§ Mr. KELLY
I beg to move, in page 1, to leave out from the word "dispute," in line 8, to the word "and" in line 9.
We have had a great deal of discussion, not only on the Bill but on this Clause, but at no stage of that discussion has an explanation been given by anyone on the Government side as to what is intended by the use of the term "trade and industry." We have asked them at various times to indicate to us what they had in their minds when inserting those words in the Bill, but the replies on each occasion have been an evasion of the whole position, and in fact at one stage we were told it was impossible to indicate what was meant by the use of them. One hoped that by this time there would have been some explanation. Even as recently as last evening the hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne, East (Mr. Connolly) asked a question with regard to certain people who were employed in the dockyards, and, even though that concerned the livelihood of many thousands of people, there was no explanation. It is bad enough to have a small contingent in the House, but at least those of us who are concerned with this Bill do expect to have some explanation of what is intended by the penal Clauses and terms which are placed in the Bill. It is evident that it is the intention of the Government to place this matter of industry and the interpretation as to what is trade and industry, in the hands of the Law Courts of the country. That is the last place to which one ought to be taken in order to have a definition laid down as to what is trade and industry. We had some experience of the Law Courts during the period of the War, when they were permitted to decide questions affecting trade and industry. Those who had experience of the Law Courts at that time have some idea of the difficulties 1686 we shall have to encounter when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.
I can quite imagine the intention of the Government. The intention of the Government is shown by the statements made as to the prevention of strikes. Judging by the way members of the Government speak of trade unions and strikes, one would suppose that the only justification for the existence of trade unions in this country is that they are constantly and permanently engaged in arranging and conducting strikes. It is very plain to those who have experience of industry that such is not a true picture of the position of the trade unions or of the employers' federations in this country. But This Bill, and the discussions which have taken place, particularly on the part of its supporters, have indicated that there seems to be little else in the mind of the Government than that strikes are the permanent occupation of the trade unions of the country.
It is declared in this Bill that any strike is illegal if it has any object other than the furtherance of a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the strikers are engaged. The Attorney-General has stated at various times that there is no intention of stopping a sympathetic strike. When he is asked, in particular cases, to explain the position, he declines to be drawn into it, but surely the words the Government have placed in this Bill can have no other meaning than a determination on the part of the Government not only to prevent another trade union from coming to the help of a second trade union, but members of particular unions from being at call and assisting their fellow members who are engaged in a dispute either in regard to wages, hours or other conditions.
The Attorney-General has told us that there are certain things that have to be proved in the Court. It has to be proved that it is other than a trade dispute. It has to be proved that it is a hardship upon the community. It has to be proved that it is coercing the Government. I want to suggest to him that it is a very easy matter to prove these things when there is a determination to enter the Law Courts with regard to industrial problems. It has not been difficult in the history of this country to have secret service people, who when they desired to give the impression 1687 that there was something being done against the interests of the country, that there was something being done, to use the terms of this Bill, to coerce the Government, could deliver speeches and give an impression to the Law Courts of the country. The Attorney-General stated yesterday that one of the hon. Members on this side of the House was wrong when he dared to suggest that the miners' dispute of last year would have been declared illegal. I venture to say that under this Measure it would have been declared illegal. The friends of the Attorney-General, his newspapers, the paid lecturers of his particular party up and down the country were declaring that it was not a dispute for the purpose of wages, but that it was a dispute to coerce the Government in order to bring about the nationalisation of the mining industry. That was quite freely stated from the first moment of that dispute until the end. with the addition, of course, that the name of the Secretary of the Miners' Federation was freely used by all Members on the other side. I suggest that under this Bill, if it becomes an Act of Parliament, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for any dispute of any magnitude to keep outside the meshes of the law, because we know what is said with regard to most of our disputes. I suggest to the Attorney-General that the whole intention of framing these words is to make it so difficult that it will be impossible to conduct a dispute without being brought into the Law Courts of this country.
We have asked the Attorney-General to define what is a trade and what is an industry. Does he consider that a trade is defined by the limitations set upon it by the limited liability companies of the country? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be prepared to define the chemical combine, with which some hon. Members and right hon. Members in this House are concerned, as an industry, and, if so, are we to understand that only that which would come within the articles of association of that company is going to be looked upon as a legal definition of trade and industry in this country? If that be so, it leaves out of account many other of the particular holdings of those concerned in this 1688 chemical combine, which is concerned not only with chemicals but with quarries, lime-stone quarries, and even with coal mines, and I hardly think that the Attorney-General will be prepared to say that the coal industry at this time is part and parcel of the chemical industry. I am using the word "industry" because it has been freely used in this Debate. This particular concern also deals with engineering, with the building trade, with the nickel trade, with agriculture, and with explosives. I ask the Attorney. General whether under this Bill the Government intends to cover all these as being part and parcel of the particular trade or industry?
May I put the position of Government Departments? I want to put the position which the hon. Member for Newcastle put last night. Take the case of a trade dispute, in the sense of a wage application being made on behalf of the women employed by the Admiralty at the very low wage of 35s. a week. Suppose the whole of the employés of the Admiralty, in the dockyards and establishments, were determined that these wages must be raised. They are members of one organisation, of one trade union, covering a variety of different kinds of work, shipbuilding, engineering and explosives. A strike takes place, or is threatened; but in the meantime somebody delivers a speech, either in a dockyard centre or some other part of the country, suggesting that the strike, which is for the purpose of raising the wages paid to the women in the dockyards, is not a trade dispute but is intended to overturn the Government, to coerce the Government to carry out something which they do not desire to carry out at that particular time. Does it mean that because somebody suggests this that an appeal can be made to the Law Courts and the fight carried through all its various stages in order to show that this was a dispute not in the trade or industry, but a dispute in order to do something other than affect the particular trade or industry? Is such a strike as that covered by the words "concerned in the trade or industry"? It would apply to other Government Departments: the War Office, the Air Ministry, or the Office of Works, and I hope that we are going to have some 1689 definition as to what in the opinion of the Government is a trade and an industry.
In an earlier part of the Debate the Attorney General, in answer to the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), said that carters engaged in the transport of building material for the erection of houses were not engaged in the productive side of that particular industry. There is a decision under the Munitions of War Act which is opposed to the view held by the Attorney-General. It was held then that carters engaged in transporting material were engaged in the work of that particular industry, and they were penalised. Are we to understand that those who are engaged in transport in connection with particular occupations are to be considered as being in the particular trade or industry? Are we to understand that those who are in clerical occupations in some of these industries are to be considered as being engaged in the trade or industry, when it is a fight on the industrial side? Take the case of a firm like Messrs. Lever Brothers, with their many-sided manufactures. I know what the Attorney-General said yesterday about the same employer, but I suggest that many of these concerns, while they are partly owned by the particular concern of Messrs. Lever Brothers, go under a different name, and I am wondering whether the Attorney-General intends that these particular concerns are to be considered as separate trades or industries and will not be allowed to participate in any dispute which may arise in connection with Messrs. Lever Brothers. I could enumerate many other industries which are in the same position. The Law Courts of this country will have great difficulty in defining what is a trade and what is an industry.
Imagine the position in which trade unions are going to find themselves in the future. Some of these informers who will arise as a result of this Measure, agents who will sell themselves in order to bring difficulties, will come along and report that these disputes are for a purpose other than a trade dispute. The Attorney-General will then appeal to the Law Courts. The trade unions, who may be moving for an improvement of wage conditions and hours, will find themselves 1690 in this position. They will have to attend at the Law Courts. They will have to instruct a solicitor, and educate him as to what is a trade and what is an industry. But we have not finished there. After we have endeavoured to educate the solicitor, we then have to meet counsel and go through the whole round of educating counsel as to what is a trade and what is an industry. We know the difficulties of that from the discussions which have taken place on this Measure in this House. We then have to appear before one of the Judges of the High Court, and we know full well how difficult it has been to make the Judges understand what is trade and what is industry. During the War period, we had decisions placing inside the engineering trades many occupations that were not known to the engineers until the Judges had placed them there. Then after that, there may be an appeal. It would be far better, much more honest and courageous, and less cowardly, if the Government were to say that they are determined to prevent strikes altogether. That can be the sole intention of this proposal which says that those who are strong must not go to the assistance of the weaker ones who are fighting for better wages and better conditions. The Attorney-General has given no explanation of this. He has not told us what is a trade and what is an industry, but he is leaving it to the Judges of the High Court to decide that for us. That will mean dragging the trade unions and employers into the Courts, and, instead of bringing about good feeling, it is going to embitter feeling in every industry in this country. I spent the whole of a day last week in the work of conciliation in one of the largest industries in this country, but, in view of a proposal like this, you cannot speak to the men of peace in industry. They look upon it as being simply a piece of hypocrisy to talk about peace in industry at the same time as we have such Clauses as this.
I move the deletion of these words, which are of no advantage to the Measure, bad as it is, but are simply an endeavour to try and separate people in their unions, separate them in their industries and occupations, and make it extremely difficult to resist what the employers are endeavouring to force on 1691 at this time—worse conditions both in hours and wages. I have not much hope of this being accepted by the Government. The Government have shown no tendency, even to endeavour to make this Measure better than the vicious thing it was when it was first introduced, but I am bringing this Amendment forward in order to show that the Government is dealing with this Bill in the spirit I have stated. They may threaten the officials with imprisonment. We had all that during the War period. We had all the dangers of imprisonment, while the rank and file had not the same penalties hanging over their heads. That will not prevent us continuing the fight, and it will not prevent us in the stronger industries from helping our weaker brethren and endeavouring to lift them up. We were taught at school, and, I believe, from the pulpits, that it is the proper thing for the strong to help the weak. The Government are overturning all that, and enacting that they shall not come to the help of the weak, but, in spite of that, we are still going to help our weaker brethren.
§ Mr. MARCH
I beg to second the Amendment.
When we were last discussing this question of what is a trade or industry, we did not get very much satisfaction from the Attorney-General. It affects a very large number of members of the industry to which I belong. Not many industries can carry on without a carter or vehicle worker to help them to take materials to them, or take their manufactured goods away afterwards. Take the building trade. Many of the contractors who take contracts for building houses may have one vehicle worker, and the remaining work is done by contract, the contractors carting the materials from the docks or other places to the spot where the building is going on, or carting it to the contractor's premises to be made up and got ready for the building. If there is a dispute in that building trade, the contractor's men, as well as the men employed by the building contractor himself, must needs stand still. If men are found to go on with that building, is it anticipated that the men who had continually been carting for that contractor for years on large building contracts, are 1692 still going to cart materials to the men who took the places of the men in dispute?
The other night I also raised the question of the sections of men in the tramway industry. I claimed that all the men engaged in the tramway concern are applicable to the industry, but we should like it defined by the Attorney-General as to whether that is going to be considered as one industry. We do not want to have to go to the Law Courts to get their interpretation of what is an industry. We in this House are making legislation, and we ought to make that legislation as clear as possible, so that anyone could understand what it really means without having to waste the contributions paid by the members of our organisation in going to a Court of law and asking the Courts to define it for us. In these Debates, we have been very much concerned about the contributions of members. We are very anxious to save the contributions of our members, and very anxious to know how we can advise the members of our organisations. I also mentioned the other day, the question of the omnibus drivers, the passenger carriers of this great city. Practically all of them are under one combine. There are more men engaged in the combine than the men who drive the omnibuses or the men who collect the fares. A large number of men are engaged in the garages, and these men are necessary to the good control of the omnibuses. There are all classes of workmen employed in the garages and in that industry. If there should be a dispute with one section and the other men stop work in sympathy, we should like to know if that is going to be defined, so that we know exactly where they are.
I also mentioned the catering trade. Very large numbers of men are engaged in that industry, some of them at the depot where many of the goods are manufactured, but these goods have to be distributed to all parts of London, and greater London. The men who are distributing may sometimes come up against a shop or shops where there is a dispute with the people engaged in the serving of the necessary commodities to the people who go there. I claim that that is an ancillary part of the trade. If one section is out, will it be right for the others to come out in support? We should very much like to have these 1693 points properly cleared up, so that we can advise our members without having to waste money and time in going to the Courts. Usually the Courts do not deal with cases very quickly. They hang about for weeks, and sometimes months, especially if you have to go to the High Court. If we could avoid anything of that kind, it would be a great help to those who have to try to carry out the administration of this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament.
§ Miss WILKINSON
When I first entered the House of Commons I was told that one of the uses of the place w as that, if one wanted to write a report and wanted to get figures or information, you could always put down questions and let the Government Departments get the information for you. I have found, on occasion, that that is quite a useful method of procedure, but I am looking to this Debate to solve a problem that I and certain of my colleagues have been engaged in for some time. I do not expect the Attorney-General to know the intricacies of labour polities or labour discussion. If he did, he might know that in the early part of the War, one of the discussions which actuated the labour world at that time was the question of what is an industry. The reason we were interested in that was that a number of the younger members of the labour movement were advocating industrial unionism. We did that, because we said that if you could, as a matter of organisation, group together all the people who were engaged in one industry, and, instead of having, as at present, a large number of craft unions and a large number of trade unions, if you had some dozen or so great industrial unions, you would be in a very much stronger position in dealing with the employers. I must have spent months, if not years, in the discussion. That group was known later as the National Guilds Group, in which the late Solicitor-General was a shining light, and I do not care to think how many hours were spent in deciding what was an industry. We had a large group of young under-graduates at Oxford, who took upon themselves the duties of specialised research in this matter. They interviewed large numbers of trade union officials and employers. This was not done, as the Attorney-General thinks we are doing things, merely to vex the right hon. Gentleman. 1694 This question of what is a trade or industry is not like asking people to define a table. The table is there, why worry about it? We did not do this in any partisan sense. We were a group of people who wished to define a trade or industry because we were anxious to get some kind of water-tight definition on which we could proceed, as we thought in our youthful enthusiasm, to reorganise the entire trade union movement. If we had succeeded in our endeavour, the Attorney-General would have had cause to be grateful to us, because then he would simply have referred to the nice little water-tight scheme which we had prepared, defining a trade or industry. I can assure the Attorney-General that, although we spent many weary months on the task we found that when it came down to details, so interwoven are the various trades and crafts, it was impossible to get any definition which would make it possible for us to start carrying out industrial union.
You always find that when you have your industry there are some wretched, inconvenient people who will belong to another industry, although they are staple people in the one industry with which we are concerned. Take the railway industry. The railway industry seems to offer the most perfect and easily-defined industry that there is. There are the National Union of Railwaymen, the Amalgamated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, and the. Railway Clerks' Association. There you have three big unions who are catering for a perfectly easily definable industry, but the moment we say that, we are up against the whole of the 47 unions in the engineering industry, because in the railway shops there is hardly one of the big engineering unions which is not represented. Then there are the building unions. They have a good deal of constructional work in connection with the railways, and so you go on. When we come to deal with the question of mines, we find exactly the same conditions. The Attorney-General has continually mentioned the mines, because the mining industry seems to be such an easily definable industry. As a matter of fact, we are now realising how interlocked the mining industry is with the by-products industry, and we are faced with the problem that the coal which is produced 1695 is essentially the raw material of the by-products industry, and that it is almost impossible to imagine a serious dispute in one or in the other in which one or the other is not involved. When we come to the docks, we are faced with the question how any dock strike can possibly be effective unless the other transport industries, carting, the railways and perhaps sea transport are affected.
I do not say that it is impossible for the Attorney-General to define trade and industry. Nothing is impossible for such an Attorney-General. We have all sat with the greatest admiration and have seen the Attorney-General, with the smile of a cherub, eating his own words, contradicting himself and being very amiable and nice about it. I do not stand here, as a very new, inexperienced and very timid Member, to suggest, even for a second shat anything is impossible to the Attorney-General. I am only asking for information, and if he will be so good as to define an industry for those on this side of the House who believe in industrial unionism and who wish to reorganise the trade union movement, but have had to give up the job of industrial union because we cannot define an industry, he will earn the gratitude of the Labour movement as he has never earned it before?
§ Mr. GOSLING
Anything that can be done to make the Clause a little more simple is very desirable, and on that ground I support the Amendment. Nearly every Member who has spoken from the other side seems to have a wrong idea how strikes come about. They seem to think that you get a strike necessarily as a result of a difference about wages, conditions and things of that kind. That is not always the reason why strikes occur. Those conditions are usually the material with which those concerned go to the conciliation court. I have been thinking of a few illustrations of the way in which strikes occur. Very hot days are sometimes more likely to bring about a strike than any question of a difference with the employers on other conditions. A fall of snow would put that right. Disputes arise from the most extraordinary causes. You may get a strike in a particular trade and it will 1696 involve all sorts and conditions of people. No Act of Parliament will prevent strikes of the kind to which I am referring, whether they be legal or not.
I remember a case a few years ago where a policeman caused a strike. One very hot morning, in the middle of summer, a man was loading pit props from a ship on to a railway truck. Anyone who knows anything about pit props knows that they are very awkward things to deal with. This particular man was dealing with a set of pit props which were coming from the ship, and he was nearly tearing his heart strings out to push them plumb, in order that they would load into the trucks. Sometimes a set of pit props will not come plumb when you want it, and the best thing that has been discovered to make pit props go into their place is swearing. This man did that as his father had done before him. It does not hurt anybody, but a silly fool of a policeman, who was standing there, with his hands behind him and his legs stretched out, said: "Here! Enough of that language!" The man then applied the pit prop language to the policeman. The policeman remonstrated, and the men took part. The result was that later the policeman obtained reinforcements and the man was arrested for abusing the policeman. Every man at the dock, 2,000 of them, went to the Police Court with the man and stayed with him for the rest of the day. When I arrived at the Court, I found that no one wanted to talk about the man or the pit props. Everybody wanted to know what was the best thing to do with the policeman. The magistrates and everybody hated the sight of that policeman and wanted to give him away or get him out of the place. That was a dispute. How would the Attorney-General deal with a dispute of that kind?
§ Mr. GOSLING
Usually, when the well-defined industrial dispute takes place at the docks, everyone you meet asks whether it cannot be cleared up. They do not want to talk about the processes of law. They want to clear the ship and get it off to sea again. Whether it happens to be a case of one or 10 industries they want work to go on again as quickly as possible. Men employed at the docks 1697 are a curious set of men. They have a language of their own, customs of their own, and manners quite different from men in other industries, and it takes a local policeman to understand them. Usually, we have no trouble with the local policemen, but when a strange policeman comes into the place there is trouble. Therefore, we do not want them. I have walked away from Tower Hill with 20,000 men under an escort of one inspector and five constables. That was because the men knew the inspector. Every-one of those 20,000 men would have looked after the inspector had he been in trouble. This Clause will tend to change the causes, the reasons and the remedies for disputes, into something else.
I remember another serious dispute, in which certain canal boats had been chained together by the canal boatmen to prevent the craft being used. That occurred in the Birmingham area. An appeal was made to the Lord Mayor, and he sent eight policemen to the dock to extricate the craft, so that they could be unloaded. The children of the canal boatmen actually drove the policemen off the canal bank, by their jeers. Then, those concerned began to talk about doing what is provided for in this Clause. They began to talk about injunctions. The employers wanted an injunction, and they went to the Court. Mr. Justice Romer, who dealt with the case, said: "How has this come about? Is it due to a strike?" The answer was, "Yes." "Are you going to settle it?" asked the Judge. We began in Court, there and then, to talk about a, settlement, but the employers were very anxious to obtain the order for which they had applied. Whereupon, Mr. Justice Romer said:It never makes it easier to settle a dispute to file a bundle of affidavits.He allowed the case to stand over, and the case was settled in the Industrial Court. Many people may be in sympathy with what is intended in this Clause, but this Clause will not be the remedy that will be applied in the settlement of strikes. The people concerned will come together, and they will say, "Do not have anything to do with the lawyers! Let us see whether we cannot get it settled otherwise." The simpler the Clause can be made the better. I should be in favour of any change that would, simplify the Clause, and for that reason I support the Amendment. The idea of 1698 hon. Members opposite, that a strike is a well-ordered thing which comes regularly, because there is a dispute which is not settled, is all nonsense. A strike, generally, is brought about because someone like the silly, muddle-headed policeman I have mentioned, who suffered from being a young man, gets in the way and messes the whole thing. As a rule, a well-defined dispute is settled by conciliation, but a strike is very often caused by something of the kind to which I have referred. The whole question should be more clearly defined, but however much better the Clause may be made it is, in our opinion, absurd and unnecessary.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I hope we shall have some information from the Attorney-General, at least as to what is the meaning of the words "trade or industry." I think the Attorney-General will agree with me when I say that everyone in an industry from the producer to the potential customer is concerned in that industry. How can we have these words inserted in this Clause, since they would give no idea who was within an industry from the time the commodity was produced until it reached the potential customer? Take my own industry, the coal industry. If we produce the coal, that is only one stage in the industry, and it will be impossible to tell how many men there are concerned in that industry from the production of the coal to its distribution to the consumer. I suggest to the Attorney-General that so far as the railways of this country are concerned, they cannot be said to be industry at all; they are a part of every other industry in this country. Coal must be sent to the various places and nearly everyone of us in the coal industry in that way comes into that greater industry before the coal is finally disposed of. I am anxious, and I feel with hon. Members on these benches, that we should not have to spend the time and money of our people fighting in the Law Courts as to what, is legal and what is illegal with regard to a stoppage of work.
I know full well, so far as strikes are concerned—and I am now speaking of the coal industry—that out of 10 or a dozen general stoppages, only two have been strikes, and in the rest we were forced out. If we are to be held down as the Attorney-General would hold us down under a Clause of this kind, then I think 1699 the justice we should receive would be very scant indeed. We want the Attorney-General to tell us, therefore, what he really means by "trade or industry." Is the man who produces the coal in one industry and is the man who takes that coal from the pit shafts in another industry? Is it correct to say that the people who clean it are in another industry and that the people who take it from the pits to the town are also in another industry? Then as regards the sympathetic strike, as far as we are concerned it has gone with a vengeance. The Attorney-General is making it practically impossible for us to defend ourselves against the lock-out or having a strike to get something like justice. This Bill, in my opinion, is designed to prevent any strike whatsoever, and the Courts of Law can very well hold that a strike instituted by any body of men in this country would be illegal. The Attorney-General knows only too well that small bodies of men cannot enter into a strike with any hope of success. We have sufficient knowledge that that is the case. Apparently, combination is to be the weapon of the employers, but in no circumstances can it be used by the people whom they employ. I plead with the Attorney-General to make the wording of this Clause clear and to tell us exactly what "trade or industry" means. If he does, we shall know where we are, and we will do our best to save our people from the trouble and expense of resorting to Courts of Law. I therefore plead again with the Attorney-General for an answer.
