HC Deb 13 December 1926 vol 200 cc2616-37

I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, to leave out Subsection (2).

The purport of this Measure is to enact legitimation by the subsequent marriage of the parents. The chief object of the Bill is to secure that a child born out of wedlock does not suffer thereby. If the Bill passes in its present form, it will do a great deal of good in hundreds of cases, but my Amendment would clear away what I regard as an extraordinary blemish in the Bill and one which ought to be removed. This Bill has come to us from another place. I do not know sufficient about the Rules of the House to understand exactly how far one may criticise what has happened in another place, but I think I am right in saying that the insertion of the Sub-section which I desire to delete was made possible through the representatives of the Church, namely, the Bishops. These are the words, and I hope hon. Members will give attention to them: Nothing in this Act shall operate to legitimate a person whose father or mother was married to a third person when the illegitimate person was born. It will be seen from those words that the children to whom I refer are not ordinary illegitimate children, that is to say, they are not the children of two persons who are unmarried and who subsequently marry. The children to whom I refer represent a very small number indeed. The extraordinary position is this, that where a married person begets a child of a single person and then marries that single person on the death of the wife or husband, the Bishops, I understand, desire to rule out the legitimation of such a child. I think the House ought to object to that view, because if the main object of this Bill is to do the right thing by the child, why should we legitimise the child in one ease and decline to in the other? They are both children, anyhow, and no child should be made to bear the sin of its parents.

There are several arguments set forth against my Amendment, and I wish to combat them. It is said that the law of England would be brought into line with the law of Scotland if the Bill stands as it is at the present time, and that if we eliminate Sub-section (2) the law of England would not be in harmony with the law over the Border. I know nothing about the law, but a layman may make this submission: that, if the law of Scotland is based upon the principle of this Bill, as backed by the Bishops of this country, then the law of Scotland ought to be altered in the way I am suggesting the law of England ought to be altered. It is also said that the absence of Sub-section (2) would lead to confusion in regard to the succession to property in Scotland. On this point I have the support of the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell), who informed the Committee upstairs—and I should imagine that he is as well versed on this point as most members of the legal profession in Scotland—that there was no point whatsoever in that objection.

We are further informed—and in this respect I do not desire to make any statement that will offend the religious susceptibilities of anyone—that the Subsection, which I propose to delete, follows Canon law. I hope that this House will always respect religious views and give due deference to the views of organised Christianity; but if it finds that the problems which confront it have to be solved in violation of Canon law, then I hope that this House will take that step in defiance of Canon law. As a member of a Christian community myself, I have no hesitation m making that statement. The Committee on Child Adoption which sat for some time considering this question made a recommendation that these children ought to be legitimised exactly in the same way as ordinary illegitimate children. Surely, if a Committee which has studied this problem makes that recommendation, this House should pay some heed to its views.

Now I come to what is, after all, the main opposition to my Amendment. We are told that we should be promoting the highest ideals of family life, maintaining the principle of monogamy and the sanctity of the family, by allowing the Bill to stand in its present form. I do not desire to enter into a dispute with these very good people, but I wish to say that if we legitimise these children we do not destroy family life. It is much too indelicate a matter to make the statement which should be made in this connection, but I venture to make this point, that I cannot conceive any man or woman thinking for one moment, when they are proposing to perform a certain act, as to whether a child born out of wedlock will be legitimated later on. That really is the answer to the assertion that we are trying to undermine family life when we propose to delete this Sub-section. Then we are told that the Clause, as it stands, is a protection to legitimate children; that without it, on the death of the mother, the father would marry his mistress, and soon. I am not, as I have said, sufficiently conversant with the law to argue the legal point, but let me say in conclusion, hon. Members on both sides of the House have worked very hard indeed to bring the Measure to its present stage, and I hope nothing I shall say or do will in any way mar its further progress, but I assert that if it is right for Parliament to legitimise an illegitimate child in the ordinary way, then the second type of illegitimate child, to which I have referred, ought also to fall into the same category. I object to the assumption that Canon Law should prevail against the wishes of the House of Commons. If the House of Commons, which is in intimate touch with the stream of thought among the masses of the people, thinks fit to pass a Bill on the lines I suggest, then no Canon Law of any kind should prevail against its will. I hope therefore the Amendment will be accepted by the House.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I hope the Under-Secretary of State, before deciding to refuse this Amendment, will consider it, on its merits. This is not a party question. On several occasions the House of Commons has passed this Bill in a form corresponding with that which is now recommended by the hon. Member who has moved the Amendment. Its principle was embodied in the Bill for which the hon. Member for Buckingham (Captain Bowyer), now sitting on the Front Bench, was responsible. This House can really approach this question on its merits, and the representative of the Home Office ought to allow it a free vote on the matter. It is one on which many hon. Members feel quite as strongly as the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies). The main objection to this proposal, I understand, is that the immorality of the parents is greater in the case of the exceptions than in the case of the general rule. That is not necessarily true. Take the case of a woman with a young family who is deserted by her husband. He disappears, and she lives with another man, has children by him, and then when the news of the husband's death arrives she marries the man with whom she has been living. Can it be said that these parents are worse moral delinquents than those who with their eyes open get a child without going through the marriage ceremony? The moral delinquency of the one is certainly not worse than that of the other. The real point, however, is that the immorality which has occurred is quite irrelevant. You are not penalising any parents for immorality; you are penalising one type of illegitimate child while removing the stigma of illegitimacy from another type of child.

