HC Deb 05 May 1924 vol 173 cc147-93

Order for Second Reading read.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This is the third time that this subject has been discussed, but it would not be respectful to refrain from describing the Bill again. It will be remembered that at the beginning of the War this House gave the Executive Government very large powers under what is known as the Defence of the Realm Act. Certainly at the time every one imagined that those powers were about as extensive as any that a draftsman could put into an Act. Upon those powers the Executive Government proceeded to act, first under the Premiership of the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and then under that of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). The powers were exercised by way of prohibiting this and restricting that, and generally, in what was considered to be the interest of the community, acted in a way beyond the ordinary powers of an Executive Government. I do not think that very much objection was made to the exercise of those powers at the time. At the end of the War an Indemnity Bill was brought in and passed in the widest possible terms that the draftsmen knew how to employ, purporting to hold the Executive Government and all its officers harmless for any acts that they had committed in pursuance of their duty under the Defence of the Realm Act.

Notwithstanding those two Acts, it was discovered by ingenious lawyers that certain of the actions of the Executive Government were illegal and had not been covered by the wide words of the Defence of the Realm Act or by the still wider words of the Indemnity Act, 1920. Curiously enough, it was not the sweeping provisions of the Act which were objected to, or the sweeping prohibitions and restrictions which the Executive Government carried out, but in the course of the operation of those Acts it was found that sometimes universal prohibition or universal restriction was not necessary, and for the public convenience, as well as to the advantage of particular individuals, exceptions were made and permits were granted to individuals for the public advantage and at the request of the individuals concerned. It was assumed that power had been included for fees to be charged to the persons obtaining the advantage and fees were charged for the benefit of the community and to prevent those concerned making too much profit out of the privileges granted to them. Those payments were well known in this House and were not objected to; they were, in fact, specifically endorsed by a Committee of this House. Nevertheless, when they were questioned in the Law Courts, the final Court, the House of Lords, held that the payments, though they had been voluntary and had been for the purpose of obtaining privileges, were not warranted by the words of the Statute. Of course, against that there was no appeal. The amount of the payment was about £18,000,000. Those payments or nearly all of them have been received by the Exchequer. Now, according to the judgment of the highest Court, there is no legal warrant for the Crown to retain that sum.

I do not want to mislead the House. I am not at all sure whether the people who paid that £18,000,000 could get it back, although it was not legally leviable. The Indemnity Act, 1920, fixed a date beyond which no claims could be made, and that date has expired. But as the Courts have held that these claims did not come within the scope of the Indemnity Act, so far as the money was concerned, it might at least be argued that they do not come within the Indemnity Act so far as the date for claims is concerned. When the first of these cases was being tried and was on its way to the highest tribunal, the right horn. Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin), then President of the Board of Trade, definitely stated in this House the position of the Government of that date, namely, that if the judgment of the House of Lords went against the Crown the Government would bring in a Bill to legalise their procedure in cases of this nature during the period of control. That notice was given on 9th March, 1922. The final judgment was given on 29th June, 1922. The War Charges Validity Bill was introduced on 1st August, 1922. Unfortunately, it was not possible to carry that Bill through in the Session of 1922, and it was introduced again in the Session of 1923.

Two successive Governments have fathered the Bill, and therefore I am surprised to see objection taken to it, on its third introduction, on the ground or from the point of view that it is brought in by a Socialist Government. I do not acknowledge the paternity of the Bill. We are in this matter carrying out the decision of the Leader of the Opposition, and if congested business, or ill-fortune of one sort or another, prevented the Bill being carried into law in 1922 and 1923, it is the duty of whatever Government is in power to put the Bill again before the House in order that the position of the Crown may be made regular in regard to this matter. I do not know that I need argue the question at any length, but I would point out that, although as large a sum as £18,000,000 was obtained by the Crown from the charges which have been declared invalid and although a considerable period has been allowed to elapse before the first Bill was introduced, yet as a matter of fact, only a very few of those who paid these charges have entered suits against the Crown. Some question arises about what are known as the milk charges, and it was with regard to them, in particular, that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, when Prime Minister, made that declaration that his Government would bring in a Bill to regularise the procedure in cases of this nature. Now when the present Government has the question before it, the issue has been raised as to whether or not the milk charges are to be included in the Bill.

We foresaw that there would be considerable discussion on this point, but we decided that it was only just that we should carry out the pledge which had been given by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to these specific charges among others, and we did not see that there was any valid distinction between these charges and the others. Consequently we included these milk charges in the first Bill and in the Money Resolution, but it will be remembered that in Committee on the Money Resolution an Amendment was moved by the late Attorney-General—the Attorney-General of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley, who had on behalf of that Government taken the decision to which I have referred The right hon. Gentleman's Attorney-General moved an Amendment to exclude milk charges from the Money Resolution, and that Amendment was carried by a small majority in the Committee. Therefore the Bill omits milk charges, but it includes all the other charges which have been made the subject of doubt, and for greater clearness and at the request of some of the people concerned, a Schedule is given describing these other charges so far as they can be ascertained; but in view of the fact that so many Departments were concerned during the years of War and of control, and that those Departments have to a large extent disappeared and their archives are no longer available, it is impossible to say that these are all the charges.

9.0 P.M.

We are informed, and there is reason to believe, that the Schedule includes all those which were invalidated by the decision, with the exception of what are known as the milk charges, which are omitted from the Schedule in accordance with the vote of the Committee on the Money Resolution. I notice that exception has been taken to the Bill in terms which are somewhat surprising. It has been denounced as Socialist legislation, as I say, notwithstanding its past history, and I also notice that in connection with it references have been made to the Bill of Rights and to money being raised by the Crown without the authority of Parliament. I should like to point out that this is not an examination paper, in which people are invited to display their knowledge of Constitutional Law, and the suggestion that there is any parallel between the proceedings of the Crown under the Defence of the Realm Act and the Indemnity Act, on the one hand, and, on the other, the proceedings which were ended by the legislation prohibiting money being raised without the authority of Parliament, is, I think, a little strained. As a matter of fact, there is all the difference in the world, constitutionally, between raising money as Charles I attempted to raise ship money, deliberately, without going to Parliament, without asking Parliament at all and claiming that it could be done independently of Parliament, and the Act of officers of the Crown purporting and desiring to act, and thinking they were acting under a Statute of Parliament, but finding afterwards they were mistaken and that the Statute did not give them the power which they imagined it did.

If it be suggested that it was the act of a bureaucracy to claim this power, I should like to point out that this action was sanctioned bysuccessive Governments led by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and by Mr. Bonar Law, and I cannot believe that these right hon. Gentlemen were infringing the Bill of Rights. I should like to point out also that these charges were repeatedly referred to in Parliament and mentioned in Debate as having been authorised, showing that the common opinion was that they were authorised. Although no specific authority was given, it is a little strange to suppose that they were being levied without the knowledge of Parliament and without passive consent, but as a matter of fact, the consent was rather more than passive, because a very important Select Committee of this House, an organ of the House itself, the Select Committee on National Expenditure, considered and reported on a number of these charges, including the largest of them all, what are known as the flour charges, which amount to £7,000,000 out of the £18,000,000. That was specifically considered by the Select Committee on National Expenditure and referred to without censure. Therefore, though we cannot say the House itself specifically authorised the charges, a Select Committee reporting to this House referred to them without any objection. A Report of that Select Committee referred specifically to fees or penalties exacted on goods imported contrary to the terms of the prohibition. It referred also to the fees imposed by the Cotton Control Board, and the Select Committee referred to these receipts as being useful subventions in aid of the expenditure which it had to consider, so I think I may say that, so far from the House of Commons not being aware of these charges, and so far from these charges being levied in any sort of defiance of Parliament, not only were they referred to in Debates in this House more than once, but actually a Select Committee of this House referred to them as existing, as valid, as authorised, and as furnishing a useful supplement to the revenue.

I do not think I need say more in order to warrant the Second Reading of this Bill. It is obviously desirable that the action of receiving these fees, licences, and other charges should be validated in order to avoid any doubts. It may be said that since that time one claimant has pursued his claim to the point of judgment and has got a judgment against the Crown in the Court of first instance, and that it is, at a ay rate, unfair to deprive him of the fruits of his suit. I would like to say that it is significant that there is only one claimant who has got a judgment, which judgment is now subject to an appeal. But we are carrying out the pledge of the right hon. Member for Bewdley, who, after a claimant had obtained judgment, said the Government would bring in a Bill to legalise their procedure. That was very definite notice to everybody concerned that, if it was held by the Courts that these charges were not warranted by law, a Bill would be brought in to remedy that accidental and unforeseen omission. The Bill was introduced in August, 1922, and we are carrying out the decision of the right hon. Member for Bewdley. In one serious case, the Committee decided not to include it.


Although the milk charges were taken out, is it a fact that there are some milk charges still left in?


No. This Bill does not purport to validate any milk charges whatever, and it could not do so under the terms of the Money Resolution on which it is founded. Those have been left out.


Will the hon. Gentleman explain what is going to happen now to these milk twopences? He tells us they are left out of the Schedule in performance of the first duty which the Government has, to uphold the decision of the House of Lords, but can he tell us what is going to happen to those twopences, and whether they are now going to be transferred to the producers or to be left in the hands of the distributor, who, during the hearing, admitted that he had no right to them?


