§ The following regarding picketing of safety workers in collieries is published for the information of all concerned.
§ Any person, whether acting alone or in combination with others, who incites or induces safety men to break their contracts is acting illegally and is liable to be prosecuted under the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875.
§ (Signed) Colonel J. DE COKE,
§ Chief Constable,
§ West Riding Constabulary, Wakefield.
§ 11th September, 1926."
§ In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that peaceful picketing is still permissible, will he tell us on whose authority this Chief Constable has issued this notice?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am sorry to suggest that the hon. Member has not read the law, but there again there is all the difference in the world. That comes under a separate heading, under the Act of 1875. It is clear that if anyone seeks to incite—and I have recently taken legal opinion upon this—or to induce another man to break a contract, he is guilty of an offence. That is not peaceful picketing at all. It is seeking to induce a man to break a contract. Safety men in Yorkshire, for instance, are subject to 14 days' notice on either side, and, if men leave the work without giving the necessary notice, they are guilty of a crime under the law of the land, altogether apart from these Regulations—[An HON. MEMBER: "Civil action, 741 surely?"]—and if anybody induces them to break their contract, whereby damage is done—I have not the words of the Act of 1875 before me—
§ Sir H. SLESSER
The Statute is entirely different. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to see the Statute, I will hand it to him.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Let me read the section:Where any person wilfully and maliciously breaks a contract of service or of hiring, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the probable consequence of his so doing, either alone or in combination with others, will be to endanger human life, or cause serious bodily injury, or to expose valuable property whether real or personal to destruction or serious injury, he shall on conviction….be liable.That Section is the law of the land to-day, and I am prepared to stand at this Box and say, quite definitely, that that law will be enforced. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite differs from me with regard to the law. I am not a lawyer, but only Secretary of State. I am advised by the Law Officers of the Crown that that Section is good to-day, and that if a safety man breaks his contract, whereby he may cause injury to individuals or to valuable property, as might be the case by mine flooding, he is liable to a penalty. Further than that, under the Common Law of the land, any man who induces another man to commit that crime is personally liable. That is my view of the law, and, under that view of the law, I entirely agree with the warning issued by the Chief Constable of the West Riding of Yorkshire—it is not a case of peaceful picketing at all—that if people induce men to break their contract, whereby damage may be done to valuable property, they are responsible. I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for having raised that question, because it is very desirable that it should be put clearly, and that people, who might be inclined to induce others to break their contract, should know that they themselves, in the view of the Law Officers of the Crown, are committing a crime also.
The right hon. Gentleman, if I may say so, has rather clouded the whole issue. One does not suggest that the safety man who leaves 742 his work without giving his legitimate length of notice is doing right at all. This poster containing a small portion of that particular Section of the Act read by the Home Secretary is interpreted to mean that no person is permitted peacefully to picket on the lines which the right hon. Gentleman said previously was legal.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I will endeavour to make the law perfectly clear. It is now admitted by the hon. Gentleman that, under the Section, it is a crime to break your contract as a safety man whereby damage may be done to valuable property. I now say it is a crime for any person to go to a safety man, and induce him to break a contract whereby a crime is done. If anybody goes to a safety man, and says to him, "You have a contract running, but at the end of a fortnight you are free. I ask you to come out at the end of a fortnight." That, you are entitled to do. That is, I think, the correct interpretation of the law.
§ Miss WILKINSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Chief Constable of that area to explain that?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I think the Chief Constable of that area and the chief constables of other areas will probably read the speech I am making this afternoon, in which I am trying to make clear, so that anyone will understand, exactly what is legal and what is not legal. The question of the narrow line between what is peaceful persuasion and what is intimidation is one that it is impossible for me to lay down here. Suffice it to say that one must be careful not to use any threat against a man, whom it is sought to persuade not to go back to work, or to come out of work, or to use threats against his wife or family; and I think the hon. Member opposite will agree that that is the proper course of action. There is no objection whatever to a personal attempt at peaceful persuasion. But take a mass movement of pickets against a particularly small body of men. There, I think, it becomes very doubtful, indeed, whether that can be called peaceful picketing, because behind that there is the threat of an overwhelming mass of men marching down against a small body of men, and, human nature being what it 743 is, if the worker goes back to work, he knows he may be subjected, I will not say to intimidation, but, at all events, to a good deal of unpleasantness, and there is, I agree, a great deal of difficulty and a great deal of unpleasantness which affect the minds of men, but with which the law is unable to deal.
I freely say that, and I would like to appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite in this difficulty to play the game, as it were, in regard to picketing. Where you know a man, or where you have influence with a man, I say you are entitled to go to him and say, "Look here, old fellow, you and I have known one another for years. We belong to the same club. We are all out. Cannot you stay out, too?" That is perfectly fair. On the other hand, if you go to him and say, "We are all out. I know you. We all know you. If you do not come out it will be the worse for you." That is not playing the game. Or a wife talks over the wall to the wife of a man working and says, "Your husband is a blackleg." I do not say that is illegal, but I say it is hardly playing the game. I am appealing to hon. Members opposite who have power in the mining districts. We have so far conducted this dispute, in all parts of the country, without grave disorder, and it says a great deal for the good temper of the mining community and, if hon. Members opposite will forgive me, it says a good deal for the good temper in which the police as a whole have carried out their very difficult duties. Here you have got a large section of the country where there is grave difficulties. We have got police who are controlled by a Chief Constable responsible to the local authorities, and it is my primary duty as Secretary of State to see that law and order are maintained. My primary duty is to see that every man who desires to work should have the fullest possible protection, and I say, with knowledge, that, taking the country as a whole, the police have behaved with magnificent care, attention and, in many cases, kindness. Hon. Members opposite have given cases where tempers have got the upper hand, where feathers have flown, and where injuries have resulted on both sides. We cannot help that, and I have said on previous occasions that I shall be prepared to go fully into any case 744 raised here, or to give any information in my power. On the whole, I want to bear my testimony—and I am very pleased that so many hon. Members opposite have received it, at all events, with some measure of assent—to the way the police have endeavoured to carry out their duties as policemen, and remembering that they themselves are part of the community of which they have to take care.
§ Mr. PALING
Do I understand from the statement which the Home Secretary has just made that where a man approaches a safety man in a pacific spirit—in the language of the Home Secretary, "Look here, old fellow, you and I have known one another for years"—he is allowed to do that, provided houses no language which can be called intimidation, and does nothing to make the man break his contract—that he can approach him, and ask him to come out, providing he will give notice to terminate his contract?
§ Mr. PALING
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the police are not interpreting it in that sense at all, but are actually saying that a picket has no right in any circumstances whatever as an individual—not in twos or threes—to approach any safety man or picket him in any circumstances?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The statement made by the hon. Member is correct up to his last sentence. A picket, whether in regard to safety men or ordinary workers, has no right to force his attentions upon a man who does not want to hear him speak. You are entitled to appeal to the "old fellow" to come out, but if the "old fellow" does not want to come out, you have no right to force your attentions upon him. Our laws are based on common sense, and I do hope and trust that we shall have, during the coming month, good temper. I shall do all on my part, subject, as I said, to the carrying out of my duties. Hon. Members may not all agree with me, but the right of protecting a man who desires to work is a fundamental right which it is not only my duty to protect, but which I shall protect. In doing this, in carrying out my duties, I would like to appeal to hon. Members opposite for that friendly co-operation 745 which it is the boast of all English people they can maintain in spite of differences and without losing their temper.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
There is an Amendment down with reference to the prohibition of meetings, and I thought it would be more convenient to make my statement when we come to that.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
We do not apologise in the least degree for once more opposing these Regulations. Our only regret is that, with the distinguished exception of one hon. Member of the so-called Liberal party, no Liberal is present in the House. Perhaps they do not think this suspension of the common law and the enforcement of what is really martial law is worthy of their attention. I think a great deterioration has taken place in the Radical and Liberal party since the old days when they were the jealous guardians of public liberty, and the disintegration of the party in the country is, no doubt, due to their indolence in this matter in the House. That, however, is no reason why the party to which I belong should not endeavour to carry on that tradition of the defence of individual rights and personal liberty which the Liberal party have now abandoned. No one can deny that these Regulations, taken as a whole, do constitute a kind of extra law, are no part of our general law, and are, indeed, a kind of martial law, such as might possibly be justified if this country were at war with a common enemy. These Regulations are, in fact, the Defence of the Realm Regulations brought up to date, and used against the mining population rather than against the enemy.
We have had this afternoon a defence of these Regulations which, I think, we have never heard before, and it is that with which I wish to deal. I have often asked the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary why, in his opinion, the common law of this country was not sufficient to deal with offences which might arise, but he has never really given me an answer until to-day. The answer he now 746 gives is that he recommends these Regulations on the score of leniency. He says the sentences are quick, and the matter is easily disposed of. It isThe short, sharp shock From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big, black block.But the shortness and sharpness of the sentences is really no justification for refusing to allow cases to be dealt with by the ordinary processes of law. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that these Regulations create a great many new offences. It cannot be said of these new offences, which do not exist at common law, that they are cases in which people get greater leniency, because the offences could never have been committed at common law: they have been created by these Regulations. Whatever justification there may be for these Regulations, which are not even made by an Act of Parliament, and which cannot, I think, be properly understood even by the magistrates who have to deal with them, seeing that they have no relation to any continuous doctrine of the law dealing with these matters, it cannot be said that they deal with offenders any more leniently than does the common law. We have never yet had any justification for the creation of new crimes, most of them borrowed and brought down from a time when this country was at war, and having for their object then the protection of the country against an enemy. One Noble Lord was foolish enough on one occasion to make a speech in the City, which was certainly calculated to cause disaffection, in which he did compare the miners somewhat closely with the enemy. But that is no reason why the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary who, I am sure does not share that view, should have Regulations of this kind.
It is really important that the right hon. Gentleman should acquaint himself fully with the actual law in this matter. I have had the curiosity to contrast the liability under the statute law with the liability under these Regulations for offences in regard to which that alternative method of procedure exists—I wanted to see which was the more lenient—and, to my amazement, so far from procedure under the Regulations being the more lenient method, I found the statute to be the more lenient. I am referring now to 747 the Section, which the right hon. Gentleman has often mentioned, dealing with the penalty for intimidating or annoying or by violence refusing to allow people to work as they will. That is the well-known Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875; and I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is nothing in the Trade Disputes Act which has prevented that Section continuing to operate as the law. But offenders against that Section may now be dealt with alternatively under Regulation 21 of the Emergency Regulations, and sometimes are, because, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, under that Regulation the offence of impeding and restricting the supply of food and so forth, a similar offence, may be committed. Let us compare the two penalties. Under the Regulation the penalty is imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three months, or a fine not exceeding £100, or both such imprisonment and fine. What is the penalty under the Act. It says:Shall on conviction thereof by a court of summary jurisdiction, or on indictment as hereinafter mentioned, be liable either to pay a penalty not exceeding £20, or to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months, with or without hard labour.So far is the Regulation from being more lenient than the Statute that under it one can be fined £100, as compared with only £20 under the Statute. Therefore, so far as this particular Section is concerned, the whole of the argument that these Regulations are more lenient is absolutely beside the point. As a matter of fact, there is greater penalty for interference with the right of people to dispose of their labour as they think well under the Regulation than under the Statute itself.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. and learned Gentleman is not addressing himself to the real question. I was dealing with the question of Assizes. Under these Regulations there is what is called a short and sharp remedy for intimidation which takes the form of assault. The penalty for that is three months. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that the alternative method of sending a case of assault to the Assizes might involve the offender in a very much larger penalty—certainly up to two years' hard labour.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I am dealing with the particular Section which says:Shall on conviction thereof by a court of summary jurisdiction or on indictment"—I am dealing with Section 7.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
The Section goes on to say that he shall be liable to pay a penalty not exceeding £20 or to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months. As far as the statutory wrong of interfering with the right of people to work as they will is concerned—I am not speaking of assault—the penalty is greater under the Regulations than it is under the Statute, even though procedure under the Statute may result in the case being taken to the Assizes.
What is the position when we come to the question of so-called disaffection, a new kind of petty sedition, created under the Regulations, which does not exist at common law at all. Unless the case amounted to sedition there could have been no prosecution or conviction at common law at all. Let us assume there was a case where one really could satisfy a jury that there was sedition within the meaning of the common law—though I do not think there has been one so far which has been put as high as that: mostly they have been cases of disaffection. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should think that the Judge at the Assizes would treat the matter any more harshly than do the magistrates. In a recent case where persons were found guilty on a charge of sedition, a case of far more gravity than anything in connection with this mining dispute, a case in which it was alleged that there really was an attempt to subvert the constitution, a case so important that the Attorney-General himself appeared to prosecute, the Judge offered to bind over the prisoners—with the exception of certain prisoners who had already been convicted—if they would give an undertaking not to repeat the offence. Taking that as an example, and it is the only recent case I know of—
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
I think I know the case to which the hon. and learned Gentleman refers—what is known as the "Communist prosecution." The learned Judge 749 did not make any such offer. He did ask the people in the dock whether they were willing to undertake to abandon the Communist Party altogether, and they refused to give that undertaking, and he then sentenced some of them to six months and some to twelve months. It was not a question of binding them over not to repeat the offence, but of asking them to sever their connection altogether with a party.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
That may be, but the point is not whether he asked them to do one thing or another; whether it was to leave the organisation or abandon the newspaper matters nothing. What I am pointing out, and I do not think the Minister disagrees, is the leniency with which the case was treated by a Judge. I am showing the right hon. Gentleman that in a case concerning an allegation amounting to something really seditious the persons concerned were treated with extraordinary leniency by the Judge, whereas in cases which are nothing like sedition, which amount at the most, possibly, to cases of a little disorder, or something not very much more than picketing, people convicted under these Regulations have been sent to prison for three months—treated far less leniently than the defendants were at the Old Bailey. I say there is no reason to suppose that our Judges, who on the whole are far more trained and competent to understand such accusations, would deal with a case arising out of a dispute in an industrial area more severely than would the local magistrates. I do not say that to cast any reflection on any magistrate, but to deal with the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that there is a justification for this sort of extra martial law on the ground that it is more lenient. I say new offences are created. I say that in the one particular class of case which accounts for most of the prosecutions, namely, cases of interference with the right of people to work as they will, the statutory penalty is, as a matter of fact, a little lighter than the possible penalties under these Regulations, and further that many new offences are created which do not exist at all at common law. I cannot see that there is any justification for these Regulations in the Safety of the Realm, and I cannot see that the right hon. 750 Gentleman can justify them on the ground of their lenicency—certainly that will be the opinion among people who have been tried under them. The serious matter about these Regulations is that we are getting into a habit of mind of looking upon them as the law of the land. Every month more and more difficulties and misunderstandings arise. We hear arguments from the Home Secretary as to what the law is or is not, whether Chief Constables may state the law, and explanations are needed from the right hon. Gentleman upon these legal troubles which are produced because we are not allowed to deal with these matters under the ordinary law of the land. In this way the Government are introducing a sort of arbitrary criminal code which really has no legal interpretation behind it. I hope that if ever we have another long dispute of this kind the whole of these Regulations will be overhauled before being introduced. These Regulations were devised for another time and an entirely different purpose, because they were drawn up to deal with a state of war. But now they are being used for all sorts of purposes.
I know the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly sincere when he says that a man has a legal right to peacefully persuade a man either to work or not to work under these Regulations. I am satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman has really set out these things in the memorandum dealing with the Regulations, although he has not set out the Regulations dealing with the Statute. If, under these circumstances, Chief Constables or the Magistrates get confused, who can blame them? In one part we find it is set out that it is lawful to persuade other persons not to work, and then we come to Regulation 21, in which it is made an offence to impede in any way the production and supply of certain commodities. I want to know where is the line to be drawn? If I persuade somebody not to work I do impede the production of commodities. Surely, these Regulations are producing a great deal of un-necessary confusion. This is not a new point, because I put it to the Attorney-General some time ago. It is a very difficult thing for a Chief Constable or a lay Magistrate to understand all these subtleties in the law.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Regulation No. 21 says:Provided that a person shall not be guilty of an offence under this Regulation by reason only of his taking part in a strike or peacefully persuading any other person to take part in a strike.Surely, anyone can understand that.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
It is very difficult to understand where to draw the line, because it is laid down that you must not do anything to impede, delay, or restrict the supply or distribution of food, but you may persuade a person to take part in a strike. I know these things cannot be amended now, but they all produce uncertainty. Under the Common Law all these offences were clearly defined. I understand the Home Secretary, at one moment during his speech, said that there was something criminal in inducing other persons to break a contract.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I thought the right hon. Gentleman put the point much wider than that. I would like to know if these Regulations permit or do not permit, apart from the Section, a person to persuade others to break contracts whereby the result will be as laid down by Section 20, to restrict the supply or distribution of those various articles? I do not know. The Home Secretary knows that there is much doubt among Chief Constables and Magistrates as to what these Regulations really mean, and, seeing that many of them deal with offences which have never been defined in a Court of Law, it is not surprising that they have some difficulty in knowing what they mean. How a Magistrate can tell what disaffection means as laid down in these Regulations I do not know, because there is nothing laid down to guide him. If it means the same as sedition, then we know where we are, but if it means something over and above that, then we are in a difficulty. All this suspicion and difficulty arises through attempting to create a criminal code by these Regulations. If the legislation of our country needs alteration, then let us discuss the matter here and have the criminal law properly defined by Act of 752 Parliament instead of leaving it to the Government to create crime where otherwise there is no crime.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
On this occasion the Home Secretary has taken up another attitude from that which he previously took up with regard to the Regulations we are discussing, and on this occasion he has not been so aggressive or militant. There has not been the same swagger about the right hon. Gentleman to-day that we have had to suffer when these Regulations were before the House on a previous occasion. I ask the House to consider what it is we are faced with at the moment. Who is it these Regulations are being imposed upon? Are they being imposed upon the Germans, the French, or the Russians, or are they aimed at a section of our own countrymen who are always turning our country down? There is only one answer, and it, is that these Regulations are aimed at the most useful section of the people of this country, the most valuable asset in Great Britain and the finest material in the world, namely, the British working-class.
To-day you are attacking that class as bitterly and cruelly and callously as if they were not human beings at all. I am addressing the Home Secretary. I noticed to-day the manner in which this House, composed of men and women who are supposed at any rate to be intelligent, felt outraged because the dignity of this House was being assailed. It is sheer nonsense to talk about dignity when you have a House of Commons listening to the Home Secretary telling us in that cool, calculating, well-fed way that these Regulations are not so harsh as the common law. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by fooling us in that way? Why are these Regulations asked for if they are not more harsh than the ordinary law? The result of putting these Regulations into operation is to set class against class. If ever there was a class war, or if ever there was clear evidence of it, we have got it to-day. If ever there was a ferocious Government in power preying on the flesh and blood of the people of this country, it is the present Government. There never was such a hypocritical Government holding sway in this or any other land, and there never was such a hypocritical Home Secretary as the present one.
