§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time.''
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
The Motion for the Third Leading of a Bill which has been discussed word by word and line by line—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!]—may be submitted with the assurance that hon. Members are at any rate familiar with the text of the Bill. I hope that the Debates which have taken place outside the House as well as inside the House have been useful, not only in acquainting hon. Members with the letter of the Bill but in enabling them to understand the Bill. But if there be any difficulty, by reason of the language used in the Bill, in understanding it, I am bound to say it is not the first Trade Union Act which has produced difficulties of that sort. On the whole, when you compare this Bill with previous Acts of Parliament, the language will be found, I think, to be more plain and straightforward than that contained in any of its predecessors. The long discussions which have taken place have, at any rate, served a very useful purpose. Even the glosses of the scholiasts of the Labour party have been useful, because they have enabled hon. Members both inside and outside this House to turn to the Bill to see whether the things alleged by hon. Members who have been perambulating the country be so and, as a result of all these discussions, I venture to think that increasing numbers of trade unionists, quiet, non-vocal trade unionists, have learned to appreciate the flavour of the Bill, and have learned to be very dissatisfied with the fare which has been provided for them from Eccleston Square.
I should be ungrateful if I omitted to pay a modest tribute to the part which the Opposition has paid in enabling the public to understand this Bill. It is another illustration of the inestimable value of our Parliamentary institutions Hon. Members opposite have not escaped the dilemma in which a Parlia- 2078 mentary Opposition which wishes to embarrass the Government is likely to be placed. There were only two courses open to them. One was the course which, at times, they have shown themselves prone to adopt, that is, to evacuate their benches. But that was a manœuvre not likely to embarrass the Government on this occasion, at any rate, and, therefore, they naturally adopted the sensible course of being present, and applying what I may call the Socratic method of propounding questions which require to be answered, and were thought provoking and deserving of consideration. By that method, hon. Members opposite, against their will, have helped the Government to test the soundness of their own Measure, and, even against their desire, the Opposition have helped us to improve our own proposals. It will be remembered that that is only consistent with the promise which my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General made to the House, that Amendments proposed from whatever quarter of the House would be considered, would be welcomed, and, if possible, adopted.
My right hon. and learned Friend asked the assistance of the House to make the Bill conformable to the four principles which he stated, and although I forget for the moment from which part of the House the Amendments which we have adopted emanated, certainly they were the result of interesting, instructive and probing speeches that were made from hon. Members opposite as well as hon. Members occupying the Liberal Benches. It will be found that we have done something, I hope, to meet the objections that were raised upon the Second Reading. We have included a prohibition of the general lock-out, in spite of the votes of hon. Members opposite. We have attempted to define "trade or industry" in a manner which will prevent any narrow or hampering interpretation of that phrase. We have also modified the Clause which deals with intimidation, and modified it in consequence of the fears which hon. Members opposite felt that the weapon of ridicule, which is a familiar weapon in industrial warfare, and dear to the hearts of hon. Members opposite, might be torn from them. They will be able to employ now all their wellknown powers of ridicule and sarcasm in attempting to divert their comrades 2079 from a course which they do not favour. We have also adopted a proposal which, I think, in this instance did come from hon. Members opposite in connection with the Clause dealing with the political levy. We have introduced Amendments which will make the change over in the system of collecting the political levy from members of trade unions as little inconvenient as possible consistently with the plan we propose to adopt. On the whole, the Bill appears to be a better Bill, even than when it was introduced, and as it is to some extent the work of hon. Members who have taken an interest in the Debates, I am able to commend the Bill with the more assurance to the House, of which it is largely the workmanship.
It is, as I have said, one of the advantages of Parliamentary institutions that even a well-thought-out Bill may be improved. The principles to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General referred when he was introducing the Bill have played a, very great part in educating the public, and venture to think those principles will be historic in connection with this Bill. If one of them is more unassailable than another, it is the principle embodied in Clause 5in connection with the Civil Service of this country. If the modern State should lose the goodwill of its Civil Service, it would be very unlikely long to survive in its present form. We are all agreed about that. We have been singularly happy in this country in maintaining on the whole the confidence of civil servants, whatever party has been in power. They have with undivided loyalty given their service to those who, for the time being, direct their work. But there were indications last year of an attempt on the part of some persons to set up a rival allegiance to that to which civil servants have been accustomed. There were phrases often on the lips of those who attempted to lead civil servants, or some classes of civil servants, into devious courses—"loyalty to unions," "loyalty to leaders," "loyalty to party," Some forgot that what may be loyalty to one may be treachery to another, and in 1926, undoubtedly, some of the civil servants in the trade unions were meditating, or, perhaps, I ought to say, they were being invited to meditate 2080 a course which was not consistent with the loyalty which they owed to the State.
The hon. Member for North Camber-well (Mr. Ammon) and the hon. Member for East Bristol (Mr. W. Baker) have both disputed, I think, that there was any idea of a strike in 1926 in any branch of the Civil Service. The evidence is against them. But be the evidence clear or doubtful, there is no doubt at all that this is a time at which, the question once having been raised, it is right that no uncertainty should any longer exist as to the necessity for requiring the undivided allegiance of those who serve the State. The hon. Members to whom I have referred are two hon. Members whom we greatly respect notwithstanding their political opinions, and they have told the House, or the hon. Member for East Bristol has told the House, that if the Bill becomes law, it will very likely interfere with his presence as a Member of this House. I hope I may say, and say sincerely, that not even our desire to retain the comradeship of the two hon. Members ought to prevent us from reminding the House and the country that no man can serve two masters. That being the principle upon which this Clause is based, whatever consequences it may have to individual Members, the Clause must be retained. If I may say a word to the two hon. Members to whom I have referred, it is that it is the fortune of war whether we are in this House or out of it. What are we but ships that pass in the night? It may be that hon. Members opposite will return in another capacity when some of us are in the outer darkness. But in any case this House could never frame its enactments by reference to the interests of hon. Members in any part of the House, however respected and honoured they may be.
I have wondered sometimes how the Socialist party squares its opinions upon this particular Clause with its conception of a Socialist State. In another country of which we have heard so much, if a civil servant dared to differ from the Soviet Government, there would be a swift solution of the divided allegiance which that civil servant felt. We do not propose to adopt drastic methods of that sort.[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because this happens to be England and not Russia. Within reasonable limits, 2081 any civil servant in future as in the past will be free to support any candidate for Parliament he may desire. If he thinks fit, he may give his support either to my hon. Friend the Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) or, if he so desires, the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Saklatvala), and nobody will interfere with the exercise of his suffrage.
The civil servants, when we consider their position, are really not in need of these political alliances. They will never want representation of their just grievances either in this House or outside this House. They will find advocates in this House who will be ready and able to represent any grievances from which they may suffer, the more effectively if there is no political flavour about the representations which they are seeking to make. When we consider the position of members of the Civil Service and the proper influence which they exercise by mere force of numbers, surely it is not asking anything that is very wounding to the civil servants to say that they must not ally themselves to any political party so long as they retain the privileges of association with the public service.
When I pass to the next Clause, it is the same conception of public duty that inspires the revision of the regulations which local authorities may make; but another principle is touched by this Clause. Can anybody suggest any solid reason for the claim of a local authority to insist that its servants should belong to a particular trade union? We are not here dealing with the Fair Wages Clause. There will be the same rules and the same custom in reference to that matter. But can anybody suggest a reason for requiring the servants of a public authority to belong to a particular trade union? We have travelled a long way when we have got into the habit of thinking that it is a legitimate exercise of power for a local authority to order its servants to join a union which is associated with a particular political party. It is time that we got rid of those dangerous habits of mind and returned to the elementary principle that a man shall be allowed to choose his political associates for himself. The time may come when clubs or unions of a different colour may be favoured, but be the colour of the unions what they may be, we think that the principle enshrined in 2082 Clause 6 will commend itself to most moderate men.
It is the same prejudice of the Englishman in favour of his right to choose his own political party which has inspired the movement at the back of the change respecting the political levy. It is not sufficient for hon. Members opposite to protest that in the great majority of cases the law under the Act of 1913 is fairly administered. The right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Shaw) laid his hand upon his breast and assured us that in his union cases of interference with the proper liberties of members of his union were unknown, or practically unknown. When I listened to the right hon. Gentleman and others associated with him pouring the vials of their wrath upon the blackleg, I am afraid that I cannot credit the right hon. Gentleman with sufficient restraint to believe that he would find himself easily capable of giving a blackleg fair play. After what he has said about the blackleg I should expect to find that he would regard the blackleg as deserving almost every attack upon his liberty of which the right hon. Gentleman could be capable. But whether there are individual cases in trade unions or not, there can be no doubt that there are quarters in trade unions where individual workmen do not enjoy their proper rights under the Act of 1913.
Let any hon. Member opposite, if he wishes to know the facts, visit one or two of the corners where those instances have occurred. Let him visit a corner of Durham, which I visited a week or two ago, and he will find plenty of men who can produce documents which show the difficulties in which they have been placed within recent years in obtaining the facilities which the Act of 1913 was intended to provide. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why do not you bring them?"] I am asked why I do not bring them. The right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) has been furnished with the name of one trade unionist who, communicated with him and offered to produce—it is quite true on terms—a, list which proves what I have said. It is a list which I have seen. In fairness to the right hon. Gentleman, I ought to say that he was asked by the trade unionist to pay his railway fare from Durham to London and back in order that he might come and produce the documents. The 2083 trade unionist in question, a cautious north countryman, preferred to keep the documents in his own possession, not knowing the right hon. Gentleman These documents do exist, and these cases are known and they are sufficient to justify the change in the law which we propose, even though they may be comparatively few.
I pass from these provisions to the Clause which has undoubtedly provoked the most interest both in the House and outside. The burden of criticism which has been passed upon Clause 1 is that it curtails the rights of labour to strike. I hope that two misapprehensions which were given currency during the earlier stages of the Bill have disappeared. Perhaps the simpler form in which Clause 1 is now printed has enabled hon. Members opposite to understand what that Clause effects. At any rate, I think no one can any longer suggest, as did the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) in the earlier stages, that this Bill re-introduces industrial serfdom into this country. The hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds repeated his now notorious error two or three days ago, in my hearing in this House. Some inaccuracies are too grotesque to evoke much passion in repelling them. Some inaccuracies convict themselves of their inaccuracy. No hon. Member opposite who knows the spirit and temper of the working men, and knows also and fairly attempts to understand the provisions of Clause 1 can believe for a moment that there is any possibility or intention of reintroducing serfdom under that Clause.
The provision, as they know perfectly well, is that any strike however widespread, however coercive in its effect upon the Government, is legal so long as it is connected with a dispute within the strikers' own industry. That gives freedom for strikes of a character which some hon. Members on our side of the House think ought to be prevented. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I quite freely grant that fact to the hon. Members who cheered the statement which I have just made; but they cannot at the same time say consistently with admitting that freedom, to which some hon. Members object that industrial serfdom is being introduced by the provisions of Clause 1.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Then I say the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) is as incorrigible and perverse a student of the terms of this Bill as the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds. We have heard with a little more sympathy the criticism of this Bill, even though mistaken in so far as it is said that it will prevent the sympathetic strike. I should not be candid if I did not say what has been said over and over again in this House, that the element of sympathy in a strike will not save it from Sympathy is neither here nor there in connection with Clause 1. You have to consider other conditions. We spent some hours in the course of our Debates in attempting to classify sympathetic strikes. Hon. Members opposite put very ingenious connundrums, which the Attorney-Genera answered with unfailing clarity and success. Hon. Members opposite will not have forgotten the expression of the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), who described the last general strike as "a sympathetic strike on an extensive scale." Nothing could better illustrate the slippery and elusive nature of the phrase "sympathetic strike" than the application of it, by the right hon. Member for Platting, to the general strike; so soundly condemned by the right hon. Member for Colne Valley in 1926. If that be a sympathetic strike, and if hon. Members opposite think that was a sympathetic strike in the sense in which they use the word, then they are quite right in understanding that this Bill does forbid sympathetic strikes. "The sympathetic strike" is not an expression which we use in this Bill, and for the very good reason that it is not a phrase of any exact meaning. We have not used anything half so elastic or pliable to express our meaning. We have attempted—I think successfully, and with a precision which makes the Clause intelligible to any well-intentioned student but which, no doubt, is very provoking to hon. Members opposite—to catalogue the distinguishing features of a general strike, and if ever its ugly features should show themselves in future the general strike will know that it is liable to arrest at the suit of the Attorney-General.
I wish before I sit down to consider one or two general criticisms of the Bill, 2085 but before I leave this Clause I ask any careful student of industrial movements in this country whether we are doing no great disservice to labour when we proclaim the general strike. The right hon. Member for Platting stated that his main objection to Clause 1 is that it will erect a great if not insuperable barrier of doubt in the minds of trade union leaders as to when it will be legal for them to take any action. I cannot help thinking that the real grievance of the right hon. Gentleman is not that the decision will be difficult but that he will have to take a decision. His objection to the Clause is that he and his colleagues among the trade union leaders will have to trouble their heads about anything so unimportant and insignificant as the community. The right hon. Gentleman will find that a little practice will give him complete facility in discovering a general strike when it exists. I credit the trade union leaders with a greater intelligence and ability than the right hon. Gentleman will concede. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), for all his breezy criticism of the Bill, has, I believe, secretly welcomed it with a sigh of relief that could be hardly disguised. He, at any rate, will be able to advise the members of his trade union when they are about to propose or engage in a strike which is illegal under this Bill, and when the trade union leaders bend themselves to the task of gauging the character of a strike by reference to the conditions of Clause 1, they will identify a general strike with no more difficulty than that with which they brand a blackleg to-day. If they can distinguish between a blackleg and a loyal trade unionist with such facility, there is no reason why they should not be able to distinguish between a legal and an illegal strike. Whether, however, it is difficult or not to discern a general strike, let me observe how impossible it is that a general strike can ever benefit labour.
The general strike is bound to fail. The ordinary strike may quite possibly, if it is in a good cause, have public opinion on its side. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I say it may, but at any rate there is one strike that will never have public opinion on its side and that is a general strike. The reason for that 2086 is this, that as soon as you direct a general strike you have to set the workers in array against the whole community. The nation has to fight for its breath. People have to spend their days working for those things of which the general strike has deprived them. Does the right hon. Member for Derby suppose that the people to whom I am referring, the daily workers, are not people to require consideration from the community? It is that very class of persons who even against their will and sympathy are driven into the general endeavour to defeat a general strike whether they like it or not. Rising in the morning as they do with the knowledge that they will have to walk to their work when ordinarily they could go by train, against their will they ask and hope that the day will come when this tyranny will be overthrown. Nobody has pointed out more often than the right hon. Member for Colne Valley that the general strike is bound by its very nature to fail and the only relic that is left by the general strike is the ruin of the financial stability of the unions. We are doing no great disservice to trade unions if we prohibit an adventure in which the savings of the trade unions are squandered. We leave unfettered the right of any trade union to engage in a strike to improve their conditions of labour. The one strike we prohibit is the one that can never attain its only object.
Ladies and Gentlemen—[HON. MEMBERS: "Primrose League!"] We have had hon. Members opposite address us as "My dear Friends," and I hope that my mistake was as sincere as theirs. But I wish to deal quite shortly with a few other criticisms which have been made of the Bill. The right hon. Member for Platting said this Bill was an elaborate denial of everything in the present practice of organised labour. If the present practice is to promote or engage in a general strike, the sooner the existing practice is changed the better. I am as genuinely conservative as anybody in the treatment of existing institutions, but the mere fact that existing practice allows some of these things, is a very poor reason for preserving them. The criticism of the hon. Member for Derby that this Bill really gives a setback to 2087 the cause of industrial peace is another point with which I wish to deal. It is said that even employers have no use for this Bill. That is a curious commentary on the suggestion that the hidden hands of the employers are behind this Bill, but I will give the right hon. Gentleman credit for saying with genuine feeling that this Bill is a hindrance to the cause of industrial peace. My answer is that the cause of industrial peace is not helped by a state of unstable equilibrium or doubt as to where the seat of power in this country really rests. The cause of peace is set back by a refusal to take back the challenge to the supremacy of the Government. I cannot believe that the application of the four principles enumerated by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General contains anything that impairs the relations which we all desire should exist between employers and employed persons. What will sour the relations between workers and employers are some of the misrepresentations as to the effect of this Bill. These misrepresentations, or rather their effect, is not to be laid at the door of this Bill or those who produced it. It is a heavy responsibility which lies upon those guilty of the misrepresentations.
This Bill is, in short, a Bill which is concerned with the relative power of Parliament and the trade unions. You may find that running through all the Clauses of the Bill. It takes up the task which the events of 1926 made imperative. With the Government that was an urgent task. How urgent that task was I think may be judged from the violent opposition with which the very idea of the Bill dealing with trade unions, when introduced, was received by the Opposition. We have really witnessed in this generation the development of what may be called the fourth estate psychology, the idea that there is some power within the State that can challenge the authority of the nation. When Mr. Cook, at Scarborough in September, 1925, told the Trades Union Congress that the Parliament of the future would be the Trades Union Congress, his statement was received with rapturous and delirious applause. It is such unstable leaders of the trade union movement who have been guilty of this idea of the trade union as a Parliament. But let nobody think that it has not had some effect upon their followers. There are 2088 people to whom this idea of Mr. Cook does make an appeal. No one can foretell the future of the institutions of this country, so rich in its traditions, so fertile in political expedients, but I will make one prophecy: If the trade unions and Parliament ever come to grips, it will not be Parliament that will submit. This Bill is a modest assertion of the supremacy of Parliament in which we all on this side of the House, and I believe on the Liberal benches, believe. It is an assertion of the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. Parliament is the people, and this House is what the people makes it The more one studies this Bill, the more one comes to the view that it will provide for the liberties of the people. In commending this Bill to the House, I can say with sincerity that when one realises its object it is no wonder that it is being more and more accepted with a quiet and sincere welcome by the people for whom we are trustees.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
I have risen to assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that none of us on this side of the House smiled at the obvious slip which he made merely because it was a mistake. We all recognise that everyone can make mistakes, and we smiled because we all felt, through the whole of the speech that we have just heard, that it was a speech which had been delivered before. When the hon. and learned Gentleman said "Ladies and Gentlemen," that confirmed our suspicions. I hasten to remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that, while that speech may have been delivered at Bristol or some other place, it is certainly not likely to pass muster here. We propose to challenge it. He opened out—I think he was either pulling our leg, or he was assuming the air of a humourist—by saying, "Here is a Bill that has been subjected to criticism in every line and in every word." Mr. Speaker, it is quite true that we have evacuated the House and that he reminded us of it, but he cannot take much credit or pride in his share of it. It is true that we adopted Parliamentary methods of which people sitting on this side of the House set us an example. I am quite sure that he himself profoundly disagrees with our action in 2089 walking out and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer disagrees as well. But nobody knows better than the Chancellor of the Exchequer that our method was at least more congenial to him than when he had a book thrown at him by one of the Members of the party to which he now belongs. On that occasion the book was thrown from here to there. It was done to express Parliamentary indignation. We, not being the gentlemanly party, thought we would show there was a more gentlemanly method of expressing our feelings.
