§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House, while approving the principle of political liberty embodied in the Trade Union (Political Fund) Bill, is of opinion that a measure of such far-reaching importance should not be introduced as a Private Member's Bill.I very much regret the tendency in this Parliament for Friday to become the principal debating day of the week. Old Members of the House have long looked forward to Friday as a day of comparative leisure. When Bills of great importance are brought in on that day, it is perfectly impossible to provide adequate time in which to discuss them. I apologise to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Mac 834 quisten) for being unable to be in the House at the beginning of his speech. I got here as soon as I could after my engagements elsewhere, and I had the pleasure of hearing quite half his speech and the whole of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Greaves-Lord). I think those speeches themselves clinch the point I made about the absence of time for discussion of matters of such importance, because it was perfectly obvious from the interruptions which punctuated them, particularly the speech of the Seconder, that there will be a great deal to be said contraverting the statements which have been made: and there can be no doubt, in the case of a subject of this importance, that before the House can come to a decision, there ought to be far more time for debate than possibly can be found between 11 and 4 o'clock.
In my own view, the equity of the case. made by my hon. and learned Friend is one of great strength. It will probably he supported in various quarters of the House, and indeed as violently opposed. And I suggest that very much of what I said with reference to the Reform Bill a fortnight ago is equally true of a Bill of this magnitude being brought in by private Members on a Friday. But. as I do not wish to detain the House longer than T can, I will do my best now to get away from the direct treatment of the points that have been raised, in order to give the House the reasons that have induced me to put down the Amendment which stands in my name. To some ways this is a very difficult speech for me to make, The matter of the Bill itself digs right into one of the most difficult and fundamental questions in the country to-day, and touches at various points questions which have interested me during the whole of my working life. I have thought so much about them, and I feel that I have so much to say about them, that my difficulty will be in choosing the little that I can possibly say to-day and finding words to express clearly to the House what is in my mind.
I often wonder if all the people in this country realise the inevitable changes that are coming over the industrial system in England. People are apt either to get their knowledge of the industrial system from textbooks, which 835 must inevitably be half a generation behind, or from some circumstances familiar to them at a fixed and static point in their lives, whereas, as a matter of fact, ever since the industrial system began in this country, it has been not only in a state of evolution, but in a state of evolution which, I think, historians in the centuries to come, when they write its history, will acknowledge to be an evolution that has developed at a far more rapid rate than was visible to the people who lived in these times.
I hope the House will bear with me, and forgive me, if I draw for a few minutes on my own experience, because it so happens that, owing to the peculiar circumstances of my own life, I have seen a great deal of this evolution taking place before my own eyes. I worked for many years in an industrial business, and had under me a largo number, or what was then a large number, of men. And it so happened, owing to the circumstances of this being an old family business, with an old and, I venture to say, a very good tradition, that when I was first in business, I was probably working under a system that was already passing. I doubt if its like could have been found in any of the big modern industrial towns of this country, even at that time. It was a place where I knew, and had known from childhood, every man on the ground, a place where I was able to talk with the men not only about the troubles in the works, but troubles at home where strikes and lock-outs were unknown. It was a place where the fathers and grandfathers of the men then working there had worked, and where their sons went automatically into the business. It was also a place where nobody ever "got the sack," and where we had a natural sympathy for those who were less concerned in efficiency than is this generation, and where a number of old gentlemen used to spend their days sitting on the handle of a wheelbarrow, smoking their pipes. Oddly enough, it was not an inefficient community. It was the last survivor of that type of works, and ultimately became swallowed up in one of those great combinations towards which the industries of to-day are tending.
836 I remember very well the impact of the outside world that came on us which showed how industry was changing in this country. Nothing had interrupted the even tenor of our ways for many years, until one day there came a great strike in the coalfields. It was one of the earlier strikes, and it became a national strike. We tried to carry on as long as we could, hut of course it became more and more difficult to carry on, and gradually furnace after furnace was damped down; the chimneys erased to smoke, and about 1,000 men who had no interest in the dispute that was going on were thrown out of work through no fault of their own, at a time when there was no unemployment benefit. I confess that that event set me thinking very hard. It seemed to me at that time a monstrous injustice to these men, because I looked upon them as my own family, and it hit me very 12rd—I would not have mentioned this only it got into the Iress two or three years ago—and I made an allowance to them, not a large one, but something, for six weeks to carry them along, because I felt that they were being so unfairly treated.
But there was more in it really than that. There was no conscious unfair treatment, of these men by the miners. It simply was that we were gradually passing into a new state of industry, when the small firms and the small industries were being squeezed out. Business was all tending towards great amalgamations on the one side of employers and on the other side of the men, and when we came in any form between these two forces, God help those who stood outside! That has been the tendency of industry. There is nothing that could change it, because it comes largely, if not principally, from that driving force of necessity in the world which makes people combine together for competition, and for the protection they need against that competition.
Those two forces with which we have to reckon are enormously strong, and they are the two forces in this country to which now, to a great extent, and it will be a greater extent in the future, we are committed. We have to see what wise statesmanship can do to steer the country through this time of evolution, until we can get to the next stage of our industrial civilisation. It is obvious from what 837 I have said that the organisations of both masters and men—or, if you like the more modern phrase invented by economists, who always invent beastly words, employers and employ´s"—these organisations throw an immense responsibility on the representatives themselves and on those who elect them. And, although big men have been thrown up on both sides, there are a great many on both sides who have not got the requisite qualities of head and heart. for business. There are many men with good heads and no hearts, and many men with good hearts and no heads.
What the country wants to-day from the men who sit on this side of the House and on that is to exercise the same care as the men who have to conduct those great organisations from inside. I should like to try to clear our minds of cant on this subject, and recognise that the growth of these associations is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but that, whatever associations may call themselves, it is the same human nature in both, and exactly the same problems have to be met, although we hear a good deal more of some of those problems than of others. Now, if you look at an employers' organisation for a moment—and we will assume that it has come into being to protect the industry in the world market—we cannot lose sight of the fact that in that organisation, just as much as in the men's organisation, the mere fact of organising involves a certain amount of sacrifice of personal liberty. That cannot be helped. Everybody knows that perfectly well, both employers and employes.
To a certain extent both these organisations must on one side be uneconomic. A trade union is uneconomic in one sense of the word when it restricts output, and when it levels down the work to a lower level. It is an association for the protection of the weaker men, which has often proved uneconomic. Exactly the same thing happens in the employers' organisation. Primarily, it is protective, hut in effect it is very often uneconomic, because it keeps in existence. works which, if left to the process of competition, would be squeezed out, and whose prolonged existence is really only a weakness to the country. It has also another very curious effect, not at all dissimilar front that of the trade union reaction, which shows that both those organisations are instinct with English 838 traditions. The workmen's organisation is formed to see that under the conditions a workman cannot get his living in a particular trade unless he belong 10 that union. An employers' organisation is formed in that particular trade for the protection of the trade, and it has the result of effectively preventing any new man starting in that trade.
In this great problem which is facing the country in years to come, it may be from one side or the other that disaster may come, but surely it shows that the only progress that can be obtained in this country is by those two bodies of men—so similar in their strength and so similar in their weaknesses—learning to understand each other, and not to fight each other. It is perfectly true—every point raised by my hon. and learned Friends is true—that trade unionism has its weak spots. We are primarily discussing trade unions, and that is why I shall content myself to speak about trade unions only. It is perfectly true that my hon. and learned Friends have laid their finger on three points which trade unionists themselves know arc their weak spots. That can be seen by the interruptions that came from the Labour benches. Those three points are, the question whether in all cases the subject of the levy is treated fairly, the question of the ballot, and the question of book-keeping. To my mind, it is impossible to dissociate one of these questions from the other, and they really all hang together. The whole tradition of our country has been to let Englishmen develop their own associations in their own way, and with that I agree. But there are limits to that.
I spoke some time ago—and I spoke with a purpose—about the recognition of the change in the industrial situation in. those works with which I was connected, when for the first time what was done in the way of organising the coal strike suddenly came and hit thousands of men who had nothing to do with it, and had no direct interest in it. As these associations come along and become more powerful, on whichever side they are, there may come a time when not only they may injure their own members—about which probably there would be a good deal of argument—but when they may directly injure the State. It is at that moment any Government should say that, whatever freedom and latitude 839 in that field may be left to any kind of association in this free country, nothing shall be done which shall injure the State, which is the concern of all of us and far greater than all of us or of our interests.
I have not very much more to say. I have just tried to put, as clearly as I can in a few words, my conviction that we are moving forward rapidly from an old state of industry into a newer, and the question is: What is that newer going to be? No man, of course, can say what form evolution is taking. Of this, however, I am quite sure, that whatever form we may see, possibly within this generation, or, at any rate, in the time of the next generation, it has got to be a form of pretty close partnership, however that is going to be arrived at. And it will not be a partnership the terms of which will be laid down, at any rate not yet, in Acts. of Parliament, or from this party or that. It has got to be a partnership of men who understand their own work, and it is little help that they can get really either from politicians or from intellectuals. There are few men fitted to judge, to settle and to arrange the problem that distracts the country to-day between employers and employed. There are few men qualified to intervene who have not themselves been right through the mill. 1 always want to see, at the head of these organisations on both sides, men who have been right through the mill, who themselves know exactly the points where the shoe pinches, who know exactly what can be conceded and what cannot, who can make their reasons plain; and I hope that we shall always find such men trying to steer their respective ships side by side, instead of making for head-on collisions.
Having said what I have said about that, what am I to say about the attitude of the party of which I have the honour to be the head? I do not know whether the House will forgive me if I speak for a minute or two on a rather personal note. For two years past in the face of great difficulties, perhaps greater than many were aware of, I have striven to consolidate, and to breathe a living force into, my great party. Friends of mine who have done me the honour to read my speeches during that time have seen pretty clearly, however ill they may have been expressed, the ideals at which 840 I have been aiming. I spoke on that subject again last night at Birmingham, and I shall continue to speak on it as long as I am where I am. We find ourselves, after these two years in power, in possession of perhaps the greatest majority our party has ever had, and with the general assent of the country. Now 'how did we get there? It was not by promising to bring this Bill in; it was because, rightly or wrongly, we succeeding in creating an impression throughout the country that we stood for stable Government and for peace in the country between all classes of the community.
Those were the principles for which we fought; those were the principles on which we won; and our victory was not won entirely by the votes of our own party, splendidly as they fought. 1 should think that the number of Liberals who voted for us at the last Election ran into six figures, and I should think that we probably polled more Labour votes than were polled on the other side. That being so, what should our course be at the beginning of a new Parliament? I have not myself the slightest doubt. Last year the Leader of the Labour party, when he was Prime Minister, suspended what had been settled by the previous Government, and that was further progress for the time being on the scheme of Singapore. He did it on the ground that it was a gesture for peace, and he hoped that it would be taken as such by all the countries in the world. He hoped that a gesture of that kind might play its part in leading to what we all wish to see, that is, a reduction in the world's armaments.
I want my party to-day to make a gesture to the country of a similar nature, and to say to them: "We have our majority; we believe in the justice of this Bill which has been brought in to-day, but we are going to withdraw our hand, and we are not going to push our political advantage home at a moment like this. Suspicion which has prevented stability in Europe is the one poison that is preventing stability at home, and we offer the country to-day this: We, at any rate, are not going to fire the first shot. We stand for peace. We stand for the removal of suspicion in the country. We want to create an atmosphere, a new atmosphere in a new Parliament for a new age, in which the people can come 841 together. We abandon what we have laid our hands to. We know we may be called cowards for doing it. We know we may be told that we have gone back on our principles. But we believe we know what at this moment the country wants, and we believe it is for us in our strength o do what no other party can do at this moment, and to say that we at any rate stand for peace."
I know—I am as confident as I can he of anything—that that. will he the feeling of all those who sit behind me, and that they will accept the Amendment which I have put down in the spirit in which I have moved it. And I have equal confidence in my fellow countrymen throughout the whole of Great Britain. Although I know that there are those who work for different ends from most of us in this House, yet there are many in all ranks and all parties who will re-echo my prayer:Give peace in our time, O Lord.
