unions.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I am thinking in the terms of the effects. I do not question the good intentions of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has introduced the Bill and I make no further reference to his intentions, but the effect of the Bill would be to seriously undermine the political purposes and the public work of the trade unions. I hope to justify that conclusion before I have finished. I would remind the House that it is not new to us to have these efforts made. Indeed, the trade unions themselves have had, as it were, to beat down the law. The law did not regard them as having any right to exist. Two generations before a political thought entered into the heads of any large number of workmen, trades unions, designed for no greater purpose than of trying to regulate ordinary wage and labour conditions were denied existence by the law. It is, I think, an accurate reflection that history shows that at every step where there has been a working class attempt at organisation for some definite end, there has been a class resistance to that attempt—what I might call for want of a better description, a master-class resistance. The country abounds with organisations of the master-class. The professional classes, the more favoured and wealthy classes, the employing classes of every kind and grade have hundreds of different sorts of organisations to defend and protect their interests. Has there ever been an occasion on which workmen, either in this House or outside of it, have risen and said, "No, employers of labour are not entitled to this or that or the other form of organisation "? We have never done so; we have left to them the full exercise of that freedom to be indulged in just as they think proper. When we recognise the freedom of each and every other class in the country to pursue its purposes in its own way and settle whatever form of organisation it thinks best, we claim no more than the corresponding right ourselves to settle whatever form of organisation we may think best in the interests of the workers. This Bill is only a reminder of a fact which, naturally, we 700 must face as a fact of this class conflict. Trade union history is a long record of effort to overcome such forms of resistance as are offered in the Bill before the House. The hon. Gentleman who seconded ventured the opinion that trade unions should have nothing to do with politics and that the functions of trades unions do not entitle them to come into the sphere of political action.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
I said nothing of the kind. Every trade unionist is absolutely entitled to engage in polities and subscribe to political funds. All I ask is that he shall do that with his eyes open, knowing what he is doing.
§ Mr. CLYNES
That qualification does not materially affect the point. What my hon. Friend says does not really affect his argument which I followed carefully. My purpose is to draw attention to the fact that more and more the industrial is linked with the political. It is not merely a national fact, or an Imperial fact, but a world-fact, that the political acts of statesmen in the world at large, in the Parliaments of Europe, affect the industrial situation of the men in the workshops. If workmen in any organised capacity whatever are to take a part in the political and public life of a country they must do it through their trade unions. You cannot separate the industrial from the political, as things are in the public life of the world. Neither of the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken has referred to what was in the nature of an arrangement unanimously reached by this House and supported by all parties, in the year 1913 The law as it now is was not rushed through Parliament. It does not rest upon a narrow majority. It received the unanimous assent of every party in the House in 1913. I invite hon. Gentlemen to refer to the pronouncements of the leaders not of the Labour Party only, but of the other two parties, who spoke during the course of the discussion in 1913. I will not trouble to give long quotations, but I repeat that the law as it now is received the unanimous assent of all leaders in 1913. It is in the nature of an arrangement or bargain. It is a conclusion unanimously reached as something embracing the minimum of right and fairness to the trade unions. Nothing has happened in the interval to justify any attempt to upset that law.
701 The hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of the Bill referred to the figures of certain ballots in the trade unions. Before referring to them, let me allude to what I understand to be his main argument. His main argument appears to be that the members of the trade unions can first ballot, and on a result of that ballot they can do exactly what they could have done without any ballot at all. That is the meaning of the Bill. If there were no trade union law legalising the conduct of trade unions or trade unionists in respect of political funds, I submit that any individual member of a trade union, without any ballot, could voluntarily pay to someone a contribution for a political purpose. Therefore, what this Bill proposes is to give the individual workman, after a ballot, precisely the sort of freedom he could exercise without any ballot at all.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I do not think that it is quite a fair way of putting it. What I say is that the funds -raised for trade union purposes, which I described as legitimate purposes, should not be used at all for political purposes, unless the individual trade unionist wished it. Nothing could be more fair.
§ Mr. CLYNES
That is not the point with which I am dealing. The law now provides that any contribution resulting from the ballot must be placed in a separate political fund, and must be used only for the purpose for which it was subscribed. Every trade union, on a ballot result, must get the approval of the Registrar or the machinery of the law of the land must be complied with, and a separate political fund must be called into being by the contributions derivable from the ballot. That is not the point I am putting before the House. This Bill would mean that a trade union could ballot, and supposing the members by any majority decided in favour of a political fund, what must then happen according to the Bill is that any individual member of that union wishing to subscribe a political contribution must voluntarily offer his contribution. I assert that that is exactly what any workman could do if there were no law of any kind.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
There is some confusion. If you have the fund contributed to by the individual trade unionist through a voluntary and free association, 702 not connected with the trade union, he can do as he likes, but when he is doing it through the machinery of the trade union it is quite a different matter.
§ Mr. CLYNES
That remark does not upset the point I am trying to make. Whether or not hon. Gentlemen approve the conclusion I have reached, I think it is agreed that that conclusion has been correctly stated. In these debates there appears to be a good deal of evidence of great concern for the man who is the political conscientious objector. I wonder why hon. Gentlemen, who would deprive a man of his civic rights and would outlaw him in respect of individual liberties if his conscience compelled him during the late war to look upon the slaying of his brothers as an act of murder, are so disposed to make a pet of the workman whose conscience will not allow him to hear political contributions, decided by an enormous majority of his fellow countrymen. Figures have been referred to in the Debate. If it be true that there is all this dissatisfaction, that there is a sense of oppression and enslavement, and that the trade unions are not acting justly to these great bodies of men, how is it that they do not trouble to go to the ballot boxes of their own accord? How is it that they do not show, when a ballot is being taken, that they are so full of a sense of resentment as is implied in the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman ho submitted this Bill? The fact that great groups of workmen will not trouble to do the one thing asked for is itself a proof of willingness to leave the matter in the hands of a minority of their fellows.
Let not hon. Members conclude that a small vote is singular to trade unionists. I wish at times, when we are discussing these questions about working men's ballots, we could institute some such method of inquiry among employers and shareholders. I believe that many lockouts would not have occurred, or would not have been long prolonged, if employers of labour had had this method of the ballot to determine their attitude upon many of these questions. Nobody ever thinks of asking any other class except workmen to settle these matters by open ballot. Nobody ever thinks of asking employers of labour or the Liberal or Tory organisations to reveal to the world their votes and to tell us and everybody concerned how their moneys 703 are contributed and spent. I think the balance-sheets of many of our critics would make enlivening and interesting reading if we could be furnished with the sources and details of their income and of their ways of expending it. If we are to be so very particular and careful about the coppers of the workmen, let us know something more about the pounds and guineas of the other classes. My hon. and gallant Friend who submitted this Bill is most anxious that all these questions should be settled by majorities. Why, he himself sits in this House as the result of a small minority vote from the constituency which he is honoured to represent. In the constituency in question the total electorate is 37,878, and my hon. and gallant Friend received only 12,000 votes. He claims the right to sit and act here in this House to represent every one of the electorate in that division. No matter how strong their opposition to him may be, no matter how much they may disapprove of what he has done or what he may do, the ballot vote at the last election has given him his full right to do and say just as he pleases till the day of the ballot vote comes round again. The same is true, indeed, of my hon. Friend who seconded the Motion for the Second Reading. In his division there are 38,000 odd votes; he comes here with only 13,893 votes. I think if we are to he so concerned about this doctrine of figures and ballots, we had better see that our doctrines begin at home.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman gave some figures relating to my constituency, but the point at issue has nothing to do with the figures. I made no levy on my figures.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must ask hon. Members not to interrupt. They have made their speeches, and the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to reply.
§ 12 N.
My hon. Friend may think that he has made no levy upon those who did not give him their votes to send him here, but there are levies other than monetary levies, and the point I am putting is that, no matter 704 how full of resentment and objection to the action of my hon. Friend the electors in his division may be, they must be content with his conduct until his term of representation has expired. My hon. and gallant Friend who submitted this Bill read out a list which naturally evoked some merriment, and I could not help myself indulging in a chuckle at the idea of the resolutions which were sent in support of this particular Bill. What was the list? It was a list showing us how little and futile are the efforts that have been taken to establish in the country a rival Labour party. Hon. Gentlemen are quite entitled to do that. We have derived much benefit from those efforts in many of our centres of activity. The one thing upon which Labour cannot thrive is indifference. Its success is ensured by opposition, and in each of these centres where a Liberal or Conservative Working Men's Party has been started, the result has been that Labour has been very much improved in organisation. They are quite free then to establish these rival organisations, but that opposition does not entitle them to seek now to take from trade unions the minimum of political liberty which was conceded to them unanimously by this House in 1913. The law as it now is is not all the trade unions asked for. Hon. Members can recall the various decisions in the Law Courts twenty and more years ago, designed to make it impossible for trade unions to enter as such into the field of politics, and we know how bitter was the struggle and how many were the cross-currents in the politics of our country during the years of those judgments and the year 1913. It was felt—and, I think, rightly so—that the case of the odd man and the groups of men here and there having a real objection to the payment of a, political levy, even after they have voted with their fellow workmen for or against it, could fairly and fully be met by the provision to exempt him from payment if he would merely go to the trouble to announce his wish to be exempted. No workman need now, no matter how the ballot may result, even if it be a unanimous vote of his fellow workmen, he compelled to pay any political contribution if he does not, wish to pay it, and if he will go to the trouble of announcing his desire to be 705 exempt. Could personal liberty be more fully assured?
§ Mr. CLYNES
I have already submitted to the House that it is not fair to compel bodies of workmen to go through the process of arranging a ballot for a definite purpose and then completely to frustrate that ballot by saying that even then any contribution must depend upon the initiative and the voluntary offering of the individual workman. That is making a mockery of it and taking away altogether whatever value there might be in any ballot, so I put it to the House that personal liberty, which is the plea of those who support this Bill, is fully ensured as the law now is and that any workman who feels deeply upon politics, who in his conscience cannot conform to a ballot vote by his mates, now has ample personal freedom and is able to avoid any payment if he will only go to the trouble to announce his unwillingness to pay to his own particular organisation.
There is only one other point as a matter of argument with which I need deal. My hon. and gallant Friend who moved this Bill pointed out to the House that abuses—though we had no evidence of them—crept in because of the mere passing of time. It may be true that members of a trade union would ballot in a particular year and on the strength of that ballot, having conformed to all the terms of the law, would establish a political fund, but my hon. and gallant Friend pointed out, new members may come in after the ballot, and what about them? In their case, they have exactly the same sort of right of exemption as the oldest member in the organisation. The fact that a man comes in late to the organisation, does not in any sense lessen his rights as a member, and even if, as I say, he has come in years after a ballot vote has been decided, he, at any time, can claim his right of exemption from a political contribution. Further, this lapse of time, it is true, may give rise to certain changes, but those changes can easily be met by any member, or group of members, within the ordinary rules and regulations of a union, calling for a second ballot. Trade unions do not today settle anything for all time. Their 706 organisations have constant conferences and frequent ballots. Indeed, in many trade unions ballots have become so numerous as to constitute almost a nuisance. Trade unions stand out more than any other organisation as offering the fullest possible freedom to all individual members who may think that they would like to have the opinion of their fellow-workmen tested upon any point.
Even if this Bill becomes law, it will not stay the march, which, no doubt, is feared by certain bodies of gentlemen in this House, and who are inspired to the length of this type of new legislation by the desire to put further obstacles in our way. The history of labour efforts so far has been one of survival over great difficulties, but when clearly the great masses of working men must, in the future, play a more important part than ever in the parliamentary, public and political life of this country, it is not wise—indeed I would suggest it might be dangerous—to attempt now to take away rights which have done the State no harm, and I say that, although at times those of us who take part, more or less, in political life, are blamed for industrial happenings, those who know the facts, know well that the net political effect of Labour has been, not to increase but to lessen the tendencies to industrial quarrels. If you have to have these quarrels with workmen, either in a political or an industrial sense, the more you narrow political opportunity, the more you close the outlet for political effort on the part of the working-classes, the wider you are opening the gates to the probabilities of industrial trouble, and, inasmuch as it can be proved that no abuse has resulted either to masses of workmen or to individuals, it would ill become this House, at this day, seriously to interfere with trade union law as it is.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
I rise at the earliest possible moment to answer the speech which has just been made by my right hon. Friend opposite. I entirely agree with what he said as to the unanimity with which the compromise was passed when the Bill of 1913 became law, and no doubt it was thought then that the method providing for relieving, not the consciences of members of trade unions, but of seeing that they did not have to pay for other people's political 707 opinions, would work perfectly satisfactorily. If that had been the case, I should have nothing to say in favour of this Bill. But it has not been the case. In the first place, the unions themselves, in many cases, have not carried out the provisions of the law, and have refused to do so in a most unfair and illegitimate way. In the second place, men who have contracted out have been subjected to threats of victimisation. It requires a very plucky fellow indeed to contract out of this measure in many unions. The short and the long of it is that this Bill only means this change—that the man in future is asked to contract in, and not to contract out.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
The right bon Gentleman is anticipating my speech. I will come to that in a moment. I do not make these assertions without being able to support them. Attention has been drawn by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to the fact that there are rival Labour organisations. I started one, and I am proud of it. It is flourishing greatly. If it has added to the success of the right hon. Gentleman in various constituencies, I do not mind in the least so long as I see that my Labour friends are associated together in such a way that they can not only legitimately, but with perfect safety, express their political opinions and act upon them, and we are proceeding, I think, very satisfactorily in that direction.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I understand my hon. Friend to say that the Second Reading of the Bill passed with unanimity. On the contrary, there was a division, and the numbers were: Ayes, 232; Noes, 132. It took place on the 6th August, 1912, and the Bill was passed in 1913. I have just been to the Library, and looked it up.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
The Third Reading was. On that occasion, I know, my right hon. Friend the Member for the Central Division of Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) expressed his approval of the decision arrived at, and hoped it would work. Although it has probably worked in some 708 cases in others it has not. That is why this Bill is introduced to-day. It is introduced owing to the great pressure put upon us at the Central Office by the Labour organisation which we have started. We have had a very large number of conferences, in which they have unanimously asked that this measure should be passed. The parent Act provides that, on application, a form of exemption has to be handed by the secretary of a trade union or lodge to anyone who desires to escape the political levy. In many cases application has been made for these forms, and has been refused. In one case 19 applications were burnt by the secretary. Appeal was made to the Registrar, and he directed that in the individual cases the form should be given. But one of the troubles is that there is no publication of the decision. Individual applications which have been made are, no doubt, dealt with by the Registrar quite properly, but no one else knows anything about the decision, and therefore there is no precedent to secure justice. That is, of course, a serious matter. Then I have another case. A member of the Tanfield Moor Lodge of the Durham Miners' Association, at a properly convened meeting of the Lodge, applied for a form for the purpose of claiming exemption from contributing to the political fund of the Durham Miners' Association. This was refused by the Lodge Secretary, on the ground that his instructions from the Durham Miners' Association were, that before the applicant could be supplied he must go before his Lodge, and state his reason for claiming exemption. That is a method with which the right hon. Gentleman opposite is apparently in agreement. There are other cases similar to this. The Secretary's letter, which is addressed from the Durham Miners' Association, Red Hall, Durham, on 29th September, 1921, to the Secretary of the Tanfield Moor Lodge, was as follows—Dear Sir,In answer to your letter, we cannot supply political exemption forms to any branch of the society.which was a gross breach of the law.Everyone must make a personal application through your lodge, giving his full name and address, and the reason for desiring to obtain exemption.Does the right hon. Gentleman support that? 709This matter will then be considered and a decision arrived at.—W. P. RICHARDSON.Could anything be more pernicious? But this is a principle with which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends opposite agree. This case, with others, was submitted to the Chief Registrar, and the individual grievances were, of course, redressed and on the strength of that decision by the Chief Registrar a letter was written by Mr. Frank Hodges, Secretary of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, in the course of which he stated—The Durham Miners' Association ask me to assure you that every member who makes an application for an exemption form in a bona, fide manner will receive one immediately.Apparently the Association have adopted this instruction. There is another point about that. The lodges which, of course, are connected with the parent association make these levies, but so far as one can see they are not registered. Therefore they can do anything they like. So far as I can make out there is no control whatever, nor is there any registration of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, and therefore their political finances are not subjected to examination.