753 The right hon. Gentleman stands there and discusses the sending to gaol of the finest workers in this country. He stands there discussing ways and means of sending to gaol, women, old women, the mothers of the British race, the mothers of the boys who defended us from the Germans, and how does the right hon. Gentleman treat them to-day? He hands them over to any insignificant stupid Chief Constable—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—I know what I am talking about. By these Regulations you are handing over the liberties of the community to the Chief Constables. I know there are some of them who will behave decently, but when you hand over to Chief Constables powers such as these under the circumstances prevailing at the moment there is bound to be trouble, more especially when the people realise that the Government which has power over these Chief Constables is on the side of the owners and not on the side of the miners. That is what we are suffering from to-day.
What did the hon. Member for Armagh (Sir W. Allen) tell us? He told us that Ireland was not getting its fair share of coal. If the Government had been honest, they would have told Northern Ireland that there was no coal from Britain to give them, that it is all so much lies about the great number of miners that is being employed. It is not true. He said another thing that struck me very forcibly. He said, and it is quite true, that they were cutting down fruit trees, and he was appalled. So may anyone be; but it never seemed to dawn on the intelligence of the Tory Members of this House that there are more valuable things being cut down to-day than fruit trees. There are little children in the mining villages starving at the present moment, and these are the finest fruit trees that this or any other country ever had. It is on your heads, every one of you, every one of the Tory Government. If there is a God in Heaven, you will have to give account before Him for the suffering that the women and children of this country are going through at the present day.
Go on with your regulations! Here we find the miner right up against it; there is no doubt about that. The miners' leaders are working beyond human endurance. I have never known, in all my 754 experience of over 30 years, of leaders working so hard as the miners' leaders are working at the present moment, rushing from one place to another. None of you that I see here have a constitution that could stand it one week; Cook has stood it six months, and he will stand it six years. We will help him, and when you have killed him we will take his place. Yet, in this free Britain, the land of the brave and the free, where free speech has always been held—how we swagger about it whenever we go on the Continent! We are the free men; we have the right to give expression to our opinions and none dare make us afraid—in the midst of all that, the Home Secretary goes and bars Cook, or, at any rate, he backs the chief constable who dares to stop Cook from addressing his own men. There is the freedom that you boast about—freedom as long as you do not operate it, but, the moment you operate it, you are banned and threatened as Cook was in all manner of ways.
That is how the miner sees it. What is he going to do? The miner says that if he is defeated—of course, he cannot be; the working class cannot be defeated; it is impossible—the miner sees that he is being put up against it. He is being rushed by this Government, and there is only one thing standing in the way of the hope of the matter being solved, and that is the owners, not the colliers. They see all this going on. They see that if it is a bad settlement for them the active men who have been fighting for their fellows in the workshop—I know what it is; I have come through it—the active men will be sacked and will not get a job in the mines; while the men who do work will be bullied at their work as they have never been bullied before—crushed, driven down to slavery by this great Tory Government and these emergency powers at the instigation of the owners, in order that they may wring profit, in order that some men may become rich through the degradation of the entire British race. If you crush the working class of this country down below a certain standard, how are you to expect to have an Empire or an Imperial race if they are underfed and over-worked? You cannot have it two ways.
Further, the miner sees his wife, the first day when they start work, having 755 to go round to the grocer and pay the bill, which will be deducted from his wages; and not only that, but they have signed away to the parish councils that immediately they start work they have to pay to clear that bill. Therefore, they see that their condition is going to be absolutely hellish for years—nothing but black, staring slavery for the miners of this country. The miner says, "Well, you have put me up against it, and I am going to destroy the mines. I am going to pull out the safety men; I am going to flood the mines;" and you can take it from me in this House that I will do all I can to back the miners to flood the mines, to destroy the mines. I never make any apology for being a Scotch man; I have never changed my action to suit either Irish, English or Welsh, and I say here that if Scotland, my native land, after I have played the game, after I have done what I possibly could to make this world the better while I have been here—if my country turn me down and send me and my class down to slavery, I will do everything I could to burst my country, never mind bursting the mines.
That is how the miners view it, and I warn this House that that is what you are faced with; and that is the spirit in which we of the Labour party decided to-day. All the tameness has gone; we decided to-day as a party, at our party meeting, that we are going out to do all that we possibly can to stand by the miner. The whole party is pledged to it. Of course, you can hear laughing, and you can hear smiling—[Laughter.]—you can hear titters, butSmile and smile, and be a villian all the while.I want also to tell the House something more, and it is this, that the whole trade union movement is rallying to the miners, and that the trade union movement are going to levy themselves for the miners. I can tell the House that right off the bricklayers have decided to give them 6d. a week. That is a good beginning, because, if the miners are supported financially—and they are going to be—all the powers in Britain will never beat the miners. You can go on with your powers and your Regulations, but you will get no more coal than you are getting at the moment.
756 Before I have finished I want to draw attention to this point. You are always repudiating the poor miner—the working class. They are this and they are that; but did it never strike the Home Secretary and the Government of the Tory party that at the moment all the management is about the mines—all the brains, all the collar-and-tie brigade are there—the staff are all there, and there is no coal coming up, which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that, if it is so necessary, the most valuable asset that you have is, as I have already said, the miner. It is the duty of the Home Secretary, if he claims to have the interest of Britain at heart, as I have—[Interruption.] I do not want to say a word, because, if I do, I shall say something that I shall be sorry for, but it would be true. I am appealing to the very best of my ability in order to save a very serious crisis arising, because it will arise as far as I am concerned; I will make no bones about that. I am going round the country advising the miners never to yield, no matter what they do, no matter what they destroy. The leaders can call me a revolutionary and wash their hands of me, but they will never change me one bit. During the weekend I am going to tell the miners, rather than yield, to blow the mines and everything else to a bag of rags.
I say this because I want to save trouble, for, as most of my colleagues know, I just say on the Floor of the House of Commons what I will say on the platform— not to get any notoriety—I can get any amount of notoriety—but because I believe that the miners have a just cause. They are not asking for an increase of wages, they are not asking for a reduction of hours, but they are simply asking to work under what were considered to be the normal conditions under which on the average they had been working for a long term of years. Take Durham; you are going to put the hands of the clock back about 50 or 60 years. Think of that, you Tory Government. I am giving you a chance to consider well the path that you are treading, because it is your own fellow-countrymen that you are dealing with. We shall be able, because we have the ear of the British public, to prove to them that the miner is not asking anything that this country cannot afford to give. We tell the people 757 that this idea of the economics of the situation does not matter a snap of the fingers, that the most important thing is not whether the Astors will get their millions or not—the most important thing is that the children that we bring into the world shall be fed. We do not believe that Britain is a done country; we believe that our country can afford to give the miners a comfortable living, and we would not be worthy of our sires if we were to remain silent on these benches here and say nothing, and allow all this twaddle to go on about law and order and one thing and another when there are thousands of these children starving. It is our duty in defence of our country to stand up for these men and women and do what we possibly can to instil into them the characteristics of our race—that is, the love of liberty—and to try to stem your propaganda and your ideas of crushing the working classes. That is what you want. We of the Labour movement say we will not stand for that. We will defy you and your law and order. You can do what you jolly well like. If you interfere with our speakers, others will take their place. That is a challenge to you, and you can make a kirk or a mull of it.
Mr. W. M. ADAMSON
I beg to move, in line 3, after "1926," to insert the words, "other than Regulations 21 and 22."
I move this Amendment particularly in view of the action which was taken recently under Regulation 22. The Chief Constable of Staffordshire took upon himself the responsibility, evidently after consultation with the Home Secretary, of proclaiming a meeting in my constituency which was to be addressed by the Secretary of the Miners' Federation. The Home Secretary, in justifying the action of the Chief Constable, quoted a speech of Mr. Cook which had taken place in the same district somewhere about seven or eight weeks ago. He was questioned later as to why action was not taken then against the individual who made the speech. It is probable that round about the same period, or at a later period even, speeches of mine might have been quoted to the Home Secretary when criticism of the police was offered by me at very similar meetings. I want to ask the 758 Home Secretary why action was delayed for two months, and the meeting should be banned because of one particular speaker, because in addition to Mr. Cook there was to be the Treasurer of the Miners' Federation and other local speakers who have been taking the responsibility of the dispute during this period. My mind takes me back to the period when the speech was made which was quoted by the Home Secretary last night. Prior to Mr. Cook speaking, a procession of miners had taken place. A car with police officers drove up and took the flags and banners from the miners, and used that provocative method of trying to cause a disturbance, so that they could create some action which would make the miners retaliate. Fortunately, by the wise advice of their leaders, they let the banners go, and went on to the place of meeting. Unfortunately probably for the discussion to-night, whatever action was taken was taken under a by-law and not under these Regulations. I am not going to contradict the police officer's statement in any way. In all the meetings I have held the police have been tolerant and, because they understood the local conditions, they have always been friendly. It is only the introduction of police from other districts which has caused any difficulty whatever in the mining districts, and it is because they have not the slightest knowledge of the habits of the men and women concerned that they take the action they have taken in many instances.
It was under circumstances such as this, and because of a speech made after such an event, that Mr. Cook was banned from speaking in the Cannock district. I am not concerned to defend the miners' secretary—he can do that for himself—but I am concerned with the right of free speech in my constituency, and I intend to go to the division this week-end and in the same place hold a meeting. That is not an idle boast, and I am not seeking to defy the law in any way, but I am going, and I believe with plenty of help and assistance, to make certain that the right of free speech is not going to be banned in any part of the mining area. The very first portion of these Regulations says:Provided also that no such Regulation shall make it an offence for any person to take part in a strike or peacefully to 759 persuade any other person or persons to take part in a strike.Surely the purpose of the miners' secretary on Sunday last could only be to appeal to his fellow members to stand loyal and to prevent the breakaway of the miners—to stand together for the principles they believe in, for the right of a national agreement, for the right to negotiate the conditions under which they should be employed. I ask the Home Secretary why that meeting was banned, and I want to quote a letter I have received to indicate the attitude of mind of those who have been confronted with this position as to what it means. It is written by a member of the urban district council and a member of the executive of the Miners' Association in the Cannock District:You will be surprised to hear that some of us miners' officials were called upon early this morning by police officers who were instructed to inform us that our meeting, at which others were to speak, had been forbidden. We were threatened with arrest if we attempted to hold meetings anywhere in Staffordshire. Mounted police in big numbers have been sent into the districts and it is estimated that 950 police assembled this morning. Although some 15,000 men gathered together no-one was allowed to address them.I can understand, after the statement of the Home Secretary, that they were determined not to allow Cook to speak, but why prohibit the meeting and not the individual? If I had attended that meeting, as I might possibly have done, should I too have been refused if my constituents were assembled to hear my opinions upon the dispute? Incidentally, is it not possible that the other speakers who attended there were quite as legitimately entitled to speak at the meeting? Let us face the facts under these conditions. Probably the Chief Constable believed he was acting rightly in preventing the meeting because of the possibility of men being persuaded not to return to work. The very prohibition of the meeting, according to the Press, resulted in 2,000 more men refraining from going to work yesterday. Whatever their idea was in even giving a semblance of support to the Chief Constable in prohibiting the meeting, surely, in the interests, as you might believe, of getting an end of the dispute, even if the men are forced to return by starvation, that was not the way, as I think 760 the Home Secretary must have done in his letter to the Chief Constables, to encourage them to prohibit meetings when they thought it necessary. Was it not sufficient that they had the law behind them and the Emergency Regulations, which you have passed in spite of our opposition, for the Chief Constable to take whatever action he thought fit, even without the possible semblance of support from the Home Secretary who had no opportunity of knowing what was likely to take place in the district. Have there been any complaints respecting the behaviour of the men, apart from singing their labour songs, in forming processions and in trying legitimate methods to beat down the opposition of the mineowners, in order to get fair terms? Have there been any complaints or even the semblance of any cases where prosecutions could actually be taken? With very few exceptions, there have been no complaints of the behaviour of the men and women. They have behaved themselves remarkably well under difficult conditions, and I think we are entitled to ask that the Home Secretary should review his position and take command, so that a Chief Constable should not have it in his power to ban and prohibit meetings, thereby denying the right of free speech. We ask that an opportunity should be given for us to express our opinions and to carry on in an ordinary constitutional way.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I beg to second the Amendment.
The Regulations which the hon. Member proposes to delete are interpreted by the Home Secretary in such a way that they interfere with our lifelong freedom of speech in this country. The hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling) made a speech yesterday calling the attention of the Home Secretary to what was happening in his own constituency in Yorkshire. The Home Secretary has told us this afternoon that in a number of districts meetings have been banned, but the statement of the right hon. Gentleman did not afford sufficient justification for the banning of those meetings. I object to this Regulation because of the possibility of its being improperly enforced. We have warned the Home Secretary that the ultimate end will be to make the Regulation itself a 761 farce. The position has now arrived when men occupying chief positions in the Miners' Federation, Mr. Cook, the Secretary, Mr. Herbert Smith, the President, and Mr. Richardson, the Treasurer, are affected. Mr. Richardson alone awaits the ban of the Home Secretary. He is one of the most respected men who ever sat in this House. The other men are also respected. The Home Secretary makes no discrimination. He says, in effect, that these people are obnoxious to the mineowners, not because of any danger arising from their actions but because their actions are objectionable to the coalowners. They make an appeal to the men not to listen to the inducements of the coalowners to return to work but to stand loyal to the Federation and to stand out for a better settlement.
The Home Secretary has referred to a statement made by Mr. Cook, in a speech made two months ago, when he referred jocularly to the police as "bluebottles," and told them that their batons were useful weapons of defence and offence in certain contingencies, but that the baton was a very poor substitute for a pick in the matter of getting coal. That is the only thing in Mr. Cook's speech which the Home Secretary could quote in justification of the ban. The Home Secretary is the last man in the world to object to anything said by Mr. Cook. Mr. Cook lives a very active life in the movement; he has great gifts of speech and has a very flowery and poetical vocabulary, but he has never indulged in the phrases in which the Home Secretary has indulged. The Home Secretary, in defiance of the law and constitution called upon the lord god of battles to help him, and to witness his defiance of the constitution of the country he told the Government of the day to "Fire and be damned." That is a sample of the right hon. Gentleman's language. If he searches the records of Mr. Cook's speeches he cannot find anything approaching those terms. Had Mr. Cook said what the Home Secretary has said, one would not have been surprised to find a ban put upon him, but he has said nothing approaching a seditious statement or a statement likely to cause disaffection among His Majesty's subjects.
The charge against Mr. Cook has been founded on a report provided by the 762 police in the Staffordshire area. It would appear that a policeman took notes in a standing position without a table, without any facilities for rapid writing or accuracy, and this police report is brought up in this House, and not in a Court of Law, as evidence of Mr. Cook's misdemeanour in the past. I have had some experience of speaking in the presence of the police during the last week or two. I make this complaint to the Home Secretary, that at two of my meetings I found police present making a pretence of taking notes of what I said. I am quite sure that if the police in the Staffordshire area are no more competent in the making of reports than the police who have tried their 'prentice hand in reporting my speeches, then their report is not very reliable. I was speaking on a subject in which miners are interested, namely, the relation of wages to the cost of living and the relation of wages to profits, and the police were taking notes of that. They were taking notes of a subject which had no semblance of interference with civil rights, no semblance with the policy of His Majesty's Government, and certainly no relationship to anything likely to cause a breach of the peace. It was a technical examination of facts. As a magistrate, I appealed to the policeman who was taking notes not to make himself look so stupid and foolish. I asked him to desist, from playing at reporting. If that is the kind of report which has been produced against Mr. Cook, it is no evidence at all to those who have had experience of police methods.
The result of proclaiming Mr. Cook's meeting has done more than Mr. Cook's eloquence could have done in keeping men from work. Mr. Cook has great eloquence and great influence with crowds, but the banning of his meeting has certainly resulted in many men withdrawing their labour. I find that the number of men at work in that area since the proclamation of the meeting is nearly 2,000 fewer than before the ban. The Government are violating the decencies of social relationship in this country. They have come so openly on the side of the coal owner. The Home Secretary in particular has mis-used his powers against the miners so flagrantly that the people of this country, of all shades of political opinion, are rapidly losing confidence in him. Here is a report from the "Times" 763 of to-day with respect to the banning of Mr. Cook's meeting. The Walsall correspondent of that newspaper said:The action of the Staffordshire police in preventing Mr. A. J. Cook from addressing meetings of Cannock Chase miners yesterday has given rise to much criticism. Among the miners themselves there is intense resentment, for up to the present there have been the friendliest relations between the miners and the police and there have been no untoward incidents during the strike. Mr. Cook has been in the same area on several previous occasions during the dispute, and has been permitted to hold meetings. To-day there was some bewilderment when the miners found that the police permitted a meeting to be held at Heath Hayes, and that a statement was forthcoming from the superintendent of police at Cannock to the effect that there was now no further ban on miners' meetings. This is not correct, for Major Hunter, the Deputy Chief Constable of Staffordshire, informed me this afternoon that the police had power to exercise their discretion and prohibit meetings where they apprehended disorder as a result. It did not necessarily mean that a ban would be placed on all meetings announced to be addressed by Mr. Cook. I am informed that when the miners' secretary last addressed the miners in Cannock Chase he made a violent attack on the police, which surprised his hearers.This was not reported at the time in the newspapers. It is a remark which has come to the Home Secretary and gone back from his office to the police in the neighbourhood. At the time it did not appear in the local Press. The newspaper proceeds:Mr. Cook has announced now that he will return to this area to-morrow and will speak at Heath Hayes, Hednesford, Pelsall, and other places in Staffordshire. The action of the police is commented on unfavourably, not only by the general public, but by the Press supporters of the Government in Birmingham.People are amazed that, whereas Mr. Cook was not allowed to speak last week-end, he is allowed to speak to-day in the same area. The statement which he will make to-day is likely to be the same kind of statement that he would have made last week-end. It will be an appeal to the miners to rally round the Federation and to abide by the policy of the Federation. The Home Secretary knows that Mr. Cook, as a responsible official of the Miners' Federation, must appeal to the men and explain to them how the Federation views the problem, and explain to them minutely the policy and 764 hopes of the Federation. How can the Home Secretary justify the banning of the meeting last week-end and allow Mr. Cook to speak in the same area to-day? The result of this confusion, which becomes worse confounded each day, is that more men have withdrawn their labour from the pits because of the interference with the ordinary elementary rights of citizenship. They have shown their resentment against the Home Secretary's action by withdrawing their labour, when otherwise they might have remained at work. This action can only have the result of retarding a settlement and of creating more bitterness between the parties than has been shown up to the present. There have been no great manifestations of hatred and malice between the parties. The coalowners and miners, much as they differ from each other, have shown no great manifestation of malice in action or spoken words, although certain coal owners in interviews with the Government have said things much more capable of being described as sedition than anything that Mr. Cook has said.