The hon. and learned Gentleman must have been talking with his tongue in his cheek when he reminded us about the undivided allegiance of the civil servant. This is hardly a fitting payment for that allegiance. It is a curious doctrine which the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends are setting up. To whom does this allegiance apply? Is it a particular class of civil servants? While this Bill is being argued in this House and in the country, whilst we are being lectured about the civil servants' one obligation being to the State, a large number of working men are reading in the "Sunday Times" every Sunday the revelations of the late Sir Henry Wilson, also a civil servant, only not at the bottom, not a humble civil servant, but a well-paid and well placed civil servant. He says, "My allegiance to the State! My obligations to my King and country, were such that I could be invited to breakfast by the Leader of the Opposition and could prime the Leader of the Opposition with questions with which to embarrass the Government of the day."
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The late Sir Henry Wilson was not a civil servant. He was a military officer, and at the time to which the hon. Members refers was not employed, I think.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I will not deal with the mere quibble of his not being a civil servant. He was a Government servant in receipt of Government salary.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Oh, yes. The right hon. Gentleman will be speaking later and will be able to verify the facts in the interval. I am not concerned about the quibble of whether he was a civil servant or a Government servant. He was in receipt of Government money at that particular moment, and he was occupying the one position which at that moment was vital to the Government in the controvery that was raging. The issue was the Home Rule Bill and the action of the Army in connection with that important political question, and here was this Government servant—and others as well, but I am mentioning him in order to answer the point about undivided allegiance—frankly and openly admitting in his own handwriting, that not only did he hold a view, but that he took it upon himself to advise the Opposition of the day.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The Tory Prime Minister who followed him acted on his advice. Of course, we did not hear of any Bill being introduced to deal with that kind of interference. The point I am making is that it is no good the hon. and learned Gentleman assuming that incidents of this kind are not understood by the workers. They are. It is because they read them and compare the situation then and now that they are driven to the conclusion that there is a mean and contemptible class bias in this Bill.
The hon. and learned Member said that as a result of this discussion—this free and unfettered discussion, with no Closure, in which on the first two days 49 Amendments, including eight from the Government side of the House were never discussed at all!—the Bill has now emerged a better Bill. That is a rather surprising statement in view of what was said by Lord Birkenhead, when speaking in the country about this Bill prior to its introduction. He said there never had been a Bill so carefully considered, that had had more attention, or was more perfectly drafted to meet its object. The Attorney-General, when he moved the Second Reading, said he did not want it to be assumed that the Government had not thought of including the 2091 lock-out, but that it had been deliberately excluded because they thought it was useless and unnecessary to include it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Inept!"] Yes, inept. Now, the hon. and learned Member is claiming that the Government ought to be given credit for including something which the Attorney-General said was inept and useless. The hon. and learned Gentleman says airily that the more the Bill is examined and the better it is understood the better it is appreciated by the people of the country.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Of course, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is an authority on appreciation by the people of the country, because, if he cannot get it one way, he gets it in another way. He is in a much better position to estimate appreciation than is the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has not yet had so much political experience. For the moment I want to examine the last four by-elections. [Interruption.] It is no use right hon. Gentlemen talking about industrial trouble, and trying to prevent industrial trouble and all its evil consequences, if at the same time they decry the value of Parliamentary institutions. It is no good deploring the fact that workers engage in industrial action and then poohpoohing any political expression at the ballot box. We can only test this Bill in one way at the moment. It may be tested unfortunately—I say unfortunately—in another way after. But for the moment I am dealing with the only means by which we can accurately judge whether there is this burning enthusiasm for the Bill amongst the ordinary mass of the electors and whether trade unionists themselves, according to the speech we have just heard, look upon it as their salvation. There have been four by-elections since this Bill was introduced—since the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech at Manchester first indicated what the Bill was to contain, and since the speech made by the Attorney-General at Frome.
I will take, first, the Westbury and Bosworth elections, which were being fought when this Bill was being hammered daily in this House, when everything was being said in the constituencies to prove how clear and simple the Bill was, and when the Bill was explained 2092 by leaflets. In those two elections, 18,308 was the total Conservative vote in favour of the Bill. Both the Liberal and Labour candidates declared their clear and emphatical opposition to the Bill. I presume that is why the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) did not go to either of those constituencies. Clear and definite opposition to the Bill was expressed by the Liberal and Labour candidates in both those fights, and the total votes recorded for them numbered 39,561. Those were two elections going on in the midst of the discussion of the Bill here. But there were three elections prior to that, and out of every five votes recorded in those only one was given for the Tory. Yet the Solicitor-General gets up and says that the more the Bill is understood the better it is appreciated by the great mass of the people. There may be doubt as to the wisdom or otherwise of the proposed new Second Chamber. Incidentally, the expressions of opinion to-day and the anxiety of the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to have a debate in this place show that the Government have some doubts about it; but in connection with this Bill that reform may be regarded as very wise. What the Government have been saying is this: "We have just had a little experience of the feeling of the country. It. is going pretty bad, it must go worse. The Labour party have decided quite clearly and definitely that they are going to repeal this Measure, so we had better put ourselves right with our friends in the other place in order to make the action of the Labour party as difficult as possible." That is the only conclusion I can draw from their action.
The hon. and learned Member stated that there were grave doubts in the minds of many on this side of the House and outside as to the effect of this Bill on industrial relationships. I want the House to consider the relationship of this Bill to the events of last year. Following the general strike the Prime Minister made a broadcast speech. It was not generally known at the time, but I have repeated it publicly, and I repeat it now, that that speech was told in advance to the Labour leaders. That speech was made deliberately with one object, and words were put in with one clear and specific object. I am sum- 2093 marising them, but they can be checked. There was an appeal not only to the country but to employers and employed, to all engaged in industry, whether on the side of labour or capital, that the one thing essential to repair the damage already done—if I may use that phrase—was to forget the events that had just taken place and try to build up the future. That was delivered by the Prime Minister, and can it be denied that, in spite of all that may be said about the unfortunate events of last year, in the case of many unions and of the more responsible and larger unions, there was a genuine response to that appeal? Meetings took place, and there were agreements made that were not only revolutionary in character, but many people would not have believed that it was possible to have made such agreements. Agreements were signed in the most responsible trade unions in this country, agreeing that before there would be another stoppage, no matter what the circumstances were, there would be a genuine opportunity of discussion between both sides. That was to prevent what are called lightning stoppages and sympathetic action. That step was taken deliberately. It was encouraged because some of us knew perfectly well that the one hope of this country was, if possible, to prevent industrial disturbances. I would ask the Government, in reflecting upon that matter, how car, they reconcile that attitude, that spirit of better feeling, that appeal to the employers of a country to forget, that request to them, "Do not be vindictive; look ahead, and forget all these events," how can they reconcile that appeal to the employers with the action which they are taking to-day?
Let us examine it. During the very last days of the Committee stage on this Bill, what happened? There was a Motion from that side of the House, asking the Government to insert a Clause that dealt exclusively with conciliation. The Minister of Labour got up at once and said, "So far as the Government are concerned, we are prepared to set up a Committee, and we invite the wholehearted co-operation of those on the other side." and then, because we promptly got up and told the Government what we 2094 thought of it, we were lectured as people who were unpatriotic, and who had committed a great crime. I am going to deal with that challenge. I am dealing with the speech of the Minister of Labour, and, in response to the Amendment moved from that side, he offered to set up a Committee and invited co-operation from this side. Our answer was that, so far as we were concerned, we world not only not co-operate, but we would never co-operate whilst this Bill was hanging over our head.
That is a very serious statement to make, and it is even more serious when it is endorsed by every responsible trade union leader in this country, including every union. I will give the House the reasons why we arrived at that very serious decision. We arrived at it, because, if the Prime Minister, following his appeal that I have just mentioned, had invited Labour, as had been done on previous occasions, to discuss the situation, there would have been a fruitful field for inquiries. I do not hesitate to say that the one failure to-day is always to assume that you can stop strikes by compulsory arbitration, or, on the other hand, by merely making an agreement as between two particular individuals. No, I believe that the machinery of conciliation can be explored with advantage in this country. I believe it would be a good thing to bring an independent mind to the consideration of particular industries. In the railway industry we have profited by the new experience, the new points of view, and the independent minds of people, representing both capital and labour. They can help us in our own domestic problems. I have never seen why that principle should not be applied to the mining industry. I have always felt, and I have never hesitated to say, that I would like to see some of those coalowners being faced with men engaged in industry on their own side who could bring a new point of view, and a more human point of view, into the industry. At all events, it has always the advantage of delaying precipitate action. Therefore, if the Government, instead of adopting the course they have now embarked upon, instead of going on with this Measure, had invited consideration to this aspect of industrial peace, I venture to say that not only this Parliament, but I am certain those engaged 2095 in industry would certainly have been all pleased.
I have followed the Debates here pretty closely, but I have yet to see any large employer get up to support this Bill. There are large employers of labour on the other side; large employers whom I know. I have waited to see one of them get up and give his support to this Bill. There are large employers outside. I want the Government to point out one employer who has given his blessing to this Bill. I have discussed the Bill with employers to-day and, if challenged, I can give names. They are not men who are merely directors and have no interest, but they are men who are responsible for the employment directly of thousands of men, and they view with absolute alarm the mad procedure of going on with a Bill of this kind, a Bill that, instead of helping industry, is going to embitter the relations between capital and labour. It is because I feel that, because I believe that the present state of trade and commerce in this country is such that we cannot afford to have this, bitter feeling, that I am so opposed to this Bill. There is no one who can be happy about the industrial situation. There is no one who has any knowledge of what is taking place in the mining industry who can view it with anything but alarm. It is now, I presume, admitted that there can be no longer hours worked in the mines, and I suppose it is admitted also that there can be no further reduction in wages. It is admitted that there is even a loss in the industry to-day, and not the workmen's leaders alone but the employers also, with large capital in the mining industry, view the future—not a long way ahead, but the next few months—with grave apprehensions. How can you deal with that kind of problem, because it has its effect upon every industry? You cannot deal with it by making it impossible for capital and labour to argue these things out and to meet and discuss them. It can only be dealt with by both sides recognising that they want to do the right thing. Therefore, I want to ask the Solicitor-General, was he correct in saying that all that this Bill does is to deal, in short, with the events of last year? He knows perfectly well it is not true.
Anyone who has listened seriously to the Debate must agree, however much 2096 the lawyers may have disagreed, that the political levy, for instance, had nothing to do with last year's events. How can anyone get up on the platform and say, "Our only object is to protect the community against a recurrence of last year's events," and then some innocent working man in the audience says, "How about the political levy?" How are hon. Members going to explain that in connection with last year's events? How will the Solicitor-General and Attorney-General explain this? Whatever may be said about the general strike, there is a statement issued in what is the new Conservative paper "The Democrat"—a paper issued authoritatively—in an article written by the Attorney-General which says that the general strike of last year was organised, and so on, by the Russians. It may be that innocent people outside the House, and it may be that some people on the back benches opposite, believe that, but there can be no Member of the Cabinet sitting on the Front Bench who believes that; none. No one dare say that from the knowledge of last year's events, and, therefore, what do we come back to?
We come back to this, that however mistaken may have been the attitude taken up then, however ill-advised it may have been, however much it may have failed, the only thing that influenced the great mass of the workers last year was not any question of the Constitution—that never entered into it, not superseding one Government by another—the only thing that influenced them was that the miners were not having a square deal and they wanted to give them a square deal. Knowing that, is anyone going to assume that 5,000,000 people who could risk what they risked last year are going to be deterred by legislation from doing what they conceive to be their duty again? It may be argued that we are going to prevent a strike, sympathetic or otherwise, by merely threatening the men with the Attorney-General's taking action. That may be all right in this House, but what I am trying to picture is the practical side of it. A branch meeting takes place, and someone draws; attention to the fact that there is a shipload of foreign coal coming in during a miners' dispute. I should like to see the reception that some individual member would get, in the event of foreign coal having arrived at any particular port, and that 2097 being reported to the branch, if he said: "But, are you aware that under Subsection something of the Bill, the Attorney-General is going to make an application to the Courts?" I will not attempt to describe the reception that man would get. The only thing I want the House to understand is that this Bill will not deter those men from taking action. The Solicitor-General has said that it would not be illegal action under the circumstances that I have just mentioned. I will read his awn words. Speaking on 5th May last he said:Supposing the miners stopped to improve or maintain conditions of labour in their industry and the railway men struck in order to avoid carrying what he described as blackleg coal. The answer to it depends, of course, upon whether the intention of the railway men in their refusal to carry blackleg coal is to coerce the Government or intimidate the community. It is quite conceivable that the action of men refusing to carry a wagon or train of blackleg coal would be spontaneous, unpremeditated, and perhaps not last for long. That is a very different colour from a strike long prepared for, long announced, universal, extending far beyond a mere refusal to carry a train of blackleg coal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1927; cols. 1889 and 1890, Vol. 205.]Apply that to the actual situation. I notice that the Attorney-General is somewhat embarrassed as to how that is going to square with the sympathetic strike, because it may happen after all, and it has happened in every Court in the country. Therefore, it is unpremeditated; it is not organised. The union has given no instructions, and what is described as an incident in one Court can be extended to other Courts. Then comes the question whether that is a sympathetic strike and whether it is illegal or not. It is idle to tell the railwaymen or the transport workers that this Bill does not interfere with existing trade union rights because it does, and it is for that reason that I submit that the Government have not only made a great mistake but by the introduction of this Bill they have embittered the relationship that were tending towards good feeling, and they have shown by their action a class bitterness that is resented by the great mass of the workers. It is because the Bill is not only unnecessary but is vindictive in character, and because we believe that it will not achieve its object, that we on this side—although we know it will be carried in a few hours— 2098 will not be deterred from using our constitutional rights in the country to ask for a mandate to remove this Bill from the Statute Book.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down wound up his speech with a series of very emphatic phrases in which he said that this Measure was likely to create certain consequences which we all ought to avoid. I noticed that, while the phraseology he used in this connection was large, the arguments he offered in support of those propositions were remarkably small, and there was not a single one of the principles of this Bill to which he really addressed any arguments. He referred to the by-elections and, to Sir Henry Wilson's memoirs and other topics, but, so far as the four main principles of this Bill are concerned, the right hon. Gentleman has not succeeded any more than any one else who has taken part in these debates in controverting a single one of those principles, or in giving a sound reason for denying that they form the fundamentals of freedom and liberty in all civilised countries.
I listened with great attention, as I always do, to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) said upon the subject of industrial unrest. I would willingly pay to him the tribute, which is perfectly honest and sincere, that there is no person in this country who, during the last 10 years, has worked so hard as he has done to bring employers and the working classes of this country together in order to keep the peace and prevent disturbances. Therefore, any appeal which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby makes on these lines is one to which my heart is, very naturally, responsive. But if the right hon. Gentleman is really anxious for industrial peace and to do something to stop the menacing conditions which he has held before our eyes to-day he should use his influence to stop the perversions of the principles of this Bill which are going on in leaflets issued from Eccleston Square. The speeches of Labour Members which have been made in various parts of the country and the documents which have been issued from Labour sources constitute a complete travesty of the provisions of this Bill.
2099 It is asserted that this Bill destroys the right on the part of workmen to strike. Everybody knows that there is no truth at all in that statement, and that it is a proposition which cannot be maintained by anybody who reads the provisions of this Bill. It is also asserted that the workmen are being crippled in their political activities by the new provisions with regard to the political levy. There are two arguments put forward by hon. Members opposite which are entirely destructive of one another. One of these arguments states that the new provision with regard to the political levy is going to deplete the Labour party's funds; and the other argument is that nobody in this country is being coerced or in any way subjected to undue influence in connection with the political levy. It is perfectly obvious that those two arguments are totally contradictory. If all the people who are contributing to the political levy to-day are doing so willingly then they will continue to contribute under the new conditions. [An HON. MEMBER: "Then why change the law?"]
The only depletion of trade union funds that can take place will be if some of the people who are to-day subscribing refuse any longer to support a party which in fact holds theories which are entirely opposed to those which they hold themselves. It is obvious that the Labour party must adopt one or the other of these arguments, and whichever they adopt does not matter because to adopt either entirely destroys any argument against this Clause of the Bill. I should like to follow my right hon. Friend into some of the questions he has raised in the course of his speech, but I have already spoken on the general principles of this Bill upon the Second Reading, and as I am informed to-day that there is a large number of speakers who desire to address the House I will not go into those questions. Accordingly, I shall content myself with dealing with only one matter which has become a personal question.