Here is another case. I am not going to give particulars or names, but if the right hon. Gentleman wants them I can supply them to him. This case refers to a member of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, who handed in exemption forms on one of our own printed sheets. We printed a million of these, and 250,000 have been issued. We had to do that in order to make certain that the man will get exemption if he requires it. In this particular case our form was refused. The Secretary immediately destroyed it, and 19 more at the same time. Complaint was properly made to the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies, and the matter was presumably put right so far as that branch was concerned. But we do not know whether the Registrar called the branch to order or whether the Union as a whole was informed by him that they must acknowledge forms made out according to statute. The previous Act has entirely failed to protect a man against breaches of the Act itself except by having recourse to the law, which is practically impossible to the workman. Unless he has a great organisation of some kind behind him he cannot proceed to law.
§ Mr. SEXTON
But the hon. Baronet is surely aware that the Registrar of Friendly Societies can take action under the Act of 1913?
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
No doubt, but does he ever do it? I will give the hon. Gentleman the particulars of both cases if he will promise to take them up. I have a case of victimisation in my mind which I am at the moment considering.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I did not say I was going to take them up but the Registrar of trade unions is empowered to take them up.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
It may be, but the unions are empowered to do a great many things they do not do. As I say it is perfectly impossible to go to a Court of Law in a matter of this kind. I have still a number of cases of the same kind.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite left me perfectly cold for he carefully evaded the point. We all admit that the man can make a contract, but the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well the difficulty there is in many cases, and the trouble and the burden it would put upon the man to face his fellows, perhaps with a big majority against him, and he ought not to be asked to bear that. To compare other associations and trade combinations in a matter of this kind is to produce an analogy which is not worthy of the right hon. Gentleman. Why does a man join his trade union? In the first place to protect himself and to get the benefit the union gives, as well as the great advantages it is in every respect to him to be a member of a union. This Bill does not create any disadvantage.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
It is not a question of Tories. It is a question of giving a man freedom to subscribe and to support the political doctrines he maintains and not those of the Labour party, which are anathema to runny trade unionists. That is the reason why I hope the House will give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
We have listened with a great amount of interest to the speech of the right hon. Baronet and he has 711 revealed to us very very clearly indeed the real purpose that lies behind this Bill. He has given it very clearly because he stated, "I have started an organisation."
§ Mr. WIGNALL
"And my organisation is successful," though it is not so successful as he would have us believe, because the opposition of the rival political section of trade unions is unfortunately too much for him. He wants to cripple our movement to benefit his own. That is the principle of his speech. But we have made it clear, and the right hon. Baronet omitted to state it, that before a political fund can be established there must be a ballot of the membership. I know of many trade unions that have delayed creating their political fund for many years because they have not obtained the necessary majority, and consequently they have had to wait until the membership gave them that majority. Objection has been raised in regard to interfering and meddling with our affairs and these paid agents of the Unionist organisation who are sent all around the country getting into the trade union branches and trying to create dissension and discord leave their own political fund and come over to ours. We know those Unionist Lodges; we know how they are conducted and how they are financed. We know the objects with which they are conducted, and we know exactly the methods by which they are kept going.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
If the hon. Baronet were talking to people who have never moved in the trade union world, probably we could accept his statement, but unfortunately for him we know more about it than the hon. Baronet.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
That is a confession. We know where the money is spent and the uses to which it is put.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
The hon. Member has doubted my word. I said that I knew where I spend my money. I spend no money on those organisations and, being 712 a Scotsman, I know perfectly well what I pay and what I do not pay.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
We all know that the hon. Baronet is very careful as to what he spends and that he gets full value for it, and if he did not get any value from these Unionist organisations they would not get the money. The secret is now out. The whole business is revealed, and we now know exactly where we are. This is an attack by the Unionist organisation upon the trade union movement as it stands to-day, and we have a clear issue. Whatever little things may arise or may he said to-day, the issue is now as definite and clear as it can be, and this is an attempt by the Unionist organisation to destroy the trade unions political funds and clear out the Members who sit on the Labour benches from taking any part in the Labour movement. But this attack will not succeed and you cannot do it, because if you could you would have done it long ago. In this attempt you will be equally as unsuccessful in the future as you have been in the past.
With regard to the provisions of the Bill, it is provided that there must be a ballot at once. We do not object to that, hut what we do object to is the exemption form. The hon. Baronet said it is not a question of contracting out, but a question of contracting in. What is the real secret behind this Clause as it has been explained to-day? It is that every trade unionist is bound and compelled to keep his exemption form. Every member can refuse to be recorded as paying to the political fund, and any member can at once withdraw from it and be free from paying any contribution to it. This Bill says that that provision is wrong, and to my mind it is the greatest condemnation of the fairness and honesty of purpose of the Registrar-General that I have ever heard. We know from experience how the Registrar-General deals with these cases. We know that we have to create separate funds. We have to furnish reports and show to the Registrar the income and expenditure of every penny of the money we receive, and we have to give returns of the total membership and of those who are exempted. If we do not do this the Registrar-General will soon take action and penalise us. I say that the Registrar-General in the administra- 713 tion of his office is absolutely fair in dealing with this matter, and it is no reflection upon his office and those who administer the law under his care and guidance.
What is the real purpose of this Clause We have heard about the ballots and of the miserable minorities by which some Members are in this House. We have heard about the ballots of our memberships, and complaints have been made as to the small number of men who have balloted because they will not take the trouble to go to the branches. Instead of the members claiming to be exempted as the law exists to-day by merely signing this form and claiming exemption, the Clause says that after the ballot has been taken and after the political fund has been established, every year each member who desires to contribute must fill up this form and send it to the secretary. We know very well that that will not be done by 50 per cent. of the members; in fact, I think I am right in saying that not even 25 per cent. will come to their branches and adopt the ordinary method of carrying out their business, and in these circumstances how do you expect them every year to look for this form and fill it up as set forth in this schedule and send it in.
What is the obvious intention of the Mover and Seconder of this Bill? They know perfectly well that not fifty per cent. of the Members are likely to fill up this form every year with the natural result that they would be struck off the list, and would no longer be entitled to come under the Act. That is the obvious intention. It is not an act of commission but an act of omission. It is an act of commission upon which those supporting this Bill are basing themselves, and I say distinctly and definitely that although they are complaining of some sort of coercion they are going to introduce the worst form of coercion. This Bill would create havoc, and very much uneasiness amongst the trade union movement. This is a matter of so much importance that we ought to hear every side of it explained. We say that the law as it stands gives freedom and fair play, protects every individual member, and meets all requirements. I have been long enough in the trade union movement to see it in all its ramifications, and, notwithstanding one or two isolated cases, I can bear my 714 testimony that men have freedom and liberty of action. Where they desire it, they are allowed to be free from the political fund. We hope and trust that the House will not accept this trick of the Unionist party to cripple the political fund of the trade union, but will enable us to continue in our work as we have in the past.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I rise to speak against the Bill. I consider it a most mischievous Measure. I do not deny that in connection with the Act of 1913 there may have been some irregularities, and it is due to us to expect that the trade unions will see to it that members who desire to contract out will not have imposed upon them any disability or any obstacle such as described by the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr (Sir G. Younger). I do not impute to those who have brought forward this Measure any motives as to what they intend, but we have to examine the exact effect of the Bill. It is seeking to put back the hands of the clock. If this Bill be carried into law it will paralyse the political action of the trade union movement. We have to recognise that to-day the trade unions are a large and growing political force, and this Bill, if it became an Act of Parliament, would hamper and restrict their activities. Many Members in this House, and many shades of political opinion outside, urge that the duty of trade unionists in these days is to go forward constitutionally. If you pass a Bill of this kind that in my opinion will greatly cripple and almost paralyse their political activities, you will undoubtedly drive trade unions into an unconstitutional movement-. We have a great many people deploring anything in the nature of direct action. The trade union movement is urged to secure all the benefits they desire for their members, not by adopting direct action or unconstitutional means, but through political action and through the ballot box.
It seems to me impossible that this House, having passed the Act of 1913 and that Act being upon the Statute Book, safeguarded and surrounded by every rare to prevent anything in the nature of abuse, should to-day, in view of all that has passed, the experiences that we are going through, the industrial and political conditions of this country, and 715 the great advance that the trade union movement has made, seek to hamper and to restrict the political action of the trade unions. We ought to welcome the freedom whereby any organisation or body of men can act in a political way, and we ought not to do anything in this House to restrict, to hamper, and to prevent their fullest political freedom. I have no doubt whatever that the object of the hon. Members who have moved this Bill is to give to the individual the fullest possible amount of freedom. I impute no motives to them; I believe that they are proceeding from the purest motives, and that they have felt that the difficulty of contracting out is so great that they wish to reverse the order and give men the opportunity of contracting in. You must, however, look at the disastrous effect that this Bill will have upon the trade union movement. If by means of a Measure of this kind you practically abolish the Act of 1913 and bring into effect an Act that will cripple and hamper the political action of trade unions, you will undoubtedly create a greater evil than any temporary evil from which we are suffering at the present time.
I implore the House not to be carried away by the interests of one political party or the other, and not to try and strike a blow at the political activities of the trade union movement. You must recognise that these activities are growing and will grow stronger, and that we might as well seek to emulate the example of Mrs. Partington and try to sweep back the Atlantic as to try and stem the political activities of the trade unions by a Measure of this kind. With no predilection for trade unions I have sometimes deprecated their activities and the mistakes and errors they make, and at the last election I was opposed by a Labour candidate—but, looking at the matter from an entirely impartial and disinterested point of view, and as an ordinary member of this House, facing the political issues of our times, I think that this House would he taking a retrograde step and do infinite harm to social order and settled government if it sought, by means of a measure of this kind, to so hamper and restrict the activities of a great and growing political force that they would be com- 716 pelled to resort to other and more dangerous means to accomplish their object.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I hope the House will note the difference in the speeches which we have just heard. We have listened to the politicians' view and we have just heard the employers' point of view. I put it to any fair-minded man in the House that if anyone might be expected to be prejudiced, naturally it would be the employer. But here we have an employer who recognises fully that you may hamper the trade unions and working class movement by oppressive legislation, but, instead of helping the country you are going to ruin it. It is very curious to see the hon. Baronet, the Member for Ayr (Sir G. Younger), in this new role to-day. Here we have a gentleman who, if rumour speaks rightly, is soon to leave this House. Whether we agree or disagree with him, we always admire him, and many of us, while profoundly disagreeing with him, will retain pleasant memories of his friendship. Here he is on this Friday afternoon in a new role. He says to himself, "Now I shall soon be departing. I shall soon be leaving this Chamber, which I have adorned for many years, and I want to put it on record what, after all, is to me the ambition of a life's work." I gave the country a few months ago clearly to understand that you cannot have discipline in a Coalition Government. I let the country know perfectly well where I stand on this matter. In the old days the Unionist Party could conduct its business by the heads speaking for the party. Under new methods of the Coalition the country must understand that is not possible. In my judgment, said the hon. Gentleman, one of the most essential things at the present moment is Reform of the House of Lords. He made it perfectly clear to the country where he stood on the matter. Again he comes along and says, having made it clear that discipline in the Coalition is unnecessary and that the reform of the House of Lords is essential to the good government of the people, the only thing that will make that legislative programme of mine complete will be simultaneously with the reform of the House of Lords to reform the Trade Union movement.
Just let us examine the situation from the point of view. Just imagine the hon. 717 Baronet the Member for Ayr standing up in this House on a Friday afternoon and talking about the purity, freedom and public examination of expenditure in politics. Let us see where it leads to. Here is the National Union of Railway's Political Fund and the political activities involved in it. What was the origin of it? In the first place we had the Taff Vale judgment. That reversed all past trade union practices and made trade unions contrary to all that the advocates of trade unionism and the founders of it meant it to be. We had a judge made law in 1907. That decision cost my own Union £45,000 in damages and £40,000 in legal charges. My union was the one involved in that famous judgment. It is true it crippled our funds. It cost us a lot of money. It is true that many thought it had killed trade unionism, but what did happen? The whole movement rallied to our support and this House of Commons had to reverse that unjust decision. It did more. It said to the trade union movement and to the workers that instead of lobbying outside, instead of paying people to go to the House of Commons to persuade members of Parliament to do certain things, it is far better to do it ourselves. That was the birth of the Labour Party. What followed? My hon. Friend's activities did not cease there. What was the next stage in his programme? Immediately we came to this House of Commons he managed to arrange for an individual to test our position in the Courts. My hon. Friend asked a few moments ago—How can a working man take action against his union? How did Osborne take action?