I submit that the morality or the immorality of the parents is an irrelevant consideration, and that what we are dealing with is whether there is a case for differential treatment as between one set of illegitimate children and another. The Rouse of Commons can arrive quite rightly at the conclusion that it is a wrong thing to visit the sins of the fathers wrong thing on the children. Under the Bill, as it stands, one set of children is stigmatised throughout the whole of their natural lives. It is brought home again and again to them. When they wish to take out an insurance policy, to go in for an examination, or to have a passport, they have to disclose the utterly irrelevant fact. of illegitimacy to a third person, and, furthermore, there are concrete and material disadvantages for which there is no justification at all. Take the case of a married man who, after the death of his wife, marries a woman by whom he has had children. The natural family and the other children are brought up as one family. The father dies intestate, and the only children who can succeed are those born in wedlock, although the others have no knowledge whatever that they are illegitimate, and have always been brought up as being members of one family. Differentiation of that kind is thoroughly unjust, and it provokes intense feuds and divisions within the family. I cannot see that there is any warrant for it at all. If the parent makes a will, there is this great difference, that the illegitimate children have to pay a much higher rate of Death Duty.

I do not think the House of Commons wishes to follow the medieval practice of stigmatising one class in the community, from whom the rest of the community imagine themselves separated by a sense of superiority. In the middle ages it was the fashion to distinguish certain classes by outward and visible marks of their alleged inferiority, and the idea that these illegitimate children have to go through life under a perpetual stigma is a relic of medieval barbarism. It does not correspond with our modern idea of the equality of all persons before the law and before God. This exception is only justifiable if it is based upon any difference in morals or status among the children themselves. It is not a question of punishing the parents, but of punishing the children, and I cannot see any ground for saying that one particular set of illegitimate children are worse than another set, and that they must go through life branded by the stigma of illegitimacy with the gravest material disadvantages which that stigma carries with it in law. For these reasons I hope he Amendment will be supported by mare hon. Members on this side of the House.


I desire to support the Amendment. I think the Sub-section in the Bill really spoils the whole Measure. The only justification for a Bill of this kind is that the children now bearing the stigma and disabilities of illegitimacy may be legitimated. If we look at the categories of persons that are likely to be affected We are forced to the conclusion that the prey nee of this Subsection does more harm than good. Take the three classes out of which illegitimate children spring. The first is promiscuous intercourse, and it is quite obvious that the Bill will do no good there. The children remain illegitimate all their lives, the parents never meet again. Take the next class, the boy and his girl, walking out. A child is born. In that case the Bill positively does harm, and I will tell the House why. At present when the child is coming, the man has the greatest possible pressure brought to bear upon him to do the right thing. There is only a short period, and there are the solicitations of the girl's relatives and the suasion of his own affections for the girl. He must do the right thing in a given time, or not at all. In many cases he does do it. But if the Bill is left as it is, the period of nine months is extended indefinitely. There is no need for him to be in a hurry to do the right thing.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

The hon. and learned Member appears to be arguing on other Clauses in the Bill.