I complain of the banning of meetings in other areas. In Derbyshire the other day a local preacher, who was banned in his attempt to address the miners on the subject of the dispute, asked for permission to preach from a text in the Bible, and that was banned. Scripture is banned by the order of the Home Secretary through his minions in that area. He was denied the right to preach a sermon in the open air to a crowd of people. A local leader of the men who is also a local preacher asked permission to preach a sermon; he was refused! That is what we are coming to.
§ 7.0 P. M.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
That was last weekend in Derbyshire. What would have happened to the Old Testament Prophets if the Home Secretary had been in office in Jerusalem. Jeremiah and Zachariah would have had to toe the line if the present Home Secretary had been holding power in those days. I would appeal to the Home Secretary to dispense with these new Regulations—to leave out Regulations 21 and 22. Failing that, I suggest to the Home Secretary that he 765 cancels the orders to the local police and mayors. A meeting was banned and the Chief Constable for the county made it his business to go round the houses of local leaders and use most improper language, intimidatory language, in a most disturbing fashion, to my mind. The statement I have here is:
The Chief Constable, acting on the instructions of the Home Secretary, went to a local leader's house and told him this meeting he proposes to hold next Sunday is not to be held. He said, 'I shall see to it, you shall not hold meetings in future. I want to show you something else. If you want to see what a baton charge is like, I will give you an exhibition one of these days.'The Chief of Police of the County of Monmouth goes to a local leader's house, where there is no threat, no intimidation, the working people living as peaceably as they have in the past. They are a fine type of people. Here is a Chief Constable using provocative language. That is the man the Home Secretary should ban. That is the kind of inflammatory speech. Mr. Smith and Mr. Cook could not use language of that kind. Here is a man responsible for the maintenance of law and order in that district doing that. I have had a report that they have banned meetings in my own Division. I can claim that no more law-abiding and worthy citizens live anywhere in the four Kingdoms. In six months there has not been a single summons for the most minor offence. There has been no obstruction, no intimidation, no violation of the law of picketing in any way. The police and the working people are more friendly and more careful to preserve friendship than ever they have been before. It is not the police in my district who ask permission of the Home Secretary to ban meetings. These instructions have been pushed upon them. They have been told in these printed farms, "You ban meetings at so and so." And they must ban the meetings. I said it was the Chief Constable of Monmouthshire who made these threats of a baton charge at Tredegar. I have been a bit confused. It was Superintendent Edwards, the local superintendent, who made that threat of a baton charge.
Coming back to my own district, the people there are anxious to be friendly with the police. They know nothing is gained by violence. They do not want 766 to be fighting. They will stay out for weeks and months in resistance of the coalowners' proposals. They try to conduct themselves as well as they can. They want the right to hold meetings, because otherwise they cannot carry on the business of the Federation with two or three thousand branches or lodges all over the Kingdom. There are 400 branches in South Wales alone. You cannot have a meeting of every branch; you must have four or five branches together. Here is a meeting banned, not because Mr. Cook or Mr. Herbert Smith or any of those more famous characters are going to speak, but because two local agents propose to speak. One of them is a local preacher, if that is any recommendation in this House. It is certainly no recommendation to the coalowners. One of my colleagues, a local preacher, and a very estimable man indeed, was anxious to address his own members in my district, and he was banned. I hope the Home Secretary will inquire into the interpretation placed upon his own Regulations, and see whether or not these Regulations, as they are being carried out, are more in violation of the constitution and an interference with the civilian population than anything any of the leaders of the men have done.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
Last Saturday in Derbyshire. I really do not remember the name of the meeting. Perhaps other speakers will give more details. The other instance was in one of the villages in my own constituency. It has a Welsh name which by strange coincidence means "The Lord's meadow."
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
I wish to seize this opportunity of welcoming this attitude of the party opposite in favour of free speech. Many of us at the present time have examples of what is not free speech when we are addressing meetings, and I am glad to see that the Labour party, when it comes to the point—and they themselves have meetings, not disorganised or in any way interrupted by the party opposed to them, but turned down by the police—are naturally indignant. I am certain we all ought to have free speech, and I welcome it from them that they too share that 767 aspiration. I am one of those who feel that it is a great mistake to suppress public meetings. I think a public meeting should not be suppressed either by the police or by the side opposed to the speakers. We must all of us realise that the position in which the police are placed in many cases is extremely difficult. After all, it is not Mr. Cook or anybody else who is held responsible for the results of what may happen at a meeting of that kind, if anybody is blamed and if there is trouble. There may be trouble such as in the case of Staffordshire, where men have gone back to work and the Miners' Federation have gone down to try to bring them out again. In my opinion, the Home Secretary is right in trusting the men on the spot. I hope very much that these meetings will be stopped as little as possible. In Durham, where I come from, I can state with perfect truth, that the relations between the police and the miners are as good as they can be, and we have had no trouble, so far as I know, about the suppression of public meetings. Let me again say how really glad I am to see that we have opposite a party determined to stand up for free speech, and I trust very much they will allow us to have it also.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I trust I may be justified in again venturing to address the House to-night on the same subject as last night. I do so because I am a Staffordshire Member, and I am very jealous of the law-abiding character of the people there. I have been very considerably disturbed by the course which has been taken; that is why I ventured to make a personal and direct appeal to the Home Secretary last night. I did not ask him to withdraw this Regulation. I did ask him, and I ask him again, whether he does not think it wise to reconsider the decision to which he came of giving those general instructions to the chief constables in the various districts, and whether it is not a matter he should have taken entirely in his own hands, so that no Proclamation or prohibition should take place except with his direct approval? I think this is somewhat of a test case. I agree with what he said last night regarding the character of the Chief Constable. All of us in Staffordshire have great admira- 768 tion for the Chief Constable. On the other hand, we have a right and a duty to criticise any actions which we consider unwise. I think the Home Secretary entirely agrees with the quotation I made last night, one sentence of which I venture to re-quote:Prohibition, unless danger of disorder is very real and apparent, necessarily raises this issue of free speech, and by so doing may easily do more harm than good in the long run.I submit that the action taken in Staffordshire last Sunday is likely to have the effect of doing more harm than good. I submit very respectfully that there was no justification for the course taken. Five hundred more police drafted into one district to prevent Mr. Cook speaking. I certainly do not in the slightest degree support the words which, the Home Secretary said last night, Mr. Cook used in a prior speech. He said that speech was made two months ago. He admitted that no ill effects resulted from that speech, and how therefore something which happened two months ago and had no ill results then was going to have an ill result now, is beyond my comprehension. The point I am going to urge will show the mistake in judgment which has been made. An hon. Member said he understood Mr. Cook was going to hold a meeting to-day. I hold in my hand a telegram to the effect that he has held a meeting in that district.Cook spoke, orderly meeting, 5,000 men Pelsall this afternoon, only two or three police present, no disturbance.I am glad to be able to put that on record as indicating the orderly and law-abiding character of the people in that district, and I do not think there was any justification for this strong action which might possibly have created the very disturbance it was desired to prevent. I do not wish to labour this point to-day, but I press very strongly whether, in the interests of peace, it is not wise for the Home Secretary to retain this power in his own hands. Every Chief Constable may not be held in such high esteem as the Chief Constable of Staffordshire. We have the Home Secretary in this House, and we ought to look to him not only to take the technical but the direct responsibility for proclamations issued in these circumstances, and if we can secure from him a promise that he will reconsider his view, and will himself require to be informed of any proposed proclamation, and that no 769 proclamation will be made except under his express authority, some good will result from a discussion of the matter.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I want to follow up what the hon. Member has just said, and draw the attention of the Home Secretary to the Regulation itself, which I really think contemplated that in every case there should be a direct and separate proclamation whenever a Chief Constable was to stop a meeting. These are the words of the Regulation itself:When there appears to be reason to apprehend that the assembly of any persons for the purpose of the holding of any meeting or procession will conduce to a breach of the peace and will thereby cause undue demands to be made upon the police, or will promote disaffection, it shall be lawful for a Secretary of State, or for any mayor, magistrate, or chief officer of police who is duly authorised by a Secretary of State, or for two or more of such persons so authorised to make an order….Speaking as a lawyer, I think the intention of the words of the Regulation was that whereas a mayor and magistrates, by virtue of their office, have power to proclaim a meeting, a chief officer of police can be vested with that power by the Secretary of State, but is vested only for the purpose of making a particular order for a particular meeting. As a matter of law, I think the Regulation has been unduly strained. The chief officer of police can be vested with these powers under the control of the Secretary of State's authority, but the general intention was that where the Secretary of State thought a meeting should be stopped, a direct order should be given. This general order besides being undesirable is, I think, straining the Regulation rather further than the actual words go.
§ Mr. TINKER
I wish to refer to a matter of which I have notified the Home Secretary, but before I come to that question let me say a word or two on the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Barnard Castle (Lieut.-Colonel Headlam). I take it he objected to meetings of his party being interrupted—
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
Yes, continual interruptions, and not allowing other people to speak at public meetings.
§ Mr. TINKER
I can assure him that no one on this side of the House agrees with that kind of thing. We want everyone to have the right of saying what they think, but I did hope, after what he said, that he would have appealed to the Home Secrtary to remove the ban placed on our meetings. He stated that he was in favour of free speech, but agreed with the action of the Home Secretary. The two things cannot go together. What I want to refer to is the agreement in Lancashire in regard to the safety men. Under this agreement the safety men are allowed to work in the mines where the employers agree that the conditions which obtained on 30th April shall prevail, that is, a seven-hour day and the same rate of wages, the men to be employed only on safety work, and no coal to be worked. We have kept that agreement in Lancashire. At the Cronton Collieries, near Prescot, this agreement obtained on 13th October, but on that day the employers decided to revert to an eight-hour day. That was a clear breach of the agreement, and the employers knew it, because they went round to the safety men telling them the new terms and the conditions and asking them whether they would remain at work. The safety men said "No, you have broken the agreement and our engagement terminates." There was no trouble.
The next day the safety men did not go in, and the surface manager of the colliery, accompanied by a police inspector and sergeant, visited them at their homes. The surface foreman told them that if they did not go to work there would be no further employment for them. I am not objecting to that. What I am objecting to is that a police inspector and sergeant should accompany the surface foreman on a mission of that kind. They had no right to do so. If the surface foreman wanted to get the men back to work, he had a right to visit them, but he had no right to use the police for the purpose. That is what we object to. The employers have no more right to use the police than have the miners. I have sent the Home Secretary particulars of this case, and if he finds the facts are as I have stated. I hope he will put a stop to this kind of thing. Where we are accused of ex- 771 ceeding the picketing laws the police have a right to come in, but where we are trying to keep law and order the police should be neutral and should not favour the employers. I hope the Home Secretary will look into this case and let me know his decision later.
§ Mr. PURCELL
I support the Amendment on the ground that I do not think the Home Secretary is entitled to these powers at all; he is not entitled to continue to give this support which is wholly in favour of the coalowners. There is no question about that. The whole of these Regulations are specifically designed to defeat the objective of the miners. Even if the Home Secretary went as far as to promise to remove the ban, there would still remain the fact that the make-up and mentality of the Courts of this country, particularly the magistracy in out-of-the-way districts, would give him all the protection he wants so far as law and order are concerned. On the benches of the various Courts in the land he has quite as much support as he needs for the purposes of law and order—as much as anybody need expect. Our great unpaid were never better represented from a Tory point of view than they are at present. Apart altogether from any attitude of a Chief Constable himself, the attitude of the magistracy towards boys and girls and men and women in the various districts is the biggest outrage ever perpetrated in connection with any dispute.
In my own constituency, where there has been some little consistency in the sentences imposed and in the general action of the Chief Constable, without any question of meetings being banned, we have had attacks on men and women in such a form that the mere following of the crowd was a severe offence, and the fine as much as £3, £4, £5 and £6. The ban on meetings is a small thing compared with the penalties imposed by the magistracy under the dictation of the Home Office or on the advice of the Chief Constable or local superintendent. Here we are faced with some of the most savage sentences possible. These people have not the money to pay, and cannot pay the fines which are imposed for the smallest conceivable offences. Instead of getting peace, you will only get more revolts on the part of the people. In 772 my own area we never had a solitary case of any description until the Chief Constable came down with all his force of mounted men and his police in motor cars. We had no summonses, no charges of any kind. All this proves that the Government have made up their mind, definitely and deliberately, to assist the coalowners to starve the mineworkers into submission. The ban on meetings is only a part of that policy. The fact is that this Government are acting in a most murderous manner as far as the miners are concerned, and have made up their mind to force the men and women back to work through starvation. It is wholly in favour of starving the miners into submission.
This is proved by the orders which have been issued to various localities and by the attitude of the Minister of Health towards boards of guardians. In my own district an organised attempt is being made to starve 7,000 miners back to work. Every vestige of support has been removed. This is the most bestial Government that has ever perplexed this country. It is a Tsarist Government. We can use the same words which hon. Members opposite used towards Ireland. You may prohibit our meetings but we shall endeavour to continue those meetings and defy you. We are under no obligation to obey your law and order. We do not respect your Regulations, or your orders. They are only used to beat down the wages and the conditions of the workers in this country, and to assist the worst type of employers that ever beset a nation. The Government are the advance guard of the coalowners and are using the forces of the police, the Army and transport, for the purpose of protecting the coalowners and in order to help them to cut down the wages and conditions of the workers. There is no case on record in which there has been more sacrifices in support of the maintenance of their own solidarity and less disorder than in the present dispute.
The Government are anxious to promote disorder. They are desirous of creating disorder in order that they may call out the troops and see whether ordinary soldiers will fire on their fellow workers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Drivel!"] I hope they will not. I hope they will refuse to do so. I think you want to try them. If it was not for our men— 773 [HON. MEMBERS: "Drivel!"] I think it is the most honest thing I have ever said in my life. You say "drivel." If it were not for the drivellers in the mines of this country you would have to go to work, the lot of you. Come and get your own coal. Come into our districts and attend our meetings. Come yourselves and do not send your Chief Constables to ban our meetings. I hold that in the present circumstances it is our business to defy these orders, to assist the populace wherever we feel that we are justified in holding a meeting to call out these people, to peacefully persuade them, if you like to leave the mines just as you would seek to starve them into submission. We are entitled to defy your orders as we please. I believe that if you carry on this dispute for more and more weeks you will not get more production of coal. On the contrary, I think that you will encourage large numbers of the men to go back to work without agreements at all. After 25 years' experience I have no hesitation in saying that I would do in the mining industry as we have done in my industry—when we cannot get an honourable agreement we let the men go back without any agreement at all, and there is at once guerilla warfare.
§ Mr. PURCELL
We were Britishers long before some of you people were born. We have made the sacrifice, and you have made the profits out of it. The Government stand condemned in the eyes of the world as the most bestial, brutal and murderous Government that ever existed.
§ Mr. KELLY
I wish to support the Amendment. I confess that after watching the proceedings of the Government, they seem to me to be more concerned with operating Regulations than with any endeavour to end the mining dispute. They have had many opportunities, of which one would have expected them to take advantage, but rather than do so they have concerned themselves with getting another Proclamation and the renewal of Regulations such as these. I do not appeal to the Home Secretary to take the power into his own hands. I cannot understand why a Member of my own Front Bench appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to take this power into 774 his own hands rather than to leave it with Chief Constables at the moment of operation. I am concerned with neither the Home Secretary nor Chief Constables having this power in their hands. We have had no case made out for these Regulations. To-day, as a month ago, the Home Secretary has given us no evidence that he requires such Regulations. Yet, the House of Commons is asked to hand over to him the power under these Regulations, some of which he knows the Government Departments will never operate, because they tell against the mineowners. The right hon. Gentleman asked for these Regulations in the terms that he used a month ago, "For fear lest something might happen." If that is the only point that he has to place before us, surely that is a reason why we should always have these Emergency Regulations in operation rather than the law of the land.
The Home Secretary is operating the Regulations with regard to public meetings. Some people have suggested that, with regard to Staffordshire, his ban was placed on the meetings because of the Secretary to the Miners' Federation. That is not correct. As a fact, the first meetings banned in that area were the meetings to be addressed by Mr. Richardson. I wonder what Mr. Richardson has done that the Home Secretary should be afraid of the meetings being held. Is it that the Government are afraid that the miners will hear the true facts of the case instead of being misled by the section of the Press which has published the choice parts of speeches and not told the whole story of the miners' representatives? It is not only for the banning of meetings that the Home Secretary is asking for these Regulations. I wonder what he is afraid of when he asks that a Regulation should still operate to prevent mutiny among the armed forces and to prevent anyone disaffecting the fire brigades, and why he is asking for power to take action against those who impede the supply of fuel, food and so forth? He is asking for that Regulation, and at the same time he refuses to operate the Regulation which he has had for months against those who are impeding the supply of fuel. Here are the owners, who declare that, despite the fact that the coal is available and only requires to be won by the men who are willing to 775 win it, unless their conditions, which are worse than those of April last, are accepted, the country shall not have the coal.
It is a sorry time when a Government asks for Regulations such as these. I am not concerned with the Home Secretary looking at the Regulations in a generous way. I am not concerned with asking him to take the power into his hands for the purpose of prohibiting meetings. He has no right to prohibit the meetings of the men in order to deal with questions affecting their dispute. It would be far better, and the Government would be doing something worthy of their office, if instead of playing with this side of the work they were engaged in trying to bring the parties together and getting a settlement of the dispute. As one who has been long engaged in negotiations arising out of industrial disputes, I am convinced that if the Government had had one man who was capable of negotiating, this dispute would have been brought to an end long ago. The employers throughout the country realise that and say so. I ask the Government to engage upon that side of the work rather than this.
§ Mr. WRAGG
I do not propose to emulate the example of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Purcell) by uttering a violent diatribe against the Miners' Federation. I do not propose to attach to the Federation such epithets as he has chosen to attach to the coalowners and the Government. I do not call them a bestial Federation, as he has called the Government a bestial Government. But surely the Miners' Federation are as much or a good deal more to blame for the continuance of this stoppage than ever the Government were. The miners themselves have never had an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the continuance of the struggle, and hon. Members opposite know that quite well. I know, as chairman of a company, the way in which the ballots are carried on and all the transactions done in order to save Mr. Cook's face. It is a mere travesty of balloting. These Regulations are absolutely necessary for the protection of the miners. As owners we do not require the Regulations at all, for if the men are left to themselves, without the violent talk which goes on, without 776 this so-called peaceful picketing and peaceful persuading, they will go back, and will be able to arrange the best possible terms that the industry can afford. If the Miners' Federation had accepted the last offer of the Government the men could have been back to-day, could have been sharing in the temporary prosperity which some districts are getting to-day. They would have gone back if they had been left alone to do it. But, of course, Mr. Cook prevented it. If the miners of the country have imposed upon them such a man as that, of course all this misery comes to them—simply through that man. Everyone knows it. The moderate miners know it. I meet lots of them.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
They have asked you to go to your own constituency to address miners' meetings, and you will not go.