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
He could not take it unless lie had the support of a large organisation behind him.
§ Mr. THOMAS
You suggest he had the support of a large organisation. Osborne was a member of my union. He was a railway porter employed by the Great Eastern Railway Company. He managed to engage the best counsel in the country. Again we were landed for over £40,000 by the Osborne Judgment, and my hon. Friend knows perfectly well that his friends were behind Osborne.
§ Mr. THOMAS
There is an admission. Why all this display of purity? Let me 718 follow the matter a little further. As a result of the judgment legislation was passed in this House. Just imagine the situation. There are approximately six and three-quarter million trade unionists in the country affected by this. Is it not rather a tribute to them more than anything else that there should be this small number of abuses, this comparatively small number of cases? I frankly say that every case quoted was wrong. It was wrong for it to have happened. It ought to have been stopped. I admit that frankly; and there is not a Member on these benches who will attempt to defend those cases. But we must have some sense of proportion, and when we find that among six and three-quarter million trade unionists there are so few cases and not one, I believe, among railwaymen, at any rate, the hon. Gentleman did not quote one—
§ Mr. THOMAS
That sorely is a tribute to our branches. I believe a circular was sent to every one of our members. I am going to ask presently who paid for those circulars. Now you have this very small number of cases amongst so many trade unionists, and I must put it to the House of Commons, having regard to all the circumstances, having regard to the fact that there are 500,000 railwaymen, what would occur if our members were to go to their fellows and read the speeches which have been delivered here yesterday and to-day by Member after Member, and were to say, "Look what you railwaymen are getting for your organisations by your own Parliamentary effort. Is it not bad policy on your part if you will not contribute 1s. a year in return for the benefits you are getting?" I want to put this question to the hon. Member for Ayr. He knows that the Act of 1913 provided two things. It provided for the funds to be kept separate, not a copper being allowed to be used for any other purpose than that for which it was subscribed, and it provided also that every member should be entitled to claim exemption from subscribing. The hon. Member is aware that if any interference takes place the member of a union has the right to go to the Registrar—a public official paid by the public—who can take action against the union without the intervention of the 719 member himself, and, over and above all that, he knows that on the 31st December, when the balance sheet is made up for the year, a copy has to be sent to the Registrar of all the accounts of our expenditure.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Only in the case of those who are registered. It is not so, for example, in the case of the Miners' Federation, which has taken care not to register.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I will deal with that in a moment. I do not want to be diverted from my point. Suppose that we said to the hon. Baronet, as the head of the Unionist organisation, "Will you send to the Registrar a full detailed account of your income from all sources?" [An HON. MEMBER: "It is not compulsory. What has he got to do with it?"] And yet we are talking about the purity of politics. Just imagine your freedom of conscience if you dare not send to the Registrar and say, "Here is a balance sheet of all our income, showing from whom it comes and why it was given."
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Everyone who subscribes to my funds subscribes for a particular purpose. It is a different thing with the trade unions.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Those who subscribe to the Unionist party funds subscribe because they believe that they, as citizens of the country, will benefit from their activities in this House I think that is a fair definition. Is not that exactly what those who subscribe to the trade unions do? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Well, I will leave it at that. I leave the House to draw its own conclusions as to the people who subscribe to the Tory party. [HON MEMBERS: "They subscribe willingly."] They subscribe willingly often, for favours to come, but will the hon Baronet return to the Registrar that part of the expenditure connected with those circulars? We have had an admission that 1,000,000 circulars were printed by the Unionist organisation inviting people to get exemption from this fund.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
They were not provided by the Unionist organisation here. They were paid for by the Labour Committee organisation, which is voluntary. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where did they 720 get their money from?"] From the subscribers.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Would you like to return to the Registrar the difference between the Unionist labour organisation and the Unionist organisation, and their respective funds?
§ Mr. THOMAS
We are not in a position to know which is which, who subscribes to the one and who subscribes to the other, and so far as the Registrar is concerned you are perfectly independent. I saw the Chief Whip applaud your sentiments just now, and it occurred to me that that might be the one reason why he was ready to get the conscientious objectors to the place where there are no trade union electors. I want to put the serious side of this question to the House. There is not a Member who can honestly get up in this House and say that either Unionist or Liberal could possibly attack our party, either individually or collectively or in the constituencies, nearly so viciously as the Communists themselves. You all know that. Let us face the facts. What is their complaint against us?? Their complaint is that we are preaching to the working men and women of this country that is is better to use the constitutional machine than always to strike. That is why they are attacking us. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Yes, it is. Of course it is. Even in the general elections and by-elections these people show their disgust by taking the ballot papers and making on them all manner of comments against those of us who sit on these benches. They go into our trade unions and disintegrate the trade unions. They would be delighted to be associated with this Bill this afternoon, and, indeed, I am surprised that McManus's name is not on the Bill. They would be as enthusiastic supporters of this Bill as are hon. Members opposite.
Do not let this House of Commons, when it is voting this afternoon, minimise the effect of that. Do not let them lose sight of it in their anxiety to rectify what I admit are some abuses. I believe the way to rectify those abuses is to approach all the responsible unions. If any responsible trade unionist were to get up and say that we defend what has been read out, he 721 would be wrong, and I believe that every one of us would agree that that is so. We are as anxious as you are to rectify that, but do not, in rectifying a few abuses of that kind, ruin the constitutional trade union and Labour movement. You may disagree with us; you may feel that there is no need for the Labour party. That is exactly what the Communists feel. That is exactly what they are aiming at, and I can do no other than say that many—I will not say those who have moved and seconded the Motion to-day—who are not friends of Parliament or of this country, would be delighted to see this Bill carried this afternoon. Do not let any Liberal or Unionist Member follow in those footsteps. Above, all, let every hon. Member who knows the constitutional position of this House, who knows what Liberal, Conservative and Labour political organisations are, ask himself and his conscience, before he votes to-day, whether there is any party in the House that works under greater disadvantages than the Labour party, by the very nature of things, and whether any funds contributed for any party in this House are more clean, more honest, and better able to stand the admission of daylight into them? When hon. Members have asked themselves that question, I have no doubt as to what will be the verdict in the Lobby.
§ Lieut.-Colonel DALRYMPLE WHITE
In rising to support this Bill I should like first to say that, although up to the present the Debate has been chiefly on the question of the Unionist party, and more especially the Unionist Labour party, it does not only affect Unionists, but it affects Liberals as well. I have no doubt that we shall hear very little to-day in support of this Bill from members of the Independent Liberal party, who may have an eye for a possible coalition or working arrangement in the near future with the Labour party. I have, however, been approached in my own constituency by men who have been trade unionists, and who have not hesitated to say that they would not support me against a Liberal, and yet they have objected to being made to subscribe to the funds of a party with whose policy as a whole they are not in agreement. This is not a new movement, simply the result of the formation of the Unionist Labour party. It is a grievance of long standing, and it has been emphasized 722 and brought to a head by the large and enthusiastic meetings that have been held. I wish that some of my hon. Friends opposite, who are most fair-minded men, could have been present as spectators at the meeting in my own constituency which was attended by some 400 or 500 delegates from the whole of the North of England two years ago. They would then have seen that these men werebonâ fide trade unionists—as good trade unionists as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) or any other Member who sits on the Labour benches—and strongly in favour of doing all they could to support what they considered to be the right. functions of trade unionism, but in politics they could not see their way to support the Labour party. The right hon. Member for Platting attempted to sneer in a friendly manner, but still sneer, at men whose consciences did not permit them to subscribe to a particular political party. I wonder if he would have been equally inclined to sneer if such levies had been raised in the past, before the Labour party was formed, for the support of the Conservative party or the Liberal party. He then would have had considerable sympathy with men whose consciences would not allow them to subscribe to a political party. Again, he said the formation of the Unionist Labour party, wherever it had been formed, had considerably improved the position of the Labour party in those constituencies. If that be so, I presume that the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir G. Younger) may look to a large number of subscriptions coming in from the headquarters of the Labour party so as to gain the desirable result of improving their position.
There is one thing the right hon. Member for Platting forgot when he sneered at the Unionist Labour party as being a small movement which has only just been started. He should remember that the Labour party itself started from very small beginnings and one of the reasons—I do not say the only reason—why it has grown so enormously in membership is that it promptly affiliated itself with various Socialist Societies and Associations. That is just the part that those trade unionists whom we represent object to They object to Socialism in any shape or form. This Bill does not stop a single trade unionist subscribing to a political 723 levy for the Labour Party if he so desires. A somewhat extraordinary thing was brought to my notice the other day. I heard of one or two cases where men have been paying these levies and, in the simplicity of their hearts, they thought their contribution would go to whatever particular shade of political opinion they agreed with—that if they were Liberals it would go to the Liberal party, if Unionists to the Unionist party, and if in sympathy with Labour, to the Labour party. I could hardly believe it, but I was told Shat was a fact. That is not material to the case, but it shows what prevails. I may be permitted to express some mild surprise that hon. Members opposite should oppose this Bill with such fervour, because if there is one thing they have inscribed on their banners more than another it is the absolute liberty of the subject to do what he likes. That is what we claim in this Bill. If a man wishes to subscribe to the Labour party let him do so. At election times there has been a good deal said about intimidation on the part of the employer, the squire or the parson to prevent men voting. If the Labour party think there is a chance of intimidation prevailing at the ballot box, which is secret, when no one knows how a man votes, how much more likely is it to happen if a man has to go to his branch secretary and say, "I wish to claim exemption from this political levy. I wish to dissociate myself from a large number of the members of my lodge, and I do not want to vote for the Socialist party." I am surprised that the Labour party oppose this so much, and I can only conclude that it is because they fear that there may be a loss of funds to the Labour party as a result of this Bill, and that in their heart of hearts they are aware that in the past a large number of subscriptions have been paid under duress.
§ Mr. AMMON
A thing which has impressed many of us on these benches is that many hon. Members who have supported the Bill, including the hon. and gallant Gentleman who introduced it, are very ignorant as to the organisation of trade unionism. The Mover of the Bill stated definitely, and repeated it when replied to, that the balance sheets of political funds were not published by the trade 724 unions. I can make him a present of one published by my own union which has been audited by chartered accountants and is typical of what has to happen in regard to all trade unions.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I did not make that statement. I said many of the trade unions were not informed what funds were used for political purposes and what for ordinary purposes. I know the accounts have to go to the Registrar and that there must be an inspection. The hon. Member must not misrepresent me.
§ Mr. AMMON
There is more than that. The accounts are published and set forth for anyone to examine. But I suppose the most humorous remark is that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Southport (Lieut.-Colonel White), who made reference to the ranks of the trade unionists having been swollen from Socialist organisations. That will be received with the greatest hilarity amongst the Socialists themselves, for their complaint, if they have any, is that they are rather snowed under by the trade union element in the Labour party and that they have very little influence or voice in the organisation. I am sure they will he heartened very considerably at knowing that they form such a large part. While I may acquit the Mover of the Bill of having any ulterior motive, the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr (Sir G. Younger) has shown quite plainly what is the underlying intention of the Bill. It is part and parcel of the attack which is being levelled against the trade union movement. We have had it on the industrial side carried forward at very great length, where there is an endeavour to crush the unions out. This is now to be carried forward on the political field, and the hon. Baronet has made it very clear that the organisation of which he is the directing genius is endeavouring to smash trade unionism and to cripple the trade union side of the political movement. Someone has asked why we are afraid to allow members to go to the ballot. We are not. They have every facility to go to the ballot and they have every possible facility for getting exemption if they want it. It is my particular duty to deal with this sort of thing, and I issue thousands 725 of exemption notices to persons who apply for them. It is quite a simple matter. I do not even trouble to see them myself. A clerk issues them automatically in response to the application. It is not we who fear the ballot box, but hon. Members opposite, and they are endeavouring to queer the pitch as far as they can before making an appeal to the country and to corner the opposition which they fear from the Labour party. The hon. Baronet gave us a number of people who had sent in certain objections and said he could supply others. That is the finest tribute possible to the unanimous support of the political side of the Labour movement, for he admits that millions of these have been issued and that they have been using their influence in the trade union lodges and branches by all possible means to undermine the movement, and yet all he can bring forward, if he gave us the whole lot, is but a drop in the bucket compared with the whole trade union movement.
§ Mr. AMMON
Evidently, the hon. Baronet is trying his organisation. Everything is being done to undermine the influence of the trades unions. We had this sort of thing to contend with during the war, when certain persons were inspired or bribed to go into trades unions and to try to undermine them by stirring up trouble and then getting false witness to bear against them. In my own organisation we have a little secession movement, supported by a tremendous lot of money. Heaven knows where they get the money. Perhaps the hon. Baronet could give us some information about it. This sort of thing is going on all the time. Questions have been asked in this House again and again about it. All these things indicate that it is not any love of liberty that prompts hon. Members opposite to act, but because they feel that a great new political organisation has arisen, and they are doing everything they possibly can to stop it, and make it more difficult. The reason why trades unions were formed was because the workers had to organize it against such people as the hon. Baronet in order to get themselves a decent existence. Trade unions were formed in the teeth of opposition and persecution 726 on the part of people such as these who sit on the opposite side of the House. Those who held a similar position in days gone by persecuted the trade unionists. Trade unions have not been established out of the goodwill of hon. Members opposite or of those whom they represent. They have been established not because they were considered right or just by such people as hon. Members opposite, but only in so far as they have been able to fight for their existence and to arouse public opinion in their favour.
We hear people talk about class war. The Labour party and those they represent have always been on the defensive in this respect. Class war has always been waged by the persons who are represented politically by the hon. Baronet. The trade unions are simply a defensive organisation to maintain a decent standard of life for men and women workers, and now, when you have used the trade union organisations and their members to pull the nation through a time of great stress and difficulty, and you have got safely delivered from that, you try to smash their organisations.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
Will the hon. Member explain how this Bill can smash the trade union movement if the members believe in it?
§ Mr. AMMON
That has been explained by the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). The object of the Bill is to make it as difficult as possible for members to belong to the political side of their trade union. Everybody knows how difficult it is to get a body of men to fill in certain forms. The 1913 Act was passed by the unanimous consent of the House, after a great attack had been made upon the trade unions. That Act gave the greatest measure of freedom to the men and women within the trade union movement. They may enjoy any brand of politics they like, and the fact that all the organised opposition, and all the money that has been spent by those represented by the hon. Baronet, has resulted in so few indicating their dissension is the strongest tribute to the worth of the Act that was passed in 1913. If there is any sincerity of purpose behind Members of this House, apart from party polities, they will turn this Bill down.