§ Mr. J H. THOMAS
If I were sure that a Division could be taken at this moment, I would not delay the House by uttering a sentence. I was in some doubt as to what real object was behind those responsible for this Bill, and I wondered to myself what good could come from a Debate of this character. I am delighted that the opportunity afforded by this Bill enables, not only the House of Commons, but the people in the country, to understand and appreciate the different atmosphere created by people who talk from human experience and knowledge, as distinct from those, who talk from briefs. The things that the Prime Minister was talking about are things that he and I talked about 20 years ago, when people would not listen to the reason that we were then trying to instil into them, but I do hope that it will not take 20 years to convince some hon. Gentlemen opposite how foolish they have been.
I want, first, to congratulate the Government:. on taking a very difficult, but a bold, step. It is difficult for any leader to act in defiance of a large number of Members of his party. But. the task of the Prime Minister was rendered more easy for this reason: He said to himself, "I know there is a revolt, I know there are differences, and I know I shall be blamed, but let me examine exactly what this difference in our own party is. Firstly, we have those 842 innocent Members of Parliament who have listened to all manner of stories about abuse, boycott and intimidation, and who really conscientiously believe that there is a case which ought to be brought forward "and the Prime Minister said to himself," That section of my party I will not bother about, because when I make my speech on Friday they will be all right." Then he said, "There is another section of my party who think they are much cleverer than I am" and he said, "Instead of bothering myself about arguing the merits of this Bill I will just come down and strike the human note, and that will burst them up." But, he said," There is another section of them, who have so burned their boats that. they are hopeless. I will not say anything to them, but. will let them, probably, find an opportunity of not going into the Division Lobby." I wish that the speech of my right hon. Friend had been the tone and temper of the Mover and Seconder, because I am going to speak just as plainly as they. The difficulty is that things said in this House of Commons arc noted outside, and, if they go unchallenged, they will be accepted as fact. The Mover of the Bill said he was not going to deal with the abuses that had been submitted. The Seconder said he had heard of abuses, he knew of abuses, but, for obvious reasons, he could not give names—
§ Mr. THOMAS
Or places. We are not going to allow either of them to get away in that way. Both of them are lawyers, and both of them know perfectly well that, if they went into the Law Courts and attempted to say to a judge or jury, "So-and-so and so-and-so has happened, but we are unable to give you the proof," the judge would say, "Either you do not know your business or you have forgotten what English law really means." Why should those learned gentlemen, with all their knowledge of the trade union movement, and their burning sympathy for it, introduce a new method in the House of Commons? I will tell you, Sir, The Mover of this Bill represents an essentially industrial community. That is to say, there are none but trade unionists in the place he represents. He has got to get at them by a boat, and I under- 843 stand that at the last election he and his opponent, Sir William Sutherland, took a joint interest in a little boat to go to their constituency. There was a rough sea, and they got into trouble. Sir William Sutherland, I am told, was very anxious as to his future. The hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) could not express anything, because he was speechless. But as the boat was rocking, and things seemed to be getting worse, it suddenly balanced. Both said, "Thank God for that," and they looked and found that the real reason was that there were 250,000 political exemption forms which the hon. and learned Member had at the bottom of the boat, and that saved them. Really he knows that everyone who took an active part, like him, in the two previous debates on this question is not here today to tell the tale. Where is the row of the National Democratic party, all champions of the poor down-trodden trade unionists? The only one that remains has had to find another name for himself.
But the Seconder of the Motion became a sort of man Friday. His role is to come down every Friday, perfectly disinterested, knowing nothing of the case, merely as a public benefactor, managing every Friday to put up a good case for some particular business or other. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows what I am going to say. I told him, and I told other Members in the House, because I do not believe in any shady business and taking advantage. I protest against this anonymous letter business for this reason, that I have six letters from six different people naming Members of this House, giving details of money they receive and giving details of funds for certain things, two of them winding up by saying, "We dare not sign our names because we are in the business." What would be thought of me coming to this House of Commons and libelling one of you men? What would you say if I were to take advantage of my place here by so contemptible a means as to say, "You, and you, and you are doing certain things"? When you ask me for the proof I have merely got to say—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?" "What are you talking about?"] The injured innocents! I am talking of anonymous evidence. I am putting to the House that nothing is so unfair as to build a case or 844 make a charge against any man or any organisation unless you are in a position to say, "Here is the evidence. Here is the truth. Here is the name of the informer." I put it to any hon. Member on that side of the House, is it not a fair statement to make and is it unfair to say that what you would not apply individually to your own concern you want to apply to those of us on this side of the House and out. organisation?
§ Mr. GREAVES-LORD
Before the right hon. Gentleman goes any further, he has made a statement that he had six letters. In common with most people I should take no notice at all, because, being anonymous, they are not worth the paper they are written on. But he has left the inference that he has four letters which insinuate a charge which, if it means anything so far as I am concerned, is wholly and absolutely untrue, and I ask whether it is right in the interests of decency in this House to leave an inference of that kind.
§ 1.0 PM
§ Mr. THOMAS
Need I say another word? The hon. and learned Gentleman's very explanation is what everyone of us knows on this side. That is why we resented our unions and our administration and our balance sheets being indicted while unable to meet the people face to face. But I ask the House to observe the different bearing when the facts are examined. The House will remember the famous Osborne judgment, on which this Bill follows. How many Members know that that judgment was given by two lawyers, one of whom became Lord Chancellor, and that the judgment. that was reversed was the words that they advised us to put in our rule book? Let the House have some of the facts in connection with this wicked trade union levy. My own union was framing rules for a political levy. I was present, and I said, "Before you do anything with this matter get the best legal advice. Do not be content with merely having an ordinary lawyer, but let us get the best and most eminent King's Counsel in the country." We looked round. Lord Loreburn, then Sir Robert Reid, was a very distinguished man at the Bar, and we immediately said, "That is the man." Then I said, "Look here, there may be some political bias, not on his 845 part, but when his opinion is given some folks may say he is a Liberal." To get over that difficulty, I suggested Sir Edward Clarke, who was equally distinguished on the Conservative side. We sent our Rule Book to Sir Robert Reid and to Sir Edward Clarke, told them the exact situation and asked them to give us a considered judgment in writing. This is what they said:No special contribution can be enforced except under rules properly made. The test is whether or not., as a matter of fact, the contribution is for a purpose which may be said to involve improving the conditions and protecting the interests of members of the society. It would not be enough if the purpose was to benefit the country as a whole. There must be some purpose which its for the special benefit of members of the society, such as securing the presence in Parliament of men specially qualified or commissioned to represent their views and interests.We then asked Sir Robert Reid and Sir Edward Clarke to draft a form of words to meet this. They did it. Those words we put in our Rule Book. In the interval, Sir Ilobert Reid had become Lord Loreburn. The Osborne judgment was taken out and the Law Lords said that what Sir Robert Reid and Sir Edward Clarke said was illegal, and we were landed in £20,000 damages. That is the history of the Osborne case. The trade unions got legal advice, and that legal advice turned out in the end to be unsound from that point of view. The point I am making is, Does it not show the care and anxiety with which the trade unions conduct their business? What followed? The Unionist party held meetings all over the country, street corner meetings, and resolutions were passed. Here is a column report of a meeting held at Newport. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Clarry) is present. There are, roughly, 16,000 trade unionists in Newport. A meeting was called in order to deal with the injustice of this levy. The meeting was for trade unionists only, and it was held at the King's Head Hotel, the biggest room in which would only hold 54 people. Unfortunately, only 23 turned up. I will quote from a letter which I have received:The first speaker opened with an attack on the N.U.R. Being a member of the N.U.R., I got up and said, Will you please give me proof of this? ' The next thing I knew was that I had to be chucked out.That is an organisation which seeks to protect the' freedom and liberty of these 846 poor downtrodden trade unionists. My hon. and learned Friend the Mover of the Second Reading to-day cannot have discussed this matter with Lord Younger. I wonder what Lord Younger would say of the speeches we have heard this morning. We have heard that it is almost impossible to get exemption; that there is intimidation, and so on.
§ Mr. THOMAS
You were not here in the last Parliament, but you said that the last time this question was debated.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I did not speak then, and I did not vote. I was in Edinburgh on that day. Had I been. here I won'd have voted for it.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I suppose you told your constituents that, and that was why they did not reelect you. The Conservative parry, in Lord Younger's own words, had one million exemption forms. That is a statement of Lord Younger which he will not contradict. They issued with these forms a leaflet, which was distributed by all the Conservative organisations, and on the back of the leaflet were these words:You can get a printed copy from your union. You can get a copy from the Chief Registrar. You can ask an., Unionist agent in your constituency to get one, or if you write to us at Palace Chambers we will send you a book of fifty. Then you can get all your friends to sign them together.These are the poor, downtrodden people who do not know how to get exemption. The statement on the leaflet goes further. This is the Conservative view:If any member alleges that he is aggrieved by any breach of the foregoing provisions, or considers that he has been victimised in any way because he has claimed political exemption, he may appeal to the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies. His protection should and will prove adequate.In other words, the Conservative party issued a leaflet in which they say, in effect: "In our opinion, the protection at present afforded by the law should prove adequate." That is Lord Younger's own leaflet. The proof of that is the return. We had a statement made from the other side of the House that after 847 twelve years' working of this Act, thirty-six cases could only be proved. I wonder if any other organisation in the world could give such a record. What are the characteristics of these claims for exemption? In my own union there have been 52,000 claims for exemption. Not one of the hon. Members opposite dare bring a case where a member of our organisation can show that any injustice has been done. Our organisation is one of the largest in the country. What. is the good of talking about intimidation, when there are 52,000 men who have claimed exemption? What are the grounds of exemption put forward by some of these claimants? I have had a number of the claims sent to the office. They were not satisfied with sending the exemption form; they accompanied it by a letter. A number of these letters have used a phrase somewhat on these lines: "We have paid the political levy for so many years, but we have now come to the conclusion that we will pay no more, because it is unfair. It is a monstrous thing that we should pay, and we are guided and influenced in that view when we now have such a reactionary general secretary. We are not going to pay to him any more." That. is the ground of exemption put forward in these cases. In other words, hon. Members opposite wish to protect and to save from intimidation these National Union of Railwaymen conscientious objectors, who do not think that the revolution is coming quickly enough. Believe me, they are less proud of your championship than you are of them. When the Registrar's returns were submitted, that ought to have been the last. of this Bill. I hope that we shall hear no more about it. There is no Member on this side, or any responsible trade union leader, who desires to intimidate any man.
§ Mr. THOMAS
If any genuine case can be shown, let us deal with it. Let me show the hon. and learned Member the fallacy of his remedy. The underlying motive that the hon. and learned Member and his supporters have is this: "We believe that these people are intimidated. We believe that because they claim exemption, all manner of things happen." That is, in short, your case.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I never spoke of intimidation. I said it was an insult to ask a man to contract out, and I maintain it, apart from intimidation altogether.
§ Mr. THOMAS
There will be common agreement that as far as the nominees go, whoever send them out, the people who speak at street corners on this matter talk about nothing else but intimidation. It will be readily admitted that there has been all manner of talk of intimidation in this House. I am dealing for the moment with intimidation. If hon. Members claim that there is intimidation, how will your Bill cure it? If these minorities are intimidated, that same minority will be known under your system as under Ours.
§ Mr. THOMAS
It only shows that you know nothing about it. I am sure that, now we are on the right track, you will see that you are all acting under a misapprehension. Can you deny that if your Bill becomes law, every man exempted is known to the branch officers under your Bill? That is admitted. Then, if it is, the people who intimidate them now because they know them, will not intimidate them then because they know them. Was there ever such a farcical situation.? These people are going about saying, This is the Bill that will save your life." It is not true, and if they did not know it before, now that I have pointed this out to them, I am sure that they are not going to press their case.