§ Mr. TOWNEND
The Attorney-General, in introducing this Bill, told us it was full of ambiguities, but that it was hoped in Committee to get something like a clear definition of the various phrases and Clauses. Now here we are at the Report stage, and, despite constant and repeated requests to the Attorney-General to define or explain certain phrases, we are still asking him to tell us, for instance, the difference between the railway industry and the transport industry. Are they both the same industry, or are they two separate industries? Is it not possible, seeing that the position is so confusing and impossible of explanation, that when a definition is called for even in a Court of 1700 Law, the problem that has confronted this House since the introduction of this Bill will be as impossible of solution by the Court as it obviously appears to be to the Attorney-General?
Let me mention to him two possible developments in industry to-day. Someone will have to solve this problem, so far as definition is concerned. There is a strike on the dockside, and the railway men take action in sympathy with the dockers. Will the railway men be ruled out of this Clause, or rather out of the words of this Clause, because they do not belong to the transport industry, or, on the other hand, will it be a sympathetic legal action on their part according to the definition laid down by the Attorney-General? It is our opinion in trade union circles that the dockers, carters and railwaymen are all part and parcel of what is known as the transport industry. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether he agrees with that definition of what constitutes the transport industry when he gets up to reply? He will be confronted with a very serious difficulty when he comes to anaylse what constitutes the railway industry. Assuming, for instance, that dockers and railwaymen are in two industries, what happens when railwaymen take action to assist the dockers?
Again a far greater margin of difference may be found between two groups of railwaymen than between railwaymen and dockers. It has been pointed out that in the railway industry there are engineers and shopmen by the tens of thousands, men who are in different unions, in different grades, men whose conditions are laid down in quite different terms, whose conditions of service and rates of pay are determined by a trade entirely outside the railway service, and yet that is part and parcel of the railway industry. There is a far wider difference between the engineers in the shops and other railwaymen, than between railwaymen and the men who work on the quayside. In addition to there being engineers employed by railway companies there are woodworkers, painters, hotel servants and so forth. In fact, there are laundry workers employed in connection with the railway industry. The Attorney-General ought to give us a very clear definition as to what the line of demarcation between all these different 1701 grades of workers in one great industry really is. Up to now he has never faced the question, although it is a simple one, and we are entitled to receive from him a reply in view of the fact that there are very few people on these benches who will be prepared to give a clear definition of certain phrases of trade and industry. It is a very difficult problem indeed. Let the Attorney-General, therefore, as a logical alternative, leave out the term "trade or industry" and make it possible and legal for a railwayman to assist the docker as he assists the laundry worker, the engineer, and other grades of workers in the railway industry.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I only want to say a few words in connection with this matter as I have spoken very often on the Bill. It certainly raises a point that we have discussed at very considerable length, namely, whether sympathetic strikes are made illegal. The position I think is not at all improved by the Sub-section introduced by the Attorney-General.Without prejudice to the generality of the expression 'trade or industry,'and so forth—I do not know what that means. What is "the generality of the expression trade or industry?" "Trade or industry" has never been defined in any other Act, and it seems to me that the line of demarcation of one trade or industry from another has always been vague. There is an attempt made in this Sub-section to lay down a line of demarcation, but a definition of the expression "trade or industry" is absolutely essential. The Bill says that a strike shall answer the first requisite of being illegal if it has an object other than a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the strikers are engaged. Those words are not in the definition of trade dispute given in any of the previous Acts. They are not in the Act of 1871; they are not in the Act of 1906. In fact the Act of 1906 states quite the contrary. It goes out of its way to state this:A trade dispute means any dispute between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or the conditions of labour of any person"—whether they are in the industry or not—and the expression 'workmen' means all persons employed in the trade or industry 1702 whether or not in the employment of the employer with whom the trade dispute arises.Thus you have the 1906 Act saying that you can have a trade dispute though the men coming out in the dispute have no connection whatever with those engaged in the original strike. The Attorney-General has several times said that this Clause does not hit sympathetic strikes. I want, once and for all, to get that point clear. Let us take the case of railway-men coining out to help the miners. The first question will be: Have the railwaymen come out with an object other than a trade dispute in the trade in which they are engaged? The railwaymen have no dispute with their employers. What they say is that they sympathise with the coal miners who have a dispute with the mining employers, and that they are coming out as a result of that sympathy. But this Bill says that because the railwaymen have come out to lend a hand to the miners, and because they have no quarrel with their own employers, they answer the first requisite of an illegal strike and, if the strike grows to such dimensions as to inflict hardship on the community, they answer the second requisite. I take another instance. Suppose a strike to be very small in the first instance. Everything is quite legal at first but as it goes on, dockers, railwaymen and others join it. Are those who join in that way guilty of an illegal act? They will be under this Bill; but do they also make those whom they have joined, those who were innocent up to that moment, also guilty of an illegal act? In my submission they do, because the Bill draws no line between the original strikers and the secondary strikers. The Bill simply asks if a strike made up of all these accumulated elements is a strike of those who have no dispute with their own employers—that is every sympathetic strike—and then, if it inflicts hardship on the community.
Thus we are back again to the old difficulty, which has been reiterated throughout these discussions, that a number of men may come out, doing no wrong whatever but, in the course of time, others may join them who themselves start by doing no wrong, and the aggregation of rights makes a wrong. The spoonful of flour is white but a peck 1703 of it becomes black. If these words were deleted we should know where we are. Then you would have a trade dispute, which might be sympathetic or otherwise, but which would be safe from illegality unless it reached such dimensions as to be likely to coerce the Government. That would be bad enough, but we should know where we are. As things stand, the railway-men, the dockers or any employés in essential services who render any of the assistance which Lord Dunedin's Commission say they are entitled to render to their brethren are all guilty, and as long as these words remain in it it is futile for the Attorney-General to tell us that the Bill does not prohibit sympathetic strikes as these are ordinarily understood. I say it does so and I ask the Attorney-General to show us how it is possible for dockyard men, railwaymen or any men in utility services to come out to aid their brethren engaged in a trade dispute without being guilty of a criminal act. The Attorney-General ought to make this matter clear once and for all and either say that he is doing that, or explain why he is not doing that.
§ Sir ELLIS HUME-WILLIAMS
The argument of the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) seems to have overlooked one fact. He began, quite properly, by pointing out that there are two steps before you reach illegality in this matter, first, that the strike should have an object other than a dispute in the trade where it is taking place, and, second, that it should be calculated to coerce the Government. Therefore, when the hon. and learned Member broadly states that any sympathetic strike, as such, is illegal because the sympathetic strikers are not engaged in the same industry as the original strikers, then he is making a mistake. Illegality at that point has not been reached. The strike only fulfils one of the conditions.
§ Mr. HARNEY
If the hon. and learned Gentleman understood me in that way I must have expressed myself badly. The reason why I confined my remarks to the case of the big utility services was that any sympathetic strike in any of these services would necessarily inflict hardship on the community.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
The broad proposition that a sympathetic strike is illegal under this Measure is, with great respect, entirely wrong. A sympathetic strike is perfectly legal, unless it fulfils the second requirement, namely, that it coerces the Government by producing hardship on the community. It may be that there are sympathetic strikes which must of necessity have this effect. Those sympathetic strikes will be illegal under the Measure, and that is the purport of the Measure. That is partly the object of this legislation—that sympathetic strikes which have no connection with the original quarrel at all, and are calculated and intended to coerce the Government and embarrass the community shall ipso facto be illegal I believe that is an object with which the vast majority of Members of this House will sympathise. It is that kind of widespread sympathetic strike which would lead to a general strike. That is one of the ingredients of a general strike. But the only reason why I have risen is to point out the error which seems to be cropping up time after time when hon. Members who dislike this Bill keep on saying that, because strikers come out without being directly concerned in the dispute, they are ipso facto acting illegally and dragging into illegality the original strikers. That is entirely wrong. As I say, they have to fulfil the second condition laid down in this Clause before they come within the law. I think that is an error which underlies a great part of the speeches on this subject in the course of these Debates.
§ Sir HENRY SLESSER
I think it would be a very remarkable thing if an experienced lawyer like the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr.Harney), who is well versed in the law, were to make the very elementary error suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Bassetlaw (Sir E. Hume-Williams) but, in truth, what has happened is this—that while the hon. and learned Member for South Shields, and lesser persons like myself, have pointed out over and over again what we mean when we say that sympathetic 1705 strikes are liable to be declared illegal under this Measure, the hon. and learned Member for Bassetlaw and the right hon. and learned Member in charge of the Bill refuse to accept our definition of what we mean. I have said over and over again and the hon. and learned Member for South Shields has said over and over again that we do not say that every sympathetic strike is necessarily illegal under the Bill, and we are as capable of interpreting the Bill as the hon. and learned Member who has just spoken. What we say is elementary. The hon. and learned Member for Bassetlaw has stated that where you have, a strike in an industry, other than that in which the dispute arises, which is calculated to cause hardship to the community, you have the two elements which make for illegality. To that we say that, so doubtful is it that any sympathetic strike will not, cause, or is not calculated to cause hardship to the community, that, in fact, you put every sympathetic strike in jeopardy of illegality by this provision.
That has been said over and over again and it is futile to try to pretend that a learned lawyer like the hon. and learned Member for South Shields is not capable of grasping and has not explained repeatedly to the House this elementary proposition. Our statement is not that every sympathetic strike is made illegal, but that it will he impossible to say to any of the persons engaged in a sympathetic strike that that strike will not be held by the Courts to be calculated to inflict hardship on the community. In that sense we have always said in this House and in the country, and we rightly say in spite of contradiction, that the elementary right which people now enjoy to cease work when they terminate their contracts or to refuse to accept new employers is placed in jeopardy by this Bill. It is in that sense that I say—taking the responsibility of repeating the statement—that we are introducing a servile principle into our law by this Bill. I notice that the Law Officers of the Crown smile at that proposition; but that simply shows that they are so wedded to the servile notion that they are incapable of knowing the difference between freedom of contract and statutory coercion by a plutocratic Government. This Bill started off in the case of these illegal strikes by saying that 1706 to refuse to accept employment constituted an illegal strike. In its first form it made a person who refused to accept employment a criminal liable to two years' hard labour. Now the Attorney-General is sufficiently ashamed of the servility of his first proposal to have modified it. The point made by the hon. and learned Member for South Shields is a sound one and nothing which has been said by the last speaker has shaken it.
I am interested to see in this connection that some of the supporters of the plutocratic Government have put down an Amendment to omit the word "calculated" which is the word which gives the maximum of penalty and I have no doubt that in a few moments the Attorney-General will reject that Amendment—meaning that this plutocratic Government intend to make the world safe for plutocracy by putting the maximum of penalty and liability into this Bill.
I only rise to protest against this game of pretending that this Clause is not understood by the hon. and learned Member for South Shields who has been lucid beyond any criticism. It is absolutely and abundantly clear that he and I and other Members who have spoken in this connection have all made this point, that no striker would be safe when once this Bill becomes law. To pretend that he has said, beyond that, that a sympathetic strike would be illegal, is to exaggerate anything he has said. What difference does it make, in effect, whether in terms a sympathetic strike may be illegal or whether the law he obscurely drafted? Nobody knows whether it will be illegal or not. If I were a Judge deciding this matter I should be inclined, on the words before me, to say that practically every sympathetic strike on a large scale would be calculated to inflict hardship on the community. I cannot conceive any strike on a large scale which would have any other result. The very nature of such a strike must bring about that result.
This Amendment is the test of the sincerity of the Government when they say that they want to stop strikes Which are really of a seditious or treasonable nature. It has been pointed out that anything in a nature of a seditious 1707 strike or a general strike can have no relation to the question of the sympathetic strike. The hon. and learned Member for South Shields says: "Why bring in this question of a sympathetic strike at all?" It can only be because the idea of right hon. and hon Gentlemen opposite is that the present law in regard to the freedom of workers to make contracts, to form combinations, to cease labour, or to accept employment that they do not want, should continue no longer in its entirety. There is only one hon. Member of this House, the hon. and learned Member for Gillingham (Sir G. Hohler), who has suggested that all sympathetic strikes were illegal, and apparently he is the only hon. Member who fully understands what this Bill means. It is a fraud on the public of this country to suggest that the Bill declares the present law. It takes the sympathetic strike, which Judge after Judge, and Court after Court, have recognised to be a perfectly legitimate form of action, and says that, if it is calculated to coerce the Government by inflicting hardship on the community, from now on it shall be illegal.
The Government even now, by accepting this Amendment, would show that their real intention is what they originally said, merely to deal with something in the nature of sedition and treason, and not to go on with this pretence that a sympathetic strike is going to be safe and that men are going to be free when the two elements of which the hon. and learned Member for Bassetlaw spoke must necessarily coincide, in any case, in any strike of any dimensions whatever. I believe that if the, hon. and learned Gentleman was in the position of a Judge and was confronted with a strike of railwaymen in support of the miners, or of electricians in support of the builders, he would say that it, was calculated to inflict hardship on the community. We can protect the community too clearly, and, if we protect the community at the expense of robbing the citizen of his elementary right to cease work, the Government will have introduced a form of State domination and, indeed, a particularly objectionable form of what is often called Socialism, which would far exceed any of the evils of which they suggest a Socialist Government might possibly be guilty.
§ Mr. J. BAKER
The Attorney-General has been asked a number of questions, and I want to ask a further one. In his reply he will be almost bound to refer to Sub-section (3). I want to ask him what was in his mind when he drafted Sub-section (3), and what he means by the phraseologyWithout, prejudice to the generality of the expression trade or industry'we want to cut out of Sub-section (1). The Attorney-General goes on to give what I have always looked upon as a limiting definition. But, much to my surprise, the other night, in discussing this matter, he said that this was a widening Clause. He said that it really gave a greater freedom than we got in Sub-section (1). If he would enlighten me on that particular point I should be grateful to him. Dees the phrase,without prejudice to the generality of the expression,mean that the workers will be free to go on strike as and when they want to, and to extend it as far as they can, so long as they do not coerce the Attorney-General? If it does, then I want to suggest to him that we do not want strikes at all in the iron and steel industry, but we are going to get them, and for that reason I would like to be able to understand that first phase in Sub-section (3). We are in a peculiar position, because nearly all the chief men, the chief craftsmen, the key men, in the iron and steel industry have their wages governed by one sliding scale. Nearly all the steel smelters in the country have their wages regulated by a sliding scale which has been arranged between themselves and their employers; not as one unit but as different units. May I take it that if we have a dispute in any particular works we can bring out all the smelters and thereby close down all the steel works in this country under that part of this qualifying Subsection (3)? I would like to be enlightened on that, because, like other people, I do not like spending money on lawyers. It is bad enough when one gets into trouble to be compelled to go to them to get their help to get us out of it, but to be always running to them with questions reminds me of a gibe of a previous chief, who said that lawyers were like a toll-bar gate, because every time they opened their mouths they wanted a fee. It is not my business to 1709 provide them with fees, and I hope that the Attorney-General will forget his profession and will explain to us what this really means.
§ Mr. CLUSE
In further elucidation of this Chinese puzzle, I referred in one of the Debates last week to a trade that I was interested in before I was elected to this House, and that was the printing trade. I received no answer to my questions which I put then to the Attorney-General, and since that sitting of the House I find that the position is even more involved than I imagined it was. The paper trade, for instance, has engaged in it the usual craftsmen working the machines, and, besides them, it engages what are called, I suppose, bargees, to carry the pulp which mainly comes from abroad. Then, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) reminded me when I was speaking last, the china clay workers are concerned. On top of that one of the big paper-making firms of Great Britain, one of the biggest and best equipped firms, which is able to hold its own even in America, which sends its products into America and is able to hold its own there, instead of having a joint industrial council has formed, since the general strike, what are called house unions.
The idea of friendship and cordiality between the employer and the workmen is supposed to have been implemented by the formation of house unions. Those of us who are engaged in ordinary trade union work expect that in the end the employé members of house unions will be compelled to go back to the original unions of which they were members, because the conditions obtaining in their house unions mainly depend upon the generosity of the employer. I am not saying that the employers have no generosity, but their generosity has largely been limited by the circumstances and the conditions obtaining. The house unions may very likely be deprecated, and the members of the house unions may be compelled to revert back to their original loves and go into the ordinary trade unions. In that case they are liable to be involved in a strike. If there is a strike in the, paper-making industry of this country it obviously will affect tremendously the printing industry. Those of us who go down to the City 1710 and see the rolls of paper coming in on the lorries, know that the chief raw material of the printing industry is newsprint and ordinary paper. One of the large printing-trade unions is also linked up with the workers in the paper industry as such. Naturally and inevitably, if there is a dispute in the paper-producing section of their union, they will not allow their other members to handle paper produced in blackleg firms.
I want to ask the Attorney-General, first, with regard to the house unions as against the joint industrial councils or any other body which controls the conditions of their members, how does Sub-section (3) affect that industry? Secondly, it has never been held yet that the paper industry is a section of the printing industry and, from the further point of view of being calculated to coerce the community, obviously Government documents and Government printing would be held up by strikes in the paper industry, and other sections, who were neither paper makers nor printers, would be involved. In the newspaper offices to-day electricians are employed, and there are also engineers engaged in keeping the type-setting machines in order. There are painters and clerks and there are newspaper cyclists and those engaged in the distribution of newspapers, so that a strike in the paper industry would involve the printing trade industry and would involve mechanics and craftsmen outside the printing industry. It seems to mo that we are engaged in trying to solve a Chinese puzzle in that connection, and I would like the Attorney-General to give us an elucidation of the position of the Government in regard to that industry.
I have heard a great deal about engineers and other industries, but I want to ask about the position of an industry which is within an industry. There are no less than 11 amalgamations in the textile industry, and I should like to know the position supposing there was a strike. The position is a very serious one if a strike is going to be looked on as a sympathetic strike if one of these industries comes out, although they work for one employer. We do not get the same wages, and our wages are not computed in the same way. I would like it made perfectly clear what 1711 is the position of the textile workers. I do not want to take up any more time, but this is the first time I have mentioned anything and I only mention it because I would like the Attorney-General to make the position of the textile workers safe in that direction.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
I just want to put one point in support of this Amendment, because I am not clear how this will affect trade unionists on account of their national development. Trade unionists in their development follow largely the development of capital, and capital has developed along the lines of scientific management and greater and greater amalgamation. Trade unions to some extent have done the same thing, and we get more and more trade unions leaving the old craft basis and going on the basis of industry. I want to raise the point of my own particular union, and where we are under this particular Clause, because the words we desire to be taken out of the Clause place us in a difficult position. The position is quite clear so far as the ordinary traffic rates of the railways are concerned, but we also organise men who deal with constructional building and repairs, plumbers, carpenters, painters, and engineers. Although they belong to a railway union and are employed by a railway company, yet their conditions are not decided by the same Board or arrangement. Consequently, we do not know how we stand. It might be that in a general railway strike these men would be called out with the traffic grades, and it might be decided later that that was a strike to coerce the Government, and those men would be innocently doing an illegal act.
The same applies to another section of our members, such as fitters, smiths, tinsmiths, and boiler-makers who are on the engineering staffs. If these words were deleted and the Government accepted our Amendment the matter would be quite clear. As one of my friends recently pointed out, the rest of us are not lawyers, and we have no desire to be in their place. We could carry on much better and know more what we are doing if the Amendment were accepted, and it would be less trouble to the country when the Bill became an Act. I believe the Government would get all they required as far 1712 as a sympathetic strike or general strike was concerned. I am nut a lawyer, and so far as my intelligence will allow me to consider it; I believe the Government would get all they require, and it would make our position easier, and I believe that, in spite of the pernicious nature of the Bill, there would be better feeling in the country.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) in moving this Amendment, first of all based his objection to the words in the Clause on his fear of the Law Courts.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Fear and knowledge. I was interested to notice or rather surprised to notice, that the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) seems to share the apprehension, because you will remember that he stated, what I have always asserted and what his party has often denied, that it is not true that this Bill makes every sympathetic strike illegal. He at any rate has always said so. I wish he had been emulated by some of his colleagues. But he said: "Although this does not make every strike illegal, we do not know whether the Court will not declare them to be illegal." He has an apprehension of the Courts declaring what he knows is not the law.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
What I said was that the Bill is drawn in so ambiguous a manner that every strike—not that every sympathetic strike—will be in jeopardy, because it will never be known what interpretation was put on the words.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I am delighted to know that the hon. and learned Gentleman disclaims thus the accusations that have been so freely repeated from his side of the House, and the attacks on the impartiality of the law. I am glad to have his authority for saying that these accusations are entirely baseless and unfounded. [Interruption.] I will leave the hon. Members behind the hon. and learned Gentleman to discuss the matter with him. With his wider experience he will no doubt enlighten their comparative ignorance.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I am anxious not to be drawn into any such discussion on the floor of the House, but I should like to know, since the hon. and learned Member says it is so unfortunate that he should be misrepresented, whether I am right in understanding from him that he disclaims entirely the suggestion that the Courts cannot be trusted to administer this or any other Act of Parliament without bias in favour or against any class of the community?