The great vested interests are trade unions. The Federation of British Indus- 727 tries is a huge trade union of employers, and it spends its money in corrupting the legislature, some people say, and in all sorts of endeavours to bring its influence to bear adversely upon the unions. This is only part of the general scheme of attack which is being made on trade unions and the general democratic movement. The increasing number of members on these benches is frightening the hon. Baronet, and those who are bringing in this Bill. I hope that Members of all parties will have sufficient independence to get away from their particular class interests and give fair play and a fair field so that people may send to this House such Parliamentary representatives as they desire.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. HOPE
We have strayed away from the main objects of the Bill, and red herrings are being drawn across the track. It is said that this Bill is an attack on the Labour Party and upon trade unions. It is not an attack on the Labour Party or on trade unions. All Members of this House believe that a strong Labour Party is good for this House and for the country, and we believe that trade unions are most desirable in the interests of the workers. I cordially agree with the last speaker, who said that people belong to trades unions in order to get decent conditions for their labour and to improve wages and conditions generally for labour. That is why we cordially support the trade unions. Hon. Members will agree that it is most difficult for any man to work in any trade unless he is a member of a trade union, and it is quite right that it should be so.
We are all in favour of organisation both of labour and of the employers, and we are all in favour of negotiation between them. This Bill does not attack that principle at all. What it does endeavour to prevent is the combination of trade unions with political parties. A workman must be a member of a trade union in order to carry on his trade, and that is quite right, but it does not follow that because he wishes to belong to a trade union in order that he may help to better the working conditions of his trade, he also wishes to subscribe money for political purposes with regard to foreign countries, the relations of Ireland, or in regard to Church 728 and State, and many objects to which the Labour party may be committed. This Bill is to give freedom, and to allow a man who wishes to belong to a trade union to do so, but not to make it a condition of belonging to a trade union that he should subscribe money to interfere in politics, or to take one line in regard to foreign countries, or Ireland, or on questions of Church and State. It is in order to keep those two things distinct that this Bill is introduced. The main question is that of contracting in or contracting out. The right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) said that only a small number of abuses had been quoted, and that they would be remedied. Even if there are only a small number of abuses, what harm will this Bill do?
There is a great demand throughout the country that facilities should be given for men to remain members of a trade union and yet not be practically forced to contribute to objects of which they do not approve. Large numbers of women would be only too glad if their husbands and the men of the family had the option of not contributing to political objects with which they are not in sympathy. Do the Labour party suggest that there are not many men who work who are more in favour of the Unionist party than of the Labour party? Do they believe that there are not many members of trade unions who are more in sympathy with the Liberal party than with the Labour party? We want to keep both movements separate, to allow working men to belong to any party and not to make it a condition of belonging to a trade union that the Labour party must also be supported. I cannot see why the Labour party should object so strongly to this Bill. Reference has been made to the question of Unionist contributions. There is no forced contribution there. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Honours List!"] A Labour Member may get an honour. That is a different point. There is no compulsion to contribute to any Unionist fund. A man may have to belong to a trade union to earn his livelihood, and, if he does, it is very difficult for him not also to contribute to the funds of the Labour party. I do not think that is good either for the trade unions or for the Labour party.
We want freedom. This is what this Bill is intended to give. The hon. Baronet 729 the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir J. Younger) referred to certain great difficulties about these exemption forms. No doubt the names of those who apply for exemption become known, and even the few cases which the hon. Baronet quoted are sufficient to show that it is very difficult for members of trade unions to apply for this exemption. I am sure that Members of the Labour party would prefer that all subscriptions to their party should be voluntary, and would prefer one voluntary subscription to two which might be enforced. That is all that this Bill asks. [HON MEMBERS: "No."] The whole point of the Bill is that before a member can be asked to subscribe he shall put in writing that he is willing to subscribe. The question of an annual consent to subscribe is a Committee point. I think that in Committee that provision might be eliminated, and that it might be provided that one consent to subscribe should be sufficient until it is cancelled, but one consent in writing to subscribe seems to me to be essential. This is a small Committee point which could be met by an Amendment to the First Schedule. There is not much difficulty in signing the form. There is nothing to prevent trade union official taking the forms round and collecting them. I trust that the Rouse will give a Second Reading to this Bill, and in the Committee stage any small points which the Labour party think oppressive can be dealt with. There is a real demand for this Bill throughout the country, not only among Unionists, but even among many who belong to the party opposite, and on the part of a very large proportion of working men and women, who consider that under the present Act they are forced to contribute to objects with which they are not in sympathy.
Mr. L'ESTRANGE MALONE
I shall be interested to scrutinise the division list on this Bill, especially if the Government consider that existing legislation is sufficient and decide to oppose this Measure. We shall then see exactly the amount of discipline that exists inside the Unionist party, and whether they decide to support the Government or support the director of Unionist policy who has spoken so ably. I should have thought that a man occupying the position of the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr (Sir G. Younger), would be one of those who have so far opposed this Bill. I am surprised at his taking up the attitude which he has 730 taken up, because if attention is called to political funds in this country, if feeling is stirred up to cause the general public to inquire into how these funds are administered and where this money conies from, it will probably lead to an inquiry as to how the money for political honours is derived, and as to how much money is paid into these funds for an earldom, a baronetcy, or even a knighthood. We are told that £10,000 is all that is required now for an earldom, and £5,000 for a baronetcy, and somewhat less for a humble knighthood, and I should like to know—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
The hon. Member must not speculate on these matters. I do not see how they arise on a Bill to amend the Trade Union Act of 1913.
I only allude to the dangers to which support of this Bill might lead. The supporters of this Bill have pointed out that it is not an attack on trade unionists. That is pure hypocrisy.
Because I find that this Bill does concentrate itself particularly on certain labour sections. If this Bill were going to protect trade unionists against some of the pernicious political organisations which exist it would have my whole-hearted support. I want to suggest to the promoters of the Bill that they should enlarge the powers of the Bill in order to protect trade unionists against those organisations from which trade unionists desire to be protected. There are, for example, the Reconstruction Society, the late anti-socialist movement. I would like to see the promoters of the Bill make such a society disclose the sources of its funds for attacks on Labour organisations. I would like the members of the People's League balloted before they contribute for the purpose of getting up an organisation to deal with the coal strike, as was done last year. I would like to see the National Constitutional Defence Movement, with its three earls, ten lords, eight baronets and several generals, submit to the same process before it is allowed to organise blackleg labour during strikes—blackleg labour which is blue-blooded labour. I wonder if all the 731 members of the Middle Class Union would like to have their funds returnable to the Registrar of Friendly Societies before they are employed in combating a coal strike, as was done in 1919. I would like to see the Liberty and Property Defence League, whose council owns 3,000 acres of the soil of Britain, submitted to all the restrictions and iniquities of this Bill before they started their campaign against land nationalisation. There is another organisation, the British Empire Union. I wonder if it keeps a separate fund for political purposes. I wonder if it could send young University gentlemen all over the country, preaching anti-labour doctrines, if it had not a continuous fund for political purposes.
Even in this House we have a great body called the British Commonwealth Union. It boasts to us that it controls 75 Members of this House. Speaking from these benches recently one of its Members, I believe the hon. Member for West Lewisham (Sir P. Dawson) spoke as the Member of this group and not as the Member sent here by West Lewisham. I wonder what the union would think if it had to submit its funds to the scrutiny of the Friendly Societies Registrar. There are many other organisations which I might mention. During the last few weeks, owing to the, inadequacy of the Coal Mines Department, we have had sheaves of propaganda from the Mining Association. We also have from time to time a great deal more literature than we can read from a very large and live organisation, the brewers' organisation I wonder if, before they circulate their highly coloured doctrines, the brewers and the mineowners circulate all their shareholders and ask them whether they would like their surplus funds to be devoted to this work. What is really behind this Bill? In spite of what has been said in all good faith by the mover and seconder—probably they do not realise entirely what the Bill is—this Bill is part of the organised anti-Labour campaign at present being carried on by the Federation of British Industries, the British Commonwealth Union and other organisations. I believe that the Bill is part of a campaign organised by the general staff of those great anti-Labour bodies. That campaign was begun with an attack on the nation's industry by means of lock-outs. They have depleted 732 the funds of the trade unions to the uttermost, through the most cruel and harsh lock-outs that have ever been known in the industrial history of this country—lock-outs in which the Government has through and through supported the employers. The funds of the unions having been depleted, the employers' organisations bring in this Bill to prevent those funds from being increased again.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
It is not brought in by any employers' organisation, but is introduced by two hon. Members, acting from a sense of duty to protect the liberties of the artisan.
That is what has been said in this House in all good faith. But the Members who brought in this Bill are the directors of some of the biggest industrial companies in the country, and they represent some of the biggest capitalist groupings. This Bill is an attempt to go behind the 1913 judgment, to the days of the Osborne judgment. It is brought in because the employers are afraid of any persons or body putting its views before the public. They know that the political power of vested interests and vested property rests entirely upon political misrepresentation. Members on the Labour benches are often accused of fomenting class warfare. If this Bill is not a direct declaration of class warfare I do not know what it is. The law at present is quite strong enough for the Government to deal with political parties and organisations. Only recently, the Government raided the offices of political parties, and not merely took away particulars of those parties, but also their funds. No further powers are required. I am glad to think that even if the Bill be passed the Labour movement will gain. I am almost inclined to hope that the Bill will be passed, because on every occasion in the past when restrictive legislation has been brought in, an enormous gain has accrued to the democratic movement. In 1903 the result of the Taff Vale decision was the formation of the Labour party and the bringing to this House of 30 Members of the Labour party. The result of the Osborne judgment was to bring about a great feeling of re-action against those who would have restricted the development of the democratic movement. Whether this Bill be passed or not, it cannot in any way check the growth of the democratic movement.
§ Mr. STANTON
I suppose I shall be accorded fair treatment, as usual, if I dare to express my opinion on this subject. I have listened to-day to a lot of hypocritical utterances from the other side. I know that they were lies, because for many years I happen to have taken a part, and a somewhat stronger part than many hon. Members opposite, in the trade union movement. I know what I am talking about. I say that for the moment I shall support this Bill. The Bill, or one like it, should have been brought in before. I am still a well-wisher of the trade union movement, although I am not now associated with it. I wish the Labour party good health and progress as long as the members of it are British. It is because, despite what has been said, Members of the Labour party are not sailing under proper colours that I am in favour of this Bill. I notice to-day that several Members, while they attacked their opponents as capitalists, said nothing about abuses and misuses in the trade union movement. I know the circumstances that exist in South Wales, and I know there have been shameful abuses. The man who refused on conscientious grounds to pay his levies was hounded out and treated badly. I say so because I know. I have led hundreds of men round the districts whipping them in, and they had the devil's own journey if they did not pay up. If they failed to pay the Parliamentary levy it was put -down as arrears of contribution. That sort of thing is certainly unfair. I have seen the error of my ways long since, and I recognise that instead of parading round and Prussianising the system and hounding the people into the ranks of the union there is a better way. I am surprised that the Labour party, considering all the progress they claim to have made, should show they are opposed to a proposal which seems perfectly fair and which would, I believe, prove of immense assistance to them. Why should they not declare that if a man desires to exercise his vote and opinion in a certain way politically, he is free to do so without affecting his membership, say, of the workers' organisation in the South Wales mining industry, in regard to which there are specified benefits and specified payments. Why should they say to a man: If you wish to participate in this great movement, then you can only do so by agreeing to certain contributions and 734 levies. It is said that in connection with some other trade union—I cannot recall which it is at the moment—such a facility is granted to those who refuse to be bled and to pay these contributions.
The House must remember that this is not merely a question of returning Members to Parliament but to local boards, county councils, boards of guardians and district councils. Then there is the local Soviet system in the form of the trade and labour council, where plottings and plannings and arrangements are made, and we have discovered, to our great loss in many of our districts, that while the workers are willing to be trade unionists, men who have built their own places have to complain and to "grouse" about the extravagant expenditure and the way in which Labour representatives are working on the various local boards. Hundreds of people tell me they want to be free from this, and that they will not be coerced. Although there have been cheap sneers at the Unionist working man, there are thousands of them in the Rhondda and Aberdare valleys and other places. Some of them may be Unionists because they happen to be Churchmen, but I do not know that that is anything to be ashamed of. They are constitutionalists, and they may move more slowly than other people, but they move more safely, and my experience has been that they are absolutely opposed to trade unionists paying for this purpose, when they find themselves insulted at every Labour demonstration by a number of red flag wavers and hot air spouters, people who have been trained with that object and that object alone. I have letters and telegrams from these people, and I have never felt that I was under any obligation to them in any sense, but I realise how unfair it is for them. I represent the miners as well as others because they all voted me in, and I am interested on their behalf whether they be miners or railwaymen, whether they be in a trade union or outside. I like a man to belong to his trade union, but I also want to see a man have fair treatment within the circle of that trade union. It is because there havo been shameful abuses, because I am jealous of the good reputation of the Labour party, that I take this view.
735 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) and others tell us we are playing into the hands of the Communists. I wonder what the hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. Malone) was thinking when the hon. Member for Derby was speaking. The Communists may be few in numbers, but we know where they are inclined to go, and we know where their policy is likely to lead to, and we know that, at any rate, they are strong enough to pull the Labour party. Hon. Members who are honest and sincere in their intention are often put through their paces when they happen to be doing some week-end speechifying. Although they may be daring here they are not so daring on those occasions, and two or three people are enough to change the balance of their oratory at these weekend meetings. I say the Labour party would be more healthy if it dissociated itself more from evil company and evil communications. They need not be ashamed to take a step backwards if, as hon. Members have said, this is going backwards. If you go on the wrong road, go back, for Heaven's sake—get back to the proper turning and take the right road, even though it may cost you something in pride to do that. Some people discovered a few years ago, but only because the War came, that they were British. They had no serious quarrel with these other people until they discovered that these were people who hated and detested their own country. As I have said, miners and all sorts of men returned me, not by a small majority, but by something like 17,000, over my Labour pacifist opponent who was put up against me under false colours. I have nothing to thank them for. It is an industrial constituency, and if they do not agree with what I am saying here they can put in the opponent, who was put up against me next time, and I will say to them, good luck to you and your bargain.