I am arguing on this particular Clause. I am pointing out that the presence of this Sub-section spoils the Bill, and I think it should be omitted. As long as this Sub-section is there it would do positive harm to the class with which I am dealing, because it lengthens the time. It allows the Devil's advocate to say to the youth, "Do not worry; wait until you get a rise in salary; wait until you tell your father. You need not hurry." The result is, affection dies, the parties drift away from each other and the subsequent marriage never takes place. This third class, which this Bill excludes, is the class from which all the hard cases come. Suppose, as was said by the last speaker, that you have a couple living together quietly. Perhaps the husband or the wife has been deserted, perhaps the husband by his wife. Perhaps living together is wholly impossible. Under these circumstances illegitimate unions are formed, children are born, and they are brought up in all respects as if legitimate. They do not know of the stigma upon themselves. They are educated and properly cared for, but the parents are waiting for the happy day when they can go through the marriage ceremony. That class is cut out completely.

The arguments, as far as I have heard them, are these. It is said, "We cannot afford to condone adultery." Yes, but the Bill, with the Sub-section in, condones the lesser offence. I am rather inclined to agree with the last speaker as to the shades between the two delinquencies. Allow that there is a darker shade of delinquency in the case of the adulterous union. Are we to say, "We will save the child because the delinquency on the part of the parents was not quite as dark as the other form of delinquency"? The truth is that the Bill, neither with the Sub-section in nor without it, is a condonation at all of what the parents have done. If you pass it with this Sub-section in, illicit intercourse will be as wrong before as after. If you pass it without the Sub-section adulterous intercourse will be as bad after as it was before. The truth is this: We say, "For the sake of an innocent child we turn a blind eye upon the failing of the parents." It is all done for the sake of the child. It seems to me a perfectly monstrous thing to bring two classes of children into the world, both illegitimate, and that one is to be able to say, "I have all the privileges of a legitimate child," while the other is to say, "I have none of the privileges of a legitimate child." Yet they are both equally innocent. It is a monstrous thing to do. The Bill is not even logical. Note what it says, for it is very remarkable. The Sub-section says— Nothing in this Act shall operate to legitimate a person whose father or mother was married to a third person when the illegitimate person was born. Mark you—"Was born." The legitimate child is made by tins Bill to spring out of an adulterous intercourse, and the illegitimate child is made to spring out of a non-adulterous intercourse. That is perfectly illogical. The argument that is brought to bear in order to justify this illogicality and injustice is really very little more than a cobweb spun out of some ecclesiastical head. We are told, for instance, "If you allow legitimation where the intercourse is adulterous, this would come about: Women will succumb to temptation which they now resist. At the present moment the woman will say, 'Ah, well. I cannot give way because if I do my child would not be legitimate.' But in the other circumstances she would say, 'Oh, I will give way.' Why? Because if the child is born it might happen that the wife or the father will die in years to come, or that he will divorce her in years to come, and it might happen then that it would occur to him to marry her, and she would say, 'If all these things come about I know by this Section of the Act of 1926 that my child will be legitimate.'" It is too grotesque to put forward such an argument before men who know human nature and the world. I, therefore, press it upon the House that we ought to take action independently in cases of this kind. If we go to the trouble of passing a Bill which is really intended to save children from an unfair disability and an unjust stigma—the innocent children—we ought to do it in a wholehearted and frank manner, and not bring into the world two classes of persons, equally innocent, but one wearing the brand of illegitimacy and the other free from it.

Lieut.-Commander BURNEY

There is little doubt that a large number of persons in all quarters of the House favour this Amendment, but, at the same time, there is already in the Bill a great deal which most Members wish to be passed into law. The Legitimacy Bill for the last five years has been having rather a rough passage, due to various accidents and so forth. Although many Members would no doubt be in favour of this Amendment, now that we are at the end of the Session it would seem to he a more practical policy to accept the Bill without the Amendment and next Session to introduce a one-clause Bill with the. Amendment embodied in it, and to endeavour to get that passed. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment would put us in considerable difficulty if he now pressed the Amendment to a Division. If the Government are not prepared to accept the Amendment, we shall have to support the Government against what we believe to be correct in the details of the Bill. Therefore, I think that the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment would obtain a great deal more support next Session if he could bring in a one-clause Bill, than if he were to press the Amendment to a Division now, knowing that the Government could not accept it. I throw that out as a suggestion to the hon. Member. If we obtain the Bill with this Clause in it the injustice will he so evident that public pressure, not only in this House, hut outside, will eventually insist upon another place accepting a one-clause Bill embodying the policy contained in the Amendment.