§ Sir H. SLESSER
The right hon. arid learned Gentleman knows very well that that I expressed my opinion in an unambiguous manner in public, and that it is no use subjecting me to a cross-examination of this kind.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
In other words, the hon. and learned Gentleman prefers not to answer the question.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I have already answered the question to the knowledge of the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the public Press, and he knows perfectly well what my opinions are.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
But the hon. and learned Gentleman prefers not to answer the question here. At any rate, let me make it clear that neither I nor the Government approached the framing of this Bill from that standpoint. Therefore, any criticism which is based on the hypothesis that the Courts cannot be trusted to be impartial is a criticism which we do not think necessary to attempt to meet.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Nor do we approach the Bill from the other standpoint which seems to inspire the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) with the belief that we may expect that secret service agents will make speeches which will be calculated to involve trade unions in litigation. Again, that seems to me a fantastic and impossible contention, and not one which we need consider. It seems to be a sort of suspicion that emanates from another country than this.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Then we have from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) an attack upon this Clause which merited the approbation of the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds. He explained that the expression "trade or industry" was so vague and was so difficult to understand that the Clause would only be intelligible if the Amendment which has been moved be accepted by the House of Commons. It is perfectly true, of course, that it is in the words which are proposed to be left out that the expressionthe same trade or industryoccurs, and it is a perfectly legitimate criticism, that there is difficulty in finding the line of demarcation between different trades or industries. That is a matter I will deal with in a moment, but it is an entire mistake to suppose that the expression "trade or industry" is a new expression, or that there is any difficulty whatever in knowing what are the limits or confines of trade or industry, because the House will remember that those words "trade or industry" are the definition words employed in the 1906 Act, which generally protects a dispute between workman and workman and between employers and workmen, and proceeds to define workmen as persons employed in trade or industry. Therefore, unless it is possible to know which persons are employed in trade or industry and which persons fall outside that category, it is not possible even to interpret the Trade Disputes Act. That being so, it is apparent, of course, that the expression "trade or industry" cannot be regarded by anyone who supports the 1906 Act as being in any way confusing. It is quite consistent to say that it is difficult to define between different trades or industries, but to say that there is any difficulty in the expression is merely to say that the definition which for 21 years has worked with perfect smoothness and without any difficulty is unintelligible to the hon. and learned Member for South Shields.
§ Mr. KELLY
The words in the Clause are "within the trade or industry." Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that the words he read out from the 1906 Act are the same as in 1715 this Bill? One speaks of all trade and all industry, whereas this speaks of defining a particular trade and a particular industry.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman has quite apprehended the point as I put it. I read these words from the 1906 Act:Employed in trade or industry whether or not in the employment of the employer with whom the trade dispute. arises.The 1906 Act dealt with trade disputes as being disputes between persons in trade or industry without finding it necessary to draw any line between one trade and industry and another.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I think the two hon. Members have said very much what I was saying, that the expression "trade or industry" is a perfectly well known and recognised expression, and that it is idle to pretend there is any difficulty in knowing whether or not people are engaged in trades or industries, and, therefore, it is idle to pretend that there is any difficulty in knowing what is trade or industry. What, on the other hand, is a legitimate criticism, and one with which I will deal in a moment, is to say that it is quite possible to know what is trade or industry but that there may be a difficulty in drawing a line of demarcation between different trades or different industries. That is a separate and distinct point altogether, but it does not arise on the point that we start with—that the expression trade or industry, what it means, is common knowledge not merely to lawyers but to citizens generally, and one which is familiar in trade union law.
Now I come to the criticism that there is difficulty in drawing the line of demarcation between different trades and different industries. The hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson), who need not have been afraid that I should suppose that she was seeking information in order to indulge in literary activities, told us that a committee of which she was a member often had difficulty in finding a satisfactory definition which would enable them to classify all people in water-tight compartments. She held out to me the inducement of earning the eternal gratitude of the Labour movement if I were able to give her such a limiting definition. 1716 The difficulty which the hon. Member has indicated is one of which I was fully conscious, and in my view, at any rate, I should be doing a great disservice to the trades unions, and to all those whose duty it will be to interpret this Bill, if I were to attempt to frame a limiting definition, because if that were done there would be cases which would not satisfy the definition but in all ordinary parlance, would be recognised as falling within the same trade or the same industry. It is because I was conscious of that difficulty that the Government have deliberately omitted to frame a limiting definition, but, on the other hand, have introduced a definition which is, by its express language, to be treated as extending and net as limiting the meaning of the expression. I think it was the hon. Member for the Bilston Division (Mr. J. Baker) who said he did not understand what was the meaning of the words:Without prejudice to the generality of the expression.I do not think the words are difficult of comprehension. The expression means that whereas there are certain persons who quite obviously, in ordinary parlance, and in the ordinary acceptance of the term, are working in the same industry or in the same trade, there may possibly be people whom it might he desirable to treat as within the same trade or industry although, on a strict interpretation of those words, they might fall into different trades or industries. In order to meet that position defining words were introduced in Committee which, while preserving the generality of the language, proceed to say that certain persons are to be deemed to be within the same trade or industry if one or other of a number of possible conditions exist. Those conditions go a very long way, I think, to answer some of the questions, if not the bulk of the questions, which have been addressed to me this afternoon.
I was asked a question by the hon. Member for Rochdale with regard to persons employed by a chemical company. He indicated that a chemical company existed which had very wide powers in its memorandum and articles, and employed not merely persons engaged in the actual production of chemicals but persons employed in a variety of different trades or industries—as an extreme case, 1717 that of persons engaged in agriculture was put to me, I think as a reductio ad absurdum. I was asked whether it was possible to say that an agricultural worker employed by the company was in the same trade or industry as the skilled man engaged in the manufacture of a particular chemical. The answer is that but for the definition Clause I do not think those persons would have been held to be within the same trade or industry, but in order to ensure that they shall be deemed to be within the same trade or industry we have brought in a Subsection which enables me to answer with absolute certainty that in the case he has put the agricultural worker and the skilled worker would be deemed to be within the same trade or industry.
I would like the House to follow why it is we have introduced that extending definition. The reason is because we have sought to carry out the principle which underlies and is indeed expressed in Clause 1. The purpose of that Clause is not to interfere with strikes which are purely industrial, that is to say, with strikes whose purpose is to bring pressure upon an employer. We do intend to interfere with strikes whose purpose is not to bring pressure upon an employer in order to improve industrial conditions but which are strikes are aimed not at the employer but at the State; and it has seemed to us, therefore, that if there is concerted action by a number of employés performing, perhaps, different functions but all employed by the same man, the purpose of their concerted action must presumably be to bring pressure upon their common employer, and we have excepted them from the operation of the Clause even though the actual functions they perform are widely different. I think hon. Members will appreciate how that extending definition has carried out the purpose which we have consistently stated in the House. The hon. Member also put to me the case of women who are employed by the Admiralty in the dockyards. He said, "Supposing all the other employés of the dockyard came out."
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Supposing all persons employed by the Admiralty came out on strike in order to support 1718 a demand by those women for better wages, would they be protected by our definition? The answer is "Clearly they would." They are all working under a common employer, and, therefore, they are deemed to be within the same trade or industry, and if they struck in sympathetic action with some of their fellow employés working for the same employer, although at widely different work, then they would be acting in furtherance of a trade dispute in the trade or industry in which they were engaged, and their action would not be illegal, however much it might tend to coerce the Government.
I cannot pretend to answer every conundrum put to me, because in some cases I might not sufficiently know the facts and I might give an answer which was misleading. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment spoke about the time they had spent in educating counsel in the facts of various trades or industries. I am not sure that some of my questioners have spent quite enough time in educating me about the trade or industry in which they are interested to enable me to give a satisfactory answer, but I will try to answer those about which I think there is no doubt. A question was put by the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. March) in which he dealt with certain eases concerning carters. He spoke of a case in which a building contractor engaged in building houses employed carters to bring the materials, and bricklayers to erect the houses, and said, "Supposing there was a dispute with regard to the wages of bricklayers. Would the carters be able to come out to take sympathetic action in order to support those demands without running the risk of coming within Clause 1?" The answer is "Yes, they would be perfectly safe in so doing, because they come within the words of the definition." Then he put a similar question about caterers who had shop girls to sell refreshments and also employed carters to carry goods round from one shop to another. Again the answer is, "Quite obviously they are protected." The same hon. Member put to me another question. He said, "Supposing the tramways came out on strike, could all tramwaymen come out simultaneously?" Again I should say, "Most clearly all people engaged in the tramway industry could come out together," because they 1719 are in the same trade or industry within the ordinary everyday acceptance of the term. Then he said, Supposing an omnibus company employed omnibus drivers and also employed people in the garage to keep the omnibuses in repair. Could they come out in sympathy one with another?" Again the answer is, "Quite obviously they could.' They are employed by the same employer, and, therefore, by virtue of the definition Clause, they are brought within the same trade or industry.
§ Miss WILKINSON
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has just said that they are employed by the same employer, and by virtue of that they are in the same trade or industry. Take the iron and steel trade and the coal industry. I could give him there a large number of cases where the employers are precisely the same. I take it from that definition that a sympathetic strike in the iron and steel industry to assist coal miners is to be regarded as a strike in the same trade or industry by virtue of there being a common employer.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Where an employer employs workers in forging steel or smelting iron, and where at the same time he employs a number of people in a colliery, the one could perfectly well strike to assist the other by virtue of that definition.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
They are both working for the same employer. The hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling) gave us an amusing story of how a policeman caused a strike. He told us how the policeman objected to abusive language which was being addressed to a pit prop, I think, and thereupon found the abusive language addressed to himself, and thereupon arrested the user of that unparliamentary vocabulary, with the result that the man's mates came out on strike. The right hon. Gentleman asked me how I should deal with that. I should have said "Let us get rid of the policeman." That is quite simple. A question was put to me by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Townend) as to people employed in the railways and the docks, and I was 1720 asked whether in that case they were employed in the same trade or industry. I understand the question relates not to cases of railways engaged on dock work but with separate employers. Of course, the answers I am giving to these questions are my opinion, and not binding on any Court, but as I am asked these questions I must give the best answers I can. I have no doubt myself that the people employed in the railway industry are not in the same employment as the people employed by a dock company. I do not consider that an engine driver or a railway porter is engaged on the same labour as a dock labourer or a stevedore.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
It is said that there is more difference between the laundryman employed by the railway company and the porter than there is between the engine driver and the dock labourer. The hon. Member for Stockport loses sight of the purpose of the definiton, which is to ensure that the strike which shall be hit is the one aimed at the State, and the strike which is not hit is that which is aimed at the employer. So long as you find people striking in sympathy one with another and the effect of the strike is sympathetic in a legitimate sense, and calculated to assist their oppressed fellow-workmen in bringing pressure on the employer, that is what we desire to except from the operation of the Bill. When you find people who are working under different employers, and in different trades or industries by a sympathetic strike trying to bring pressure to bear not upon the defaulting employer but designed to coerce the State, that is the sort of strike we desire to hit.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
Supposing there is a dispute in which the dockers and the. Railway-men thought they could bring pressure to bear on the dock company by withholding supplies, would that be illegal?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I think the answer to that question is that at common law it would necessarily be illegal because a railway is a common carrier. That case would never get as far as this Bill, because you are already doing something which is wrong under 1721 the common law and probably under the Conspiracy and Law of Property Act, 1875.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
if the strike was long enough they could give an illegitimate notice, and what then?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I am not quite sure that this is a convenient form of Debate, and it is not in the least the question which was put to me, because the giving of notice to determine employment by the railway companies would not be a refusal to carry a particular class of goods, but even in the case the hon. Member puts, although it certainly would not be a strike within the same trade or industry, it would not necessarily be illegal because it would have to be on such a scale as would inflict such hardship upon the community as to coerce the Government before it came under the Act. A question was put to me by the hon. Member for South Islington (Mr. Cluse) as to whether the papermaking trade and the printing trade came within the same trade or industry, assuming the employers were different employers. I do not think they would come within the same industry, and I should have thought the manufacture of paper and the printing of a newspaper for instance would be wholly separate industries. One of them is producing a raw material for the other, but I should not think they could be regarded as coming within the same trade or industry.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
That does nut make the two the same industry, or else the producers of coal might be considered to be engaged in almost every industry in the country. The hon. Member for the Elland Division (Mr. Robinson) pointed out that the textile workers are engaged in a number of different operations in the textile industry carried on by the same employers and having different trade unions. I do not think the fact that they are in different trade unions makes any difference, and if the textile workers are employed by the same employers to-day they are still within the same trade or industry. I have now answered a good many questions, and although my answers may not be to the satisfaction of my questioners, I have 1722 tried to give clear and definite answers. I do not want to take up time in dealing with all the conundrums which can be invented by the ingenuity of hon. Members opposite. The hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) told us that if a primary strike took place in his Division in furtherance of a trade dispute within the trade or industry, and others came out to coerce the Government, that that act would make the first strike illegal. There is nothing in any Clause of this Bill which can possibly be construed as having that result, and I am quite confident that that will not be the result of this Bill when it becomes an Act.
§ Mr. HARNEY
Is it not the law to-day that if the coal miners strike, and the railway-men come out in sympathy with them they will be acting quite leg-ally? Is it not also a fact that after this Bill is passed such a strike as I have mentioned would not be legal? If the miners come out perfectly lawfully, and two months afterwards the railway-men come out in a strike which is not within the trade or industry, are the railway-men the body which is acting illegally?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I do not think it is the law to-day that if miners are on strike, the railwaymen can come out on strike if their object is to coerce the Government to intervene. That is the very thing that such a high authority as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) regarded as illegal. If I am asked whether that would be illegal under this Bill, I think it would if it took place on such a scale and in such a large area as to be calculated to inflict such hardship upon the community as to coerce the Government. If the miners came out on strike with a perfectly legitimate trade demand and some other body came out at the same time to coerce the Government to intervene, I tm certain the miners strike would remain perfectly legal, and that strike would not be rendered illegal by the fact that someone else takes illegal action in support of them.
Finally, it is said by the Mover of the Amendment that these words are to be left out because hon. Members desire to preserve the right of the strong workmen to protect the weaker workmen against the harsh employer. It is not necessary to leave those words out in order 1723 to secure that result, because the whole object of the first Sub-section as we have framed it now is to make it quite clear that that right is preserved. What we are dealing with is not the right of the strong workman to assist the weaker workman against the harsh employer, but we are interfering with the claim of any body of men to say that because they sympathise, if you please, with a body of workmen or employers, they will take action designed not to bring pressure upon those employers to mend their ways but designed to bring pressure upon the Government to compel them to take political action which the Government do not think necessary or desirable to take. That is not a legitimate use of the weapon of the strike, because it is using it for political and not for industrial ends, and that is why we have brought in this Clause. As far as the object the hon. Member desires to achieve of protecting the weak against the employer by the action of the strong is concerned, that is already carefully protected, and nothing in this Amendment would make any difference in that case.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
I would like the Attorney-General to say whether men working in an occupation under a private employer are to be regarded as being employed in the same trade and industry as men in the employ of His Majesty's Government.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Taking the question of the building of ships, let us say, for private employers and for the Government, obviously in both cases they are engaged in the shipbuilding industry, and there is nothing whatever in this Bill to prevent that.
§ 6.0 p.m.
he was correcting my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), and was trying to draw a division between him and others on these benches in regard to a suggestion as to the impartiality of Judges in matters of this sort. I have since obtained the reference, and I find that no less an authority than the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was a member of the Liberal party, and the Trades Unions Bill was passing through this House, made a statement, with which I venture to trouble the House, as it will he good to get it on the records of the House, showing that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer used language in condemnation of the partiality of the Judges, before which anything that has been said on this side of the House must pale. He said:
It is not good for trade unions that they should be brought into contact with the Courts, and it Hs not good for the Courts. The Courts hold justly a high, and, I think, unequalled prominence in respect of the world in criminal cases, and in civil cases between man and man, no doubt they deserve and command the respect of all classes in the community, but whore class issues are involved, and where party issues are involved, it is impossible to pretend that the Courts command the same degree of general confidence. On the contrary, they do not, and a very large number of our population have been led to the opinion that they are, unconsciously no doubt, biassed.—[OFFICIAL RFPORT, 30th May, 1911; col. 1022, Vol. 26.] That opinion is valuable, coming from our present Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was uttered during a discussion similar to that which is going on now, when the Trade Disputes Bill was before the House.
§ Question put, "That the words pro-posed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 127.1727
|Division No. 192.]||AYES.||[6.3 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Balfour, George (Hampstead||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Braithwaite, Major A. N.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Brass, Captain w.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Brassey, Sir Leonard|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Berry, Sir George||Briggs, J. Harold|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Bethel, A.||Briscoe, Richard George|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Betterton, Henry B.||Brittain, Sir Harry|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Brocklebank, C. E. R.|
|Atkinson, C.||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Blundell, F. N.||Buchan, John|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Preston, William|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Haslam, Henry C.||Price. Major C. W. M.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hawke, John Anthony||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Ramsden, E.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Reld, D. D. (County Down)|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hentage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng, Universities)||Rooner, Major L.|
|Chadwick, sir Robert Burton||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Rye, F. G.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hudson, R. S.(Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Huntingfield, Lord||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Sandon, Lord|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Savery, S. S.|
|Colfox, Major William Phillips||Jacob, A. E.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Cooper, A. Duff||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cope, Major William||Jephcott, A. R.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Couper, J. B.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lamb, J. Q.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Looker, Herbert William||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Duckworth, John||Lumley, L. R.||Styles, Captain H. W.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lynn, Sir Robert J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.).||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|England, Colonel A.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-S.-M.)||Macintyre, Ian||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||McLean, Major A.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Macmillan Captain H.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Faile, Sir Bertram G.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Tinne, J. A.|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Titchifield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fermoy, Lord||Macquisten, F. A.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Fielden, E. B.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Forrest, W.||Meller, R. J.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wells, S. R.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Cilve||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Golf, Sir Park||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Windsor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Nuttall, Ellis||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Oakley, T.||Withers, John James|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Penny, Frederick George||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perring, Sir William George||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Harland, A.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Pilcher, G.||Major Sir G. Hennessy and Mr. F. C Thomson|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)|
|Adamson. W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Ammon, Charles George||Baker, Walter|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Sowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bromfield, William||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smillie, Robert|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kelly, W. T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kennedy, T.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Clowes, S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawrence, Susan||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Connolly, M||Lawson, John James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lindley, F W.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Livingstone, A. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lowth, T.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Day, Colonel Harry||March, S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dennison, R.||Maxton, James||Townend, A. E.|
|Duncan, C.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Mosley, Oswald||Viant, S. P.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Murnin, H,||Wallhead. Richard C.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Gillett, George M.||Oliver, George Harold||Watson, W. M. (Duntermilne)|
|Gosling, Harry||Owen, Major G.||Watts-Mo'gan,. Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Palin, John Henry||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Greenall, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Grenfell. D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Westwood, J.|
|Groves, T.||Purcell, A. A.||Whiteley, W.|
|Grundy. T.W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ritson. J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Harney, E. A.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Windsor, Walter|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Rose, Frank H.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hayes, John Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. A. Barnes.|
|Henderson. Right Hon. A. (Burmey)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Scurr, john|
§ Mr. OLIVER STANLEY
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out the words "or calculated."
I owe the House some apology for raising again a small point which was discussed so fully only a week ago. I must confess that—largely, I am sure, owing to my own faut—athough I have studied very carefully the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Debate of last, week, I have still not yet had my difficulty in this matter entirely cleared up. It appears to me that this word "calculated" raises two questions—firstly, as to what its meaning is, and, secondly, if its meaning is that which has now been given to it, as it very well may be, whether the House is wise in allowing it to remain in the Bill. When I first read these words "designed or calculated," I thought that the Government had merely been guilty of tautology. I naturally thought, as one would, that "calculated" and "designed" meant precisely the same. I confess that in so doing I was probably rather forgetful, because even the short training that I had at the Bar ought to have prepared me for the fact 1728 that the legal meaning of a word is not always the same as its ordinary meaning. I should have remembered the striking and, perhaps, apocryphal instance of the statement of claim in a libel case, where, I believe, the passage dealing with the innuendo ran somewhat as follows:On or about"—whatever the day, month and year were—the defendant published of the plaintiff the following words, 'You are a liar.' meaning thereby that thee plaintiff had been guilty of stealing pigs.As a matter of fact, the connection between the two can be quite easily and logically explained, but on the face of it it appears a little doubtful. In the present instance, also, Et is quite easy and logical to follow the arguments, although it is certainly a shock to find that the word "calculated" need not have any element of calculation in it, and that in fact it may mean something not very different from the word "likely." In the Debate last week the Attorney-General further complicated the matter, because he did not accept the definition of "calculated" as "likely," although 1729 during his speech he quoted two passages from a judgment of learned Judges, in both of which passages this significant word "likely" appeared. He himself preferred to define "calculated" as "intended by its inevitable result." If that be the meaning of the word "calculated," what meaning are we to attribute to the word "designed"? To the ordinary man ignorant of the law, one of the best possible definitions will, I think, be "intended by its probable result to attain a certain object." If that is the real meaning of "designed," why do we have this word in at all? If "designed" means "intended by its probable object," and "calculated" means "intended by its inevitable object," if ever you are to succeed under the word "calculated," you must ipso facto succeed under the word "designed." If you can prove that the results are inevitable, you are in a position also to prove that they are probable, and, if that is the case, the word "calculated" is entirely unnecessary.
That is on the assumption that the definition of the Attorney-General of "calculated" is correct, but, if the Courts are so wrong as not to follow the definition he has given but to maintain the definition that is quoted in the two passages in the Attorney-General's speech, if they hold that the difference between the two words is that while in both cases you have to look at the probable result, in the case of "designed" the Court is limited to these probable results which the man himself either could or should have foreseen, whereas in the case of "calculated" the Court, with its superior knowledge, and its greater opportunities of finding out what the result would have been, is able to take the whole circumstances into consideration, or in fact retrospectively can look back upon what the actual results of the action have been, let us see the position that arises.
Let me put a hypothetical case. Let us take two factories, A and B, engaged in producing entirely different articles, which under no circumstances would come within the definition of the same trade or industry. The employés at factory A go on strike on an industrial issue, which is clearly legal under this Clause, and the employés of factory B come out in sympathy. Let us say that the owner of factory A has a large financial interest 1730 in factory B. Therefore, the action of the employés in factory B puts some economic pressure on him. Factory B is engaged in producing articles which are of vital necessity to the nation but a perfectly adequate supply can be got from abroad. Under these circumstances, the employés would be perfectly entitled to come out on a sympathetic strike. It could not be said to coerce the Government or inflict hardship on the community. After a few days or weeks the foreign employer has captured the British market. He is making profits and his employés demand a rise in wages. He refuses it and a strike occurs in the foreign factory. Therefore, the remaining source of supply is cut off and the whole position is altered. The action of those men in remaining out of work must inevitably coerce the Government. The Attorney-General of the day applies to the Court under Clause 7 and gets an injunction. Under Clause 1 (2), a person who has instigated or incited others to take part in a strike that is declared illegal is liable to penalties.
