HC Deb 26 November 1925 vol 188 cc1757-68

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [20th November], "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

Question again proposed.


I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day three months."

We have spent the whole of this evening discussing the great problem of unemployment, and now we are going to pass the Third Reading of a Bill setting up machinery to deal with the effects that arise from unemployment. There is not a single line or word in this Measure that is of any worth in dealing with social and industrial conditions. I may be told that the first Clauses of the Bill, dealing with probation officers, are very good proposals, and that it is a good thing to give more power to the authorities to employ the probationary method and to employ the officers necessary to carry it through; but it does seem to me that we are loading up the Statute Book with all kinds of arrangements for dealing with effects.

Only a few minutes ago people were discussing the evil effects of the dole, and the evil consequences of unemployment, and we have ended that Debate without any reference at all to any remedy to be applied. When you come to probation officers, however good they may be, these probation officers can only deal with an individual young man or young woman, and probably get them in a better frame of mind and willing to make a new start; and yet there is no new start provided for them at all. They go back into the same conditions. It is very like what happens when persons are suffering from phthisis. They are taken away to a sanatorium, where they get plenty of fresh air and good food, and are put on the road to recovery, and then they are sent back to conditions which just undo all the good work that has been done to their bodies by the treatment in the sanatorium. It seems to me that, until this House realises what was said to it in the last few minutes of the last Debate, we shall be continually creating this kind of machinery, and continually spending large sums of public money on the working of that machinery, and that at the end the social conditions will remain very much what they are. It is like trying to ladle out the ocean with a spoon.

One of the Clauses here allows good people—I suppose it means people like those who manage the Church Army or the Salvation Army—it allows an organisation to appoint a probation officer, and the money for the payment of that officer may be paid to the society. I do not object; as a matter of fact I have done some work with some of these societies. I know perfectly well that many of their agents work extremely hard and are very self denying and do an enormous amount of very fine and good work on behalf of the poor and on behalf of the prisoners themselves, but if a tenth part of the thought were given to dealing with the causes it would be infinitely better for society. Let anyone count up the enormous number of agencies, voluntary and legal, that are set up for dealing with what are called social evils and bad conditions of life. I should think they are numberless, and the reason is that you cannot focus peoples' attention on causes. We used to be told years ago that it was a bad thing to give money away in indiscriminate charity. Then we commenced to organise it and we are no better off now. The evils are still there, and when all these probation officers have been appointed the thing they have been appointed to combat, unless the conditions that produced the evils are dealt with, will still remain the same. It may sound an extraordinary thing for me to say, but after seeing the East End of London and the Poor Law, the Charity Organisation Society and the Hospital Societies and the Salvation Army and all the organisations we have down there, the social conditions of the people are, if anything, worse than when I went there to live as a boy. The main reason why I am taking this attitude on this and other Bills is that I want to try to make the House understand that we are not really dealing with fundamental things at all but. only with their results, and this is true about prisons and what is called justice.

There are two other things. Perhaps we do not print a Bill after the Report stage, but Clause 31 is still here. I suppose it will be taken out when it goes to another place.


It has been taken out already.


I got this copy out of the Vote Office only an hour or two ago, and Clause 31 is still here.


That is as amended in Standing Committee. The Bill has not been reprinted for Third Reading, but in my copy I have struck out Clause 31, as decided on Report stage.


I said that it might be that it would be taken out when it was presented in the other place. One Clause of the Bill deals with the publication of portraits and sketches of persons, being a judge, a juror, a witness or a party in any criminal proceedings before the Court. The objection which I and others took to that Clause was that we were only dealing with a very tiny part of a very great evil. There is another Clause which I think should have been taken out with Clause 31. I am always rather hesitant in speaking about the law and lawyers in the presence of so many lawyers, especially in the presence of the Attorney-General, because one never knows what may happen to one. When I remember what is being done now, and that the course of promotion in the law is from the benches opposite and from the benches on this side, I think the power given in Clause 42 is a very dangerous one: Any warrant lawfully issued by a justice for apprehending any person charged with any offence may be executed by any constable at any time notwithstanding that the warrant is not in his possession at that time. I objected to that Clause on the Report stage, and I object to it now, for the reason that there is a growing feeling among people like myself that neither the Government nor the police care very much for legality when they desire to get their own way. They send their men to search and take away and deal with people just as if they were criminals, long before they get to the Court. In this Clause you are giving power to a man or, it may be, a woman, to represent himself or herself as a police officer and to search a person's house.