In the course of these Debates in Committee an assertion was made with regard to me personally that I was an employer who, in a case which was mentioned, deliberately prevented some workmen obtaining work. The hon. Gentleman 2100 who made that statement is the representative of the Gorton Division of Manchester (Mr. Compton), and he did me the courtesy of informing me that he intended to raise this question. Of course, it was impossible for anyone to say at what hour or upon what day this particular question would be raised, and unfortunately I was not in the House when the statement was made, I was not in a position to reply when the matter was raised. Accordingly, I hope the House will bear with me while I reply to the accusation which was made, because it was one which I would not naturally suffer without giving an answer. It is only right that I should tell the House exactly what the hon. Member said. He began his speech by referring in vague terms to the companies concerned, but his speech subsequently disclosed which companies they were and accordingly I may tell the House at once that they are the Gloucester Carriage and Wagon Company and the Great Western Railway Company. I was at the time in question a director of both, although I am no longer a director of the Gloucester Wagon Company. The hon. Gentleman said:There are certain types of shops, and one type is known as a contract shop for the building of railway carriages. A contract may last for four or six months. Then the men are "stood off." They receive their insurance cards and cannot obtain employment again until a new contract comes along, probably in five or six weeks' time. A few miles away is a railway company which builds its own carriages. It requires workmen; and the instance to which I desire to refer now is one in which the men were "stood off" by the contract firm and were sent by the officials of the Employment Exchange to the railway company. They went and obtained employment. They took their tools to the shops, but when they got to the shops of the railway company they were told that although men were being started from all parts of the country they were not suitable for the employment, and, therefore, they could not be started.The hon. Member proceeded to say:In the shop A the men were turned out of their employment because there was no more work for them. They were forced to seek unemployment relief. The Employment Exchange officials put them into employment, and the same director, in the capacity of a director of the other company, gave instructions to the general manager that they were not to be employed. I do not think a worse type of intimidation can be brought before this House, than a case in which men are forced to remain unem- 2101 ployed simply through the action of a politician, who understands very little about the industrial conditions of this country and who has received certain directorships mainly because of his political activities."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1927; cols. 1024–25, Vol. 206.]I do not propose to reply to the personal remarks about myself because it is a matter of complete indifference to me what the hon. Member thinks about my capacity in industry; nor do I think the House will take much notice of his views upon that subject. It is, however, important in regard to a statement like that to consider the facts. They are as follows: There were five men in the employment of the Gloucester Carriage and Wagon Company in January, 1924, and upon a Friday afternoon they took their pay—
§ Mr. MAXTON
I should like to raise a point of Order. I do not wish to interfere with the right hon. Gentleman's desire to make a personal explanation, which he has a perfect right to make here, but I would like to ask: Is it right that the very limited time allotted to the Third Reading of this Bill should be taken up by a personal explanation with reference to an incident which occurred during the Committee stage, because it may debar many hon. Members from dealing with the real questions which arise on the Third Reading.
§ Sir R. HORNE
May I say, on that point of Order, that this raises a question which is connected with the part of this Bill which deals with intimidation, and it was raised by the hon. Member for Gorton who said that it was not fair to put Clauses into this Bill with regard to intimidation by workmen when the intimidation of employers was very much worse.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
This matter arose in the Committee stage and as it was allowed then, I cannot refuse it now.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
On that point of Order. Is it not the usual plan, when a statement has been made reflecting in some way on an hon. Member of the House, that the earliest possible opportunity should be given of dealing with the matter, and an explanation given by the hon. Member who made the statement?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think the converse, rather, is true. Any hon. Member who thinks himself impugned is allowed to make an immediate personal explanation after Questions, but that will not prevent his giving a personal explanation if it is relevant and in order, and within the scope of the Bill. The matter having been allowed in Committee, I do not think I can prevent it on the Third Reading.
§ Sir R. HORNE
This question of intimidation is certainly one germane to the Bill, and I think I am entitled to speak upon it. I am addressing myself to the House on the question of intimidation by employers, and I am dealing with one particular case which was raised by an hon. Member and of which I have special knowledge. Further, I was here yesterday to speak upon it on the Report stage, but I did not think it right to raise it because the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Gorton Division of Manchester (Mr. Compton) was not present. The facts are these: There were five men employed by the Gloucester Wagon Company in January, 1924. On a Friday of the month these men took their pay and discharged themselves from their employment, giving up their insurance cards. This was a matter of some embarrassment to the Gloucester Wagon Company. The company had plenty of work for men of that grade. The company heard that the men had gone to the Great Western Railway Company, and they telephoned to the Great Western Railway Company to say that it was unfair that they should be taking away these men, and the Great Western Railway Company acted upon this message, and told the men that they could not be employed there. The men went back on that Saturday to the Gloucester Wagon Company. They asked if they might begin again on the Monday, and in fact they did begin again on the Monday—all except one. Four went back and one went to Lincoln, where, I think, he had been previously employed. Four, as I have said, returned to the Gloucester Wagon Company's shops. They never were unemployed. They never had to seek unemployment relief.
Let me now deal with the hon. Gentleman's categorical statements. He said that the men were turned out of their em- 2103 ployment because there was no work for them. This is entirely untrue. He said they were forced to seek unemployment relief. Whereas, the men were never even registered as requiring employment, and, so far from seeking relief, one of them continued to work with the Gloucester Wagon Company for 14 months regularly and actively; a second man worked from that Monday, to which I have referred, down to August, 1926, and the other two down to the beginning of this year. The hon. Gentleman stated that the Employment Exchange officials put them into employment. They did nothing of the kind. There was no necessity for it. He said that a director, meaning myself, gave instructions to the general manager that they were not to be employed. The fact is that I knew nothing at all about the episode until long after it had occurred. I did not think it was possible that anyone could make so many misstatements in so restricted a space. Evidently this is the best instance the hon. Gentleman has to put before the House of intimidation by employers. I am certain he acted in bona fide, otherwise he never would have made these statements in the House, I am grateful to him for doing so and for giving me this opportunity of replying. But I am bound to suppose that this statement has probably done duty in many meetings where there was no opportunity to clear up the facts, and I think I am entitled to ask that the hon. Gentleman shall take such opportunities as are available to him in his own union of explaining the accurate facts of the situation. I would venture also to ask him and other hon. Members before they make accusations of this kind—which are very detrimental to the peace of industry—to use greater discrimination in ascertaining the facts. I am sorry for having taken up the time of the House upon this matter, but I think that the circumstances justify the course I have taken.
§ Mr. COMPTON
In the first place, the right hon. and learned Member, having made this statement, I wish immediately to withdraw my statement with regard to his being associated personally—
§ Mr. COMPTON
I withdraw entirely any personal reference with regard to the incidents. At the same time I want to say that I received my information and made as thorough an investigation as I could before mentioning it here or in any other place. The Employment Exchange officials had nothing whatever to do with it. Sir David Shackleton conducted an inquiry at my instigation, and the records will prove my statement that these men were sent by the Employment Exchange official to the firm. The men had their tools in the place and paid for the carriage of their tools from Gloucester to Swindon, and I, personally, at the Great, Western Railway Company's premises at Paddington, received compensation for the annoyance caused to these men, and the compensation was handed over to them. At the same time I dissociate the right hon. Gentleman from the incident.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The points have not been answered. It is not true that the men were turned off from the Gloucester Wagon Company. They discharged themselves and went to Swindon on their own initiative. They were not turned off. Secondly, they were never out of employment, and their names were never on the books seeking employment. Whatever there may be in Sir David Shackleton's inquiries—and I saw the Report—I am certain the hon. Gentleman will find nothing to contradict this statement.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
To get back to the less exciting but more general consideration of the Third Reading Debate, I begin by saying that I have given an undertaking to Mr. Speaker, who asked we that I should not allow my speech to occupy, at the utmost, more than 20 minutes. I think this, perhaps, is a good practice. I desire as briefly as possible to deal with two or three of the main criticisms which have been raised about this Bill as it now stands in its final form. As I understand it, on the Third Reading Debate we are not concerned in discussing alternatives; we are dealing with the thing as it stands. As far as regards the contents of the Bill as it stands, the main criticism has really been, that whatever may have been done to revise the language of the Bill, none the less, we are putting on the Statute Book a Bill which, in its first and principle Clause, creates very great difficulties of inter- 2105 pretation. There is no doubt at all, I think, that that has been one of the main criticisms throughout these Debates, and it is one which has been put in various forms by critics all over the country. I should like, very briefly, to state how this matter appears to me. I confine myself to the first Clause; there is no time to take more. It is quite true that in a Clause of this sort you will find that the language is such that it is difficult to make clear any difficulties with complete certainty as to whether some carefully selected hypothetical case will come within or without the boundary of the law. That is perfectly true, but before that is regarded as a criticism we have to consider these two things. First of all, is that due to deliberate obscurity in a matter where it is easy to be more plain, and, secondly, should we be better off if we did not have the Bill at all?
As regards the first of these questions, the truth is that this attempt to define the point at which a combination, in the nature of a simultaneous stopping of work or employment, is illegal, is, in the nature of things, an attempt to be precise on a very difficult matter. It is not necessarily good ground for complaining of the Clause that it is, as I think it quite truly is, a Clause on which ingenious persons, putting a hypothetical case which they build up to be as near the line as possible, may quite honestly and fairly say, "Is not this a difficult case upon which to pronounce judgment?" With reference to the language of this Clause, the other consideration which seems to me quite conclusive on the subject is this: How much better off are we than if we did not have the Bill? I will not take a hypothetical or imaginary case; I will take an actual case. When last year the great upheaval took place which goes by the name of the general strike, some people took it upon them selves to state as clearly as they could their view that those events constituted an illegal act. The moment the statement had been made, a number of other persons challenged that view; some have challenged it ever since. If, however, you are going to condemn a law because the language in which it is framed still makes it possible to imagine a hypothetical case of difficulty, you are not going to get out of that situation simply by refusing to enact a law; and, therefore, the practical 2106 question is whether the Government have succeeded in bringing this, the first and main Clause of the Bill, into such a form as, in the circumstances, is near enough to what is wanted to make it proper to adopt.
I have from the first expressed the strongest view, for what it may be worth, that the language the Government selected in Clause 1 when they first introduced this Bill was by no means the most fortunate to employ, and I have still, as I suppose any of us may be tempted to have, a decided preference for a form of words which I suggested; but it is no good opposing the Third Reading of the Bill because the language is not exactly the language which occurs to oneself as the best; and I feel it to be my duty to state to the House that, in my opinion, the Amendments that have been made in Clause 1 undoubtedly are most substantial improvements from the point of view of clarity, and I do not myself see how it could be fairly said that Clause 1 as it stands to-day, if it be honestly and fairly applied, is going to condemn things which, as the law stands at this moment, it is lawful to do.
Then it may be said, and this is a second line of criticism, "Oh, yes, but that is supposing that you had this Bill administered impartially by persons who were not by bias and prejudice tempted to take an unfair view." I think it is time that something should be said from the other point of view in regard to that criticism. It has appeared in a modified form in some of our Debates; it has appeared in a very extreme form in some of the condemnation of this Bill in the country. I do not believe that there is any judiciary in the world which so little deserves that sort of reproach as the judiciary of this country. If what is meant is that Judges, like other people, are fallible human creatures, with the infirmity of the cast of their minds and their limitations in experience, that is perfectly true; it is true of us all. But what I would point out is that, supposing a Tory employer of labour were brought before a tribunal consisting, let us say, of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), presided over, as would be proper, by the hon. Member for Silver- 2107 town (Mr. J. Jones), then, although I am perfectly certain that such a tribunal, if seriously undertaking its duty, would do its best, at the same time I should feel extremely anxious for the Tory employer of labour. If that be what is meant, that Judges, like other people, are fallible, that is true enough, but do let us do fair justice to the efforts that have been made to secure a real impartiality in the administration of justice. Taking the Judge, we have put him in a position in our Constitution where the only possible object of his honourable ambition is to leave a reputation for impartiality. He has nothing else to gain. He is put in a position from which he cannot be removed, in order that he may not perchance be swayed either by clamour or by official disapproval. He is debarred—
§ Sir J. SIMON
We can all do that. Even the hon. Member can do that. It is human nature to do that. The Judge, moreover, is debarred, both by the law and by the practice of the Courts, from taking any part in political activities at all. But let me make myself quite clear to the House. I am not limiting what I am saying to the Judges of the High Court. I believe it to be in substance quite untrue to allege that subordinate judicial bodies in this country do not carry out their duties in an impartial manner. Take the attacks which have been made on the British jury. I have seen, I suppose, the British jury at as close quarters as many people, and I am perfectly confident that it is untrue to say that the British juryman would approach a task under this Bill with prejudice. The British juryman, like any other decent citizen, has a very strong attachment to fair play, and he hates tyranny; but if I am going to be told that the British juryman is likely to take an unfavourable view, and not to be able to administer as he should this branch of the law, it is paying the very poorest compliment to trade union politics that could possibly be paid, and there is no experience known to me, either as regards Judges or juries, which makes me think we have to proceed on 2108 the assumption that, if our law is properly framed, it will not be fairly administered.
There is one more point, and it is the only one which I would venture to make. I do not for a moment think that the success of this Bill will be measured by the frequency with which it is put into operation. On the contrary, the whole point of this kind of legislation ought to be that it tends to put on record, so that anybody may examine it and understand it, the rule which, even apart from its being defined, we should think it proper to apply. I think myself, if I may be allowed to say so with great respect, that hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway have never quite made sufficient allowance for the strength of feeling that was aroused in the country by the reckless folly of the general strike, and the complete failure of the sober advisers of Labour to prevent it.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I do not think that that observation is offensive, and in any case I think it is a perfectly true reflection. That is the reason why, so far as any information that comes to me goes, this Bill, with all its imperfections, whatever they may be, has not aroused the opposition in the country which some people expected. The truth is that ordinary people in the country were not only put to immense inconvenience during the events of last year, but they were deeply shocked to find that there was not a more adequate, complete and universal acceptance of the proposition that such events went beyond the law. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), in his speech last Monday, explained the view which he takes about such matters, and it is worth quoting. He said last Monday that, supposing that the rank and file of trade unionists arrive at a decision, whatever that decision may be, he does not consider that it is any part of the business of a trade union leader to put himself in opposition to it. Let me quote his actual words. He said:There is such a thing as loyalty, and leaders accept the decision of the rank and file, leaving them to take the consequences of their action."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th June, 1927; col. 1534, Vol. 207.]2109 He said that with specific reference to the inaction of trade union leaders in May of last year. There may be much to be said in defence of that position, and I can well understand the difficulties of taking any other, but I must point out that, if we were to accept that view, then, supposing extreme people do demand foolish and extravagant action, which threatens the life of the whole community, if all that can be said is that in that event there is such a thing as loyalty, and leaders accept the decision of the rank and file, leaving them to take the consequences of their action—"them," it will be noticed, means the rank and file—in that event it is natural that the country should feel, and I think the country does feel, that it would like to have, in the best form in which it can be secured, a definite declaration as to how far the extension of this right to strike may be carried. That, I venture to think, is the real reason why there is not, as every candid person knows there is not, and as the state of this House shows there is not, really that intense public indignation against the character of a Bill such as this which many people most honestly expected there would be.
I was very much struck with the address which was delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) on a non-political occasion, I think a week ago, when he spoke at the National Brotherhood Conference and delivered what is called the John Clifford lecture. The right hon. Gentleman was, of course, speaking in no sense as a politician. He put the real view as to the future of the strike weapon in a way with which I think many of us will sympathise, notwithstanding that we do not in this House take the extreme view of opposition against this Bill. I have here what the right hon. Gentleman said. I note, in passing, a very interesting sentence, in which the right hon. Gentleman said this:It is sheer nonsense to say that improvement in the condition of the working classes cannot be secured without the overthrow of the capitalist system.I am glad to note that, because some years ago we had a Debate on this subject, in which the Motion moved by the right hon. Gentleman was almost exactly in the terms that, as long as the capitalist 2110 system endured, the progress of the working classes was impossible. However, the right hon. Gentleman has put that on record. This is the passage that I wanted to read from what the right hon. Gentleman said:The strike is likely to be less effective in the future than it has been in the past. A third party is coming to have a very great interest in industrial disputes. That third party is the community. Just as it is criminal to encourage war, so it is folly to rely upon strikes as a regular means of trying to advance Labour interests. For the present the policy of Labour should be to keep the strike weapon for use in very exceptional circumstances"—
§ Sir J. SIMON
Certainly—but at the same time be equipping itself with other weapons for use in the sphere of reason, so that the use of the strike may by-and-by be altogether unnecessary.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Sir J. SIMON
That, at any rate, I am glad to think, is a sentiment with which we can all agree. If one were to ask oneself what sort of government in the future may have most reason to be grateful for this Bill, I believe it is no paradox to say that it would be a Labour Government, with an absolute majority in the House of Commons. If such a Government comes about, restrained by the votes of other parties or sections in the House, it may find itself placed in this position. Such a Labour Cabinet, just like any other Cabinet composed of any political party, does its best to discharge its public duty in the interests of the whole country. But supposing that the Labour Government comes to the conclusion that its public duty in the public interest is to taken course, either in the sphere of legislation or administration, which is denounced and opposed by the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, what is it going to do? We have it on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting that he does not consider it to be any part of the business of a Labour leader to resist the views, however advanced and however foolish, of the rank and file. Then, what is such a Government going to do? It is bound in that event to vindicate the superior authority of the community 2111 itself and the interests which are the charge of every Government in turn. If I thought this Bill was going to prejudice these overwhelming interests, I would join in resisting it with all my heart. I do not believe anything of the kind. I cannot see why it is inconsistent with an attempt to pursue a policy of getting rid of strikes and promoting conciliation. I cannot see why an attempt to lay down, to define, to regulate and to limit the occasion when people fight should be any reason why you should not endeavour to promote the spirit of peace, and while I think far too much has been made of this Bill, one side or the other, at the same time I do not find it possible to do other than support the Third Reading.
§ Mr. ROSE
I rise, in considerable trepidation, to make a few observations on the Bill, which, like Kipling's "Tomlinson," is neither good enough for Heaven nor bad enough for Hell. I have tried to find out what can possibly be in the minds of those who are controlling Parliament just now. I have been wondering exactly what it is the House of Commons has tried to be at. For some 21 days now—dreary days—there has been much speaking, and a friend of mine, who has a turn for statistical research, has made an arithmetical formula, of which, for greater accuracy, I have taken a copy. He informs me that the Second Reading of the Bill occupied 841 columns in the OFFICIAL EPORT, and 342,860 words; the Committee stage involved 3,360 columns and 1,401,200 words; Third Reading and Report, 960 columns and 402,200 words. Altogether, there have been expended words which have filled 5,160 columns and 2,245,340 words. The momentous question, "When is a strike not a strike" remains unsettled. May I point out, with much diffidence, that there is another and perhaps even more interesting phase of these statistics. Considerably more than half of the speeches have been contributed by the legal luminaries of the House, and two-thirds of the other half have been contributed by trade union officials, so we, who are laymen in regard to both professions, have not had much to do with it, and perhaps it is as well that we 2112 should not. It seems to me that all this mass of words is reminiscent of the plum pudding we used to have in our schooldays. We used to call it "Hallo pudding." If anyone came across a plum he said, "Hallo, here is another." I do not suggest that there are not wise words amongst all these millions. There are—several of them—but my statistical friend somehow has not separated them. I suppose the investigation was too laborious.