Every Member who has addressed the House has spoken in favour of the Amendment. My position, therefore, is made very difficult, especially when I realise that this Bill is not political, and that the Government would never desire to make it a political Bill. My hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken described the position accurately. He said that this Bill had been before the House of Commons for many years, and, undoubtedly, it would have been placed upon the Statute Book years ago had it not been for the controversy in connection with this particular Sub-section. I listened with the greatest attention to the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Moss-side Division (Mr. C. Hurst). They both took up the line that they were thinking only of the children; both used the expression "for the sake of the innocent child." Of course, every Member of the House must feel for the child, but in this particular case we must consider also the interests of the wife. This is the only time when she really conies into our discussions upon this Bill. We must consider the interests of the wife if, when a man and woman were married, one or the other has had a child born in adultery. The position of the wife in such circumstances would be a very difficult one. One can quite see that on many occasions a great deal of pressure might be brought upon her, if the Amendment were passed, by the husband to divorce her, the husband using the argument that it should be done in the interests of the child.

6.0 P.M.

There is one thing which makes more for happiness to children than anything else, and that is a happy home. You would not conduce to happy homes if you accepted this Amendment. That is, perhaps, the strongest reason why one can ask the House to resist the Amendment. The wife should be protected from being subjected to pressure by her husband to divorce her in order that the illegitimate child may become legitimate. If you were to allow children born in adultery to have the benefit of this Bill in the same way as other children, you would remove a deterrent against adulterous intercourse. That would certainly be prejudicial to family life and thus would not be in the interests of the children as a whole. I admit at once and agree absolutely that it would be in the interest of the child if this Amendment were accepted. It would be in the interest of the particular child, but there is not a very large number of those cases. This Bill as it is now drafted will have the effect of helping a very large number of children. Of course, it would have the effect of helping more if this Amendment were accepted by the House, but if we consider the interest of the wife and the great good we shall be doing by the Bill, as it stands, to a very large number of illegitimate children in the country, then I think we would be foolish if we were to forego this certainty of giving assistance to a large number of illegitimate children in order to grasp at a shadow. For I must warn the House that if this Amendment is accepted, the Bill will certainly become a shadow and in all probability will not be placed on the Statute Book. I think every Member who has spoken in favour of the Amendment believes in his heart that we must have this Bill, even if only as it is at present drafted, and, without wishing to go into deep arguments, that is the main reason why I suggest that we should have the Bill as it stands rather than run the risk of losing it altogether. When this Bill is upon the Statute Book we may, in other Sessions, either by a Private Member's Bill or by other means, bring forward a one-Clause Measure which will meet the point so eloquently made by hon. Members this afternoon.


I should be sorry if any words of mine were to delay any longer the settlement of a question which has been discussed for 700 years, but I think it is unfortunate that 'Parliament should only have a few minutes to debate one of the most important points involved in this long controversy. It has been my lot from time to time in recent years to have had to consider the law relating to children and the position of children especially in cases such as we have been discussing this evening, and I should be false to my convictions if I did not rise to support the Amendment as heartily as I can. I do so, first, in the interests of morality generally, for there is nothing which requires to be, recognised more clearly as regards morals than this, that if a man be responsible for bringing into the world any child, he should have every possible encouragement to do what he can to make the position of that child as favourable as possible. Anything that operates in favour of a man marrying a woman by whom he has had children is likely to promote the cause of morality. Let me state one or two cases. I only take one or two, though I could give many to show how rank an injustice would be caused and how revolting it would be to morals if this Clause were retained and the Amendment rejected. I will take first a case of a kind already indicated in this Debate. It is not one of those strange imaginary cases in which it is said that people who have illegitimate children would put pressure on their wives to get a divorce.