Like the Prime Minister, I do not think that it is a good thing to perpetuate strife. I deplore any tendency to disrupt this movement. I believe that it is a good thing for the country for the employers' organisation and the men's organisation not only to meet but to come together as often as they can. But I have never yet heard any responsible negotiating employer—and it is a very significant thing that these people who claim to know the employer's mind should differ so much from the employers—who was on a negotiating body, and meeting men, and discussed this Bill with me, who did not say, "How foolish these people are," and many of them went the length of saying, "Why will these amateurs interfere in things about which they know nothing?" I am sure that there was no desire on the part of hon. Members to 849 interfere, and that it was all pure altruism on their part. Now that they have seen the error of their ways, I hope that we shall hear nothing more about this matter from them.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
I am sure that all of us in this House feel a sympathy with the Prime Minister and admire the sense of public duty which brings him to attend our debates at a time when his heart must be far away. I admit that the very remarkable speech which he made has destroyed entirely the possibility of my making the speech which I intended to make. I have examined the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I think that I should have little difficulty in exposing its weaknesses and absurdities. The fantastic suggestion that workmen alone should be selected to have a voluntary fund would not have stood the examination of critics for one moment. So far as the party with which I am associated is concerned, our record on this matter has been a perfectly consistent one. After the Osborne judgment, the Liberal Government of that day brought in the Bill of 1913, which, if it did not entirely reverse, at any rate entirely modified the Osborne judgment. It was accompanied by the payment of members, the intention of both being that membership of the House of Commons should be open to any class of persons whom the people elected, and that if it is open to the representatives of the larger interests, it should be open equally to the representatives of the workers, who have to fight those interests.
But it seems to me unnecessary to pursue this Debate any further. The Prime Minister, in that remarkable speech. lifted the whole thing far above the controversy in which I admit I should have indulged with pleasure. He has not threatened, and he has not even admonished. He has appealed to the spirit of fair play and of peace, which is instinctive in the hearts of all of us who sit in this Mouse. I should like to say, in conclusion, because the notes of my speech are in scrap, that I had intended to vote against this Bill. As regards the Amendment, I cannot support it because. it seems to show approval of the Bill, but I imagine that the hon. and learned Member is not going to ask even for a Second Reading of his Bill. I hope that, like us on this side of the House, he will 850 respond to the appeal made by the Prime Minister himself that this sort of recrimination and attack should cease, and that the spirit of peace should prevail.
§ Mr. TEMPLETON
I rise from these benches, which have been so much assailed this morning, for the first time to address the House in opposition to this Bill. I quite agree with what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn), that it is unnecessary to discuss the terms of this Measure, which is already dead, but at the same time, I speak as a Conservative and a Conservative of long standing, who has been himself a member of a trade union, and has endured as much intimidation on account of having refused to pay this levy as any man who could be mentioned, if those who bring forward cases of intimidation were courageous enough to give the names. The intimidation from which I suffered was before the Osborne case. When I refused to pay the levy there was a mark of appreciation for courage and grit which T believe would be given by any body of British workmen.
Having taken that position then, obviously, I do not believe in the principle of a trade union raising money for political purposes. But we are not discussing to-day a Measure which proposes to deprive a trade union of the right to raise a political levy. On the contrary, we are discussing the third measure which gives to trade unions the right to raise money by a levy for political purposes, and it seems to me that the framers of this Bill desire to obtain great kudos from those who are in the trade unions, and desire to appear as some great beneficent angel coming down from heaven to save them from the payment of a bob a year or something of that sort, and they bring forward a measure that is not even plucky enough to propose to abolish the right of trade unions to impose political levies, but takes up the position that no longer must those who want to be out contract out, but that those who want to be in must contract in, and may I point out that there is no compulsion to make this levy. There was when I protested, but there is not to-day.
May I take a liberty and run the risk of being accused of lecturing the House? In my own time I have associated with men of every rank in this country, and I find that between men and men there 851 is a difference in the accent with which they speak there is sometimes a difference in the kind of clothes that they wear, but, taking man for man, we are all pretty much alike. It is with men as it is with women—The Colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady, Are sisters under the skin.Trade unions are associations of ordinary men, and, as we understand them, of ordinary British men. In these associations, whose chief function is the providing of means to help in time of trouble, the whole thinking is left to the few who make the working of the trade unions their hobby. I am not referring to those who are at the head of the greatly inflated combinations of to-day, but to the men in the branches who are fulfilling the arduous duty of the minor offices for nothing or it may be for a very small pittance. Take a trade union branch of 600 members. They meet in a room that cannot accommodate 40, and there is plenty of space for everybody. The whole work of the society is left to the shoulders of the few, and those few, being left to think for the society, in their thinking have gone wrong and have decided that it is the duty of trade unions for the better protection of their members to have a political fund whereby the members of the union may be enabled to become Members of Parliament.
I believe that that is wrong. But those who have been left through all the years to do the thinking for the unions have thought so and have so decided. When they so decided in the National Amalgamated Furniture Trades Association, of which I was a member, I, as one, protested, and there was no law to protect me in those days. I found another way. I anticipated the coming Osborne judgment. I found another way, without leaving the trade union, of obtaining relief from the payment that I believed was unjustly demanded from inc. Then came the Act of 1913, and had that Act embodied a Clause that gave to the trade unions a right to raise a political levy by means of their members contracting in, I would have supported it. But that course Ns-11.s not taken by the most squeezable Government of modern times.The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib.852 Responding to the crack of the whip those who helped in those days to keep them in office, the Government went the whole hog with the trade unionists and passed the contracting-out Clause, which is not as clear and plain as it might be. In spite of the millions of Meysey Thompson leaflets that were scattered throughout the country, there are many members of trade unions who have not taken the trouble to find out whether they have a right to contract out or not. In my opinion, a Measure that would have received general support would have been a Measure compelling the secretaries of the unions to send to every member in proper time details of the method by which a claim for an exemption form could he made. That was not done.
In my opinion, when, the Conscience Clause was inserted in the Act of Parliament of 1906, giving trade unions the right to raise a political levy, everything was done that could have been justly demanded. This Measure brings forward merely the suggestion of a pious opinion that it is a wrong thing that within a trade union money contributed by the men who do not agree should go to the support of a political party to which they do not belong. i have attended Labour party meetings in my time. As a matter of conscience and being a Scot 1 have never put anything into the collection plate. I do not approve of the policy and principles of that party. In the same way as a trade unionist. I refused to contribute the farthing a week—that was the amount at that time—to maintain the political party that I would fight and vote against if an election came in my constituency. But at the same time to endeavour to take powers by an Act of Parliament to give a protection that is not really needed to the men, if there be any, who have riot the ordinary guts to stand up for themselves, is not a Measure which I can support. Let me say this to members of my own party. In the 'seventies Disraeli sought to repeal the penal laws against 'about combinations. I have been imagining these last clays that in the Smoke Room there have been the same conversations going on about trade union tyranny growing in the country. I can remember the speech of one of the great Manchester school of politicians who abhorred trade unions 853 with a holy horror—Richard Cobden. Richard Cobden supported Free Trade in the interest of low wages in Manchester. I remember reading a part of his speech in which he Said:I would rather live under the Bey of Algiers than under a trade union committee.We have been hearing similar sentiments since. In those days, when Disraeli was seeking to repeal the penal laws against labour combinations, and was trying to make it possible for trade unions to live and work in the light of day, the key-note of Tory democracy was that we should trust the workers of the country, realise. that they were British, that they were the sons of British women, and that though they might on occasion do things, think things and say things that were not for the ultimate good of the country, yet finally the common sense, the real love of order and fair play and justice inherent in the hearts of every British man, would bring even the trade unions back to the lines of sound trade policy. I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. Give the unions fair play and the right to think for themselves and the day will come, and that before long, when the old man of the sea of Socialism, with its legs now straddling round the necks of the trade unions, will be cast into oblivion, and free British men of their own accord and their own reason will throw the horrid thing from them.
My advice, therefore, to my hon. and learned Friend who moved the Second Reading of this Bill, and with whom I have fought on political platforms, and will again, I hope, is that, having considered trade. unions from the calm seclusion of a Scottish manse to begin with, then in law offices in Glasgow, then marching in that splendid place that we of Scotland know so well in our Parliament House, thinking deeply over trade unions and always acting for them, having found a glorious seat away in Argyll, where there are no trade unions—my advice to my hon. and learned Friend is that he should examine again this little Bill, carry it with him in his portmanteau when he takes a well-earned rest from his labours here, take it with him away, away to some heathery dell in far Ardnamurchan, and there cremate it!
§ Mr. BROMLEY
I intervene in this Debate to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill, and, more especially, to endeavour to reply to some of the slanders which have been uttered against the' trade unions by the Mover and Seconder of the Second Reading Motion. Apart from that, I think, in the words of my right hon. Friend who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench, that after the great speech of the Premier we might have left the matter entirely as it was. I call it a great speech. It may not be regarded as such in history, because it was so human, and what are called great speeches on the Floor of this House have generally been high flights of rhetoric or great emotion-stirring pronouncements. The speech of the Premier, as I say, was a great human speech and my only regret was that, looking at the serried ranks behind him, I felt he was speaking far above the heads of his followers. If I thought the majority of the right hon. Gentlemen followers understood the human note he struck and were likely to follow him in his anxiety to understand trade unions and the people whom we represent, I should have greater hope for our country than I have. I fear that in spite of the right hon. Gentleman's moving appeal, there is a concentration of opinion on the benches opposite that now when they have a great and unexpected majority, due to a cause of which 1 need not remind them, they should use it first, not for any great ameliorative measures on behalf of the people of the nation, but in order to crush trade unionism and the Labour movement.
It is nauseous to hear the so-called sympathy and love which is poured out with regard to the trade unions. I expected to see one speaker after another on the opposite side produce his handkerchief to wipe away the tears which were coursing down his cheeks. But we know that feeling for trade unionism. We have met the same kind of individual outside this House—the individual who believes in trade unions and sympathises with their objects and admires them. immensely, so long as they do nothing That is not the kind of trade union which is represented on these benches—a something which constitutes a kind of buffer state between the profits of the capitalists, and the down-trodden people, keeping the one from having a share of the 855 other. When we strike we are always the worst people unhung. Everyone who dares to believe in the power of the strike weapon as a last resort is pilloried and misrepresented in the Press, which so faithfully represents the interests of hon. Gentlemen opposite. When we try to achieve our purpose by political action and without the serious disturbances which, as we all know and regret, are caused by strikes, then an attempt is made to cripple and prevent that course also. I understand another notice of Motion has been handed in to try to get at our co-operative movement. When we are attacked on every side by a new Government with tremendous power, and when at the same time its spokesmen weep crocodile tears over trade unionism, is it any wonder that we should take these professions of sympathy with a grain of salt?
May I reply to some of the calumnies which have been hurled at trade unionism, and its political levy. We hear of tremendous difficulties in the way of exemption. It is not true that there are such difficulties, and anyone who has studied the question knows it is not true. One could almost see the tears glistening in the eyes of the hon. and learned Member who seconded the Second Reading Motion, when he spoke about the two three-halfpenny stamps which had to be employed in this process. Everyone knows that there are printed sheets which go in bulk to the branches. 1 speak more especially for my own union in regard to this question, on which hon. Gentlemen opposite do not appear to have the slightest knowledge. We send out, in bulk, printed forms which only require the signature and address of the man claiming exemption. He can hand the form back to his secretary, and it comes to headquarters without costing him a farthing. If he is afraid—and I shall deal with the question of fear in a moment—a halfpenny stamp will send it to headquarters and a printed form of acknowledgment is sent back to him at the same munificent figure. To speak of difficulty and expense in the way of claiming exemption is to mislead those hon. Members who desire to understand this matter. We have heard solicitude expressed for the trade unionists who fear to claim exemption. Anyone who 856 expresses such views is stamped as being absolutely ignorant of the calibre of our trade unionists. Members of trade unions are not so timorous. They are not trembling with fear, and hon. Members who take this view must have got it from the non-unionists.
§ Mr. W. GREENWOOD
Does the hon. Member maintain that all trade unions adopt the same method with regard to exemption forms?
§ Mr. BROMLEY
All the trade unions which make a political levy adopt exactly the same principles, and I am going further with regard to my own union. The Mover and Seconder of the Second Reading Motion did not except any union from condemnation, but attacked the whole trade union machinery. Speaking on behalf of the 60,000 or 70,000 people whom I have the honour to serve, I say that in my own organisation, although it has voted to come under the 1913 Act, no man whether he sends in an exemption form or otherwise is ever asked to pay the levy or is penalised for not paying it. No man has ever been refused a benefit because he has not paid the levy. No man has been pilloried or even pressed to pay the levy, and no question has ever been asked of those who do not pay it.