The trade union leaders, acting in good faith, have been instigating and inciting other people to take part in it, and until the moment when the strike occurred abroad it was perfectly legal, but now that the strike has been declared illegal they have broken the law under this Clause, and therefore an act which in its inception was perfectly innocent afterwards becomes, through no circumstances over which they have any control, a criminal act. No doubt the Attorney-General will say that in such circumstances no one would be so foolish or so unfair as to enforce a penalty. But when we are dealing with the question of making a new offence our duty, surely, is to see that no one can do a thing, however unfair or foolish he may he, and not leave it to the chance that he will not attempt to do it. I appeal to the Attorney-General to accept this Amendment. If he can show that there is some definite difference between the meaning of "calculated" and "designed," if he can show us a case which would be covered by "calculated" and would not be covered by "designed," I shall be only too glad to withdraw. If he is unable to do that, he is left with only two alternatives. One is to say that there is no practical difference in the meaning of these two words. If so, 1731 why have we got both? The Clause has been sufficiently misrepresented by its opponents throughout the country without gratuitously adding material for further misrepresentation. The other alternative is for him to admit, or for the House to decide, that there is in fact a difference between these two words, that, in fact, "calculated" bears the meaning which has been assigned to it in various judgments up to the present date. If that is the position, I certainly have two very grave objections to it.
In the first place, I consider it bad law that you should make a criminal offence of something which depends, not on the action of the man who has done it, but on events over which he has no control and on people with whom he has no connection; and, secondly, I believe it is against the principle on which the Clause is based. The Attorney-General himself enunciated that principle as being the desire to legislate against a strike with a political object. It is a principle with which I am in the most hearty agreement. I believe it is essential to draw a distinction between a strike with an industrial object and one with a political object. If this word "calculated" goes through, if it is held to bear the meaning which very possibly it may, what we are legislating against is not a strike with a political object but a strike with a political result. We are not differentiating between industrial and political objects; we are differentiating between industrial and political results. I believe an enlargement of the principle the Attorney-General stated would be unwise and unnecessary.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I almost hesitate, in view of the extreme clarity and ability with which the point has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Stanley) to add anything to what he has said, but I join in trying to press on the Government an Amendment which the Attorney-General's awn speech has rendered absolutely necessary. Of course, to the layman looking at this word without having made any particular inquiry into its construction, there is no particular vice in it, and indeed the Attorney-General is one of those 1732 unfortunate people who are obviously hoist with their own petards, because, when asked to define the word, he says it is not necessary to have a definition, because it has been so often defined, and, having said that, he quotes at least two of those frequent definitions, and the result of that was that in both cases he quoted the definition was "likely." Then the right hon. Gentleman found himself in this position, that he had to say: "I do not myself care for that definition," so it would appear that he is going to be really embarrassed by the fact that the word "calculated" has been defined in a sense which I am sure is not a sense in which anyone in the House wants to read this Clause. I think I hear someone say it is intended. I do not think anyone who wants to do justice to his political opponents will believe anyone on this side of the House desires the Clause to read in the form that a strike is illegal if it is likely to bring hardship on the community. That is not the intention of the Government and I am certain it is not the intention of the rank and file of the Government's supporters. But assume for a moment that the word "calculated" has one of these two definitions. The Clause would then read that if it was likely to coerce the Government by inflicting hardship on the community or, if we use the alternative form which the Attorney-General seems to prefer, that it is an illegal strike if it is intended by its inevitable result to bring hardship on the community I myself can see no difference between this word and the word "designed." But it is a very curious fact that the Attorney-General to-day has provided the very best reason for abandoning this word "calculated," because in the peroration to his remarks in summing up his objections to the Amendment on which the House has just divided he used only, in describing the effect of the Clause, the single word "designed," and I am sure if he reads his speech tomorrow he will be satisfied that his description of what the Clause was aiming at doing did not suffer by the fact that he left out the word "calculated."
I want to give one further example, which is an even simpler one than that given by my hon. Friend, of the difficulty in which this word might involve strikers. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) put a case to the Attorney- 1733 General on a previous Amendment to which there was a quite clear answer. It was a case where people came out on a strike which when they began it was legal and ultimately became illegal. That predicament, although it could not arise in the case put by the hon. Member for South Shields, certainly would arise in such a case as that of the railwaymen about whom the Attorney-General was questioned. What he said in regard to railwaymen who struck in support of dock workers was that if they came out on so large a scale as to be calculated to coerce the Government by inflicting hardship on the community it would then be illegal, but it is quite possible to think that originally they would come out on a small scale. They would come out in the neighbourhood of the docks in order to bring immediate pressure on the docks, and ultimately the whole of the railway system of the country would become involved. Then after the event, by reason of the magnitude of the thing and not of the intent at all, those people, who are originally perfectly innocent, are guilty of an illegal act. I agree the consequences of that illegal act are not very great qua the men themselves, but by the fourth Sub-section the whole of their trade union funds are open to litigation. The effect of the 1906 Act being to relieve trade unions from actions for tort, that protection is removed in the case of an illegal strike, and the consequence might very well be that the trade union funds might find themselves subject to attack on account of a strike which in its inception had no hostile design to the Government or anyone else and which, merely by going on, ultimately brought them within the ambit of this undefined word "calculated." Nobody will accuse the "Times," which, I think, has been conspicuously fair throughout these discussions, of being one-sided in this matter or of having any hostile attitude to the Government. It had what, I think, was a very well-informed leading article on the subject. This is what was said:As the Bill is drafted, the Courts will, apparently, have no alternative but to hold that a strike or lock-out is calculated to coerce the Government if it is likely, however unintentionally or unprovocatively, to produce that result.It is with the greatest regret that I feel that, by virtue of taking a test, which is the best test of result and not 1734 of intention, by abandoning the safe foundation of the mens rea, to which we are accustomed in criminal law, there is some foundation for that suggestion against these words in the Bill. For that reason, I beg to second the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
If my recollection be accurate, my hon. Friends either moved or supported on the Committee stage an Amendment with reference to this word "calculated." [An HON. MEMBER: "It was moved from the other side!"] I think that in reference to that Amendment my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General made the observation to which my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Stanley) referred.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, and I understand he proposed on Clause 8 an Amendment to insert the definition. At any rate, a proposal has been considered by the House once or twice to substitute for the word "calculated" another word such as, for instance, the word "likely," a word more easily understood and more plain in its meaning, instead of a difficult word, such as it is said to be, like "calulated," which has, perhaps, two meanings. It is here used in its secondary sense. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment said that if they could be satisfied the two words "designed" and "calculated" bore two different meanings, he would be prepared to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. STANLEY
What I said was that if I could be shown that they bore two different meanings, I should be content to withdraw it.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, and I will try to show to the House that these two words are really essential to make the Clause effective. Let us take the first word "designed." I think my hon. Friend has, perhaps, if he will allow me to say so, not fully appreciated or studied the meaning of that word. You are to judge of design by the intention of the person who is the designer, and not by the results of the action which he has 1735 taken. "Designed" is used in this Clause in its real, primary sense of something which is planned or intended, and it is quite obvious that if that were the only word used in the Clause it would be necessary to give proof in order to convict a man of an offence under this Clause of design or of intention. Anybody who is familiar with cases in which it is necessary to prove intention or purpose, is aware of the difficulties that sometimes arise. We are familiar with the proposition that a man must be deemed to intend the consequences of his acts. That is all very well when you have a particular person before the Court who can be proved to have committed certain acts Then, it is said, in the jargon of the law, that he must be deemed to have intended the natural result of the act he has been proved to have committed.
But when we come to deal with an operation of such a vast, wide and far-reaching character as a strike, you are not quite in the same position as when you are dealing with an individual whose acts you can prove. It may be, that you would be able to prove the intention of the person or persons who are really responsible for the strike by some words which they may, perhaps, indiscreetly, have used. It may be that a Mr. Cook or a Mr. Bevin of the future might blurt out the truth in connection with some strike in which they desire the workers to engage. They may tell the strikers or the nation that the intention of the strike is to overthrow the Government, or to bring the administration of the Government to an end. In such a case—it is not likely, perhaps, to occur—it might not be difficult to prove intention or design from such a speech as that or similar declarations, but leaders are not always guilty of indiscretions of that character. It may be, whatever their intentions, that they would be very voluble in their protestations that the object or intention of their manœuvres was not to coerce the Government, but was to expose the iniquities of the employer or to advertise the sufferings of the workers. It might be that their intentions had been carefully hidden, and if you were to judge of their intentions merely by their public speeches, it would be impossible to prove intention or design. When you come, as I have said, 1736 to deal with a strike, with the intricacy and complexity of all the arrangements of a strike, and the difficulty of identifying the people really responsible for the strike, the difficulties of proving intention become all the greater. You cannot discover who the people are who have really been responsible for the strike. A strike may be the result of the careful fomenting in secret of the spirit of strife at a particular moment. It may be that the strike may have arisen, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stepney (Mr. Gosling), who was formerly the Minister of Transport, who spoke a little while Ago stated, out of a comparatively trivia[...] incident which has been taken advantage of by somebody anxious to inconvenience or embarrass the Government but very careful to keep behind the scenes and not to let his hand be shown. You cannot always trace the persons who are really guilty of the preparation of such a strike as we are envisaging.
In these circumstances, you cannot apply the doctrine that a man is to be deemed to intend the consequences of his acts, because you have not found anybody to whose acts you can point as determining or directing the strike in its first stages. It is quite plain, I think, when you look at the matter from this point of view and consider the difficulty of bringing home the intention to any particular person or group of persons, it is quite clear, I think—or I hope it is—that you will practically make this Clause inoperative if you leave the Clause with the word "designed" only. It would be just the same as if we were to put in the word "intended," for the two words appear to me to mean exactly the same thing, and it would then be necessary to prove that the strike was intended, and that means intended by some persons at whom the finger could be pointed, to coerce the Government directly or indirectly By inflicting hardship on the community. The Clause is intended by the Government to be effective. I believe it is intended by my hon. Friends to be effective. I believe it is intended by the great majority of this House that the Clause should be effective.
The question is, can you get over these difficulties of proof? We think you can. We have put in the word to which the 1737 criticism of my hon. Friend has been directed—the word "calculated." He propounded a case which is, like many other cases which have been propounded in the course of this Debate. They raise interesting questions, which may or may not be likely to occur, and they deserve a little consideration. My hon. Friend suggested the case of two factories, not under the same control, but possibly two factories in each of which one person has a larger or smaller financial interest. Factory A strikes. Factory B also strikes, and by striking ceases to produce an article which is vital to the interests of the nation, but of which there is a supply from a foreign source. Up to that moment, my hon. Friend suggested, and I think rightly suggested, that there would be no illegality. It would be a strike, for the reasons he mentioned, directed against employers, and to bring pressure on the employers of Factory A, who happened to be interested in Factory B. Then, he suggested, the time comes when the strike of Factory B under this Measure becomes illegal because the other sources of supply of that vital necessity dry up, and, as he rightly suggested again, I think from that moment it would be an attack upon the life of the community. I understand that hon. Members opposite think that whether that threatens the life, or safety or convenience of the community or not, the strike ought not to be illegal. Hon. Members opposite think that, but it is not our opinion. I understand that the opinion of hon. Members on this side of the Rouse is the same as the opinion of the Government, that when you have a strike, which is not connected with a dispute in the particular trade or industry in which the strikers are employed, and is to coerce the Government, it ought to be illegal, even if, in its inception and in different circumstances, it was a legal strike.
§ Mr. STANLEY
I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman is not trying to represent me as asking that it should not be made illegal. What I am complaining of is that the leaders of a trade union may be made responsible.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am certainly not suggesting that my hon. Friend is of opinion that that ought not to be illegal. I am only trying to take the arguments step by step, and see to 1738 where they lead. Having taken the case of the illegality of the strike in Factory B, as to which he is in agreement, I pass to the question as to whether somebody who instigated that strike originally becomes ipso facto, so to speak, retrospectively guilty of an offence. My hon. Friend suggested he would be or might be. I do not agree with him. You will not be found guilty of any offence until you have declared or instigated an illegal strike. The trade union leader has certainly not declared an illegal strike, because what he declared was a legal strike. He certainly does not instigate an illegal strike, because what he instigated was a legal strike. He has not taken part in or acted in furtherance of an illegal strike, because up to this time everything that has been done has been legal, but if after the supply of vital necessities from abroad has ceased, and that strike threatens the life of the community, and the trade union leader then incites people to continue or to take part in a strike which has become illegal, not only is he then exposed to the penalties of this Clause, but, I think, hon. Members behind me think he ought to be exposed to those penalties.
In that case could the employer of factory B obtain an injunction by means of Sub-section (4) against the union using its funds in support of the strike?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I will deal with that matter. The hon. and gallant Member asks whether under Subsection (4) an injunction could be obtained against the use or the funds of the trade union?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I will meet that point if I can. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment agrees with me that the strike which now is one of persons who were engaged in producing supplies of vital necessity to the country is illegal. If he agrees with me that it is, and ought to be, illegal, then I am bound to point out that by his Amendment the strike in its new form would not be illegal, because it was not intended or designed to coerce the Government. It is a strike which only by reason of new circumstances now 1739 becomes a strike which is calculated to coerce the Government.
§ Mr. STANLEY
Did not the hon. and learned Gentleman say that you can prove design by proving reasonable knowledge of what the probable results of the strike would be? Here you have a strike which is legal in the first place, because the ordinary man cannot foretell what its effect may be, but once it has taken place the man in charge of the strike can foresee that the Government would be coerced and, therefore, he can be taken as coercing the Government.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
My hon. and gallant Friend and I are not entirely agreed on the word "designed." He thinks that in the case he is propounding the word "designed" will be enough to cover the action of the man who continues to associate himself with a strike which has now become illegal, but it is surely straining language to say that a strike which was, in fact, designed as legal was designed as illegal because by dating hack the illegality you judge that that is what was intended. It is because we think that the intentions of the Government should be expressed in language which does not require straining that we are not content with the word "designed" and have included the word "calculated," and if anybody really quietly considers this Clause, he will see that there is no particular difficulty in the use of this word. A Magistrate or the Court will ask this question: "Was it designed?" The Magistrate says: "I do not know. I do not know the persons who are said to have designed or planned or intended this. I have no proof of any design or intention." If the word "calculated" is in, he asks himself this question: "Was it calculated"; and the Magistrate will then apply his mind to the question as to what are the effects of a strike of this sort. He asks: "Can you calculate them?" If he thinks that a person who sees a, strike in existence, which has now become illegal, estimates or calculates that the strike is of a nature to make it illegal, then it becomes a strike which, though in its origin it was not intended or designed to be illegal, has now become illegal, because it is calculated to produce the results referred to in the Clause. Then the Magistrate 1740 or the Court may make a declaration. We think that the two words are necessary in order to make the Clause effective. Those who want to make the Clause ineffective will vote with hon. Members on the other side of the House for the Amendment, but any hon. Member on this side of the House, who may perhaps have been under some misapprehension as to the real meaning of the word "designed," but who is as anxious as we are to make the Clause operative, will see that it cannot be done unless you have some word of this nature, and, in the absence of a better word than "calculated," I hope they will see that it holds the field.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I am not quite sure how many days we have spent on Committee and Report stage of this Bill, but I am certain that whatever doubts may have existed before we know now exactly what is the situation. Anyone who has listened to the speech of the learned Solicitor-General need have no doubt whatever. The hon. and learned Gentleman has not only satisfied the two hon. Members of his own party, he has also satisfied "The Times," which carefully wrote a few days ago, in ignorance, what the Solicitor-General would say. It would be very interesting if in practice it was going to work out in the manner described by the hon. and learned Gentleman, but no one knows better than the Solicitor-General that the Courts have always held the opinion, so I am informed, that the word "calculated" is interpreted as likely. There is no doubt about that. We have not to deal with imaginary speeches of any particular leader. We are dealing with practical realities. How does a strike originate? The strike we are dealing with, and no one knows it better than the Solicitor-General, is not a strike in which Mr. Brown or Mr. Smith or the general secretary of a particular union gives instructions to his men to go out on strike. We are not dealing with a strike where the executive has tendered notices on behalf of the men. We are dealing here with the sympathetic strike, and, therefore, let us examine how these strikes take place. I have never known one that was initiated, instituted, or ordered, by an executive committee.
Suppose there is a miners' dispute, never mind whether it is a lock-out or 1741 a strike. The first thing that happens in a dispute of that kind generally is that the men in a port, finding blackleg coal being imported, refuse to carry it; not on the instructions of the executive committee or general secretary. There is no sending of instructions; no general secretary gives an order, the men themselves voluntarily, in their local districts, say, "The miners are on strike and we are satisfied that it is our duty to help them." They are not thinking of coercing the Government or injuring the community. None of these things operate in their minds. They are influenced only by the necessity of helping the miners. I put it to the Solicitor-General that their action must do both. It must inflict hardship on the community and it is bound by the nature of things to be calculated to coerce the Government, but neither of these things is in the minds of the men. It is a legitimate trade dispute as outlined by the two hon. Members opposite. The executive committee may disapprove of that action. I have known many cases in which that has happened, and a telegram has been sent to the men saying they must not do it. I have done it myself scores of times. I have had to say, "Your act is wrong, and you must continue work." I will not describe the nature of the reply I have received; I leave hon. Members to imagine it. The effect has been that they have continued at work.
The 1911 strike, which spread throughout the country and wound up in a general strike, originated at Liverpool. The men were not only ordered back by telegram, but they were told personally by their leaders to go back. What followed? The hon. Member opposite has pointed out that although the men may defy their union and the instructions given yet the union's funds may be attacked. I think we should have an answer on that point. If it be true, if the interpretation I have given is correct, if the men of their own will cease work and are ordered back by their executive committee, or the general secretary, and they do not go back to work, but in a day or two there are large masses of others who come out sympathetically with them, are the funds of the trade union to be liable to attack for the illegal action of the men?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL indicated dissent.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The Attorney-General says "No," but curiously enough there are other lawyers who say "Yes." We have had legal opinion on this matter. Let me ask this particular question. Under the circumstances I have mentioned it is the railwaymen who would be first affected by blackleg coal, and in any sympathetic strike they would not start with the intention of inflicting hardship on the community or coercing the Government, yet the results of the spread of the trade dispute are as have been pointed out. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman clearly and specifically, does it not mean in practice that, as far as the railwaymen are concerned, in the circumstances I have enumerated, every strike of theirs must by the very nature of things be illegal? There can be no strike but which causes hardship to the community, and the very spreading of a strike must mean coercing the Government in the sense I have mentioned. In the 1919 dispute the Government themselves were actually the employers. Therefore, I put it to the right hon. Gentleman, even at this stage, when we find not only differences in the House, but doubts expressed outside, and when, as the leading article in the "Times" points out, innocent people can start off with an innocent object on a legitimate trade dispute and find themselves landed in Court through the ambiguous wording of this particular Clause, surely, before the Bill goes to another place, the matter ought to be cleared up, because if what I fear is going to happen with this Bill, there will be applications to the Law Courts, and Judges are going to give varying interpretations. Instead of talking about peace in industry, I believe that is going to be disastrous to the future of this country.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
With some regret I find myself not in sympathy with the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, because, as I read Clause 1, the object is really to protect the community, which has apparently been overlooked. The object is to enable a strike which threatens to become a general strike and which threatens to paralyse the industry of the country, to be brought to an end. 1743 If my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment had suggested words to be substituted for the word "calculated," I should have been glad, because I do not like "calculated," and I like it still less than I did after the definitions we were offered by the Attorney-General and which appear to me to be absolutely contradictory in terms. The first definition he gave was that "calculated" meant "likely," and then the second definition was that it was something intended to produce an inevitable result. You cannot say that something which is only likely is intended to produce an inevitable result, for that which is likely cannot be inevitable. Therefore, with these two contradictory terms, I should very much prefer to have had some word instead of "calculated," and I invite the Government to consider whether it might not be worth their while in another place to insert as a definition of "calculated," the definition of Lord Oxford, and not that given by the Attorney-General of "likely" only.
The real objection to this Amendment which I desire to press on the House is this: You have got, first of all, in this Clause, before you go on to declare a strike illegal, to find that it has an object other than a dispute within the trade. That means you have got to penetrate the mind of the striker and find out his intentions, and that his object is something other than a trade dispute. Having got over that, and having come to the conclusion that the object of the striker is to do something other than further a trade dispute, you have got to go on, before you declare it is illegal, and find what it is which leads you to the second stage and which creates the illegality. If you leave the word only as "designed," then you have got, under both heads, to penetrate the mind of the striker and find out, in the first place, what was the object, and, in the second place, what was the design. That is not the intention of the Clause, which is to protect the community. The intention being to protect the community, what a man designs is or ought to be the result that is in fact accruing and must accrue. It is not sufficient to say that a man designs a strike to have a certain object. It is only fair that you should get his design from the effects that must 1744 accrue. Therefore, if the Government could give a definition that the word "calculated" is to mean actions which must have an inevitable result, it would be fair to say that, when a man engages in a strike having an object. other than a trade dispute and a strike which has the inevitable result that it must paralyse the community, he has been wrong, and that the object and the aim are punishable. But if you leave the word "calculated" and do not substitute anything else for it and have no definition, I do suggest to the Attorney-General that you might get into this impasse that somebody may say "It is a sufficient definition of calculated to say 'likely to,'" and if it is "likely to," then the act becomes illegal at a stage when it really ought not to. It is perfectly fair that a man should be held liable, if he is engaging in a strike which everybody must know is calculated to coerce the community by bringing hardship, that is inevitable. Therefore, if you put in a definition of "calculated" to make a man liable only for what is the inevitable result of his action, it is common sense and everyone will agree, but if you leave it in the air in the sense that he will be liable if the strike is likely to produce certain results, with great respect I suggest to the Government that it is not a satisfactory result.
The Attorney-General said what the word means is "intended by its inevitable result," and he went on to say that what was intended by this word and what he was confident would be the meaning accepted by the Courts was that in order to come within Clause 1, a strike must be, apart from the other qualifications, one which is intended by its inevitable results to coerce the Government. What difference the hon. and learned Gentleman can suggest between that definition and the definition of "designed." I cannot quite see, and if these words were put in as he suggests, it would be mere tautology.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
There is all the difference in the world between what a man designs and what are the inevitable results of his actions in fact. He may not design it at all, but, in fact, if he does something which leads to inevitable results, it is fair to say that he should know the results of what he is doing and take the consequences. Therefore, if any word had been suggested 1745 instead of "calculated" I would have been glad, but as no such word is suggested, and as the Amendment is merely to take the word out, it leaves the Clause perfectly ineffective, it will be impossible to enforce it and it will not give the protection intended.