Let us take the real case of a poor woman whose husband has treated her brutally, has deserted her, and has gone abroad. After some years another man comes along who is willing to support her and who feels pity for the distress in which she is placed and becomes attached to her. He may go through a form of marriage with her, thinking that the man is dead or without doing so he may live with her. Let those who like blame them, but the woman needs help. A man is there willing to help. They may go through the form of marriage or they may not. Then the ruffian who deserted the woman returns. Suppose a child has been born in the meantime? The deserter then dies. What is the right thing in the interests of the child, of the man, of the woman and of common morality. Is it not right that they should be legally married as soon as possible and that the children should he placed in a proper position? That is the kind of case which arises again and again. Take another case where the husband is not a ruffian, but has gone abroad for good reason and is believed to be dead. A case like that of Enoch Arden.

I suppose some people even in these days read Tennyson and know the story. In the case of a man believed to be dead who comes back again, where no blame or guilt attaches to anybody, would it not be far better that a subsequent marriage should regularise the position? No doubt, I am quoting an early Victorian poem which a younger generation do not read nowadays. I commend it for their perusal. Take another case, not of such perfect innocence, of a man whose wife leaves him very soon after marriage, makes it impossible for him to bring friends to his home, spends his money, recklessly puts in her time at Monte Carlo or somewhere else, leaves her husband without home comforts, and breaks every marriage vow except one. Then some other woman meets him, feels pity for the man so really homeless. They come together and the man finds soface in her society. A true and permanent attachment grows up between them. They live together and children are born. I am not justifying their conduct, but I say it is the case in which one ought to be very careful about casting stories, though I fear to-day we have legitimate descendants from that crowd of 1,900 years ago who were so ready to do so. I am not going to say that these two people in living together are doing what is right. I am not going to say they are not breaking certain rules of morality, but I do say that in a case like that, should the parties marry, the law should not declare that the children of such a marriage can never be legitimated.

I have no time to multiply cases but many more could be adduced. I do not contend here that the canon law is in favour of legitimation in such cases or the Scots law, but our Dominions and the United States have adopted laws in favour of the contention of those who support the Amendment. Yet, after all these hundreds of years of controversy on the paint, we are told we have only a few minutes in which to consider this point, or in the alternative that we must lose the Bill. It may be that such is the case, but I think a little more time should have been given to the consideration of a subject which is of such real importance. One of the silliest maxims that is ever used is that "hard cases make bad law." Nothing could be more absurd. Hard cases do not make bad law, but bad law makes hard cases and good law prevents hard cases. Surely this is a case in which the Government ought to leave the matter to a free vote of the House. It is not a matter involving any question of party politics, but it is a question of sound morals and it is a case in which the supporters of the Government ought to be free to vote as they will and without pressure of any kind, to do what is just and best for the interest of children placed in an unfortunate position. How often has an appeal to a fancied morality been put forward as an excuse for injustice and even cruelty, and just as Madame Rofand exclaimed: Oh, Liberty, what crimes are committed in this name, I feel inclined to say: Oh, morality, what crimes are committed in thine. But however we may differ as to the voice of morality or religion in such cases, let us in the name of common sense be spared the argument sometimes urged, that when people are contemplating an irregular connection they will be influenced in the least by a calm consideration of the law as to the possibility of legitimating the children who may be born from it in the event of their becoming free to marry. Imagine—if we may take a historic case familiar to all in the pages of Dante. Really, does any one imagine Paofo and Fransesca being deterred by the thought that if they had a child it could never be made legitimate? Let us dismiss the idea that in any of these cases in the whole range from the most romantic and true though illicit attachments to the commonest sexual promiscuity in callous disregard of real family ties the idea of considering what the law may be in this particular respect would ever arise. I put forward these points shortly and imperfectly, as time is limited, because I feel very strongly on the subject, and I think this is pre-eminently a matter in which Parliament should be able to pronounce a free and clear vote.