I am sorry I am not able to solve the conundrum put to me by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb). The House decided that the milk charges were not to be validated, and the Government, therefore, will have to conform to the judgment of the House of Lords on the subject; but if the hon. Member suggests that there is any possibility that we can defeat the judgment of the House of Lords and hand the milk charges over to the producers, whoever they may be, I am afraid it is very difficult to trace the milk. The Government can only abide by the judgment of the House of Lords.


These twopences were collected on the authority of the Government, and surely, if they were collected wrongfully on the authority of the Government, it is the duty of the Government to see that they are returned to those from whom they were taken, namely, the farmers.


That may be right, but I have yet to learn that the farmer paid the twopence. Whoever did pay them, there is no doubt some claim against the Government for these twopences, but I wish the hon. Member would not take me as assuming that it was the farmers who paid the twopences, as I am afraid I should have some difficulty in justifying that. Whatever was the judgment of the House of Lords, the Government must abide by it, the House, I suggest, must abide by it, and the farmer must abide by it. As no milk charges are contained in this Bill, I am sorry I am not in a position to give any more information about those milk charges. It has been suggested that there is something inequitable in validating the collection of these sums, but I can only say, speaking as an inexperienced Minister, that I have only had to follow the more experienced judgment and enlightenment of the Ministers who introduced the Bill before me, and I cannot go beyond that; but I would just observe that, out of all the thousands of people who paid these charges, very, very few have even asked to have them back at any time, and one prosecuted his suit to the point of judgment, but I do not want to dwell on the one, as there are one or two other cases, but they are a very small number.

It is significant that out of all these people who have paid these different charges, in view of the very large profits made out of the privileges that were obtained, all but a very few have determined to stick to their bargains and not to ask for their money back, but some have retained the profits and have asked for their money back. Of all the brewers who made considerable profits, one has asked for his money back, but none of the others, and so with all the other charges. It docs not seem to me quite equitable to treat these people otherwise than all alike. Those who paid their charges and made their profits out of the exceptional privileges for which they paid, who adhered to their bargains and have not asked for their money back, are, in my view, entitled to be treated at least as generously as those who have taken the first opportunity of asking for the money back. Consequently, on the ground of equity, I consider that the Bill is justified in seeking to validate the charges along the lines suggested by the right hon. Member for Bewdley.


I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which seeks to validate the illegal and unconstitutional action of certain Government Departments in imposing and levying charges on His Majesty's subjects, without Parliamentary sanction, after the cessation of hostilities, and to deprive those who suffered these exactions of the redress which they have either secured fey judgments of the Courts or are seeking to secure by claims already lodged. The right hon. Gentleman has moved the Second Reading of this Bill with an admirable detachment, on which I congratulate him. He plainly showed that his own heart is not in the Bill. It is to validate actions committed under the Prime Ministership of the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), and it is to fulfil a pledge which was given by the right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin). In no sense does the right hon. Gentleman himself take any responsibility for the Bill. I can only congratulate him on that course, and express my regret that he should feel it necessary to fulfil the promise of the right hon. Member for Bewdley. It is not very safe for him or the Government to take over Measures which come from the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Though the Bill was produced during the Premiership of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, they took care not to take it beyond the First Reading. The President of the Board of Trade has skated airily over the grave constitutional issues which are raised by this Bill, but I think the Amendments on the Order Paper will show to the House that we ought really to-night, not to pass this Bill as a matter of course, but consider the principles which are involved in it, and the constitutional principles which are at stake. When the Financial Resolution was before the House, the President of the Board of Trade said: It will be common ground that the Bill ought to be passed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th April, 1924; col. 150, Vol. 172.] But the right hon. Gentleman must have realised by this time that there has been very far from general agreement in this House as to this Bill. It raises two constitutional points of the utmost importance. One is the protection of the subject against an executive which is overstepping its legal and constitutional powers, and the other is the sole power which is vested in this House for the levying of taxation upon the people. Both those principles have been set at nought in the actions with which we are dealing in this Bill, and it is for that reason that we cannot lightly pass this Bill so many years after the events to which they refer. I hope, therefore, the House to-night—although I am afraid the change of subject finds a rather wearied House—will be willing to go at some length into the subject-matter of this Bill.

The first point with which I want to deal is the financial point which the right hon. Gentleman made in connection with the Financial Resolution, and which he has repeated to-day. He said, on the 7th April, that unless the Bill is passed, the Treasury stand to lose £18,500,000. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman really thinks that anything like that sum is involved in the case which is now before the House. I believe him to be entirely in error in that statement. So far from there being any question of £18,500,000 at stake, I do not think the whole financial issue at the present moment comes to £500,000. I very much suspect that not more than £250,000 is now in doubt.


I thought I made it clear that the total amount levied by the Crown was £18,500,000, but that a large part of it was probably barred by the Indemnity Act. I think I have already said that the amount which cannot be barred by the Act is something like £1,000,000.


The right hon. Gentleman mentioned £18,500,000, and I know that that is in the minds of some Members, and is somewhat influencing their attitude in regard to this Bill. But, as a matter of fact, I believe—and I think the right hon. Gentleman believes—that the Indemnity Act itself has disposed of the greater part of the sums levied by the Departments, and that in regard to those which are not covered by the Indemnity Act, decisions given in the Courts of Law now have decided that no new cases can be entered. There was a case before the Courts on the 7th April, in which judgment was given by Mr. Justice Bailhache in regard to the case of the Bristol Channel steamers, who, under a Petition of Right, claimed £30,800 from the Crown, and the decision is exceedingly important. I am a little sorry the Attorney-General is not here to-night, because he was engaged in that case, and indeed argued the case for the Crown before the High Court, and won his case against my hon. Friend the Member for the Hartlepools (Mr. Jowitt). The Attorney-General won the case, because, as the Judge said, The Petition was not lodged within one year from the termination of the War, and is too late. If the Attorney-General were here, I should like to ask him his opinion, and I think we are entitled to have his opinion. I am very sorry he is not here. These Amendments have been on the Paper some time, and I think it is a little hard on us that we have not the opinion of the learned Attorney-General on this point. But, in the absence of the Attorney-General, although I am not a lawyer, I am entitled to state the law on this matter. The position now is that no new case can be entered where a claim was not made before the 31st August, 1922, one year after the termination of the War. That I believe to be the outcome of this decision, and I believe it is the opinion of all the leading lawyers in the House. The amount of money at stake is set out in the White Paper which gives a list of the claims which have been entered against the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman says £1,000,000. It is not £1,000,000, because, putting aside the cases disposed of, the total remaining claims entered before the 31st August, 1922, do not amount to more than a little over £500,000, and some of those cases, to my knowledge, are not being pursued. My own conviction is that £250,000 would cover all the claims which are likely to be established in the Courts of Law against the Crown.

Therefore, I submit that the financial case for this Bill, on which the right hon. Gentleman based the main part of his case, is disposed of, and there remain the constitutional and Parliamentary issues, which, I submit, are more important than the financial issue. But it is important to remember that the financial question is a small one, and what we have to consider is what it is right to do in regard to these particular cases. The right hon. Gentleman has given an accurate account, as I read it, of the origin of these cases. They arise from the Defence of the Realm Acts. Very wide and very vague powers were given to the Departments under the Defence of the Realm Acts—as the right hon. Gentleman says, powers so wide that no Department could have wanted them wider. Yet they went beyond the great powers given by Parliament. That in itself is a very serious thing, but that Ministers should strain the exceptional powers given to them in a time of stress is a grave offence; I cannot say otherwise. If the Ministers found it necessary to go beyond the limits imposed by Parliament they should have come to Parliament and said so. I admit that if this overstepping of the law had taken place in the stress of the War, when immediate action was necessary on the part of every man, no one would wish to press the case hardly against the Minister. I would not, at any rate. I am prepared to make the largest possible allowance for men acting under the stress of a great emergency, when they must do the best they can.

The cases which are under discussion to-night did not arise during hostilities. It is true they are during the War in the technical sense, because the War did not officially terminate until August, 1921, but they took place in 1919. The War cases are disposed of by the Act of Indemnity. That prevents new cases being taken up. The £7,000,000 on the question of flour on which the right hon. Gentleman lays such stress is disposed of by the Act of Indemnity. The Act of Indemnity was not passed to validate all the acts done during the War or in the War. The right hon. Gentleman, I venture to think, gave a somewhat coloured account of the way in which the Act of Indemnity was passed. He spoke as if these cases had escaped notice when the Act of Indemnity was passed. So far from that being the case, a Clause was put in to allow cases where a contract had been entered into to be brought forward if it was done before a certain day. So far from it being intended to validate all these cases, the Act of Indemnity, I suggest, left out these cases and left the Courts to decide them if the claimants chose to bring them before the Courts. I press on the right hon. Gentleman that the cases we are dealing with are not cases that occurred during the War, but cases that occurred after hostilities had ceased, and that they were illegal and unconstitutional on his own admission. I suggest that the Ministers concerned knew they were acting contrary to the law. There were protests. It is not the case, as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, that in every instance these imposts and these licences were gladly paid. On the contrary, there were many protests.