What does it really mean? The lawyers and the trade union officials appear to me to be about the only persons in the whole land who take anything more than a languid interest in this business. When hon. Members on that side of the House suggest that the trade unionists and workers of the country are madly indignant at the tyranny that trade unions practise upon them and are panting for the liberties this Bill is going to confer on them, that is an inaccuracy. When hon. Members on this side of the House tell you of the wild enthusiasm and the terrible indignation against this Bill, that is an inaccuracy. I commend this formula for the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). It is much better than using unparliamentary expressions. I have got away with it twice and have not been called to order and everyone knows exactly what I mean. But I am in this position, that I am capable of advising my hon. Friends on this side of the House. But I do not. It is not the slightest use. They would certainly reject my advice, not because it was good, bad or indifferent, but because it was mine. They would attribute it probably not to my utterances in the flesh but to my utterances through my inherent spirit of cussedness. But perhaps I may be allowed to offer a word of advice to right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. I believe they would listen to me. Does the Attorney-General quite understand what nearly all this industrial legislation means? The Act—it will be an Act in a few weeks now—will be as surely inoperative as any other attempt to substitute legal force for moral force. There may be some difficulty in defining what moral force really is. I remember well the definition given by the late James Allanson Picton which seemed to me to be a very appropriate one. He 2113 said moral force was an influence that induced consentient action, and that is altogether different from passing a rubbishy law to thrust some condition of affairs down someone's throat who does not want it.
What has been the story? I say this with a great deal of regret. For many years now I have been an unswerving advocate of industrial peace through arbitration, voluntary if possible, and I have gone the whole hog and have advocated industrial compulsory arbitration if necessary. What has been the experience of civilisation in this matter? It has been tried and always, where legislation of this kind has been tried, as long as the laws have had the respect and the confidence of the people upon whom they were imposed good has come of them. The story of the Industrial Arbitration Acts of Australia is probably well known. They are still on the Statute Book there but does anyone attempt to operate them? There have been similar laws passed in scores of places. In South Africa almost a copy of the Australian law is still on the Statute Book but it has never been operated at all. It is in an absolute state of abeyance. There have been State Acts in America, in Louisiana, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Nebraska, Montana, Colorado, and not one of them is in such a state of operation that lawyers can claim that this is the law of the land. It is on the Statute Book and that is all. It is not in operation, simply and solely because it has not the respect of the people in whose interest it is assumed to have been enacted.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir L. Scott) introduced into these discussions something that was very much too good to act, because after all there is this to be said about it, that it was a diamond. His suggestion was that there should be incorporated into the Bill something on the lines of the Canadian Lemieux Act. The use of a diamond is to adorn the breast of beauty, and it is no use burying it in the mud. A bucketful of dirt is no place in which to put either a diamond or wisdom, otherwise I would have willingly have supported the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I say to him now that 2114 if apart from this stupid bundle of rubbish that you call the Trade Unions and Trade Disputes Bill, something upon that line is brought in here either by the Government or by a private Member I pledge myself to back it, party or no party, because that is the right sort of thing. Anything that is going to make for industrial peace will have my approval and that is why I am against the Bill because it will do nothing of the kind. I believe, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) said and I sincerely believe, this will add to our troubles. What after all does the Bill do? It declares that the law has been, is and is to be just the same. I cannot see that it alters anything. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that working people, trade unionists, are not waking up to this conviction, that a general strike is impossible? You cannot organise or educate the workers up to a point to make it possible. If you could, it would be totally impossible, because they would know there is a better way. You are legislating against something that is never likely to happen again. There is nothing like a mass intention that it should happen any more. All this aggregation of Clauses, definition, legal twisting and confusion, of what use is it to be? When your Bill is on the Statute Book that will be the end of it. Nobody need take any notice of it. I have in my hand the new rules of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. There is one item in this book which will need alteration, and that is the form of declaration against paying the political levy. A few lines or a few words of that will have to be altered, and these rules will be just as legal and just as authentic as they were when they were passed. There is not a line or a word that need be altered except that. These are rules that, broadly speaking, have been honoured by as strict, or nearly as strict—as far as humanity can go—observance those of in any trade union in the world. Your Bill does not alter either our industrial policy or our political policy. It does not disturb our finances in the least. Why was it necessary? This is a question we frequently ask and to which there is no answer. We are always referred to the calamitous events of last year. The calamitous events of last year are not going to be averted by this amazing piece of nonsense.
2115 I have been searching in the recesses of my memory for an appropriate parallel, and I think I have found one, or one that is approximately apposite, at all events. Men of my generation, and some a good many years younger, can remember a popular old Victorian comedian named Lionel Brough, and remember also that he used to sing a song aboutA Muddle-Puddle porter on the North-South Eastern line,Whose intellect was limited, whose age was 49.This porter had to call out the names of the stations at Muddle Puddle Junction for which departing trains were bound, and he followed this interesting occupation for 30 years. His bosom was fired with ambition when he sought fresh jobs and occupations new. He became a waiter in a restaurant, and he imperfectly learned his new formula and as imperfectly forgot his old one, for when he was communicating with the kitchen his formula was a curious mix-up of the names of railway stations and the orders of his customers. He got the sack and became a cabin boy on a river steamboat, communicating the captain's orders to the engine-room. There, generally speaking he was ordering Mulligatawny soup, or telling them to change for some other station.
§ Mr. ROSE
We will get off the steamboat. The finale of this gentleman was that he became the hall porter in the Westminster Aquarium, and when anybody used to ask to see the octopus, he used to answer something like this: "Downstairs for kidneys, Margate, jelly, Dover, lamb and peas, ease her, stop her. turn astern! potatoes, Chatham, cheese." Then he was qualified to be called to the Bar, but there were no vacancies at the time. He subsided into oblivion in the sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection during this year of grace, 1927. All this legal twisting! All this finesse! Who amongst us is supposed to understand it? Who wants to understand it? I tell the right hon. Gentleman now that when this Bill has become an Act it will not be operative. The best thing that can happen to it now, is for it to go to the other place where some more noble 2116 birds on more lofty perches will be able to peck at it. I suggest that though we are parting with it as with an old friend. we are not inconsolable and shall not refuse to be comforted. I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman sends it up there he will send it up with this encouraging instruction to their Lordships, that if they can guess what it is in three weeks they can have it to keep.
§ Lieut.-Colonel THOM
The hon. Member who has just resumed his seat has made, as he usually does, an amusing contribution to this Debate, but I think I shall have the House with me when I say that the contribution he has made this afternoon has not been relevant. After all, I think, one ought to realise, no matter on which side of the House one sits, and no matter how one regards this Bill, that the country is at the present moment considering a very serious question. In my opinion, if there is a feature which has emerged from these Debates, it is this, that the Opposition, the Socialist party, have never been so futile and so trivial. I am one of those who have followed very carefully the campaign in the country which has been inaugurated by the Socialist party headquarters. I have made it my business to read very carefully the literature which comes out of Eccleston Square, and I have made it my business to read the speeches delivered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in the country. I do not hesitate to declare that the campaign in the country against this Bill has been nothing more than a miserable, and, what is more, dishonest farce. It has not succeeded in arousing the opposition which it was intended to arouse, and it has been characterised by misrepresentation from beginning to end. There has not been a single pamphlet—and I think I have examined every one—issued from Eccleston Square which has failed to misrepresent from beginning to end.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have not had the courage to challenge the four main principles which the Attorney-General adumbrated when he introduced this Bill, but with their characteristic propensity for shuffling, with their desire to keep all sections of their party together, they have never gone out of their way explicitly to approve of those principles. What has been the nature of their opposition? As 2117 far as the Clauses of this Bill are concerned their opposition has taken the form of propounding legal conundrums as to how this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will work in certain hypothetical sets of circumstances. I think that even hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree with me when I say that that is a most unprofitable form of argument. It is a form of argument in which young and inexperienced lawyers delight to indulge when they are studying the law, and it is a form of argument in which you can indulge in regard to every single Measure which comes before this House for consideration. The same type of question and argument was indulged in in this House when the Emergency Regulations were being discussed last year. But when these Emergency Regulations received the authority of this House, the Courts of the land had no difficulty in putting them into operation. After all, it is possible to take any Section from any Act of Parliament and to imagine a set of circumstances in which the application of the strict letter of the provision of the Act would result in hardship or injustice. But we are concerned with ordinary, every-day circumstances, and the real question, as far as this Bill is concerned, surely, is this: Does it put into effect the four principles laid down by the Attorney-General? Will these principles, if put into operation—
§ Mr. MAXTON
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will allow me, it would be for the convenience of the House if he would tell us what the four principles were. For a month or so now we have heard about these four principles, but nobody ever states what they are.
§ Lieut.-Colonel THOM
I am allowed a very few minutes in which to address this House, and if the hon. Member, who is not serious in that interruption, wants to refresh his memory he can go outside and do it. He knows perfectly well what they are.
§ Lieut.-Colonel THOM
The hon. Gentleman can make that remark if he likes, but I am not going to be led off by a red-herring of that kind. I was endeavouring to say that the real question is: Does this Bill put into operation those four principles? And if those four principles are put into operation in 2118 circumstances such as eventuated last year, will those principles result in hardship or injustice? I venture to suggest to the House that the Courts of this country will have no difficulty in interpreting this Measure and in putting these various propositions into operation. It is futile to suggest that the Courts will be unfitted to interpret the meaning of the Act. I do not hesitate to characterise it as an entirely indefensible suggestion that the Judges of this country will be influenced or biased one way or the other in the application of the Act. Then there is the other argument, which we have heard this afternoon, and which we heard from the last speaker, namely, that the provisions of this Bill will not he obeyed when it becomes an Act of Parliament.
§ Lieut.-Colonel THOM
If the history in this country in the future is such that the Act will be inoperative, then that will generally be to the advantage of the country and to the satisfaction of everybody. The argument which has come from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) is this, that the great mass of the workers of this country will not obey this law because they consider it unjust. It is an argument that has come repeatedly from the other side of the House, and it is being used in the country at the present moment. I suggest to hon. and right hon. Members opposite that this Bill will be obeyed. If there is one characteristic of our people, which is stronger than any other, it is their loyalty to Parliament and to the laws of the country. But are hon. and right hon. Members opposite serving any useful purpose by putting forward an argument of this sort? Is it not likely to engender a spirit of disobedience, and encourage a wholesale defiance of the Constitution? I think it is most reprehensible that Gentlemen in the position of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, who have held high office under the Crown and who expect to hold such office again, should be so forgetful of the 2119 real interests of the people of this country as to suggest, first, that the Courts of this land are incapable of interpreting this Bill, secondly, that our Judges will not faithfully and justly carry out the provisions of this Bill. I say that it is entirely wrong they should put forward an argument which can have no other result but to stir up the forces of lawlessness.
Another argument used against this Bill is this. It is said that we have no mandate to bring in a Bill of this kind. I am not sure that I understand the principle of mandate as applied to our constitution, but hon. Members opposite know perfectly well that you never get a mandate from the country on one particular issue. You do get from the country a general power to govern, and when a Government is in office and imperfections in the law become evident and weaknesses appear, the law must be strengthened and amended and that is a duty which every Government must discharge if it is to be true to its trust. If hon. Members opposite were in power at the moment, or had been in power last year, and the Federation of British Industries had organised a general lock-out, would they have waited for a mandate from the country before they introduced legislation to prevent a repetition of such unconstitutional procedure? I submit that the argument based on the question of mandate is utterly absurd, and, surely, hon. Members opposite are the last people to talk about mandates. There should be a mandate for taking office and ruling the country. Had hon. Members opposite a mandate from the country in 1924 to take office or for any single thing which they did when in office? Have they a mandate for anything they have done in Opposition, except from the Trade Union Congress? They are the last people who should talk about mandates.
Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) in tones of gravity and solemnity warned the House in his speech on the Second Reading that the Bill made the task of men like himself much more difficult. So far as the right hon. Gentleman himself is concerned, I am prepared to believe that he was honest and sincere when he said that, but so far as that argument has been used by certain hon. 2120 and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, I say that it is nothing more or less than sheer humbug. Is there anything in the conduct of certain trade union leaders in this House prior to the events of last year which indicated for a single moment that they were guided by a real desire to promote the interests of this country? It is true that they might have made secret and private remonstrances to those people who were engaged in organising the general strike, because that general strike was not a lightning strike, it was carefully calculated beforehand. It is possible they may have made remonstrances to Mr. Cook and Mr. Bevin, and those who were engaged in organising the general strike, but one thing is certain, that when the strike did break out, when the battle had started, they went over to the staff of the belligerents, they allied themselves to the Trade Union Congress, and they led the great mass of the working people of this country to believe that the Socialist party was behind the Trade Union Congress. Therefore, I say that there is no sincerity in this argument when it comes from men whose conduct has been such as I have described.
The Government has said in regard to that, and I say now to hon. and right hon. Members opposite, "You have failed to deal with the wild men of your movement." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley said that the Government had played into their hands, that this was the one thing they wanted. I fail to see any signs of exultant satisfaction on the face of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). He does not, even with sombre acquiescence, welcome this Bill. I do not think he cares two straws for the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley. The Government has said: "You have failed to put your house in order. You have failed to deal with the wild men in the trade union movement when they have been guilty of an illegal action, and the community therefore must come in, and for the protection of the community this Bill must be passed into law." I heard the very appealing speech made by the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling) in which he asked that the power and authority which trade union leaders have enjoyed in the past should be left to them in order that they may endeavour to work out the salvation of the trade 2121 union movement in this country and settle industrial differences by dealing directly with the employers of labour.
My answer to that is that too long have trade union leaders of this country enjoyed powers which are enjoyed by no other body of men in a similar position. In the words of Mr. Burke, used on a different occasion, "power and authority are sometimes bought by kindness, but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence." The violence of the Trade Union Congress was defeated last year. It is unworthy of the great powers it has enjoyed, and if those powers were allowed to be enjoyed by trade union leaders in the future, as in the past, certainly and surely you would find the props of our Constitution going. I support the Measure as one that is absolutely essential to the welfare of the people.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken that I support the principles enunciated by the Attorney-General when he introduced this Bill, but in spite of that I cannot see my way to vote for the Bill. I have listened to the arguments used by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) and the Solicitor-General in the hope that these learned gentlemen would remove the doubts I had in regard to some of the provisions of this Bill, and I am sorry to say that they have not enlightened me. I have great misgivings about certain provisions, and I feel that the more one considers them the more one realises the difficulty of putting them into operation without creating bitterness and strife. What this country needs at the present moment is industrial peace, not industrial war. The official reason given for the Measure is the general strike of last year, and I was glad to hear the Solicitor-General say that he did not think we should have another strike like that. I agree with him, and for that reason I cannot understand why a provocative Measure like this should be introduced. I have sufficient confidence in the good sense of the vast majority of the people of this country, especially in times of emergency and difficulty, to believe that they will rise above sectional or even class interests, and for that reason I think we shall never see in our times another general strike.
2122 In trying to consider the causes which led up to the general strike of last year, I think we should cast our minds a little further back and remember the £23,000,000 which the Government gave to the mining industry in order to avert a strike. Not satisfied with this waste of the nation's money the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister dangled in front of the noses of those directly and indirectly connected with the mining industry a further subsidy, with certain qualifications and conditions. This undoubtedly encouraged many of those connected with the industry to believe that they could get a further subsidy for the asking. There were negotiations, and conference, marked by vacillations and delays, and when the miners realised that a further subsidy was not forthcoming they became desperate and displayed that bull-dog spirit which is so characteristic of the British race. Whether the Government like it or not, whether they desire it or not, I think the vast majority of the wage-earners of this country regard this Measure as a deliberate attempt to curtail the freedom of trade unions in their fight for better conditions of life. No amount of mental gymnastics on the part of the Attorney-General will convince them otherwise. I am not a lawyer, but I think the law of the land is sufficiently strong and powerful and drastic to deal with such unfortunate occurrences which take place when we have these industrial disturbances and disputes, as rioting and intimidation.
During the coal stoppage and general strike of last year, many thousands of men were convicted for offences which they had committed, and I am informed on good authority that it was not owing to the weakness of the law that some transgressors and law-breakers went unpunished, but to the fact that the forces of the authorities were not sufficient to deal with all cases, that the forces at the disposal of the authorities were not adequate to give sufficient protection to law-abiding citizens. I am informed on very good authority that even magistrates will not convict though the evidence is perfectly clear. If I understand Clause 1 of this Bill correctly, if a general strike takes place again, not only hundreds but thousands of people will become so-called criminals and there may not be enough gaols in this country to house them.
2123 During the Second Reading Debate the Attorney-General assured the House that a sympathetic strike would be perfectly legal, but when I examine the Bill I cannot help thinking that a bench of magistrates, or even the High Court, may declare a sympathetic strike illegal because it is not within the trade or industry of the original strike. What is the good of assuring the House that a sympathetic strike will be legal under the Bill? We are fortunate to have in this House many eminent members of the legal profession, and having listened to these Debates, I feel sure that these hon. and learned Gentlemen do not themselves agree on many points in the Bill. It is very dangerous to leave it to benches of magistrates to interpret the intentions of Parliament and I, for one, think it ridiculous to encumber the Statute Book with an Act which cannot be enforced. I am sure I express the feeling of all Members of this House when I say that trade unions have been of the utmost benefit to the wage-earners of this country and they have been of great benefit to the employers of this country. They have helped to keep the wheels of industry running smoothly in many instances. At the same time, I feel that all is not well with trade unionism. Anyone who has represented an industrial constituency for some years must have heard of cases which do not reflect credit on some officials of trade unions. There are trade unions whose members can be expelled and reinstated without sufficient reason. There is too much hole-and-corner inquisition in some of them, and members who have been expelled are reinstated because they have satisfied certain demands of certain officials.