Any outside observer of the proceedings this afternoon must have been struck with bewilderment. We have seen an Amendment brought forward and supported by Members of every shade of political thought. We have seen an unhappy Under-Secretary rising and, in a way which showed he was very ill at ease, almost supporting the Amendment, and yet saying that it could not be allowed to pass into law. There is a reason for that. I do not intend to go into the arguments for or against the Amendment, but I wish to submit very respectfully to the House the course which in my opinion it ought to pursue. This particular question has been debated time and again and upon almost every occasion when the House has given a vote upon it, the vote has been in favour of the Amendment. In the Committee presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) I find the Amendment was carried by 27 votes to seven, and the House confirmed that opinion by a vote of 136 to 65. I find that the Parliaments of West Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania adopted the point of view advocated by the hon. Member for the Westhoughton Division (Mr. Rhys Davies) and by practically every other Member who has spoken. Similarly, the four Canadian provinces, when this law of legitimation was under discussion, rejected this restrictive proviso and, in America, where, I believe, moral turpitude is held in special odium, 43 States out of 44 who had the law of legitimation under discussion, rejected the view that legitimation should only apply to a limited class of illegitimate children. Similarly, in three other European countries, namely, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, it was not thought necessary to accentuate the stigma on one class of illegitimate children by removing it from the others.

There is only one reason why the Bill cannot be passed into law as the House desires it to pass, and that is that on every occasion on which it has been sent up from this House, the House of Lords has rejected the House of Commons' point of view, and the hon. Member who asks us to allow the Bill to go through as it stands, on the ground that, if we do, another Bill can be brought forward next year, with one Clause only, remedying the defect in this Bill, surely foresees that if the House of Lords will not pass this Bill with this Amendment, it is extremely unlikely that it will pass a Bill which contains the Amendment in a Clause by itself. The House of Commons ought to face this question now. If we send it up to another place, we can ensure in time that it will become law in the only just form. There is only one justification for the Bill at all, and that is that it does justice to the child. If the Bill goes through in its present form, it does not do justice to children as a whole, and I hope the Mover of the Amendment will press it to a Division, in order to secure that full justice may be done.


In the very sympathetic and persuasive speech of the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Sir A. Hopkinson), he commenced his remarks by telling us he hoped no words of his would detain the Measure, which had been a matter of controversy for 700 years. I feel certain that the majority of the Members of this House are sympathetically disposed towards the point of view which the hon. and learned Member expressed so well, but I feel that, in view of the ultimatum which has been delivered to the House by the Under-Secretary, we would not, by supporting the Amendment, be assisting any class of child who might benefit under this Bill as it remains at the present time. That is the cold fact which we have to look in the face and to respect. If the view of the sup porters of the Amendment be carried, none of these children will benefit at all. We know that if this Bill be sent up to the House of Lords again without this Amendment, it will not become law, and I feel most strongly that we have to look at it from a practical point of view, and that we are not helping those children with whom we sympathise by saying: "You cannot have the whole of the cake, and, therefore, we are not going to give you any of it at all." I hope sincerely that hon. Members who feel, as I am sure they do, that this is a question which should have the most earnest consideration of Parliament at another time, will not press this Amendment now, in order that at least one section of the children who will benefit will not be deprived of a Measure which is long overdue.


When I spoke on this Amendment earlier, I made it quite clear that this was a non-political question, and I hinted that the Government would not press the matter unduly, so far as placing the Whips on to force the Bill through as it stands was concerned. I am authorised to say that the Whips will not be placed on, and that this Amendment will he left to a free vote of the House, but I want the House to realise exactly what the position is. If we pass the Bill as it stands, that is, without the Amendment that has been moved, we have a certainty of doing something, and many children will undoubtedly benefit. On the other hand, if we pass the Amendment, we run a great risk of doing nothing, especially at this time of the Session, when, as we all know, the other place is very busy with legislation and probably will not have time even to discuss this matter, let alone make up their minds to accept the view of the House of Commons on it. In that event, if we accepted the Amendment, no children at all might benefit, and I would suggest, therefore, seeing that we have these two alternatives before us, that we should make certain of doing something for some children rather than run the risk of benefiting no children at all.


Supposing we pass the Bill in the form which the whole House desires—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—well, in the form desired by a majority of the House, and then pass it again next year, and in January of the following year, if this House is still sitting, is it not a fact that we can secure the whole Bill in that way?


Yes, but it is also possible that if we do this amount of good to the children by passing the Bill as it now stands, we shall benefit a certain number of children anyway, and we shall also have the opportunity of passing another Bill containing one Clause—


I apologise for again interrupting, but is it not a fact that. we shall not have opportunity or time to bring in a supplementary Bill completing the good work, whereas if we let the whole Bill through now, with this Amendment, we shall have the original Bill and the supplementary Bill in one, and we shall never have so good an opportunity to get the whole Bill through, as we shall have three years to run?