Let me say one word about the examples given by the Mover of the Amendment, regarding his Factory A and Factory B. I think he will see that if a strike is legal in its beginning, and it becomes illegal later, in the circumstances such as he has pointed out you never could punish a workman for having taken part in it, because he never could have foreseen that which has happened. If he had engaged in a strike knowing the inevitable results would be that the supply of raw materials would cease because foreign firms would cease to supply the country, then it would be illegal, but if a thing happens which is something you could not foresee, then no magistrate in the country would convict him. For these reasons, I shall oppose the Amendment.
§ Mr. HARNEY
The reluctance of the Government to withdraw these words is calculated to fill most of us with the possibility of evil designs in their minds. I confess I am wholly unable to see any sound reason for maintaining the words. The Attorney-General said on the last occasion that, of course, "calculated" meant "likely." He went on to say that he would prefer to adopt the language of Lord Oxford—"likely in its inevitable results." I think nobody knows better than he that "designed" covers both the actual proof of intent and presumed intent from the inevitable consequences of what you do. You cannot look into a man's mind and see through his skull. You get at what is in his mind either by some expressed declaration that he has made or by his acts, because if his acts are such that no sane man would do them without intending something, then you presume he had that intent. Therefore, "designed" covers every possible case of the person who instigates a strike which he intends to coerce the Government. Why is "calculated" kept in? One of my hon. and learned Friends gave a better illustration than the one I gave of how a strike, started quite innocently, may develop into something which is criminal. The case I gave was of the coalminers legitimately striking, and at 1746 a later stage the railwaymen come in to their assistance. I asked the Attorney-General when the railway men came to their assistance and the strike thereby acquired dimensions that would inflict hardship on the community and it became an illegal strike, whether the illegality began from the time the railwaymen came in and was confined to the railwaymen, or whether it ante-dated to the original strike of miners and also made that illegal. He said it only covered the railwaymen. As a matter of fact, I think there is a great deal of doubt on that because I notice the Clause reads:If any person declares, instigates, incites others to take part in or otherwise act in furtherance of a strike or lock-out … he shall be liable.Therefore, you have the railwaymen on a strike which is illegal, starting at a later date. The original coal miners work with them, and they act in furtherance with the railwaymen, and are not they both technically liable?
One of my hon. Friends gave a better illustration than that, because he said, "Suppose you have a strike starting with a certain industry. Take the coal miners. They strike because they wish for higher wages. It will spread and then a month afterwards the miners say they have no chance of getting higher wages unless they get the Government to do something, and therefore they proceed to try to make the Government act. From that moment it becomes an illegal strike." Do you mean by the word "calculated" that in order to find these men guilty you have not to ascertain what was their intention at the start but to ascertain what the magistrate thinks the word "calculated" means in connection with their conduct a month afterwards? That is the real importance of those words. I myself, on the construction of the sentence, have not the faintest doubt but that "intended" is intended to have the Consequences that the hon. Member thinks. When I look at Clause 3, I find "calculated" used alone, and "designed" is left out. That Clause deals with intimidation. It says:… if they"—that is, the picketersattend in such numbers or otherwise in such manner as to be calculated to intimidate.1747 Does that mean calculated to intimidate as originally intended; that it was their original purpose in picketing? If so, "calculated" has the same meaning as "designed." If it has the same meaning as designed, then it is mere tautology to put both words in Clause 1. The word "calculated" in Clause 3 means that if the picketers go there they take the risk of the number so accumulating as to amount to terrorism, and if it does amount to terrorism, in the mind of the magistrate, they are all guilty. That is the offence of intimidation. It must be intended. The Judge would say: "I find in Clause 1 the two words designed' and 'calculated.' Counsel argues before me that 'calculated' means 'likely by its inevitable consequences,' and that, really, it, means the same thing as 'designed.'" Then the learned Judge would say: "I cannot accept that, because the same Parliament which used the words 'designed' and 'calculated' in Clause 1, used only the word 'calculated' in Clause 3. Therefore, they intended 'designed' to cover some portion of the ground and 'calculated' to cover another portion of the ground, and the portion of the ground which I find 'designed' covers, according to the ordinary principles of law, is real or presumed intent, and the portion of the ground which I find 'calculated' covers, which is the only construction under an intimidation Clause, is not intent but the ultimate effect." Therefore, it must be that the two words in Clause 1 mean—show me a strike that is intended to do mischief, which is one thing, or, show me a strike where there was no intent at all to do mischief at the start, and if, in the course of time, it develops so as to do mischief then, ex post facto, these unfortunate men become criminals.
Let me take a case of, say, 1,000 men at St. Hilda colliery in my constituency, who give in their notices and serve their notices and go home, patting their bosom's and saying, "Thanks be to God, we have worked out our notices! We are fearless, because we are acting perfectly honestly!" That strike extends all over the country. Miners come out in South Wales, in Northumberland, in Yorkshire. Railwaymen, perhaps, join in. Two months afterwards it has reached such dimensions as to justify the Attorney-General in asking for an injunction. The 1748 1,000 men from St. Hilda pit, from the time they came out innocent men, have done nothing but till their allotments or, perhaps, say their prayers. They have committed no other offence. Whatever offence they have committed was committed when they left their work; but there was no offence there. Nothing is done for a few months, but at the end of two months a big policeman comes along, lays his hand on the shoulder of one of the men, and says: "Come along my friend!" "Why? I have done nothing wrong," says the man. "You did nothing wrong," says the policeman, "but a lot of other men all over the country have come out, and they have come out in such numbers that the innocent thing which you did has now, in its cumulative effect, become such a thing as is calculated, etc. Therefore, you will be branded as a criminal, though you had no evil intent. Nay, more, the hundreds of thousands who have joined in with you had no criminal intent, but the multiplicity of innocence grows into criminality. One speck is white, but 100,000 white specks become black." The Attorney-General has said several times that the law which is being made by the use of the words "or calculated" is no change, and that the ordinary sympathetic strike which it makes illegal was always illegal. I have before me the report of the Dunedin Commission, which examined all the evidence and the existing law, and which forms the basis of the 1906 Act:It is lawful to declare strikes from whatever motive or for whatever purpose, including sympathetic or secondary strikes, apart from crime or breach of contract, legal and to make the Act of 1875 to extend to sympathetic or secondary strikes.What is the use, in face of a statement like that, reiterating, with blind audacity, that no change has been made. In this Clause a word, "calculated," is introduced which has the effect of making what have been regarded as perfectly legal not only illegal but criminal, and of making—what is carefully guarded against in the statement by Lord Dunedin—strikes criminal even where the men have given notice and have worked out their notices. In default of breach of contract or agreement those strikes are perfectly legal, but the Government now say: "Though there may be no breach of contract; though there may be no crime, because there is no intent, on our own avowal still, strikes may become illegal acts 1749 even from the start due to something in the course of their development, and that they are likely to harass the community.
It is all very well to say, as the Solicitor-General did, that we must not look at extravagant cases. Pass this Act, and it goes throughout the country into the hands of every little Petty Sessions clerk, and counsel and solicitors will be employed on one side or the other to win their cases. The solicitor who practises in a Police Court would not be worth his salt if he did not force the magistrate to give him the full benefit of whatever the words permit. If he is sent there to prosecute, he is bound to strain the language as far as it legally will go and, therefore, you are now putting into the Bill as it stands an instrument which not only will make it unsafe to enter upon any strike but which not only may but will have the consequence in thousands of cases of making, for the first time in English history, men criminals who had no criminal or evil intent whatsoever.
§ Mr. BLUNDELL
In spite of the rather uncompromising reply given by the Solicitor-General, I still hope that if the Attorney-General cannot accept this Amendment he will hold out some hope of substituting some phrase in another place which will make quite clear what the word "calculated" really means. I listened with great attention to the Solicitor-General, who gave us a very clear description of what was meant by the word "designed." He said that the word "designed" meant something planned or intended. I thought he would then tell us what "calculated" meant, but he only told us that the Clause would be ineffective without it, and did not give us an explanation of what was meant by "calculated." I sympathise very much with the right hon. Gentleman who has had so many paraphrases and so many expressions put to him for so many days, and I am not surprised that he finds it difficult to satisfy the enormous number of questions that are fired at him. I am not going to put a hypothetical case, but I have some fear that if the word "designed" means something intended or planned, then the ordinary man in the street will say that if it means something intended or planned by the strikers or the person in question, the word "calculated" may be taken to mean something which somebody 1750 else thinks that the striker or the person in question has intended or planned, and that may not mean what the individual intended or planned. Therefore I think it would be very desirable that some phrase should be substituted for the word "calculated," in order to make it quite clear what the word does mean, so that there may be no confusion about it amongst plain men. At the present time, I feel in doubt whether the plain man can discriminate between the two words.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The Amendment is one which, as the Solicitor-General said, it is impossible for the Government to accept, and the reason is one which, I think, hon. Members who are anxious to support the Amendment will realise is overwhelming, namely, that if we leave out the words "or calculated" some of the strikes which they regard as properly coming within the intention of the Clause, will, in fact, not be within its scope. The actual case given by the Mover of the Amendment of a strike which became one calculated to coerce the Government and which from that moment he thought ought not to be a legal strike, would be excluded by the use only of the word "designed." Therefore, we must have in some word other than "designed," and the Government have thought that the words "designed" and "calculated" are best designed and calculated to meet the case. It is suggested that I might substitute for the word "calculated" the words "intended by its inevitable result." I should be reluctant to introduce the word "inevitable" into an Act of Parliament. As far as I know, it would be its first appearance in legal language, and it might be said that no result was inevitable, and that there was always the possibility of its being avoided. We know what we mean by the word in ordinary parlance, but it might be much too narrowly construed to be of any value. In ordinary language it is a very convenient expression, but I am now dealing with the phraseology of an Act of Parliament, and I am suggesting that' to put the word "inevitable" into an Act of Parliament might have an effect quite different from that which the promoters of the Act intended. If by "its inevitable results" you mean 1751 something which will probably and naturally result in the coercion of the Government, then I do not think there is anything between my hon. Friend and myself as to the object which we are intending to effect by this Clause. Other hon. and learned Gentlemen think that the word "calculated" might be more widely and loosely construed than in the sense I have just indicated.
We have all along said that we—the Government—are anxious to insure that this Bill was not going further than we originally intended. I am not certain that the fears of my hon. and learned Friend are justified, but I recognise that those fears exist and that they are inspired not by a desire to wreck the Bill, but to insure that it will carry out its original intention. I am very anxious not to set up my opinion against the opinions of hon. and learned Gentlemen who are just as much qualified as I am to form a judgment on this matter. I am not at the moment going to commit myself to any form of words, but I shall be perfectly well prepared instead of using the words "or calculated" to use some other words to indicate that what we are aiming at is a strike which by its natural result will coerce the Government. If that will satisfy my hon. and learned Friends I will be quite prepared to consider some such language as "of which the natural result will be" or "which will probably result in "or some phrase of that kind, either in Clause 1 or in the definition of the word "calculated" in Clause 8. I am not committing myself to an exact form of words. I cannot accept the deletion of the word "calculated," and I cannot put in the word "inevitable," because it might be construed too freely. If, however, the language I have suggested will satisfy those who have put down this Amendment and those who are sympathetic to the Bill, I shall be quite prepared to discuss some suitable words of the kinds I have mentioned.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I do not know whether the explanation or offer which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given to his colleagues will satisfy them, but I think I can safely say that it does not satisfy us. We would like to know more clearly even now whether and where this alteration is to be made. It is often stated that the Government 1752 control another place, but we are parting with this Bill to-night, and we do not know what is going to happen when this Bill comes up in another place, and whether the proposition that the right hon. and learned Gentleman makes will be accepted there. He refuses at the moment to leave out the word "calculated," but he indicates that in some other place and by some other people the words "probably resulting" or the words "or natural result" would be substituted, which simply means, to me, to substitute another paraphrase for "designed." I think it is trifling with the hon. Member, whatever the hon. Member may think, to offer just another paraphrase like that, and that the hon. Mover of the Amendment should be asked to withdraw it. The Solicitor-General gave a very lengthy argument why, in his opinion, the word "calculated" should remain. He said that something more than the word "designed" was necessary to make it clear what kind of strike was being aimed at by the Bill. This discussion to which we have now listened and the conference which has taken place between the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends on the benches opposite—and I think that the hon. and learned Member for Norwood (Sir W. Greaves-Lord) seems to have been dissenting from the right hon. and learned Gentleman—prove that the Government are only offering another paraphrase. The Clause is just as dangerous, precarious and as much to be avoided as the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Blundell) suggested.
There is nothing that the hon. Mover of the Amendment said to-day, and he said it very practically and very logically, with which I disagree. We invited the right hon. and learned Gentleman to produce a definition, and what really lies behind this mocking of the Opposition, and the taunt that they do not wish to improve this Bill is the Government's refusal to listen to any suggestion made from this side of the House. When moving for a definition we were treated with ignominy, hatred, ridicule and contempt, and we were coerced into silence. Hon. Members or the opposite side of the House made the same appeal as we did to clarify the language of the Clause and the Government endeavour to quieten them by giving them a meaningless paraphrase. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman wishes that persons before 1753 taking part, in an illegal act shall be shown the consequences of their act, and that a man would only be made criminally liable when he had a criminal motive or intent. Does the hon. Mover really think that this offer of the Attorney-General is going to carry out that intention? We do not. We think the expression "natural result" simply means "likely" except that it is two words instead of one.
§ Mr. STANLEY
I only wish to say that coy hon. Friends and I are very grateful to the Attorney-General for his offer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Gratitude may be rare among political leaders, but I wish to say that we are very grateful to him for his statement that our wishes will be met in another place.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I desire to ask whether, under the guillotine or timetable under which we are now working, it will be possible to move the adjournment of the Debate on these grounds? We are in this unfortunate position—and this is the point I want to submit—that the Attorney-General, in answer to an Amendment moved from the other side of the House, has indicated, first, a change in certain words in the Clause we are discussing. He himself is not certain of the words. He has clearly indicated that even at this stage he is sure that the words will be ultimately introduced into the Bill, and he is anticipating the free and open verdict of another place. We are in the position of the Government saying to us——
§ Mr. THOMAS
I want to ask if it will be possible to move the adjournment of the Debate on these grounds.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
No. When I asked if it were the pleasure of the House that the Amendment should be withdrawn I heard voices saying "No," and it must be considered until the House comes to a decision upon it.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I merely rise to congratulate the Attorney-General on the sheep-like character of his followers. When I saw the consultation taking place on the opposite benches a few minutes ago, I was under the impression that a bargain was being arranged, but since we have heard the explanation of the Attorney-General I see that there is no question of a bargain at all. What we have got instead of a bargain is abject surrender from hon. Members opposite. The Front Bench opposite treats the back benchers with absolute contempt. Whoever is going to coerce this Government it is quite certain the back benchers will not. They remind me very much of the Members about whom the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain spoke. I forget his exact words, but he was talking about Members who had made very truculent speeches and then refused to carry out the logic of these truculent speeches in the Division Lobby. His point was that there were Members who made most vigorous and critical speeches addressed to their own Front Bench, and when the appropriate moment came for them to act along the lines of their speeches, they failed to do so. I will not pursue that point further.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 202; Noes, 117.1757
|Division No. 193.]||AYES.||[7. 46p. m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Albery, Irving James||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Briggs, J. Harold|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F W.||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Bull, Rt. Hon. sir William James|
|Atkinson, C.||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Burntan, J. B.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Blundell. F. N.||Burton, Colonel H. W.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Perring, Sir William George|
|Campbell, E. T.||Haslam, Henry C.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hawke, John Anthony||Plicher, G.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Preston, William|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Henderson, Capt. R. H. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Ramsden, E.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hope, Sir Harry (Fortar)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, R. S. (Cumb'l'nd, Whiteh'n)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ta'y)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Huntingfield, Lord||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Colfox, Major William Phillips||Hurd, Percy A.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cope, Major William||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Couper, J. B.||Illffe, Sir Edward M.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Jacob, A. E.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Galnsbro)||Jephcott, A. R.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Dixon. Captain Rt. Hon. H.||Looker, Herbert William||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lumley, L. R.||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||McLean, Major A.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Fielden, E. B.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Macquisten, F. A.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Meller, R. J.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Merriman, F. B.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Watson, Rt Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Watts Dr. T.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Wells S. R.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Wood, E. (Chester, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Wood Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Nuttall, Ellis||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Oakley, T.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hanbury, C.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. F. C. Thomson and Mr. Penny.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff-, Cannock)||Dalton, Hugh||Hayday, Arthur|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Hayes, John Henry|
|Ammon, Charles George||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Day, Colonel Harry||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Baker, Walter||Dennison, R.||Hirst, G. H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Duncan, C.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Barnes, A.||Dunnico, H.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Batey, Joseph||Fenby, T. D.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gardner, J. p.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Broad. F. A.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bromfield, William||Gillett, George M.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Bromley, J.||Gosling, Harry||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Buchanan, G.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Greenall, T.||Kennedy, T.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Grenfeil, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Clowes, S.||Groves, T.||Lansbury, George|
|Cluse, W. S.||Grundy, T. W.||Lawrence, Susan|
|Compton, Joseph||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lawson, John James|
|Connolly, M.||Hardle, George D.||Lindley, F. W.|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Lowth, T.||Rose. Frank H.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Townend, A. E.|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Scrymgeour, E.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|March, S.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Maxton, James||Sitch, Charles, H.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Mosley, Oswald||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Murnin, H.||Smillie, Robert||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Oliver. George Harold||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Owen, Major G.||Snell, Harry||Welsh, J. C|
|Palin, John Henry||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Westwood, J.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Stamford, T. W.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Stephen, Campbell||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Potts, John S.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Sutton, J. E.||Windsor, Walter|
|Riley, Ben||Taylor, R. A.|
|Ritson, J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Whiteley.|
Question, "That the word 'the' stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out the words "the Government" and to insert instead thereof the word "Parliament."
On an earlier occasion, I raised this question but I had no response. Therefore, I will very briefly go over the arguments in favour of the Amendment again. I would remind the House, to begin with, that the Clause gives a definition of what is to be an illegal strike. First, it is if it has "any object other than or in addition to the furthering of a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the strikers are engaged," and it must be "calculated to coerce the Government." That is the definition which has been evolved for meeting the situation of a general strike such as we had last year which was against the whole community, and which has been described as a purely revolutionary movement. The Amendment which I ask the House to discuss briefly is in two parts. I submit that the word "Government" is wrong, and secondly, I hope to be able to persuade the House that the word "Parliament" is right. About that I am not half so sure as I am that the word "Government" is wrong. I am supported in my view because the next Amendment on the Paper is also to leave out "Government," and it is sponsored by the right hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott), who is perhaps the greatest constitutional expert from the historical point of view that we have in this House, and, if he agrees that the word "Government" is wrong, I flatter myself there must be a great deal in the case I am putting.
Of course, if you ask what its the Government, it is, after all, only an Executive Committee of the Privy Council, and 1758 the Government by itself cannot take any action, except with the consent of this House. A Government which has not the support of this House could neither do any administrative act nor pass any legislation, and the whole object of coercing the community or the State, or whatever you like to call it, is to try to get something done by Parliament which would not otherwise be done. The word "Government" is anyhow nowadays associated in people's minds with the party of which it consists. Inevitably, the word "Government" keeps coming into all sorts of speeches and articles, and people are apt to think that the Government means the Conservative Government, just as previously it was the Coalition Government, and the Socialist Gov-eminent. For the time they are in office, people are apt to forget that, though they are members of a party, they have other functions of administration than introducing legislation. It is quite true that the ordinary attitude of mind of people is naturally against the Government whatever the Government may be. It is a phrase that trope up, and the mere fact of bringing a Government into the description of an illegal strike makes people think that by furthering a dispute on their own account they might be getting, their own back against their political opponents, forgetting that the description in this Bill is of the Government as representing the whole community or the State.
The word has had certain further connotations put to it. We get Government trading, Government officials, and Government all sorts of things. The habit is getting into people's minds of thinking about the Government quite contrary to what is intended in the 1759 definiton of this Clause. If, therefore, we are right in saying that the word "Government" does not quite mean that is intended, that a general strike is not intended against the Government, any more than against the executive sovereign authority of the nation, then let us leave out the word "Government" and put in "Parliament." It is only Parliament that can do various things which would require to be done, in the case of a general strike. Parliament, in the opening words of any Bill, is described as follows:Be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:That is what a general strike would coerce. It is in the largest sense, not this House, but Parliament as a whole, namely, His Majesty the King, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons in Parliament assembled. These three different powers make up the Sovereign Legislature of the country.
It strikes me as one further argument, apart from the constitutional argument which is the really important one, and apart from the fact that we want this Bill to be not only correct in substance but also correct in form, that after all the Government is an entity which is very remote to the great masses of the people. They are not always perfectly certain what the Government means; Members of the Government are not visible on all occasions to the outside world as they are to us in this House. But, after all, the country is divided geographically into very many constituencies, and even the most ignorant and unthinking person knows what is meant by Parliament. By linking up Parliament in the definition of a general strike, you might convey to the mass of the people that a general strike would have as one of its objects to coerce Parliament and they would think, "That must be coercing someone like our member." I shall be very glad if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Solictor-General will explain why he considers that the word "Government" is correct when, as a matter of fact, it does not really represent what the general strike is meant to coerce. It 1760 was stated, time after time, that the general strike is directed against the whole of the country and against that large mass of people who are not trade unionists and about whose rights the Opposition is apt to forget. It is not merely the Government but the whole country and nation who are concerned. If "Parliament" is not the right word, I think the word which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for York has suggested, the word "State," represents more fully than the word "Government" the intention of the definition.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to second the Amendment.
Like the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has moved the Amendment, I am certain that the word "Government" is not desirable in this Clause, and that the right word is "Parliament." My objection to the use of the word "Government" is that it is frequently associated in the public mind with the particular party which is in power, and the country forgets that the Government is charged with executive authority to carry on the government of the country. I am inclined, therefore, to think that, if this word "Government" is retained, the people might say that the strike was directed against a certain Government because it is Conservative or Liberal or Labour and they would forget that what we are out to do is to make it plain that a general strike is one which coerces the country and that by coercing the country it coerces Parliament.