§ Mr. WRAGG
I offered to go to my own constituency to address the miners on the request of the miners' leaders, provided they would guarantee to put in the chair a chairman who would keep order, because I am so well acquainted with some of the extreme miners' leaders that I know they do not desire the truth to be given to the miners. And if I went down there without some responsible person to keep order, I should simply address a meeting of the howling minority movement. I do not want to address those people. I want to address the moderate men who belong to the majority movement, not the friends of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. I say most distinctly that the miners have lost within the last month the best opportunity that they have ever had of getting an honourable settlement of the dispute. If they had agreed to go back in districts, every matter of hours and wages could have been referred to the national tribunal which the Government pledged themselves to establish. They would not have it.
§ Mr. WRAGG
There is no question of their accepting the offer. The Government offer was to create a statutory tribunal which would be binding on the owners. They could not make it binding on the miners. You cannot make men go to work if they will not, or if they 777 are dissuaded by their leaders. Give the men proper protection, do away with this peaceful intimidation and threatening. I have seen the mass picketing. I have seen thousands collecting round a pit trying to frighten those poor men who had the courage of their convictions. There are brave men who will face a howling mob in order to go back to work and then hon. Members opposite say that it is peaceful picketing. I have seen 2,000 men trying to stop a few miners going into a pit when only four policemen were present. [HON. MEMBERS: "What happened?"] One man was pushed off his bicycle and the others were hustled about and, of course, hon. Members opposite know that this succeeded in keeping these men away from work because they were afraid of their lives. But if that is the way in which freedom of working is to be carried on, then God help the country. It is simply a question of intimidating these men and, therefore, for their protection I heartily support these Regulations and, personally, I should like to see them enforced in many districts in a stronger way than they are being enforced at present.
Before speaking on the particular case which I desire to bring to notice, I would like to reply to the hon. Member who spoke last as to the goodness and charity of the coalowners. I feel sure that if the hon. Member is, as he says he is, one of the best employers in the coalfield, and if he goes down to his constituency, the local leaders will see that he gets nothing but fair play. But I know something about colliery owners, and I wish to bring the hon. Member's attention to one or two things which have happened in my own county. I remember, not very long ago, that a colliery company for two years paid its shareholders 100 per cent. Not only did they do so, but they gave their agent £1,000 as an honorarium and smaller amounts to other officials who were effective in bringing about this 100 per cent. What was done for the miner who produced the coal? He only got the bare wages that the agreement provided. That was his share of this exceptional prosperity. Therefore, I cannot accept these statements about the goodness of the coalowners. I have been too long in the coal trade to accept such statements 778 without seeing the facts. The very fact of people being paid bonuses for getting extra work done and for securing a bigger rate of dividend means bustling and harrying the men and still asking for more.
I oppose these Regulations. I have said already that they are unnecessary and if the coalowners acted as honourable people, as far as my own county is concerned, there would be no necessity for them. The very best relations existed between the men and the police in Durham up to this dispute, nay, up to the past week or two. The men indeed have been helping the police in every way. It cannot be said of the Durham miners—nor, I believe, of any of the miners—that they are criminals. I believe the percentage of real crime committed by miners is small enough to compare favourably with the percentage of crime in any other grade of society within the shores of this country. Apparently, a new Regulation has been made to ban the meetings of Mr. Richardson and Mr. Cook. That ban fell on the shoulders of Mr. Richardson at the outset, because he was on the scene hours before Mr. Cook arrived, and consequently it was not Mr. Cook's meeting which was banned but the meeting of Mr. Richardson, who is the treasurer of the Federation. I have known him from his boyhood and have watched his career and I know he will not do any act of which he need be ashamed. Two miners' leaders in any colliery district would be worth 100 police for keeping the peace, but I make this straight statement, that what is being done to inflame feeling by the owners themselves is likely to cause trouble, and these Regulations, instead of being put up against the miners, ought to be put up against the owners.
Let me give a case. There is a colliery in my own division which usually employs nearly 3,000 people. Peace reigned there throughout the dispute but the owners opened the pits and got four men who were probably out of work in adjacent areas to come to work with three other men. To guard these people, a posse of from 50 to 100 police has been drafted into that district. Is not that action likely to inflame men and women who have been suffering for nearly six months trying their best to secure the right to live in their own country? That is all 779 they are asking for. They are asking to be allowed, as it were, to go at the end of the line but apparently hon. Members opposite say "No, we will not give a subsidy, we will not do anything to help you." All the while hon. Members opposite are seeking to compel the miners with the weapon of starvation to accept a wage less than that paid to any other body of men in the country and even longer hours of work, despite the fact that the miner has to toil underground under such terrible conditions. That is what the miner has to face and you are asking for these Regulations to keep the miners in order. What about the other side? I am sorry that disputes happen but I have addressed meetings from the same platform as Mr. Cook and I have yet to hear Mr. Cook utter one inflammatory sentence which would ask men to commit any crime. Indeed in the Biblical phrase he has said
"Remain in thine house."
and has told the men to be quiet until something came that gave them the right to live. I may state that recently 20,000 people assembled at a village to hear Mr. Cook. He was unable to be there at three o'clock in the afternoon, the time arranged for the meeting, but he promised to be there at six o'clock, and at that hour the number had very considerably increased. Mr. Cook at that meeting talked in such a high moral tone that even those of his opponents who were there admitted that he spoke as a man ought to speak. Then you have the case of these employers who bring in four or five men, who cannot in any circumstances get the coal—they could not get an ounce of coal by means of these men—but who keep the men there for the very purpose of causing mischief among the population. Trouble nearly occurred yesterday, and batons were drawn but never used. Had it not been for the miners' leaders there might have been trouble.
I ask the Home Secretary to consider whether it would not be better to allow the miners' leaders to use their influence in keeping the peace. You will get peace if you trust these men to see to it and to keep their rank and file in order. Let me give particulars of a case which has recently occurred. A meeting or demonstration of 4,000 or 5,000 people was held 780 at Ferryhill, a village not very far from where I live. A disturbance arose and a miners' leader from another district was charged with throwing stones. Strong evidence was given that no such thing occurred—that no stones were thrown by this man, but that on the contrary he had done his best to keep the peace in his own village and in every other village where he spoke. He was haled before the magistrates at Durham, and the evidence used by the police was that the miners of that particular colliery had assented to the employment of certain men who were bona fide officials and not blacklegs. All that had actually happened was what happens in every colliery in Durham, that the miners had refrained from interfering in any shape or form with the men who were keeping the mines safe. But in this case men have been dragged in from God knows where to work in the pits, and the colliery agent said that the colliery workers there were satisfied that the men working were bona fide officials. I have a latter in my hand from the secretary of that lodge, which says that they never made any such agreement with the agent, but that point was put before the magistrate who himself used these words:It was unfortunate that their good name should be damaged by a hooligan who came to Ferryhill for the purpose of creating disorder.That was not true, but this man was sent to prison for six weeks. I have here another letter from the Ferryhill lodge, which denies that any consent was ever given to these men being employed, and all that was done on this occasion was that they tried in their own way at their own demonstration, peacefully, to persuade these men to refrain from working. The Home Secretary probably has not yet discovered, but he will discover in the near future, that the mining law is being broken every day. It is not the miners who are working in Durham. Let it be distinctly understood that very few of the real miners are doing any work at any colliery. They are all people who probably have been unfortunate and I have nothing to say against them, but it is not even for the wages that are offered that they have come into work. Big bonuses are offered to these people to come into the pits for the purpose a causing mischief. That is how the mineowners are carrying on this 781 dispute in our area, and I would urge the Home secretary to keep his eye not only on the miners and on their meetings but on the other side.
Speeches have been made by the right hon. Gentleman himself which certainly were not favourable to the men, and speeches against the man are made by others, but if we hold meetings and say anything on the other side, steps are taken to prevent us doing so. Let us play cricket. If it is right for the owners and their friends to hold meetings, the miners should have similar opportunities. This dispute will be carried still further. The miners are not beaten yet. They will have a stoppage that will, as far as length is concerned, be a stoppage unique in the history of the country. I appeal to the Home Secretary to abandon these Regulations, to get back to the ordinary laws, and to trust the men who look after the rank and file. If he does that I believe that these disturbances will fly as chaff before the wind.
There is only one of these Regulations which is of any value—that is the one which would give power to the Government to take over the mines. If that were done, the men would be back in a day, back to help you to bring prosperity again to this country. Give the miners 20s. a ton at the pithead as against the £2 and £3 a ton you are paying for foreign coal, and the miners will keep you in coal Give us that, and the dispute is ended as far as the miners are concerned. It is right that the country should know what is being done to defeat the miners. Everything is being used against them. The upper classes are trying even to set their fellow trade unionists against them. I am glad we have the other trade unionists with us. When that day comes, you are up against the sternest fight that men ever were up against. I ask the House to look reasonably at this question. It is not right that the miner should be charged with a subsidy to keep all the other industries going. If you must have cheap coal, you must have it, but the miner should not be charged with the cost. If the miner does not eat he will die, and his children and his wife will be starved. All these things should have serious consideration at your hands. Let us get back to reason, and assure ourselves that the right to live must be the 782 first principle in any industry. Give the miner the right to live, the right to earn sufficient to keep his wife and his family in comfort, and I feel sure that never again will you be faced with any dispute as far as the miners are concerned.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Might I, if he will not think it wrong of me to do so, congratulate the hon. Member on the very sincere speech he made. I would not complain if it were delivered on every public platform in the country. I would ask him, however, what would be the effect of one or two of the speeches delivered here this afternoon if they were delivered at a mass meeting in Durham or in South Wales?
If you acted on the advice that I have given, there would be no need for these gentlemen to go and address mass meetings. Indeed they would go in a very conciliatory spirit.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member knows that we discussed yesterday the coal position and the possibilities of agreement. I am not concerned with them to-day, although, of course, as a Member of the Cabinet, I am responsible with my colleagues for the action which they have taken in regard to a coal settlement. To-day, however, I am solely concerned with what any Government, as has been said over and over again by the hon. Gentleman's leader, would have to do in similar circumstances to preserve law and order. I would say frankly that these Regulations are amply justified by two speeches to which we have listened, one by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) and the other by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Purcell). I do not complain of them myself. I may be brutal, bestial and murderous. If that kind of speech were made by hon. Members—and the House can read these speeches in the OFFICIAL REPORT—in districts where the coal question is exacerbated and there is the possibility of trouble, what would be the result? I know the hon. Member would not make that kind of speech, but suppose these hon. Members, as they threatened this afternoon that they would, went and made that kind of speech in a mining district where feeling is 783 running high. All I can say is that I consider it absolutely essential to the maintenance of law and order and the preservation of peace that such speeches should not be made in a mining area. Those speeches are the justification of the Regulations I am putting before the House this afternoon.
There have been several questions asked, and I would like to deal with them frankly. The hon. Member for the Leigh Division (Mr. Tinker) made a complaint about the action of the police in going round with colliery officials and taking part in persuading safety men to go back to work in a colliery in Lancashire. He was courteous enough to give me notice that he would raise the matter and I have made the fullest inquiries. I say frankly that a mistake appears to have been made. It appears that a colliery official rang up the police and told them that some of the safety men were being prevented from going back to work by intimidation. As a matter of fact, that was not the case. Their contracts had run out, there was a difference of opinion between them and the management, and they declined to go back to work. It was under that mistaken impression that the superintendent of police did go round with the mining manager. All he did was to ask the men—the manager standing outside for the time being—whether they had been intimidated and to say that if they were he would be prepared to give them protection. I never have defended in this House anything that I thought was wrongly done. In this particular case it was not the fault of the police but the fault of the mining staff who gave the police wrong information.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I have communicated with the police and said that in similar circumstances it is not desirable that the police should go round. I always try to play the game. If the hon. Member for Leigh had been in his place, I am sure he would have been quite satisfied with the statement which I have made. The main complaint to-night is the prohibition by the Chief Constable of Staffordshire and the stoppage on Sunday afternoon of Mr. 784 Cook and Mr. Richardson. That complaint has been made by an hon. Member for Staffordshire and by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. G. Thorne). I explained yesterday afternoon that, under Clause 22 of the Regulations, either the Secretary of State, or a mayor, or a chief of police with the sanction of the Secretary of State, has the power to prohibit a meeting if, in his opinion, it is likely to lead to a breach of the peace. That is the sole consideration. It is not whether it is likely to get men back to work. If I myself prohibit a meeting because I think it is likely to get men back to work, I am acting illegally. If the Chief Constable of Staffordshire prohibits a meeting because he thinks it is going to get men back to work, he is acting illegally.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member is rapidly acquiring a notoriety in this House for unfair and unnecessary interruptions. He is young enough to learn better, and I hope he will before long. It is not necessary in this House of Commons to make insinuations of that kind.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
An hon. Member yesterday made an insinuation that the report of Mr. Cook's speech which I read was a false report. Why is it necessary to make that insinuation?
§ Mr. PALING
You have not satisfied the House that the reports from Doncaster which you read out were correct. You whitewash them both.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The position in regard to the meeting of Mr. Cook on Sunday afternoon I explained 785 yesterday. I made an order authorising the man on the spot, the Chief Constable, who knows the condition of things, to prohibit a meeting where it is likely to cause a breach of the peace. The Chief Constable, as the hon. Member for Wolverhampton said, is an eminent man, a man who has given satisfaction to the county as a whole, and a man of great discretion. I gave power to him, as the man on the spot, to prohibit a meeting if, and only if, in his opinion it was likely to lead to a breach of the peace. Supposing I kept that power in my own hands, I could only use that power then on the information I receive from the chief of police. He writes, telegraphs or telephones to me saying that there is a meeting to take place at a certain place at a certain time, and that in his opinion the condition of the neighbourhood is such that, if a certain man makes a speech there, it will lead to a breach of the peace. He asks me to prohibit the meeting. If a chief constable sends that message up to me, I am bound, as any Secretary of State would be bound if he is to use the power given to him by Parliament, to make an order prohibiting the meeting.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I think the Home Secretary should surely inquire the grounds on which the Chief Constable came to this conclusion.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member is right. With regard to the remark of the other hon. Member, that I should have to stand my gruelling, I have stood a good deal of late. I accept responsibility, of course, for the action of the Chief Constable, because I sanctioned it. What has happened? It is not necessary for me to read again the particular speech which was made by Mr. Cook at this particular spot seven weeks ago. As a matter of fact, since the matter was raised yesterday, I have referred to my papers and I find it was reported then and that I was so convinced that I then and there authorised the Chief Constable of Staffordshire to prohibit any meeting where he had reason to apprehend a speech by that 786 man of a similar character, so that I really am in a rattler direct way responsible for the action of the Chief Constable in banning that meeting.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am satisfied that the Chief Constable of Staffordshire acted wisely in regard to that meeting. Hon. Members have spoken here as if the Chief Constable of Staffordshire or the Secretary of State had banned Mr. Cook from speaking anywhere, for all time. Nothing of the kind. One particular meeting was banned, on one day, in one particular village.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Mr. Cook has been speaking in this very same village to-day, with the full assent of the Chief Constable. There were two meetings in Staffordshire this afternoon at which the Chief Constable came to the conclusion that there would be no breach of the peace if Mr. Cook did speak there. There was no ban put on those meetings for this afternoon. It is true that at the first meeting, on account of the shortness of coal, I suppose, Mr. Cook and his friends did not arrive, but at the second meeting they arrived. The Chief Constable has wired that there will be no prohibition in the absence of incitement to unlawful conduct, and when hon. Members—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Hon. Members must allow the Home Secretary to speak without interruption. They would be the first to claim fair treatment for themselves, and they must he prepared to give it in return.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I have no intention of taking advantage, but I am asking a. question, to which I hope I shall have a civil answer. A telegram has been received stating that meetings will not be banned as long as no incitement to violence is used, and I want to ask the 787 Home Secretary when incitement to violence took place to cause the banning of the previous meeting?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Let me state my reasons. This is a debating Chamber. Hon. Members ask me for information. If they do not want to hear me, I do not want to speak. I have a fairly good temper on the whole, but, if hon. Members opposite cannot behave themselves with decency, what is the good of asking questions. Why cannot they treat this House as a debating Assembly, and why do they refuse to let a Minister of the Crown speak? I must state my case in my own way. Hon. Members opposite have been speaking this afternoon as if the Secretary of State were a cruel tyrant who is denying the right of free speech. We have had these Regulations in force in this country for six months, and there have been hundreds and thousands of meetings held up and down the country. Have hon. Members any idea how many I have stopped? I have made orders in six months stopping only 23 meetings all up and down the country. I am as much in favour of free speech as any hon. Member. I want free speech, but, at the same time, I have the responsibility given me by the House of Commons—I cannot divest myself of it— to prevent meetings being held if, in my opinion or in the opinion of the Chief Constable, they are likely to lead to a breach of the peace. I am not concerned, as Home Secretary, with all the troubles in the mining world which hon. Members have so eloquently voiced. The question of a settlement or no settlement or going back is not my duty as Home Secretary. My duty is simply and plainly to carry out the law, to see that the peace is not broken, and to provide protection for men who wish to work.
The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. R. Richardson) complained because a large pit in Durham, which employed normally 3,000 men, had been opened, and there were seven men who had gone down the pit, and 50 men were engaged in protecting those seven. If one man had gone clown, it would he my 788 duty to protect him. It is the right of an Englishman to work without fear of molestation, and he is entitled to call upon me, to call upon the whole force of the Crown, to protect him in that elementary right of an Englishman to carry out his work in his own way. That is the constitutional position of men in this country. Hon. Members may not like it, but that is the policy which I am bound to adopt, and which I have adopted, as a member of this Government. The Government support me, my colleagues support me, the House of Commons support me in that action, and I will go further and say that I am convinced that the country supports me in that action. I know as much about the opinion of the working classes as hon. Members opposite, who arrogate to themselves the right to be the Labour party. We are the Labour party. How do hon. Members think we are elected? By black coats? By rich men? We are elected by working men. Of the large number of Conservative Members who sit in this House, I do not suppose there are 10 who are elected by other than working men, and some of us sit by pretty fair majorities, given us by working men. If I were to go a step further, I think I might say that I am convinced that, in attempting to starve out file country, the miners have not the support of the people of this country. There are other working men who are in difficulties—
§ Mr. CLYNES
I rise to a point of order. I understand the right, hon. Gentleman said that he is not now called upon to answer for the general policy of the Government in relation to the coal dispute, and that he is here to answer in regard to the Regulations. Having stated that, would it not be more in order for the right hon. Gentleman to stick to the Regulations?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
If the right hon. Gentleman had been here when speeches were made on this Amendment from his own side in regard to the action of the Government, I think he would have felt that anything I might say in reply would be absolutely justified. In order to keep myself well within the extreme limits of order suggested by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, let me say that 789 I am convinced that the great majority of the working people of this country who are to-day suffering, through no fault of their own, from the stoppage in the mining world are desirous that these Regulations should be put in force and carried out. In these circumstances, I ask the House to reject this Amendment and give me these two Regulations.