But you will in all probability lose the whole Bill by putting in the Amendment.


Might I make a suggestion? Supposing this Amendment is not now pressed to a division, will an undertaking be given by the Government to give time next Session for a Private Member's Bill containing this Amendment? Then this Bill could go through now, if the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) agreed to withdraw the Amendment, and we should have a chance of passing the Amendment next year.


It is, of course, quite impossible for me to pledge my raga hon. Friend the Prime Minister as to what attitude he will take up next year, but he has authorised me to say here and now that it is to be left to a free vote of the House, so that I have no reason to think he will change his opinions, and next Session, if a Private Member were fortunate enough to get a place for such an amending Bill in the ballot, I have no doubt he would not force the views of the Government on this question, even if they were united, which is very unlikely, upon the House. I cannot give any more definite pledge than that. I think I understand the point of view of the hon. and gallant Member for South Hackney (Captain Garro-Jones) more clearly than I did just now. He thinks it might come under the provisions of the Parliament Act., I gather?




I am assured that it would not come under the provisions of the Parliament Act, so that I think the hon. and gallant Member will now realise that it would be beneficial probably to get what we are certain of getting if we pass the Bill in its present form, rather than run the risk of losing everything.


Why would it not come under the Parliament Act?


I am assured that it would not, though I cannot give the reasons now. In all probability, it would be a question of time. I have consulted my legal advisers, and I am assured it could not come under the provisions of the Parliament Act.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman has asked us to let the Bill go through unamended in the hope of having a fresh Bill next Session. What reason has he for thinking that the objectionable Clause, if standing alone, would go through the House of Lords when it cannot go through if attached to this Bill?


I have no certainty that it would, but possibly between now and then we might be able to per- suade the opposition to this Amendment in the House of Lords that they are not doing the right thing by resisting the Amendment. In my submission, we ought to be satisfied with what we have in the Bill now, and we ought to try—those who are in favour of this Amendment—to promote their views next Session -and hope to achieve their object by placing on the Statute Book an Act of Parliament which would meet with what I consider at the present moment is the view of the majority of the Members of the House. I would go so far as to press that we do not even go to a Division on this matter now, realising that, if we were to pass the Amendment, we could not achieve our ends.


As one who sympathises with the Amendment, I venture to express the hope that the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) will accede to the suggestion made by the Under-Secretary, who has, I think, been extremely fair in the matter. He has shown his own sympathy with the Amendment, and I agree with him that it is better to have half a loaf than

nothing at all. We are certain of having something to-night in the shape of this Bill without the Amendment, and I think it would be bad tactics if the Bill were jeopardised by pressing this Amendment. I know my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton is a very practical sort of man, and I hope that, after the statement made by the Under-Secretary, he will accede to his suggestion.


Appeals have been made to me to withdraw my Amendment, but I must confess that those appeals will not bear fruit, for one reason only. If I thought that by delaying my Amendment till next year the other House would be induced to pass it, I would withdraw my Amendment now, but there is no guarantee of that at all, and, in fact, the House of Commons has to face the issue. It will have to deal with this problem, and I prefer to deal with it here and now.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 101.