There is the case of the Wiltshire Dairy Company, which was decided by the House of Lords. That was not a willing payment. On the contrary, they argued strongly against it. They told the Food Controller that he was acting outside the Constitution. I suggest that the proper course in 1919, when these charges were being made, and when protests were being made against them, was for the Ministers and the Departments concerned to put their case before the House of Commons. If they had proved the necessity of their case, the House of Commons would not have been slow to respond to an appeal. If Ministers—and this is the constitutional point I wish to press upon the House—are to be free to go beyond the powers entrusted to them by Parliament, to interfere and levy taxes on their own authority, then the liberty of the subject is gravely imperilled. This is 1924. Much has happened since 1919 and the Indemnity Act of 1920. The aggrieved parties have gone quite properly to the Courts of Law. They have sought redress and, in some cases, obtained it; in others they are only waiting the decision of test cases to press their claims. Now we are asked—and this is where I think the Government are in the wrong—to step in and intervene in the middle of the hearing of a case when claimants have taken preliminary steps and are now before the Courts. We are to step in and say, "You have no business to go to Courts of law. We are settling this matter in Parliament, and we propose not to allow your cases to be heard any further." It seems to me most unjust. Ministers and Departments knowingly broke the law. The subject seeks redress where the subject can always get redress, that is, in the Courts of law. Now we are asked to deprive them of the judgment given by the highest Courts in the land and to interfere. I want to point out to the Government and to the House that the liberty of the people of this country consists in the certainty that the law will protect them against illegal action. If a man is put in prison by a too zealous Home Secretary or some official in the public interest, as he thinks, that is no defence for the official. Shall the House of Commons step in under a habeus corpus case and say, "You shall not have the benefit of this Act, because the Minister has acted well and in the public interest," and when a Minister has laid taxes on the subject contrary to the whole history of this House and this country, shall we step in and say, "Well, you taxed the subject, but he is a poor creature, and he is too rich anyway, therefore it is all right"? That is not the way for Parliament to act. That is no fancy grievance.

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that there was no analogy to-day between the time of the Petition of Right and the present day. The analogy is not made by those who put the Amendment on the Paper. This case was won in the Court of Appeal by a lawyer who, when asked what cases he relied upon, said "The Bill of Rights." That was the case which has decided this case in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, and I would like the right hon. Gentleman and the House to hear some words of Lord Justice Scrutton which were read during the Debate on the Financial Resolution: The ground of this appeal (the Wiltshire Dairy case) is that to demand the sum in question is levying money for the use of the Crown without grant of Parliament contrary to the provision of the Bill of Rights. He goes on to say—and I commend this passage to the right hon. Gentleman who dismisses these actions of the Executive and these transgressions of the Executive so readily—I am not sure it may not be necessary at the same time to curb the right hon. Gentleman; I can imagine him doing many things which are not sanctioned by the powers conferred by Parliament on the Board of Trade: It is true that the fear in 1689 was that the King by his prerogative would claim this money. But excessive claims by the Executive Government without grant of Parliament are at the present time quite as dangerous and require as careful consideration and restriction from the Courts of Justice. These are not the words of Members of this House, but of the learned judge in a court of law, who decided in favour of the claimant on the ground that has been given. We are the guardians of the rights and liberties of the people, and we should be false to our trust if by retrospective legislation of this kind we deprived the subject of the only safeguard he has against a wrongful usurpation of power by the executive. It is not a fanciful danger. There is every tendency to set aside the authority of Parliament, to go outside Parliament. The authority of Parliament in other countries is being undermined, and the authority of this Parliament will be undermined if it is thought that there is no one to watch over the liberties and the rights of the people of this country, especially in saving Ministers who have exceeded their powers from the corresponding punishment and penalties. Really no case has been put forward for the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has proved no necessity for it whatever. I appeal to the House, and to the Government, not to give this Bill its Second Reading, and that the judgment which has been given in the Courts should be allowed to stand. I claim that it is wrong that we should step in between the claimants who are bringing forward claims and the decisions of the Court. I submit that the nation ought to be able to rest secure in the knowledge that the law is supreme; that Parliament will not interfere to protect the Minister who has exceeded his powers, or to deprive the humblest subject of the Empire of that redress which is provided by law for any wrong that he may suffer.


I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones) that any Bill which is retrospective in its character requires a very strong case to be made out in its favour before passing this House. But I think the difficulty in connection with this particular Bill is this. Morally I do not think that any claimant has a case against the Government Departments; that matter I propose in a little while to go into. If we were merely deciding on the general equity of the case between these people who obtained these licenses and paid for them, and the Government—and by the Government in this connection we really mean the taxpayer—because the question at once arises: if the Bill does not go through, who will pay? They would not get the money from the right hon. Gentleman. They would not even get it from the generous friends of Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. They would get it from the taxpayer. If the matter is right morally, we shall have to give it, whatever it costs. In a moment I will deal with the moral side of these claims. I find myself in entire agreement with the language used, both by the late Lord Chancellor and by Lord Buckmaster, in giving judgment. We cannot rest our decision merely on the general equity of the case; we have got to go further, and see whatever the general equity may be, whether we have to be morally wrong or immorally generous to the claimants, looking to the future. That is the real difficulty which presents itself in this case.

Let me take the general morality, If what was done was wrong, there was a singular unanimity in the wrongdoing. We are all participators in this crime, except those comparatively few hon. Members who did not then happen to be in the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) was a criminal. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was a criminal. The leaders of the party opposite were criminals. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes, the Labour party were criminals. The Lord Privy Seal made Orders. A very distinguished Liberal, the late Lord Rhondda, made these Orders for the Government. Every Minister, irrespective of class, complexion or creed, appears to have made Orders. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said that we really ought not to take any action in this matter because the period of gestation has been so long. The right hon. Gentleman the present President of the Board of Trade may prove a more successful accoucheur than his predecessors. But the delay in passing this Bill really does not at all improve the morality of the claim made by these claimants. I do not think it will be disputed on moral grounds what is the position in all these cases. They all stand together.


There was one case that I had in mind where one ship was sold by a firm, and they bargained for a new ship, and paid over a sum of money to the Government. They are now in liquidation. If they had that money it would go to their creditors.


I am going to deal with that case. The position is that there is no question that the prohibitions were entirely legal. The prohibitions were fully legal and sanctioned by this House. It was quite illegal to sell ships without permission or to sell more beer to munition workers than to the right hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of this Bill. It was quite illegal to sell steel in foreign markets without permission. The first point I wish to establish is that it was not the Government forcing people to do an illegal thing or successive Governments doing illegal acts. What they did in the way of prohibition was legal and authorised by this House. In the second place, it was perfectly legal for the Government to give licences to people to export or deal in the way which was authorised by the licences. I think the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that anybody at the time thought it was illegal, because it would have been very easy, if there had been any question of illegality, for the Government of the day to have come to this House at the time to put it right.


Legal opinions on this question were submitted by various well-known counsel, distinctly pointing out the illegality of the course being pursued by the Government.


Of course, the Governments took the opinion of their Law Officers and got the best legal opinion they could, and they were bound to do that. There was no doubt that during the War the House of Commons would undoubtedly do what any Government asked it to do. If there had been any doubt in the minds of successive Governments, they would certainly have come to this House to obtain the necessary permission. Let hon. Members observe that there was no question of keeping these things secret from the House. Hon. Members were fully aware of what was being done. These things were being done with extreme publicity. They figured in our Debates, and when the Minister of Munitions brought his Estimates forward, the policy of these licences was stated to the House and he stated exactly the policy he was pursuing.

I remember that the most important case that of the licenses for the use of flour for other than bread purposes formed the subject of a careful investigation by the-National Expenditure Committee. All those who were Members of any previous Parliament will remember the work of the Committee on National Expenditure which was presided over by the greatest purist in these matters that ever sat in this House, Lord Banbury, and if any irregularity could escape the lynx eye of Lord Banbury, it must have been very deeply concealed. When this matter came before the Committee on National Expenditure, not only did Lord Banbury pass these things as being perfectly proper, but he drew the attention of the Minister of Food, not to the fact that the Minister was making illegal charges, but to the fact that they were not charging enough. Lord Banbury gave it as his advice to the House, in the Report of the Committee, that in their opinion the charges which were being made were perfectly right and that the Minister of Food ought to increase the charges in order that no part of the public money which was being voted for the bread subsidy should find its way into the pockets of those who were making articles of luxury.

Therefore it is not a case of this House in its successive Sessions being at all ignorant of the policy that was being pursued. As a matter of fact, a number of these licences were issued by arrangement with the trades themselves, and in some cases upon the suggestions made by the trade. Take the case of brewing. One such case figures in this list. What happened was that the brewers were licensed throughout the country to pro- duce a certain amount of beer, and very bad beer it was. They were permitted to produce only a certain weak ration of email beer proportionate to the amount they used to brew before the War. The munition workers, who required particular assistance in this matter, and who had not the advantage of the rum ration, felt that they could not produce an adequate amount of munitions unless they had some further fortification in the matter of liquor, and so it was decided by a very wise Minister of Munitions that munition workers should have an extra allowance of beer. It was found impossible for the brewers all over the country to deal with this question, and it was agreed that the brewers whose breweries were close to the munition districts should make extra quantities. Of course, they made extra profits, and it was resolved that they should be charged a fee for doing it.