In spite of that absolute freedom either to pay the levy or leave it alone, the figures submitted to this House on Tuesday, 24th February, and appearing in the OFFICIAL REPORT, show that practically 43 per cent. of the whole membership voluntarily paid the political levy. When you take the juniors from the residue, and the men stationed in twos or fours at little country stations, who do not get in close touch with their branches, and. what possibly hon. Members opposite forget, the larger number of people who do not believe in political action but who believe in some other action, into whose hands hon. Members opposite are playing, when you take them from the residue, you will find that the majority of the trade unionists who have any regard to political action are paying a voluntary political levy. I suggest that it would be well for hon. Members opposite to get out of their minds the thought that they are going, by action of this description, to stop trade unionists paying for political action.
857 Having explained our position in reply to the general charge of tyranny and oppression, I wish to say that I would welcome the passing of this Bill. it would give us a fillip. It would show the exact desire of the present Government, with its great majority, and it would show the trade unionists the force that was to be used against them; and they would react—let hon. Members make no mistake about that—and there would be a greater volume flowing into the political coffers of the trade unions. I have in my mind a little incident that may interest the House, which occurred at the very time when this law was altered. One of our older members, who had always paid his 6d. per half year under protest, when the law was altered could not be asked for it, and the first time he came to the branch meeting he said: "How is it that I am not asked for that 6d. that I have been paying for the last two or three years? "He was told:" The law has been altered now, and you have no need to pay it unless you like." He said: "Does that mean that Parliament is interfering with my trade union?" His secretary said: "Certainly." "Then," he said, "put me down for half-a-crown, to show how much they shall interfere with my organisation." That occured as near as the little town of Southall, on the outskirts of this city, and that is the spirit which would be aroused, and that is why I wish that this Bill might pass. It would not prevent political action, but give a fillip and a stimulus to the men to carry it on all the more.
If we cared to speak about tyranny and oppression, I could mention the case of one of my own branch secretaries in Northern Ireland, who, because of his known political opinions, and because he was supposed to be an adherent of the Labour party, had his house and all our society's books and records burned. When we supplied him with some more, and he took them to his mother's, they were burned there, yet people representing that district come and talk about oppression and tyranny. I defy anyone on the benches opposite to bring home to any trade union a case where any tyranny or any oppression has been used to force this political levy from any of our people. I do not know whether it is permitted to do so, but, if it were, I would wager any hon. Member opposite. and give him an advantage of two to one, 858 that this Debate will increase the flow into the political coffers of my own organisation, and, therefore, the end which they have in view will he defeated.
In conclusion, I would say that it is wrong to endeavour to mislead this House or the public with the statement that all trade unions are forcing their members to do something against their will, and I have intervened to state the case of my own organisation, where over 50 per cent. of the effective membership who believe in political action voluntarily pay the levy, without even the slightest request, much less anything else. To include the whole trade union movement in an attack such as was made by the Mover and Seconder of the Second Reading is neither fair nor honest with this House, nor does it redound to the credit of the great party opposite.
§ Commander FANSHAWE
I have asked to be allowed to intervene in this Debate, first of all, because I feel very strongly on this subject of political levies and trade unions, and, secondly, because I have taken the trouble to inquire very closely into this question in the mines in the constituency which I represent. There I find—I may be wrong, and I am open to correction, but I am personally satisfied that I find—intimidation existing, to the extent that, if a miner contracts out from the political levy, he is persecuted in the pit.
§ Commander FANSHAWE
Not only is the miner persecuted, but his wife is persecuted in their home. I am only expressing my personal opinion on the subject, and I do not wish to go further. I think we ought, in these questions, to go right down to the daily lives of the people about whom we are talking, and the wives of these miners live in mining houses in rows, sharing, for instance, wash houses with a number of other women, their neighbours. Intimidation goes so far on a washing day, for instance, that these women are interfered with. It may be a small point to some of us here, but it is not a small point to them. It is a very easy way of 859 interfering, by petty bullying, with a woman's happiness, and the interference. occurs because the husband of the woman does not contribute to this political levy. The pits have got into the hands of younger men, with very advanced ideas, some of whom have openly told me they are Communists, and the ideas of these people are not at all palatable to the majority of the miners working in the pits. Therefore, the majority of the miners working in the pits, so as to avoid intimidation for themselves and then wives, pay the political levy as a sort of insurance against persecution.
§ Commander FANSHAWE
It is quite untrue for any hon. Member opposite to say that I have not inquired into these matters, that I have not been into the homes of these women, or that I have not been down on to nearly all the coal faces in my constituency, because 1 have. I am not trying to make capital of that.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
It is a common courtesy in this House to give an hon. Member who is making a maiden speech a quiet hearing.
§ Commander FANSHAWE
I have, as I say, been into these pits on to nearly all the coal faces in my constituency, and also into the homes of the miners, which it is my common duty to do. I find these conditions existing there, and I have told the House what I have seen and what opinion I have formed, but I do not. wish to emphasise that. unduly, or to lecture hon. Members opposite or, indeed, any hon. Member of this House. I consider that this question is a very important. one, and far more important than most things that are debated across the Floor of the House. I go so far as to say that I believe this constitutes a great spiritual issue, an issue between what is right and what is wrong. I, therefore, appeal to all hon. Members of this House, quite irrespective of party, to let us agree, anyhow, that it is an issue that is possible. It may be I am entirely wrong 860 about. intimidation in the coal mines. At all events, that opinion is held on these benches, while the opposite opinion is held on the benches on the other side of the House. That being so, I think all hon. Members will agree with me that there must be something in it. Let us take it at that, and, therefore, cannot we appeal to hon. Members opposite to say with us, that if there is any chance of intimidation, if there is any possibility of intimidation, let us get. together and see how we can relieve even that faint possibility, because I believe, as my hon. and learned Friend said, that if there is anything wrong with these great trade unions, which I most strongly uphold, it is bound to cat into the heart of the unions like a canker, and inevitably destroy the unions. We do not want to see that. Therefore, let us come together.
We have had a very great lead from the Prime Minister in a very great speech. He has made a gesture, not only in this House, but a gesture that will be felt. right through the country and right through the universe. Is it not possible for hon. Members, who do not, perhaps, agree on this point of intimidation, nevertheless, in their turn, to make a generous gesture and come in with us on the lines the Prime Minister has indicated, so that we can remove even a faint suspicion of intimidation? I believe in it; hon. Members opposite do not. Can I, without presumption, on the first occasion I have got up to speak in this House, make an appeal to right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Bench, and to the Labour party generally, to admit that during the time of the evolution, about which the Prime Minister spoke, some sort of abuse of administration of the 1913 Act may have crept in? It is possible, and if it has crept in, and if the leaders of the Opposition will show proper co-operation and statesmanship, and give their contribution to this question, they will get industrial peace, happiness for the workers, and, above all, strength for the unions. Let us, if we can, get out of this constant arguing, about small points, across the Floor of the House. We have had a rather regrettable incident about letters. Cannot we forget that, and take the lead given by the Prime Minister in the most generous offer he has made to the Opposition? I, in my humble way, 861 appeal to the Socialist party to respond, and I very much hope they will see their way to do it.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CHARLES EDWARDS
I must congratulate the hon. Member on his maiden speech in this House. After all, though we do not agree with him, he has put his case, from his standpoint, verywell and very clearly. He talked about. intimidation. We deny there is any intimidation whatsoever, even over the wash-tub. I can understand some feeling where a man refuses to join a union, and that, I think, is what the hon. Member refers to, rather than to any political trouble that might exist in the organisation. I am only going to say a few words, because I think all that we have got to do to this Bill to-day is to bury it. There was considerable shuffling as to who was to bring in this Bill. The hon. and gallant Member for North-Vest Hull (Lieut.-Colonel Lambert Ward), I believe, was the first to come along, but he is a very wise man, and knew it would be a very unpopular Bill, and it was passed on to the hon. and learned Member who moved it to-day, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman took over his own pet Bill. Those who took part in defending this Bill in 1923, almost without exception failed to get back to this House, and Iam wondering what effect the very intimation that this Bill was to be brought in had upon the county council elections we have just passed through. I attended a few meetings in Monmouthshire, and when this question was referred to, I found there was very much feeling about it, and I would not like to say it has not had considerable influence in these elections.
I say there is no demand whatsoever for this Bill. Speaking for Monmouthshire and South Wales, I can say that one of our local papers has been pushing this question. There may have been a few meetings in Conservative clubs, held under similar conditions to those which the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) mentioned, but I repeat that there is no demand for this Bill by the workers in the country. There are many things the workers are demanding, and have been demanding for many years, hut, so far, we have not had those reforms brought about. It need not be supposed that if this Bill went through, we should 862 be left out of this House. There were many constituencies during the last election, and the election before, where there was not a single halfpenny in the funds, but they collected their way through, and some constituencies were won under conditions like that. That would obtain again. Therefore, we have no fear whatever about this.
I was delighted with the speech of the Prime Minister to-day. There was heart and human sympathy in it. It is the best thing I have heard for a very long time, and I think I can congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on reading the signs of the times aright. When he said he did not secure his majority on the promise of bringing in a Bill like this, it was the expression of great honesty. If he will accept it from a humble back bencher, I congratulate him upon the human speech he has made. As I say, I was delighted with it. We have heard something about intimidation. So far as I know, there is nothing in it. The miners have been referred to. They are generally the sinners when there is any trouble. I know them very well, and I know the efforts that have been made by Conservatives in the country, in distributing forms, giving them every advice, and trying to induce them to contract out. The men, however, have definitely refused, and because of that this Bill is brought in to effect the object. It is not going to come off. I hope that we shall hear no more about this Bill. The 1913 Act gives every convenience that is necessary, anti every facility, for members to contract out. if I hey wish to do so. The forms are in the lodge and branch rooms if any one wants them, and so far as intimidation is concerned, we. deny it absolutely. I say again that I am glad that this discussion has turned the way it has from the speech of the Prime Minister.
I crave the indulgence of the House which is always given to an hon. Member making his first speech. It has been a surprise to me, from what I have read in the Press, and from what I have heard in the Lobby, to see how matters have gone. I understood that it would be the wicked Conservative party who were pressing this Measure against the Socialists speaking on behalf of the trade unions, yet I myself came down prepared to vote against the Bill. When I had listened to what, if I may with humility, describe as the 863 wonderful speech of the Prime Minister, I was even more convinced than before; when, however, I had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) I began to wonder whether there was anything to be said for the other side. As a member of a trade union myself—I belong to the Bar—I was reminded of a story told by a counsel who was going away from the Court one day in which he had appeared on behalf of the defence. He had gone into the Court thinking he had no case, and came away surprised at his victory. He happened to meet outside the Court one of the members of the jury. In conversation with him, he asked if the verdict was not rather a surprising one. The juryman replied, "Yes, when we heard counsel for the plaintiff and the evidence we were in favour of the plaintiff; when we heard the evidence for the defence we were still in favour of plaintiff; when we heard you, you made no impression upon us, but after we heard counsel for the plaintiff reply, we said: If that is all that can be said for the plaintiff ' we had better find for the defendant."
The speech of the Prime Minister was on a very different plane. It was a speech which particularly delighted those Members on these benches who, however much hon. Members opposite may laugh, are yet sincerely concerned for the future well-being of trade unions, because I believe that trade unionism is not at the end of its tether—it is only at the beginning of a new road. I believe that trade union activity in this country is going to develop along very much fuller and better lines. Naturally, of course, the first and predominant duty of trade unions is the protection of the worker from industrial exploitation. I believe there is a very much greater field for trade union activity than is usually supposed, and I believe the unions ought to become one of the greatest of national forces in the country. It is, therefore, for that reason that I should dislike to see any of the great centres of union activity, whether it is politics, society, or business, removed from the sphere of trade union activity.
I do not want to say very much about this Bill. I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. 864 Charles Edwards) who has just sat down, that the Bill itself is dead It died, I hope, painlessly, and peacefully during the speech of the Prime Minister aod of course de mortuts nil nisibonum. I should like, however, to make just this one general observation, first of all, in regard to what the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Second Reading to this Bill said in regard to abuses. He put his case on a high plane, that the Act of 1913 in itself was an abuse of individual liberty. Theoretically the hon. Member was perfectly right. But the individual has to subordinate his own individual will to the will of the union. Modern civilisation is built up on the infringement of individual liberty. Every Act which this House passes may be said to be an infringement of the right of every man to do exactly as he believes to be right. I think when we are talking about the infringement of individual liberty we can only seriously consider those cases which really entail some hardship or inconvenience upon the individual. Prima facie in this case the only hardship entailed is the mere signing of a document. Even the enthusiasm of the hon. and learned Gentleman who supported this Bill on behalf of principle would, if matters had remained at that, not I think have stirred himself to bring this before the House, because the whole substance of that is, and must, really depend upon the effect of the remedy provided by the Act of 1913. The trade union member may be and often is faced with a choice either of subscribing to the political fund which he knows is destined for the use of the party of which he disapproves, or of facing moral persuasion, intimidation, and coercion. Whether in this case or in any other case, there are only three ways in which you can deal with these offences. You can aim at the incentive, at the means, or at the penalties. You can try to remove the incentive designed to bring pressure to bear upon another man. You can try to make it impossible for him to do it. Or else you can increase the penalty for that offence until it becomes not worth doing.