Division No. 557.] AYES. [6.29 pm.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Chlicott, Sir Warden Grotrian, H. Brent
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Christie, J. A. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Gunston, Captain D. W.
Apsley, Lord Clarry, Reginald George Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Cobb, Sir Cyril Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cope, Major William Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)
Balniel, Lord Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Harland, A.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)
Bennett, A. J. Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro) Harrison, G. J. C.
Berry, Sir George Curzon, Captain Viscount Hartington, Marquess of
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Davies, Dr. Vernon Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)
Boothby, R. J. G. Dawson, Sir Philip Haslam, Henry C.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Dean, Arthur Wellesley Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Drewe, C. Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Edmondson, Major A. J. Hennessy, Major J. R. G.
Brassey, Sir Leonard Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington) Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Elliot, Major Walter E. Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)
Briggs, J. Harold Ellis, R. G. Hills, Major John Waller
Briscoe, Richard George Elveden, Viscount Hilton, Cecil
Brittain, Sir Harry Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Fairfax, Captain J. G. Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)
Bromley, J. Falls, Sir Bertram G. Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Fermoy, Lord Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks, Newb'y) Fielden, E. B. Holland, Sir Arthur
Buckingham, Sir H. Finburgh, S. Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.
Bullock, Captain M. Forrest, W, Hudson, R.S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)
Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D. Foster, Sir Harry S. Hume, Sir G. H.
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E. Hurd, Percy A.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Gates, Percy Hutchison, G.A.Clark (Midl'n & P'bl't)
Campbell, E. T. Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)
Cassels, J. D. Gibbs, Cot. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Jacob, A. E.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Goff, Sir Park James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Grace, John Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Grant, Sir J. A. Kindersley, Major G. M.
Chapman, Sir S. Greene, W. P. Crawford King, Captain Henry Douglas
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Knox, Sir Alfred Penny, Frederick George Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Storry-Deans, R.
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Loder, J. de V. Phillpson, Mabel Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Lord, Walter Greaves- Pilditch, Sir Philip Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Power, Sir John Cecil Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Ramsden, E. Tinne, J. A.
Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Rawson, Sir Cooper Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
MacIntyre, Ian Reid, D. D. (County Down) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
McLean, Major A. Remer, J. R. Waddington, R.
Macmillan, Captain H. Rentoul, G. S. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Macnaghten, Hon. sir Malcolm Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Macquisten, F. A. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wells, S. R.
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Malone, Major P. B. Sandeman, A. Stewart White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-
Margesson, Captain D. Sandon, Lord Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D. Winby, Colonel L. P.
Merriman, F. B. Savery, S. S. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Meyer, Sir Frank Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby) Wise, Sir Fredric
Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness) Womersley, W. J.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon Wood. Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Murchison, C. K. Smithers, Waldron Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Spender-Clay, Colonel H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Oakley, T. Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden,E.) Major Astor and Captain Arthur
O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Evans.
Ormsby-Gore. Hon. William Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Grundy, T. W. Paling, W.
Albery, Irving James Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Ammon, Charles George Hardie, George D. Perring, Sir William George
Attlee, Clement Richard Harney, E. A. Ponsonby, Arthur
Baker, Walter Harris, Percy A. Potts, John S.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Purcell, A. A.
Batey, Joseph Hayday, Arthur Richardson, R. (Houqhton-le-Spring)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Robinson. W. C. (Yorks,W.R.,Elland)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Hirst, G. H. Rose, Frank H,
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Saklatvala, Shapurji
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Caine, Gordon Hall Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Chamberlain. Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis Scurr, John
Charleton, H. C. Hurst, Gerald B. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Cluse, W. S. John, William (Rhondda, West) Smith. Rennic (Penistone)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Compton, Joseph Kelly, W. T Taylor, R. A.
Cove, W. G. Kennedy, T. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Dalton, Hugh Lawrence, Susan Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Lee, F. Thurtle, Ernest
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Townend, A. E.
Day, Colonel Harry Looker, Herbert William Treveiyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Dennison, R. Lowth, T. Viant, S. P.
Duncan, C. Lunn, William Wailhead, Richard C.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R.(Aberavon) Ward, Lt.-Col.A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Fenby, T. D. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. March, S. Williams. T. (York, Don Valley)
Gardner, J. P. Maxton, James Windsor, Walter
Gillett, George M. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Wright, W.
Graham, Rt. Hon-Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Montague, Frederick Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham. N.)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Naylor, T. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Hayes.
Groves, T. Oliver, George Harold

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


I think this opportunity ought not to be allowed to pass without drawing attention to the device under which it is possible for the whole of the Parliament Act of 1911 to be nullified. This Bill includes a Clause which has been the subject of controversy between this House and another place for many years. Repeatedly this House has adopted a certain point of view, and as often in another place that point of view has been rejected. This Bill, although it contains financial Clauses, was introduced in another place, and it was extremely likely that this House would only be able to establish its view by sending up the Bill to the' House of Lords in three successive sessions. I trust that in future, when a subject of controversy between the House of Lords and the House of Commons exists, it will not be surmounted to the detriment of the views of this House by sending the Bill to the House of Lords to be originated, thereby nullifying the effect of the Parliament Act of 1911.