I know that it does not say that they may search the house, but when you go to arrest people and you see things lying about—.[Laughter.] The hon. and learned Member for Swin-don (Mr. Banks) laughs. He treats all these matters as a great joke. It may very well be that a Socialist Government may want to keep certain "Die-hards" of the Tory party in order, and then the laugh will be on the other cheek. I am not certain that they would take it quite so tamely as the working classes take it. I sat in this House for a short lime when the Tory party were fewer than we are, and they made a much bigger fight about things than we are making, although they had a much less worthy cause to fight for. If the Liberal party had brought in a Clause like this, under which the house of Lord Carson or any of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench who were engaged in the Unionist conspiracy at the time could have been searched, it is not books, but much more dangerous weapons that would have been thrown at statesmen.


The Liberal Prime Minister raided my office.


I am sure you objected to it. If a future Socialist Government were to attempt to send a man to search or arrest you, without his producing a warrant giving him authority for doing so, this House would not hold to it, because your sense of justice and fair play would be outraged.[Laughter.] Hon. Members may treat this as a joke, but it is a matter of serious complaint that any man or woman may be arrested by a person who is not a police officer, and. with a lot of people about who belong to the British Fascisti and want. to assist the right hon. Gentleman in the execution of his duty, there is no telling what would happen to us under such a Clause. I suggest that in another place words should be put in providing that the person must produce his authority as a constable. I am told that under the Regulations a constable is supposed to carry his authority. It does not say so here. If any of us were kidnapped, as Mr. Pollitt was kidnapped, if hon. Gentlemen had been kidnapped by Socialists, the kidnappers would not have got away with it.[Laughter.] There is no use in laughing at facts. The fact is that a man was kidnapped, and a van was stolen and no one was punished for these things. If this power is to be given to police constables, then they should have to produce their warrants as police officers. It is no answer to my argument to say that that is the law, and that a police officer is bound to carry his authority. What I want to guard against is these amateur police officers and detectives who want to play a practical joke on some Socialist, Labour man, or Communist whom they happen to meet. It is for these reasons that I move the rejection of the Bill. I just recall that the main reason—the others are incidental—is that when this Bill is passed this House will not have done one iota to lessen crime, because the Government will not have removed one of the causes that make for crime.


I beg to second the Amendment.


Are we not to have any reply from the Government? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I should have thought that the Third Heading of a Bill, the rejection of which had been moved by the Opposition, would have involved some speech from the Government. Meanwhile, may I say a word or two on the question? An opponent of mine, who once sat for Newcastle-under-Lyme, said that, as a result of many years in Parliament he had come to the conclusion that the best method for any Member of Parliament to follow was to vote against any new Act of Parliament and in favour of the repeal of any existing Statute. Although he was a Conservative, and that may be a Conservative doctrine, there are occasions on which it may apply to Measures introduced by this Government. This Bill is one of a type of social reform that has been used over and over again to soothe the feelings that have been harrowed by injustices. Hon. Members opposite do not understand the sort of indignation that is aroused on those benches by this Measure. They know perfectly well that we in this House allow a system to endure which deprives the children of this country of any chance of growing up as we would wish our children to grow up. The children of this country grow up under a system which condemns them in advance, too often, to the penitentiary or the brothel. While we know that that is the system which we allow to endure, we take the miserable results of that system and lavish on them careful social reform legislation of this type.