This Bill is designed entirely on the lines of the means of intimidation. Even on those lines I do not consider those to be the right lines. I consider the Bill ineffective. The means of intimidation must always exist so long as you have the trade union secretary with all the 865 authority of a trade union secretary and the knowledge of who pays and who does not. That appears to me to be a fatal objection to any Bill of this kind, short of taking away the political right of levying altogether. You must always remember a trade union secretary, if he is so minded, is in a position to bring pressure to bear upon the members who do not contribute. This Bill also deals with the question of penalties in a way which is singularly broad. It is indicated in Clause 2, Sub-section (3):If any member of a trade union alleges that he is aggrieved by a breach of any rule made in pursuance of this Section, he may complain to the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and the Registrar of Friendly Societies, after giving the complainant and any representative of the union an opportunity of being heard, may, if he considers that such a breach has been committed, make such order for remedying the breach as he thinks just under the circumstances; …That gives extremely wide powers to the registrar. It opens an engaging vista of what might happen if one had a registrar with really a Gilbertian ingenuity of trying to make the punishment fit the crime. One can imagine that in particularly bad case, where the lodge secretary had been found guilty of the grossest intimidation, that the registrar might sentence him to 12 months' hard labour begging in that part of the British Isles where the response to precarious appeal for charity is not quite as prompt as it is in others! The speech of the Prime Minister dwelt upon what appears to me to be the only solution of these abuses, and that is the removal of the incentive to them. The incentive to intimidation or this kind must be the bitterness which is gradually growing up in our political life, and there, I think, it is possible for politicians, despite what the Prime Minister said, to help the cause along. It is very easy to exaggerate, it is very easy to caricature; it is much easier than relying on facts and sound arguments. For instance, it is very easy for hon. Members opposite to depict the Conservative as a fat gentleman with top hat and spats, frock coat and white waistcoat, sitting caressingly on his money bags. It is equally easy to depict the Socialist as a wild-haired gentleman, with a blood-stained dagger in one hand and a torn copy of the marriage laws in the other. It is even easy to depict a Liberal—[Laughter]—I should have said, 866 it is possible to depict a Liberal, as a modern Warwick intent on the manufacture of party kings, to the exclusion of more pertinent matters.
But we all know in our hearts that none of these things are true, and I believe the great need of the moment is not so much for sincerity in public life, because the vast majority of men engaged in public life are already sincere, as the acknowledgment of sincerity in our opponents. So long as the ordinary man in the street is only told, and is content to believe, that his political opponent is a fool, then even if he is defeated, he is comforted by the conscious feeling of intellectual superiority. But as soon as you tell him his opponent is both a fool and a knave, defeat can bring only bitterness. It is because I think this Bill, by increasing political bitterness, will only increase the incentive to abuses of this kind, without taking any effective steps to prevent them, that I intend to vote against it. May I, in conclusion, thank Members for the patient hearing they have given to me in circumstances which are always difficult, but which are doubly difficult when the making of a maiden speech entails opposition to a Bill introduced by an hon. Member sitting on the same side of the House?
§ Sir PATRICK HASTINGS
May I first of all congratulate the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken on a really—I speak quite genuinely—delightful speech, and may I, perhaps, personally congratulate him on telling us an old Bar story in a new way? The only reason why I have intervened in this Debate, and I propose to do so for only a very few moments, is because I think it would he a real misfortune if the only opposition to this Bill from this side came from Members who were members of a regular trade union—I purposely say "regular" after what the last speaker has said of his own personal experience. This Debate has run a most amazing course. First of all, we had speeches on purely trade union matters, breathing every kind of sympathy and indeed passionate affection, for trade unions from two Members of my own profession. Every word of those speeches was cheered to the echo in a way which is unusual in this House. I have seldom seen so much enthusiasm from the benches opposite me for every word uttered by 867 those two hon. Members, and it was quite apparent that every single Member of the House on that side was in favour of the Bill and was prepared whole-heartedly to vote for it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, it was apparent to me. We then heard a speech from the Prime Minister, arid again, if I may say so without presumption, I should like to say I have never heard, and probably no one in the House has ever heard, certainly for some years, a speech by a Conservative Prime Minister which was so honestly applauded by Members on the benches behind me. But the result, apparently, is that this Bill is now dead.
However, as hon. Members are still speaking in favour of it, I think it is right that. there should be at least a little more frankness from one side or the other than we have had at present. The two hon. Members who spoke in favour of this Bill spoke as though—and the Press of this country has been full of statements to the same effect—the only object they had in view was to prevent tyranny and injustice, and to prevent trade unionists being victimised as the result of the operation of this Act. First of all it is not an unremarkable fact that not a single member of a trade union has had a word to say in favour of this Bill, not one. There is something much more important than that, and the two hon. Gentlemen know it perfectly well. If there had been any genuine victimisation, if there had been one single case of victimisation, is it not surprising that in the last 13 years, with all the resources of the Conservative party—apparently pledged for 13 years to introduce this Bill at the right opportunity—with all the results of the Younger letter, with all the appeals that. have been made, not one single ease has been brought forward of any living man, or dead man, ever being victimised by this law?
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
In order not to be too controversial on this point, may I eliminate the words "one Member," and say, "two," so that the hon. Member will not trouble about James Walters. With all the millions and millions of trade unionists who have paid this levy, with all the resources of the Conservative 868 party, the Press—and we know what a power some of the great Conservative papers have in eliciting information when they desire it—we have not had the names of two living or dead people who have ever been victimised under this law.
It is a sham to say that the object of this Bill is to prevent victimisation, and the two hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded it know perfectly well that if, in any court of justice in the land, a client had come to them and said, "This is the case we want you to put forward," they would have refused to do it. They would have said," No Judge will allow Us to be heard." I cannot help noticing that on the hack of the Bill there is the name of an hon. Member who is a member of another branch of the legal profession who might possibly be instructing those two gentlemen to put forward this case, and if he did it he would take instructions from his client in writing in order to be quite sure that he would have to pay the costs in any event. Not a single shred of evidence—not a letter—not hearsay—nothing has been introduced to show that all the ingenuity, all the money, all the power of the Press and the party, has been able to discover the names of two people who have suffered in the slightest degree from the tyranny which at eleven o'clock this morning the Conservative party was panting to suppress.
Is it not just to say that there has not been much frankness in the introduction of this Bill. The amount realised in this way is £230,000—through the political levy. May I point out that although the Labour party is the second strongest party in this House there are hardly half a-dozen of them who are able to pay even a fraction of their own political expenses. They know perfectly well that the one trouble and necessity and indeed the terror of the Labour party-is lack of funds. Under these circumstances can hon. Members be surprised if every trade unionist in the country feels certain that the only object of this Bill is to prevent that £230,000 being used to fill a lamentable gap in the position of the strongest party in this House.
We have heard the word "loathsome" applied to class war and I believe everyone in this House loathes the expression. I think if you were to change the phrase from class war to class enmity it would be a great advantage. In my own 869 division we pride ourselves on the love of fair play just as you do. In my town at the last Election in my division all we had to take people to the polling station was an old Ford car which could only go for half an hour while on the Conservative side there were at least 50 cars employed. That is an inevitable distinction that already exists.
You know that the fight at the election is in its essentials quite unfair to our party. It is just like two men in the ring going to fight; one is a big fellow trained to use his fists and the other is a half-trained ill-fed person. It is not fair. It may be that our party has to fight with loaded dice, but hon. Members opposite do talk about this class war. [HON. MEMBERS: "We do not."] I say that you do. Why were two most distinguished lawyers put up to defend a hopeless case except to try and convince trade unionists in the country that they wanted to make the fight still more unfair. In my opinion the Prime Minister, although he made a great speech to us to-day, did more to help the Conservative party by preventing this Bill getting a Second Reading than probably many hon. Members opposite realise. This Bill would not have had the effect of stopping the finances out it would have raised such a storm in the country that it would have taken years to die. out. I cannot help thinking that it is a very important thing for some hon Members of this House that this Bill was not withdrawn at once when the Prime Minister gave them a very clear opportunity of doing it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
This is the first time I have addressed the House, and consequently I claim the indulgence which the House invariably extends to an hon. Member in my position. I should like at the outset to say very definitely that I had nothing whatever to do with the introduction of this Bill, and I do not belong to any group that has had anything to do with bringing it forward. But as the representative of a constituency in the County of Durham and a Conservative Member, I do not think I should be doing my duty if I did not express my opinion in regard to the matters dealt with in this Bill.
When I first went- to Durham as a prospective Conservative candidate, I was literally amazed at the state of things 870 which I found there. I was new to politics, and perhaps that was why I was more astonished, but it did seem strange to me that in a free country there should be so little political freedom. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members on the other side I know disagree with me, and I do not expect for one moment that anything I say will influence them. I know perfectly well that as honourable men and leaders of a great movement they would be the last to tolerate anything which goes on such as I have seen in the County of Durham. It seems perfectly clear to me that my duty as a Conservatism Member is to do my best. to make my supporters stand up for themselves and be men, and come out and fight their own battles.
Consequently from the very first I advised them in regard to this political levy to contract out and to go into the union lodges with a determination to assert themselves. I hope in the County of Durham we shall see a revival of Conservatism in the trade union lodges. It is very easy for hon. Gentlemen opposite to tell us that it is up to us to look after ourselves. I wish to goodness that we lived in an age of fairies, and that some passing sprite would transform some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite into Conservative miners in the County of Durham, and then I am sure we should hear a little less about there being no intimidation. and about things being perfectly easy for those who wish to contract out.
Although I hold very strongly that the situation is not as it should be in the county I represent., I am equally sure that what the Prime Minister said to-night is right. The Conservative party has got to stand up for its own people, but it may be able to do this best by acting as the Prime Minister has advised and not by transforming the law. We should get our political opponents to restrain their feelings and believe that we have convictions as well as they have, and that although we belong to trade unions it does not follow that we are necessarily in favour of the programme of the Labour party. I trust this Debate will have the effect of making the people of this country realise that the Conservative party is not out for any small points of party gain, but that it stands for the interests of the great democracy of this country. If we can do things without legislation which will lead to 871 better relations between employers and employed, we should do our best in that direction. If it is found to be impossible to do what we wish without a change in the law, then we must have the courage to bring forward a Bill which will revise the whole question of the position of trade unionists under the law. This is not a subject for a Private Member's Bill, and I hope it may become the duty of the Government to bring forward a Bill dealing with the whole subject.
§ Mr. GREENALL
I wish to say a few words upon the Second Reading of this Bill very largely because of what has been said in regard to it outside this House. There has been a great change during the past few weeks in regard to the position taken up by hon. Members opposite upon this Measure. I believe that change has been brought about largely by the information which the Press of the country has published, and which hon. Members opposite have had conveyed to them with regard to the facts in connection with the case which has been brought before the House to-day. We are told that the object of this Bill is to protect the poor downtrodden Liberal and Tory trade unionist. The hon. Member who has just sat down (Lieut.-Colonel Headlam) made some statements with regard to his experience in Durham, but where is the information that he says he has got? Why does he not give it us It is no use hon. Members coming to this House, and it is no use the Press writing as they have done with regard to this matter, unless they give us some real facts as to the working of the present Act.