The same thing happened in the case of ships. It was illegal to sell ships. I would remind the House that this autocratic arrangement was made, not by civil servants or by Ministers of the Crown of the ordinary sort, but by the Ministry of Shipping, presided over by Lord Maclay, and by the Shipping Committee in the Ministry of Shipping, and that was the reason why it was run so extraordinarily well. It was illegal to sell ships without leave, subsequently nearly all shippers made great losses. There is nothing remarkable in the fact that one company has made large losses and gone into liquidation. The people who had got new ships were not allowed to sell them at all, and even the people who lost ships had to invest their money in building new ships. The only people who were allowed to sell ships were those who possessed very old ships.

It occurred to Lord Maclay and his colleagues that it would have been very unfair to bind by these strict Regulations those shipowners who happened to have new and up-to-date ships and at the same time give far more generous treatment to those who possessed very old ships. Therefore, where the ship was very old—I do not think they allowed a sale unless the ship was over 25 years old—they said that in that case the owners might sell on licence, but must pay a fee for being allowed to do so. In no case was that fee more than a comparatively small per- centage—some 10 or 15 per cent. I think—not of the price, but of the profit which these people make on the transaction. I know that that is so, because I myself had at one time, and all my predecessors had, to go through these cases. I wanted to be sure about the morality as well as about the constitutional position, and I went through case after case. I found cases where ships had been bought for £100,000 and were being sold, six or nine months afterwards, at two or three times that price, and the fee that was paid was only some 15 or 25 per cent., while, as my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel) pertinently reminds mo, in the meantime they were earning considerable money on their freights. I know, and I think other Members of the House know, what very candid expressions of opinion have been given on this matter by eminent shipowners who have been in this House.

I would observe, further, that none of these people need have come forward for licences. If they thought they could do better, business by keeping and running the ships, they were perfectly at liberty to hold them. When they thought—and they were quite right—that it was good business for them to sell those ships at an enormous profit, they were charged a small fee for the privilege. In all these cases it can hardly be said that there is any question of morality. In every single case the people who applied for licences applied for them because it was good business for them at the time to do so. If this were merely a transaction between one company and another company or between one individual and another individual, it would never have been challenged for a single moment. Therefore, on the general morality of these cases, I submit to the House that no claim can be founded for a refund. The matter is made still more plain by the fact that, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, it is only a comparatively few people who have made these claims. Licences were granted to the tune of £18,000,000, but only in a comparatively few cases have people come forward and asked to be allowed to go back on their bargain. I think that is the clearest proof that people realise that, if you are dealing simply with the equity of the case, a fair bargain has been made and they ought to stand by it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne said, and he comes to a legal point here, that there is not £18,000,000 in question. I must quite frankly agree with one thing that he said. I am rather sorry that the Attorney-General is not in his place because—


I have already indicated that the Attorney-General has been obliged to go home because he is ill.

10.0 P.M.


This is the first time I have heard that. I had not the least idea of it. I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Had I known it, I, of course, should not have said that, but it was a very natural request to make that, on a difficult legal question of this kind, the Attorney-General should be here. I, certainly, as a mere ex-lawyer, am not prepared to express an opinion on the very intricate legal question of whether to-day new claims could be made, or whether the actual liability of the Government is limited to the claims which are set forth in the White Paper. It may be that the operation of the Indemnity Act, coupled with some other provision, has stopped new claims. I dare say hon. and learned Gentlemen will express an opinion on that, but could the House ever stand on that technical position? I do not think it could for a moment. What has happened? There are some people who have pressed forward their claims. There has been one judgment, and others have started proceedings. But there is an enormous number of other people who have withheld their claims, because they were perfectly prepared to stand by their bargain, or because they were told by successive Governments that legislation was going to be introduced to deal with their cases. I am sure that any Member of this House, whether he be a Minister, an ex-Minister, or a private Member, will bear me out that, if you once lay it down that all those claimants who have claims now pending are to rank for payment, you really would not be able to maintain the position that you could not pay the other people who have not made claims. I can see in every case that whatever Government was in power would be appealed to, and people would say, "You allowed the claim in this case, which is absolutely on all fours with another case. Why will you not pay out in the other case?"

I do not believe that, in justice, the Government would be able to stand on that ground, or, indeed, that they would wish to do so, even if their legal position would admit of it. We have all known in this House of many oases where once a precedent of that sort has been created, and the Government, who have to be just in these matters and to treat everyone alike, have had to accept the same position for every claimant. That would mean that you could not stand on the technical legality of the claims which are in, but would have to treat them all alike, and that, therefore, you would have to pay out £18,000,000 of the taxpayers' money, which has to be raised by taxation somehow, in order to pay an additional profit to a large number of people, all of whom came voluntarily into this transaction, and were perfectly satisfied with their bargain at the time. As far as the morality of the case goes, I am certain that no case can be made out on that. Now one comes to the much more difficult case of constitutional precedent, and what I think this House ought to decide now is whether there is such a conflict between the morality of the case and the possibility of setting a dangerous precedent that they ought to refuse to proceed with this Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman has—not of his own volition, I must admit—taken what I think is the right action. He had to take it. The case which went to the House of Lords, and in which a final decision was given before any legislation was announced, and cases which stand on all fours with it, are excluded from this Bill. I do not defend that for a moment on the ground of the morality of the claim. I defend it entirely on the constitutional ground that, a judgment has been given by the House of Lords in an action begun before notification had been given of this legislation. The Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) felt bound to stand by that, and we felt bound to stand by it also, purely on constitutional grounds. There is another case which, as the President of the Board of Trade admitted, is more difficult, and that is the case where a judgment has been given in a Court of first instance. Far less serious in itself than a judgment of the final Tribunal in the House of Lords; but he is not right in saying that in that matter he stands exactly in the same position as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was in when he was President of the Board of Trade, and as I, when President of the Board of Trade, was in. That is not so, because judgment had not been given in these cases at that time.




No certainly not. We did not have judgment. I am sure I am right about this, because I well remember the form in which our legislation was introduced in the last Parliament. It was "Notwithstanding any judgment given after the date of the introduction of the Bill."


Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me? He is perfectly right if he says "introduction." The Bill was introduced on the 1st August, 1922; judgment was given on 29th June, 1922. What I quoted was the declaration of the right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin) on 9th March, 1922, that judgment had been given, not only in the first Court, but in the Court of Appeal. After judgment had been given, the right hon. Member for Bewdley said that even if the judgment of the House of Lords was against the Crown the Government would bring in a Bill. The point is not very material. I admit the Bill was not brought in till the 1st August.


The right hon. Gentleman is talking about the judgment of the House of Lords in the Wilts case. That is out of the way now, because the right hon. Gentleman has had to except the judgment which was given in the House of Lords. I am dealing with the instance, which I understand he slurred over rather quickly, of the judgment given in the Brocklebank case, and which was given in the Court of First Instance That judgment was given after the introduction of our Bill in the last Parliament, but before the introduction of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. Therefore, as regards that judgment, he does not stand in the same position as my right hon. Friend. But he is right in saying that when we introduced our Bill in the last Parliament we safeguarded the judgment which had been given. We did, however, put in clearly that, notwithstanding any judgment which might be given after the introduction of our Bill, we were giving notice in that Bill to everybody who might have actions pending that they proceeded with those actions at their own peril. One does not do a thing like that without very high legal advice. The right hon. Gentleman has in view the carrying on of that arrangement. On the whole—though this matter will no doubt be considered more fully in Committee—I am inclined to think that the right hon. Gentleman is right; that the full notice was given to those plaintiffs, the merits of whose case are entirely non-existent. I have dealt with those already. We are not really creating any serious constitutional precedent by saying to people, who went on with their litigation in the teeth of the notice given by the Government, that legislation would be introduced to set aside the judgment. Be it observed, that to deal with that case, you have got to deal with all the other cases that stand on all fours with it. There were many other cases which were held back in order to see what would happen. There are many others you will have to deal with, which were held back because the people waited to see whether you were going to bring in legislation. You have got to deal with them. This point will have to be dealt with in Committee. I would make this plain here and now—and it would hp satisfactory if we could have a firm assurance on it from the right hon. Gentleman—that in all cases where litigation has been begun and carried to any stage, whatever may be the expense, the Government should give a complete indemnity against all costs. I do not mean taxed costs, but that they will repay to every single claimant who has taken action the full costs incurred. If the right hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking of that kind, it will be easier to come to a decision when the Bill gets into Committee.


I can give, on behalf of the Government, the fullest possible undertaking on the lines he has indicated with regard to the costs.


I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, and I am very glad to hear it, because that removes any question of unequal dealing. If I might summarise, I would say the judgment of the Lords is maintained. That is right. On the morality and equity of the ease, I am sure the House need be under no illusion in this matter, and as regards what is the one serious point, of creating a difficult constitutional precedent, in view of the fact that this one judgment, which still exists, was given after full notice of the Bill of last Session, I think the House, in spite of a natural repugnance, will, on the whole, be doing the greatest justice in the case by giving the Bill a Second reading.


