HC Deb 02 December 1926 vol 200 cc1521-30

Resolution reported, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the Law with respect to the constitution of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, it is expedient to charge on the Consolidated Fund the yearly salary of two thousand pounds to lie paid under the said Act to each of the two persons to he appointed thereunder to be members of the said Judicial Committee.

Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


In view of the discussion which took place last night, I think it is only right to put some further questions to the Attorney-General, as the Minister in charge of the Resolution, in order that we may have more light than we were able to obtain yesterday evening upon the implication of this Money Resolution. I think it is only fair to this House, to the taxpayer, who may be involved in larger liabilities than are apparent, and to the Judges themselves, who may be offered these appointments, that we should ask two questions. The limit is this: In the event of the Indian Legislature not agreeing to grant the additional £2,000 per Judge, can we have a definite statement as to whether or not the Attorney-General or some other Member of the Government is coming down to this House again to ask for a further £2,000 per Judge; whether, in other words, in the event of the Indian Legislature refusing to do its part of the bargain, the salary of these Judges will be 12,000 or £4,000? The second question is: May we have a definite statement as to whether or not these Judges on their retirement are to get pensions, and, if so, how much the pensions will be? I think I am correct in saying that in ail other cases of judicial appointments of this magnitude, pensions are paid, and I submit that it is only fair that we should have a definite statement, "Yes" or "No," as to whether it is the intention of the Government that pensions should be attached to these posts.

The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)

The short answer to both questions is in the negative. But to make it quite clear, because there seems to be some misunderstanding, in the first place, the Government do not intend to ask for another £2,000 for either of the Judges, and, secondly, the Judges do not get pensions.


Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly explain his first answer further, that the Government do not intend to come to this House for a further grant? Does that mean that there is a pre-arranged plan that the Viceroy in India will use his powers of certification, and will use Indian money against the wishes of the Indian Legislature?


The answer is "No."


Do we understand the position to be this, that these judges are to be appointed at £2,000 a year, with the possibility that the salary may be increased to £4,000 if the Indian Legislature freely so decides, that, if not, the salary remains at £2,000, and that there is no obligation on the Government and no understanding with the candidates that if and when they retire, pensions will be granted?


I have no knowledge of any appointments made. The matter is not within my purview. The only salary that this House is being asked, or is going to be asked, to pay is £2,000 per Judge, as I have already stated.


These points were raised last night, and, owing to the rather cloudy indefiniteness of the answers given then by the Attorney-General, it is just as well that we have it very clear that the Government are definitely pledged to this House that they will not come to this House to ask for another grant to pay pensions to those two gentlemen, or a pension to one of them, on retirement providing this Government stay sufficiently long in office. The question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Saklatvala) has not been answered. The Noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for India might surely answer that, and not the Attorney-General. Will the noble Lord answer the question put in regard to the Indian Legislature? That comes within his purview, if it is outside that of the Attorney-General.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Earl Winterton)

I can only give the hon. Member exactly the same answer as I gave him when he put precisely the same question yesterday, and that is, that, in the first place, it would be highly improper for me to attempt to predict to what decision the Assembly in India, the elected representatives of the people, will come in the future; and, secondly, that I am not prepared to give any undertaking or pledge or statement on what action the Government of India will take in hypothetical circumstances.


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why it is they are not waiting till the Indian Legislature has taken a decision on this matter, one way or the other? It is an undignified position in which to place a judge—that his wages, or salary, should not be settled; that he should be told it. is £2,000, with a problematical additional £2,000 from India. Would it not be better to withdraw this Vote till the Indian Legislature have settled what they will do? it seems to me that the result of rushing the matter through now will be that a certain degree of compulsion will be used towards India, and I hope the Minister will condescend to give some explanation as to why it cannot be delayed.


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question? Does he pledge this House that he will not come down and ask the House—I am asking for a pledge from the AttorneyGeneral—will he pledge the Government that they will not come to ask for money for pensions for these two gentlemen?


Will the right hon. Gentleman say when it is proposed to make these appointments?


An answer was given yesterday, but I repeat it. We hope to make the appointments at the earliest possible moment, that is, as soon as possible after We get the Bill on the Statute Book, the reason being that there are, as I explained yesterday, a very large number of Indian appeals, and it is of vital importance that there should not be undue delay, and that there should be an adequate tribunal to deal with them. The Privy Council are urgently in need of the assistance which this Bill will give.


The question we want settled is a perfectly simple one. As I understand things, the Noble Lord has contradicted the Attorney-General. When the Attorney-General was asked whether, in the event of the Indian legislature refusing to grant this money, the Viceroy would use his powers of certification the Attorney-General said "No." I understand from the Noble Lord now that he will give no pledge en that matter. And what some of us object to is passing this Vote to-night which will, by implication, of the Indian legislature disagree with it, leave it within the power of the Viceroy to make the Indian people pay something which, through their chosen representatives they decline to pay. I hope before this is ended that the two right hon. Gentlemen will make up their minds which answer we are to have. If the representatives of the Indian people are to be overridden, then the Vote ought not to go forward.