What are the real facts' The Mover of this Bill (Mr. Macquisten) said that working men must have sonic organisation to protect them—truer words were never spoken—from politicians as well as from employers of labour. Working men are realising that fact. I want to give a few facts with regard to the working of this Act. I belong to the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation. that has a membership of from 80,000 to 100,000. During the whole of the time of this Act we have tried loyally to carry it out, and I was rather pleased that the seconder (Mr. Greaves-Lord) seemed to credit Lancashire above one or two others with having tried to do something in this direction. I hold in my hand a circular which 872 is sent out to the whole of our members every month. It is there printed that any member who desires relief from paying the political levy only needs to ask the secretary of the branch for a form, to fill it up, and to send it to the General Secretary in order to be exempt. That has been going on the whole of the time, and. although that circular has been sent out. and although the organisation to which the party opposite belongs has spent hundreds, nay thousands, of pounds, in the Lancashire coalfields with a view to inducing men to sign these papers, we have received only 33 objections. Where is the tyranny? Where is the objection taken 1 Where is the Liberal or Tory down-trodden trade unionist?
That is not all. The Conservative party in Lancashire commenced a great campaign. They sent out speakers, and we were told that they were well paid. Certainly, they stayed at the best hotel:. For upwards of two months they were carrying on this campaign, holding out how hard it was and what a scandal it was that the Liberal and Tory trade unionists should be compelled to pay this levy. Of course, we can understand that in a place like Lancashire, where there are some people of independent opinions they asked some questions, like we have asked Members in this House. Give us your information? Who and when, and where and how 1 Of course, they could not give that information. The result of that great campaign was that there were only 18 papers sent in to our head office, papers that the Tory party had got printed, thou sands of them, and handed round both to miners and trade unionists. This was in the months of November and December of 1921. and after all this trouble and the expenditure of all this money, 18 papers have been sent in by both Liberal and Conservative members who object to paying this levy.
The object of this Bill, as my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir P. Hastings) has pointed out, is to cripple and kill, if possible, the Labour party. Already Labour candidates during elections are at a great disadvantage owing to the motor car scandal, and, if anything be wanted, it is to prohibit the rich man having the advantage over the poor man at elections in the use of motor cars. I hope that either hon. Members on that side of the House or on this, or some 873 Government, will take that matter into consideration. If there be anything unfair in the world, it is this disadvantage under which the poor man labours. It does not make very much difference to the poor man who belongs to the party opposite, because, whether he has plenty of money or not, he gets plenty of motor cars at an election. I myself have contested against a poor man. He was poorer than I thought he was, and I sympathise with him in his position, but when he contested against me he had 40 or 50 motor cars, and I had none. The ordinary working man and woman is realising to-day where that money came from. They also realise where the. money comes from that the Tory landlord and the Liberal employer contribute to their political funds. They realise that it comes from the same place as our money with which we are paying this political levy. It is created by hand and brain, and it makes no difference as regards its origin whether it is paid in thousands of pounds by Liberals or Tories or in sixpences per month by ordinary working men and women.
The object of this Bill is to cripple and kill the Labour party. I believe, from the Prime Minister's speech this morning, that the Prime Minister realises what would be the object of this Bill if it were passed into law. I am inclined to think, however, that it would not be a bad experience if it were. We on these benches, who really understand the position that would be. created, are not troubling very much whether this Bill is carried into law or not. It will not damage us, and I will tell hon. Members why. It is because we. had the experience of the Osborne Judgment. When the Osborne Judgment was given, I and my right hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh), the late Minister of War, at the request of the miners in Lancashire and Cheshire, decided that we would step into the breach which had been created by that decision. Our members said, We want to pay this political levy independently of the Osborne Judgment," but our then secretary and treasurer said they were not prepared to collect it, that It would be a great breach of the law, and neither of them wanted to go to prison. My right hon. Friend and myself were not very particular about going to prison, so we said," If you want to pay this political levy we 874 will collect it." We collected it during the whole of the time from the Osborne Judgment until the present Act was passed, and not a single person refused to pay. As much money came into our political fund during that time as we had before or have had since.
What was the real result to the Labour party of that decision? It was that the Labour party has increased in numbers ever since. It gave it one of the biggest fillips ever given to it, as Far as the number of its members was concerned, and paved the way for the large increase of the Labour party in the. House of Commons. I remember that other people have tried to kill the Labour party by adopting certain methods. I remember being very much interested a year or two ago in the action taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). Hon. Members will recollect that not very long ago he went about the country asking both Liberals and Conservatives to join with him, saying that he was out for killing the Labour party and wanted the best brains of the Liberals and the best brains of the Tories to join with him in that object. As the result of that., at the last election but one, the Labour party was returned in such a majority that we were called upon ultimately to form a Government. The result at the last. election of his doing that again was that his party, instead of being, as they used to be, the great Liberal party, with its great traditions and sitting on the Front Benches, is now relegated to the two Back Benches below the Gangway. The Labour party is still growing and spreading throughout the country, and that is the result of the attempts to kill it and to prevent it from getting finances. I have put a few facts before the House, believing that it was necessary to do so in order that, if possible, Members may carry them out into the country. I want to say, in conclusion, that not a single word of complaint has ever been uttered, by any of the thirty-three persons who signed the paper in Lancashire, as to any pressure in any direction being brought to bear upon them because of the action they took in signing it. Therefore, I say that the reasons given by the Mover and Seconder are fallacious, and that the only reason is to prevent the progress of the Labour party amongst the people.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
I rise to give my unqualified approval to the Bill which has been introduced to-day: but, having said that, and in giving that unqualified approval, I have not discovered any reason why I should qualify my support of the leaders of my party. I have the authority and the approval of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten), who introduced this Bill to-day, and also the like approval and authority of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Greaves-Lord), who seconded, for saying that they for their part are content to agree to the Amendment which has been moved from our Front Bench.
Having said that, I should like to turn to an observation which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), who quipped us on this side with an observation that the Mover and Seconder of the Bill were not dealing with atmospheres, but only speaking from briefs. Be that as it may be as far as those two hon. and learned Gentlemen are concerned, I, at least, can claim to speak entirely in the atmosphere of the situation as it relates to the working man. It is well recognised in this House that we do not like to touch upon personal experiences, but sometimes, as has been discovered in the speech of the Prime Minister to-day, it is inevitable that these things should rise to the top. and that personal experiences should emerge in our utterances in this House. Jt is now 37 years ago since I turned out at five in the morning to be at my work at six. I had to go through all the experiences which hon. Members opposite so loudly parade before the House, and I understand and feel and know, as deeply as they do, all the things they wish to represent.
But there is something more than that. I have passed through all those experiences in all the grades, and I have emerged through the intermediate stages which put me to-day in the position where I have the responsibility of providing labour. The responsibility of providing labour is a far greater responsibility and a far greater task than any question of seeking a job, as in the past I have had to do. When I hear paraded from the benches opposite their claim alone to know what it is to be a working man, it makes me shudder. I claim, with authority, that the people who are most entitled 876 to lay down the law with full experience, are those who go through every grade, and do not stop short at the position of merely earning a weekly wage. We all agree that no greater dignity can fall to the lot of any man than to claim that he is an honest man, and a toiler, and a weekly wage-earner. But if you say you should hold that out to him as the height of his ambition, I disclaim it. The ambition should be to go further on. I always think it is not the point at which you have arrived, but the distance by your own energy, ability and sacrifice you have travelled, which should command the approbation of your fellow-men. Socialism is the negation of this thesis. It decrees that every man should move along the narrow, level, uninteresting side streets of life, finishing as he began, contributing nothing of the individuality he holds in trust to the common stock of social progress, doomed to bury his talent, to be dug up at his death no better than if it had been held in trust in an empty tomb. No, Sir, if this be true, the spirit. is dead, the carcase alone remains.
To come more particularly to the Bill, what is the principle that is embedded in it, the principle which has been safeguarded in the past, and which alone has produced in this House of Commons to-day upwards of 150 Socialist Members? It is the principle which every Conservative in time past stood for, the principle through good report and ill report of the maintenance of political liberty. Do you deny it Can you deny it? Now we come to this Bill in front of us. There is nothing in it—I challenge anyone to show it—
I do not think these allegations ought to be made against us unless we have an opportunity of replying.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
If I have said anything to hurt the feelings of hon. Members opposite, I did not wittingly do it, and I certainly withdraw it. I challenge anyone in the House to show that in this Bill there is anything but one thing, the restoration to every man and woman in 877 the country of what is their undoubted right. By an unfortunate statute something was taken from our men and women which it is not within the right of any Government to take away. It is the bounden duty of the great Conservative party, upon the appeal of any small number of men, whether trade unionists or not, wherever it is shown that in any statute on the book to-day the political liberties of any small number of men—I go as far as that—is taken from them, on a petition to the great Conservative party it is the duty of that party to see that their political liberty is restored to them. What is the central point of the Bill which establishes this great political principle? It is what is popularly known as contracting in or contracting out. It has been alleged on the benches opposite that there is no difference between contracting in and contracting out. I think there is a great difference. At present you have to contract out, and that means that you have to establish a register of victims of compulsion. That register of the victims of compulsion is a small one, and every member who contracts out is easily known and followed. But reverse your policy, give the men the right to the freedom they are entitled to, and you then establish a totally different register, a register of volunteers to a cause. Will not your movement be much strengthened. if every contributor to your political fund is a voluntary contributor to it? Why not return to these men their right of political liberty and not condemn them to be serfs and slaves only entitled to get their liberty on signing a trade union form? There is not a trade unionist who can deny that principle. There is not a trade unionist who can deny that the growth of their own movement has been fostered and founded upon that very principle.
I do not think it is necessary to say more to commend the principle of the Bill. I have already said, with the authority of my hon. and learned Friends, that we are supporting the attitude of the Government in relation to the Bill to-day, but I should like to say—it has been forecast in what I have already said—that we as Conservatives cannot for a long time let matters rest. We will welcome an approach from the trade unions and an offer from them of some- 878 thing which restores to their men their liberty. God forbid that we should want to take political credit or make political capital out of this thing! There is a great privilege waiting now for trade unionism to take advantage of it, for trade unionists to say to their fellow-men, "We have been perhaps a little blind. We restore to you your liberty." [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh, They apparently do not understand the great gift of liberty. Will you not take advantage of it and do the big thing and restore to your own men the freedom which is yours? We do not want to make any capital out of it. Not a whisper will he heard from these benches, saying it was our idea. All we are saying is, give back to these men their liberty. If you refuse to do it, the time is not far distant when the matter will have to be reconsidered and a Bill must be presented to the House. At first I was sorry that our leader, whom we all respect and admire, was compelled take the line of action he had taken, but on reflection I was driven to the conclusion that perhaps he is right. It leaves open to hon. Members opposite the right of bringing about their own salvation in a short space of time. Without offence to my leader, I should like to address to him and to the Front Bench words which occurred to me as I was coming down to the House to-day, and of which I am very fond: words written by a kinsman of his own, After the halt, and we cannot determine as to the period of that halt, I would say to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues:Go to your work and be strong.Halting not in your ways;Baulking the end half wonFor an instant dole of praise;Stand to you' work and be wise—Certain of sword and Pen—Who are neither children nor gods,But men in a world of men.
§ Mr. SEXTON
After listening to the speeches from the proposer and secondor of this Bill, and the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, one cannot but contrast their speeches with that of the Prime Minister. The ointment with which the Prime Minister annointed a sore wound was very sweet, but there is still a fly in the ointment. The Amendment does not meet the case of the Labour party; at least, it does not meet my case. 879 I pass by what I regard as the most unwarrantable interference by the promoters of this Bill in the domestic concerns of trade unions. It would be equally as unwarranted for trade unions to interfere with the domestic relations of the Law Association. I have no doubt that the disclosures from that source would be even more alarming than any disclosures in connection with the trade union move men t.
The hon. and learned Members who moved and seconded the Bill are connected with the legal profession. I am only a layman. My somewhat varied experience of the Law Courts as an official of a trade union has convinced me that there is something in the law of evidence. The hon. and learned Members have spent their lives, in the legal sense, studying the law of evidence. l do not want to say anything offensive, but it appears to me that the result here to-day shows that their substance has been wasted upon the desert air. Not one single jot of evidence did they produce. What they did not provide in argument they made up in amusement. As I listened to their speeches, it appeared to me that the amusement was more fitted for a different arena. It only required me to close my eyes and to hear the crack of the ringmaster's whip to complete the illusion. We heard nothing but hearsay. Not one solitary case was produced. All that we heard was that politics and trade unionism do not mix; that what was good enough for the trade unions of our fathers is good enough for trade unions to-day, and that there is no justification for interference in politics by trade unions.