§ Mr. VARLEY
The right hon. Labour representative who has just resumed his seat said that, on the whole, he was a fairly good-tempered man. I hope I am, too, and I hope he will take from me quite dispassionately a request which I would have wished to have made to him before the speech to which we have just listened. I am one of those who, in the early stages of the dispute, wanted to convince myself and my people that the Government, having no remedy for the situation as it then was, finding themselves helpless, would, at any rate, content themselves with keeping the ring. The passing of the Emergency Regulations did a great deal to minimise such belief as I had in the Government. The passing of the Eight Hours Act further weakened that belief. But what did more than anything to shatter any faith I had in the intentions of the Government as distinct from their actions, has been brought about by the administration of these Regulations. The request I wanted to prefer was this. It has already been given voice to by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling). Without wishing in the slightest degree to impugn the veracity of the police, one cannot expect the colliers in the districts to believe that the whole of the police, the whole of the time, tell the whole of the truth.
The matter to which I wish to refer is an incident which occurred in the Mansfield area on or about the 25th or 26th August. Many prosecutions followed, and the men have taken their punishment. The stories which were told to me were horrible in the extreme, but because I have no means of approving or disproving the allegations made, I have sedulously refrained from making any observations in public about the stories which have been told me. We had at one time about 800 police imported into Mansfield alone. An hon. Member gave us an instance where he said 2,000 or more men were picketing half-a-dozen men, and there were only four police present.
790 I have been witness on an occasion when there were only half-a-dozen pickets, and 17 policemen were present. Therefore, I would wish the Home Secretary to be a little more thorough in his methods of examination of the information which comes through to him from those who are subordinate to him. I have no hope that the appeals which have been made by Members on these benches for the abrogation of these Regulations will he acceded to, but having regard to the present temper of the men, having regard to the mentality of the coalowners, having regard to the intention of the Government as declared in this House Yesterday, this stoppage is by no means at an end yet, and there is every probability that once again we shall be asked to continue these Regulations.
Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman gets the House to agree to the reimposition of these Regulations, I sincerely hope before he asks us to do that again he will make some judicial or semi-judicial inquiry into the administration of these Regulations in the districts. I am perfectly certain he was sincere, and I have no reason to disbelieve his sincerity with regard to his desire to administer these Regulations in the spirit rather than in the letter in the letter they are sufficiently wide to admit of almost anything. That is the complaint I have against him, but if he were as sincere as he would have the House believe, he would make some inquiry as to how the police are really administering the powers under these Regulations. If he could do that, I believe he would allay a great deal of the suspicion of the men in the districts that the dice are loaded against them, and that they have to fight the economic facts with the united weight of His Majesty's Government also.
I would like to refer to a word or two which fell from the hon. Member for Belper (Mr. Wragg). He suggested that if the men were free to make their own choice, there would have been a settlement of the dispute ere now. He seemed to infer that there was some malign influence exercised by Mr. Cook, myself, and others. I come from a district where we took the plunge contrary to the advice of Mr. Cook and put to the men the question, "Do you desire adherence to the Federation policy or 791 shall we take you out of it and get you a district agreement"? The hon. Member said that we dare not ballot the men. We sought to get the ballot papers to all the men, but the very men in whose interest the hon. Member for Belper was speaking forbade us going anywhere near the collieries where men were working, thousands of whom had gone back through sheer starvation and not through any declention in their desire to support the Federation policy. Therefore, if we have not obtained knowledge of the wishes of all the men in one district it is because of the difficulty placed in the way by men whom the hon. Member opposite is representing.
§ Mr. VARLEY
It was taken on a ballot paper, and not by a show of hands. It was taken with as much secrecy as in any community you can possibly obtain. I do not know what degree of secrecy the hon. Member thinks can be obtained when you have 3,000 men working at a colliery drawn from a population within a radius of eight miles, but any man who was given a ballot paper might take it to the secrecy of his own home if he liked, and return it the following day, but he was prevented from doing so by the very people who were anxious that these men should exercise their free and unfettered opinion. As to what percentage voted, we had on the 30th April last about 28,000 members. The "Daily Mail"—the leading statisticians of the country—tells us that there are about 20,000 men working in the County of Notts. I do not know how they get those figures, but out of 17,000 papers 13,000 were in favour of the Federation's policy and slightly under 4,000 in favour of district agreements. I do not propose to enter into any analysis of the figures, but simply to reply to the contention of the hon. Member that these men, if allowed to do so, would do something different from what it is said by the leaders of the Federation they wished to do. In conclusion, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would tell us whether it is possible to have a judicial or semi-judicial inquiry in the districts.
§ Mr. C. EDWARDS
I want to refer to a matter, which has been raised before, and about which I want to place the full facts before the House. It happened, not in my own constituency, but in the mining district to which I belong, and for which I am advisory agent. Here is a notice issued by the Chief Constable of Monmouthshire, dated 23rd October:In pursuance of Regulation 22 (1) of the Emergency Regulations (No. 6) 1926: 'I, having been duly authorised by the Secretary of State, hereby prohibit any procession or meeting in connection with persons carrying out their lawful employment at'Here is a space in which to insert the name of the place—'the levels in and around Tredegar, or the collieries within this area in the County of Monmouth, or at or near the homes of such workers.'Those were the notices put up. There were possibly 50 to 100 men—I am not sure of the number—working at these small levels. Notwithstanding this, the men were canvassed and wore canvassed in such a way that even the police could take no exception. There were neither processions nor mass picketing, nor anything they could take exception to. These men were seen at their own homes, canvassed, sometimes, by the man who lived next door.
The canvass was so successful that these men stopped work, and I suppose that offended the superintendent at Tredegar, Superintendent Edwards—he does not belong to me, I am glad to say. The superintendent went to the house of the local leader there, Mr. Bevan. He was not at home, but as soon as he came home he was told the police superintendent had called, and he went to the police station and had a talk with him. During the course of that discussion, which lasted half-an-hour, the superintendent, I suppose, lost his head, and if a man can lose his head in his own office during a quiet conversation, then we say he is not a capable man, that, in fact, he is a danger to the community in these days. He said this: "If the people of Tredegar wanted to know what a baton charge was, he would show them." He then said, "He was in the Tonypandy riots and that Tonypandy was a paradise compared to the hell he would make at Tredegar." I am asking the Home Secretary to make inquiries into 793 this, and if what I have stated is found to be true that man ought to be removed —at least he ought to be moved to some one of the rural parts of Monmouth-shire where he would not be called upon to deal with large bodies of men. From the beginning of this stoppage until now there has not been a single untoward incident in this district, which has about 13,000 miners and a total population, I suppose, of 60,000 to 100,000 people; there has not been a single incident in the whole valley to which anybody could take exception. I do not want to take up the time of the House, but I seriously ask the Home Secretary to make inquiries and to remove a man like that who is a real danger to the community. He said he would ban any meetings if he thought any language of an inflammatory nature would be used. I suppose it will be said that that would be quite right, but is a man who can lose his head during a quiet conversation the man to decide whether somebody is going to use any language of an inflammatory nature? We say he is a man who ought to be removed from his position, or at least sent somewhere where he would not be called upon to discharge the duties of an officer in such an important position as is a superintendent in one of these industrial areas. I would like to know front the Home Secretary, and I hope his hon. Friend will convey this to him, whether an inquiry will be held, and whether, if this is proved to be true, he will have this inspector removed to a position in which he will be of less danger to the community.
§ Mr. LEE
I want to put two points very shortly to the Home Secretary. At some places in Derbyshire the police are claiming the right to enter the branch rooms where purely branch meetings are being held. We do not object to policemen being present at public meetings, but we do not accept the theory that policemen are entitled to be at our branch meetings when purely branch business is being done, and I ask the Home Secretary to inquire by whose orders they go there, and whether it is correct that they should go there, and, if not, to inform the Chief Constable of Derbyshire that it ought not to be done. Next I wish to emphasise the point made by the last speaker with regard to the general prohibition of meetings. I have 794 in my hand a copy of a general prohibition. I asked the Home Secretary yesterday whether special delegations had to be given by himself to a mayor or to the chief officer for the prohibition of a special meeting, and he agreed that a general prohibition was not sufficient, that it must be a prohibition of a particular meeting when the particular circumstances of that case had been considered, and that in no other circumstances, as I take it would a prohibition apply. But the Chief Constable of Derbyshire, like the Chief Constable of Monmouthshire, has posted in Derbyshire a general prohibition. It starts off:I hereby prohibit the holding of any public meeting or procession.and there follows a quotation from Regulation 22. I hold that that prohibition is not a prohibition at all under the Regulations, and I think I am fortified in that by what the Home Secretary said yesterday. He said:I think Regulation 22 is quite clear— 'It shall be lawful for a Secretary of State, or for any Mayor, Magistrate or Chief Officer, who is duly authorised,' etc.I think under the Emergency Regulations it must be either the actual prohibition by myself of a particular meeting or the empowering of the Mayor or Chief Constable to prohibit a meeting,Therefore I hold very strongly that a general prohibition of processions or meetings in a county is invalid. It should be the prohibition of a particular meeting; and if all the circumstances of the case are taken into account, and the Chief Constable considers that a breach of the peace might be provoked by the meeting or procession, then, of course, I admit it is in his discretion to prohibit such meeting or procession. I hope I am going to get a definite reply to the point as to whether policemen in their ordinary duties have a right to enter a branch meeting where they are having purely branch business, and whether a chief constable has a right to issue a general prohibition of meetings or processions in a county as a whole.
I am very sorry the Home Secretary, after his eloquent speech about the miners wishing to starve the country, has gone, presumably, to such a dinner as the miners will not be able to get and is not here so that 795 I could thank him personally for the kind things he was good enough to say to me when he was on his feet. I think it is a very considerable testimony to anybody in our party to be accused by a Conservative Minister of asking unfair questions because it is the good old strong Tory tradition that anything a Tory cannot or does not want to answer must necessarily be unfair. I notice he found it much easier to launch an offensive personal attack of his own rather than attempt to give the information which I and some of my colleagues have been asking for. I object particularly to the two Regulations with which the Amendment deals because, as the situation in the coalfields becomes intensified, if the Home Secretary continues to act upon these Regulations the task of responsible people on all sides will be made very much more difficult. I will give one incident from my own constituency. We had a case in the Gateshead area of the owners opening one of their pits. The first day they opened it they had 29 people there—not one of them employed in the pit in normal times.
The county police had the matter in hand, and I am very glad to be able to testify, with the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Richardson) and the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Lieut.-Colonel Headlam) as to the very considerate way in which our own police in Durham conduct our affairs. The Durham police were there in sufficient numbers, according to their own judgment, to keep order. Many of the miners' leaders in the county and I myself were allowed to go there and to address large numbers of the miners who had come in from adjacent areas. One or two policemen standing casually beside the meeting were all that were considered necessary, and there was not the slightest need for any provocation. This kind of thing is simply wantonly asking for provocation, especially when you attempt to prevent the leaders selected by the miners from addressing them at public meetings. The miners have a right to have an opportunity of listening to what their leaders have to say. We have heard some extraordinary arguments from the hon. Member for Belper (Mr. Wragg). We all know the hon. Member must be in a very difficult position, and we have considerable sympathy with his attempts to 796 keep up the courage of his comrades who are going through the wood. On every occasion of this kind he tries to make out a case for the coalowners for the benefit of his colleagues who do not know the mining industry as well as he does, and he generally represents that all is well, and tells his friends that if they will only be patient and allow the coalowners to throw more money away for a few more weeks, they will win the struggle, but as a matter of fact they are just as far from winning as ever they were.
The Home Secretary spoke about starvation and efforts made to inflame public opinion, but there can be no course so much calculated to stir up public opinion or to create all kinds of difficulties in the way of those responsible as the course which has been taken by the Home Secretary under these Regulations. The Home Secretary practically said, "Here am I; I have these Regulation to enforce, and therefore I have to come to the House of Commons and defend them." The Home Secretary represents himself as a helpless, mild-mannered, good-humoured individual, who is the victim of these monstrosities which he is asking the House to adopt. If the Government are going to maintain their present position of allowing the coalowners to refuse to negotiate, if they continue to act as the coalowners' bullies, and if the Prime Minister and the Secretary for Mines are going to continue to act as the co-ordinating factor in the interests of the coalowners in this unhealthy war, then You are going to get, not a peaceful victory, but a gradual intensification of bitterness between the two parties in the coal industry.
Every time you interfere with the meetings of the miners you only intensify their feelings against you. Every time you send your flying police from other districts to the coalfields you are bound to get trouble. One of the reasons why we have not had so much bitterness in Durham is that our Chief Constable and his subordinates understand the people there. Although the Durham miners are a most peaceful set of men, I am sure that if our Chief Constable was to allow flying squadrons of police to come to Durham there would be a great deal of trouble. If inflammatory speeches are made there are plenty of powers under the common law to deal with them. If 797 you summon a man under the common law and prove your case before an ordinary jury, then you can send a man to prison in the ordinary way, and you do not produce any bad feeling, but when you send a man to prison under the powers you are now asking Parliament to adopt you merely create a more rebellious and militant atmosphere than ever existed before.
If you want to stop the making of inflammatory speeches you can do it fairly and squarely under the common law, but the attitude of the Home Secretary and the action taken under these Regulations simply means that the Government are more concerned with scoring mean, petty advantages and with making it difficult for the miners, who are going through martyrdom already, to get a living wage. The Government are more concerned with defending the interests of some of the weaker Ministers, like the Home Secretary, although I am aware some members of his party call him a strong man. The Government are more concerned with doing these things than in doing anything like cricket or sport or fair play for any section of the community except themselves and their friends.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
I want to take advantage of the presence of the Lord Advocate on this occasion. I have listened to every statement made by the Home Secretary in connection with peaceful picketing, and he has said, time and again, that the ordinary law still prevails. Although that may be the case in England, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman what is taking place in Scotland. I wanted to communicate with some men who were at work at a colliery in my district, but the police said that it was private ground, and they took up the position that we had no right to go there. These men were working there, and at that time they were likely to be coming home and we wanted to talk to them, but I was prevented from doing this by the police. A month ago the same thing happened, but on that occasion there was a demonstration within a reasonable distance of the colliery. I avoided the demonstration in order to interview some of the men myself, but I was not allowed to do so. I think we have a right to carry on our work as we did formerly, because every colliery is 798 on private ground, and if the police maintain that position it is no use attempting to meet the men at all. I have never done anything to cause the police any apprehension, but we have every reason to complain of the action of the police in these instances. I have nothing to say about their conduct as far as I am concerned, because they take up the position laid down by the Home Secretary, but if the officials on our side of the Border are giving a different interpretation, then they are doing something which they have no right to do. I do not want to say much about the general position beyond stating that I regret the attitude which the Government have taken up, although I do not agree with the attitude taken up by some of my hon. Friends.
The time is past for appealing to the Tory Government to bring about peace in the coal trade. I held that view two months ago, and when I expressed it there was nothing but titters and jeers on the other side of the House. The miner has to fight his fight, and he cannot fight his fight; unfortunately, his pitch is queered by the Emergency Powers Act and by an impression created through the Press that it is only necessary to hang on for a few days or a few weeks and all the men will have returned to work. I can assure the House that next summer probably 800,000 men will still be in the field. That may be a hard statement to believe, because the reports say that nearly all the men are back, but I have adopted a new method. I have taken the Press and made up the number of men that had returned every day since the beginning of the break-away, and, had they not stopped, they would have had all the miners back on figures, but yet the country was scarce of coal. As a matter of fact, you are not getting the coal, and for two reasons. The first is that the figures you have got are incorrect, and the second is that two-thirds of the men who have resumed the work have been only ordinary oncost workers or repairers. It is the miner that gets the coal, and not the repairer.
Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
This would be more appropriate on the Motion for the Adjournment.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Before we proceed, I should like to put a point to the Lord Advocate, in order that he may convey it to the Home Secretary, as I could not expect the Lord Advocate on this point to give an answer now. My hon. Friend the Member for North-Eastern Derbyshire (Mr. Lee) a short time ago raised a point of very real importance. He alleged that in his area police constables were attending the ordinary private branch meetings of the miners' lodges in that area. If that be so, I submit that they are exceeding their duty under these Regulations. The marginal note, and, therefore, the title, of Regulation No. 22, speaks only of "Public meetings and
§ processions." One may admit that great mass congregations of people in public meetings and demonstrations may tend to lead to some disorder or some breach of the peace, but, surely, ordinary branch meetings for the conduct of the private business of the Miners' Federation or its lodges are quite a different matter. I, therefore, raise this point in the hope that it will be conveyed to the Home Secretary, with the idea that at some later stage of this Debate he will be able to give an answer upon it.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 99; Noes, 194.801
|Division No. 444.]||AYES.||[9.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardie, George D.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hirst, G. H.||Smillie, Robert|
|Baker, Walter||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith. H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Batey, Joseph||John William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, C. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Clowes, S.||Kennedy, T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Clynes, Right Hon. John R.||Lawrence, Susan||Taylor, R. A.|
|Connolly, M.||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lee, F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lindley, F. W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Livingstone, A. M.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dennison, R.||Lowth, T.||Townend, A. E.|
|Duncan, C.||Lunn, William||Varley, Frank B.|
|Dunnico, H.||MacLaren Andrew||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Fenby, T. D.||March, S.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Montague, Frederick||Westwood, J.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Morris, R. H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Naylor, T. E.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenall, T.||Paling, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Purcell, A. A.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wright, W.|
|Groves, T.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||Sexton, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Mr. r. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Haves.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Layton)||Braithwaite, A. N.||Christie, J. A.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Brass, Captain W.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Briscoe, Richard George||Clayton, G. C.|
|Apsley, Lord||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Brown, Col. D, C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Cope, Major William|
|Atkinson, C.||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Burman, J. B.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert|
|Betterton, Henry B||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Cassels, J. D.||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Bird. E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herb. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Drewe, C.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Rye, F. G.|
|Elveden, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Loder, J. de V.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lougher, L.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Finburgh, S.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Savery, S. S.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Shaw, Capt. Walter (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macmillan, Captain H.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Skelton, A. N.|
|Gates, Percy||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Macquisten, F. A.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Malone, Major P. B.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Goff Sir Park||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Graham, Frederick F. (Cumb'ld., N.)||Margesson, Captain D.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Meller, R. J.||Starry-Deans, R.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Merriman, F. B.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Murchison, C. K.||Waddington, R.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C, M.||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Holland, Sir Arthur||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G. (Ptref'ld.)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Pennefather, Sir John||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Perring, Sir William George||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Radford, E. A.||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Raine, W.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Jacob, A. E.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wragg, Herbert|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Remnant, Sir James||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chts'y)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Ropner, Major L.||Viscount Curzon.|
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I beg to move, in line 3, after "1926," to insert the words "other than Regulation 33."