This Bill introduces measures long overdue for the improvement of the probation system. It establishes probation officers. Many hon. Members of this House have worked for many years for that and for many other prison reforms. Hut is it not about time that we applied our minds to stopping the production of these criminals instead of dealing with them once they are produced, to stopping the conditions which force these unfortunate results upon us, and the necessity, when the criminal is produced, of passing social reform measures? In this Bill we see a belated attempt at curing the results of a criminal system. On these benches we are not going to be grateful for social reform; we are not going to thank the Government for bringing in these Measures. We are going to tell them quite frankly that we shall not be satisfied with anything they may do, until they get to the root of the evil and put an end with us to a system which produces criminals and deprives the children of the common people of this country of a chance of growing up into decent human beings.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman told the House just now that we on this side of the House were quite unable to appreciate the indignation caused by the introduction of a Bill of this type. It is a pity he did not think of that last year when his Government introduced it. Possibly it was for that reason that the only excuse he gave for voting against this Bill, which his Government introduced last year, was that it was introduced by this Government this year. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill expressed his grounds, so far as I could follow him, for objecting to the Bill as being that it was only a Bill to amend the law with respect to the administration of criminal justice, and not a Bill to carry out some measure of social reform. If the hon. Member had looked at the long Title to the Bill he would have seen that the reason why the Bill deals with the administration of criminal justice is because that is the subject of its Title, and the only subject with which it can deal. Therefore the fact that it only deals with the subject which it purports to amend seems hardly a reason for objecting to its further progress. When the hon. Member came to specific Clauses there were only three to which he referred. The first was Clause 31, which no longer exists. The second was Clause 40, with regard to which he said he did not object to anything that was in it but to something that was not in it. The third was Clause 42, with regard to which he told the House that it enabled anybody who was not a police constable to arrest persons, and that in the distant days to come when a Socialist Government was in office they would use the power apparently to arrest their political opponents. If the House will look at Clause 42, they will see that it does not give power to anybody who is not a police constable to arrest anyone at all. It only gives power to persons who are constables to arrest, under certain conditions. I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Member in his anticipations, hut, in fact, if he looks a little more closely still, he will see that it only gives power to arrest after a warrant has been issued, and in this country warrants are issued, not by any Socialist or other Government—


That is very clever indeed. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will see, however, that my objection was that the person could be arrested without the production of a warrant, whether it was issued or not The right hon. and learned Gentleman is not at the Old Bailey now.


Nor is the hon. Gentleman.


I should be just as comfortable there.


If hon. Members look at Clause 42, they will see that the hon. Gentleman's fears or hopes, whichever they are, are unfounded. They will find that the only effect of Clause 42 is to permit a constable and nobody else—


A uniformed constable?


Any constable. [HON. MEMBERS: "A special constable?"] Any person who is a constable, not anyone who falsely pretends to be a constable, to arrest a person, not any person, against whom a warrant has been lawfully issued by a justice, and, as I was pointing out when I was interrupted, since warrants are issued by justices and not by Governments, the opportunity of arresting people who have not been charged and against whom a justice has not thought it right to issue a warrant does not in fact exist. I think, therefore, the House will see that the Clause is a perfectly reasonable one. It only allows a constable to arrest people against whom warrants have been issued, although at the moment the constable finds the person he may not have the warrant with him. That may prevent a criminal escaping, but it hardly does any harm to an innocent man against whom no warrant has been issued. This Bill has been very completely discussed in three different Parliaments, introduced by three different Governments, and approved on each occasion by a very large majority when it was not passed unopposed, and in these circumstances I think the House might take what, in our judgment at any rate, is a distinct im- provement of the law without any further discussion.


Am I right in supposing that the power already exists with regard to felonies and, I think, with regard to a number of misdemeanours?


My hon. and learned Friend is right in thinking it exists with regard to felonies. With regard to one or two misdemeanours, I am not quite sure, but at any rate this only gives power to arrest after the issue of a warrant.


It is not really a novel power in itself.


I want to know whether, in the event of a gentleman arriving to make an arrest, he has anything to show the person arrested that he is a constable. Does he carry something with him that is not a warrant to show his authority?


Not by this Act of Parliament, but by the law of England already, a constable has to have his authority as a constable, whether he is acting under Clause 42 of this Bill or under any other Statute.


May I elucidate two points which the right hon. Gentleman has not explained, in spite of the undoubtedly amusing nature of his speech? He has not told us whether this Bill is exactly the same Bill as was introduced by the previous Government, or whether, as every Member of this House who laughed at that statement, but perhaps had not taken the trouble to read the two Bills will know, this Bill contains many objectionable Clauses which were not in

the Bill which the House had submitted to it last year. The second thing I want to know, which the right hon. Gentleman did not help us to find out, in spite of his humour, is how, when someone comes to arrest us for our Bolshevistic tendencies, when someone comes to arrest me because I believe—and the longer I am here the more sincerely do I believe— that some very definite methods will have to be used to get better government in this country, if he is in plain clothes and has no warrant, I am going to know he is really qualified to hale me into the dock for the kind of justice which the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for the City of London and others are in the habit of administering. Take the recent case which has obtained so much attention in this House. Supposing those friends of hon. Members opposite with such distinguished military records, who distinguished themselves by holding up a newspaper van, had, after production of their weapons, chosen to state that they were constables, how was the driver of that van to know whether or not it was a faked attempt. I do suggest that those who hold contrary opinions to hon. Members opposite are entitled to some kind of elementary justice, and that the Government are not entitled to put a grave and dangerous Clause of this sort in a Bill, when men have actually declared in this House that they do not intend to give the same kind of justice to people with whom they disagree as they do to their friends behind them.