It reminds roe of the fable of the fractious mule who kicked down his stable and was cudgelled by his owner the next morning for destroying his property. The mule complained that the stable was a foul stable for any decent mule to live in. The employer retorted by saying, "Your father lived in that stable for 30 years and never murmured.'' The mule replied, "You seem to forget, sir, that my father was a jackass." I do not care about Acts of Parliament being applied to trade unions. The Act of 1882, instead of being a help, was a burden to trade unions. A trade union is an economic fallacy if you like, but what is responsible for the creation of trade 880 unions? The economic conditions in which the workpeople have to live, produced by laws made in this House by employers of labour, and administered by them, prior to the coming of the Labour party into this House. To dissociate trade unions from politics is impossible.
In 1889 we had a dock strike. All we asked for was decent hours of work, factory inspection, the protection of life and limb at the docks and an increase of the age at which boys might come in to work. We did not ask for any advance of wages, but simply regular hours of work. At that time there was no inspection, and the hospitals were filled with cripples. Boys of 12 came in and worked in the clocks, which were outside the Factory Act. Then we had the strike. The employers were not only employers at the docks. They were members of the town council, members of the dock board, Members of this House, and guardians of the poor—Heaven save the mark! The blacklegs came to take our places, with the result that two of our men, under the Trade Union Act, were put on picket duty to prevent the blacklegs taking our place. They were arrested and taken before a bench of magistrates next morning, the same men who had locked them up, and they got two months' imprisonment and went to prison. The wives and children of these men applied to the Poor Law board for outdoor relief, and it was refused them by the same men who had locked up their husbands.
When the strike was over the Government sent clown a bill for £8,000 for the maintenance of the troops who had been sent down to protect the employers' property and shoot down the dock labourers if necessary. The employers, who were Members of this House, Members of the City Council and members of the Dock Board went up from the City Council, and under the Order of this House compelled the Government. to pay a share of the £8,000 for the maintenance of the soldiers who had been sent down to shoot these men. Then we are told that trade unionism should not be mixed up with politics. The very essence of trade unionism is war against the economic system produced by laws passed in this House.
It has been said by the introducer of this Bill that the Act of 1913 was passed over the heads of those who were interested in it. The Act of 1913 was carried 881 in exactly the same way as every other Act of Parliament which is passed in this House. An Act of Parliament passed by this House and placed on the Statute Book is supposed to be compulsory on all His Majesty's subjects, except in cases where provisions are made for contracting out. What does this Bill do '? It absolutely travesties the established procedure of this House. It upsets the established principle. It says that instead of contracting out you must contract in. What would happen if this were applied to every Act of Parliament) No Act could exist for more than 12 months, and only those who signed into the Act would be liable to obey it, and those who refused to sign could ignore every Act of Parliament. That is the principle it is thought to apply in this Bill. Why should the trade unions be singled out for this departure from every established principle of this House 1 It is not because of the fatherly care for trade unions which is suggested by hon. Members opposite, who have their tongues in their cheeks all the time. It is because they know that the working man is habitually careless in signing documents, and that whatever enthusiasm he may have he has a permanent dislike of periodically signing documents.
If the Mover of the Second Reading had taken the House into his full confidence he would have told us that he had in his bag or brief some very valuable so-called evidence with respect' to the County of Durham. As a matter of fact it was referred to passingly by an hon. Member above the Gangway. We were tc be told that in Durham these downtrodden trade unionists were compelled to pay the political levy, and the hon. Member who spoke from above the Gangway paraded before us a phantom host of 100 men in procession. Unfortunately for the hon. and learned Member's brief, only on Wednesday last these downtrodden and intimidated trade unionists of Durham got a working majority on the Durham County Council, and away went the whole of his brief in two minutes. In this Debate there has been really nothing for us to answer; there has been not one shred of evidence produced. Under the guise of the candid friend the real object of the promoters of the Bill is not to help trade unionism, but to hamper it. Let me quote words that I have perhaps used before in this House, for they meet the 882 case. They are the most famous lines of Canning:Give me the avowed, the erect, the manly foe:Bold I can meet—perhaps may turn his blow;lint of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send,Save, save, Oh ! save me from the candid friend.
When I came to this House and sought a guide, philosopher and friend, the hon. and learned Member who moved the Second Reading of this Bill advised me not to be in a hurry to make my maiden speech, but to wait for what he called a favourable opportunity, and he thought a favourable opportunity would occur when he introduced a Bill, of which he was then very fond, known as the Small Shopkeepers Bill. I agreed with the hon. and learned Member that it would be A very favourable opportunity and that, if I were lucky enough to catch your eye, Sir, I should have made my maiden speech against that Bill. I do not think for one moment, that because of my opposition the hon. and learned Member was frightened, but I think he saw the error of his ways, and instead of that Bill introduced a Bill to which I could give and still do give my hearty support. It is founded on a principle of the Conservative party, namely, the liberty of the subject and had it not been for the appeal made by the Prime Minister to these benches, I think the majority of us would have gone into the Lobby for the Bill. But the Prime Minister made his apnea. after reading the Amendment which he put down and in that Amendment he approves of the principle of the Bill. It has been in the party's programme, and we have pledged ourselves to it. Hon. Members on these benches voted for it in 1922 and 1924 on a private Member's Bill, and, perhaps in my ignorance, I do not quite understand why what was good for a private Member's Bill in 1922 and 1924 should be bad for a private Member's Bill in 1925. That point of the Prime Minister's argument, I am sorry to say, did not appeal to me. The right lion. Gentleman appealed to us to make, a gesture, and when he said gesture he referred to what the late Prime Minister has said with regard to Singapore. Will hon. Members recall that we had to go hack on the gesture made by the late Prime Minister, because it was not 883 accepted in the spirit in which it was meant, and if the gesture of to-day by the present Prime Minister is not accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite, I sincerely hope and trust the Prime Minister will bring in this Bill as a Government Measure, or perhaps another Bill which will go a good deal further? I suggest to hon. Members opposite that a fitting answer to that gesture made from the Government Front Bench to-day would come from the unions connected with the agricultural workers. They only represent, it is true, about 70 per cent. of the men working in agriculture, but they should do something to answer this gesture by authorising their men to go into the Agricultural Conference and thus have it resuscitated. Another way is for hon. Members to persuade the builders' unions to provide houses. The answer to the gesture cannot be made by providing for contracting in instead of contracting out because that needs legislation and cannot come from the Opposition Benches. I do not desire to detain the-House much longer because I have been bobbing up and down since 12 o'clock and it is only because I have given a pledge that I will not be long that I have had the opportunity of making my maiden speech. There was one thing I wanted to deal with, and that was the view of many hon. Members and of the late Prime Minister that a minority within a movement had no views, or ought to have no views, against the majority. The late Prime Minister, during the Debate on the 1913 Act, said this:If an individual joins a trade union, he joins that trade union as an organisation which has got a certain nature, certain functions, and a certain utility. It is mere moonshine, mere abstraction. and without any meaning at all to talk about individual right within that organisation, which means the paralysis of t hat organisation."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th August. 1912; col. 3068, Vol. 41.]We, on these benches, stand for the rights of the individual, and it is because we hold those views that we are ardent supporters still of the, Macquisten Bill, but for the reasons that I have stated, we are not going to press the Bill. [Laughter.] Hon. Members who laugh perhaps do not know what loyalty to a leader is, but on these benches we are loyal, and we follow the lead given by our leader. In conclusion, may I refer to 884 a speech that has been referred to on several occasions to-day, which confirms me in my own view that it really was a good maiden speech, and that was the speech that came from the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell). He said that politics to many people are the same as their religion, and he asked, What right have I, as a churchman, to enter the house of God to worship in my own way, when I know it is being maintained and supported for my benefit and the propagation of those things in which I believe by money compulsorily extracted from people who regard my views as anathema? If I might paraphrase that, I would ask, What right have hon. and right hon. Members opposite to come here on money compulsorily extracted. and express views which many of the people from whom they get the money regard both as blasphemous and unpatriotic?
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
I am sure I am expressing the opinion of the whole House when 1 offer congratulations to the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Bird), who has just given us such a forcible and vigorous maiden speech. I congratulate him as sincerely upon his speech as I disagree with the matter of it. I submit that the position has changed with regard to this Debate since the speech of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour), who has told us that the- promoters of the Bill are withdrawing the Bill and accepting the Amendment of the Prime Minister. When my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain Benn) spoke earlier in the Debate, he then responded to that, if I may be allowed to say so, most magnificent and moving speech of the Prime Minister suggesting that we should lift the whole question out of the realm of party politics and of bickerings on one side and the other, and my hon. and gallant Friend refrained from discussing the merits of this Bill, hoping the same course might be followed by the rest of the House, and that we might not have got into an acrimonious discussion, but rather. we might have responded to the suggestion of the Prime Minister that an attempt should be made to raise this question, and other questions which are now troubling the industrial world, on to a higher plane, because only in that way could we find a satisfactory solution.
885 However, the vote, if it comes to a vote, I take it, will be on the question of the Prime Minister's Amendment, and that Amendment, in effect, as the last hon. Member has so well stated, is in support of the principle of the Bill which is to be withdrawn On that question, there. is no shadow of doubt as to where my friends and I stand in the matter. We stand by the 1913 Act, which it was the proud privilege of the Liberal party to introduce. That Bill was introduced in order to give Labour an opportunity of expressing itself in open and authorised ways, to put Labour politically in a position of equality with other parties who had more finances and other resources upon which to fall back. We do not recede one iota to-day from the position we took up.
How does this, Bill give effect to what it calls principles of political liberty? Surely the only thing it does is to say that the voluntary funds of trade unions are to be subject to regulations and conditions which are foreign to the voluntary funds of any other body and any other party. Surely, under ordinary conditions, ark organisation by the majority of its members can decide how its funds shall be used. You do not interfere with the disposal of the trade union funds when they are concerned with any other matter than that of politics. When they want to make contributions to hospitals, to higher education or other purposes, they are immune front these restrictions; but when you happen to get on to the question of politics, you then say that their funds are to be subject to special regulations. Why do you not say the. same with hegard to the funds of employers' associations? The limited liability companies, under their articles of association, are at liberty, in very many cases, to use their funds for political purposes. If hon. Members opposite are so concerned about the liberty of the individual, why are they not setting their own house in order? If it be right for limited liabilities companies and employers' associations to use their funds for political purposes without restriction, without restraint, why this method of class legislation and differentiation when you come to deal with the funds of trade unions? The shareholders of many limited companies have no right to contract out when their money is being used for political purposes. I submit that 886 if hon. Members opposite want to have the liberty of the subject, they should set their own house in order before attempt-Mg to interfere with the trade unions.
The position has changed radically owing to the speech of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour). The issue now before the House is one for or against the principles underlying the Bill. The third ground that those who sit on these benches still favour the Bill of 1913, of which they were proud authors, is because it is a Bill which has given liberty and freedom to the trade unionists to express themselves in the political world in a way open and above-board. Hon. Members opposite want to drive the political activities of the trade unions underground. It is infinitely better that they should be pursued in the broad light of day. I submit the protection afforded by the Act of 1913 is in the main adequate for the purpose that is required.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I would claim the indulgence of the House, like so many hon. Members before me, for a maiden speech. I confess that the speech of the Prime Minister has raised the Debate altogether to a higher level than that which has obtained since he sat down. After the speech of the Prime Minister, it may seem impertinent of a new Member to speak on this subject, and particularly one who is not connected with either side of the two opposing parties, if I may say so, who are mainly concerned with this question, either the employers or the unemployed, to give any opinion on the matter. Yet after all this question is one which hits so deeply into, the whole life of the country that every one, whether he is involved in industry 01' not, must give it consideration and must arrive at a conclusion. We cannot admit for one moment that those on the other side of the House who have imputed unworthy motives to the introducers of this-Bill are right. Yet at the same time—I speak as one who from the first has been an opponent of this Bill—while I do not agree that the motives leading to its introduction were unworthy, I am forced to the opinion that certain results would ensue if the Bill were passed: it is for this reason that those motives must be suspect in the eyes of the country.
The whole country, 1 think, will look on this question, and those that are not 887 more intimately concerned will put to themselves three simple, logical questions. They will say: Does a grievance exist? Is the proposed remedy adequate? If the remedy is adequate, does it bring in its train any other evils which are S3 great as to render the Bill inappropriate? Let me turn first to the question of grievance. I think those of us wh3 approach this question with, if I may say so, an open mind—perhaps the open mind of ignorance—will consider that the course of the Debate, and what we have read, shows very clearly that such victimisation as may exist is actually and in fact in very small measure. I see it is quoted in to-day's "Times" that the Registrar gives the figure at 33 cases in 11 years. But that, by no means, settles the question. Victimisation, if it is successful, will result, not in many but in few cases coming to light. It would be victimisation by fear and not by fact that is most effective.