This is the Regulation which gives the police the right to arrest without warrant any suspected person or to enter, by force if necessary, any premises or places suspected of having been or being used for any purpose endangering public safety. We are confronted with a most amazing situation. The longer this dispute goes on, the less need is there for the Regulations existing at all so far as actual cases coming before the law are concerned. I should imagine that if the Home Secretary gave us the exact figures, there will probably have been fewer prosecutions during the month than there were in the previous month, and it would appear that although the condition of the people themselves gets worse from day to day there is less need than ever for these Regulations. I have no complaint to make so far as my own 802 district is concerned. I want to pay a tribute to the police and those in control of them in my Division, because it is only fair to make the admission I am going to make. I believe the police force at Merthyr Tydvil has been below its strength from the commencement of the dispute at the end of April. There has been no trouble as far as I know of any kind whatever, and it is directly attributable to the fact that we have had no importations from outside, and that the Chief Constable has exerted common sense. He has not attempted to force trouble, nor have his men. The greater part of the difficulty that arises, as far as I can gather as I travel about the country, arises from the desire that exists in certain parts to enforce these Regulations harshly, and it would appear almost deliberately for the purpose of invoking riot and dissension. I believe to a large extent it depends on the character of the Chief Constable in the 803 various areas. In the boroughs, I believe, generally speaking, one gets the best type. The man in charge in the counties is often of a military type and comes to his office with a different kind of mind from the man in the smaller boroughs who has police experience.
I believe that has a great deal to do with the carrying out of the Regulations in the way it has been done in my district in particular. The people in my division are as badly hit as anywhere. We have had a great deal of unemployment for years before the dispute began and the penury and want in my division is almost incalculable. I am amazed that there has been as little trouble as there has been. I protest against the maintenance of these Regulations because it is placing the country in a state of siege. It is placing us under a state of martial law, where no necessity whatever exists. That is the thing I have to protest against more than anything else, the right that is placed in the hands of people to exercise an authority which in my opinion they are not really entitled to use under existing conditions. Exception was taken a short time ago to a speech delivered by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Purcell). I want to associate myself with what he said. Throughout the whole of the dispute the Government has acted in such a way that if there had been trouble on a very large scale, I should say they have invited it, and they alone would be responsible for it. We have to remember, when hon. Members opposite object to what he said, statements made at the Conservative Conference at Scarborough when certain resolutions were moved, one I believe calling for the flogging of persons who dared to do anything at all to strengthen the hands of the men in this dispute. May I remind hon. Members of the character of the struggle in which we are engaged. I was in Derbyshire on Saturday and Sunday. In that area there is no feeding of school children. All relief has been absolutely cut off. The people are in a state of positive starvation. I suppose in the view of hon. Members opposite starvation is the proper state for them to be in because of their stupidity.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We had a general discussion on the whole situation 804 yesterday, and on the last Amendment a good deal of rope was given. We cannot have the general discussion repeated. We ought to confine ourselves on this Amendment to the actual Regulation itself.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I have not taken part before in this Debate, and did not intervene on the previous Amendment or in the general Debate. I trusted to my luck to get in and to have a say. I have said what I wanted to say, and have expressed my point of view. I urge that there is no need for this continued infringement of the liberties of the people of this country, that there is no need for this state of martial law that has been imposed upon us because of the stupidity of the Government and which is being maintained, because there is a hope in certain quarters that by the harsh carrying out of these Regulations excuses may be given for interference by the authorities of a character calculated to bring awe to the men who are engaged in this struggle. These Regulations are breeding in the minds of law-abiding people a hatred of the present Government. I cannot for the life of me understand what they hope to get out of it.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I was pointing out that this particular Regulation is incurring a good deal of the hatred amongst the people. That seems to me to be germane to the question as to whether or not the Regulation should be deleted. The Regulations are being used in a harsh way in many parts of the country and where they are not, it is due entirely to the common sense and goodwill of the men concerned. I believe that in a great many cases where the law has to be put into operation and these Regulations are used it is because of offences committeed by men who are very sore about the grievances they are suffering.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
I have pleasure in seconding the Amendment The powers to be vested in the police authorities by this particular Regulation are reactionary and totally unnecessary. They are not only reactionary and unnecessary, but extremely dangerous. They are reactionary because they represent a difference in the attitude of mind towards 805 the freedom of the individual that has been very marked during recent years, especially since the War. I am old enough to remember when prominent members of society, prominent politicians, were allowed, without anything but a little good-humoured toleration, to go about the country advocating republicanism, and making personal attacks upon the Royal Family. Nobody took much notice of it because of the somewhat stupid reflections upon those particular people in the minds of all sensible persons, but to-day the idea of interfering with personal liberty has been going far beyond necessary or reasonable bounds, and it is exceedingly dangerous from many points of view.
I wish to deal with this particular Regulation, and to put a somewhat personal point of view. I mean what I am about to say, although it may seem somewhat extravagant. I am far from being a revolutionary. I do not believe in revolutionary doctrine, but I can conceive the possibility of speaking at a meeting when I might, through the excitement of the moment, indulge in remarks which would not come from my lips in my ordinary moods. It is conceivable that a constable might be at the meeting, and that he did not report my speech accurately. There is always that possibility. If that kind of thing happened, it is possible that constables might go to my house in accordance with this Regulation, without warrant, in order to work up evidence of a subversive character against me. I do not know how far it would go, but they would be able to work up very considerable evidence against me if they entered my house and searched it. I have a great amount of literature in my house. I have been in the habit all my life, especially during the last 30 years, as a matter of political and historical curiosity, of collecting literature of all kinds. I have not only practically all the Communist literature that has been issued from Moscow and this country, but I have books on the subject of anarchism and the philosophy of physical force revolution of the type that was very popular with a certain fringe years ago, when the militant anarchists were an important factor in the politics of this country.
There is something more than that. I do not know whether I could find it, but I am sure that, unless it has been 806 destroyed, there is a most interesting document in my house which I should not like a policeman to get hold of, if he wanted to work up a case against me from the standpoint of subversion. I have or had somewhere a recipe for the making of a bomb, which had something to do with a lemonade bottle, picric acid and cotton wool. That recipe was given to me by a very humane Tolstoyan anarchist many years ago, and I kept it as a political curiosity. I suppose it is at home somewhere, but I do not know where. Suppose a constable got hold of that recipe and I was charged with subversive propaganda and with speaking at a public meeting for the purpose of undermining the constitution of the country. What damning evidence that recipe would be against me, and yet I am perfectly innocent of any such intention. I would not think for a single moment of utilising a lemonade bottle, picric acid and cotton wool for the purpose of making a bomb. Making bombs of that character are outside the possibilities even of physical force revolution. Humorous as the position may appear to be, I say in all seriousness that many of our people have documents of a subversive character, not because they believe in subversion or revolution but as part of their political education.
This Regulation is an exceedingly dangerous innovation in British politics. It represents a reactionary tendency. I believe in individual liberty. I am prepared to admit that there are limits, and that if it is a question of a general strike there may be a different attitude of mind; but the conditions to-day are different from that. This is not a general strike, but an ordinary strike or an ordinary lock-out or dispute. We have had coal lock-outs and coal strikes before, and no one ever suggested Regulations of this kind. This Regulation belongs to the bad spirit of the War. It is the aftermath of the War, and I protest, as a believer in individual liberty, against the Regulation.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am deeply sorry to hear what the hon. Member has just told me about the recipe for the lemonade bottle bomb. I am not in the habit of making compromises of this kind, but if the hon. Member will give the House an undertaking that when he 807 goes home he will have a good search for the recipe, and burn it, if he finds it, I will make a note, so that if it should be found by the police I will not prosecute him.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I think he would forget it. What does this Regulation do? It gives power to a constable to arrest in certain cases for breach of the Regulation, without going to the necessity of obtaining a warrant. That power is enjoyed by constables in an enormous number of cases to-day, without any Regulation at all. Even a private person can arrest without warrant in certain cases, and certainly a constable can arrest in a very great many cases without warrant. If a person is found attempting to commit a misdemeanour under the Larceny Act it is the duty of a constable to arrest without warrant. If a person is found committing an indictable offence at night, a constable has full power to arrest him without warrant. If a person is suspected of having committed a felony he can be arrested without warrant. There are numerous cases of that kind. It is the plain ordinary duty of the police constable to arrest people whom he thinks have committed or are about to commit an offence. It does not mean that the police constable decides the case. It does not mean that the right of trial is denied. It means that the person concerned goes before a magistrate and is tried. He has a lawyer and he is either found guilty or the case is not proved. It does nothing more than is taking place every day throughout the country under scores of Acts of Parliament and under the Common Law too.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I suggest that there are persons to whom the police have objections. They are suspect, and I suggest that under this Regulation it would be possible for a person who had made himself obnoxious to the police to have his house searched and a document found 808 placed there by a person acting as an agent provocateur, thus bringing about a position from which escape would be impossible.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Give me any possible proof of such a thing and I will investigate it up to the hilt, and if it were proved that it took place it would be very much the worse for the police constable. Testimony has been borne this afternoon from the hon. Member's side of the House to the decent way the police constables have carried out their duty—the local police who know the people with whom they live. The hon. Member is now pre-supposing that a local policeman, known by everybody and to everybody, is to plant a criminal document in a man's cottage or house and then arrest him. It is a very very supposititious case. I really think that the hon. Member must accept the fact that, as the House has passed previous Regulations, this is merely machinery to give the same power to the constables under this Act as they have under numerous others. I suggest it would be impossible to carry out these Regulations without this particular one. Therefore I ask the House to pass it as they have done before. Not one single instance in six months has been put before the House of any constable exceeding his powers.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I must again intervene in order to criticise to some extent the representation of the law on this matter which the Home Secretary has given to us. As I understand it—and I have fortified myself by a textbook on the subject—the law with regard to arrest without warrant is very much more limited than the Home Secretary suggested. For example, a constable may arrest without warrant, it is true, when he has reasonable ground for suspecting a felony has been committed, but only on a charge being made. In a case of misdemeanour, a constable has no power at common law to arrest without warrant at all. It is necessary, therefore, in every single case where the Legislature has thought fit to do away with the protection of the warrant, specifically to give the constable power to arrest in that case without warrant. It is only a question of time before some Member on the other side of the House will suggest the abolition of warrants altogether. As long as the protection of 809 the warrant exists, surely we are entitled to say that the presumption ought to be that unless there is some definite reason why the protection of the warrant should be taken away there should not be arrest without warrant. These Regulations go further than the law in regard to arrest. They state thatAny police constable may arrest without warrant any person who so acts as to endanger public safety, or who is guilty, or is suspected of being guilty, of an offence against these Regulations.There is no question of a charge having been made, but a mere case of misdemeanour applying to a large number of Regulations, some, perhaps, for selling coal above minimum rates, small matters of that kind—I mean small from the criminal point of view—all sorts of Regulations with regard to telegrams, whatever it may be, if there is any single Regulation under this Act which a constable suspects has been broken, he is immediately entitled to arrest the person without warning. To all intents and purposes, while these Regulations are in force they abolish the protection of the warrant altogether.
The matter is very much more serious. The right hon. Gentleman said earlier in the evening that the object of these Regulations was on the side of leniency. If leniency is the question, why should you require greater power here than you require to enforce similar offences at common law. You have no power to arrest without warrant under the Act of 1875. If a person interferes by intimidation and is charged under the Act of 1875, you have no power to arrest without warrant. If you chose the more lenient methods of those Regulations, then you can arrest on suspicion without warrant. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman, with his great experience of criminal law, will agree that irreparable damage may be done to a man wrongfully arrested. Though he is honourably acquitted after a week, the mere fact of people seeing the man being arrested in his own village or town will do him lasting and permanent damage. The policeman need not see the offence at all. All he has to do is to suspect. When we look at the Regulation we find this has been framed for circumstances different altogether from those in which we find ourselves. This 810 has been devised by persons who had a kind of civil war in their minds. Just consider paragraph 4. A constablemay stop and search any vehicle he has reason to suspect is being used for any purpose prejudicial to public safety.What relation has that to the coal dispute? Is it suggested that coals would be carried in this public vehicle to wrong places? What have these Regulations, which may have been necessary on the verge of civil war, to do with the coal dispute? The whole mentality, the whole structure of this Regulation is one which is devised in connection with war conditions and war alarms. I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman supports this Regulation, because a little time ago the Government were so careless of the liberty of the subject that every unfortunate bookmaker who came on to a racecourse without a coupon for betting purposes was made liable to be arrested by a Customs officer—not even a policeman—without warrant. This is only a sample part of steady progress to alter the structure of the warrant altogether. The right hon. Gentleman's Criminal Justice Bill would have gone much further, but at the last moment he agreed with me and withdrew what I and others took exception to. When we remember that the business of this House was held up by Mr. John Wilkes on the question of whether his property could be searched and his letters rifled without warrant—there were riots at that time in London and the feet of the Austrian Ambassador were inscribed with the figures "45"—we see how little meaning there is in the word "progress," and how good Conservative must welcome the earlier method under which people were entitled to have warrants. All this shows a progressive decay in the belief in the rights of the individual, and it is because I am a better Conservative in this matter than the right hon. Gentleman opposite and wish to preserve the law that I am going to vote against the Regulation.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
I should not intervene in this Debate but for one or two remarks of the Home Secretary. It seems to me that the speech he has just delivered was really in support of our contention, for he has shown that there is nothing in this Regulation that the common law does not provide. That 811 confirms the view I have taken throughout of these Regulations—namely, that they are a gesture to the people of the country. The Government and its political machine has been busy mixing up Moscow and the miners, and having got Moscow on the minds of the people they seek to pose as the strong silent man at the head of the State giving confidence to the poor deluded people that they may sleep safely in their beds at night. I am supported in this view by a pamphlet issued at a recent by-election from the headquarters of the Conservative Association, printed in red on white paper. The heading is "Have you seen the red man from Moscow?" and it goes on to say how the harmless trade unions, posing as harmless, want to delude the working classes into revolution later on. Anyone who knows the history of revolution knows that there never has been a working-class revolution. The only revolutions have been middle and upper-class revolutions. When the right hon. Gentleman opposite says that he understands the working classes better than we do, I must tell him that he really does not. He is really putting the middle-class mind on to the working classes. There are no more level-headed and sober people in this country than the working classes, and it is a libel on them that these Regulations should be issued in order to control their actions. They have no desire for revolution. All they desire is a decent chance to get a decent living.
We have always been told that the Englishman's home is his castle, but under these Regulations any constable can force his way into any house without any excuse. At the end of the General Strike when there was a little trouble in the railway world, some of them had not gone back the same day as the rest. I went into a committee room and I said, "Is it peace or war?" A man said, "It is war," and the constable outside when he was told this said, "If I had heard him I would have put him inside." That is the type of mind to which it is proposed to give these powers. I myself was nearly ridden down by a constable on horseback in one town, and when I complained to the inspector about it he said, "They should do as they are told." They were not told to do anything; I was walking behind the inspector. These 812 Regulations are entirely unnecessary. We have been told that we have the right of free speech. As a matter of fact, we have not, because that right is in the hands, it may be, of 12 shopkeepers. What I contend is this, that the common law of this country, built up, as it has been, during the centuries is quite adequate, and it is very dangerous to hand these powers over to the police, especially where the police are imported from one place to another. Where the police are kept in their own districts, where they know the people and speak their language, order can be maintained, but the danger is when a Chief Constable gets the jerks and sends out for all and sundry. Then you get the type of mind in whose hands these Regulations are a positive danger.
§ Major CRAWFURD
I do not quite know whether this is to be regarded as a private wrangle, or whether a comparative stranger may intervene. But before we proceed to vote there is one small point I should like to raise, and one small request I want to make. The course of the discussion has been a little confusing to me. The hon. Member for Islington, in supporting the Amendment, has given reasons for doing so, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who, I presume, is supporting the retention of the Regulation, spent a few minutes in explaining that all the powers contained in this Regulation were already held by the police for almost every class of dangerous offence. The right hon. and learned Gentlemen on the Front Opposition bench took considerable pains to explain that the Home Secretary was wrong, and that he did not possess as many powers under the common law as he thought he did. All this is very confusing, but one of the things we should consider before we vote on this question is whether this Regulation is necessary or not. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said, and his supporters behind him would have said if they had been able to speak, that circumstances might easily arise under which this Regulation would be necessary, but hon. Members on the Labour benches have been at pains to show that these circumstances have never arisen during the course of this dispute, and are not likely to arise, from all the evidence they have.
813 The Home Secretary tells us that this Regulation is necessary because without it all the other Regulations are null and void; it contains the provisions for carrying out what is laid down in the other Regulations. Indeed, if you look at this Regulation we find that within its ambit there are four classes of very wide powers which should cover most of the operations undertaken by the police under the substantive Regulations. They are, arrest without warrant, the right to search premises; the right to search persons, and the right to stop vehicles. It seems to me that if there were a case for continuing these Regulations, and if some information could be given to the House as to the number of occasions on which the Regulation has been used, it would be of great value in enabling people who are open-minded and, like myself, without great knowledge of the circumstances, to record a conscientious vote. Would it be possible for the Home Secretary or one of his colleagues to give us in summary form a statement as to the number of occasions during the last six months on which the four provisions of this Regulation have been used and also the number of cases in which the action of the police was borne out subsequently in a Court of Law?
§ Mr. DUNCAN
It is difficult to fathom the mind of those who are responsible for this legislation. I have tried to conjure in my own mind what their mentality is. Having gone about the country a good deal, I have come to the conclusion that the people of this country are the most law-abiding people in the world. The mentality of those who are responsible for this legislation seems to me to be the result of the American pictures that have been shown at the kinemas recently. Right hon. Gentlemen picture in their minds all sorts of wild happenings, such as are portrayed as occurring in the backwoods of America. When was in America there was a strike in St. Louis. In the first week three people were shot dead. If there had been any suggestion of anything of that kind in this country there might have been some justification for this legislation. But there has not. The whole thing is built upon assumption and hypothesis; it is all imagination. The Government seem to be afraid that the workers Will take charge of the police and the military 814 and the whole country, and turn everything upside down. The thing is ridiculous. It is more like a pantomine than serious legislation.
It is difficult to conceive that the gentlemen who adorn the Treasury Bench and are weighted down with all their immense intelligence should suggest to us that this kind of legislation should apply to the people of this country. I could understand their mentality if we were in Germany. But we are not in Germany. The people here are entirely different from the Germans. We have a form of government different from that of the Germans before the War, but we are getting just the kind of legislation that the Germans had before the War. The first word that I learn in Germany was "verboten" — this was "verboten" and that was "verboten." We are drifting to exactly the same kind of thing here, all because the Government are so mightily afraid that the terrible men who will not work for dogs' wages will misbehave themselves. If there had been any case on which this legislation could have been built, the Home Secretary would have been delighted to state the case. He cannot do so. There has been no disturbance that would warrant this kind of legislation. It is a travesty upon the civilisation, intelligence and the condition of the people of this country, to suggest that this legislation is necessary. There is not a man sitting opposite to-day who does not know, as I know, that the people can be trusted to conduct themselves, even in a great and terrible dispute like this, within the law, and to behave themselves as decent, honest, Christian human beings.