§ Sir JOHN MARRIOTT
I think it may be for the convenience of the House if, in the very few words which I desire to address to it, I speak to the present Amendment. With my two hon. and gallant Friends, I feel very much more strongly about the omission of the word "Government" than I do about the insertion of any other particular word which may be suggested. I do suggest that it is of very great importance that the word "Government" should be excised from this portion of the Clause. I make that suggestion on two grounds: first, because there is, I think, a very strong formal or constitutional ground for the omission of this word. After all, what do we mean by "the Government" and what does "the Government" mean 1761 by it In strict parlance the word "Government" may mean the country, whatever party is in power, or it may mean the Cabinet, but clearly that is not the use of it which is intended in this particular Clause. It may mean something wider than the Cabinet, namely, the Ministry of the day? That is, in common parlance, the meaning which is very often attached to the word. Or again it may mean something even wider than that: it may mean the whole executive of the State, public administration both permanent and political, because, strictly speaking, Government ought to mean the whole executive of the State, the permanent Civil Service as well as the party or political executive. Therefore I venture to think that the word to which my hon. and gallant Friends have taken exception would be better omitted from the Clause altogether. But, if there is a formal or technical ambiguity in the use of the term which is suggested, I have also a more practical reason for desiring to get rid of it.
After all, what is the fundamental justification for this Bill? This Bill is designed, and I believe it is also calculated, for the protection of the community against a section which seeks to injure it. The whole Bill, in my opinion, has been proposed in the interests of the whole community against a particular part or section of it, and, if that be the case, it is exceedingly important that you should avoid even the appearance of a suggestion that this Bill is designed not in the interests of the community but in the interests of a or the Government which may happen at the moment to be in power. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) admirably pointed out, in the popular mind, in the mind of the person who is often called—I never could understand why—the "man in the street," the Government does mean the Government of the day. It sometimes, I believe, means even the present Prime Minister. I observe that a gentleman who has acquired a certain amount of notoriety in this country said the other day that he owed more allegiance to the Russian Soviet than he does to Mr. Baldwin. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] Well, I think that was exceedingly foolish language, but may I suggest that Mr. Cook owes no allegiance whatsoever to 1762 Mr. Baldwin, in the strict sense of the term, nor in the strict sense of the term do any of us owe any allegiance to the Prime Minister. [Interruption]. I said in the strict sense of the term, which, I imagine, would be understood by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Allegiance is a duty which is owed by a subject to a sovereign, and I have yet to learn that the Prime Minister is Sovereign of this country. But at any rate the foolish language to which I have alluded does illustrate the necessity for some greater precision of language than that which is employed in the Clause which we are seeking to amend.
I submit that the word we are taking exception to is open to very serious misconception, and I think it would be much better to substitute a word which would really express what I believe the Clause has in mind. Unfortunately, the word "community" is already used two or three lines further down; otherwise, I think perhaps my hon. and gallant Friends might have been well advised to substitute "community" for the word "Government." They like the word "Parliament." Frankly, greatly prefer their word to the word used in the Clause; I think it is much less open to the objection which I find to the word "Government"; it is more precise, and it is legally- perfectly well understood. Every lawyer knows that Parliament means King, Lords and Commons, but how will a lawyer define the word "Government"? As far as I know, the word has never appeared in any Act of Parliament at all. It is always difficult to assert a negative, but, as far as my knowledge goes, the word "Government," in this sense, in an Act of Parliament is entirely unfamiliar. Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General will be able to cite instances where it has occurred in this sense in Acts of Parliament. Be that as it may, I think what has been already said is quite sufficient to show that the word is open to objection on the score of ambiguity, and that it is desirable to find some word which is precise, is known to the law and is understood by the common folk. I strongly urge that the word "State" be adopted for that reason, but my immediate anxiety is to get rid of the word to which, in common with the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, I have 1763 taken objection, and I therefore desire up to that point to support their Amendment.
§ Mr. STORRY DEANS
I am sorry not to be able to agree on a point of this kind with my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) or with the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. The word "Parliament" would be open to objection. If a Court of Law were determining what the word "Parliament" meant, it would have regard to what Parliament really is, and, with all respect to the Mover of the Amendment, Parliament is not the executive Government of the country. Parliament deputes, in a very indirect way, the executive Government to people in whom it has confidence but who are not chosen by Parliament. They are chosen by the Crown, on the recommendation of one of the Crown's servants. To put it in practical language, when one Prime Minister retires he recommends His Majesty to send for somebody who shall form a Government. If we were to use the word "Parliament" we should be using a word which would not convey to any constitutional lawyer the impression that we were talking about the executive Government of the country. I think the word "Government" which is used in the Clause is a word which will be interpreted as meaning, and which in fact does mean, the executive Government of the country. It does not mean the particular gentlemen who happen to sit on the Front Bench to the Speaker's right in this House, or to the right of the Lord Chancellor in another place. It means that which was connoted by the Duke of Wellington in his famous phrase,The King's Government must be carried on,and which is also connoted when we say that revolutionaries try to seize the government of the country. When you talk about the "Government" in a Bill of this kind you are talking about the executive, which means all those departments and people who actually carry out the law and administer the services of the State. I think, with great respect, that the fears of my hon. Friend the Member for York are groundless. As an Act of Parliament this will never be interpreted by a popular tribunal, but by a 1764 legal tribunal, and I have no fear that the Courts of the country will give to the word "Government" in this Clause any meaning but the one I have indicated, namely, the executive of the country however that executive is composed, whether of civil servants or politicians, of Lords or Commons. It will mean those, whoever they may be, who actually carry on the direct rule of the country, subject, of course, to the over-riding voice of this House and, to some extent, of another place. I, therefore, find myself unable to support the Amendment and I shall support the retention of the word "Government" in the Clause.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The discussion which we have had upon some consitutional questions has excited evident interest in the ranks of hon. Members opposite, and one is glad to welcome an interest on their part in this Bill which they have not displayed in the course of the Debates of the last two or three days. Nobody is better able than the hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) to introduce a discussion upon a constitutional question. We all bow to his great learning and knowledge on these questions, but I still think in spite of what he and the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment have said, that the word "Government" is appropriate and not misleading. The word "Government" has been used because it is the word best adapted to express the body which will have to take action, if driven in a particular wav by the coercive action of a strike. I noticed that the hon. Member for York was much better able to give reasons for leaving out the word "Government" than he was to suggest a better alternative.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I have only heard the word "State" suggested by him, and I think: I am not doing him an injustice to say that he was much more hesitating when he came to discuss the advantages of the word "State" than he was in explaining his objection to the word "Government."
§ Sir J. MARRIOTT
I have already explained that I shall have another opportunity to give my reasons for using the word "State."
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
There are two Amendments on the Paper; ons is to substitute "Parliament" for "Government" and the other, which is the Amendment of the hon. Member, is to substitute "State" for "Government."
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It is quite true that we are not discussing that Amendment, but my hon. Friend will not have the opportunity of moving his Amendment if the word "Government" remains in the Bill, and I thought it not inconvenient to consider, first, whether there is a better word than "Government." There are only two suggestions, as far as I know. Let me deal first with "Parliament." It is quite true that in one sense Parliament would be coerced at the same time as the Government would be coerced if a general strike took place of the nature of which we have been thinking. On the other hand, Parliament is, in the true sense of the word, only a part of the Government. The government of the country is carried on under the control of Parliament and Parliament gives the Government for the time being its confidence and support. Parliament is part of the Government and certain duties are entrusted to the administrative officers of State for the different Departments of the Government. Those duties are entrusted to that part of the Government by another part of the Government, and I suggest that to most people the word "Government" is the most apt word because it is the Government, considered as a whole, which will have to take that action to which a general strike is supposed to attempt to drive somebody. What are the objections to the word "Government"? The objections stated are that it is associated in most people's minds with the political party or body Which happens to carry out the duties of government at the time. I cannot think that that is a very serious objection. It is true that we speak of the "defeat of the Government" or of "the Government candidate" in certain connections, but I think everybody understands and always has understood that the Government of the country means what was meant in the historic phrase used by my hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken. That illustrates the sense in which the 1766 word "Government" is used. I happened upon another illustration of the use of that word quite by accident a few days ago. A very distinguished Judge who certainly knew how to use the English language, when discussing an attempt to interfere with Excise men over 200 years ago, said:The offence was directly of a public nature and levelled at the Government and the gist of the offence was its influence on the public.Lord Holt who used that expression knew what he was doing when he took the English language in hand, and that was an expression used at a time before our Parliamentary and political systems had developed as they have developed to-day. In those days, members of what was popularly called the Government, sitting on the same Bench, were accustomed to vote against each other if they thought fit.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It would perhaps introduce a little variety and lightness into these proceedings if they did, but the elder Pitt thought nothing of voting against his own Prime Minister when the spirit so moved him. At any rate, the word "Government" has always been used to express the whole machinery of the administration of the affairs of this great nation. When we speak of "coercing the Government" in this Bill, I think if it becomes an Act of Parliament there will be no possibility of misunderstanding what is meant. Then my hon. Friends say that we should get rid even of the slightest tinge of a political colour by substituting the word "Parliament." Parliament is not quite sufficient. You might put in "Parliament and Government," but then you would be giving the word "Government" exactly the political flavour which we all deprecate because you would be using two words which are mutually exclusive—"Government" on the one hand, and "Parliament" on the other. I prefer to use the word "Government" as embracing everything—Lords, Commons, administrative officers, Departments of State and the whole machinery which has to be set in motion when a particular result has to be achieved which bears upon the happiness and prosperity of the people. I think 1767 "Government" is a better word than "Parliament," because it is a greater word, and the greater includes the less. In this case Government includes Parliament. When my hon. Friend the Member for York says, "I do not like Parliament,' but I like 'State,'" I say, "I do not like State.'" The use of the word "State" in the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, has been partly responsible for the difficulties in which we are to-day. The word is used in Section 3 of the Act. It says:Nothing in this Section shall affect the law relating to riot, unlawful assembly, breach of the peace, or sedition, or any offence against the State or the Sovereign.Perhaps some of the difficulties of the present time are due to the ambiguity of that phrase "offence against the State." What is an offence against the State? Is it an offence against the State to set going a great movement which interferes with the life of the community? That is the sort of question we have been discussing on this Bill. I do not like the word "State." I understand what "State" means when we are thinking of the position of a foreigner who belongs to another State. In the realm of international law the word "State" has a well understood meaning, but when you speak of coercing the State by the act of the nationals of that State I think you are using an in-appropriate word. "State" is a nebulous idea in relation to any national of this country, and if hon. Members can for a moment consider this comparatively unimportant question apart from any honest opinions they may have formed either in favour of or against the Bill, I think hon. Members opposite will agree with me and with, I think, the majority of Members on this side, in feeling that, on the whole, the word "Government" is more appropriate than either "Parliament" or "State" to express the idea that we have in mind in this case.
§ Mr. MARCH
I quite agree with the remarks of the Solicitor-General. I think there is some motive behind the mind of the two hon. and gallant Members who have brought forward this Amendment. I think they are afraid they may be told up and down the country that the Government have been 1768 bringing in this Bill to coerce the workers and tyrannise over them. It is the Government who have brought in this Bill. This is their Bill, and it is bad throughout, it is not even good in parts, like the parson's egg. They know they are going to be told that it is a rotten Bill brought in by a rotten Government. They know they are going to be "told off" a bit in the country, and so they want to put in the word "Parliament," with the idea of implicating all Members in the House in this legislation, although they know that we on this side have opposed every Clause in the Bill. We on this side do not approve of the Bill and for once, therefore, I am speaking in favour of this bad Government, and approving their action in retaining the word "Government," because I shall use that word Government when I am speaking about this Bill and shout it as far as my voice can carry. I wish it to be understood that the Tory Government are responsible for this Bill, which ties the bonds of the workers tighter than ever they have been tied before. I want this Government to be made responsible for having brought down the workers and trampled upon them. I have said more than once that many workers do not realise that they are being tyrannised over and put into the gutter. They will know it when they get into the gutter, and I am going to tell them who was responsible for it, and so I want the word "Government" retained.
I am glad of the opportunity of addressing the House on this occasion, as I meant to put down the same Amendment as that which appears under the name of my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) in a proposal to alter the word "Government" to "State"; but as my connection, the hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), had already put down an Amendment to alter the word "Government" to "Parliament," I thought it might seem rather like a family feud if I put my name down after his. I think the House will feel that the speech to which we have just listened is one of the best arguments in favour of the word "State" being used in this Measure. It is immaterial whether this Government is unpopular or not. If a general strike is in progress any Government which is attempting to deal with it would not necessarily be 1769 popular with all in the country, but a large number of people who might be opposed to the Government would undoubtedly come to the assistance of what I prefer to call the State. I do not like the term "Parliament," because that also associates politics with the expression. As the learned Solicitor-General explained, Parliament is, after all, merely part and parcel of the Government, and so I think if anybody objects to the word "Government" the word "Parliament" might go with it.
The, State is the concern of all; in Great Britain, at all events, I hope it can be said that the State has the affections of the population. When the State is in danger, as it must be in case of war, or during a general strike, I feel it is a far better call to the citizens if they feel that they are rallying to the assistance of the State rather than to the Government or to Parliament. After all, it is not certain that all the population will be with the Government quite irrespective of party or creed, therefore, I think the word "State" would meet the case better, and it fills the requirements much more in the eyes of the public on occasions of this description. Therefore, I wish to associate myself on this subject with those who object to the word "Government," and I prefer to substitute the word "State."
§ Sir J. MARRIOTT
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out the word "Government," and to insert instead thereof the word "State."
By moving the former Amendment, we have gained the object we had in view of getting an opportunity of ventilating this question. It seems to me that although the argument advanced by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) was already a strong one, it has been enormously strengthened by the speeches to which we have listened from the learned Solicitor-General and from the hon. Member for South Poplar (Mr. March). In those two speeches we had a convincing and complete illustration of the danger to which my hon. Friends and I have called attention. From the Solicitor-General we have now learned that by the word 1770 "Government" they really mean merely the Executive.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I said that the word "Government," included the whole of the machinery of Parliament, Government Departments, and all branches of the Executive. I said in terms that it included Parliament.
§ Sir J. MARRIOTT
I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the term "Parliament" included Government, and I cannot understand him saying now that the term "Government" includes Parliament. I now understand that by the term "Government" the Solicitor-General wishes the House to understand the whole machinery of the State, legislative, judicial and administrative. That is a much larger definition than that which was given to us by the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Storry Deans), who undoubtedly confined the word to the executive Government of the State. I understand that that interpretation is repudiated by the Solicitor-General. The hon. Member for South Poplar is supporting the Government against the Amendment which we have moved on the ground that he wishes to place the entire responsibility on the Executive of the day. My Amendment proposes to omit the word "Government" and to insert the word "State," and the hon. Member for South Poplar is against this Amendment on the, ground that it would tend to divert responsibility from the community at large, and fix it where he desires to fix it, that is on the executive Government of the day. I think those of us who are supporting this Amendment could have no better justification for it than the reasons I have given.
I beg to second the Amendment.
In view of the remarks which I have already made, I will formally second my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment, and I feel that there is nothing more I can usefully add in support of it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 1, to leave out from 1771 the word "and" in line 12, to the word "that" in line 15.
This is merely a drafting Amendment which enables the Clause to be set out in tabular form, and this will make it more easily understood. I hope that explanation will be sufficient for hon. Members opposite.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made:
§ In page 2, line 5, after the word "illegal," insert the words "strike or."
In line 14, at the end, insert the words "and
(b) without prejudice to the generality of the expression trade or industry' workmen shall be deemed to be within the same trade or industry if their wages or conditions of employment are determined in accordance with the conclusions of the same joint industrial council, conciliation board, or other similar body, or in accordance with agreements made with the same employer or group of employers."—[The Attorney-General.]
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, to leave out Sub-section (3), and to insert instead thereof the words:(3) Where any person is charged before any Court with an offence under this Section no further proceedings in respect thereof shall be taken against him without the consent of the Attorney-General except such as the Court may think necessary by remand (whether in custody or on bail) or otherwise to secure the safe custody of the person a charged, but this Sub-section shall not apply to Scotland or to any prosecution instituted by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.This is an Amendment which I indicated at an earlier stage, and it is one which is designed to meet a point raised by several hon. Members in the Committee stage, namely, the point that under Clause I there might be prosecutions instituted by some over-zealous person which might result in a misconstruction of the statute, and a conviction in a case in which there was really no justification for invoking the provisions of Clause 1. In order to meet that difficulty, the Government are proposing that no proceedings shall be taken against anybody under Clause 1 without the fiat of the Attorney-General—that is to say, if, in case of emergency, anybody is arrested or summoned to appear before any Court, beyond the remand on bail while the 1772 necessary communication is made to the Attorney-General, the charge cannot be proceeded with unless the Attorney-General's fiat be granted. The House will be aware that that is a protection which has been inserted in a great number of Acts of Parliament; I think there are 16 or 20, or perhaps 30, in which it is necessary to obtain the fiat of the Attorney-General before a prosecution is instituted, the object in every case being to ensure that the provisions of the Act shall not be oppressively invoked in an unsuitable case, and that the machinery of the Act shall only be put into motion if the case is one which a responsible officer of the Crown regards as justifying a prosecution. The actual language of the proposed new Sub-section is copied, with a slight modification, from one of the earlier Acts in which a fiat is insisted upon, namely, the Explosive Substances Act, 1883. We think that the presence of this provision ought to go a long way to allay the fears and anxieties of those who are afraid that the Clause might be used in improper cases. We think that, with this protection, we are safeguarding people against an irresponsible prosecution in an unsuitable case, and the Government hope that the House will see fit to accept this Amendment, and will see in it a real improvement of the machinery of the Clause.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I would like to put a question to the Attorney-General. Is he speaking on behalf of the whole Tory party when he is moving this Amendment, or merely on behalf of the portion of the party in the House? The reason why I put that question is that I notice that only five Conservatives out of 411 are present in the House. We have just had the anxiety of the Tory party expressed by several of its Members for safeguarding the Government from being attacked in connection with this attack upon the privileges and upon the freedom of trade unionists, but, now that there is no fear of the Government being attacked, only five out of the whole Conservative party are present for the purpose of dealing with this Amendment which has been moved by the Attorney-General, which is going to create a most serious state of affairs, and which is going to take away the liberties of trade unionists. There is a further point that I want to put. In the event of a Division being challenged 1773 on this matter, will it be in order for me to draw attention to the fact that there is not a sufficient number of voices on the Conservative side to call a Division at the moment?
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
May I ask the Attorney-General if he proposes to accept the Amendment to his proposed Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Luton (Captain O'Connor)—at the end to add the words:Provided that if such consent be not given within seven days of the day when such person is first charged before Such Court such proceedings shall abate as against such person for all purposes whatsoever.
§ Mr. RICHARDSON
Then, apparently, this is to hang over the head of the unfortunate person who may be arrested, until Mr. Attorney-General decides whether he will say "Aye" or "No." If it be not proposed to accept this Amendment, I must vote against the Attorney-General's Amendment. Without this proviso, a man will have to remain in fear and dread probably for weeks, waiting for the Attorney-General to say "'Aye" or "No," and that is not at all fair to people who may be charged.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I beg to move, in page 2, line 34, to leave out Sub-section (4).
It would seem, I suppose, almost unbelievable if I were to assert to the House at the present moment that the matter which we are now beginning to discuss is, perhaps, the most important 1774 matter in the whole Bill. Owing to the operation of the guillotine, we have been unable up to this moment to discuss the effect of this Bill upon the Trade Disputes Act, and I welcome the opportunity which this Amendment to leave out Sub-section (4) of Clause 1 gives me to raise, for the first time since we have discussed this important Measure, the effect of it upon the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, and, consequently, its effect upon the funds of trade unions. In my opinion, the probabilities of criminal prosecutions under this Bill are comparatively remote, particularly since the Attorney-General has now limited the right of prosecution to a fiat of the Attorney-General himself; but the possibilities of the Bill being used in private litigation between an employer and a trade union are very considerable indeed. Let us see how this will work out in practice.
Whenever there is any strike, the funds of trade unions to-day, under Section 4 of the Trade Disputes Act, are protected. I do not know how far it would be in order, or even necessary, for me to defend Section 4 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906. In my view, the statement that is so often made, that the Trade. Disputes Act—which I only mention to explain the purport of my Amendment—has put trade unions above the law, is entirely inaccurate. It merely restores to the trade unions that position which the Court of Appeal held, in the Taff Vale case, was the right position of every voluntary organisation, namely, that it could not be made liable as an organisation for wrongful acts committed by officials over which, possibly, it had no control at all. I have never taken the view that Section 4 of the Trade Disputes Act, beyond reversing the unexpected decision of the House of Lords in the Taff Vale case, really seriously altered what everybody up to that time had understood to be the law. In my view, therefore, it is a very serious invasion of the present rights of trade unions that the Trade Disputes Act should be suspended. Nor can I understand how the Government, however anxious they may be to protect the community in cases of general strike, or in case of apprehended sedition or disorder, or whatever it may be, or even hardship to the community, can connect that with the relations between a private employer and a trade union.
1775 I said this Clause, and particularly this Sub-section, will be used very much in private litigation. I am going to explain how I think the question would arise. Whenever there is a trade dispute, wherever, for example, in the course of a trade dispute there is some agreement broken, possibly by a wholly irresponsible official, or some combination made by trade unionists that they will refuse, or persuade others not to give their labour in a particular dispute, apart from the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, under the Taff Vale case it might well be that the trade union would be made collectively liable for all the acts which might be wrongful of the individual who procured the breach of the contract or prevented, in combination with others, the continuance of contractual relations. Those funds, as was pointed out in the Dunedin Commission and on many occasions by many learned Judges, include all the friendly society benefits as well as the trade benefits. In other words, apart from the Trade Disputes Act, Section 4, every action which is successfully maintained against the trade union making it responsible for the wrongdoing, if it is wrong-doing of any official, has to be paid for not out of some independent fund existing for trade disputes but out of all the funds of the union—sickness benefit, friendly society benefit, accident benefit, all those funds collectively become liable, so that thousands of people who are dependent for purely friendly society benefit on trade unions lose their money, and individual workers and their wives and dependants have to pay the damages out of the corporate funds of the union because of the wrongful and possibly unauthorised act of some trade union agent.