§ Mr. STANTON
I beg pardon, although I do not think there is much for which to apologise as hon. Members opposite have been paying special attention to me. I hope we shall learn something from them presently. There have been, as I say, shocking abuses, and the sooner we 736 get back to the point at which we were some years ago and start afresh, the better it will be for the reputation of the Labour party. As far as the trade unions in our own district are concerned, I know thousands of men there are refusing to pay these levies because at their demonstrations they have had speakers whose names, of course, must be Snobski or Ral-dal-dam or something like that from Egypt or India or some other place. Instead of the thousands which we used to have at our old meetings and demonstrations they have only a few dozen at a time and the only places where these people can hope to have decent congregations are in those halls and institutes which the Bolshevist section have been able to capture and man. Speakers are invited there who have never lost an opportunity to belittle and degrade this country, who did not help us to win the War who did all they could to make conscientious objectors and who even to-day are not helping in the work of reconstruction. A stricter scrutiny should be made in regard to these people both as to who they are and how much they receive. I will give an instance, among others, which T challenge any hon. Member in the House to disprove, to show the things of which people are complaining. I have been shown a balance sheet from one of the lodges—and I am now looking in the direction of the hon. Member who represents that particular district—and this balance sheet shows £5 was granted to the Dublin Small Arms organisation. This I may tell hon. Members happens to be a Sinn Fein organisation and this was a collection of money from the miners to provide revolvers and ammunition for Sinn Feiners in Dublin. I have that balance sheet which I have carried with me and shown to certain hon. Members in this House and I know what I am talking about.
In our own district they were much cuter. They did nothing like that, to be discovered on the balance sheet, but friends have informed me about the shameful things that have happened and the money that has gone under other names, and so on. I do not suppose the Labour party like what I am saying, but I do not care a hang whether they like it or not. They have done their worst, and they have not been able to hurt me, and soon, according to their prophecies, there will be an opportunity again, and we will 737 judge who is right in regard to these things. I still have the confidence, I am proud to say, of all sorts and conditions of workers in my district, who know my past record and who know I have bumped my head many times by following a bunch of stupid people that I regret to remember, and these people, who have expressed their confidence in me, and for whom I am now speaking, demand the right to be free. You cannot sneer at me because I am a capitalist; you cannot sneer and say that I have been bought, or that I am travelling first-class at the expense of the workers, can you? You cannot sneer at me for a lot of things one could mention. I am telling this House what I think of this matter, and I hope the Bill will pass. I know a lot more than I have said here, and, if necessary, and if I were challenged, I could lay more facts before this House.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
It is perfectly plain that in the discussion of this Bill it is very difficult for many of us on the Labour Benches to ascertain exactly the point of view which is put from the other side. There is a certain number of Members who argue that they have no desire whatever to hinder the progress of the trade unions. They say that this Bill is not directed against trade unionism as such. They are strongly in favour, according to their arguments, of the trade unions doing everything in their power for purely trade union or industrial purposes, but a number of them draw the line and say: "Having done all that, and having refrained from anything in the nature of opposition to the trade unions, we think they should keep clear of political strife." [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] I want to draw a distinction. I know there are hon. Members who say—and the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) is one of them—they want to see a strong Labour party in the House of Commons. My argument is not directed to them, but it is directed to other speakers who have said in this Debate that they want the trade unions to keep clear of political strife. I think that introduces us to one point which, perhaps, we should clear up right away. It must be perfectly plain to hon. Members in all parts of the House that it is utterly impossible to separate the trade union movement in this country—and I think I may claim some impartiality, as I have not the honour to be a 738 trade unionist—froth definite participation in Parliamentary and political effort.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
That observation is confirmed by the remark which the hon. Member has just made. It so happens that there are one or two trade unionists in this House who sit in other parts of the House, and not on these benches, and I recognise that when I say that, as a plain fact, in existing conditions in this country, it is desirable that the organised trade union movement should not merely have its representatives here, but should have perfect freedom to participate in political effort. If that is our basis in this Debate, the whole question appears to me to be quite easily narrowed down to one simple consideration: Is there any coercion in the existing practice in the trade unions, is there an element of coercion in the law as it stands at the present time, and can hon. Members in other parts of the House prove that contention? I am going to suggest that it is unfounded, and I propose to give a series of arguments in support of that view. I beg hon. Members in all parts of the House to remember the anxious and trying history of this controversy, because, after all, it is bound up with every effort that British trade unionism has made to obtain perfect freedom of action. I am not going to refer this afternoon to the very arduous campaign that was necessary to secure the repeal of the Combination Laws. I am not going to refer to all the efforts which were made in the latter part of the last century to establish a great confederation of labour, and the way in which those efforts failed, and the fact that the trade union movement was thrown back upon sectional organisation. It is quite sufficient for our purpose this afternoon to take the legislation of recent years and to ask ourselves what actually is the practice at the present time, and what barriers exist before trade unions as such and individual trade unionists can take part in political activity at all or in support of any great political party in the State.
There are certain general national and local barriers or restrictions. In the first place, the trade unions have got to consider nationally and locally whether they will be affiliated to the Labour party at all, whether they are going to support this party in the State, and everybody 739 knows, especially in the localities, that it is a very difficult matter indeed, or has been in the past, to get many of the trade unions to commit themselves to the Labour movement. That was not because they were opposed to it as a movement, but because they were animated by old views that the duty of a trade union was restricted to hours and conditions of labour and negotiations with the employers, and they did not see any particular interest or importance in the presence of trade union members either on the local authorities or in the House of Commons. It has taken years and years to get round that initial difficulty or doubt—a perfectly honest doubt—in the minds of millions of trade unionists in this country. That it has been removed is very largely true, and I think that is the first safeguard that hon. Members in all parts of the House have got on their kind of plea of coercion, that you have here a great body of public opinion, of organised labour, that has come to that point of view, and is now trying to get appropriate machinery in order to express its views nationally and locally in the State.
Let us come nearer to the actual legislation which is before the House. Hon. Members concede—and the majority of hon. Members concede—that we should have a strong Labour movement here and in the local authorities, and that it is a great constitutional safeguard. That is entirely my point of view and the point of view of my colleagues on these Benches. That concession is made. What protection does the individual trade unionist enjoy at the present time? He has got expressly on the Statute Book a provision for a very large measure of publicity as to the manner in which the funds are obtained, of the way in which they are used, and the general administration of his trade union. I am perfectly correct in saying that Labour is exposed to far more publicity than is organised capital in its operation. I think there is a good deal of evidence in support of that, quite apart from that pressed from a Labour point of view. As a matter of fact, as regards secret reserves in business and their use, a flood of light was thrown by the Royal Commission on Income Tax. I am not pleading that this afternoon, except to show that Labour operates in a 740 great blaze of publicity, and that publicity is applied to trade union accounts and returns, and to the filing of the report with the Registrar-General of Friendly Societies, and the other obligations under which trade unions work.
It is perfectly plain there can be no coercion in this case, because there is the option to every trade unionist to say, "I will not subscribe to your political levy." The coercion must be of some other character, and it is clear that that is the kind of coercion which hon. Members have in mind; but that is not a coercion which we can remedy by any Statute we may pass through this House. Hon. Members seem to suggest, that because a group of trade unionists here and there may be guilty of some indiscretion, because they may bring pressure to bear upon a member, that that is something unusual in the State, and that it is a thing which is never done by organised capital at the present day. I think I could show, if it were relevant this afternoon, that the restrictions imposed by bodies of organised capital, which in some cases amount to restraint of trade, on the members of those bodies, are much more severe, and, indeed, almost savage in their operations, certainly far more severe than any coercion of that kind ever brought to bear by one trade unionist upon another. Surely many proprietors of businesses are denied supplies of certain articles, unless they subscribe to conditions, to which, I think, it is fair to suggest they are not always a consenting party, and if they are a consenting party, they are driven to it because they see no hope of making a living unless they so subscribe. These things fall to be taken very clearly into account. There is this clear right on the part of every trade unionist to say at the present time, "I do not want to subscribe." There is no coercion, and my submission is that a man who refuses to exercise a right of that kind is not a man who deserves the attention of any people in this House or elsewhere. The hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) is one of the strongest supporters of individual initiative in the State. Why should we not trust to a little individual initiative in this matter as well, if the perfect right to it exists?
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
It is admitted by the right hon. Gentleman on the bench opposite that victimisation is very improper.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The position is that this Bill does not touch that. I said that that is a form of coercion which no statute could remedy. This freedom exists, and undoubtedly should be exercised.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
The difficulty is that the trade unionist at present has to contract into his liberty. We want him to have his liberty, and to contract into an obligation.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
It is a perfectly erroneous way of stating the case. A Bill is introduced under which it becomes necessary for millions of people in the State to contract into a certain enterprise, which hon. Members all over the House say is necessary and desirable in the interest of the State at the present time. What great machinery could be conducted on these lines? In all similar legislation provision is made, not for contracting in on a wholesale scale like that, but for the people who wish to contract out, and that is the only basis on which the House of Commons could proceed. That exists at the present time, and therefore we are thrown back on the contention that this Bill must have some other purpose.
I am only going to say, in conclusion, what innumerable Unionist speakers and other speakers have said in different parts of the country. They say, "It is desirable that we should have definite restrictions upon the use of the political funds of trade unions." They have said that over and over again on platforms, I presume not with the authority of the hon. Baronet, but, at all events, they use that argument. My final contention is that I think this Bill is very bad business for the Coalition and the other political parties in the State. It was a great. economist like Alfred Marshall—not a Labour man—who said that the development of the trade unions was the outstanding fact in the economic history of last century, and contributed enormously to the stability of the State. Free political effort is necessary and 742 desirable at the present time in the interests of a constitutionalist programme. Do not introduce another and an unnecessary factor, which will merely make that political enterprise more difficult on their part, and drive them to courses which the Government itself would most deplore.
§ Mr. JESSON
I support this Bill, and I do so as a trade unionist. I do not think anyone will doubt my interest in the trade union movement. I have been a trade union organiser for nearly 30 years. I want to see every worker in his trade union, and every employer in his organisation, and the two co-operating. I am going to give a little of my own experience, and, in doing so, I want to put it in as mild a form as I possibly can. I am one of the founders of my own trade union. I have given the best years of my life helping to build it up, and quite recently I was told by my executive committee to choose between my official position in my union and ceasing to oppose members of the Labour party. That was the position I had to meet. I declined to give such an undertaking. The result was that I was given nine months in which to consider my position. Where does this action come from?
The majority of the members of my union, I think I may say, respect me for the work I have done in the past, but there is a small section of them who do not agree with me at all. They hold extreme views, and believe that the policy which I hold and advocate is detrimental to their particular views—that is the Labour Party's views. What happened was this. Some of our delegates to the Trades Councils in various parts of the country applied for assistance to carry on certain particular activities in which they were interested They were refused, and the reason given, in effect, was this: "You have an official in your union who is opposing members of the Labour Party: he is voting against the proposals put forward by the Labour Party of the House of Commons, and, therefore, you have no right to come to us for assistance, even from a trade union point of view, because we differ from him politically." That is the position. Therefore certain members of my union desire to get me dismissed from the union which I helped to found, and to 743 which I have devoted 30 years of the best of my life, because now I disagree with hon. Members opposite in regard to political issues.
My difference with hon. Members is this: I believe that the Labour move-merit has got to undo the political propaganda which has been carried on in the movement for the past 25 or 30 years. I believe it is economically unsound and will not bear the slightest investigation. Hon. Members opposite hold that it is going to be a good thing for the workers of this country if we nationalise the means of production, distribution, and exchange. I say that they are leading the workers on a false track if they try to make them think that they are likely to get something more than they have already got out of that particular nostrum. Let me make that clear.
§ Mr. JESSON
I hold very strongly that what the workers of this country want is some machinery which will ascertain and award to them all that they are legitimately entitled to for their labour. The vast majority of them would agree that there should be a fair return allowed for capital, and for the risks incurred in finding markets for the goods produced by the workers. I believe the vast majority of the workers of the country would recognise that principle, conditional upon their getting all that they are justly entitled to for their labour. I submit that that is a sound economical proposition, because directly or indirectly the workers themselves who, with their dependants number 99 per cent. of the community, are the people who have to be relied upon directly or indirectly to purchase the goods the workers are paid to produce. This means that some understanding must be arrived at between our employers and ourselves, whoever those employers are. That is my contention. My next point is this: I differ fundamentally from hon. Members opposite, when I submit that if the workers do get all they are legitimately entitled to for their labour, with a square deal all round—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I have been expecting the hon. Member to turn his argument to the question of a separate political levy and contracting out. If that is his object, well and good, if not, he is not in order.
§ Mr. JESSON
I am coming to that point. The interruptions of hon. Members Opposite do not disconcert me in the slightest. My contention is that it would then be to the best interests of all that industrial capital should be owned and controlled by the best possible organisers of industry. That would destroy the principle upon which the Labour party is based. I submit that nationalisation is not the best way to deal with these matters, and it is because I am fighting that that the Labour party themselves, or their nominees outside the House, are doing all they can to destroy me in my own trade union. I now come to the point that many trade unions to-clay are labour exchanges. They do a good deal in the way of providing employment, which comes directly to their particular organisations. I am going to make no allegations, but I am going to put a proposition to hon. Members opposite. Suppose there is a trade union where the officials are active members of the Labour party. That is a common thing in nearly every union, because the active spirits are generally the official element. An employer sends to that particular organisation for a man for a particular job. There are two men who could take that particular job. One of them objects to the political levy and the other does not. The particular trade union official concerned believes in the Labour party. Who will get that job?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member should be given a fair chance by hon. Members to state the case he wishes to state.
§ Mr. JESSON
What is the position? I am going to say this: What I have suggested is possible and might happen.
On a point of Order. Can the hon. Gentleman show us that if this Bill were passed it would not be possible for the same things as he alleges to be done.
§ Mr. JESSON
Under this Bill it is proposed that those who want to contribute to a certain political party can do so, and those who do not want will not be called upon to do so.
That does not answer what I have asked the hon. Gentleman to reply to. That if this Bill becomes law would it not be possible for the same allegations to be made that the men would be disclosed who did not pay the political levy?
§ Mr. JESSON
Every trade unionist who is not willing to contribute under the present condition of things has to make a claim for exemption. I submit that in making that claim for exemption the men leave themselves open to attack, particularly in those unions that act as Labour Exchanges.