Let us, even while we admit that there may be victimisation in fear or fact, look at it surely as something which can be removed, as the Prime Minister said, by some less radical Measure, or some Measure not so suspect in the eyes of the whole country as this which has been introduced to-day. Is the remedy adequate? I have heard nothing either from the Mover or the Seconder, or from those who have spoken in favour of the Bill that would lead me to believe that this Measure would stop victimisation. Possibly it might make it less; on the other hand, it appears to me it might equally well increase it. That, however, would not be my main reason for voting against the Bill, if it should go to a. vote, and I earnestly hope it. will not. I, in common with so many other Members on these benches, was much impressed by the speech of the Prime Minister, by that practical idealism for which the whole country respects him and believes in him, and he has preached a doctrine of unity it is for that reason that I should record my vote against, the Bill should it go to a Division. We have heard so often of statesmen who could keep their ears to the ground that it is a pleasure to find one who aims high. If it were necessary to alter this political levy, to put in contracting-in in the place of contracting-out, and if, as I think is clearly indicated, the result of that would be to 888 reduce the funds of trade unions for political purposes. surely that is a sufficient reason why we on this side of the House would not support it. Do we want the trade unions of this country not. to be represented in the House? Do we want them in every industrial dispute to be forced back upon the remedy of the strike, as opposed to ventilating their difficulties in Parliament? If it is not going to have that effect, it follows obviously that either the argument that there is at present victimisation falls to the ground, or that such victimisation as exists will still go on. I suggest that before a Measure of this sort is brought in we should take away from trade unions the reasons for which they require these funds. If I am right in thinking these funds go to the payment of expenses of elections, or even if some of the money goes to other political purposes, and if the effect. of a Bill of this sort is to reduce the available funds, is it not possible for us to reduce the purposes for which these funds are required either by reducing election expenses, or taking some other steps of that kind? I do most. sincerely hope the Conservative party, the party to which I have the honour to belong, will be the party to remove such evil as exists, and I hope that in remedying that evil it will have the full consent and support of the party opposite, and bring together employers and employed in one great movement towards unity.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
One feature associated with this Debate which must have given general satisfaction to the House, irrespective of party, is the number of very interesting and commendable maiden speeches to which we have been treated to-day. I do not know that in my long association with the House I have ever heard quite so many of those speeches in one short day's Debate, and I want to offer my congratulations to the hon. and gallant Member who has just resumed his seat. A short time ago we had a speech from the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) who said he spoke with the authority of the Mover and Seconder of this Bill. In his speech he intimated the course which he and is friends were prepared to follow. That speech and the announcement it contained makes it absolutely essential that our position on these benches should be 889 made absolutely plain. If the course which the hon. Gentleman hinted at is followed, the Amendment moved by the Prime Minister will become the substantive Motion to be voted upon by the House. I should like to point out that that Amendment contains a reference of approval to the principle of the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am not surprised that that statement should have brought forward the cheers with which it has been received by hon. Members opposite.
I want to say two things about the very interesting speech which has been made by the Prime Minister, and the Amendment which was moved by the right hon. Gentleman at the conclusion of his speech. First of all, let me say a word or two on a purely non-contentious subject. I am quite sure that all of us, however much we may differ from each other on the important question which we are now considering, could not but listen with intense satisfaction to the speech which has been delivered by the Prime Minister. In my opinion it was a speech which showed evidence of being founded upon sincere conviction and influenced by very clear vision. It took me back to speeches which I used to listen to delivered by very prominent politicians in the year 1919, immediately after the Armistice. Perhaps the right hon, Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) will forgive me making reference to him.
I listened at that time to several speeches which contained the same high idealism with regard to industry, as the speech of the Prime Minister. I want to congratulat2. the Prime Minister on his speech, but I hope it will have a more permanent result than the speeches to which I have referred, delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead. The right hon. Gentleman presided over a great industrial conference, which was one of the greatest things ever done in this country, and if only the spirit which impregnated those speeches had been carried through as it ought to have been, it would have exercised the most beneficent effect upon the industry of this country, and it would have had something to do with shaping the politics of this country. I notice the Prime Minister said very little about his Amendment. I suppose that having raised the Debate to such 890 a very high tone, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman thought it best not to deal with the controversial aspects of the ease. The right hon. Gentleman might have had another motive, namely, that he thought the less he said about his Amendment the more unity he would have in his own party.
After all, this Amendment, if it be adopted to-day—and I have no doubt it will be—does commit those who vote in favour of it to the principle of this Bill. That principle, I submit, may be summed up in a few sentences, not of my own, but from a speech which I heard delivered in this House by a right hon. Gentleman who has occupied the distinguished position that the Prime Minister occupies to-day—I refer to the late Mr. Bonar Law. When the 1913 Act was passing through this House, and had reached the Third Reading stage, the late Mr. Bonar Law made a most interesting announcement. May T say, in passing, that the Third Reading of the Bill passed without in Division, which, I think, was a very clear indication that the entire House was prepared to accept the principle of the 1913 Act. Mr. Bonar Law used these words:Whether I am right or wrong in my view that political action is a bad thing, I am perfectly certain that that evil cannot be cured by pressure from outside. On the contrary. I am convinced that the more political parties of the House of Commons inter fere with the internal work of trade unions, the more they will strengthen those who desire political influence."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January. 1913; col. 1686, Vol. 47.]I commend those words to the consideration of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who may be disposed to vote for the Amendment and to vote with the intention, mark you, of bringing all their influence to bear upon the Prime Minister and his Government to proceed on lines entirely contrary to the principle and view that I have just quoted as given expression to in this House by the late Mr. Bonar Law. I can only say this, that if we follow the line I think it was of the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Bird) and not only introduce a Bill similar to the one which we have before us now, hut, as he went further and said, a Bill that will go much beyond—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That is cheered. Very well, we will wait and see. But 1 said that I rose more particularly to put our position before the House. We cannot 891 vote for this Amendment. We cannot vote for it, because as I have already said, the Amendment contains an approving reference to the principle of this Bill. We cannot support the Amendment, because we are of opinion that no case has yet been made out for a change in the law.
I know that several references have been made to the numerous grievances and complaints that are supposed to be very widespread throughout the whole of the unions which have political funds. I am associated, as I have been for forty-two years, with this trade union movement. I happen to be the honorary president of one of them, and I have very full opportunities of knowing what is going on in connection with the unions, but I cannot find evidence of these numerous and widespread grievances among trade unionists, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, as we have been reminded more than once to-day, seemed to me to destroy entirely any case that ever existed by the answer he gave the other day to the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), when he said that. out of all the unions with a membership, even with the reduced numbers that have come since the War, of some 4,000,000, and including a period when we had some 6,000,000, the net number of cases coming within the cognisance of the Registrar-General amounted only to 66 over a period of 12 years. This is a very important alteration of the law that is suggested, even in the Amendment moved by the Prime Minister. It is an alteration which, if carried into effect, even on the lines of the Bill we are now discussing, would place the members of the trade unions in a more anomalous position than the members of any other association in this country. I have here, and if I had had time I would have quoted them, cases in connection with great. employing corporations. I have here the cases of the British Empire Union, the British
|Division No. 32.1||AYES.||[4.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent,Dover)||Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)|
|Alnsworth. Major Charles||Atholl, Duchess of||Bellairs, Commander Canyon W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth. Drake)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Balfour. George (Hampstead)||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Balniel, Lord||Berry, Sir George|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Bethell, A.|
|Ashley, Lt.-coi. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman|
§ Commonwealth Union, and the Federation of British Industries, and what do I find? Are they not participating in politics? The hon. and learned Member who introduced the Bill says that there is no compulsion, but the point I want to bring out is this: The money subscribed by the shareholders of these concerns is being used for political purposes, and no hon. or right hon. Gentleman can get up in this House and say that those shareholders have ever been balloted in their individual capacity—not in a single case. Tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been used in the past for political purposes in this way, and the shareholders have never once been consulted. What is the position with regard to the trade unions compared with these great employing corporations? The union is first of all balloted, and in some cases is twice balloted; and, when the ballot has been taken and the union fund is set up, the individual member can claim exemption. What is it now proposed to do, even if this Amendment is carried and legislation is promoted on the principle of the Bill, which the Amendment. approves? Four million trade unionists will be made to take the trouble of contracting in because there have. been 66 cases of complaint. No one can contest that argument; it is a fact, as has been shown by the Home Secretary himself; and now, because 36 complaints have been brought to the notice of the Registrar-General, you are going to make 4,000,000 trade unionists do this—and, mark you, by a principle which, as I have already said, has not been applied to any existing organisation in this country. For all these reasons, when the Amendment comes to be the main Motion before the House, we shall ask all the Members of the Labour party to go into the Lobby against it.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 325: Noes, 153.893
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Ford, P. J.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Forrest, W.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Fraser, Captain Ian||M'Connell, Thomas E.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Fremantle, Lieut.Colonel Francis E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gates, Percy||MacIntyre, Ian|
|Brass, Captain W.||Gee, Captain R.||McLean, Major A.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon William Clive||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Gower, Sir Robert||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Grace, John||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Brittain, Slr Harry||Greene, W. P. Crawford||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Grentell, Edward C. (City of London)||Maitland, Slr Arthur D. Steel-|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Gretton, Colonel John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Brown-Lindsay, Major H.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Malone. Major P. B.|
|Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Manningham.Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Bull, Rt, Hon. Sir William James||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mellor, R. J.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Coln. Charles D.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Merriman, F. B.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hammersley, S. S.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hanbury, C.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Harrison, G. J. C.||Mitchell. Slr W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hartingten, Marquess of||Moles, Thomas|
|Cassels, J. D.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col, J. T. C.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hawke, John Anthony||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxt'd, Henley)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Charter's, Brigadier-General J.||Henderson, Lleut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Christie, J. A||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Nall, Lieut,Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Herbert. Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & W h'by)||Neville, R. J.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Newman, Slr R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Neild, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Coilox, Major Wm. Phillips||Holland, Sir Arthur||Oakley, T.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Homan, C. W. J.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Cooper, A. Duft||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Cope, Major William||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Courtaula, Major J. S||Hopkins, W. W.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Isllingtn. N.)||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Perring, William George|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Crook, C. W.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Peto, O. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Crookshank, Col, C. de W. (Berwick)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Phlllpson, Mabel|
|Crookshank,Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hume-Williams, Slr W. Ellis||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Huntingfield, Lord||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Dalziel, Sir Davison||Hurd, Percy A.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hutchison, G.A.Clark (Midl'n & P'bl;s)||Radford, E. A.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Inskip, SIr Thomas Walker H.||Raine, W.|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Jackson, Lieut-Colnnel Hon. F. S.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jacob, A. E.||Renner, J. R.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Remnant, Sir James|
|Dixey, A. C.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Rantoul, G. S.|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston).||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Drewe, C.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Duckworth, John||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Rictordson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Edmondson, Major A J.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ropner. Major L.|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lamb, J. Q.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemolith)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.||Rye, F. G.|
|England, Colonel A.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Salmon, Major I.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lloyd, Rt. H n.Sir G.(E Sussex, E'stb'ne)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Falls, Sir Charles F.||Loder, J. de V.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Looker, Herbert William||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|'Finburgh, S.||Lougher, L.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew. W)|
|Fleming, D. P.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Slr Frederick H.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Sinclair, Cal. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfst)||Templeton, W. P.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Skelton, A. N.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinedine,C.)||Thomson, Sir W.Mitchell-(Croydon,S.)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Smithers, Waldron||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Wood, Slr Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Spender Clay, Colonel H.||Warrender, Sir Victor||Wood, Sir S. Hill- High Peak).|
|Sprot, Sir Alexander||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Watts, Dr. T.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)||Wells, S. R.|
|Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Starry Deans, R.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Williams, Corn. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Styles, Captain H. Walter||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
§ Words added.
That this House, while approving the
principle of political liberty embodied in the Trade Union (Political Fund) Bill, is of opinion that a Measure of such far-reaching importance should not be introduced as a Private Member's, Bill.