I agree with some of the observations which the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has put before the House, but I differ from him in regarding this simply and solely as a question of morality. I do not feel qualified to express an opinion on morality in connection with a shipping matter at any rate. I do, however, feel inclined to take my stand on the single question of principle. Having said that, might I say also that I am rather glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame) has said that eminent political leaders in all parts of the House are criminals. For my part, if it be true that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Labour Party are all equally guilty, then, surely I say to myself, this is an occasion on which a private Member can exercise his own judgment. Exercising my own judgment, I come to the conclusion that it is a pure farce to talk about morality when what you are proposing to do is to say that, under the existing law, any person who had a legal right, who went to the Courts and got rights to which he was entitled, and obtained judgment in his favour, is deprived of the judgment which he has obtained. To do it under the guise of sticking to principles of morality seems to me the greatest nonsense.


He is to get his costs.


Yes, that is a great consolation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon says there is no logical ground on which you can differentiate between those who have got judgment and those who have not. I beg to differ from him. The Indemnity Act, 1920, provided that all claims must be brought within twelve months of the legal end of the War, namely, before the 31st August, 1922. If a person slept, and did not trouble to take his action in the proper time, but let that day go past, then he is too late. What harm is there in this House saying that if a man has not brought his action by that date he loses his rights? It is saying nothing new. We are merely carrying out principles of the law laid down by the Indemnity Act. I believe the number of cases which can now be brought is very small. If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I am sure he will accept this from me in the absence of the Attorney-General, for he and I litigated this point. It is the fact that it has been decided by His Majesty's Judges that a person who did not bring his claim at the appropriate time, namely, before 31st August, 1922, is now too late, and he cannot bring it. Therefore the only claims you have to consider at present are claims which were lodged before that date. They are very few in number, as far as I know, something like half a dozen, not, I believe, more—the Brocklebank case and two or three cases which have been awaiting the result of the Brocklebank case. You are not dealing here with a case of £18,000,000 or anything like it. You are dealing with a comparatively small sum, but you are dealing with a great principle. It seems to me it is true that the taxpayer, be the sum large or small, has to foot the bill. I agree with that and I regret it. It is equally true that many shipowners during the War made very large sums of money which might, perhaps, have been more profitably used elsewhere. I am not concerned to deny that. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong when he says all these shipowners paid this imposition without complaint. To my certain knowledge many of the shipowners who paid this tax made the most grievous complaint and said, in accordance with advice which they received at the time, that the charge was illegal. It is not a fact that they agreed to pay.

However that may be, surely we can all afford now to adopt this simple stand- point. We have got to distinguish between the legislative functions and the functions of the Judicature. It surely will be a most disastrous thing for the legislation of this country if this habit becomes prevalent, as there is every indication that it is going to become. Tomorrow night we are going to have the same point with regard to Income Tax, on which the Government are seeking to get rid of a decision which has recently been given in the House of Lords. We had it in the last Session of Parliament with regard to landlords and their tenants. I, at any rate, took exactly the same standpoint then that I take now. I believe it is fundamentally wrong, when the law has been declared, that this House should come ex post facto, after the judgment has been obtained, be it a judgment of the Court of First Instance or the House of Lords I care not, and alter the existing law to the prejudice of the person who has got his judgment. I believe, even at the cost of perhaps £250,000 or whatever it may be, if we have this principle quite clearly enshrined and we teach the executive of the day that this House will not lend itself to this proceeding we shall have acquired an experience and learned a lesson which will be quite worth the £250,000 we had to pay for it. I shall throughout oppose this retrospective legislation from whatever quarter it may be brought forward. I believe it is fundamentally wrong and bad, and I hope the House will not be led astray by thinking that merely by giving a person an indemnity as to his costs you can properly compensate him for depriving him of the fruits of the judgment which he has won. He has incurred the risk, he has gone on and won his judgment, and if we talk about morality it would be grossly immoral to take away the fruits of his judgment.


I associate myself fully with the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down. I listened with some degree of curiosity to see how the late President of the Board of Trade would be able to make good the case, which I am sure would be a very different argument if he were differently situated, but he is up to his neck in it. It was he who was responsible for the proposed legislation. I sympathise with him because he and his successor have proved again and again how completely Ministers are in the hands of the permanent civil servants. Of course, it is loyalty to the heads of the Department that they should endeavour to get them out of the mess into which they have got themselves. It is all very well to say that Lord Maclay has been an ideal shipping controller, but he is no more entitled to justice than the humblest person. I listened to the speech of the President of the Board of Trade in introducing this matter, and, I thought, "Here is a political Pilate washing his hands of this Measure because he is bound to accept it as that of his predecessor." He dwelt at very great length upon the fact that the Leader of the Opposition had intimated, when he was at the Board of Trade, that if the House of Lords decided in favour of the dairies, he would introduce legislation to nullify that decision. He took that flattering unction to his soul as justification for supporting legislation of a retrospective character. It was his own people who were almost incoherent with rage at the idea of legislation being retrospective in regard to the position of Scottish land, and the same with regard to the deportation of Irishmen. This sort of thing makes one feel that there is great insincerity in public life.

The vital question which this Bill raises has given rise to enormous troubles in the past and it ought, therefore, not be lightly put aside. It is suggested that there is no connection between this trouble and the troubles of the 17th century. The President of the Board of Trade, indeed, made reference to what he called the absurdity of suggesting that this has any relation to the question of the fight in the 17th century over the Bill of Rights. He may be in a position to treat it facetiously, but some of us look upon it as a very serious matter. When hon. Members find an active Member of the Liberal party, like the hon. Member who has just spoken, and myself, who is popularly supposed to be a most fossilised Member of the Conservative party, in agreement, they may be perfectly sure that there is something wrong. The troubles which involved us in that prolonged war in the 17th century were largely as to whether or not the monarch should be at liberty to place imposts upon the people without the consent of Parliament. The same question arose at the end of the century. The question is the same to-day, only instead of having a monarch to attack we have the permanent bureaucrat.

When I heard the President of the Board of Trade talk about these payments having been made voluntarily and gladly, and that was also the burden of the speech of the late President of the Board of Trade, I may say that most of us know, just as it is in the personal knowledge of the last speaker, that the payments were made under protests of a most vigorous kind. They were imposed just as much against the will of the payers as were the benevolences that were extorted by Empsom and Dudley for the benefit of Henry VII. The President of the Board of Trade complained that there was only one decision of the Court of first instance, and he looked upon that as a very remarkable thing. But it is not so remarkable when we remember that every conceivable objection has been raised and every conceivable delay has been put in the way of litigants by the Home Office, the Board of Trade and the Attorney-General. I hold in my hand a correspondence which commenced on the 7th July, 1922, when a Petition of Right was sent to the Home Office with a request that they would endorse it and let right be done, and the petition has not yet been acceded to.


That is the rapidity of your Government.


It is not, it is the delay on the part of the officials. It applies to the Departments of all Home Secretaries and Presidents of the Board of Trade, and it shows a collusive arrangement on the part of the officials to try to prevent anything being done.


On a point of Order. Is it not out of order for an hon. Member to attack permanent officials?


Yes, I think that the hon. and learned Member ought to confine his attacks to the Ministers who are responsible for this Bill.


I bow to your ruling. The fact remains that causes have been marked out of the list to suit the convenience of the Attorney-General, and every obstacle has been put in the way I may refer briefly to one case in which the name has not been given so far, that is the Marshall Steamship Company. That company decided to sell an old boat and applied for a licence. The purchase price was £134,000. They were compelled first to pay a sum of £20,000 for that licence, and to submit to enter into a new contract to buy a new vessel, and though they had an old German tug-boat—this was after the War had concluded—which they desired to purchase they were not-allowed to make that purchase, because it was said that it was necessary to give employment in the shipyards. At that time the boilermakers' strike was on, and the shipyards were mostly idle, and it was impossible for them to get the new ship built.


The hon. Member says "boilermakers' strike." It was not a strike.


I know that it is like waving a red rag before a bull to talk to some Members about a strike which may conceivably be turned into a lockout. Whichever it was, there was a paralysis in the trade, and that paralysis prevented shipping being built. The Shipping Controller knew that that was the condition of things, and the result was that this unfortunate company, having deposited £15,000 under the contract, had to forfeit that deposit and to pay another £20,000 to get out of a contract which could never be performed, but the conditions of which prevented them from having the right to get damages, so that they had a dead loss of £55,000 upon a ship which they had Fold for £134,000. That is a company which is in liquidation, and very little wonder that it is in liquidation. They brought their action; they gave notice well before the prescribed time. They served a high official of the Board of Trade, I think the Secretary. The Board of Trade took the objection that the writ was improperly served. The action went to trial, and the objection raised by the Board of Trade was pretty severely commented upon by Lord Justice Scrutton. Although the writ was set aside, some strong observations were made upon the attitude of the officials. That action is still pending, although it was months ago that the hearing took place. A Petition of Right has been presented, and is still pending. I hold in my hand a return, dated June, 1923. It is typewritten, and is a return showing all claims made on any Government Department on or before 1st August, 1922, which would be affected by the "War Charges Validity Bill if approved by Parliament. There are five claims, and five only: 6th July, 1921, Foster Hain and Read, £13,500, War Compensation Court. 26th July, 1921, Mercantile Steamship Company, Limited, War Compensation Court, £12,600. 7th February, 1922, Marshall Steamship Company, Limited, £20,000, War Compensation Court. July, 1922, Brocklebanks, Limited. £34,920, Petition of Right. The total of these five claims, which are said to have been all that were received up to the date of the return in June, 1923, is not more than £81,020. I cannot understand where the right hon. Gentleman gets his information that there would be upwards of £1,000,000 due by the Treasury if this Bill were not passed. I complain that this is a very mischievous Bill. It is a Bill which, in fact, is interfering with the privileges of Parliament. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that Lord Banbury was a keen politician and a purist and yet gave notice to this House as Chairman of the National Expenditure Committee. That is the merest special pleading. The right of Parliament is to sanction these charges before they are made, and it does not do for any eminent gentleman, sitting as Chairman of a Committee of this House, to make observations, even in a Report to this House, to get rid of the ancient privilege of this House of originating taxation. It is all very well to come afterwards and ask us, as has been done again and again, to whitewash and justify by retrospective legislation. It is a mistaken policy, after all, and a most mischievous precedent, and I hope that this Bill may be rejected, if only to show the Government that they ought not, especially as they claim to be a Democratic Government, to put their hand to proceedings under a Bill of this sort.