§ Mr. JESSON
Another point that has not been dealt with is that there are many trade unions which contribute to the Labour party to-day that do not impose a political levy at all, but take the money out of trade union funds. The Act allows them to do that. In these cases, what becomes of the claim for political exemption. There is no political levy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, yes there is."] As the money is paid from the 746 funds of the trade unions, you cannot claim exemption from a levy that is not imposed. In many trade unions, my own included, hundreds, if not thousands, are now claiming exemption from any part of their contributions being used for political purposes. That is the position. I submit that the Labour party ought to have nothing to fear from this Bill. Either they are afraid of what would happen if everybody had to volunteer, or they are not. I submit, and I think it is generally recognised by all those who know anything about trade unions, that levies are a most unpopular thing, and what is more, there would be very few members of trade unions who would subscribe to a political levy unless they felt absolutely compelled to do so. I believe that if it was left to voluntary contributions the levy would not be collected at all. What is really at the back of the minds of Labour Members is the fear that this Bill would destroy them as a political organisation. I am not concerned about political organisations, either Liberal, Tory, Conservative, or Socialist. They all leave me absolutely cold. What I am concerned about, and what I am out for all the time, is to see that the worker gets every penny he is entitled to for his labour, and to obtain this I want him to stick to his trade union, and to get rid of party polities altogether.
§ Mr. HODGE
The hon. Member may have meant something else, but that is what he said. I want to say emphatically that where the levy is taken out of the general fund any member who objects can be excluded to an amount equal to the levy taken. I do not think that the hon. Member who has just spoken knows a great deal about trade unionism. I know he has been connected with the Musicians' Union, but I think they are very much indebted to the Labour party for improveing their status. I do not think there is any section of the community which has troubled Parliament more politically than 747 the Musicians' Union for the purpose of getting certain privileges. I know they tried to use the Labour movement in order to prevent Army bands playing, to the detriment of private musicians, and I am surprised at the hon. Member's action after what the Labour party has done for the musicians. The principle which it is being sought to overturn is that the man who wants exemption must claim it.
I want to put to the House the case of the federation which I represent. We have 150,000 members or thereabouts. When we took our ballot vote under the existing Act we sent every member a ballot paper with a stamped addressed envelope requesting that it should be returned to the general office where the votes were all put into a sealed box, and afterwards, with a public auditor present, they were opened and counted. We had a vote of something like 63 per cent. of the whole of the members and the great majority of them declared in favour of a political levy. Is it reasonable to think that the majority of our members would act in the way suggested by this Bill rather than that the minority should claim exemption. If we believe in majority rule then it is the minority which should claim exemption, and not the majority who should claim to have the privilege of paying the levy. A more ridiculous position was never put forward. Every member received a ballot paper, and if he did not vote it was his own fault.
§ Sir BURTON CHADWICK
Was that a majority of the 63 per cent, of those who voted or of the total members?
§ Mr. HODGE
It was a majority of the total members. Every member received a ballot paper and if they did not vote it was their own fault. You never get 100 per cent. of voters at any election. As a matter of fact the great capitalist organisations would find great difficulty in carrying certain resolutions were it not for the fact that previously they issue a mandate with a 2d. stamp upon it asking their shareholders to send it on to the secretary. If any trade union did anything of that kind it would be considered subversive of the constitution. Think for a moment what brought trade unionism into existence in the first place. It was the daring aggression of capital, and in this Bill it is proposed to go back to the 748 old tyrannical days. Why has this Bill been brought forward? Because hon. Members see the Labour party making rapid progress. We have now got 75 Members in this House; you are afraid of the rising power of the Labour party, and, consequently, you want to put the hands of the clock back.
I can speak on this matter with experience of my own organisation, and I say that there is no member who has ever applied for exemption that has been refused, nor have the majority ever sought to penalise in any shape or form the men who have asked for exemption. It is not in harmony with fair play and sportsmanship of the British workmen to do anything of that kind. You may get a few black sheep in the trade unions, but you find them amongst every class of the community. We do not say the trade unionists are perfect. If they were perfect they would be dead, no matter what class they belong to. Hon. Members who are now proposing to put back the hands of the clock are forgetting the speeches which they made during the War when trade unionists came forward, and when we were told over and over again by hon. Members, "We do not understand you, but when we scratch you we find you are Britishers like ourselves." Now you do not give us credit for having any British instinct, and you want to take us back to the old bad days of labour when the people had not a chance of being properly represented in this House. I trust that after all the troubles we have gone through that this House is not going to give a Second Reading to a Bill of such a reactionary character as the one which is now before us.
§ Sir WILLIAM RAEBURN
I should not have troubled the House this afternoon with any remarks of mine—I think the House by this time knows that I do not often trouble it with a speech, and I never care to speak for mere speaking's sake—if it were not for the fact that we were rather twitted by the other side that only one employer of labour has spoken, and that he was against the Bill. I am sorry to say that I disagree pretty often, I am afraid, with my hon. Friend (Mr. Johnstone). In the speeches from the other side great emphasis has been laid upon the fact that this Bill is an attack upon labour and trade unionism. Speakers have said that all through 749 capitalism has been trying to destroy trade unionism. I deny that utterly, and I entirely deny that this Bill is any attack whatever upon trade unionism. I have been contending with trade unions for more than 40 years, but I have always been on the defensive, and the organisations with which I have been connected have been called into being only because of the aggressive tactics of trades union. Now, the great federation of shipping, of which I was for many years a local chairman, is agreeing with the heads of the union which called it into being, and we are working amicably together. They have dropped their aggressive attacks, because they find that we are out only for the same purpose as themselves. We are looking after our interests in a perfectly peaceful way, as they are looking after their interests. Again, I say that this Bill is no attack upon trade unionism.
We employers know perfectly well it is a good thing to have a trade union to meet and with which to make bargains. But we are asked: Do you mean to tell us that disinterested employers are out for a purely defensive purpose in trying to effect changes in our organisation? That same taunt was thrown at my hon. Friend and myself when a couple of years ago we introduced another Bill, a Bill providing for secret ballot, but in the interval there has grown up a demand for the very thing that we were trying to obtain. I disclaim all selfish motive in regard to this Bill. I would never pretend to say that my object and the whole object of this Bill is the benefit of trade unions. I know, if I said it, that I would only he jeered, but I do say this: We find that many members of trade unions who are our employés and the employés of associations and firms with which we are connected, have to go to their employers and ask for help against the tyrannies to which they are subjected by their trade unions. It is no use coming to this House and declaring that. there are no tyrannies in the trade union movement. We know absolutely the contrary, and, if I had time and it were relevant evidence, I could give no end of instances in which that tyranny has been exercised.
Apart altogether from organisations, I meet workmen, both my own employés and others, and I know their private views. Do you leaders of trade unions 750 imagine that all the men admire their tactics and policy? These men have joined the unions for the purpose which has been described, the legitimate purpose of having their interest as workers looked after. Do you imagine that all the workers believe in Socialism, or Communism, or the many new doctrines that are adopted by the trade unions? Why should there not be a very large sprinkling —I do not say a majority but a very large minority—of workers who take my view, which I hope is the moderate Conservative view, and why should any worker be compelled to subscribe to a political propaganda not only with which he has no sympathy but to which he is absolutely and utterly opposed?
Someone has compared the position of the trade unions with a club. I belong to three different social clubs, and, if I want to belong to a political fund, I announce my intention. I am not compelled to subscribe. I say that I am going to subscribe to this fund, but if, forsooth, even my Conservative organisation launched out into some, new departure, say, for instance, to destroy the Coalition, I would intimate that I would cease my subscriptions, and I would be no worse for it. But, look at the workmen. It is all very well to say that the Act of 1918 gives them the opportunity of contracting out, but why should you put upon the workmen the onus to contract out? What do you fear by allowing the man himself to say whether he will subscribe to this political fund or not? I do not know what you have to fear.
You say that we fear the growing power of the Labour party. I have no fear of them at all. I am perfectly sure that if they get into power they will never put into practice the doctrines preached from that side of the House. Therefore, I have no great fear. I must say that it is not a thing to which I look forward with any satisfaction, but at the same time I agree that it is their part, as it would be ours, to increase their numbers as much as possible, and it would be only a silly and narrow-minded man who would say that they had no right to do it. This Bill is not going to prevent them, not one iota. The whole and sole object of this Bill is to give that protection to members of trade unions that, we believe they have not at present. We have had to-day speeches 751 from two ex-members of the Labour party, and probably we are going to have another. It is no use telling us that there is no demand for such a Bill as this. It is perfectly immaterial to Inc whether the men have a right to contract out or a right to contract in, but there is nothing unnatural in men, who are suffering and who are feeling that the Act of 1913 is not fair, looking to our party—it is not a question of politics at all, but looking to the employers' side—for some help in getting free. I would like just to quote one ex-Member of this House, a Labour Member, as to the view of trade unionism upon the liberty of minorities. When the Bill of 1913 was before the House, this is what one of your prominent members, Mr. Brace, thought of the rights of minorities:As we are sent here by our organisations to represent and work for the whole of the men in the industry, I claim that the whole of the men must pay politically as well as industrially. It is because this Bill falls short of that, that, while I shall accept it on the Second Reading, I put in a caveat that when it gets into Committee I shall endeavour to get that minority right reduced very substantially or abolished altogether. There can be no rights of minorities in the solution of this question.I would quote from speeches of Members of the Wee Free party, but they seem to be absent on this occasion. It comes back to this, that this is a perfectly frank and honest endeavour to put right that which the Bill of 1913 failed in doing. The purpose of that Bill was really to give trade unions that which the Osborne decision had taken away from them. It did that and more. My former leader, the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), in his time, made some remarks which were very apposite to to-day's discussion. I only mention it because I would not like it to go forth that the party to which we now belong accepted the 1913 solution as absolutely satisfactory. My right hon. Friend, after presuming that if a combination of workmen was to be successful it should know the condition as well as the employers, continued:I voted for two Amendments, and think they ought to have been inserted in the Bill. The first was the position as regards trade unions in regard to the law. Under the Bill of 1906 the trade unionists were in some respects put above the law. That was done against the judgment of the very Government that passed the Bill. 752 I will not discuss that now—we have nothing to do with it now—but as you are making political action one of the functions of the trades unions the result is that, in theory, at any rate, when trades unions are taking part in political activity they are in a position entirely different from any other political body. I do not think that is right, I do not see how that can be justified … The other is in regard to the declaration itself … Until this Bill is passed the legal position and equitable position is this: that political activity is not one of the functions of a trade union; therefore it seems to me perfectly obviously clear that if a change is made the burden of making the declaration ought to rest upon those who desire the change, and not upon those who desire that things should remain as they are."—["OFFICIAL REPORT," 31st January, 1913; cols. 1682–3; Vol. 47.]By passing this Bill it is sought to recover the position of 1913. We know the difficulty which has arisen under that Act. It has been described to-day. Now it is proposed by this Bill that a workman shall signify if he desires to subscribe to any political fund. That is a position which every one of us claims to be in in respect to our businesses and associations. I do not know of any association where a man is compelled to give of his hard-earned wages in order to support political tenets which have really nothing to do with his trade, which have been imported by a new element in trade unionism, and which I am sure many hon. Members opposite heartily disapprove—
§ Mr. JAMES WALTON
As a trade unionist of 40 years' standing I wish to give my support to tins Bill, and as a contributor to the political fund of the trade union to which I belong, I also wish to support the Bill. I suppose my support to this Bill may be regarded as a further act of criminality on my part and as another evidence of my antagonism to the trade union movement. I should like to assure this House it is nothing of the kind. I entered a trade union at the age of 13 years, and have belonged to these organisations until the present time. I know therefore somewhat of what it is to bear the heat and burden of the day in regard to the establishment of trade unions, and I know how to appreciate and value their work at the present time. Unfortunately I have had to fight a trade union, and I 753 tell this House quite candidly and honestly that I did not fight it out of any spirit of vindictiveness. I fought it because I felt I was fighting for my own political freedom. An hon. Member opposite, in the course of his remarks rather inferred that such action was prompted by support from outside. I assure this House I was paid by no party, and I was subsidised by no one when I fought for ray political freedom. All I can do this afternoon is to return thanks to the Members of this House who generously subscribed to make it possible for me to justify my position in the trade union world. If it had not been for that I should have been turned out of my trade union wish a stigma extending from one end of the country to the other, and I should not have been able to justify myself. But through their generosity, for which I am intensely indebted to them, I have been able, through the law of the country, to justify my position and to point out to the world in general the justification for the action which I took.
In the short time at my disposal I have to the best of my ability examined this Bill, and I find that it does not attempt to stop political activity so far as trade unions are concerned. If I thought that it was intended to put a stop to political activity on the part of trade unions, I should not support the Bill, but should be dead against it. I find, further, that it stipulates that participation in trade union political activity shall only be indulged in by the majority vote of the members of the trade union concerned. [An HON. MEMBER: "Read it again."] As I read it, that is the construction I put upon it. I also find that the Bill seeks to place the control of political funds on a businesslike basis, and I cannot see how anyone can take exception to that. It provides safeguards in connection with the administration of the funds which will prevent any misapplication or the giving of any undue advantage to any particular political party. Further, the Bill seeks to give what the trade unionist does not to-day enjoy, and that is his political freedom. I do not mind how my hon. Friends opposite may talk or think to the contrary, but I am one of those who have known by bitter experience during these last four years that trade unionists do not enjoy political freedom in their trade unions. My memory goes back to the action at law, the real defence in which 754 was that, on account of my having put my signature to a document asking the workers of this country, at a very critical moment in the country's history, to refrain from striking and to take into consideration all the advantages offered—that because I signed that document and put myself down as a member of the Yorkshire Miners' Association—I had committed the Yorkshire Miners' Association to that particular policy. The judgment ultimately proved that such was not the case; that, on the contrary, I was perfectly within my rights in doing what I did, and that I had not acted detrimentally to the best interests of the miners concerned.