The House of Commons is being turned into a farce by this legislation. The Government are teaching the people something that they will never forget. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite ever visualise a Labour Government in office. It may not be as far distant as some people think. They have given any Labour Government some wonderful illustrations of what they might do. Some of these days some of you people opposite may "get it in the neck" very badly. We will always be able to point to you, and to say that you set us this wonderful and brilliant example. Would it not be far better if 815 there were a little better spirit imported into the condition of life in this country during this terrible dispute? All this legislation only increases bad feeling among the people. The feeling that is necessary is not the feeling of enmity and bitterness, but that of common sense and reasonableness. I am confident that if we could only get common sense and reason to prevail in this dispute, we might be very near a solution of it. This kind of legislation embitters the minds of the people. The Home Secretary read a report concerning one of the police inspectors in Derbyshire. The inspector was charged with striking a woman in the face and knocking her to the ground. If the Government think
§ they are going to dragoon the people to stand that kind of thing, they are making the greatest mistake of their lives. Men cannot be lions and hereos in the trenches and lambs and little children when you get them back. You do not get good will by ramming these things down the people's throats. Far better to treat them as Britishers. Cut out this legislation and trust in the common sense of the people, and I am confident that there will then be no trouble, and you will lead to a far better spirit and probably a solution of our difficulties.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 96; Noes, 200.817
|Division No. 445.]||AYES.||[9.53 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardie, George D.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hirst, G. H.||Smillie, Robert|
|Baker, Walter||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Batey, Joseph||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Clowes, S.||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawrence, Susan||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Connolly, M.||Lawson, John James||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lee, F.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lindley, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dennison, R.||Lowth, T.||Townend, A. E.|
|Duncan, C.||Lunn, William||Varley, Frank B.|
|Dunnico, H.||MacLaren, Andrew||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Fenby, T. D.||March, S||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Montague, Frederick||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gardner, J. P.||Morris, R. H||Whiteley, W.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Naylor, T. E.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenall, T.||Paling, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Purcell, A. A.||Wright, W.|
|Groves, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Scurr, John|
|Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||Sexton, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||M r. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Hayes.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Christie, J. A.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Layton)||Braithwaite, A. N.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Brass, Captain W.||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Clayton, G. C.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Briscoe, Richard George||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Apsley, Lord||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cope, Major William|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)|
|Atkinson, C.||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Burman, J. B.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert|
|Bennett, A. J.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Cassels, J. D.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Drewe, C.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Chapman, Sir S.||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Loder, J. de V.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Savery, S. S.|
|Finburgh, S.||Macdonald. Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Shaw, Capt. Walter (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Macmillan, Captain H.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Skelton, A. N.|
|Gates, Percy.||Macquisten, F. A.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Malone, Major P. B.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Margesson, Captain D.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Graham, Frederick F. (Cumb'ld., N.)||Meller, R. J.||Stanley, Cot. Hon. G. F. (Willsden, E.)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Merriman, F. B.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Murchison, C. K.||Waddington, R.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. Wh'by)||Neville, R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hills, Major John Walter||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Holland, Sir Arthur||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Pennefather, Sir John||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Perring, Sir William George||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Radford, E. A.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Raine, W.||Withers, John James|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Jacob, A. E.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Womersley, W. J.|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Remnant, Sir James||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Wragg, Herbert|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Rice, Sir Frederick||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Ropner, Major L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Rye, F. G.||Viscount Curzon.|
§ Mr. BATEY
I beg to move, in line 4, at the end, to add the wordsand to the substitution in Regulation 14, lines 1 and 16, of the word 'shall' for the word 'may.'I am glad to see the Secretary for Mines in his place and I hope to-night he is going to accept this Amendment. It is a very simple and innocent Amendment which we now move for the fourth time. We believe that the reasons for it were strong on the former occasions, but that they are far stronger to-day. This is the only method of settling the coal dispute. The only practical means of ending the dispute is for the Government to have some power which will enable them to bring the coalowners to their senses. I believe the coalowners, alone, are the cause of the dispute lasting up to the present time. [HON. MEMBERS: "No"!] Hon. Members opposite say "No" I suppose a good many of them 818 believe that the best way of bringing the dispute to an end is by starving the miners into submission. [HON. MEMBERS: "No"!] The dispute will never be brought to an end in that way. The way to end this dispute is by bringing the parties round a table. We have been in disputes again and again. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"!] Yes, this is not the first, and I do not suppose it will be the last, but experience has taught us that in a dispute of this kind, the wisest way of settling it is to get round a table and thrash out the points of difference. More than once we have seen the parties to a dispute entering a room, apparently as far apart as the Poles, but when they were once seated round a table it was possible to find a way through all difficulties and to come to an agreement.
The coalowners are now refusing to meet the Miners' Federation to discuss the question. The Miners' Federation 819 has not asked the Government or the coalowners to accept terms, but only to meet and discuss the matter. I disagree with the Prime Minister's statement that the real barrier to ending this dispute is the hours question. If the Prime Minister turned up the speech delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer two months ago—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Regulations?"] I am coming to the Regulations. I want the Government to have this amended Regulation in order to give them the power to deal with what the Prime Minister himself calls the stupidity of the coalowners. If they have this power they would soon bring the coalowners to reason. I believe that if they had this power it would not then be necessary for them to use it. If the Government accepted my Amendment we should see the coalowners rushing up to London, we should see them in Downing Street on their knees before No. 10 begging the Prime Minister not to put this Regulation into force, and promising him that they would be more reasonable. The Prime Minister, in his speech yesterday, argued that the objection was the objection of hours. If he had read the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer two months ago he would have seen that the Chancellor of the Exchequer then said this:Our view on the hours question is that within certain limits, at any rate during a temporary period and in certain districts, the questions of hours and wages ought at any rate to be so far interchangeable that the mining population concerned should themselves have the means and the right of deciding in which form they wish the economic necessities to be met. I do not put it at all higher than that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st August, 1926; col. 215, Vol. 199.]The Chancellor of the Exchequer then said it was a matter for the mining community themselves whether they should accept increased hours or reduced wages. I do not believe the Prime Minister is justified in arguing at the present time that the hours question is a barrier to settling this dispute. He ought to be armed with this Regulation in order to bring the coalowners round the table for the purpose of settling this dispute.
Another reason why I want this Regulation is to stop the brutal terms which the owners are inflicting upon the miners. During the time the Eight 820 Hours Bill was going through the House of Lords the coalowners of one district did something with which the Prime Minister disagreed and he stopped the Eight Hours Bill in its passage through the House of Lords until the coalowners were willing to be more reasonable. The Eight Hours Bill is on the Statute Book now and we find the coalowners are brutal and unreasonable. In my own district they are endeavouring to get the men back to work and they are inflicting upon those men inhuman terms. They are inflicting upon the men in the County of Durham an eight and a-half hour day. I started to hew coal in the County of Durham 41 years ago and I was then working a six-hour day. Now the coal-owners of Durham—I have the conditions here in a printed circular—are inflicting on the miners an eight and a-half hour day.
§ Mr. BATEY
No, it is eight hours and winding. The hon. Member must remember that when we talk of the seven hours day we always talk of the seven and a-half hours day. That is because the seven hours day included one winding which makes an average seven and a-half hours. In the same way the eight hours day is eight and a-half hours.
§ Mr. BATEY
It says here "eight hours and one winding." After 41 years to ask men to work eight and a half hours, two and a half hours more than they were working then, is, in my opinion, an outrageous proposal, and the Government ought to he armed with this Regulation so as to be able to protect the miners against the brutality of the coal-owners. They are not only asking for an eight and a half hour day in these proposals but they are asking surface men to work a ten hours' day. That is carrying us back a hundred years in Durham. The Government ought to be armed with this Regulation so that they might, even now at this late hour, tell the coalowners that they must be more reasonable and that, if they will not be more reasonable, the Government themselves will take possession of the pits. The Government should not only have this Regulation to protect the miners on the question of hours but also to protect 821 them on the question of wages. In these same terms for the County of Durham they are suggesting that every adult datal worker should receive 6s. 8½d. per day. If one multiplies that by five, that means that these men will only earn 33s. 6d. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why five?"] Five days a week is a fair average. Some weeks they will not get five days, but one may take five days as an average. Remember it only applies to adult datal workers, and not to those workers who are not adults. The adult datal worker will only be able to earn, even before anything is taken off, 33s. 6d. a week.
§ Mr. BATEY
Yes, the great bulk of our men have either a free house or else get rent allowance. Even allowing for the free house and the free fire coal, a wage of 33s. 6d. will not allow a miner to maintain his wife and family in decency with the present cost of living. In these terms the coalowners are suggesting that the amount of percentage paid upon the basis rate should be 89 per cent. That means in Durham, not a 10 per cent. reduction, but a 21 per cent. reduction. If men restart, and there is a danger of their being starved into submission, it means that they restart under this offer at 89 per cent. for a few months. Then after those few months, with the 8½hour day for hewers, there will be an increase in the output which will cut down the price of coal. We will no longer have the minimum under the national agreement, we shall not be sure of the 89 per cent., and within six months that 89 per cent. will come down so much that the wages of our men in Durham will be far less than they were when the War broke out. Because of these inhuman conditions that the coalowners in the county of Durham are trying to impose upon the men, I want the Government to be armed with this Regulation, in order to bring the owners to reason and make them more inclined to seek a settlement.
There is another reason in favour of this Amendment. Some of us have been in the coal industry so long that we desire that, when this long dispute does 822 end, it shall end on conditions that will guarantee peace for a long time to come. We do not desire that the coal industry shall be in this troubled state. We want it to be in a settled condition, but if the Government, allow the owners to inflict these terms on the men in the county of Durham, there can be no peace. I am bound to avow that, if these terms are inflicted on the miners in the county of Durham, I, for one, will never cease agitating until the time comes when these conditions are altered. In order to get a real peace—and, mark you, it can only be got in one way, and that is by the parties getting round a table—I am urging the Government to accept this Amendment. Further, we want the Government to adopt the Amendment for the purpose of fixing the price of coal. In this Regulation the Government have the power to fix the price of coal. I do not agree with the argument of the Secretary for Mines, who spoke on this question yesterday, and, in my opinion, the reasons that he gave for the Department's not fixing the price of coal are not solid reasons. He said:I can tell hon. Gentlemen this, that the main reason why up to now there has been no control of prices is that it involves a far larger organisation, a far larger and expensive staff, and a far greater dislocation of trade than perhaps they realise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1926; cols. 680-1, Vol. 199.]The Government took power to buy coal, and we said at the time, and repeat now, that they took that power for the purpose of starving the miners. They are buying this coal, and it is being sold at a ridiculous and extravagant price. In London the coal is being sold at 4s. 7d. per cwt., but in the North of England, in my own city of Durham, it is being sold at 2s. 6d. per cwt.
§ Mr. BATEY
In this Regulation, under "(2, c), As to fixing of prices of coal," we want the Government to give directions to fix the price of coal. The object of the Amendment is that the Government shall give directions as to fixing the price of coal. At the present time the Government may do it, but we want to say that the Government shall do it. I was trying to argue that the Government 823 ought to fix the price of coal. I was saying that in the City of Durham they are selling coal at 2s. 6d. per cwt.; that is, 50s. a ton. The total cost of bringing coal up at the time of the stoppage was only 15s. a ton, and yet the owners locked out the miners in the County of Durham. Now they are selling coal there at 2s. 6d. per cwt. That is one reason why I want the Government to adopt this Regulation. There is another reason. In the Northern papers last week-end I was surprised to read that one of the causes for the dear price of coal at the present time is the great shipping freights being charged by shipowners. On Saturday one of the North Country papers said:The week just ended was a very busy one in the chartering of steamers to carry coal from Hampton Roads ports to this country, and freights moved up to a very high level.On Friday another North Country paper said:Buyers for shipment to the United Kingdom were operating freely for all positions to the end of the year, and c.i.f. prices were steadily rising. Tonnage rates showed another big rise, and owners are enjoying quite a boom in payable employment. For instance, rates from American ports were previously only 16s. to 20s. whilst to-day they range at 35s. to 42s. 6d. per ton.Mind, this is a Tory paper—not a Labour paper. I am blaming the shipowners for being part of the cause of the big price at which coal is being sold. They say:These advances have sent up the c.i.f. prices to 55s. and 60s. at East Coast ports.Here we have the shipowner getting his chance and making the most of it, and the working classes, who have to buy coal, are suffering for it.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
May I ask whether that is the coal which is now being sold at 2s. 6d. a cwt. in Durham?
§ Mr. BATEY
Perhaps it is. I am going to ask the Secretary for Mines to tell us whether it is so or not. But that is not the only reason. The Northumberland and Durham coalowners have got the wind up. They sent out a circular, and when that circular appeared in the Press it was headed:A warning note from the Owners' Association.824 In that circular they are condemning the big prices which the working classes have to pay for coal at the moment. I leave there that aspect of the question. What I submit to the Secretary for Mines is that it is of no use for him to say, as he did yesterday, that on account of the expense the Government could not fix the prices at which coal ought to be sold. The Government have gone to a far bigger expense than that would entail. They are spending £3,000,000 in order to defeat the miners, and they would be justified in spending a much less amount in order to protect the working classes against the extravagant prices being charged for coal.
I ask the Government to accept this Amendment in order that they shall deal with the supply and distribution of coal. I would like the Secretary for Mines to tell us just how much foreign coal the Government have got and where that foreign coal which they buy is distributed. Is it all being sold in London, or is it being distributed over the country, so that all parts get a fair share of it? One hon. Member raised a question as to the supply of coal to householders. In some parts of the country householders are allowed to have only 1 cwt. of coal a fortnight, and we have heard from an hon. Member that in another part they are allowed only half a cwt. a fortnight. What I want to ask the Secretary for Mines is: Does that limitation apply to everybody? [HON. MEMBERS "Yes !"] Let us see. Does it apply to the Prime Minister? Does he get only 1 cwt. a fortnight? [HON. MEMBERS: "For each grate!"] I ask the Secretary for Mines further: Does it apply to the Home Secretary? [An HON. MEMBER: "And to the Members for Durham?"] Oh, it does in my case.
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Colonel Lane Fox)
The hon. Gentleman is asking me for an answer, and I do not want to appear to refuse to give him the information. The position is perfectly simple. Anybody hitherto has been able to obtain his ration, as he describes it, of half a hundredweight of coal a week, subject to a permit if he wants more than that, in which case he has to get a permit from the local authority.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
No. The Regulation is that everybody, whether he is a working man, or the Prime Minister, or the Home Secretary, may get half a hundredweight a week. If any reason can be shown—if he has a sick mother—or a big house—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"]—or has a lot of young children, he can obtain a permit from the local authorities for more.
§ Mr. BATEY
I want to thank the Secretary for Mines for that. He has just said what I wanted him to. Anyone who has a big house can get more than one hundredweight, so we are justified in assuming from that that the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Secretary for Mines get more than one hundredweight a fortnight.
§ Captain STREATFEILD
Is it not a fact that at the early stages of this stoppage in the county which the hon. Member has mentioned a great many of the miners on strike were receiving a present of so much coal per week, given to them by the colliery owners?
§ Mr. BATEY
Yes, that is perfectly true, and in view of all these things which the coalowners have done, it is difficult for us to understand why they have allowed this lock-out to continue so long. I have had the answer I wanted from the Secretary for Mines. I understand now that we shall be entitled on the platform to tell the working classes that they are limited to one hundredweight of coal per fortnight. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I do not want to say that if it is not true. I do not want to take any unfair advantage of the answer given by the Secretary for Mines, but from what he has just said the impression on my mind is that I should be justified in assuming that while the supply to the working classes is limited to one hundredweight per fortnight the Prime Minister and the Secretary for Mines are entitled to more than that.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
I really cannot allow the hon. Member to be guilty of such a misrepresentation as that, and I cannot allow him to go on the platform 826 and run the risk of destroying his reputation by such a gross travesty of the facts as that. The working classes, the Prime Minister, and myself are under the same limitation, and we are entitled only to half a cwt. per week at the present time. If we can prove to the local authorities that we have a sick mother, a family of sick children, or a large house with a lot of people living in it, and if it can be shown to the local authorities that there are special conditions, then the local authority can give a permit for a larger quantity; but it is optional to them to allow more or to disallow it. If the hon. Member who has just sat down can satisfy any of those conditions he will get such a permit from the local authority.
§ Mr. BATEY
If that limitation applies to the Prime Minister and the Secretary for Mines, I would like to ask if he would object to some of us examining the books in order to find out how much coal the members of the Government have been getting. For these reasons I hope the Secretary for Mines will accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. WHITELEY
We are again moving this Amendment particularly because the Secretary for Mines has complained that the Government have not sufficient power to deal with the present situation. He said yesterday that, unless the two parties are prepared to come together and discuss the grievances mutually, the Government have no power at all. We want to say from this side that the Government seem as though they have power to do certain things that assist their own friends, and yet they are not prepared to put into operation the power that this Regulation, gives them, even without this Amendment, in order to assist the general community of this country. They put into operation an Eight Hours Act without any power being given to them except, as they say, the idea that it would create the opportunity for bringing this dispute to a more speedy end. Since then we have found that the power that created that particular Act of Parliament was the power behind the scenes which has been guiding the Government ever since this dispute came into being. We say that Regulation No. 14 gives the Board of Trade and the Secretary for Mines the power, if they desire it, to take over the mines of this country and bring this dispute to an 827 end more rapidly, particularly in the interests of the community who are suffering because of this dispute. We come forward with this Amendment and say to the Government, "If you have not the courage to use the power that this Regulation already gives as it stands, we infuse into you the necessary courage by this Amendment that we are putting before the House to-night."
The Secretary for Mines said that he had not put into operation, under this Regulation, the control of coal prices, because, as my hon. Friend has said, it involves such a large staff and such a large expense in order to do this work. I say to the House that the taking over and controlling of the coal in this country—all the coal that there is in the country—and fixing prices, and taking control of the mines of the country, would be a far less expense than the country is being put to by the importation of foreign coal, particularly at the prices that the consumers are compelled to pay for it. From that point of view I say that there is no real basis in the argument of the Government that it would be a more expensive process to take the matter over and control prices until some satisfactory solution is found for the dispute. The Secretary for Mines went on to say that they did not desire to put such machinery into operation unless there was a chance of a satisfactory conclusion of the dispute. The Government know as well as we do—they have told us across the Floor of this House—that the owners are an adamantine kind of people who are not prepared to give one little inch in this dispute. Therefore, knowing that there is no chance of a satisfactory conclusion, we desire that the Government should face their responsibilities, should put this Regulation into operation, and should accept this Amendment, which will give them real authority. It will take away the permissive nature of the Regulation, and make it more compulsory from their point of view to see that during a crisis of this kind this Regulation No. 14 is put into operation.