That is the law at present, and what will happen is this. When an action is brought by an employer for an act done by an agent of a trade union he is met by the pleading of the Trade Disputes Act, and so efficacious is that pleading that actions in ordinary trade disputes against trade unionists have practically disappeared altogether. But what will happen under this Bill? I am not a prophet, but I undertake to say, knowing the skill of my colleagues at the Bar and of solicitors and other persons who will advise, that whenever the Trade Disputes Act is pleaded by the trade union 1776 the employer will reply by saying, "This is a case that is covered by the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill, 1927." In other words the question of the illegality of a strike will not arise, as the Attorney-General suggests, through applying for an injunction in a criminal or a semi-criminal case. I prophesy that the first time the meaning of this Bill is litigated will be in a private dispute between an employer and a workman where the employer is seeking to set aside the Trade Disputes Act by invoking the Clause I am now seeking to have taken out of the Bill. If that is right I think I am justified, despite the hour, despite the condition of the House so far as regards its inhabitants, in saying we have reached a most important part of our discussion.
But the matter does not end there. All the arguments which have been used about the uncertainty of the meaning of various phrases, the meaning of "trade or industry," the meaning of the word "calculated," the meaning of the word "coercion," and all the other ambiguities which have been before the House for so long, will be raised not on an injunction, or on the fiat of the Attorney-General for a prosecution, but in an ordinary action for damages between party and party over which the Attorney-General, of course, will have no more control than any other of His Majesty's Judges. In that connection it seems to me serious that we have not a more accurate definition of the meaning of these words. Once granted an illegal strike within the meaning of this Bill, the funds of trade unions will once more be back in the position they were in before the passing of the Trade Disputes Act. I hope the whole trade union movement, and the whole public, will realise that position. In this Clause we are not protecting the public against the wrongful acts of a trade union. We are once more opening the flood gates to a whole mass of private litigation between any employer and any trade union wherein the trade union funds may once more be attacked. I am not saying that in a particular case it may not be that the trade union may repel this answer to the Trade Disputes Act. It may be that after protracted inquiry, after long, long evidence as to whether the dispute is in the same trade 1777 or industry, after long questioning as to whether the Government is coerced, possibly after serving subpoenas on most Members of the Government to come forward in the private litigation to say whether they are coerced or not, at the end of it all the court will say, "Yes, we are satisfied that it is not an illegal strike and we hold that the Trade Disputes Act applies." But consider what confusion that is going to arouse, and consider how inconsistent it is with all the professions which the Government have made in connection with this Bill. Their case throughout has been that this is a public matter. It is a matter where the State is concerned and Parliament is concerned. We are not moving here in the area of private disputes. We are standing up as the guardians of the public to see that in future the public shall not be held in jeopardy by reason of certain strikes.
I think I am giving a fair representation of the Government's case as it has been put forward in the House and in the country, that this Bill is introduced to deal with a public and not a private danger. This seems to me to invite every employer involved in a trade dispute to bring into Court—a most undesirable thing no doubt—the whole of the Government on subpœna to say whether they have or have not been coerced. We will assume a case coming before the King's Bench Division, with or without a jury. How is the private employer to produce his evidence that the act done is calculated to produce hardship upon the community, and how is the trade union going to rebut that suggestion? It is all very well when you are dealing with Governments which have at their disposal unlimited money. They can deal with these things. But surely it is putting a premium upon the rich to say that this sort of evidence should be admitted in a private dispute, because a large combine, the Federation of British Industries, have Members in this House who have the control of large and syndicated funds, will be able to find the money to produce an immense mass of evidence to say that all sorts of persons all over the country were suffering hardship in order that they may remove the protection of the Trade Disputes Act and so get at the funds of the trade union. But surely it will be impossible 1778 to put upon the trade unions, many of which, despite what has been said in the Press, are really very poor, the necessity to prove that hardship has not been inflicted upon the community. You are asking some small, possibly struggling trade union, with its limited resources and limited opportunities of obtaining evidence, really to satisfy a Judge or jury that the dispute in which they are involved has not produced hardship on the community. It is too great a burden to place on the smaller trade unions, and even the larger trade unions, that they should have to go through all this expense, which can be invoked in every case simply by a skilful pleader pleading in answer to the defence of the Trade Disputes Act that it does not apply by reason of Clause 1 (4) of the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill, 1927.
As I foresee it, we have here in this particular proposal a far more sinister and a far more bitter attack on the trade unions and on its funds and finances than anything we have reached so far. It is a good thing that, even at this late hour and this late stage of the discussion on this Bill, that the effect of this Bill on the Trade Disputes Act should be thoroughly ventilated. But the matter does not end there. Section 3 of the Trade Disputes Act is also suspender' in the case of strikes or lockouts of this uncertain nature. That Clause, I agree, owing to a good deal of legal decision, has been very much whittled down. I doubt very much under the present law, unless you can say there has been an actual breach of contract, whether it is necessary any more to invoke the protection of the Trade Disputes Act at all. Unless you can say that the intention of a combine was to injure the particular employer and that that was their sole intention, I doubt whether, after the decisions in recent cases, an action would lie in common law at all. But, however the case may be, that is the law at the present time.
If the Government really wish to repeal the Trade Disputes Act, will they come forward and say so honestly and plainly, and then we shall know where we are. But it is, as I see it, a method of keeping down the Trade Disputes Act in a rather subtle and not very fair way. 1779 Let us know where we are. If the Government like to go to the country on the question of repealing the Trade Disputes Act, we will meet them on that ground. I think that the Trade Disputes Act is a very proper statutory provision, but the Government, in their discretion, have not thought fit to repeal the Trade Disputes Act. They have left Section 3 and Section 4 of the Trade Disputes Act standing, but what they have said is this, that any employer can sue successfully any person who is now protected by Section 3 of the Trade Disputes Act if only they can show that it is done in an illegal strike under this Bill. So the Government are facing a public right and a private right. We have been discussing nothing but a private right. Now they are intervening in a private affair between employer and employed, and that is why we say that nothing which has been said has justified this particular provision.
Take the famous four points of the Prime Minister. He was told—we know he said so in this House—that, as I understand it, it passed the wit of man to say in terms that a general strike should be made illegal. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), who is the person, I should think, of all people, competent to devise a form of words to deal with the situation, moved an Amendment in this House to limit it to general strikes, the Government refused to accept that Amendment. When the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bassetlaw (Sir E. Hume-Williams) made a suggestion at an earlier stage of the Bill that there should be some machinery to declare the illegality of a strike, that Amendment also did not prove acceptable. So that we are now in this position, in the absence of a declaration and a definition, and the Attorney-General, under Section 7 of this Act, being able to obtain an injunction or declaration—I am sure be would agree—that in the case of the Trade Disputes Act, the whole of this litigation has to be decided between the parties on evidence brought before the Court in a particular case. So that, in effect, one can say that, probably in the case of any sympathetic strike, possibly in any strike in any one industry which did not come specifically under a definition of a trade dispute in 1780 this Bill, we are opening the door to a great mass of litigation and contention between the parties.
There is another matter which I should like to mention before I sit down, and that is the contention that where you have an illegal strike the second proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Emergency Powers Act of 1920 shall not apply. 1t is also made illegal. It is also proposed where one of these illegal strikes obtain to suspend the operation of the Emergency Powers Act of 1920. I have always taken the view that the Emergency Powers Act was intended to deal with the general strike, or something like it. The opening words of the Emergency Powers Act are:If at any time it appears to His Majesty that any action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any persons or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be calculated, by interfering with the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel or light, or with the means of locomotion, to deprive the community, or any' substantial portion of the community of the essentials of life.Those words seem to me to contemplate a state of affairs very similar to what is now called a general strike. I believe I am right, in saying that the Emergency Powers Act, 1920, was passed when it was believed that something like a general strike was about to take place. I believe that at that time it was feared that a strike on a very large and sympathetic scale would take place. In 1920, in face of a situation very similar to that which obtained last year, except that I agree that it did not materialise, Parliament, having given the Government ample power to deal with the situation—to do everything reasonably necessary by police protection to deal with every possible case of sedition or intimidation or any criminal act, to provide the means of transport, to see that the community should be properly rationed and maintained—decided to pass this proviso:Provided also that no such regulation"—that was a Regulation made in case of a general strike or something very like it—shall make it an offence for any person or persons to take part in a strike, or peacefully to persuade any other person or persons to take part in a strike.I anticipate, I think, one of the things that the Attorney-General will say with regard to what I am saying about this 1781 particular proviso. He will point out, that having made a general strike illegal, and, I may say, a sympathetic strike illegal under the new Bill, it will be incompatible with that to leave in this power to make Regulations which would still allow strikes to take place. As far as the particular strikes which are declared to be illegal are concerned, I agree that it might be said very fairly to be incompatible to make them illegal in one Bill and at the same time to allow a proviso to remain in another Act saying that they were legal. But, when we come to look at this proviso, we see that it goes very much further than the mere general strike declared to be illegal under the original Bill. What the Bill says is the same as the second proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 2:shall not apply to any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a strike.Therefore, as I understand it, it would, in fact, make the proviso to such a Regulation which now prevents you from peacefully persuading any person to take part in that strike, no longer possible. Therefore, all the provisions of this Bill could be amplified by Regulations under the Emergency Powers Act, substituting, possibly, more summary procedure than the procedure under this Bill. I invite the Attorney-General's attention to this very closely, because I think the situation would be a very curious one. The Attorney-General is now limiting the right to prosecute for illegal offences in Clause 1 of this Bill to cases where he has given his fiat, but at the same time he is allowing; Regulations to be made under the Emergency Powers Act by the repeal of this proviso which would give power to all sorts of people to prosecute. May I repeat that point, because it is a very serious one. It is not a false point, there is a great deal of substance in it. The Emergency Powers Act at present prevents Regulations being made which will prohibit strikes or persuasions to strike, and under these Regulations it is possible for ordinary summary procedure to be used by way of prosecution. That is quite clear, and under the Regulations passed last year there was power taken for ordinary chief constables and magistrates to prosecute.
Now the Attorney-General tells us that he is going to limit the right of prosecution under Clause 1 to cases taken on his own fiat. If this proviso to the Emergency 1782 Powers Act is now in future to allow prosecutions for strikes in the circumstances contemplated in the Emergency Powers Act, and if I am right that the circumstances contemplated in the Emergency Powers Acts are substantially the same circumstances as those contemplated in this Bill, then it would follow that, although prosecutions could not take place under this Bill without the fiat of the Attorney-General, prosecutions may take place under the Regulations of the Emergency Powers Act which, in fact, deals with the same matter. If the Attorney-General is going to persist in the elimination of this proviso of the Emergency Powers Act, in cases of illegal strikes under this Bill, he should also have some limitation so that his fiat, which will be necessary under Clause 1 of this Bill, should similarly be necessary in cases dealt with under any Regulation of the Emergency Powers Act. The second point can be covered by a little amendment and consideration. Personally, I fear I shall have to ask some hon. Member opposite to ask the Attorney-General to accept this because the Attorney-General has never yet accepted any suggestion from this side of the House, not even the definition of my own with regard to the lock-out which I thought might have received some consideration. Even there no proposal has been made to meet my point. I am not unhopeful that it may be found, as we have found to-day in dealing with the word "calculated," that some hon. Member on the other side possibly may move a similar Amendment in which case it will receive careful consideration in another place.
I do not complain of that, because I suppose it is part of the Parliamentary game. Later the Government will be able to say that their Bill, if it is improved has been improved at the solicitation of their own Members and not at the solicitation of hon. Members on this side. But I do ask that wherever the proposal comes from it should receive some consideration. First, that the Trade Disputes Act should not come into this Bill at all. It is inappropriate to this Bill, and its inclusion only lends colour to our suggestion that the Bill is really designed and directed against trade unions. Secondly, that as the Attorney-General 1783 has met the Committee so far that he is limiting the right of prosecution, that a similar provision should appear in the Emergency Powers Act; that he should not take away with one hand what he is giving with the other. I think these points should receive careful consideration because this Bill may involve the trade unions, and possibly the employers, in enormous expense in the Courts, and I should like to see some provision made that, at any rate until the Attorney-General has succeeded in getting his injunction, or it has been publicly declared that the strike is illegal, that the issue as to whether it is legal or not should not be left to the ordinary Judge and Jury merely on the question of a private action for damages and for an injunction. I am not hopeful that anything we say on this side will persuade the right hon. Gentleman, but I am hopeful that some hon. Member opposite may be so far moved as to press upon the Attorney-General matters which would not receive consideration coming from myself.
§ Sir W. GREAVES-LORD
The hon. and learned Member, under the guise of asking that the Courts should not be invoked by a private individual to declare what is, or is not, a legal or illegal strike, is really asking that something should be done to this Bill Which would make it an engine of the greatest oppression. As the law stands, in connection with an ordinary trade dispute, and also in connection with a great many otherwise illegal things which might be done by trade unions, the Trade Disputes Act of 1906 relieves trade unions and trade union officials, and persons acting in connection with a trade dispute from the ordinary liability of the law of this country to make good the damage which they inflict by the act for which they would otherwise be liable in damages. What the hon. and learned Member is calmly asking the House to do is this: that in cases where Parliament will have declared that a strike or lock-out is illegal the persons taking part in that illegal strike or illegal lock-out shall be able to inflict unlimited damage upon private individuals and shall remain without any liability to make good that damage, 1784 although, in fact, their conduct has amounted to crime and not merely to illegality. That is a doctrine which neither this House nor any Parliament in this country will ever tolerate. It is something which is foreign to the ideas of justice in this land, and when it is realised that the underlying purpose of this Amendment is to allow people to commit crime and inflict damage on private individuals with impunity neither this House nor anybody in the country will think it is worth supporting for a moment.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I have listened to a good many expressions of opinion during the debates on this Bill from many legal Members of this House but it is very seldom indeed that they have been able to agree on any interpretation of any particular Clause. I feel sometimes as I imagine the person felt about whom the old Persian poet wrote some 2,000 years ago, when he said:Myself when young did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument,About it and about, but evermore came outBy the same door—as in I went.I think with regard to this Clause there is a very substantial case on grounds of equity, reason and common sense. We have continually heard from the Government apologists for this Bill that its real purpose is to protect the community against the general strike, but it is quite clear that, as far as this particular Subsection of this Clause is concerned, it has nothing whatever to do with the protection of the community against the menace of a general strike. It is like many other portions of the Bill, and has nothing whatever to do with protection against an upheaval such as we had last year. I think that if there is any sense of sportsmanship or fairness left in the Conservative party they will at once see that an important principle of this kind ought, not to be rushed through Parliament in an atmosphere of haste or pique. If there are things which constitute abuses with regard to trade union law and activity, surely the proper way to deal with them would be for the Government first of all to have set up some impartial Committee of Inquiry, like a Royal Commission, so that the whole of the facts could have been collected in a 1785 fair and impartial manner, and then to have taken action based upon a really efficient inquiry and consideration.
The object of this particular Clause is quite clearly the penalisation of the trade unions and the desire to alter the Trade Disputes Act in the limited way in which the late Solicitor-General has explained, but, nevertheless, to whittle away the protection which the trade unions enjoy under that particular Act. While the Government Amendment has, to some extent, limited the uses to which this Sub-section could be put, it is quite obvious that the trade unions will be faced with the possibility of extensive litigation in the Courts. Possibly, with a Conservative Government in office, the desire to engage in that litigation will receive a certain stimulus from the Conservative party organisations. For instance, my own union, with which I have been connected for over 20 years, has recently had to fight a case in the Courts. I refer to the Foster case, where the initiative was derived from a newspaper which is, probably, identified with the Conservative party, and which opened a subscription list to support this particular individual in his litigation against the union. That ease, which was lost, cost something over £5,000, and I have yet to learn that the costs have been recovered. In regard to this particular Clause, we have no reason to suppose that the Conservative administration in the future will be any different from what it has been in the past, and we can imagine that employers will be encouraged to take advantage of this particular Sub-section in order to press their claims against the union, and, as the ex-Solicitor-General said, the Clause will open the flood-gates to litigation. Certainly, as far as the Conservative party are concerned, we have every reason to believe that they will endeavour to make the fullest possible use they can of any powers of this kind.
During my recent travels to various parts of the country in connection with the Trade Unions Bill, I came across a case where the official agent of the Conservative party in a certain constituency had actually approached the manager of a co-operative society branch with a couple of letters which he asked him to take, and to secure the signatures of members of the society to these letters, 1786 which were then to be sent to the Press and published in the local newspapers. There is no reason to suppose that that spirit will not remain after this Bill is placed on the Statute Book, and I therefore hope that the Attorney-General will see that this is a reversal of the existing law. A partial reimposition of the position that was left by the Taff Vale judgment is really a very unfair proposal to embody in a Bill which is supposed to be justified by a desire to protect the community from the evils of a general strike.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
I cannot help thinking that the apprehensions so ably expressed by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Sir H. Slesser) are really unfounded. They amount in one sentence to this. The Trade Disputes Act affords protection to the funds of trade unions when something has been done in pursuit of a legitimate strike, and the Act is very careful to safeguard the legitimacy and propriety of a strike in connection with the protection which it affords. Now we are bringing in a new Act, creating new conditions, and saying that certain strikes will be illegal and providing punishment for those who transgress. Surely it is legitimate to say that if a man is engaged in an illegal strike, he loses the protection of the Trade Disputes Āct.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
My principal point was this, and perhaps the hon. and learned Member will deal with it. The ordinary tribunal which is discussing the matter is not the proper body to decide whether a strike is illegal or not.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
I will say a few words about that. I think the apprehension of the hon. and learned Gentleman is really unfounded. I cannot imagine that the County Court, or the Court in which such proceedings would be taken, would be left to decide a question of that kind. It is quite true, as I pointed out when moving the Amendment standing in my name, that this question of legality or illegality might come up for first decision by police magistrates in different parts of the country. That might lead to a certain amount of apprehension, but now I do think that the Amendment which the Attorney-General has moved, providing that no such proceedings can be initiated until his fiat 1787 has been obtained, will, if it is carried, afford a considerable protection.
I cannot conceive that if an illegal strike really begins, the very first result of it would be otherwise than that the Attorney-General should apply under Sub-section (7) for an injunction to restrain the parting with funds to be used in the furtherance of the strike, because it is quite obvious that if it is desired to stop the strike on its initiation the best and most sensible way to do that is to make such an application. If you stop the supply of funds, in all certainty you stop the strike, and, therefore, the earliest decision which is likely to be given on the point is by a Judge of the High Court. I still think my own child is the best, and I very much regret that my suggestion that the earliest decision should be that of the Court of Appeal and should be final, was not accepted, and the more I listen to this Debate the more convinced I am in my affections for the object on which they were originally bestowed. However, if we have got the fiat of the Attorney-General that is, at any rate, some protection, and I hope that if it ever comes into operation the Attorney-General of the day, whoever he may be, will hasten to put an end to the anxiety of those prisoners who may be on remand and awaiting trial, by making prompt application to the Courts and getting a decision. I cannot imagine he would do otherwise, or that he would allow the decision to be in the hands of some County Court Judge, very likely in a private dispute between one party and another.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I am afraid I may not have made myself clear. It is not a criminal matter at all. What I suggest is that the ordinary employer will be advised by his counsel to take the defence of an illegal strike to over-ride the Trade Disputes Act. The Attorney-General will have no more to do with it than the hon. and learned Member.
Sir E. HUME-WILLIĀMS
I am sorry that I did not make myself clear. The point which the Attorney-General made was that the legality or illegality of the strike might come up for first decision on a private suit between the workmen and the employer and, quite, rightly, he pointed out the inconvenience of such a 1788 procedure. The point which I was endeavouring to put was that probably that would never arise, because the moment the strike begins the first application must be by the Attorney-General to the Court, and upon such an application the question of the legality or illegality of the strike would be decided. The whole question could not again be gone into on a private dispute. I think the apprehensions of the hon. and learned Member are entirely unfounded, and in regard to his Amendment to leave out the whole of the Subsection, it seems to me, as a matter of common sense, that if you are going to create an offence by creating an illegal it would be perfectly absurd to give the protection of the Trade Disputes Act to, a man who has, admittedly, been engaged in an illegal act.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
On listening to the legal Members of the House one is reminded of the expert conjuror. Each Gentleman in turn shows how delightfully simple it is to arrive at his point of view, but he violently dissents from the views of those preceding him. That leaves laymen in a state of mixed feelings and thoughts. My union was, I suppose, the instigator of the Acts of 1906, in consequence of the Taff Vale trouble. If the Act of 1906 is to be put on one side as apparently it is by this Sub-section, we shall be back in the position in which we stood prior to the Taff Vale case. The 1906 Act was quite simple. We knew where we were under that Act. The average trade union leader or official and the active man in a branch or the ordinary workman knew what his powers were under that Act; but under this Subsection we shall not know what we can do. Had our Amendment been accepted and the words "or calculated" had been deleted it would have been easier. The last words in the Sub-section read:… any such act shall not be deemed for the purposes of any enactment to be done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute.I agree that that might be desirable in order to meet a strike designed to coerce the Government, but some unfortunate trade unionists may go on strike, in their own minds for a trade dispute, and it may turn out that when they have been on strike some little time a loophole has been discovered, and it can be brought 1789 against them that this strike is calculated to coerce the Government. Although every man who is on strike may honestly have believed that all that he was doing was to assist others who were on strike, this Act will say that that reason shall not be deemed to be that which originally brought them out on strike. I raised the point this afternoon of the railwaymen and the dockers. The docks and the railways work together. In some cases the docks are owned by the railway companies and in other cases the docks are owned by private companies. A dock company may be breaking away from a general national agreement, and the railwaymen may feel that they can no longer run trains and carry goods into that particular dock, because the struggle may help to depress the condition of the dockers, and the railwaymen may, quite legitimately, fear that the fever may spread round the coast and ultimately affect their own condition. In self-protection they might say: "We will not run goods," and if the railway company forces goods to be run they will have to declare a strike. If they were to come out it would be illegal under this Bill, yet those men would be sincerely desirous of protecting themselves, whilst assisting their fellows, some of whom might be their own brothers or relations at the docks. This particular Sub-section makes criminals of men just as was the case 100 years ago. That is my great objection to the Sub-section. I would agree that there was a case for the Sub-section where a strike is designed to coerce the Government, but it is very reactionary on the part of the Government to have this Clause designed as it is, with the word "calculated" left in the Bill. Therefore, I hope the House will divide against it.