My right hon. Friend talked about morality. He said "You would be bound to admit other claims" Nothing of the sort. There are such things as Statutes of Limitation, which define the time within which claims can be made. This Indemnity Act is another kind of statutory limitation. It gave notice to the whole world that after the expiration of a year from the conclusion of the War claims would be barred. There is no justification for asking this House to assume that if we reject this Bill, we must of necessity admit every claim, even claims which have not yet been formulated. My right hon. Friend spoke of having been a law student, and he will remember that in his early days of law examinations he was taught the equity axiom that the law assists the watchful and not to the sleeping, and the watchful in this case are those who make claims while the sleeping are those who have lain by, hoping to profit by others or who are not prepared to risk money in legal proceedings.


There is another axiom that he who comes to equity should come with clean hands.


I think mine is more ancient than the other. At any rate, I am sure that equity would not have interfered where there was a legal remedy and the law is perfectly clear. There is no question of a court of equity being disposed to admit claims which by law are barred. If that were the case we should have the Chancery Division deluged with actions otherwise statute-barred. As a matter of fact, equity always follows the law. I think between us we are giving the House some enlightenment. There is, however, no justification for the plea to which I have referred. We have to face the fact that a cardinal principle of taxation has been infringed again and again, not during the War but long after the War, and it has been done without reference to the authority of Parliament. I hope the House will not be misled by the various arguments which have been put forward, but will resolutely assert itself and its traditions.


I desire to rein-force the appeals which have been made to the House to consider that it has a very grave duty in this matter. I could not put the case against retrospective legislation more eloquently than the present Prime Minister and various other Members of the Government have put it. One of the statements of the Prime Minister was that it was not to be resorted to except in the most urgent cases. Can it be said that this is one of the most urgent cases? I can imagine the possibility, for instance, of a building having been put up during the War, on land in the title to which there was some flaw, but I am certain that if it was sought to put such a matter right it would be done on terms giving just compensation for any injury which might have been caused. What is the necessity here? It is simply the necessity of putting a certain amount of money into the Exchequer and it is not a very large sum but only somewhere about a quarter to half a million. Is it wise in order to do that, to give away the great principle that Parliament has to hold the balance fairly? I ask the House to say that care in the matter of restrospective legislation is doubly necessary when the State is one of the parties to the dispute. Parliament is making itself the judge of its own case. We have a White Paper stating that there is a claim for a quarter of a million which has no moral justification. Are we to make ourselves the judges? What opportunity is given to the person who is claiming the quarter of a million?

It is utterly unworthy of the traditions of this House and of British history that we should pass a Bill of this kind dismissing claim after claim without an opportunity of hearing what is to be said on the other side. All we know is that in certain cases where they have come before the Courts these claims have been sustained, and then we are told that it is only a Court of first instance. I must say that to me it is quite a new idea that there is any difference in the value of a judgment of a Court of first instance or of the House of Lords. In regard to another argument of the President of the Board of Trade, I would refer him to a shipping case where the Court said that the only ground on which the claimants could recover was that the money had been paid under protest. Payment was made not with the intention of giving up a right, but under necessity, with the intention of reserving a right to dispute the legality of the change. If the President of the Board of Trade is right in his contention, there is no need to go behind the judgment at all, and if he is wrong, I say there is no case to ask the House to pass special legislation.


I desire to associate myself with what has been said by the right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones), and the further arguments which were submitted to the House by the hon. and learned Member for the Hartlepools (Mr. Jowitt). I was not impressed, any more than was the hon. and learned Member for the Hartlepools, with the arguments put before the House by the right hon. Member for Hendon (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame), who devoted a great part of his speech to the moral side of this matter. We shall be on very dangerous ground if we are swayed either by the morality of this matter or by sympathy for the subject. I feel very clearly that the moment this House departs from the wise practice, which has hitherto prevailed in matters of this kind, of not embarking, whether on grounds of morality or on grounds of sympathy, upon legislation which is going to set aside decisions of the Courts, we shall get into a dangerous situation, but let me say one word on the moral side of the matter. I should feel much more sympathy with the moral aspect if the Bill did not—I know the House decided it—exempt the milk judgment. I cannot see the moral point of view which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon rather emphasised, because it seems to me that if you are going to exempt the milk people, you have got in the thin end of the wedge on any moral grounds, and you will have to exempt any number of other people.

The ground on which I hope the House will not give a Second Reading to this Bill is the constitutional ground. I look at the date of the next proceedings after the milk case, and I find that the proceedings started on the 18th July, 1922, and the date of the introduction of this Bill was the 1st August, 1922. Are those persons who started on the 18th July, 1922, to be denied the fruits of that judgment on any moral or legal ground? My feeling is that we ought not to go beyond the Indemnity Act of 1920. Five years after the termination of the War, more than three years after the passing of an Indemnity Act—which, I think I am right in saying, went even further than any other Indemnity Act—to embark now upon some further proceedings is very unwise and very dangerous. Something has been said about the Statute of Limitations. If I remember aright, I think it was said by the hon. and learned Member for the Hartlepools that no person can now institute proceedings, and no person can have the benefit of proceedings which he has not instituted before the 31st August, 1922, and I should like to ask the President of the Board of Trade for some details, particularly on the figures of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ealing, to show how much, in fact, the Crown will have to pay if this Bill does not become law.

I am rather interested in the language of the Preamble of the Bill, which says that these matters have been called in question, and, therefore, are in doubt. If one did not know the facts, one would think this was a Bill for settling doubts which existed. There is no doubt about it. The Bill could have said, in order to make it perfectly plain to those who have not looked further into this matter, that it is a Bill to set aside judgments of the House of Lords, and not to settle any question which has been called in doubt. I cannot think that those persons who paid these? impositions voluntarily can have any claim to repayment. If they paid voluntarily, they must stand by that or there would be no need whatever for this Bill. This matter has been very carefully considered from the constitutional point of view by the Law Society, of which I am a member, and by many other law societies throughout the country. I hope the House will support the Amendment. There was an Amendment on the Paper in the names of myself, the right hon. Member for Hammersmith (Sir W. Bull), and the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. D. Herbert) which will not be reached. I hope the House will not afford the Bill a Second Reading.


If the Government succeed in obtaining the concurrence of this House in the principle of this Bill, I think a far greater proof than the perfectly orthodox Budget will be given to the country of the progress of Socialism. I am sorry the President of the Board of Trade has justified this Bill by treating it as a legacy from previous Governments instead of putting it forward as a legacy from the opportunists of the last Government but one and the inconsequence of the last Government. He had better treat it as what it is, a very necessary instrument for bringing to pass a permanent Socialist Government. Before you can establish a permanent Socialist Government in this country, you must necessarily trample underfoot the rights of the individual. I hope this House will treat this measure as a matter of principle and not in the spirit of compromise. It is one of the besetting sins of this country, not to be thorough in its personal right, but willing to compromise-There is no compromise possible. There is no harmonic mean between justice and injustice. What is it that you are contemplating now? It is a gross act of injustice to many individuals. It is as gross an act of injustice as the first Clause of the Evictions Bill.


This is the great attack of the Liberal party opening.


We can rest our attack on no better case. These exactions have been made by officials. They have been extorted from unwilling payees. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame) asserted that they were made by the consent of the parties concerned. I can give the House an instance to the contrary. In January, 1919, a meeting was held at Dublin of persons interested in the hide trade, and the question was put to the Controller there as to what would be done by him in case the trade did not accept the imposition, and the answer was that they would receive no allocation of hides. In the case of some individuals who refused to accept the imposition, that course was followed, and their livelihood taken away from them. Was that a case of free will? I ask the House to consider to where this proposal leads. It is leading from the policy that has ruled in this country for hundreds of years; from the policy that is English to the policy that is foreign and continental. You are asking the House to establish the foreign system of droits a'admimstrer, the system under which you place the official above the law. You are right to ask for it, for it is the necessary foundation on which you wish to build up your Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "Come over to this side."] I hope that on the side of justice both sides of this House will be united. You are asked to abandon the most necessary part of your duties and to allow the imposition of taxes without the consent of Parliament. If you do, if this House consents to that course of action let them throw down the statue of Hampden which we have in St. Stephen's Hall, for it will have become a mere meaningless ornament, no longer the symbol of great principles and noble liberties nobly vindicated in the past. Cast down that statue and set up instead the statue of our new master, Karl Marx. Yes, if the House injures its honour by passing such a measure as this I am thankful to say the ground we are treading on here is not the site of the old house where Hampden, Elliot and Sidney trod! If their spirit has deserted us we are no longer worthy of the traditions of the past. This Act is the gravest attack which has been made on the liberty of the subject, and I hope the House will give it that doom that it deserves.