The Home Secretary has argued, ever since he brought forward these Regulations, that the basis of them was to prevent anyone from causing disaffection among any section of the community in this country. From my experience—and 828 since the August Adjournment I have addressed 98 meetings up and down the country—the owners have caused more disaffection than it would ever be possible for anyone on this side to cause, and, if he were doing his duty, and were not using this Regulation as a purely class instrument, every coalowner in this country ought to be in gaol at the present moment. But he and his colleagues, who charge us with always causing disaffection and a class spirit and class bias, have for generations been, and are at the present time, actually putting into operation class legislation and creating a class distinction by using these Regulations as they have done up to the present time. If they were prepared to look at it in the real sense of governing on behalf of the whole community many things would have happened which have not happened by their handling of these Regulations. As a matter of fact where men have gone back to work and have come out again, the coalowners have not stopped at their original offers but have offered them guaranteed wages of 15s. a day, free omnibus rides to and from their work, seven hours bank to bank, any kind of thing to break the resistance of the men who are endeavouring to carry out the policy they themselves have laid down. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I have been connected with the miners all my life and I am not what you call an extreme man, but I am prepared to say that if the House of Commons would undertake to stand by a secret ballot of the whole of the miners in the country they would vote absolutely for the carrying out of the policy they started with.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We are now getting too general. He had much better keep to the Amendment before the House.
§ Mr. WHITELEY
I am sorry I allowed that interjection to lead me from the point I was dealing with. I treat this matter very seriously, knowing the conditions that are going on, and we are putting this Amendment before the House in order to give the Government an opportunity of putting into actual practice some of the things they have said during the last six months. They save said they are prepared to give the workers a square deal. Then let them show that they are prepared to do so by accepting this Amendment. They have said they do not believe in the process of 829 starvation. If they are sincere in that statement, let them accept the Amendment in order that our people may know they are not going to continue to allow the owners, by a process of starvation, to bring our people right down to rock-bottom and below it. If the House of Commons and the Government look at this thing in the broadest possible way and in the interest of the whole community, both on the question of coal prices and the continuance of the dispute, I am confident they will look at it without any class bias and will readily agree to the Amendment.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
I again congratulate the two hon. Members who have moved the Amendment on their pertinacity, their courage and their ingenuity. Earlier to-day, I met the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, and I said I admired his pertinacity, and I wondered whether he was going to find any new arguments in support of this very interesting Amendment by which you alter the word "may" into "shall" and thereby entirely settle, apparently, the various troubles which are now harassing the industry. He said he had an entirely new speech, and I looked forward with great interest to it. He has produced a new speech, but a great deal of what he brought into the purview of the Amendment seems rather difficult to find inside the Regulation. He has discussed the question of the owners' terms, which I do not find in the Regulations. He has discussed the question of hours; he has stated that if the Amendment is brought into force it will have such a devastating effect that they will not have time to catch trains, they will come running to London. That, I think, is a severe condemnation of the speed of the railway service in his particular district. He also complained of the high freights which are raising the price of American coal. The wildest stretch of imagination does not suggest that under this Regulation I have power to control the freights of ships, many of which are foreign, that are bringing coal to this country.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
The powers on which the hon. Member is basing great expectations do not exist. He based the whole of his argument on the suggestion 830 that under this Regulation the Government have power to take over the mines. On the last occasion I did my best to explain that the Government has not such a power under this Regulation. The hon. Member will remember that I told him—and there is no excuse for bringing a contrary argument again before the House—that this Regulation has been definitely drafted to exclude that power. Anyone who takes the trouble to read the Regulation carefully will see that that is so.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
I do not deny the hon. Member's power of reading it, but I deny his power to understand it. He will see, if he takes the trouble to look at it, that in the first part of the Regulation the Board of Trade have power to take possession of certain things, buildings, property, railway wagons, coal at the pit, plant, machinery, and so on. The second part of the Regulation gives them power to give directions as to the management and user of any property for the production of coal, but not to do it themselves. This Regulation has been definitely drafted to exclude the power to take over the working of the pits. It is no use the hon. Member suggesting that that is not so, because it has been drafted by legal experts, and their authority is far greater than mine and even greater than his.
The hon. Member says that foreign coal has been bought by the Government. I am not sure whether I shall be in order in dealing with that point, but if I am allowed to deal with it I would like to answer the question which he put to me. He began by stating that that coal was bought for the purpose of starving the miners. There again, in the interests of accuracy, I would remind him that it has been bought not for the purpose of starving the miners, but for the purpose of keeping the population of this country from the cold, the want and the suffering, due to the lack of light, heat and power, which they would otherwise have undergone, owing to the unfortunate fact that a very large number of miners in this country are not yet producing the coal which I hope they will shortly be giving. The hon. Member asked me how much coal had been bought by the Government, whether it had been 831 fairly distributed, and what it had been used for. I can assure him that the coal which the Government have bought has been used to maintain the service of the electric power stations, the gasworks and various public utility undertakings which require assistance of that kind. Through that Government coal many a city which otherwise would not have had it has been able to have light, heat and power, from the lack of which people would have suffered very severely.
I should like to say a few words on the subject of coal prices, and to assure hon. Members that it certainly is not only on the ground of expense that the Government are anxious, if possible, to avoid having to put on what is bound to be a very harassing system of control, which is the only way by which effective control of prices can be established. Hon. Members opposite say, and quite reasonably think, that it is a perfectly simple thing to say that a cwt. of coal shall not be sold beyond a certain maximum price. They think that we have only to make an order to that effect, and that it works simply and automatically. I am sure that if it were as simple as that, it would have been done many months ago. It is very difficult to carry out so simple a proceeding as that without involving very far-reaching consequences and depriving great areas of this country of any supply of coal whatever. In regard to the high price of coal, you must always remember that the price of foreign coal to a large extent has ruled the prices. You cannot control the price of foreign coal. It is bound to be expensive. At the same time, in the present circumstances, foreign coal is absolutely indispensable. If you so fix the price as to have the effect at this moment of entirely preventing or discouraging the bringing of foreign coal into this country, then there would be a shortage which would cause very great hardship and suffering in many parts of the country.
We cannot at this moment—though I hope we very soon shall—afford to do without foreign coal. Its price shows no tendency to go down. The hon. Gentleman suggested it was so easy to control the price of domestic household coal, which is a thing to which we have paid the greatest attention. This has caused my Department more work and thought and more genuine effort during 832 the last few months than, perhaps, any other. To control the price of domestic coal, it is absolutely necessary to control the price of all coal. If you merely begin by saying domestic coal shall not be sold above a certain price, at once a great deal of domestic coal disappears. It is like Lord Rhondda's famous Rabbit. It is mixed up with other coal. Therefore, we must control all coal. You must not merely control the retail price but the pithead price also. There is no use saying to the merchants, "You shall not sell above a certain price," if the price at the pithead is such that they would be selling at a loss. They would, obviously, cease to operate, and coal would not be distributed.
Therefore, we have got to this stage, that we have to control pithead prices, retail prices and the prices of all coal that is sold. Then there are a great many different grades of coal and of prices. What price would be set up as a maximum? If you set up the price relating to the best household coal and said that is to be the maximum, that would tend to become the price of all coal. You would require a great many prices. That would introduce complications which I do not say would make it absolutely impossible, but would certainly be very difficult. How are you going to control the price of home produced coal without controlling the price of foreign coal? You must take over the whole of the foreign coal and sell it at the price at which you are selling British produced coal. That means a very heavy expenditure indeed. I do not think that you can possibly avoid that. That means that our operations would come to require a very large and expensive and elaborate organisation. You have to control the whole of the distribution, because, unless you control distribution, what would happen? If you fix the price at a good deal lower than the market price you have reduced any inducement to sell coal at a point remote from the place of supply. If you control prices without controlling distribution also you would have all the areas remote from the collieries liable to be starved in the supply of coal. They would get no coal at all, while those districts around the collieries would be able to get as much coal as they desired.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
The point is that at this moment we have regulated distribution, but we have not controlled prices, and, therefore, at the present moment people at a distance from collieries can get coal by paying a price sufficient to cover the cost of the transport.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
It may be ingenious, but if the hon. Member will give it his intelligence for two minutes—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have told the hon. Member before that he must not interrupt in that way. It is not the way to argue.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
I am sorry if I have provoked the hon. Member, but if he would do me the honour of talking to me afterwards I will explain what I mean, and he will find it a perfectly genuine argument and a perfectly fair statement. I hope that by the various negotiations which I have been able to carry out that we have got the price of coal steady. It is far higher than it ought to be, and higher than I hoped it would be, but I think we shall be able to get it reduced very soon. We can always relieve trouble in any particular area where there is a shortage by bringing in some of our reserves. If the price, in spite of all we can do, tends to further increase, and reaches an exorbitant level, then there will be nothing for it but to bring in some system of the kind I have described. But in the hope of an early settlement of the dispute, I think it is far better that we should arrive at a lower price by ordinary methods than by a system which would be harassing to the ordinary population.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
I heard the Home Secretary say in a speech this evening that the Government knew that the people of this country were in favour of the enforcement of these Regulations. I was interested then, and I am still, to find out how the Home Secretary knows that. The people of this country have only spoken once since these Regulations were first brought in and on that 834 occasion the Government vote was reduced from 15,000 to 9,000 and the Labour majority increased from 1,000 to nearly 10,000. Whether there is any doubt on this point or not there is certainly no doubt with regard to the opinion of the country as far as it can be expressed in this House upon this particular Amendment. The Leader of the official Opposition has pressed it on the Government and the Leader of the Liberal Opposition has also pressed it on the last two occasions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to be quite surprised at this and desired a clearer explanation from the Leader of the Liberal Opposition. He said without qualification that, as far as he and his party were concerned, they were in favour—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where are they?"] I am speaking about the Leader of the Liberal Opposition, who, with all his faults, if he had had the handling of this question in my opinion would have made a different job of it from that which the Government have made of it. However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to be surprised that the Liberals would fall into line with the Labour party in demanding that the powers conferred in this Regulation should be put into operation.
What is the purpose of this Regulation? This is the fourth time that the House has been asked to pass Regulation 14, which says that the Government may take over the mines, may take over the distribution and the control of the prices of coal. When this Regulation was framed the Government must have had something in their minds. They must have visualised a set of circumstances in which this Regulation should be put into operation. What are the circumstances which must arise before the Government put the Regulation into operation, and take over the coal that is necessary for our industry. Is the position to-night not serious enough for the Regulation to be put into force, or are we to wait until something worse occurs? Let me tell the House of an incident last night. There was a gentleman staying at the same hotel as myself, a young business man, an eager typical Englishman trying to get orders for his firm so as to employ the workmen in Sheffield. He has been trying for a 835 long period to get a footing in France with steel for motor axles. Last week he was offered a contract for 1,600 tons, with a prospect of further orders, if he could supply the goods within a specified period. That he was unable to do. This order must go by the board, and the men in Sheffield who are waiting for these orders must continue to walk the streets.
That is only a small incident, but it is typical of the whole country. It is certainly typical of my Division. In Newcastle East now we have five years' work with which to go ahead. We have thousands of men walking the streets—some of them have been walking the streets for six years—and we have a prospect now of going ahead such as we have not had since 1914. My Division is symptomatic of every Division in the country. We are on the eve of a revival, and I am thankful to say so. The set of circumstances that justify something unusual being done by the Government has arisen. It is only a step from taking coal to taking the means of production of coal. There may be a legitimate fear in the minds of some Members that nationalisation might be in the offing. We had control during the War in a great national emergency, and the nationalisation of the mines or of anything else is not much nearer on that account. It is certainly nearer, but not necessarily on that account. We have arrived at a stage now when something drastic will have to be done, and it would not necessarily require the taking over of the mines. If the Government merely signified that they had under consideration the fact that the serious state of industry in this country and the profiteering in coal justified something unusual being done, and if the coalowners knew that this matter was under consideration, it would bring about a change of mind and heart, and would get this thing through, as we all want to see it through. It is only a step from the coal to the property, and the Government ought to Consider whether the time has not arrived to get the industries of the country under way again. What is the alternative? I will leave it to you, Mr. Speaker, to pull me up if I am out of order in indicating it. The alternative is a gradual drift back to the mines.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am afraid the hon. Member has already gone rather beyond the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
I can only speak of what is happening. We are drifting on from week to week and, apparently, the Government has made up its mind that what is happening shall go on, because we are told, in the shorthand note of the conference between the Government and the coalowners, that Mr. Evan Williams said that it was arranged between the Government and the coalowners that there should be a gradual drift back.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
I merely wish to say, in conclusion, that if that be the truth, then, in my judgment, it is the greatest betrayal that ever occurred in British industrial history.
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
I take exception to one or two points in the reply by the Secretary for Mines to the representative of the Durham miners. The Secretary for Mines said that the Mover of the Amendment was bringing forward a number of suggestions which he could not find in the Regulations, one of these being the taking over of the mines. He said that the Government had had the opinion of their legal advisers, which he considered to be a higher authority than the Mover of the Amendment or even himself. I draw his attention to the first line of the Regulation:The Board of Trade may take possession"—The Amendment seeks to alter that toThe Board of Trade shall take possession.The Regulation proceeds:and may from time to time, as may be deemed expedient relinquish and resume possession of:(a) All or any buildings and property for the time being used, or intended to be or usually used or which may be deemed requisite for the purposes of the storage, distribution, supply or disposal of coal.I submit that within the terms of those words the Government have power to take over the mines of this country. The Government claim that they are keeping the ring and acting impartially between the parties, and we have a right to ask 837 why they are not putting this Regulation into operation in the interests of the community. That question has already been put by the Mover of the Amendment and has been evaded. He also says that there is nothing here which gives him power to deal with freights. Surely he has not read the Regulations or he would not have said that. On page 13 it says:(3) Every owner and person for the time being in possession of any such property as aforesaid, and every person engaged or employed in the production, manufacture, treatment, transport, storage, distribution, supply, shipment or disposal of coal.The actual word there is "shipment." You cannot have shipment of coal without having to pay freightage. Why then does the Secretary for Mines try to mislead, although not intentionally, of course, the House by saying that the Mover of the Amendment was going outside its terms by suggesting that the Secretary for Mines should have power to fix the freight rates which are now increasing so much? These powers can be taken by the Board of Trade or by the Secretary for Mines. That means the Government, and the Secretary for Mines when he speaks is voicing the collective wisdom of the individuals who sit on the Front Bench with him. He should therefore tell the House why he is not putting these powers into operation instead of saying that the Regulations do not confer these powers.
The right hon. Gentleman made a statement as to why he should not fix the price of coal. That power is definitely given under the Regulations. He said that one would have to fix the price of domestic coal, then of coal for manufacturing purposes, and then of foreign coal. He put forward all the difficulties in the way. Surely those difficulties must have been contemplated before the Government brought in this Regulation. Otherwise, unless there was a way of surmounting the difficulties, this power would not have been included in the Regulations. What is the use of his magnifying the difficulties and saying that they cannot be overcome when the power is given under the Regulations? It is his duty to see his way through, over, or under the difficulty; a difficulty into which the Government has brought us. He says foreign coal is expensive, 838 more expensive than coal produced in our own country. Why should it be more expensive? Was it not one of the reasons why the miners were asked to accept a lower wage that foreign coal was cheaper than the coal produced in this country, and that we had to meet its competition abroad? The foreign coal is being brought into this country and we are paying 5s. 6d. a cwt. in Glasgow and, as I am informed to-day, 7s. a cwt. in Inverness for it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Cook's fault!"]
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I do not care whose fault it is. The country is suffering, and it is the Government's business to look after affairs. They claim to be impartial but where is their impartiality when they are trying to place the blame on Cook or anybody else? The fault lies there, on that Treasury Bench. They have not the courage to go forward and use these Regulations, which give them power to take these things over, and the only things they have the courage to put into operation are the Regulations applying to the miners. I see the Secretary for Mines smiling. Evidently he thinks it a laughing matter that he should not put the powers that he has got into operation. He thinks the powers ought not to be there. That I took to be the purpose lying behind his answer to the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), but so long as they have these powers they cannot escape the charge of being not impartial in the dispute, but of being in this House the representatives of the mineowners of this country.
If they are not going to put these powers to any use, why waste paper by printing the Regulations upon it? Why not bring before this House only the Regulations which they intend to put into operation? Then we should know where they stand, but to print these Regulations, knowing in their own hearts that they do not intend to put into operation the greater proportion of the Regulations, stamps them as hypocrites and as individuals who are backing the mineowners in their attempts to crush the miners into accepting the horrible conditions and terms laid down by the mineowners themselves.
839 Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 76; Noes, 198.841
|Division No. 446]||AYES.||[11.20 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Batey, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawrence, Susan||Taylor, R. A.|
|Clowes, S.||Lawson, John James||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, F.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Connolly, M.||Lindley, F. W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lunn, William||Varley, Frank B.|
|Duncan, C.||MacLaren, Andrew||Viant, S. P.|
|Dunnico, H.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Gardner, J. P.||March, S.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Naylor, T. E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Greenall, T.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Purcell, A. A.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Windsor, Walter|
|Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||Sakiatvala, Shapurji||Wright, W.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Scurr, John||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sexton, James|
|Hardie, George D.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Sitch, Charles H.||Charles Edwards.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Ellis, R. G.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Alexander, E. E. (Layton)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Fenby, T. D.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Apsley, Lord||Finburgh, S.||Lord, Walter Greaves|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Atkinson, C.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Frece, Sir Walter de||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gates, Percy||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Blundell, F N.||Goff, Sir Park||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Braithwaite, A. N.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Meller, R. J.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Merriman, F. B.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hammersley, S. S.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.>|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Burman, J. B.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Moore, Sir Newton|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Haslam, Henry C.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hawke, John Anthony||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R. Scar. & Wh'by)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hills, Major John Wailer||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Holland, Sir Arthur||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Cope, Major William||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Perring, Sir William George|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Jacob, A. E.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Dawson, Sir Phillip||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Radford, E. A.|
|Drewe, C.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Raine, W.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Shepperson, E. W.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Skelton, A. N.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Remer, J. R.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Remnant, Sir James||Smithers, Waldron||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Rye, F. G.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wood, E. (Chester, Staly'b'ge & Hyde)|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Tinne, J. A.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Waddington, R.||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Savery, S. S.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Shaw, Capt. Walter (Wills, Westb'y)||Warrender, Sir Victor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Major Hennessy and Captain Bowyer.|
§ Main Question put.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The voices were not collected. As soon as it was noticed that you were putting the Main Question, the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) rose to his feet to ask about this Amendment. I submit that the voices of the House were not collected when you put the Question, and consequently that the hon. Member is entitled to move his Amendment.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I do not question your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I am certain that the voices were not collected.
§ Certainly we here never heard you put Ayes and Noes to the House, and no one in the House responded if you did.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
On a point of Order. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] I must insist. I want to know exactly where we are standing, and who authorised the withdrawal of the Amendment without consultation with those whose names are appended to it?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member whose name stands first, and the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
But there are two other names here. Those hon. Members were never consulted, and they were prepared to move.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I was informed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), who is leading the Opposition.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 68.843
That the Regulations made by His Majesty in Council under the Emergency Powers Act, 1920, by Order dated the 20th day of October, 1926, shall continue in force, subject however to the provisions of Section 2 (4) of the said Act.