That may be so, so far as the surface is concerned. But when one knows by actual experience all that was moving underneath, how it moved and operated, and how it was sought to damn and destroy a man, I have no hesitation in saying to the House of Commons this afternoon that the rock bottom cause of it all was that I had demanded and claimed my political freedom. I am not going to say that there are not trade unions who try to do the right thing. I believe there are, and all honour to them for it. I believe that they are intensely anxious to do the right thing. But while the right thing is done in one direction, it is not done in all directions and when you get an organisation—I will quote a figure which may he wide of the mark, but which may stand for what it is worth—when you get an organisation of 10,000 members, from whom at the end of the year it claims 10,000 shillings for its political levy, irrespectively of whether they agree with its policy or not, I think the time has arrived when we ought to draw a line. It is known for a definite fact that in the trade union world to-day men are compelled to support financially people in whom they do not believe, either front the point of view of their own conduct or of the policy that they follow. It is repeatedly said to me, "What can we do? If we attempt to do anything other than what is prescribed by our trade union, we get in the soup, and, therefore, it is policy that we should travel on the line of least resistance, and pay up and look pleasant." I hope I shall be excused if I say that, if the poor devils are going 755 to be subject to the same thing that I have been subject to within the last four years, I do not blame them for travelling on the line of least resistance.
When I am told, as my hon. Friends opposite tell me, that it is easy to contract out of the political fund of a trade union, I say it is nothing of the kind. It is one of the most difficult things imaginable to contract out, and I claim that this Bill is the only thing that will give political freedom and liberty to the trade unionists of this country. My mind goes back to the beginning of the War, when in our anxiety, misplaced or otherwise, we were desirous of seeing our good old country through its difficulties at any cost—not that we believed in warfare and all that it meant, but we knew we were in a difficulty, and that all our efforts would have to be concentrated on extracting ourselves from that difficulty and becoming victorious—an organisation, which I could name, gathered strength and became very strong, until the time arrived when at least 150 members were inclined to contract out of the trades union political fund. I, personally, was one of those people who made application for the necessary form for contracting out. The first application resulted in six forms being supplied, after considerable delay. Another application was made, which resulted, again after considerable delay, in our -obtaining another six forms, and that went on until the men who were inclined to say, "Through the law of 1913 we are not going to pay into this political business," were disgusted, and finally dropped the matter. I tell the House frankly that if it wishes to confer upon the trade unionists of this country that degree of freedom to which they are justly entitled, it should support this Bill. I ask the House, if our friends of the Labour party—and I have a good many dear friends on the Labour benches—if their contention be right that they do really represent the workers of their various trade unions to the strict letter, what have they to be afraid of? If I believed that my contribution to the political fund of my trade union organisation was right and proper, and that I could back the policy which it was carrying out, then I would go through fire and water to put my name to that form every twelve months. 756 I do not consider that any hardship is enforced on trade unions by the forms to sign every twelvemonth. The law of 1913 inflicts very great hardships on the individual. I may make up my mind to contract-out, and the result would be that I should be regarded as a scab on the trade union movement. I may be as honest and as honourable in my intentions towards trade unionism and all it stands for as any other man connected with my branch, but because I fail to believe in the political policy of my branch and desire to contract-out, it means nothing more or less than being ostracised. Regardless of what may be said to the contrary, that is a terrible drawback for trade unionists. I want to see Labour come into its own as much as any man in this House of Commons, but I want to see it come into its own on proper lines, and I hope the House will see its way clear to give the Bill a Second Reading, because I believe it will mean the emancipation of the trade union workers.
§ Mr. W. R. SMITH
I am sure the House has listened with a great deal of interest to the last two speeches. If we on these Benches really felt that the law as it stands prevented any man of a trade union exercising his legal rights and this Bill was before the House for the purpose of removing that difficulty we should not be giving it our opposition. We cannot help thinking the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. Walton) is suffering under what may amount to a personal grievance and not any difficulty so far as the law of the country is concerned. He demonstrated in his speech that the law was available for him and it has been no obstacle in his path. The hon. Member for Dumbarton (Sir W. Raeburn) quoted an instance of a member of a trade organisation him approaching and seeking protection from what is termed the tyranny of his fellow workers. That point had been raised previously and replied to by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), who pointed out that even if you pass this Bill you will not prevent incidents such as the hon. Gentleman complained of. One might imagine that this kind of thing only exists so far as workmen's organisations are concerned, and that it is only in the ranks of workmen that compulsion 757 is exercised towards their fellows, and people are compelled to do things against their better judgment. Some of us as trade union officials have had the unique experience of being engaged in conversation with employers of labour, who have told us that they have been compelled to join an employers' organisation, because if they had not done so the combination against them was so strong that they would have been prevented from getting the raw materials for their business. From the funds of those organisations of employers that have compelled other employers to join them, contributions are made for political purposes. You do not suggest bringing in any legislation to deal with the employers' organisation. You are seeking to place restrictions on the workmen's organisation, and for what reason?
It is very undesirable to impute motives in this House, in fact, I think it would be out of order. I do not want to suggest that there is any ulterior motive of a vicious character behind the minds of those who are introducing this Bill; but I do suggest that the purpose they have in view is to make the work of the Labour party more difficult. One is entitled to ask what would have been the case if our movement as a political organisation had been a failure, and if the by-elections that have taken place from time to time had produced a different result. Would the hon. Members supporting this Bill have been so keen in introducing it? Would the fact that some members of trade unions have some slight difficulty in regard to their contribution to the political fund have awakened in the minds of these hon. Members all the interest they are now displaying? It is not so much that they are concerned for individuals who may be tyrannised over by their fellow members, but that they can see in this Bill an opportunity of putting barriers in the path of the trade union movement to carry on work which this House laid down in an Act of Parliament.
The House ought to hesitate before it cancels an Act of Parliament which has been on the Statute Book since 1913, especially when the motive behind those who seek this change is not so much to remove a disability that exists in regard to individuals, as it is to achieve a political objective. That is a very undesirable position in which to place this 758 House. The law as it stands gives ample protection to any individual who may be a member of our organisations. The Act is very definite in its terms. No trade union can apply any of its funds for political purposes unless, first of all, it has taken a ballot of its members and, after that, has framed rules which have been submitted to and passed by the Registrar-General. Every trade union in taking a ballot of its members in order to ascertain whether they are in favour of political action is obligated to send to every one of its members a notice that the ballot is taking place.
There is no possibility of a member having any of his contributions used, without his knowledge, for a purpose with which he disagrees. He must be warned that a ballot for this purpose has taken place. Then rules have to be framed and submitted to the Registrar, and in those rules there is ample provision for dealing with any member of an organisation who may differ from what I think it right to describe as the majority of his fellows. Therefore, having given all our members the opportunity of voting, and having the obligation once we have made our political rules of seeing that every member has a copy of those rules, he must know under what rule he is paying his contribution. If a new member joins, he must have a copy of the rules, so that there may be no possible ignorance so far as members' obligations are concerned. One of the strongest arguments in support of this Bill has been the statement that there has been irregularity. I do not know that at the moment we are concerned to deny that as a statement of fact. It would be indeed strange, among all the millions of members who are associated with the trade union movement of this country and all the hundreds of unions which exist, if in carrying out an Act of Parliament of this description, and the regulations attached to it, there had not been irregularity here and there. One is entitled to ask if we can prove that other Acts of Parliament have also been evaded in some such similar way is this House prepared to cancel legislation that has been passed on various subjects merely because of some irregularity?
So long as the law gives full outlet to the man who claims his rights I suggest that there is no need for the passing of this Bill. The hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) was 759 very caustic in his observations on this matter. He mentioned one or two instances to justify his criticism that trade unions had not acted fairly in this matter. I desire to associate myself with my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) in the statement that we do not associate ourselves with that kind of thing. In the organisation of which I am a member every one of our branch secretaries is compelled to have by him in his office forms for exemption purposes, and it is his duty to hand one of them to any member of our union who goes to him asking exemption. Speaking from memory, by a strange coincidence the largest number of exemptions, in proportion to membership of the branch, that has been granted in my organisation is in the division represented by the hon. Baronet himself.
§ Mr. SMITH
I am afraid that the hon. Baronet cannot take them as an example. There were the extremists. Therefore I would not like him to be under any false impression in that direction. The fact remains that they got exemption. They got it readily and freely when they applied for it and complied with the regulations which are governed by the Statute. I could not help thinking that the hon. Baronet proved too much in his speech. He set out to prove the difficulty there was for members of a trade union to secure exemption from the political levy. He went on to say that his organisation had issued 250,000 forms to members of trade unions. Of those 250,000 there have been only a few in which difficulty has arisen. Surely the hon. Baronet is proving the fact that members do use these forms and that they have no difficulty in using them. If 250,000 forms are issued by his organisation, on top of those issued by the trade union, surely in that fact is evidence that there is no need for this Bill to protect the liberties of any member of a trade union. The hon. Baronet mentioned the difference between the registered and unregistered union. Surely the Act does not support his contention. I have the Act here and Section 3 states:The funds of a trade union shall not be applied, either directly or in conjunction with any other trade union, association, or 760 body, or otherwise indirectly, in the furtherance of the political objects to which this Section applies (without prejudice to the furtherance of any other political object), unless the furtherance of those objects has been approved as an object of the union by a resolution for the time being in force, passed on a ballot of the members of the union, taken in accordance with this Act for the purpose, by a majority of the members voting; and where such a resolution is in force, unless rules, to be approved, whether the union is registered or not, by the Registrar of Friendly Societies, are in force.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
What I pointed out was that the lodges in the districts are not registered, and the federation is not registered. Therefore at the two ends you get no registration at all.
§ Mr. SMITH
These lodges must issue their returns and their balance sheets. The Registrar demands them, and there are penalties if the balance sheets are not returned within a specified time. I do not think the point is material. The fact is that the union, whether registered or unregistered, if it seeks to adopt political action as one of its objects, can do so only after it has framed rules which have been passed by the Registrar. After all, trade unions adopting political action are entitled to do so to further the objects for which the unions are brought into being. It ill becomes some Members of this House to challenge the rights of the trade unions upon the matter.
§ Mr. SMITH
For years the working-classes, through their trade unions, tried to get the necessary protection of their interests. There are workmen's compensation and other matters of very definite importance in their everyday life. It was sought to get them attended to properly by the House. How did the House of Commons treat them? The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) described graphically in a previous Debate how he was a victim, because the House had failed to give proper protection to working-men. This House passed a Bill for workmen's compensation. The Bill provided that if a man fell from a building 30 feet his widow was entitled to compensation, but if he fell only 29 feet 11¾ inches his widow was not entitled to a penny. That is how the House treated the working-man in days gone by. One 761 of the objects of a trade union is to protect its members in regard to these matters. Because the trade unions failed to get the justice that was due to them, they formed themselves into a definite political party, and this House has laid down and sanctioned the conditions under which they must act in order to secure justice. At this time of day, when the whole procedure of trades unionism in this country has been justified by experience it ill-becomes this House merely because of the success following our efforts to seek to put a spoke in the wheel and to deny to the workers a continuance of privileges which they now enjoy. The hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. Malone) said he was not sure that it would not be better if this Bill were to pass. Having listened to the Debate throughout, the same idea has occurred to my mind. I believe in some respects it would do us more good than harm if the House passed this Bill. It will do our movement more good if it is sought to impose restrictions on it. Our movement grew and flourished after the Taff Vale decision, and when attempts were made to place other restrictions upon it in the past. If we do not adopt to-day the courses which were adopted formerly, it is because we do not want to conduct an agitation which will inflame the minds of working men at a time when calm judgment and reason are necessary in regard to these matters. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rot!"] I make that statement without the slightest hesitation, and hon. Gentlemen may say "rot," but it will be for them to prove the contrary and show that those who sit on these benches and plead this cause adopt any other attitude. My particular organisation whose rules and procedure are governed by the principle of arbitration anti have been so for the last 27 years, never advocated strikes or lockouts. We have been seeking to use common sense across the table as a means of dealing with our difficulties, and when I say that we prefer the calmer and more reasoned method, I am justified by the experience of the past. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite if they can quote anything which would justify an argument to the contrary. There is another point in connection with this Bill to which I would like to refer. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Second Reading is seeking to lay down 762 a new principle as far as legislation is concerned. He is seeking to establish the principle that before any organisation or body has a right to do anything, they must first produce evidence that 50 per cent. of the Members have voted upon the matter. I ask him how he can justify that by experience, by logic, by reason or by justice. Let us take the best comparison we can get—the highest authority in the land as far as bodies exercising rights over people are concerned. Let us take this House as our guide. Is the hon. and gallant Member prepared to say that Members returned to this House who have failed to get 50 per cent. of the electors to come to the poll, have no right to sit in this assembly?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
As the hon. Gentleman asks me to justify my contention, may I give him a case in point. He must be perfectly aware that, in the case of amalgamation of trade unions, there must be a 50 per cent. vote and a 20 per cent. majority.
§ Mr. SMITH
I do not think that is a proper analogy. I do not think I am taking any advantage in this respect. I am taking the very highest authority, the House of Commons. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion for the Second Beading has already been informed by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) that he got a minority vote. The people who voted at the last election in Hampstead were 49.44 per cent. of the total electorate—in his own division, when he failed, with all the eloquence at his command, to which we have listened in this House with interest, and with all the financial resources that undoubtedly were behind his candidature and those who contested the division with him, to persuade 50 per cent. of the electors to go to the poll. Let me take the position of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who presented this Bill. It is true that in the Handsworth Division of Birmingham he got. 56.2 per cent., but if I take Birmingham as a whole aced nobody in this House would attempt not to give all credit due to Birmingham as a great centre of importance and of political enlightenment—I find that all the divisions of Birmingham were contested with the exception of one, that seat which is occupied by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, but when we add the numbers of votes together, we 763 find that in the contested elections in Birmingham at the last General Election the total votes cast were 47.6 per cent. of the total electorate. Does the hon. and gallant Member think it fair, just, and reasonable to impose a condition upon trade unions that we must have a certain percentage of men voting before—
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
Did the hon. Member take into consideration the votes that would have been cast if—
§ Mr. SMITH
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman mean if they had the chance to vote? That illustrates the point I am making. You take an election when thousands of electors had no chance of voting, and now, on a snatched victory on a minority poll, you seek to reverse the decision of a previous House of Parliament. If that principle were applied to t his House, see what would happen. There are 707 Members, of whom 73 are Sinn Feiners, who do not come here. That leaves 634. I have not reckoned up the number of uncontested elections, but out of the 634 Members sitting in this House, apart from Sinn Feiners, no fewer that 130 of them are here on a poll which represents less than 50 per cent of their electorate—hon. Members who have not really a claim to represent the majority of the electors. I submit that for people who have been elected to the House of Commons under such conditions and circumstances to ask this House to reverse legislation of so important a character is, in my judgment, presuming in a way that they are not entitled to do. I am one of those who say without any hesitation that if the trade unions have failed in their duty, if they are not carrying out the law of the land, they ought to be compelled to carry out the law. The rights of individuals ought to be protected. The mere fact that one or two cases here and there—let them be important and let them be of great significance, as possibly they are to hon. Members opposite—is no sufficient reason for passing this Bill this afternoon, and I ask this House to hesitate, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. 764 Thomas) did, before they take such a step as is proposed here and give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Mr. G. BARNES
I have, unfortunately, been away from the House, fulfilling a long-standing engagement, and I have not, therefore, heard many speeches in the Debate. I heard, however, the Mover and the Seconder, and I want to say at once that I am going to vote against them, although I quite admit there is a good deal to excuse, if not to justify, this Bill. But I am going to vote against it for several reasons which I shall give very briefly, because I take it the Government will want to say something, and it devolves upon me to put my points in tabloid form. First of all, I am going to vote against the Bill, because it interposes a barrier against the widest possible representation of all classes and interests in this House. It is our boast—and we have a right to boast about it—that we have a House of Commons here representing all classes and interests in the community. It might be said, "Why have special provision for the workers of the country?" I think the answer is obvious. To those outside the ranks of the workers there are means at their disposal whereby they can send men here to represent them without any special provision being made. That is not so, so far as the working classes are concerned, because they are employed at wages which only cover the bare necessaries of life. Therefore, they need some special provision whereby they may send their own direct representative here.