11.0 P.M.

Viscount WOLMER

We have listened to three or four speeches against this Bill, and I do not think I would be acting rightly if I did not say a word in support of it. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield) had had anything to do with Government Departments, if he had been in any part of the Board of Trade or any Department of the Government that was faced with this question, he would have come to exactly the same conclusion that the Government, faced with it, came to. This is a Bill not only of this Government, but of the last Government, and the Government before. If the Liberal party had been in power during the period they would have had to bring in an exactly similar Bill. A great deal has been said about the evil of retrospective legislation. Nobody hates retrospective legislation more than I do. I yield to no one, even to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, in all his Conservative prejudices. But what is the situation? In the first place it is this: that you are dealing with war legislation. An hon. Member on these Benches said that some of the Acts that are going to be whitewashed by this Bill were committed after the Armistice. That is perfectly true; but everyone of them was committed under Statutes passed during the War. I am prepared to agree that in ordinary times it is a bad plan for this House to get into the way of legislating hastily and in a slovenly manner so that it is subsequently found that Acts of Parliament do not mean what their authors or Parliament intended them to mean. We ought to be exceedingly careful on that point. But we all know that during the War a great deal of legislation was hurriedly passed and some of it badly drafted, and there is much to be said for an Act of Parliament in which you are legislatively putting right matters which Parliament did not intend. In this case Parliament during the War deliberately set up a series of controls, and Parliament armed them with certain powers, and very drastic powers they were. The controllers, in pursuance of their powers, proceeded to issue licences. Everybody at the time thought that these licences were within the powers of the controllers to issue, and nobody questioned it until an enterprising individual took it to the Law Courts. There is not the slightest doubt that Parliament intended the controllers to have these powers. I could quote passages from the OFFICIAL REPORT showing that Minister after Minister said, in answer to questions and in debate, that these licences had been issued in pursuance of this or that regulation under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and the House was fully conversant with what was being done.

From the nature of the case it was necessary that the controllers should have these powers. Therefore all we are doing here is simply ratifying what Parliament, during the War, undoubtedly intended, and any impartial man who studies the OFFICIAL REPORT must come to the conclusion that that was what Parliament intended during the War, and Parliament did the best thing that could be done in the circumstances. An hon. Member behind me seemed to cast some doubt on the rightfulness of this House considering the equity of the case, but that is what the House of Commons is for, and it is our duty to consider the broad justice of the case. My right hon Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield) and the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Nesbitt) both asserted that some of the payments in question under this Bill were extorted by Government Departments from unwilling payers. I should very much like to see instances of that sort. Certainly the cases which have been given in this Debate were not instances of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ealing gave instances of the Marshall Shipbuilding Company which wanted to sell a ship for £134,000, but may I point out that other companies were not allowed to sell their ships, and why should this company be allowed to sell at an enormous profit without paying a big fee. That course would not have been fair to the other shipowners, or to the shipping industry as a whole. We were not able to allow shipowners to sell their ships, but licences were given in special cases where there were good reasons why the ships should be sold, and it is only just and fair that a good fee should be paid in respect of this particular case. Whether the Marshall Company made a profit or a loss out of the transaction is not material to the point. The point is that they wanted to make this bargain, they were perfectly willing to pay £20,000 for the privilege of selling a ship that was worth on the foreign market £134,000, and they need not have paid that money if they did not wish to sell the ship.


May I point out to the Noble Lord that if money is paid voluntarily you cannot recover in any case, but only if it is paid under protest?

Viscount WOLMER

I will not dispute the legal point with the hon. and learned Member, but I defy him or any other Member to point to a single case where money was paid except in return for a special privilege that was given by a Government Department.


Would the Noble Lord say the same of milk?

Viscount WOLMER

Yes, certainly I would.


To a gathering of milk producers?

Viscount WOLMER

I do not think that the plaintiffs in the milk case had a case in equity at all. I think they were merely taking advantage of a loophole in the law, which no doubt some clever lawyer had put them up to. I do not think their position was a just one, and if it had not been for the fact that a judicial decision had been given in their favour there would have been no reason for Parliament making a special exemption in their case. In the matter of equity their case is exactly on all fours with the other cases under this Bill. Therefore, it does seem to me that no substantial injustice is done, and there is also this point, that a very large sum is at stake. The hon. and learned Member for the Hartlepools (Mr. Jowitt), and, I think, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, said that only a small number of cases would mature if this Bill were not passed, because all the other cases were covered by the Indemnity Act. I have, however, heard that view questioned by lawyers as eminent as the hon. and learned Member. I am not a lawyer, and cannot give an opinion.


I did not cite that as my own opinion. It has been decided by one of His Majesty's Judges.

Viscount WOLMER

Again I cannot argue the matter with the hon. and learned Member, and I am not going to presume to do so, but I have heard that view questioned, and sometimes Judges do have their decisions upset. I would, however, put this point to the hon. and learned Member. What does he think of a man who enters into a bargain with the Government, and who, in return for a privilege which the Controller has given him, has paid the Controller a licence—


Under protest!

Viscount WOLMER

Under protest, if you like, but has paid it voluntarily under protest. [Laughter.] I invite hon. Members opposite to point to a single instance where this money was paid except in return for a special privilege which was granted, and a man need not have paid the money if be had not wanted the privilege. He may have been advised that it was legally worth his while to make the protest when he paid the money, but he did pay the money voluntarily, although he may have made the protest. I say, that a man who does that, and then brings a successful action against the Government, is no more entitled to the consideration of this House than the man who has made his bargain with the Government Department at the time, has paid his fee and got his privilege, and has stuck to it and not tried to get the money back afterwards. I do not think it is an attitude that this House ought to encourage, that subjects should pay fees for privileges and then, through a defect in the law, should try to get those fees, back.


Speaking as a shipowner, I am, perhaps, chiefly interested in paragraph 7 of the Schedule; but I think I can speak for all concerned when I say that none of us have any wish to ride off on a mere technicality. This has been proved by the fact, as regards shipowners, that out of a large number of claims which might have been made before the Statute of Limitations came into force, only five writs, I think, were actually issued. What I object to in this Bill is that it brings in what, I hope, is a new and a very vicious principle of legislation, in that it sets aside the cases which have already been decided in the Law Courts. It does not make very much difference in what Court a case has been decided. When a case has actually been decided, that judgment should stand. If the Government had excluded these cases, I confess my opposition to the Bill would have been considerably modified, because I might have considered it merely one of the inevitable disagreeable consequences of the Great War. I would have preferred that the Government had withdrawn the Bill. As it is, I hope the Second Reading will be defeated. It is quite true that certain additional costs may fall on the taxpayer as part of the cost of winding up the War, but I think the taxpayer would rather have that than have the law upset as it is proposed to upset it. I think, in short, it is a bad thing in any case for the Government to attempt to defend itself against illegalities which it has committed; but it is very much worse that it should attempt to revise judgments of Courts. By doing so, they will upset the faith of our people in the sanctity and inviolability of the law, and they will open the door to very many objectionable and dangerous Acts in the future. I, therefore, hope that the Bill will be defeated, not because I do not want to help the Government or any Government to get over the difficulties caused by the War, but simply and solely because of the very dangerous principle which will be involved in it.


I have been a little amused when I have heard of the voluntary payments made by the milk people, the shipowners and the brewers, and those other people who contributed more or less to our discomfort during the War. [Interruption.] There used in old days to be a principle that no man could be tried by a jury unless he voluntarily elected to be so tried. The principle was still a principle until less than a century ago; but it was discovered that sometimes a prisoner who was accused of a particularly heinous crime—for instance, high treason—was not very anxious to be tried either by a jury or at all, so when he was asked, first of all, to plead guilty or not guilty, and then, "How will you be tried? "instead of making the proper reply, "By God and my country," meaning a jury, he refused to reply at all. Then how did they procure his voluntary submission to be tried by a jury? I will tell you. They took him to the prison and laid him on the floor and put upon him a board laid lengthwise, and they put weights upon the board, and from time to time they asked him how he would like to be tried. They put upon him at first, in the words of the old books, as much as he could bear and afterwards more. I have not the faintest doubt that the voluntary payments made by the brewer, the shipowner, the baker and other people who contributed to our comforts during the War were obtained by the same sort of voluntary means. But for us lawyers hon. Members opposite would never have been here. You would never have had any liberties. The liberties of England were won by the lawyers of England. Make no mistake about that. When you find a rabid Radical like the hon. Member for the Hartlepools (Mr. Jowitt) joining with a fossilised Tory like my right hon. Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield), and then you discover a Tory democrat like myself all in the same camp, fiercely opposed to this monstrous proposition to defeat the decision of the Courts as so what the law of the land is, let the President of the Board of Trade beware. If he is not well enough advised to withdraw this Measure we shall defeat him, and he can make quite certain that if we do not defeat him to-night, in the long run we shall defeat him.