These are most unsatisfactory occurrences. They may be only isolated cases, but we ought to have a thorough investigation of them. I regret more than I can say that, instead of bringing in a Bill of this character, the Government did not consent to an impartial inquiry into the whole working of trade union law and the methods of trade unions. It would have been to the interest of industry generally and of trade unions particularly to have had a survey of trade union law and to have had recommendations made to this House before introducing any such provocative Measure as 2124 that which we are now considering. At the recent by-election in North Southwark I received the support of many trade unionists who were out of employment owing to the general strike. These trade unionists were naturally very angry with their leaders. I think they have a grievance, and that is why I regret that some inquiry was not made before the introduction of this Measure. There is one hopeful sign with regard to the wellbeing of industry. It is to be found in the expressions of captains of industry with regard to the interest which they take in their workers and their sympathy with co-operation and with giving the wage earners a fair share of the profits of industry. After all, it is mutual confidence which is so necessary. Without it, industry and trade cannot be carried on and it is upon it that our whole social structure depends. I am bold enough to prophesy that whatever Government may be in power many of the Most controversial provisions of this Bill will never be put into force.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
I have listened to as much of these Debates as any other Member of the House, and it seems to me that a great deal of time has been taken up by arguments among lawyers, not as to the merits of the Bill, but as to the interpretation which lawyers in the future may put upon its wording. Hon. Members opposite have tried to convince the House and the country that their opposition to the Bill has the support, not only of the Socialist organisations of the country, but of the trade unionists of the country. The trade unionists in this House who are not members of the Socialist party and who have spoken—it is true they are not many, but they represent a considerable body of opinion in the trade union movement—have told a different story. It seems to me that the trade union opposition to this Bill is confined to the trade union Socialists.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
What I say is perfectly true. In spite of the fact that the trade union movement is definitely affiliated to the Labour party, as far as matters of political controversy are concerned, I do not believe that that party can speak for the majority of trade unionists. Trade unionists as a class are 2125 just the same as anybody else, and every Member of this House knows that 50 per cent. of the people in his division care very little about politics. We may safely assume that 50 per cent. of the members of trade unions have no definite political party opinion one way or the other. I quite agree that owing to the campaign which has been carried on in the trade unions to get people to join the Socialist party, probably 30 or 35 per cent. of the balance of 50 per cent. are quite keen Socialists, but it is equally true to say that 15 or 20 per cent. are equally keen Conservative or Liberals.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
I am willing to chance it but do not worry about that. The Bill only touches trade unionists, as distinct from Socialist trade unionists, on two points. One is the limitation which it places on the sympathetic strike and the other is the limitation on picketing. I do not want to say anything about picketing because everything that can be said about it has been said 100 times in these Debates but I want to refer to the sympathetic strike. I believe that the sympathetic strike is, as a rule, unpopular among working men and I am sure it is unpopular among working men's wives. Furthermore, I do not believe that the average man has any liking for picket duty. We are, and always have been, an individualist people, and the average man does not like to go out on strike unless he has some personal sense of grievance or injustice. It is very hard to excite him about the troubles of somebody else. Even if the provisions of this Bill do limit the sympathetic strike and confine it to bringing pressure on the employer in the primary dispute, are we doing the trade unions very much harm by that or depriving them of a weapon? I do not believe we are. If organised labour has brought all the pressure it can on an employer who may be trying to work an injustice upon his men or whose men have a sense of 2126 grievance against him, by bringing out the union which will affect his own business, does it do them any good, is it any further help to them, to bring out other men and to drag into the quarrel other employers and workmen who have nothing to do with it? I do not see how it helps them in the least. In the first place, a lot of people are dragged in who have no quarrel with each other and they lose sympathy with those who are responsible for dragging them in. Take the converse position. Suppose the coal owners locked out their men to enforce a reduction in wages or longer hours or worse conditions of some sort. The men would naturally resist. What would happen if the coal owners arranged with the cotton-mill owners to lock out all the mill-workers until the coal miners had accepted the terms which the owners were seeking to impose? The whole country would rise and go for the mine owners in such a case. The owners would lose every bit of sympathy, even if their case were a just one and they would be forced by public opinion to give up their contention. Nobody can resist public opinion to that extent.
I think the Labour Members would have made out a stronger case for the argument that they are being robbed of a weapon by the limitation of the sympathetic strike, had they been able to give the House a single case where a sympathetic strike on a large scale has ever helped the men engaged in the primary dispute. I have not heard of a single case where it has helped. I believe in the past a threatened sympathetic strike on a large scale has helped, because up to a year ago people were afraid of the sympathetic strike. They are not afraid of it now. They have had some. Responsible trade union leaders, for whom I have the greatest respect, have seen this weapon tried out and every trade unionist has realised that it is double-edged and it often hurts the man who uses it more than the man against whom it is used. I have listened to these Debates with a perfectly open mind and I have tried to give a fair hearing to what has been said from the other side and I am convinced that the difficulty with hon. Members opposite is that they sit here in a dual capacity. They are trade union Socialists—on the one hand, trade union delegates and on the 2127 other Socialist Members for certain Divisions. I cannot help feeling that the real opposition to this Bill has not been trade union opposition but Socialist opposition. The two things are not always the same. Socialism is a political creed; trade unionism is a commercial association of working men seeking to get the best they can out of industry for themselves. These two objects cannot always be the same. I quite agree that it is necessary for trade unions to take political action sometimes but I am also convinced that political action is very different from political party action. If hon. Members opposite are wedded to the policy of one party they will find it very difficult to make the objects of that party always work on simultaneous and parallel lines with what is good for the unions which they represent in this House as delegates.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
By a misuse of words we have been in the habit of referring to the Conservative party as the reactionary party. I will say for the Conservative Governments I have known that, as a rule, they have been not reactionary but strictly Conservative. They have preserved things as they were, observed continuity of policy and not tried to put the clock back. Within the last 12 months we have seen a change come over the Conservative party, and they have become frankly reactionary. They are seeking to make things worse. I do not lay very much stress upon the Eight Hours Act of last year, though that was a move in a retrograde direction. Their hands were forced by powers more powerful than the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "By economic facts."] Not so much by the economic facts of the world as by the economic pressure of big business. This year the movement has become more definite. It is not merely that we have seen a definite cessation of continuity in foreign affairs, such as the breaking off of relations with Russia; it is not merely that this Bill is the concomitant of the strengthening of the powers of the House of Lords, so that this Bill may not be repealed.
Here you are getting a series of Measures all intended to put the world 2128 back to where it was some years ago. This is a thoroughly reactionary Measure, and I have been astonished at the number of Conservative Members who have come to me and said, "I suppose you really are in favour of this Bill as it protects freedom?" Of course, if this Bill led to increased freedom for the working class, I suppose I should have to support it, but it seems to me to be the most vicious attack on freedom I have ever known in the House of Commons. I wonder if the House will permit me to glance at the struggles for freedom we have had. The parties to which I have belonged, Liberal and Labour, have always existed in this country, and been trying to extend the bounds of freedom. There was the struggle for freedom of religion, won after awful pains and penalties, and won for all time; the struggle for political freedom, won by the sword and in this House; the struggle for the freedom of the Press, the freedom of speech and freedom of trade, and, finally, the struggle for political feeling for all classes of citizens through the great series of Reform Bills. Now, looking back, all Members of this House, on whatever side, realise that the struggle for freedom was right, and that all these past struggles and victories were milestones on the great advance. But religious freedom and freedom of thought, and even political freedom, are not the last struggle for freedom. There is another struggle still to come, and it is nothing less than a calamity that in this new struggle for economic freedom the Labour party stands alone and the Liberal party, which used in times past always to back up this great struggle for human emancipation, has largely dropped out of the race.
Here we are, to-day, fighting for economic freedom. Hon. Members opposite do not realise that the workers of this country have not got economic freedom to-day, and that the position of a man who to-day has nothing but his labour to sell is not that of a free man even without this Bill. The employer can pick and choose among hundreds or thousands of unemployed. That man must get that job or starve on the dole. He is not a free subject, and he has got to take whatever conditions are offered in order to get the job. If he loses that job and if he is a well-to-do 2129 person, he can wait a while to pick up something as good, but the working man who loses his job must go down on his knees or bribe the foreman at the docks with half-a-crown for the privilege of being taken on somewhere else, and it is spoken of as giving him work. As long as the bargain between master and man is not an equal bargain, and as long as the master can pick and choose and the man cannot, that is not an equal bargain, and while these conditions endure the working classes are not economically free. Now we in this party are fighting the battle for real economic freedom. It is difficult to fight, as the other fights for freedom in the past have been hard. The present Government seek to make it hard. There is one defence that the working man has got and which is his one support in bargaining with the master. His sole support in making that awful bargain at all fair or reasonable under the present system, while the iron law of wages endures, is his trade union. That is his only weapon as far as securing economic justice and anything like a fair bargain is concerned.
I do not know whether the Government, in introducing this Bill, wanted and intended to hamper trade union work, but undoubtedly this Bill must do so. They know quite well that it puts every trade union in the country at the mercy of the Law Courts. At any rate, it puts expensive and elaborate processes in front of every trade union directly they take any industrial action at all. This, to my mind, hampers trade union work. But it goes further than that. How can any Liberal like the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) support a Bill which deliberately makes it a crime to do nothing? It is inconceivable that any man who has ever thought about the meaning of liberty should assist in making it a crime to fold your arms. The statement of the ex-Solicitor-General that to make it a crime for a man to fold his arms is trying to re-establish industrial serfdom in this country, seems to me, using the strict terms in their strict meaning, to be absolutely true. The only doubt I would raise on the matter is whether the workers of the country are not even now, without this Bill, economic serfs; but it makes things worse. Then we have the hon. Member who preceded 2130 me going even further and saying, "A sympathetic strike is unpopular; therefore, let us make it illegal." It may be unpopular for all I know. It is generally an unpopular thing in the majority of cases to sacrifice yourself for your fellows, but I will say this, that a sympathetic strike has much more fundamental Christianity in it than an ordinary strike. If a man goes on strike in order to get better wages, then he is striking for himself, but with a sympathetic strike he is fighting for someone else.
You may make that sort of thing illegal and stop it; if you do you are injuring human nature and not benefiting it. But economic freedom cannot be won by trade union action alone. Trade unions are an enormous force to-day, and they have been a greater force in the past in protecting the working men from injustices at the hands of individual employers. Now that the employers are in rings and combines, the trade union is certainly weakened in its bargaining power. They have been a great force, and yet with the best trade unions in the world our workers are by no means free to-day. You have put in this Bill provisions to make strikes and lock-outs illegal, but there is no Clause making it illegal to lock out workers from the land of this country. You allow people to say, "Here, the raw material of all labour is mine, but no one shall use it without paying blackmail to me." That would be far outside the scope of the Bill, but it will not always be outside the scope of Parliament to deal with that illegal lock-out, and break down that method of creating unemployment in order to enforce industrial slavery.
There is one other point upon which I wish to touch, and that is to throw some slight doubt and hesitation in the minds of hon. Members both below the Gangway and on this side as to the conviction which they seem to have that loyalty to the State is the last word. There is something we have got to preserve before loyalty to the State, and that is loyalty to your own conscience. We hear too much about the State nowadays, but the State, after all, is merely the majority, and if you preach to excess this idea of loyalty to the State you are stamping out the whole rebel spirit—which is not very great in this country—which, however much you may 2131 dislike it in the present, has made possible all the progress made in the past. As long as there are people with strong convictions—I do not care whether Socialist convictions or Communist convictions or Die-hard convictions on the other side—if you try to insist on loyalty to the State or loyalty to the party, you deprive this country of that great advantage which it has always had in the past. Loyalty to the State would have prevented any of the religious movements in the sixteenth century. To doubt religion was then more serious than even to doubt the State now. We doubted religion then, and finally we won.
Let me point out this to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the people who then put loyalty to their conscience before loyalty to the State went to the stake, and not merely to prison. It is prison that you provide in this Bill, but prison has never stopped any fight for liberty, and never will. No, our people when they are faced with a Measure like this, thank goodness—and you may thank goodness—do not take it lying down. I am surprised to hear in this House that this Bill does not arouse enthusiastic support or enthusiastic opposition. That has not been my experience. If it were true, what a horrible condemnation it would be of the spirit and intelligence of the people of this country! Here is the worst Measure of reaction we have ever had put forward in my time. I think the people have already shown at by-elections what they feel about this attack on the liberty of the people. I feel certain they will show at a General Election what they feel about it. When we have passed this Bill, the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the father of the Bill, knows perfectly well he cannot operate it and that there will be no need to operate it as far as a general strike is concerned. He will never have to fill his prisons with the criminals he has made. There is one virtue in this Bill. It is making people get down to fundamentals. It is creating an interest in politics, which is the beginning of wisdom among countless thousands who were not interested before. I tell the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues that the more the working classes of this country are educated in politics and think about politics as their business, the more 2132 certainly will his formerly Conservative and now reactionary party be beaten and deprived of any further chance of misgoverning this country.
§ Mr. EDMUND WOOD
I do not propose to follow the right hon. and gallant Member in his historical review of the religious and other struggles which have taken place. I want to deal with the Bill from the point of view of the average man in the street, whether he be a trade unionist or not. The average man asks himself two questions, (1) why is this Bill necessary and (2) does it carry out the four main principles laid down by the Attorney-General in his opening speech on the Second Reading? With regard to the first question, most sensible people, after the events of last year, do believe that a Bill something on these lines is necessary both for the safety of the community and for the liberty of the individual trade unionist. With regard to the second question, I will not weary the House by repeating the four points laid down by the Attorney-General, as they are familiar to every hon. Member, and have been accepted by the general public as a whole. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I think so.
Under the general strike Clause, as I understand it—the Attorney-General will correct me if I am wrong—a strike or sympathetic strike will be perfectly legal, unless it fulfils two conditions (1) that it is not in furtherance of a trade dispute in any given trade or industry, and (2) that it is designed or calculated to coerce the Government. Both those conditions must be fulfilled before a strike can be declared illegal. I maintain that that carries out the first of the Attorney-General's principles, that a general strike is illegal, without interfering materially with any of the legitimate functions of a trade union in regard to industrial disputes. In regard to the intimidation Clause, I have not heard anyone in any part of the House attempt to defend intimidation, more particularly intimidation of women and children. That Clause has simply restated the law as it exists to-day and has made some attempt to deal with that moral intimidation which is so much more effectual than anything in the nature of physical violence.
2133 With regard to the political levy, I do not see that it can be argued that it is fair that a Liberal or a Conservative trade unionist should be compelled to subscribe to the funds of a political party to which he is opposed. Hon. Members opposite tell us that he is not so compelled. The answer to that is, what harm, then, is there in the political levy Clause? If he is not now compelled, there will be no difference in the position under this Bill from the position to-day. The Civil Service Clause is justifiable. It is obviously undesirable that civil servants as a body should be associated with outside organisations which may at any time call upon them to forego their duty to the State, in furtherance of some sectional or political interest. The only question at issue, as I see it, is whether or not the provisions in the Bill relating to civil servants are likely to affect their working conditions, adversely or otherwise. I have listened with considerable attention to the arguments which have been advanced on that particular Clause, particularly the arguments advanced by hon. Members opposite, and I cannot see that there is anything in the Bill which will adversely affect the conditions of employment in the Civil Service.
This Bill has been represented or misrepresented by hon. Members opposite as depriving the worker of his right to maintain and further his industrial conditions by means of the strike weapon. It has been maintained that it deprives the trade unionists of some of their rights and privileges. I do not believe it. I do not believe that the average man in the street and the average trade unionist believes it. On the contrary, I believe that the Bill will restore the confidence of the trade unionists in their unions, as opposed to the trade union leader. I believe that it does carry out the four points made by the Attorney-General, that the ordinary Englishman believes in this Bill because it does do something to safeguard the community from anything in the nature of what took place last year, and that it does restore to the trade unionist that liberty to which he is entitled.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Up to now I have not intervened at any stage, neither on the Second Reading nor on the Committee stage; but to-day I have been frankly interested to find that the Attorney- 2134 General, whom I regarded as a very capable statesman and a very clever lawyer has now become a sort of Moses who has descended from Mount Sinai, as it were, and presented us with four principles, which are, presumably, to take the place of the much more ancient Ten Commandments. I heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman lay down those principles in the initial stages of this Bill, and I thought he was perhaps being a little high-falutin in calling them principles. They may be maxims or expedients for the day-to-day running of a country, but to call them principles is to put them on to a level which is somewhat more lofty than they deserve from their contents. I notice that, like his predecessor, the Prophet of old—if I am not mis-quoting my scripture, on which I am somewhat rusty—he stands at the foot of Mount Sinai and finds that a big proportion of his followers are worshipping the golden calf.
I have as much divine sanction for laying down principles as the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and approximately the same amount of political sanction in the fact that I am sent here by some tens of thousands of electors. I want to lay down principles which seem more fundamental and more vital in the consideration of this Bill. I lay down this principle, that any person born into this world has a right to live in this world. That seems fairly fundamental and as a principle should receive general acceptance. Such a person has a right to the means whereby he is going to live in this world. That is also fundamental. If that human being, born into this world with the right to live in this world, finds that by the social structure that is imposed upon him he is denied the right of the means of life in this world, then I lay it down, according to my principle, that he has a perfect right to play hell until he gets the right to live in this world. I am putting that forward as a personal point of view. I am not asking any of my colleagues to accept it or go with me in it, but it is my point of view which I honestly and sincerely hold. It is a point of view of which I made my constituents aware when they returned me to this House, and in so far as I am capable of encouraging and helping them in that activity I am prepared to do it.
2135 When I look at this Bill, I congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman on the practically unrivalled rhetorical effort with which he brought the Bill before the House, and the legal and parliamentary skill with which he has manipulated it through the House. I regret that such very high capacity should have been directed towards such vile ends. I listened to his learned colleague the Solicitor-General; I listened to the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) and to the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), all making their apologia for this Measure. What is it in essence? This Government, returned here to establish industrial peace, are faced with the fact that the working classes have two main agencies through which they can express industrial discontent—the Parliamentary Labour Party and the trade unions, with their various combinations and associations that have grown up. These are the two weapons that the working classes have very painfully built up, through which to enable them to express their discontent with their conditions of life and to enable them to play some part in building up for themselves better conditions of life. The Attorney-General and hon. Members opposite, see this widespread discontent finding expression, more or less effectively, through the Labour Party and through the industrial weapon of the strike, and instead of taking the view of statesmen and saying, "What are the causes of this discontent; how can we as statesmen, returned by a confiding public to set up a decent state of affairs in this country, remedy the causes of this discontent"? They buried their heads in the sand as far as the problem was concerned, neglected any attempt to provide higher standards of life for the people of this country, neglected any serious attempt to improve the nation's trade, and, said: "There are these agencies by which discontent is finding expression. How can we cripple these agencies to the fullest extent we possibly can and carry off at the same time with the public that it has been done for the sake of democracy"?