§ Mr. GERALD HURST
This proviso is one of the most useful and most important provisions in a very useful and important Clause. The hon. Member for South Leeds (Mr. Charleton) said that under this Sub-section the trade unionist would never know how the law stands, and that under the law as it stands at the present time he knows perfectly well how he stands. In my view, exactly the reverse is the fact. Though the law has been in operation since 1906, there have been very many doubts on all sides as to the exact meaning of every Clause in the 1790 Trade Disputes Act, and it is only in recent times that the interpretation of that Act has really crystallised, whereas under this Sub-section the hon. Member will know perfectly well how he stands, and so will all trade union leaders know how they stand, because under this Subsection in the event of a general strike none of the immunities and privileges which they enjoy under the Trade disputes Act of 1906 will be enjoyed by them in any circumstances whatever. Although they may deprecate that change in the law, at any rate they will know perfectly well how they stand.
Is it desirable or not that in the event of an illegal revolutionary general strike privileges which have been enjoyed under the Act of 1906 should remain? It is very important to realise what are the two privileges which are taken away from trade unions in the event of their taking part in an illegal general strike. First of all, as my hon. and learned Friends have pointed out, this Sub-section deprives trade unions in future in this event of their irresponsibility for tort. As the law has stood since 1906, however mischievous, however harmful and however disastrous the action of a trade union might be, however much injury the acts of its authorised agents might impose upon other citizens, the funds of the trade union could not be made liable and the trade union could not be sued. That is absolute legal irresponsibility at the present time. Is it or is it not desirable that the irresponsibility should remain in the event of a revolutionary strike? Anybody who believes that the general or revolutionary strike is something to be put down at all costs by the State must also believe, in consequence, that this irresponsibility must go. What is the alternative? It means that in the event of a general strike, if a trade union authorised its officials to destroy property, to commit acts of intimidation or coercion, or to libel a person, or to molest a person, or to intimidate or coerce in any way, in no circumstances whatever can the trade union be sued or its funds made liable. In the event of a general strike, this Clause provides that this irresponsibility shall terminate. Nobody who regards the general strike as deplorable, or a thing to be averted, can surely reasonably object to the termination of these present immunities.
1791 A second way in which the Trade Disputes Act confers a privilege upon trade unions in normal strikes, which this Subsection will remove, is the causing of breaches of contract of employment. At present, if these breaches are brought about in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute—that is the reason why these words appear at the end of the Sub-section—a trade union is entirely free from any liability for acts done by them. That privilege has been very greatly abused by trade unions in past times. Only a few weeks ago a case was brought to my notice in my division where members of a local trade union—the Society of Painters—had their ordinary livelihood interfered with by members of a large national trade union, who intimated to the employers that unless these men were dismissed the members of the larger or national trade union would strike, the result being that owing to this pressure the employers dismissed their employés. It is true that in this case they did give them a week's notice, but under the Trade Disputes Act masters can dismiss their employés in breach of contract without giving them notice, and the persons who procure that breach of contract, if they were trade unionists, would be absolutely immune from responsibility.
That is the bad law as it stands in times of peace in cases of normal strikes. Is that bad law to be invoked by trade unions in the event of a general strike? If this Clause were not passed, it would mean that a trade union could force employers to dismiss employés with whom they were perfectly satisfied under pressure of calling other men out on strike or under pressure of coercion, and the trade unions who caused the breach of contract would be absolutely immune from liability. That is an anomalous privilege in times of peace. In times of revolution it would be not merely anomalous but calamitous to the State, and those who believe that the safety of the State is the highest law cannot tolerate the preservation of these immunities. This irresponsibility, which is bad in time of peace, in time of national emergency would be absolutely ruinous to the community. On these grounds, it seems to me it would be absolute folly to accept the revolutionary 1792 and subversive arguments which the late Solicitor-General has put forward.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I have not been in the House in the early stages of the Debate, but the Clause seems to offer material for some more criticism. The Act of 1906, based on the Dunedin Report, was intended to bring about this result—that since you recognise that employés were entitled to stay away from work for the purpose of making employers come to their way of thinking——
§ Mr. HARNEY
I am sorry: it is not usually a complaint to which I am subject. I was saying that since it was recognised by legislation that employers were entitled to close their works for the purpose of bringing the employés to their way of thinking, so, correlatively, employés were entitled to say, "We will not go to the works" for the purpose of bringing the employers to their own way of thinking. That was an instrument of equal weight for bargaining on both sides. That being recognised, it was thought that if you leave officials of trade unions subject to attack, responsible persons will be afraid to guide their men. Therefore, the Act of 1906 said the funds shall be immune and the officials shall be immune whatever advice they may give to their men. That was really the basis of the Act of 1906. Then this Bill comes along and says that a strike or lock-out, which by this Act is declared illegal, shall be deprived of all the privileges that were conferred by the 1906 Act.
I would not agree with it, even though it were applied to both sides, but my first criticism on this Clause is that it is very unequal, because the effect of the whole Bill, read in conjunction with this particular Clause, is that persons who strike because the employers will not agree to their demands have all the penalties that are prescribed by this Bill, but employers who close their works because the men win not agree to their demands have none of the liabilities of this Clause. Why do I say that? When this Bill was first drafted there was no mention of lock-outs at all. There was a public outcry. Even the Conservative papers said, "If you are going to penalise those on the men's side, you must equally penalise those on the 1793 employers' side." The Attorney-General felt that he had to bend to the storm, and he said, "I will put lock-outs exactly on a par with strikes," and in Clause 1, and in this Clause he inserts, wherever there is "strike," the word "lock-out." People reading this Clause will say it is even handed justice. But strikes and lock-outs are exceptional terms, and they require definition; and therefore, in order to know what is really intended by this Clause, we have to see from the labels what they connote. We find that both these words have been defined in a previous Act—the Munitions Act—in precisely corresponding terms. They are not defined in this Act in the same way as they are defined in the Munitions Act. Strikes are defined in this Act leaving out a good part of the definition contained in the Munitions Act, but lockouts are defined in this Act as in the Munitions Act. Why? When you turn to the definition Clause you find lock-out is given a full definition, which is this:'Lock-out' means the closing of a place of employment or the suspension of work, or the refusal by an employer to continue to employ any number of persons employed by him in consequence of a dispute, done with a view to compelling those persons, or to aid another employer in compelling persons employed by to accept terms or conditions of or affecting employment.That, of course, means that a lock-out under the Munitions Act is defined to be the closing of works because of trade disputes. A strike was defined under the Munitions Act as leaving a place of employment because of a genuine trade dispute. The House has put into this Act that a "'strike' means a cessation of work by a body of persons employed acting in combination, or a concerted refusal, or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of persons who are or have been employed to continue to work or to accept employment." Not a word in the definition of strike of persons stopping away by reason of trade disputes. Why was that part of the original definition left out? I will tell you. Because it was intended by this Bill to make criminal the large strike which took place for some purpose other than a mere dispute in the particular trade. It was intended to make this illegal, and it was found impossible to put in the additional words that a strike should be something whereby the works were closed by reason of the men stopping 1794 away because of a trade dispute. Therefore they left out "because of a trade dispute."
Now when the Attorney-General, under pretext of putting lock-outs on the same footing as strikes, puts into this first Clause whenever you have strikes or lockouts, he gives the definition and gives the full words of the definition of lockout. What does that mean? It means this: persons are guilty of a strike if they merely stop away from the works. If it be found that they stop away because they had a purpose other than a trade issue, an industrial issue, and that had the effect of creating hardship to the community, they are criminals. Look-outs! You can only have a lock-out if employers close their doors because of a trade dispute. Clause 1 says that the only closing of doors by employers that is illegal is the closing of doors for something other than a trade dispute. Therefore, if the employer closes his place of employment because of a trade dispute, it is a lock-out but it is legal. If he closes it for some other purpose, it is illegal but it is not a lock-out. In order that a man may be punisher, it must be illegal, but not a lock-out.
Therefore, you have the curious position that before you can punish a strike leader or a locker-out you have to bring him within both Clause 1 and Clause 8. You can bring the unfortunate leader of the strike within Clause 1 or Clause 8 and hold up his funds and send him to jail, but you cannot bring an employer within the Clause, because if he comes within Clause 1 he cannot come within Clause 8, and if he comes within Clause 8 he cannot come within Clause 1. The Attorney-General laughs a good-natured laugh. We had some heated words between us the other day—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—but he does not attach any importance to them, and neither do I. But I am putting up an argument and I hope it is sufficiently intelligible. The argument is that although you have put into Clause 1 employers and employés on exactly the same footing as regards strikes and lock-outs by reason of the different definitions you give to those two words in Clause 8, in one case giving it the full definition, and in the other case giving it only the partial definition of the Munitions Act, by doing so you bring this about, that it is impossible to have a lock-out which answers 1795 the description that it is illegal and the strike under the same circumstances is subject to penalties.
I am going to give an illustration. I do not know much about industry, but there it is. Take the coal miners in my constituency. They go on strike, the ground being that they cannot continue to work unless the Eight Hours Act is repealed. That is an object other than a difference between themselves and the employers. It spreads. It creates hardship on the community. You cannot have a coal strike without that. The strike is illegal; funds held up; leaders and partisans sent to jail. All that because 10,000 men start leaving the pits because they wish for a repeal of the Eight Hours Act. Take the owners. The owners see a disposition on the part of the Government to repeal the Eight Hours Act. They say, "We do not wish it to be repealed. We close exactly the same pits and put exactly the same number out. We create exactly the same hardship on the community." The two cases are identical in the effect. In the case of the miners the same thing is brought about for the same purpose to coerce the Government, but the strike leaders go to jail and the strike funds are ultimately sequestrated. Where the owners do that you turn round and say, "What, are you going to prosecute them? Is it the lock-out? Of course, if it is not a lock-out we cannot punish them. What is a lock-out? A lock-out is closing works for the purpose of bringing the employés to their masters' terms. This is a closing of works for forcing the Government. Why, it is not a lock-out at all. You cannot touch the owners."
There you have two identical matters with the same purpose in view and the same methods adopted. I say that for a mind with the high intelligence of the Attorney-General—and nobody recognises it more than I do—in answer to public clamour to throw dust into people's eyes by a Clause like this, to seek to blind them with a cloud of words that means nothing, is dishonest. If that were done in a prospectus, as the Attorney-General well knows, the promoter would be sued for fraudulent misrepresentation, and I can well fancy the Attorney-General, in all the vigour of well-remunerated indignation, 1796 pointing out the delinquency of those who are skilled in the use of words and who prostitute their skill to deceive an unsuspecting public. That is exactly what has been done here. I assert that, in spite of all the protestations that have been made about putting employers and employés on the same footing by the introduction of this word "lock-out," you might draw your pen through the word "lock-out" wherever it appears; you might draw your pen through the definition, and you would at the end be as you were at the beginning. I say that this is a public fraud. If the Government generally intend and wish, as they apparently do, to say, "We will hurl the forces of our wrath against the men, and we will make immune the owners," let them say so, and take the consequences. But it does make one indignant to hear these pretexts of even-handed justice to both, when really all that is done is to make use of the English language to make the public believe that this is even-handed justice when the Government, with its tongue in its cheek, knows perfectly well that it is nothing of the kind.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
I rise with great diffidence to address you, Mr. Speaker, because I have always understood that one should address Mr. Speaker and should not be deterred by the noise from either side. I have to address you, Mr. Speaker, on the supposition that you understand the words which the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) has said. I do not believe it. There was not a word, in my opinion, which was relevant to the Amendment with which we have got to deal, and it is extraordinary that the hon. and learned Member should not at least have taken the trouble to know what he was talking about. I have watched the hon. and learned Member the late Solicitor-General of the Socialist Government. I have looked at him, and I have never seen anyone so embarrassed by a friend as he has been by the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Shields. The Amendment about which we are talking is a very simple one. It is to leave out Sub-section (4) of Clause 1. We have heard from the hon. and learned Member for South Shields a lot about the fraudulent prospectus. He understands the fraudulent prospectus far better than I do. In 1797 the case of a fraudulent prospectus you have only to put up a person to write it who knows nothing of what he is talking about. Let me turn to the Amendment. I should have thought, notwithstanding the very learned argument of the hon. Member for South Leeds that it was a very simple and clear issue. Let me say with emphasis, when he attains—as I have no doubt he will, and he thoroughly deserves it—high judicial office, let him beware of attacking His Majesty's Judges as he is accustomed to do. If there is one thing of which the whole world is proud it is the administration of British justice.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I do not think that is quite fair. It has been done twice and I do not think it is fair to say that the hon. and learned Member has attacked the Judges. I have never read of him or heard him on one occasion attacking the Judges.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
The hon. and learned Member who is such a stout defender of his hon. and learned Friend was not in the House when the hon. Member for South Leeds made the observation to which I have referred, so that I do not think he knows about the matter, and I do not pay much attention to his interruption. But I protest, and I shall protest to the hon. Gentleman personally about it——
§ Mr. CHARLETON
On a point of Order. I am the Member for South Leeds, and I never mentioned the Judges at all.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
My humblest apologies are due to the hon. Member. I imagine that the culprit is the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser). It is not true to say that the Judges whittled down the Act of 1906.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I have no recollection of saying that any Judge whittled dawn the Act of 1906 at all, nor on any occasion have I accused any Judge in this country, either inside the House or out of it.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
That will not do. I protest, as I stand here. I caught and noted the words used by the hon. and learned Member that the Judges had whittled down the Act of 1906. What 1798 did he mean by that? We have had enough of attacks on the magistracy of this country, and we have heard enough of the attacks upon the Judges, and yet, the hon. Gentleman used the words "whittled down." What did he mean by that?
§ Sir H. SLESSER
The hon. and learned Member is making a very serious accusation against me. I want him to tell the House in what context and in what connection I said that any Judge had whittled down the Act of 1906. Let him give the whole context of what I said and what I was speaking about and when I said it.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
You need not trouble. You know you stated it in this House this evening when you were moving your Amendment to delete Subsection (4).
§ Sir G. HOHLER
In connection with the Act of 1906 or the Act of 1920. I think it was in connection with the Act of 1906, and you used the words "whittled down," and I noted them particularly, and since then I have been trying to catch the Speaker's eye with a view to condemning what is, in my judgment, a most unjust aspersion. You bear it in mind—I am an older man than you are——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member began with a most excellent Parliamentary maxim, that he would only address the Chair. I hope he will keep to it.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
May I state to the House that I absolutely deny that I ever used such an expression at all in reference to the Judges. Now the hon. and learned Member may continue to say that I did so and that I am telling a falsehood when I deny it, if he pleases. I never made any reference to the Judges at all in the course of my speech on that Sub-section, and I ask the hon. and learned Member either to withdraw or to say definitely that he does not believe my denial.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
I heard the words "whittled down" and I do not mean to withdraw one jot or iota. I am not called upon to withdraw that which I have heard. "Whittled down" were the 1799 words used, and if the hon. and learned Member did not refer to the Judges, to whom did he refer. Whittled down by whom, I ask? Who can whittle down an Act of Parliament, except His Majesty's Judges? I do not propose to go into this any further, but I protest against the arguments which we have heard to nauseation throughout the discussion in this Bill. The magistracy and everybody else has been attacked because it suited the purpose of the party opposite.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
What I said was that this Bill had the effect of whittling down the protection of the 1906 Act. That is what I said.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
We have now got to the word "whittling." Do you not think the conclusion is pretty obvious, Mr. Speaker? I do. That was by the way. I ought not to have said that. What is all the noise that has been raised about this Sub-section. The Clause begins by declaring what is an illegal strike. I think it was fairly clear before, but I daresay there are others who take a different view. I am content to stand by my own view. A strike may be declared to be an illegal strike—not in that it is a strike, but in that it is for some other purpose, which is set out in the earlier Clauses. All that this Sub-section does is to state that if a man has been a party to that which is declared to be an illegal strike, he cannot defend himself by saying, "Oh, but this was done under the Act of 1906." That is all. Where does all this talk about magistrates and public prosecutions come in? The Sub-section says:The provisions of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, shall not, nor shall the second proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section two of the Emergency Powers Act, 1920, apply to any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a strike or lock-out which is by this Act declared to be illegal, and any such act shall not be deemed for the purposes of any enactment to be done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute.One would have thought a student of the Bar could have understood that. [Interruption.] When we get more students at the Bar from the benches opposite they will get to understand these things. But a proviso which declares that a man cannot avail himself of a certain Act of Parliament as a defence to an illegal thing does not enable people to 1800 bring prosecutions before magistrates. It simply makes it quite clear, whatever uninformed minds may think, that if a strike is declared to be illegal under this Bill people cannot rely on existing legislation to defend their acts. That is the whole point, and I think you will agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. and learned Member for South Shields made a very oracular speech. What he meant by it I am at a loss to understand, and I believe you are too, Mr. Speaker. Further, I believe that had you been in the Chair a little earlier you would have been in doubt whether that speech was in order, and would have pulled him up.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
Mr. Speaker, it is pleasant to think that you and I are always in agreement. I am sorry that when there are more serious matters to discuss the time of the House is wasted on an idle Amendment such as this.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I should not have intervened but for the fact that some hon. Members might have thought that I was treating them with discourtesy by not replying. I must say that some of the speeches to which we have listened did not seem to me to have very much to do with Sub-section (4) of the Bill. We had from the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) a discussion of the definitions in Clause 8, and, while I do not agree with what he said, his arguments seemed to me to be quite apart from the immunity given by the Trade Disputes Act. The hon. and learned Member for South East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), who moved the Amendment, regarded it as a very important one, and I agree with him in that respect, but not for the reasons which he gave. The hon. and learned Member expressed doubts as to whether there would not be a flood of litigation let loose in which the question of whether this or that strike was illegal would be discussed before the Courts. On that point, I do not share the fears which have been expressed, because it is not in the least likely that such questions will be raised under the 1801 very imaginative circumstances outlined, and even if such a defence were raised, it would be dealt by a Judge of the High Court in the usual way, and in the same Court in which any proceedings would be dealt with which were undertaken by the Attorney-General. This Sub-section is important, because it really provides what is perhaps the most effective sanction in the Bill. The object of this Clause is preventive rather than punitive. It is not intended to punish people for taking part in an illegal strike so much as to prevent an illegal strike taking place. While this proposal may not be effective in preventing irresponsible revolutionaries earning a cheap martyrdom by being sent to prison for stirring up an illegal strike, by adopting that policy they would be rendering trade union funds liable in case a strike took place, and that might be a most effective check upon their activities. But whether it be right or wrong that the funds of trade unions should be immune from the
§ ordinary process of law, and while it may be right or wrong that trade unions may commit faults with impunity so far as their civil liabilities are concerned, it cannot be right that Parliament should declare in one breath that certain strikes are illegal and an offence against the community, and in another breath declare that trade unions shall not be responsible for damages resulting from that offence. It is on that ground that this Clause is not in any way to be whitted down, but in cases which Parliament has declared are not ordinary disputes but illegal conspiracies, trade union funds, like any other funds, will be liable for the wrongs committed. For these reasons, I cannot accept the Amendment, and I ask the House to reject it
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes. 248; Noes, 132.1805
|Division No. 194.]||AYES.||[10. 30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Christie, J. A.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Clarry, Reginald George||Goff, Sir Park|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Clayton, G. C.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Albery, Irving James||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool. W. Derby)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Cooper, A. Duff||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cope, Major William||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Couper, J. B.||Gunston. Captain D. W.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Atkinson, C.||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Hanbury, C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Crookshank. Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Dixey, A, C.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henlay)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Duckworth, John||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Ellis, R. G.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Elveden, Viscount||Hope, Capt. A, O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||England, Colonel A.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Falls, Sir Bertram G.||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Buchan, John||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Burman, J. B.||Fermoy, Lord||Illffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Fielden, E. B.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Ford, Sir P. J.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Jacob A. E.|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Forrest, W||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Jones, G. W. H. (stoke Newington)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Gates, Percy||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Lister, Cunlifle-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Tasker, R. lnigo.|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Pennefather, Sir John||Templeton, W. P.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Penny, Frederick George||Them, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Loder, J. de V.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Looker, Herbert William||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Plicher, G.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Herman||Power, Sir John Cecil||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Lumley, L. R.||Preston, William||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdock (Inverness)||Raine, Sir Walter||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Ramsden, E.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Rees, Sir Beddos||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|McLean, Major A.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Rentoul, G. S.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Rice, Sir Frederick||Watts, Dr. T.|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Wells, S. R.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Mason. Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Ropner, Major L.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Meller, R. J.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Merriman, F. B.||Salmon, Major I.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks, Richm'd)|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Moreing, Captain A. H.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A.D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W.)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Murchison. Sir Kenneth||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wood, E. (Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)|
|Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Slaney, Major p. Kenyon||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C, (Cambridge)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Oakley, T.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Stuarf, Crichton-, Lord C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Captain Viscount Curzon and Captain|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Styles, Captain H. W.||Lord Stanley.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Palin, John Henry|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Groves, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Grundy, T. W.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Potts, John S.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Handie, George D.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Baker, Walter||Harney, E. A.||Riley, Ben|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Harris, Percy A.||Ritson, J.|
|Barnes, A.||Hayday, Arthur||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hayes, John Henry||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, G. H.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scurr, John|
|Bromfield, William||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Bromley, J.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Buchanan, G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smillie, Robert|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Clowes, S.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Compton, Joseph||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Connolly, M.||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lansbury, George||Strauss. E. A.|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lawrence, Susan||Sutton, J. E.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Taylor, R. A.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lindley, F. W.||Thomas. Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Dennison, R.||Lowth, T.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Duncan, C.||MacLaren, Andrew||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Dunnico, H.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Edge, Sir William||MacNeil-Weir, L.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||March, S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Fenby, T. D,||Maxton, James||Townend, A. E.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Gillett, George M.||Mosley, Oswald||Viant, S. P.|
|Gosling, Harry||Murnin, H.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Graham, D, M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Naylor, T. E.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Greenall, T.||Oliver, George Harold||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Owen, Major G.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Wilkinson, Ellen C.||Windsor, Walter|
|Wellock, Wilfred||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Welsh, J. C.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Westwood, J.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.Whiteley|
Bill read a Second time, and committed.
§ Ordered, That the further Consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned.
§ Bill, as amended, to be further considered To-morrow.