In effect this Bill, as I understand it, is to justify the Crown in retaining money which it has illegally extracted. Otherwise it would be meaningless. I take it these moneys are a debt due from the Crown to those by whom they are paid, and a debt is property, and property may have been assigned or mortgaged, and the Ministers of the Crown come forward and say, "Whatever may have happened with reference to this property, we desire to take it back from those who now own it." The curious feature is this, that although there has been a good deal of litigation, whenever the Crown wins nothing is said; but if the Crown happens to lose, then Parliament has to come in and reverse the decision of the Court. We have had a good deal of retrospective legislation in the last two years, and there is one very notable feature. Whenever the legislation was to put right a wrong or an error committed by an individual, the position was sacrosanct; the decision of the Courts could not be reversed, but where the Government is concerned, we are apparently to apply a different rule.

Let me give the House two well-known illustrations. There was the case of Sutters v. Briggs. There we had for nearly 100 years legislators, lawyers, laymen, all thinking that bets might lawfully be paid by cheque. But after a century some subtle lawyer discovered that what everybody thought for that long period of time to be legal was wrong. He fought an action before the Courts, and it was decided in the highest tribunal that technically for these 100 years it was wrong to pay bets by cheque. One would have thought that if ever there was a case where the illegal extraction of money by the bookmaker would have been validated that was one, because everybody had fallen into the mistake, and for three generations it had been the recognised law of the land. Yet what happened? When the House of Lords brought in a Bill to set that error right according to the decision subsequently given by the Courts, they were careful to point out, "We cannot validate backwards. In future it shall be lawful to pay bets by cheque, but those who in the past have done so are to remain liable for repayment of the money." That meant that the bookmakers were liable to the extent of millions of pounds for the repayment of that money.

Take another illustration—[HON. MEMBERS "Divide!"] If hon. Members want to get home, I do not mind. In the Increase of Bents Bill, it was intended by Parliament that landlords by serving a certain notice should be entitled to an increase of rent. They served that notice. It was the intention of Parliament that that notice should effect its purpose, but it was found by the Courts that through the strict construction of the Act it did not validly entitle the landlord to the increase that was demanded. There was a mistake due to the intricacy of the Act of Parliament, and a delicacy of construction so great that the whole Bench of England were at sixes and sevens on the subject. Yet the last Parliament said "We cannot validate backwards," and the only case in which this payment can be recovered is in what the Attorney-General rightly called the psychological case where the man thought that he ought not to pay. Even in this particular instance we have not a mistake a century old, as in the betting case. We have not a mistake of an intricate and difficult Act of Parliament. We have an error made on one of the fundamental laws' of the country, and, as I think, a law so fundamental and so well-known that if a schoolboy failed to explain it he would be "plucked" at the most preliminary of examinations. And we are told because Ministers of the Crown illegally extract money in defiance of the law they are able to set it right by an Act of Parliament. Why? It is true, as was said by the noble Lord who spoke a few minutes ago, that the Ministers of the Crown could have done rightfully that which they have done wrongfully. But after all, it is a question of some principle that, when we set up Courts of Justice to decide what are the rights of parties, after a piece of legislation has passed this House, it is bringing into contempt those Courts' when a Ministry for the time being says, "We are the parties who are affected by the adverse decision. We are in the seats of power, and we will apply a protecting ægis to ourselves which we refuse to apply to private individuals."


I wish to say a few words in reply to the speech to which we have just listened. This Bill does not seek to give any retrospective validity further back than the date at which express and deliberate notice was given on behalf of the Government that legislation would be introduced. It is a very common procedure in this House to date legislation back to the date of the notice which is very often given of the introduction of the Bill. In this case the Bill followed a few days after. There is no retrospective legislation in this matter. Consequently a great deal of the heroic speech which we have just heard does not apply. In the next place there is no question of the money having been exacted in the manner referred to by the hon. and learned Member opposite or in any other manner, when it is remembered that all the prohibitions, all the orders, all the sweeping regulations of the controllers were legal and that what happened was that partly for public convenience, partly for individual profit when he conceded to certain sections of the community certain privileges, etc., in reference to those prohibitions, then in order to prevent those individuals thus privileged making a profit at the expense of the community the controller asked that a licence fee should be paid. Undoubtedly, the coercion was there, but that was legal. The privilege that, was

given was also legal. They were asked to pay a small proportion of the profits they had made at the expense of the rest of the community. It is not a question of protecting the Government, but of protecting the revenue and the taxpayers of the country. I ask the House to reject the Amendment.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House proceeded to a Division


(seated and covered): On a point of Order. Is it in order, Mr. Speaker, to start counting before you, Sir, put the Question a second time. I understand that counting has been in progress in one of the Lobbies before you put the Question the second time.


I am informed that is so. Nobody will be any the worse, as I shall see that the full time is allowed before the Lobbies are closed.

The House divided: Ayes, 155; Noes, 101.

Division No. 65.] AYES. [11.35 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Forestier-Walker, L. Lee, F.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North) Loverseed, J. F.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Gavan-Duffy, Thomas Lunn, William
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)
Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L. Gillett, George M. March, S.
Baker, W. J. Gosling, Harry Marley, James
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome) Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)
Banton, G. Greene, W. P. Crawford Maxton, James
Barnes, A. Greenall, T. Milne, J. S. Wardlaw
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Montague, Frederick
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Groves, T. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Black, J. W. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Blades, Sir George Rowland Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)
Bondfield, Margaret Harland, A. Murray, Robert
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Naylor, T. E.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Harvey, C. M. B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Brittain, Sir Harry Hastings, Somerville (Reading) Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Broad, F. A. Haycock, A. W. Nixon, H.
Charleton, H. C. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) O'Grady, Captain James
Church, Major A. G. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Oliver, George Harold
Clarke, A. Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfield) Palmer, E. T.
Clayton, G. C. Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Climie, R. Hillary, A. E. Perry, S. F.
Cluse, W. S. Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.) Philipson, Mabel
Cope, Major William Hudson, J. H. Purcell, A. A.
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L. Huntingfield, Lord Raine, W.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich) Raynes, W. R.
Dalkeith, Earl of Jephcott, A. R. Rentoul, G. S.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Dawson, Sir Philip Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Dickson, T. Kennedy, T. Romeril, H. G.
Dukes, C. King, Capt. Henry Douglas Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Duncan, C. Lamb, J. Q. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Lansbury, George Scrymgeour, E.
Egan, W. H. Law, A. Seely, Rt. Hn. Maj. Gen. J. E. B. (I. of W.)
England, Colonel A. Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North) Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Leach, W. Shepperson, E. W.
Sherwood, George Henry Thurtle, E. Westwood, J.
Shinwell, Emanuel Tinker, John Joseph Williams, Lt.-Col. T. S. B. (Kennington)
Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down) Tout, W. J. Wilson, Sir Charles H. (Leeds, Central)
Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Snell, Harry Varley, Frank B. Windsor, Walter
Spence, R. Viant, S. P. Wolmer, Viscount
Stamford, T. W. Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Stephen, Campbell Warrender, Sir Victor Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. O. (Rhondda) Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)
Sturrock, J. Leng Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Sullivan, J. Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Sutton, J. E. Weir, L. M. Mr. John Robertson and Mr. Allen
Thompson, Luke (Sunderland) Wells, S. R. Parkinson.
Ackroyd, T. R. Harvey, C. M. B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne) Owen, Major G.
Alstead, R. Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury) Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)
Aske, Sir Robert William Hobhouse, A. L. Phillipps, Vivian
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Hodge, Lieut.-Colonel J. P. (Preston) Raffan, P. W.
Barclay, R. Noton Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie Raffety, F. W.
Barnett, Major Richard W. Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton) Rathbone, Hugh R.
Becker, Harry Huntingfield, Lord Rawson, Alfred Cooper
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby) Rea, W. Russell
Berkeley, Captain Reginald Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools) Remer, J. R.
Bonwick, A. Kedward, R. M. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby) Keens, T. Roberts, Samuel (Hereford).
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Kindersley, Major G. M. Ropner, Major L.
Burman, J. B. Laverack, F. J. Royle, C.
Burnie, Major J. (Bootle) Linfield, F. C. Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.
Cassels, J. D. Livingstone, A. M. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton McCrae, Sir George Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)
Chapple, Dr. William A. Macfadyen, E. Simpson, J. Hope
Chilcott, Sir Warden McLean, Major A. Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Curzon, Captain Viscount Maden, H. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)
Darbishire, C. W. Mansel, Sir Courtenay Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Deans, Richard Storry Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)
Dickie, Captain J. P. Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.) Spero, Dr. G. E.
Dixey, A. C. Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Dodds, S. R. Meller, R. J. Tattersall, J. L.
Duckworth, John Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Dunn, J. Freeman Millar, J. D. Thornton, Maxwell, R.
Falconer, J. Mitchell, R. M. (Perth & Kinross, Perth) Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Finney, V. H. Mond, H. Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)
Franklin, L. B. Morris, R. H. Wintringham, Margaret
Galbraith, J. F. W. Morse, W. E. Wise, Sir Fredric
Gates, Percy Moulton, Major Fletcher Woodwork, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.
George, Major G. L. (Pembroke) Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)
Hall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. (Dulwich) Nesbitt, Robert C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley) Mr. Leif Jones and Sir Herbert
Harney, E. A. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Nield.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Mr. Webb.]