The right hon. Gentleman has prostituted his high Parliamentary ability; he has prostituted his profound legal knowledge; he has prostituted his high 2136 oratorical skill on behalf of a body of rich men, who have never known what it was to lack one single thing of the material things of life; men who have had all the advantages of education, men who have had all the advantages of social standing, men who have had all the advantages of wealth, and he has presented to them his skill and denied to common working people the merest, barest existence. Not merely that, he has used his skill to deny them the right to struggle for something better. I say that this is political blackguardism, that this is political treachery, and I say that the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General is a blackguard and a liar.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must withdraw that. I am not sure that I caught that last word, and whether he called the right hon. Gentleman a "liar." That word is not allowed in Debate.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Mr. Speaker, I have heard the same idea hurled across the Floor half-a-dozen times to-day with certain paraphrases. I am not using paraphrases. I am using the plain word.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member charges the right hon. Member with inaccuracy, that is frequently done, but it would never do to allow the word "liar" to be used in the House. I must ask the hon. Member to withdraw the expression.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member to withdraw from the House for the remainder of the Sitting.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have asked the hon. Member to withdraw his expression, and 2137 he has declined, so I am bound by the Rules of the House to order him to withdraw from the House and to obey the authority of the Chair. I hope the hon. Member will respect the authority of the Chair. I ask him to do so. The hon. Member leaves me no option but to name
§ him for disregarding the authority of the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That Mr. Maxton be suspended from the service of the House."—[Mr. Churchill.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, 146; Noes, 73.2139
|Division No. 203]||AYES.||[7.33 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Forrest, W.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Oakley, T.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Frece, Sir Walter de||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Alexander Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Atkinson, C.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Perring, Sir William George|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Grotrian, H. Brent||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Preston, William|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Harland, A.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Bethel, A.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Radford, E. A.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxford, Henley)||Ramsden, E.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hilton, Cecil||Remer, J. R.|
|Bowyer, Capt G. E. W.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Briant, Frank||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Rye, F. G.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sandon, Lord|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Buchan, John||Hume, Sir G. H.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Huntingfield, Lord||Slaney, Major P. Kenyan|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Jephcott, A. R.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Loder, J. de V.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Lumley, L. R.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Couper, J. B.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Macintyre, Ian||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Macmillan, Captain H.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Malone, Major P. B.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Margesson, Captain D.||Womersley, W. J|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Mason, Lieut.-Colonel Glyn K.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Merriman, F. B.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Duckworth, John||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Wragg, Herbert|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Falls, Sir Charles F.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Major Sir George Hennessy and Mr.|
|Finburgh, S.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||F. C. Thomson.|
|Adamson W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gibbins, Joseph||Kirkwood, D.|
|Baker, Walter||Gillett, George M.||Lawrence, Susan|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Lawson, John James|
|Barnes, A.||Hayday, Arthur||Lee, F.|
|Bromfield, William||Hayes, John Henry||Lowth, T.|
|Bromley, J.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Murnin, H.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Palin, John Henry|
|Connolly, M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Potts, John S.|
|Dennison, R.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Duncan, C.||Kelly, W. T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Riley, Ben|
|Ritson, J.||Stephen, Campbell||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Scurr, John||Sutton, J. E.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Westwood, J.|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Thurtle, Ernest||Whiteley, W.|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Smillie, Robert||Townend, A. E.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Varley, Frank B.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Viant, S. P.|
|Snell, Harry||Wallhead, Richard C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Mosley and Mr. Buchanan.|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
In accordance with the decision of the House, I must call upon the hon. Member for Bridgeton to withdraw.
§ The hon. Member withdrew accordingly.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Mr. LUMLEY
[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I rise as a layman to make my humble contribution to the 2,000,000 odd words that have already been expended on this Bill in this House. I will limit myself to 10 minutes. There are two views on this Bill, which are not founded on the provisions of the Bill. In the first place, there is the view of hon. Members opposite. We are all now familiar with the terms of this Bill. In their view this Bill is aimed against trade unions. [HON. MEMBERS: "So it is!"] In their view the ordinary practice of trade unions will become practically impossible if this Bill becomes law. That is the view stated in this House, and in the country, and reiterated with very little variation. Then there is the view which, as far as I know, has not been expressed in this House and, as far as I know, is not held by anyone in this House, but is met with occasionally outside this House. It is held by those people who welcome this Bill because they hope, or they anticipate, it will smash the power of trade unions which they detest, and will prevent most strikes to which they object. Both these views, seems to me, are founded on misunderstanding of the provisions of the Bill. This misunderstanding may or may not be real. I will not pause to inquire, but in each case I think we may say that the wish is father to the thought.
In the case of the hon. Members opposite, it is obvious, as it seems to me, that from the point of view of party tactics, following upon the events of last year, a reasonable Bill, a purely preventive Bill, would be very difficult for them to attack. Accordingly, it has become important for them that the Bill 2140 should be an unreasonable and a punitive Bill, and, if it were not so, that, at any rate, it must be represented as being so for as long as possible. I do not suppose that anything which can be said to-day will alter the views of hon. Members opposite, and I take it that that perhaps explains why neither patience nor the reasoning of the right hon. Attorney-General and his colleagues has been able to alter the official attitude of the party opposite. Perhaps it also explains why, even before the Bill was introduced, and before its terms were known, these denunciations of the Bill began. But there is still one more thing which could happen to expose the fallacy held by hon. Members opposite about this Bill. This Bill will, I trust, become an enactment before long, and after it has been in operation for some time, and the general public find out that things go on in trade unions very much as they went on before, then the misrepresentations which have been made about the Bill throughout the country will be exposed. Probably, as is so often the case, some political crisis about some other subject will then detract attention from it.
It seems to me that it is possible to take quite a different view from these two views, and to hold quite different hopes about this Bill than either of those extreme hopes which I have mentioned. I venture to harbour three hopes about this Bill, which I should like to state very briefly. First of all, I hope that the later Clauses of the Bill will help to stop some abuses which have arisen in connection with trade unions. We need not condemn the trade union movement because abuses have arisen, but where these abuses affect the State or local authorities, or individual members of trade unions, it seems to be right that an attempt should be made to put them right. The second hope I hold is that this Bill will help to prevent a general strike such as that of last year. I quite agree that a piece of legislation by itself cannot prevent anything. If a large body of people in the country are determined to break 2141 the law, they will break it, but I hope that the very fact that it has now been made quite clear that a general strike is illegal, will help to prevent a recurrence of such a strike, and, therefore, that some service will have been done by the Bill to protect the community. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where does that come into the Bill?"] The third view I hold relates to the effect the Bill will have, in the long run, on the trade union movement. I am entitled to hold an opinion. I do not hope, and I do not believe, that this Bill will stop ordinary industrial strikes. In many cases they become unfortunate necessities, and it would be unfair to take away from the workers the weapon of a strike, unless, at the same time, we took out of the hands of employers their weapon of reducing wages or altering conditions. I do not believe for one moment that this Bill will prevent industrial strikes, but I would ask, what is the fundamental object of trade unionism? I do not think anyone will disagree with me if I answered by saying it is to improve the lot of the wage earner.
In my opinion, as long as the trade union movement faithfully follows that fundamental object, it will always receive the support of this country, but if, as in some cases of late years, it follows false gods, then it is going to get into deep water. I believe it is beyond question—and hon. Members opposite will agree with me—that the policy of having strikes whenever an opportunity occurs, is one which instead of improving the lot of the wage earner, has done a great deal to harm him. I hope that it has now been made clear that the general strike is illegal. The difference between a strike which brings pressure on the employers, and a strike which brings pressure on the community has been emphasised. This being so, it is to be hoped that in the long run the trade union movement will depart from following false gods and continual strikes, and will return to its fundamental object of improving the lot of the worker. Those are the three hopes which I have about this Bill.
I should like to express one other hope. This Bill was not in the programme of the present Government. It was made, in my opinion, unavoidable, or rather, I would say, it was imperatively demanded by the events of last year. But it is by nature a preventive Bill, It is none the worse for that, if it prevents 2142 abuses and protects the community. But the very fact that it is only a preventive Bill, and the additional fact of the disaster of last year—which hit one of the worst blows at the workers they have ever suffered in one year—those two facts together make it all the more imperative that the Government should continue to place constructive proposals before this House, the object of which should be to take what action lies within their power towards the improvement of the status of the wage-earner. I should like to see them go on without delay with the amendment of the Factory Law. I should like to see them continue to try to get international agreement about hours of labour. I should like to see them explore the avenues of conciliation, and above all, I should like to see them give encouragement and a lead, as far as possible, towards improving the economic status of the worker, not by the fraud of nationalisation—which, in my opinion, will give them nothing at all—but by encouraging the schemes, many of which have already been proved to be successful, for bringing the worker into co-partnership, or profit-sharing. This is the only way. The worker has got his educational status. He has got the vote. What he lacks more than anything else is economic status. I hope the Government will give encouragement in that way. These are the hopes with which I see this Bill pass through the House.
§ Mr. J. JONES
Judging by the speeches this afternoon, particularly from the back benches on the other side of the House, it looks as though this is the funeral of the Government, rather than an occasion for bands. They have all been expressing sympathy with the trade unions. We fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts. Their sympathy reminds me of the sympathy of the boa-constrictor for its victim. It generally slobbers them all over before swallowing them. There are a lot of boa-constrictors on the other side. The Bill substantially leaves the trade unions where they were. They have a right to strike, but who is going to decide that right to strike? According to the Bill, not the trade unions. With all deference to the legal experts—and we have had a marvellous parade of legal knowledge—the trouble is that each one has contradicted the last one, and those of us who are common 2143 or garden Member find ourselves in a perpetual quandary.
I happen to be a member of the General Workers' organisation, and I am also an official. Out of the 250 sections of that union, if any one section asks our executive for a reply, how can the executive give permission to that section without knowing whether they will involve other sections? They may give consent for a strike. The men will come out, and as soon as they do, someone will go before the Courts asking for an injunction. The right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General, who is a perfect angel in these matters, has no connection with the Federation of British Industries and no association with the great employers' organisations, but is simply an independent statesman, here to do his duty at so much per year, like the rest of them. Pressure is brought to bear on a particular organisation with which he may be associated, and an injunction is granted after a strike takes place. An interim injunction is given immediately. The union may have acted in perfectly good faith, but they may find themselves liable for a penalty for financial damages. I should like the lawyers to tell me what kind of a strike we can have now, that will not be an attack upon the community. You cannot keep trades in watertight compartments. One industry is so related to another, they are so interdependent, that as soon as one section gets into trouble all the other sections are found to be involved, we have a strike, and then we have all the machinery of the law against us. According to hon. Members opposite, the trade unions were all right as long as they were glorified goose-clubs, as long as they were friendly societies paying benefits when the State did not pay old age pensions, and as long as we were helping to maintain our members by our common sacrifice, then everything in the garden was lovely. But as soon as that was changed, we found that the other side were dissatisfied. They found that the trade unions had other functions as well as those of friendly societies. The trade unions had decided to extend their operations and to join in federations with other workers, the employers having shown them the way. Combinations of capital inevitably force combinations of labour, both 2144 national and international, and the result is that now we have our great federations. But it does not matter what we have as trade unions; we find ourselves at any moment in the hands of the lawyers. This Bill is not a trade union Bill; it is a Bill to find work for those people who live upon other people's misfortunes. This Bill is an insult to our intelligence. I have been surprised to read, in the speeches delivered by hon. Members opposite, that they charge us with misrepresenting the Bill outside, but we have never misrepresented this Bill to anything like the extent that they have misrepresented it both inside and outside the House.
They said that the general strike was an attack upon the State and the community. I will go into any of their constituencies, and, if they give me an open platform, I will cram that lie down their throats. The general strike was not a conspiracy against the State, but such a great expression of human sympathy as the world had never seen before. Men in my own district who had good jobs for life, with pensions attached, men with salaries of £400 to £800 a year, came out with the common dock labourer. Foremen in the docks, c[...]eckers, men with responsible positions came out with the common worker because they said. "We must not let the miners down because, if they go down, we will be the next to go." But that was called revolution If it had been a revolution, there would have been a different result. The probabilities are that some of the people who are talking about revolution desire revolution because it would give them an excuse for shooting. Remember that in the days of the Irish movement they said, "We do not hesitate to shoot." I hope they will do their own shooting, and not do it by proxy. We know now exactly what is meant. There is no trade union executive in the country who are safe now to say when they can call a strike and when they cannot; that is to be handed over to the judgment of the Courts, and the Yankee system is to be put into operation: hang a man first, and try him afterwards. We oppose this Bill because it is vicious in conception. Our political levy is brought into it. We are to have no right to say to a man, after a ballot of our members has been taken, "The overwhelming majority of your fellow members has decided upon a 2145 certain line of action, and, therefore, we claim that you shall do your share to carry out that policy." That is to be illegal according to this Bill. But take it the other way. Supposing the majority of a trade union decided to strike in a particular trade or industry, are the men who voted against striking to be protected against their fellow members who have decided upon a strike?
What becomes then of the democratic principle? Even this House is not a democratic institution according to that. Here the minority have to submit to the majority; we have no protection against you, because you have the votes and we have not. But our trade unions have been governed on exactly the same principle. You say, however, to the trade unions that, the majority, however large it may be, however reasonable it be, must not decide upon their own policy; you are to decide it for them. Every blackleg and every scallywag can decide against us. That is what you do by this Bill, and consequently we have decided to fight it to the bitter end. An hon. Member has said that there was no opposition among workers outside to the Bill, and that when they came to understand the lamb-like nature of the Bill they would not be opposed to it. I would ask, however, if everything is to be exactly as it was before, why has the Bill been introduced? You cannot have it both ways. The general strike was made an excuse, because it was not a reason. Some of us can remember—although we were not in the House at the time, we followed with intelligent interest what happened in this House—that in 1913, when the Trade Disputes Act was going through this House, every Clause that is in this Bill was moved as an Amendment by the Tory party. They come now like bleating lambs—I wish to say something stronger, but I have not the education of those who have been through the Universities to enable me to express myself in Parliamentary language—but in 1913 they wished to insert every Clause which is in this Bill as Amendments to the original Trade Disputes Act. We have people going up and down the country saying that this Bill is a result of the last general strike. Nothing of the kind! It is the result of the machinations of people who are not in this 2146 House, but who are using the party opposite to serve their class interest.
We are charged with practising class warfare; some of our people may preach it, but we are babes in that matter as compared with some hon. Members opposite. Intimidation! I know what intimidation is. I was for five months out of work because I had the reputation of being an agitator. There was nothing against my ability and there was nothing against my honesty, but, because I was said to be an agitator, I was kept out of employment. But that is not intimidation; that is business. If we, as trade unionists, see a man who is not playing the game, and if we say to him that in certain conditions we will not work with him, then all the power of the law will be brought down upon us. The people who are introducing this legislation will live to rue the day. They may say they want to make a general strike illegal or to prevent it, but you cannot prevent it, because strikes do not come about because somebody says, "Hey, presto!" There are no people who are more opposed to strikes than we are. We know more about their meaning than you do. We have gone through them, and seen our own children going short because we were without the means to maintain them. After strike pay stopped we have had to go hungry day after day, week after week, and month after month in some cases, because we had not the desire to surrender and we were only forced to surrender by sheer starvation. We are not advocating strikes for the sake of striking, but we mean to preserve the right to strike at all costs. The right to strike is the only thing that divides the free man from the slave, and makes him master of his own physical and mental powers. We oppose the Bill because it seeks to limit that right. You cannot make men strike if they do not want to. We know how strikes begin and what causes them. Give the workers a fair deal. You began to talk about conciliation at the end of the Debates upon this Bill. You left it to the last moment and then you said, "Let us try conciliation." What you mean is "codciliation" for the people outside. The real meaning of the Bill lies in the first Clause, which is a dagger placed at the heart of the organised men and women of this country. Our right to take political action has been 2147 forced upon us by you; you made it necessary and desirable because you rigged the Law Courts against us. In the Taff Vale dispute, when you put the Taff Vale judgment against the railwaymen, we saw that the object of it was to make the trade unions liable for any loss which the employers might suffer, and, as a consequence, the trade union movement decided they would use their power not merely in the factory and workshop for collective bargaining. What they said was, "If we are good enough to make the wealth of the nation, we are good enough to make the laws of the nation."
§ Mr. JONES
No, not by ourselves; we always have you. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that, no matter what party is in power, he will try to be in office. Political action has been forced upon us in the same way as economic action has been forced upon us, by dire necessity. We are prepared to go to the country, as we have already done, in opposing the Bill and we will show you, before the final scene of the passing of this Bill, that the feeling of the great masses of the country is dead against you, and, even though you pass the Bill, it will be inoperative because the workers of the country will refuse to work it.
I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) in his disquisitions in which he attacked something which is not in this Bill. If this Bill infringed the liberty of which he was speaking, he would find many hon. Members on this side of the House conspiring together to coerce the Government to withdraw it. It is precisely because it does not do any of the things of which he spoke, or very few of them, that the Government are carrying it into law. He was singularly unfortunate in the one instance which he gave of intimidation as practised in the House of Commons. The hon. Member spoke of the Government, by their majority, being able to force its conclusions upon the Opposition at a certain hour this evening, but at any rate the Government will do them the courtesy of taking a Division in order that the members of the minority may express their opinion, and that is something which was not 2148 done last year in connection with the general strike. If that had been done on that occasion there would have been no strike and no necessity for the introduction of this Bill. Hon. Members opposite did not submit that question to the test of a division and the result is that we have had introduced the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill of 1927.
There appear to me to be three points of view in regard to which this Measure may be attacked. There is the point of view, first of all, which admits that the objects aimed at are right, but that the means by which the Bill tries to achieve those objects are wrong. The second point of view is that the introduction of this Bill is both inopportune and unnecessary. The third is that the objects which the Bill seeks to attain are wrong. Those are all different standpoints, and I want to analyse which of those is the standpoint adopted by the Opposition in the course of these Debates. If the objects of the Bill are right and the means sought to achieve them are wrong, then the tactics of the Opposition have been obviously and utterly wrong. Before the commencement of these Debates the Opposition declared they would fight this Bill Clause by Clause and line by line and they actually committed themselves to opposing the Bill before it was presented to the House because it was such a bad Bill.