Question put. "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 243; Noes, 40.

Division No. 419.] AYES. [11.45 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Burman, J. B.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Burton, Colonel H. W.
Ainsworth, Major Charles Bethell, A. Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward
Albery, Irving James Betterton, Henry B. Campbell, E. T.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Birchall, Major J. Dearman Cassels, J. D.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Centr'l) Blades, Sir George Rowland Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Blundell, F. N. Cazalet, Captain Victor A.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton
Apsley, Lord Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Charteris, Brigadier-General J.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Chilcott, Sir Warden
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Brassey, Sir Leonard Christie, J. A.
Atholl, Duchess of Briscoe, Richard George Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Brocklebank, C. E. R. Clayton, G. C.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Cobb, Sir Cyril
Balniel, Lord Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.
Banks, Reginald Mitchell Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y) Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Bullock, Captain M. Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips
Beamish, Captain T. P. H. Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)
Cooper, A. Duff Hume, Sir G. H. Rice, Sir Frederick
Cope, Major William Huntingfield, Lord Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Salmon, Major I.
Crawfurd, H. E. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Jacob, A. E. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Sandeman, A. Stewart
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) King, Captain Henry Douglas Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert Lamb, J. Q. Sanderson, Sir Frank
Curzon, Captain Viscount Lane-Fox, Colonel George R. Sandon, Lord
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Dean, Arthur Wellesley Little, Dr. E. Graham Savery, S. S.
Dixey, A. C. Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Drewe, C. Loder, J. de V. Shaw, R. G (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Looker, Herbert William Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwallty) Lougher, L. Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Elliot, Captain Walter E. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Smith, R. W (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Lumley, L. R. Smithers, Waldron
Everard, W. Lindsay MacAndrew, Charles Glen Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Macdonald. B. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Sprot, Sir Alexander
Panshawe, Commander G. D. McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Fielden, E. B. Macintyre, Ian Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Forrest, W. McLean, Major A. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Macmillan, Captain H. Storry Deans, R.
Fraser, Captain Ian McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Macquisten, F. A. Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Gates, Percy. MacRobert, Alexander M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Maraesson, Captain D. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Goff, Sir Park Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Grant, J. A. Merriman, F. B. Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Greene, W. P. Crawford Meyer, Sir Frank Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Gretton, Colonel John Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Wallace, Captain D. E.
Grotrian, H. Brent Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Warrender, Sir Victor
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Moore, Sir Newton J. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Hanbury, C. Morden, Colonel Walter Grant Watts, Dr. T.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Morris, R. H. Wells, S. R.
Harland, A. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Harris, Percy A. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Harrison, G. J. C. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Hartington, Marquess of Nuttall, Ellis Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Oakley, T. Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Haslam, Henry C. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Hawke, John Anthony Penny, Frederick George Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Wise, Sir Fredric
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Perkins, Colonel E. K. Wolmer, Viscount
Henn, Sir Sydney H. Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Womersley, W. J.
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Phillipson, Mabel Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Herbert, S.(York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by) Pielou, D. P. Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Power, Sir John Cecil Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Hogg. Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Preston, William Wragg, Herbert
Holland, Sir Arthur Price, Major C. W. M. Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Holt, Captain H. P. Ramsden, E.
Homan, C. W. J. Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hopkins, J. W. W. Remer, J. R. Sir Harry Barnston and Major
Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Rentoul, G. S. Hennessy.
Howard, Captain Hon. Donald
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hayday, Arthur Ritson, J.
Barr, J. Hayes, John Henry Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Batey, Joseph Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Smith, Ben (Barmondsey, Rotherhithe)
Beckett. John (Gateshead) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Stephen, Campbell
Bromfield, William Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Tinker, John Joseph
Charleton, H. C. John, William (Rhondda, West) Viant, S. P.
Cluse, W. S. Kelly, W. T. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Dalton, Hugh Lee, F. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Day, Colonel Harry Lindley, F. W. Whiteley, W.
Duncan, C. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Dunnico, H. March, S. Windsor, Walter
Gibbins, Joseph Paling, W.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Pottts, John S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES. —
Groves, T. Richardson, R. (Houghton-1e-Spring) Mr. Lansbury and Mr. Scurr.
Hardie, George D.

Bill Read the Third time, and passed.

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