I cannot understand the tremendous urgency of this measure. The Attorney-General tells us that a swarm of appeals are waiting in a queue to be heard when these two judges are appointed, but may I point out that the. Legislative Assembly last year turned down this proposition. Therefore there does not seem to be the same anxiety among the people who understand Indian public opinion about the urgency of this matter as there is in the mind of the Attorney-General and his colleagues. The other night a formidable case was made out by the Government for paying these judges a salary of £4,000 a year on the ground that you could not possibly get men of the highest standing in the legal profession to look at this job unless £4,000 a year was paid, and it was even contended that 25,000 was the proper salary, in fact it was argued that it was doubtful whether £4,000 would be sufficient to attract the right class of men required. Now the Attorney-General contends that £2,000 a year with no pension is sufficient. Surely this disagreeable Debate as to who shall pay the money is a most undignified position in which to place a learned Judge, and yet the Attorney-General insists that we must get this proposal through at £2,000 a year and no pension, with a sort of Donnybrook and dog fight going on, and I suppose he will try to find two men ready to start on this blacklegging job. I am sorry that I am treating this proposal in a somewhat humorous manner, but really it is nothing more now. The Attorney-General and the Under-Secretary- for India have taken part in this Debate. I am glad that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has kept well out of it on this occasion. He has shown his Irish sense of humour and I suggest that he should now continue the policy of the strong silent man, and sit still because I am sure that any who vote for this proposal will be held up to ridicule throughout the country.


I want to utter my strong and emphatic protest against this House voting £2,000 to those judges. We sit on these benches day after day, and hear the Government bringing forward pleas for further economy. To-day we sat on the Scottish Grand Committee in the fore-noon, and again the Government put forward certain pleas for economy throwing off the national responsibility of prisons and transferring it to local authorities. Again to-day we had the Minister of I health, whom T have designated by some other name, coming forward on the plea of economy that this country could not afford to give the subsidy it was giving in order to build houses.


On a point of Order. May I ask if this is in order on the subject before hr House?


I do not think the hon. Member, so far, has been out of order.


I will not say anything to the hon. Gentleman; do not consider him a foeman worthy of me. All that this Government has done since it came into office has been so to alter the laws of this land as to take away the responsibility of expenditure from the national Exchequer, and diffuse the expenditure on local authorities. In regard to parish relief, in industrial centres, where unemployment is hitting people most heavily, the local authorities have to bear that expenditure, instead of its being a national charge. That has been the method adopted by this Government —cheeseparing as far as the working class is concerned. We on these benches have been sent here expressly to look after the interests of the working class as against the ruling class; that is my reading of our position here; and it is my inherent—that is, inborn—class consciousness that has drawn me to my feet, quite naturally, to protect my class as against the robbers of my class, because I consider that a Government that has used its influence to crush the working class—


I have given the hon. Member time for his preamble, but I think he has now taken enough time for that. Will he please come to the actual matter before the House?


You know, Sir, that I always obey your ruling, and I accept it, but you have here the appointment of Judges for one of the parts of our great Empire, India, and the ruling class of this country are appointing one of their class —it may be your class, Mr. Speaker—the £2,000 a year class. They are appointing a £2,000 a year man here—the same Government that says that the working class of this country cannot get a comfortable living in this country. That is my case here. No one in this House has any right to say that a Judge has a right to 22,000, although the intention is £4,000. There is not a man in the British Empire or in the world worth £4,000 if the worker of this country is not worthy of a, comfortable living. I hope hon. Members or those who voted with me yesterday will be augmented to-night. If the House is not with me, the country is.


On another point of Order, is it in order to clap hands in this House?


T think the hon. Member was not applauding himself, but that he intended to further emphasise his remarks.


Is it in order for an hon. Member who is putting a question to you to put it with his hands in his pockets.?


I do not propose to give a lecture on deportment.


If the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) had paid attention to his Bible, he would have read therein that it is right to clap hands and make a joyful sound.


I really think we might get to the matter before us. The hon. Member should not allow himself to be diverted so easily.