I am inclined to agree with something of that indictment, as I share the conviction that this Bill was one of the worst drafted Measures, upon its introduction, that has ever been brought into this House. In my view a great deal of the misrepresentation the Government have been subjected to in regard to this Bill is due to the fact that it was introduced to the House in that condition, and this Measure was presented in a way which displayed a lack of the elementary principles of draftsmanship, and therefore the Government have a certain amount of blame to lay to their hearts in this respect. But that does not help the Opposition, because the Socialist Opposition have done little or nothing to improve the Bill as it went through the House of Commons, and the result is that by the guillotine procedure and by the inefficient methods we have for dealing in debate with a Bill towards 2149 which the Opposition adopt such tactics, this Measure is not as good as it might have been if the minds of hon. Members had been bent on improving it.
The second standpoint was that this Bill was inopportune and unnecessary. That is a formidable indictment, and it is a position which I shall examine. I do not think it was unnecessary, and this was shown by the events of last year, or if not so much by them at least by the absence of a change of spirit after last year. If there had been an acceptance of the point of view that was so frequently and so readily expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) this Bill might not have been necessary. That change of spirit was not brought about because there were so many persons of distinction and importance in the ranks of the Socialist party who were ready to say that the general strike could be repeated with greater efficacy. I think it was the plain duty of the Government under those circumstances to re-state the constitutional position in unmistakable terms.
I think the other Clauses of the Bill can also be justified as necessary and opportune by the numerous prosecutions for intimidation which took place last year. I think, in view of those facts, there was an undoubted case for putting in plain terms what the law is as to intimidation. Except in one small particular this Bill only expounds the law on intimidation as it existed before this Bill was brought in. Of course, the threatened defection of the Civil Service last year and in 1920 made it necessary to re-state the position in which those in the Civil Service found themselves by virtue of their allegiance to the Crown. I come to the last standpoint, which is that the objects of this Bill are wrong, and that seems to me to be the only standpoint which justifies the action of the Opposition in saying that they intend to repeal this Measure upon the first possible opportunity. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) somewhat modify that statement by saying:We shall use our constitutional rights in asking for a mandate to remove this Bill from the Statute Book.I was glad to hear that, because it is 2150 a little different to what has been previously said on this point, and I am glad to hear now that the Opposition intend to go to the country for a mandate on this point before they attempt to repeal this Measure. I feel certain that if they put the issue fairly to the electors they will not get a mandate to repeal. I am going to give one or two reasons why, in my opinion, this Bill will be a formidable advantage even to a Socialist Government if it comes into power. The Earl of Birkenhead, with whose opinions I disagree on a great many occasions, said yesterday in substance that correctly orientated there is not the smallest doubt that the party opposite some day will hold the reins of Government in this country. Supposing by that time the party opposite have not been purged of their Socialist principles and seek to follow them up along the well-established and well-defined lines of policy laid down for them in the past. I can imagine nothing more natural than that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) should, for instance, attempt to follow up the kind of legislation introduced in respect of public utility companies and extend it to cover undertakings which produce necessities. Supposing he said, "We will restrict the profits of tobacco manufacturers to 5 percent. or 7 per cent. and over and above such profits they must divide their profits between the consumer and themselves." That is not at all a fanciful idea of what might happen under a Socialist Government. On the other hand the tobacco manufacturers might say, "We entirely refuse to operate our industry under those terms. We will close down and have a lock-out and bring into force the industrial weapon." In that way they would be able to set aside the wishes of the people, as represented by the Government in power. A Socialist Government would then employ the powers contained in Clause 1 and what could be more gratifying to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley than to know that he had this weapon to deal with any attempt on the part of the employers to defeat the attempt by industrial action to deflect political activity?
I certainly did not vote against the lock-out Clause, and in my opinion the lock-out Amendment to Clause 1 does effectively provide that, whether by strike or by lock-out, the deflection of a Government from its legitimate political pursuits by industrial action shall be as far as possible prevented. I have given a real example of a case that is within political possibilities if a Labour Government came into power. I will give another instance to show the potentialities of this measure even from the point of view of hon. Members opposite. We are repeatedly told in the House that the coal dispute of last year was a lock-out—I am sure this has only to be enunciated for everybody to agree with the proposition—and in the country I have heard it said over and over again that it was a lock-out by the owners for the purpose of forcing an eight hours day on the men.
I heard that in Durham only last week—that it was a lock-out for the purpose of forcing an increase of hours. If that be so, we can at once proceed to an elucidation of the intricate problem about which we have been talking for the last 12 months, that is, the question whether the dispute was a strike or a lock-out, because under the Bill it is open for any man who really believes that the miners' dispute was a lock-out for the purpose of increasing hours to bring an action against the Mine Owners' Federation for damages under Sub-section (4) of Clause 1 of the Bill. If that were a lock-out for that purpose, I am quite convinced that it was for an illegal purpose, and, as such, would come within this Bill and an action for restrospective damages would lie under Sub-section (2). If only in the interests of obtaining for Murray's Dictionary a definition of what is a strike and what is a lock-out I hope some hon. 2152 Member opposite will apply to the Courts for a declaration that what took place last year was a lock-out, and was a lock-out for that illegal purpose.
The truth is that this Bill has been clouded in the country and in this House by a smoke screen of misrepresentation, and what I resent most bitterly is the misrepresentation it has suffered at the hands of people who know a great deal better, of people like the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) and another hon. and learned Gentleman on the Liberal Benches, the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney). The hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds has described this Bill as a slave Bill, as designed to destroy the whole estate and liberty of the trade unionists of the country. That is entirely untrue. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is absolutely true!"] That kind of exaggerated language is permissible in a man whose feelings carry him away, but it is certainly not permissible in a man whose duty it is to be accurate and distinct in his enunciation of the law. That same hon. and learned Gentleman who said that has also made this statement about the Bill:If all the persons in some particular industry want to come out on strike, I cannot see anything in this Bill to prevent them. Supposing there is a dispute in the electricity works in Croydon, and in sympathy men come out all over England, electricity works and power stations are all closed down, and electricity is cut off.The hon. and learned Member who made that statement is the same hon. and learned Member who said that all the estates and liberties of the trade unionists of the country are destroyed. The same hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke of the "slave compound," and the "slave pen," is the same hon. and learned Gentleman who has admitted to the right hon. and learned Attorney-General that a strike in essential services on so large a scale as to amount to a menace to the community was not stopped by the Bill. It is perfectly clear that not only is the right to inflict torts not touched by the Bill, but that the most extraordinarily wide powers do still remain to trade unionists, and the hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that his indictment is false and indeed condemned out of his own mouth.
2153 The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Shields is a man who, being within the Bar, being a King's Counsel, presents himself to the people of this country as a person whose words on matters of law are those of wisdom and entitled to be followed. He speaks of a special jury in a magistrate's Court being addressed by counsel for the prosecution in such terms that they shall be prejudiced. "A special jury in a magistrate's Court," said the voice of an eminent member of the Bar! The people of this country who hear that from a leading King's Counsel on the Liberal Benches may swallow that kind of rubbish, just as they may swallow the statement he made that 60 per cent. of the strikes which have hitherto been legal in this country will be made illegal under the Bill. That smoke screen of misrepresentation will I hope come back on the heads of its authors.
In conclusion, may I say a word in support of what was said by an hon. Friend of mine behind me a little while ago? I do not think this Bill cuts any ice at all. I do not think it matters one way or the other. I do not believe there is any opposition to it, and I do not believe there is any support for it. I believe the real fear is that it is an indication of the directive aim of the Government. If it is an indication that they are not going forward with the amelioration of industrial conditions in order to improve the lot of those engaged in industry, then it is an indication of the impending failure of the Government. It is not House of Lords Bills, it is not Tariff Reform, it is not that kind of thing that are going to be the immediate projects of any political party in the country. There is only one problem, that of industry, and I sincerely hope that the Government, having done what I believe to be necessary work in bringing in this Bill, will now see that the time has come for a constructive effort towards improving relations in industry in this country.
§ Mr. PALIN
I do not suppose that anything we can say to-night will bring about any amendment of the Bill. It is to be forced through by the docile majority which has brought things to their present stage. At any rate, however, we can utter a last protest against a Bill which its promoters suggest is going to prevent a general strike. The 2154 last speaker made it quite clear that it will do no such thing. It cannot prevent people from withholding their labour, though it can make it very difficult. It can smash the trade unions, and it can prevent them using their funds. One would think trade unions introduced the strike. As a matter of fact there were strikes long before there were trade unions, much worse strikes, with much greater disorder and much greater damage to property, before trade unions brought some organisation to bear upon strikes. There were lock-outs before, also, and I do not think the attempt to import some degree of fairness into the Bill by including lock-outs will have the slightest possible effect, because I know of only one well organised industry which has quite frankly used the lock-out as a weapon against the strike, and in that particular industry, the cotton industry, there has been less trouble than there has been in a great many.
The strike has been threatened, and the lock-out has been threatened as a reprisal, but we have not had a general strike, and we are not likely to have one in this country. What we have had has been described very properly by my hon. Friend the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) as a demonstration of sympathy against the unscrupulous methods of the coalowners, apparently backed by the Government. The big stoppage of work was precipitated by the discourteous action of certain Members of the Cabinet, who, while pretending to negotiate for peace, took the first opportunity that lay at hand—and a very thin excuse at that—to break off negotiations. The manner in which they treated the negotiations undoubtedly precipitated the strike. I do not think we are going to prevent that kind of thing occurring again. While people have human passions, they will rise and will cause these things. We may deplore them, but we cannot prevent them. Personally, I am not quite sure whether this Bill is intended to do anything of the kind, when we consider the type of Amendments that were moved to the Trade Disputes Bill by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the number of private Members' Bills which have been promoted from time to time, and which all appear to have been incorporated in this Measure. The hon. and learned Member 2155 for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) received rather a striking rebuke from the Prime Minister for pressing the matter in such an untimely fashion, but there seems to have been a greater power in the party even than the Prime Minister. It manifested itself at the Scarborough Conference, and now we have this Bill thrust upon the country.
The Bill will not crush the trade unions, but it may cause the trade unions to take on a different structure, and to operate in another manner, which will not be quite so open and above-board as the trade unions have been in the past. It will not crush the Parliamentary Labour party; but it may crush those who have forged this weapon for that purpose, and I think it will. More than that, I cannot see how you can improve a Bill, or do anything to improve a Bill, which so impresses one as having been deliberately planned in conjunction with other Measures—because this is not the only thing that has been brought about to serve the friends of the Government. We have only to consider the spirit and the lines of the various Budgets that have been introduced during the life of the present Government. All this is part of their scheme to make themselves safe when Labour does come into power. I do not think that they will make themselves safe; I think the Government have committed suicide by the way in which this Bill has been put forward, and by the hypocrisy of the whole thing. I trust that it will be noted, when the Bill becomes law, that the Government will suffer far more than the trade unions. I believe the Bill will he inoperative. It is a gesture to placate certain Communistic influences inside the Tory party. Having served its purpose, it may make things a little inconvenient for a time, but, so far from smashing the trade unions, it is going to smash the Tory party, and from that point of view we ought to welcome it rather than otherwise.
§ Captain FRASER
The House would be more cheered if the words of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken cut more ice, by his assertion that this Bill will not crush the trade unions. That is precisely what we have been saying for the last 10 days or more, and I believe that trade 2156 unionists are beginning to believe it now. As regards intimidation, I had some reluctance at first to accept the Clause relating to intimidation, for the evidence as to the need for it seemed meagre; but, as the Debates have prodeeded, I am inclined to the opinion that a case has been made out, not merely for the slight change in the law which is to take place, but also for the declaration of the law in regard to intimidation. The greatest service, perhaps, that has been rendered by the inclusion of intimidation as a subject to be dealt with in the Bill is the publicity that has been afforded to the old law and to the new law on that subject. There can now be no excuse for large numbers of men innocently breaking the law and pleading that they did not know what the law was; and there cannot be a repetition of that ridiculous incident which took place in this House last year, when certain hon. Members were pleading that men who had appealed to them for help had done nothing wrong, when they themselves did not know what the law was.
With regard to the political levy, I must confess I am not quite so happy as many of my friends are. I, for one, think that the arguments for and against compelling a minority to do something which the majority among whom they live desire to be done, are very well matched. In this country of ours, which, after all, is a society, there is a small minority, of which I need not say I am not one, who, for example, do not believe it is desirable to have a Navy, and yet they are compelled to pay for it; they cannot contract out from that liability, nor, a fortiori, can they stay out until they voluntarily contract in. There are arguments as powerful as, and more powerful than, that, which may be regarded by my friends as a particularly weak one, but I feel that the arguments are very well matched, and that it well have been good policy to have left this matter alone. At the same time, the Government are assured that there is a large body of opinion which desires the change to be made, that a large number of trade unionists honestly feel that it is wrong and improper that they should be compelled—and in many cases it has been felt that they are compelled—to pay to- 2157 wards the support of a party with which they do not agree. For my part, as a Member of this House, I am not going to set my opinion against that of the Government. I have supported that Clause, and I only hope that it will do as much good as is expected of it.
The principal matter, however, to which I desire to call attention is in connection with the other Clauses of the Bill, which effectively prevent a repetition of a general strike. In my view, it matters little whether the effort of last year is called a general strike or, as some Members would have it, a demonstration of sympathy. I am compelled to believe, from my observation of railwaymen in my constituency, that the vast majority of them went out with no other motive than that of sympathy with the miners. I do not think their leaders were quite so clear as to their motives, but I believe the rank and file went out principally because they felt sympathy for their friends the miners. I am also of opinion, however, that they did not want to go out, and that men very seldom do want to go out on a sympathetic strike. They were compelled to go out. I would liken their position rather to that of a doctor who is called up on the telephone in the early hours of the morning with a request that he will go out to help a friend. He goes reluctantly, and he would be the first to thank God if some method could be devised that would prevent him from having to go out, provided that his friend did not suffer. I think it can be shown that this Bill will effectively prevent any vast movement of railwaymen, comparable with that which took place last year, in support of, for example, the miners. I do not think the Government or our party should shirk that issue; I think we should proclaim all over the land that that is not merely the result, but the object, of the Bill, and the reason is, as I see it, that we think such enormous movements of combinations of men can only bring disaster upon the country, and more especially upon the men themselves. That, in my view, is a justification for doing what can be done to make it impossible for last year's general strike to recur.
May I say a word with regard to the extreme importance, as I see it, of doing anything that can be done to make certain that the truth in regard to the Bill is known throughout Britain? I am 2158 firmly of opinion that vast numbers of men find themselves opposed to the Bill simply because they do not understand it. I have met men who occupy important subordinate positions in the trade unions, in the railway trade union, for example, who themselves do not know exactly what this Bill means. How the rank and file, who rely upon them for guidance, can be expected to know, if they are the only people who can communicate information to them, I do not know. I think it is reassuring to hear the Solicitor-General tell us that more and more working men are understanding the Bill, but I hope very much that no effort will be spared in any direction to make the effect of the Bill and its Clauses known. There should be no working man who has not an opportunity of hearing precisely what it means. If that is done, I am of opinion that public opinion will move from the indefinite position in which I believe it now stands with regard to the Bill into a position of firm and confident support in the knowledge that it contributes considerably to the harmonious and proper working of the trade union system and of the relations between trade unionists and their leaders, and will do much to benefit and improve industrial conditions.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman may rest assured that his desire that everything possible will be done to make the character of the Bill understood will be fully realised. We may differ as to what the results of a wider understanding of the Measure may be, but we intend to carry forward that work of education, confident ourselves of the result. We are now approaching the end of the Parliamentary Debates upon this Bill, and my task—rather a difficult one—is to attempt to summarise the main points of the criticisms and objections which have been put forward during the discussions from this side of the House. Within the next two hours this Bill will pass by an overwhelming majority, and the Government and the party opposite will congratulate themselves upon having secured a great Parliamentary victory. They are welcome to it.
It has been stated more than once to-day that when the Bill becomes law, we shall refuse either to accept it or to operate it. We are thoroughly justified in that course. There have been Bills 2159 passed through the House to which strong opposition has been offered both inside Parliament and outside, but when these Measures have become law they have been tacitly accepted, and the minority has continued its work of agitation until it was in a position to repeal or amend the Measure. But this Bill stands in a different category. It has no democratic sanction. It has no moral sanction. Not only the introduction of the Bill but the way in which it has been forced through the House of Commons is an outrage upon Parliamentary procedure. The Government profess to be aiming at maintaining constitutional government. No greater blow has been struck in this generation at constitutional government than the introduction of the Bill. May I quote as being pertinent to this point, words that were uttered nearly 100 years ago by Lord Macaulay. He said:The law has no eyes, the law has no hands, the law is nothing but a piece of paper printed by the King's printer with the King's arms at the top till public opinion breathes the breath of life into it.This Bill will remain a dead letter because the breath of public opinion can never be breathed into it. We shall oppose it when it becomes an Act of Parliament, and we have ample precedent provided by the party opposite. We shall not fulfil that precedent to the letter. We shall not import arms from Germany. We shall not raise an armed volunteer force. We shall not call upon our supporters to fire and be damned, but by every constitutional means we shall oppose this unconstitutional and unjustifiable Act of Parliament.
The Solicitor-General in his entertaining speech, which I am sure he himself regarded as a joke, claimed that the Bill during the course of its passage through Committee had been favourably amended from our point of view in many respects. The changes that have been made have not made it more acceptable. It remains the same vicious, malignant and provocative Bill. It has been pointed out already this afternoon that when the Bill was introduced, it was presented to this House as a unique model of long consideration and of perfect construction. The Solicitor-General claimed that the Amendments had been made by the House of Commons. Why, so perfect was the draftsmanship of this Bill, so 2160 perfectly did it express the results of long consideration by the Government, that before we reached the Committee stage Amendments had been put upon the Order Paper by the Government which practically altered the whole phraseology of the most important Clause in the Bill. Throughout the whole of this discussion the Attorney-General has presented a pitiable and contemptible spectacle.
There have been two criticisms from this side of the House with which I do not agree. One was that the Government did not know their own mind, and the other was that they had not the intelligence to put their intentions into words. The Government know their mind quite well. Their intentions are to destroy both the industrial and political organisations of the trade unions. There is method, there is design, shall I say there is calculation, in the ambiguity of this Bill. They have not put into actual words their intention; they have hidden it in a mass of verbiage and ambiguity, leaving prejudiced Courts to interpret and carry out the hidden intentions of the Bill. Legal members on the other side of the House have been quite as critical of the ambiguity of this Bill as legal Members on this side. Those legal Members on that side who made this criticism had evidently not been taken into the secrets of the Government. We have been told that the purpose of this Bill is to declare a general strike illegal. The learned Solicitor-General this afternoon repeated what the learned Attorney-General said on the Second Reading of this Bill, that a general strike is indefinable, but that it is known when it is seen. He reminds me of a man I knew many years ago. He was a member of a board of guardians, and they were threatened with a mandamus, and this man was very curious to see a mandamus, so he offered a public reward of £5 to anybody who would produce a mandamus either dead or alive. Being unable to define a general strike, the Government have left it to the Courts to decide.