A further reason is that I want to welcome the widest possible expression of the most extreme opinions to be found in the community, because it seems to me that by doing so you get the opportunity of replying to those extreme opinions in the most effective forum that can be found in the whole community. There is another reason, and that is, I object to any artificial interference with the right of the workers, just as I should object to interference with the rights of any other classes of the community, to paddle their own canoe in their own way. Labour makes no inquiry as to the means by which other men may be sent to the House of Commons. Therefore, no other class has a right to make any inquiry as to how Labour shall send 765 its representatives to the House of Commons, unless, of course, they travel outside the law, and then, of course, it is open to anybody to bring them within the law. But, before we can understand this question, we must go back to its historical basis, and when you go back to the historical basis, you find there is very much to justify the provisions that have been made, and which are embodied in the Act of 1913. For generations, the law of this country was not only against the workers' interests but against the worker organising in such a way as to protect those interests. As the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said, there were many things against workmen, such as the wrong interpretation of the law in regard to employer's liability, the absence of any legal obligation on the part of the employer to compensate for accidents, and many things of that kind. All those things, of course, it might be said are gone, and I agree that most of them are gone, but the psychology which they produced is not gone. It is there now and I suppose it will remain there for a long time. Therefore, speaking to the hon. Members of the Labour party opposite, I should say that there is everything—to my mind—to justify the law as it now stands. It has, as it stands, conferred a legal privilege on the workman. I want to say quite frankly that this involves on their part a moral obligation to see that the law, as intended, is duly, strictly and faithfully carried out. As a matter of fact, they enjoy the benefit of what may be called the law of inertia I have heard of the difficulty of the men seeking exemption. Cases were given. I have no doubt there area such cases. Still, if a man has pluck enough he can, by application to the Registrar, get an assertion of his rights. I attach very little importance to that. I do attach much more importance to the law of inertia, by which, it seems to me, the Labour party and the trade unions are now benefited. The average man does not do anything but what he is forced to do, or except from the pressure of self-interest. So the law of inertia operates in favour of the Labour party and against the other parties and sections of the community.
I should, therefore, like my hon. Friends opposite to realise, and, as a consequence of realising it, to do all they 766 can within their powers to get the trade unions to so act in their political activities as to behave in a constitutional way and in accordance with the interest and susceptibilities of their fellow countrymen. Trade unions have now, on behalf of Labour and as the result of generations of agitation and a promotion of public opinion, attained a position of what I may call responsibility. They are no longer wage-slaves—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—or outcasts! The wage-earner of this country is not a wage-slave! [MEMBERS: "Yes!"]
§ Mr. BARNES
He has organisations to back up his interests strongly and effectively. He has obtained the full rights of citizenship. What I should like to see would be the workers rising to the realisation of the responsibility attaching to that citizenship, and keep all the powers under his control within the law and on constitutional lines. Has that been done?
Take my own position at the last General Election. I fought John Maclean. He was put forward as a Labour candidate. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Oh, yes he was. He was a Labour candidate and was put forward by a revolutionary body, by a body that openly expressed its contempt: for the House of Commons and everything appertaining to constitutional usages. John Maclean, was, when he was put forward against me, actually in prison under a sentence of five years for some action—I forget for the moment what it was. [An HON. MEMBER "Free speech!"] It makes no matter. He expressed contempt for the. House of Commons, or for the matter of that the House of Lords, and for any other national institution. He was enabled to fight me as a free man because I got him free.
§ Mr. BARNES
That does not add to the argument. Having induced the House of Commons and the country in 1913 to give them in the fullest measure the opportunity to send men of their own class to the House of Commons, hon. Members opposite, I suggest, should have regard to the House of Commons and the constitutional forms of the country, and act as citizens, instead of supporting revolution. John Maclean was a prisoner and 767 a rebel, not only against his country, but against those who sit in this House, and yet he was put forward as a Labour can which I, as a trade unionist, had subscribed.
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us from what funds John Maclean's election expenses were paid, and how much was contributed by the Engineers' Society, of which the right hon. Gentleman is a member?
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that his union contributed nothing towards John Maclean's election expenses.
§ Mr. BARNES
It is quite sufficient for my purposes that John Maclean was put forward as a Labour representative, and in that respect was entitled to a certain proportion of his expenses. Generally and fundamentally, I am against this Bill, because it interferes with the rights and powers of those, who without those rights and powers, would be a most helpless class and the House of Commons is the best place where they can be represented. Having regard to the facts of the situation and the good will of the community that was extended towards Labour in 1913, I think it devolves upon Labour Members and the Labour party generally to have some regard to their moral obligations and to see that all their agitation and all their candidates are in the future supported only if they agree to come to the House of Commons, not as rebels against the country and against constitutional usage, but as men who come to this House as citizens taking their part with other citizens in developing still further the freedom of a great country.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I am surprised that this Bill ever found a place on the Order Paper of this House. As a matter of fact, I was more than once tempted to ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether this travesty, this reversal of Parliamentary procedure was in order in being discussed in this House. What does this Measure ask us to do? It asks us to reverse a law now in existence which declares that there is every freedom for a man to claim exemption and to put in 768 its place another proposal which empowers a man to contract in. Surely no Act of Parliament is required to compel a man to do what he wishes to do voluntarily. If he wants to pay into a Parliamentary Fund, no Bill in the whole country will prevent him. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion (Mr. G. Balfour) pointed out that he wanted freedom for a man to sign a document every year saying that he was willing to contract in to do something to which he has already agreed. This Bill reverses absolutely the principle of all the legislation of this House. The hon. and gallant Member (Lieut.-Colonel Meysey-Thompson), who moved the Second reading of the Bill, and the hon. Member who seconded it, have more than once or twice in this House supported Bills which were forced down the throats of the Labour party against their will—the Unemployment Insurance Act and the National Health Insurance Act. We were not even allowed to contract out of those Acts, which by the majority of this House forced upon us a policy against our will. The Bill therefore introduces an entirely new principle and reverses the whole procedure of this House—rule by the majority. The real secret of the introduction of this Bill is not concealed in the fatherly interest in the trade unions at all. I am personally convinced that it is the growing power of the Labour party in the country that has prompted this Bill and that it is political animosity that has created it. If any further evidence of that were required, it is supplied by the absence here to-day of one of the political parties, who have not the courage to face the music.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I would sooner have the vigorous honest Tory opposition than the camouflage of Blackpool on a question such as this. I am not only opposed to the principle embodied in the Bill, but to the object behind it. I see that the train for Blackpool has come in. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) has come back. I am not 769 concerned so much about the return of the Wee Free party or the treatment of the hon. Gentleman on the side of the returned prodigal for whom the fatted calf is to be killed. I want to take the House back a period of many years—to the time mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), when hon. Gentlemen obeyed the injunction to go to the ballot boxes we got in return the Osborne judgment. Then later on we were told we could get more by sensible legislation than by extreme measures. We took that advice, and this is the return we are getting to-day. The 1913 Act was passed because the trade unionists of the country bombarded this House with sacks of letters. The Bill had the support, not only of the "Wee Frees," but of members of every party in the House. In my early days, I was a political partisan, and I pinned my faith to the great Radical party.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON,
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I repeat that I pinned my faith to the great Radical Free Trade party. They promised us legislation. What did we get? We produced evidence that wholesale slaughter had been going on for years because of the absence of protection at the Docks of this country, and the House passed a Bill, after many years of agitation on our part, which is practically impotent to-day.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON,
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Mr. CLYNES
May I ask whether we are to be called upon to go to a Division on this question without a single word from anyone speaking on behalf of the Government?
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 171; Noes, 83.771
|Division No. 111.]||AYES.||[4.0 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'i,W.D'by)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut,-Colonel Martin||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon, Stanley||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Davidson, J. C. C.(Hemel Hempstead)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hinds, John|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Dawson, Sir Philip||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bellairs, Commander Canyon W.||Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Der[...]tend)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Benn, Capt. Sir 1. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Ednam, Viscount||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Elliott, Lt.-Col- Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Jesson, C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Fell, Sir Arthus||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Foreman, Sir Henry||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Goff, Sir R. Park||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Gould, James C.||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Grant, James Augustus||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Greene Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Mitchell, Sir William Lane|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Gretton, Colonel John||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Morrison, Hugh|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Nail, Major Joseph||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Seddon, J. A.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Parker, James||Shortt, Rt.-Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||Winterton, Earl|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wise, Frederick|
|Perring, William George||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Wood, Major Sir S.Hill-(High Peak)|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Stanton, Charles Butt||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Sugden, W. H.||Younger, Sir George|
|Poison, Sir Thomas A.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Tryon, Major George Clement||Mr. George Balfour and Lieut.-|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, Vernon||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Banton, George||Hayward, Evan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Sexton, James|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hogge, James Myles||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon, Charles W.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Cape, Thomas||Irving, Dan||Spencer, George A.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Clyncs, Rt. Hon. John R.||Johnstone, Joseph||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Swan, J. E.|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Taylor, J.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lawson, John James||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Wallace, J.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Lyle-Samuel. Alexander||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Finney, Samuel||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Forrest, Walter||M alone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mills, John Edmund||Wignall, James|
|Gillis, William||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Myers, Thomas||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Neal, Arthur||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Halls, Walter||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy.|
|Hancock, John George||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."772
§ The House divided: Ayes, 161 Noes, 82.773
|Division No. 112.]||AYES.||[4.8 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring|
|Atkey, A. R.||Surgoyne, Lt-Col. Alan Hughes||Ednam, Viscount|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Butcher, Sir John George||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue|
|Bartley-Dennlss, Sir Edmund Robert||Coats, Sir Stuart||Foreman, Sir Henry|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Forrest, Walter|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Foxcrolt, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart.(Gr'nw'h)||Colfox, Major Win. Phillips||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Gould, James C.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davidson, J. C. C.(Hemel Hempstead)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hall, Hr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'i,W.D'by)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Morrison, Hugh||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Nail, Major Joseph||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Sugden, W. H.|
|Herbert Dennis (Hertford, Wattord)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Hilder, Lieut-Colonel Frank||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Taylor, J.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Nield, Sir Herbert||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Walton, J. (York, W.R., Don Valley)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Parker, James||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Pennefather, De Fonbtanque||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Jesson, C.||Perring, William George||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Poison, Sir Thomas A.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Winterton, Earl|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Rawilnson, John Frederick Peel||Wise, Frederick|
|Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Marriott, John Arthur Ransoms||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Younger, Sir George|
|Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B,||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Seddon, J. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Lieut.-Colonel Meysey-Thompson|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||and Mr. George Balfour.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hancock, John George||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hartshorn, Vernon||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Banton, George||Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayward, Evan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Hirst, G. H.||Scott. A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Sexton, James|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Lelth)||Hogge, James Myles||Shaw, Hon. Alex, (Kilmarnock)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Irving, Dan||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Spencer, George A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Johnstone, Joseph||Spoor, B. G.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Davies, A (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Swan, J. E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lawson, John James||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Wallace, J.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Finney, Samuel||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wedgwood, Colonel Joslah C.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Gillis, William||Mills, John Edmund||Wignall, James|
|Glanville, Harold James||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Coins)||Myers, Thomas||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Halls, Walter||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Kennedy and Mr. T. Griffiths.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Com-774
§ mittee of the Whole House."—[Mr. Clynes.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, 81; Noes, 165.775
|Division No. 113]||AYES.||[4 17 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)|
|Amman, Charles George||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Finney, Samuel|
|Banton, George||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Gillis, William|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Glanville, Harold James|
|Barrand, A. R.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Lelth)||Devlin, Joseph||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)|
|Halls, Walter||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Hancock, John George||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Swan, J. E.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Mills, John Edmund||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hay ward, Evan||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Myers, Thomas||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hodge, Ht. Hon, John||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Wallace, J.|
|Hogge, James Myles||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Irving, Dan||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wedgwood, Colonel Joslah C.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Richardson, R. (Houghton-ie-Spring)||Wignail, James|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Royce, William Stapleton||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Sexton, James||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Lawson, John James||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Lunn, William||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Spencer, George A.||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Kennedy.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Nicholson, William G Petersfield)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Foreman, Sir Henry||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Forrest, Walter||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Atkey, A. R.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Parker, James|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Ganzonl, Sir John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Perring, William George|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel sir John||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Goff, Sir R. Park||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Gould, James C.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart.(Gr'nw'h)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'i, W.D'by)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hinds, John||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Burden, Colonel Rowland||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Hopkins, John W. W.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hurd, Percy A.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Cautlgy, Henry Strother||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Jesson, C.||Taylor, J.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelty)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Walton, J. (York. W. R., Don Valley)|
|Collox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lindsay, William Arthur||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lort-Williams, J.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransoms||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Winterton, Earl|
|Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Morrison, Hugh||Wise, Frederick|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wood, Major Sir S. HIII-(High Peak)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Ednam, Viscount||Nail, Major Joseph||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Younger, Sir George|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Montetth||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Lieut.-Colonel Meysey-Thompson|
|and Mr. G. Balfour.|
§ Bill committed to a. Standing Committee.