You will understand that it is very difficult. I have made this speech under great difficulties, and hon. Members have set themselves deliberately to try to sidetrack me. Nevertheless, what I was saying when I was interrupted was that the country outside is watching the House to-night. The working classes of the country—when I speak about the working men of the country I do not simply mean the men who work with their jackets off. When I think of the shipyards, on the Clyde, where men who are responsible for building the finest ships that sail the Seven Seas, who have not anything like £2,000 a year, men who are better equipped than any Cabinet Minister that ever I knew—do you think those men are sitting quietly by now that their attention has been directed to the fact that those who are in power are paying out to their friends—because there is no doubt that it will be a political job. All these jobs are political jobs and they dare not deny it. ft will be two Tory Judges who will get them—two hardened, crusted old Tories, while most capable men who have made this Empire of Din's ours possible do not get £1,000. I spoke yesterday about ordinary engineers with £2 15s. 0d. a week and I say that an engineer giving of his best is as good a man as the best man in this House. When a man gives of his best no matter how lowly his occupation may be he has a right to the best that this country can give. What is the use of £4,000 to any man. Does he require that to keep him in bodily comfort. Certainly not. What does he do with that £4,000? That is invested for further exploitation of my class and I hope, therefore, that not only the 20 or 30 who supported us yesterday but that the entire Labour party here will walk into the Lobby as a protest to all this grotesque legislation that is going on. It is essentially class legislation. We do not want a class war. We do not want a class struggle. All that we are doing at the moment is to point out that there is a savage class struggle existing.

Never was there a Government in power which had so exemplified that class struggle as the present Tory Gov-eminent and therefore I am using the best platform I believe in the world—the British House of Commons—to expose this Tory Government which has done more to break the hearts of the

men of Britain that any Government that ever held sway in British history.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House divided:

The House divided: Ayes, 148; Noes, 50.

Division No. 524.] AYES. [11.54 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Orsmby-Gore, Hon. William
Agg-Gardner, Rt, Hon. Sir James T. Gower, Sir Robert Pennefather, Sir John
Ainsworth, Major Charles Greene, W. P. Crawford Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Albery, Irving James Gunston, Captain O. W. Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Alexander. E. E. (Leyton) Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Pilditch, Sir Philip
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Halt, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne) Power, Sir John Cecil
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Harrison, G. J. C. Radford, E. A.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover) Haslam, Henry C. Ramsden, E.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon, Stanley Hawke, John Anthony Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Ruggles-Brise. Major E. A.
Beamish, Captain T. P. H. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Rye, F. G.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Hennessy. Major R. G. J. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Blundell, F. N. Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar.& Wh'by) Sandeman, A. Stewart
Boothby, R. J. G. Hills, Major John Waller Savery, S. S.
Bourne, Captain Robert Crott Hilton, Cecil Skelton, A. N.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Hogg, Rt.Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone) Slaney, Major P. Kenvon
Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine.'C.)
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K. Smithers, Waldron
Burman, J. B. Hudson, R.S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Hume. Sir G. H. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Huntingfield, Lord Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Carver, W. H. Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Storry-Deans, R.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.) Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Streatfield, Captain S. R.
Cecil. Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Jacob, A. E Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Chapman, Sir S. Kidd. J. (Linlithgow) Templeton, W. P.
Clayton, G. C. king, Captain Henry Douqlas Tryon. Rt. Hon George Clement
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Kinloch Cooke sir Clement Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. p.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K. Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Wallace, Captain D. E.
Craig. Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Crawfurd, H. E. Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Lynn, Sir R. J. Warrender, Sir Victor
Curzon, Captain Viscount MacIntyre, Ian Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) McLean, Major A. White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-
Dixey, A. C. Macmillan Captain H. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Edmondson. Major A. J, McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Elliott, Major Walter E. MacRobert, Alexander M. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Erskine. Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Ricnm'd)
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Everard, W. Lindsay Margesson, Captain D. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Merriman, F. B. Wise, Sir Fredric
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Mever. Sir Frank. Wolmer, Viscount
Fielden, E. B. Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Womersley, W. J.
Finburgh, S. Moles, Thomas Wood, E. (Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Foster, Sir Harry S. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Moreing, Captain A. H.
Fraser, Captain Ian Morrison. H. (Wilts. Salisbury) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph Major Cope and Mr. Frederick
Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Thomson.
Gates, Percy Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Potts, John S.
Ammon, Charles George Hardie, George D. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Barr, J. Harris, Percy A. Saklatvala, Shapurji
Batey, Joseph Hayday, Arthur Scurr, John
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Stephen, Campbell
Bromfield, William Hirst, G. H. Sullivan, J.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Sutton, J. E.
Buchanan, G. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Tinker, John Joseph
Charleton, H. C. Hudson. J. H. (Huddersfield) Townend, A. E.
Clowes, S. John, William (Rhondda, West) Varley, Frank B.
Day, Colonel Harry Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Watson, w. M. (Dunfermline)
Duncan, C. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Westwood, J.
Dunnico, H. Kelly, W. T. Wilson. C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelty) Lansbury, George Windsor, Walter
Gibbins, Joseph Lindley, F. W.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Grundy, T. W. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Mr. Kirkwood and Mr. Maxton.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Oliver, George Harold