What problems will be left to the decision of the Courts! It is impossible to enumerate them all or even a considerable proportion of them. The Courts have to decide, when they see it, whether a strike is a general strike or not. They have to decide when a strike is a strike and when 2161 it is not a strike. They have to decide whether a dispute is a strike or a lockout. They have to decide whether it is a primary strike or a sympathetic strike, and what is a sympathetic strike. They have to decide whether it has any purpose other than an industrial purpose. They have to decide what is a trade and industry, and what is not a trade and industry. They have to decide as to what a person felt and what his apprehensions were. They have to decide, not on facts but upon motives. Why, was ever public money spent upon such a conglomeration of nonsense and absurdity? The purpose of the Bill I say, repeating what has been said so often from the benches opposite, is to prevent a general strike. But why should a general strike be prevented? There is only one answer to that question. Because it inflicts hardship on the community, and the community, suffering hardship, may attempt to coerce the Government to take action to put it down. "Ah," says the Attorney-General, "it does not matter how long a strike is, how many people are involved, what hardship it inflicts upon the community if it has no other purpose than a purely industrial purpose." The railways may stop, the omnibuses may stop, the Underground may stop.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for that interjection Let London walk! That was the expression with which the Prime Minister closed the only speech he has made in the long course of this Debate. Therefore, according to the Prime Minister, the purpose of this Bill was to let London walk, because, says the Attorney-General, "if it is an industrial dispute, the railways can stop, the omnibuses can stop, the Underground can stop, and it will be a perfectly legal strike." Let London walk! But if any of these primary disputes is calculated, is likely, to coerce the Government, then it becomes an illegal strike. I ask every hon. Member of this House how long the railways are going to stop, how long the omnibuses are going to stop, how long London is going to walk for the community to coerce the Government to take action in the matter? Every primary strike, because of the hardship it inflicts on the community, according to the definition given by the Attorney-General, must become a coercive strike and, therefore, 2162 it becomes an illegal strike. I maintain that I am not indulging in that misrepresentation and exaggeration about which so many complaints have been made from the other side of the House, this afternoon; from a party which never did practice misrepresentation! from a party whose political and electioneering methods have always been of the strictest character! Suppose one side in the primary strike, say the railwaymen, called upon the Minister of Labour to intervene, suppose the workmen in any strike called upon the Minister of Labour to intervene, that is coercing the Government and, therefore, every strike becomes an illegal strike. That is the intention of the Government. The Solicitor-General this afternoon said that certain strikes would still be legal. This is what the Solicitor-General said a little while ago in speaking during the great industrial dispute of last year, and it indicates what was the[...] in the mind of one of the men who have been responsible for the drafting of this Bill. He said:I believe strikes are obsolete and ought to be made illegal. It ought to be taken out of the workers' hands by the State. They ought to be deprived or it in their own interest.Take the main dispute of last year. There is not a Member of this House I am sure who would argue and successfully argue that that dispute would have been possible had this Bill been on the Statute Book. From the very first, for 12 months before that stoppage took place, the Government were implicated as a party to the dispute up to the very hilt, and practically the whole issues of that dispute were issues which the Government alone could decide. There was the Samuel Report and the question of the subsidy. All this goes to complete and confirm the statement made so often by my hon. Friends in this House and in the country, and which will resound in every market place in the country in the months that are to come, that a strike is illegal. That is absolutely confirmed by these facts. There have been changes we are told; but do they make the Bill clearer? In the first draft of Clause 1 it was illegal "to intimidate a substantial portion of the community," now if it is "calculated to coerce the Government by inflicting hardship on the community" it becomes an illegal strike. The draftsmanship of this Bill was supposed to be perfect, but 2163 dozens of Amendments have been introduced the effect of which is not to make the Bill more acceptable but to strengthen every one of its objectionable features. The Government, however, are still not satisfied about the meaning of "calculated," and from what the Attorney-General has said I understand that the assistance of the House of Lords is to be obtained. There have been other changes.
The perfectly ridiculous provision in the first draft of the Bill, that you were to proceed against, convict and put into gaol 5,000,000 men, has been changed. No thanks to the Government for that. But it will still be possible for anybody who gives assistance to a strike, either financial assistance or assistance by speech and in the newspapers, to be proceeded against, to be sent to gaol, and to be sent to a house of correction for two years. As I said just now, the Government are leaving to the Judges the power to determine not the legality of the strike. I do not know if this point has been sufficiently clear in the course of the Debates. The Attorney-General applies to the Court for an interim injunction. The Judge does not decide the question at issue. If he is satisfied that there is a prima facie case for an injunction, he grants it, but a decision upon the question may not be taken for weeks and months. In the meantime that interim injunction becomes operative; the funds of the trade unions can be held up, trade union leaders can be prosecuted and sent to prison, and outsiders who give support to the strike can be treated likewise. Suppose two months after that the Court decides that it was not an illegal strike, that it was a legal strike, what redress is there to the men who have been sent to prison, what redress is there for the trade unions who through that action have been defeated in that industrial strike? The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I understand is going to follow me in this Debate and I have not the slightest doubt he will entertain the House to a most brilliant and scintillating performance, but the most interesting speech that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could make would be to repeat the speeches he has made in this House in condemnation of every provision of this Bill. There was quoted in this House only a day or two ago some of his remarks 2164 in regard to the unwisdom of leaving the trade unions in uncertainty. I will not read the whole of the quotation which is already to be found in the pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT, but as this part is so pertinent I think I may be permitted to quote a few lines:It is a very unseemly thing, and indeed in the House of Commons we must regard it as such, to have the spectacle we have witnessed these last few years of these workmen's guilds, trade union organisations, being enmeshed, harassed, worried and checked at every step and at every turn by all kinds of legal decisions, which came with the utmost surprise to the greatest lawyers in the country. It is not good for trade unions that they should be brought in contact with the Courts and it is not good for the Courts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th May, 1911; col. 1022, Vol. 26.]Under this Bill trade unions will never know what is legal and what is not. It is handing over the trade unions to the employers and taking away their bargaining power. I turn for a moment to another point—that which deals with picketing. Clause 1 of the Bill, as I have shown, does its best to make a strike impossible but the Government probably thought that it might be possible, occasionally, for a strike to get through the meshes of the law and therefore they have taken good care in the picketing provisions of this Bill to make it quite impossible for such a strike to be carried on effectively. That applies, as has been pointed out, not merely to strikes which have been declared illegal but to every strike. The Attorney-General has waxed very eloquent on many occasions during the discussions on this Bill about the persecution to which the innocent wives and children of blacklegs are subjected. That sort of story, I have no doubt, is very effective in Primrose League gatherings or on Tory platforms. But it carries no weight in the House of Commons, especially when it is addressed to men who know something of the facts about which the Attorney-General is wholly ignorant. I mean ignorant of the facts in regard to intimidation in trade disputes although I frankly admit that long experience has taught the Tory party to be past masters in the art and the act of intimidation—not merely industrial intimidation but political intimidation.
Every one of my hon. Friends on these benches knows that there is the greatest difficulty in getting farm workers to attend Labour meetings in some districts 2165 because these workers are told that if they are seen at a Labour meeting they will be dismissed from their work. Why, only last week one of my hon. Friends had this experience in an agricultural district. An indoor meeting had been advertised at which he was to speak and a request was made to him that he should wait until it was dark and then speak to them in the open air. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] Hon. Members opposite want the name. I wonder if they read the "Times" newspaper. If they do, they must not have been very pleased to read a letter which appeared in yester day's issue from a member of their own party who sits on those benches. What does he say there? He protests that the federation of engineering employers have a rule by which any workman who leaves the employment of any federated firm cannot get employment in any other federated firm except by permission of the firm by which he was lately employed.
§ Mr. AUSTIN HOPKINSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that statement is completely denied this morning?
§ Major PRICE
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the name of the agricultural district to which he has referred?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Does the hon. Member think that I would give him or any other member of the Tory party that name? I am not going to expose these farm labourers to a realisation of the fear under which they constantly live. Having destroyed the industrial power of the trade unions, the Government have proceeded to try to make their political action ineffective. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hill-head (Sir R. Horne) put this afternoon what he thought was the dilemma in which the Labour party are in reference to the political levy part of this Bill. It is not a dilemma. Our position has been very definitely and, I hope, clearly stated. Our position is that it is a matter of right and justice and morality. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, in one of those speeches in condemnation of the provisions of this Bill to which I have 2166 referred, put the case far more strongly than I can put it. He said that political action was absolutely essential to trade unionism; that industrial action and political action overlapped and were indistinguishable. We contend that, that being so, it is the duty of every member of a trade union to make some contribution to the cost of the political work and to the legislation which results from the political work of trade unions.
When this matter was debated in the House of Commons 21 years ago, without receding from that position, we accepted a compromise. That compromise has been in operation up to the present time. We object to the change, because it upsets a practice which has worked very well. It will put trade unions to a great deal of inconvenience, but, if hon. Members opposite think that this change is going to destroy or even to injure the political activities of the Labour party, they are living in a fool's paradise. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why worry, then?"] The hon. Member who made that interjection had not been doing me the honour of listening to the last few sentences I uttered or he would not have made that interruption. Take the last three by-elections, Bosworth, Westbury and Brixton. The Labour party entered on all those contests without a single penny in their exchequer. Every penny for those elections has been raised by voluntary contributions. You can prohibit our political levies, you can try to destroy the political activities of the trade unions, but you will never kill the spirit of determination which inspires them.
We are told that the object in regard to the political levy is to free the Tory working men. One hon. Member has given a picture of the. Tory working man. He pictured a contemptible creature, who, he said, had not the moral courage to claim exemption from the political levy under the provisions of the existing law. I can quite understand that. That is a description of the Tory working man. We had another description of the Tory working man given to us the other day by one of my hon. Friends behind me. He referred to a meeting of Tory working-men trade unionists addressed by the Attorney-General, who explained the Bill—a thing he has never been able to do to the House—and at the conclusion 2167 of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech a resolution was moved and carried calling on the Government to extend the hours during which Tory working men may get drunk in Tory clubs.
I promised the Chancellor of the Exchequer to sit down at a certain time, and I am afraid there are many points which I should have liked to have referred to but which I shall be compelled to leave out. I ask: What is the purpose of this Bill? It is intended to hinder the work of trade unions, and it is designed to destroy the Labour movement, both industrially and politically. There has hardly been a speech delivered during the progress of this Bill from the other side of the House in which hatred of working-men's organisations cannot be detected. The Government have taken advantage of what was said to be the unpopularity of the general strike, so-called, to make this attack on the trade unions. But this Bill is only a part of a designed and calculated policy of the Government to attack all democratic institutions. The House of Lords have given us ample proof of that in the last few days. His Grace the Duke of Northumberland tells us that there is sure to be a Socialist Government some time, and they must be prepared for legislation of a Socialist character. It began with the attacks on boards of guardians and was followed up by the Audit Bill. It is continued in the local government Clause of this Bill which cuts away the right of local authorities to decide the conditions under which its workpeople shall be employed, and it has been continued in the new proposals declared and accepted by the Government in regard to the Second Chamber.
All this is a deliberate policy on the part of this Government. They are carrying out the policy which was so bluntly and brutally described by a former member of a Conservative Administration when he said that it was the duty of the Tory party to look after the interests of their friends when they were in office and take such measures as would safeguard the interests of their friends when they were out of office. I can quite understand that. For generations the Tory party have regarded themselves as having a heaven-endowed right to rule, and they resent any interference with that 2168 imagined right. All this talk of the Tory party about this Bill being to protect the working man is sheer nonsense. They are the revolutionaries. It is cant and humbug to talk about the class war as applied to our party. Why, this Bill is entirely based on class war. Toryism has always been the expression of class interests and class domination. It is nauseating, when I hear hon. Members opposite talk about this Bill being to give freedom to the working classes. Whenever were the Tory party the champions of freedom? They have throughout history always opposed every measure of emancipation. There is not a liberty which has not been won in the face and the teeth of the relentless opposition of the Tory party. Freedom for the working man! Freedom for the type of Tory working man described by the hon. Member! Freedom for the scab to act as a jackal to the employers! Freedom for the blackleg to be a traitor to his fellow-citizens! Freedom for such men to enjoy all the advantages which have been won by the struggles and sacrifices of men with some courage and backbone!
That is the kind of freedom which is to be given by this Bill. We are told that this Bill is popular. Figures have been given this afternoon in regard to the evidence of its popularity in the constituencies, as indicated in the results of recent by-elections. The strongest evidence, and I accept it, that we have had of the popularity of this Measure was given by the Attorney-General during the Debate on the Bill when he referred to the fact that a Tory Member had been returned for the Scottish Universities. We are told that this is the most popular Measure that this Government have ever introduced. Lord Birkenhead tells us that the next question is to be fought on the question of sobriety. The credit for prophecy as to the popularity of this Bill ought to be claimed by the Home Secretary. In this House, the Home Secretary is the softest of cooing doves, but on the platform he is a raging lion. He told a packed meeting of Tories a day or two ago, that this Bill had made the next General Election—I apologise for the elegance of the language—a dead snip. They tell us that this Bill is popular in the country. There is one way of testing that. Give us a General Election. But after that General Election, the place that now knows hon. Members 2169 opposite will know them no more. When that General Election comes we know what to expect. The Tories will turn on all their batteries of misrepresentation. The first shot has been fired. References have been made by some of my hon. Friends to a Tory sheet which has just been issued, ornamented by a portrait of the learned Attorney-General.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The "Democrat." Those who have issued this sheet have not the courage to print upon it the source of its origin. There is an article in it by the learned Attorney-General, explaining the Bill. I want to reply to what has been said by hon. Members opposite this afternoon in regard to misrepresentations of the Bill made by my hon. Friends. We do not know the first letter of the alphabet of political mendacity, compared with the party opposite. There is a so-called Bill printed in this Tory sheet, and from its legal phraseology I wonder if I should be doing an injustice to the Attorney-General if I said that he had had a hand in the drafting of this Bill. It states that it is a Bill which will be introduced by the Socialist Government to repeal the Trade Disputes Bill, and thatIf they have any regard to what they have said on the present Bill they are bound to make proposals on the following lines.What are the proposals? In the first place, the Bill is tobe enacted by and with the advice and consent of the Socialist party, the General Council of the Trades Union Congress and the Executive Committee of the Third International.…[HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear!"] I am delighted to have those shouts of approval from the party opposite. They not only associate those who are responsible for the issue of this sheet, but they associate with these vile misrepresentations members of the party opposite.The General Council of the Trades Union Congress shall be the authority to decide the legality of any strike.… Any person refusing to take part in a strike may be dealt with summarily by the trade union or other body by whom the strike has been called …. Notwithstanding anything in any Act, it shall be lawful for any number of persons, for the purpose of inducing any person to abstain from working, to watch or beset a house or place where a person resides, and should such person be absent, 2170 to intimidate or otherwise coerce any relatives or dependants of such person.All civil servants …. shall be required to join a trade union which is affiliated to the Socialist party …. or …. be summarily dismissed.… Notwithstanding any previous enactment to the contrary, it shall he legal for any employé or any public authority to break a contract of service, unless such authority has a Socialist majority.I have seen in my time a good deal of Tory leaflets and of Tory electioneering literature, but I have never seen anything so mean and so vile as to say that we have in the course of the Debates on this Bill set forward the provisions which are contained in that suggested draft Act of Parliament. There is only one word to describe it; mendacity is not good enough, it is simply a lie, and I am sorry for the respectable members of the Tory party that they should be identified with such a production.
This Bill proceeds on fundamentally wrong lines. It is repressive when it ought to be constructive. The excuse for it is said to be the industrial events of last year. In their terror, the Government have produced this Bill. It reminds me of another saying. This Bill is the blustering of little minds thrown into a great crisis. The Government's policy, instead of trying to suppress strikes, should be to find out the causes. It is a mistake to suppose that men want to strike. They do not want to strike. Nobody suffers more from strikes than the workmen. They never strike unless the class represented by those benches forces them. The most striking feature of working-class history is not their expression of discontent, but their patience in suffering. Whatever else may be said of the general strike, so-called, last year, it was a magnificent demonstration of working-class solidarity, and of sacrifices. I can quite understand the sneers of some hon. Members opposite, because they have never known anything in their lifetime about the spirit of self-sacrifice. It is the duty of the community to ensure good conditions for every section, and, if the community will not do that, then the community ought to suffer; and, if the community will not remove the causes of strikes, then the community must suffer the hardship of strikes. Governments—not this Government in particular—are representatives of the community, and therefore the community 2171 has a right to coerce the Government. They can compel them to deal with industrial disputes.
There is another thing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) referred to it. I want industrial peace. Trade and the country need it. The Government ought to have taken advantage of the real experiences of so many months ago in order to bring forward legislation which while doing justice to the workers, would remove the necessity of strikes. They have not done that. They have chosen the other way. They have chosen war. I deplore that. But if the Government are determined on war, then we shall not shirk the challenge. The Tories are in the possession of a large Parliamentary majority, but I have in my mind majorities larger than that that have been blown away before the breath of popular disgust and popular indignation. I shall live to see that experience. This Bill is intended for the purpose of trying to stop the progress of the democratic movement. They might just as well try to stop the rush of the tide. They cannot do it. We shall bide our time, and, when we get into power, we shall not use it for the aggrandisement of classes, but to free the common people from age-long domination by the classes and establish industrial peace and social harmony, on the only conditions upon which they can be laid, on the foundation of justice and freedom.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I think, first of all, it is my duty to congratulate the Opposition upon having succeeded in keeping this Debate going through all these long weeks of Parliamentary discussion, in keeping certain reserves of indignation very carefully preserved, and in skilfully simulating it for the last concluding phase. I know it has been very hard at times, and I know that hon. Gentlemen have done their best. They have never hesitated to repeat arguments over again and over a second time, if by any chance that was any service, and here we are at the end. I must also congratulate the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, not so much on his speech to-night as on his speech on the Second Reading in which he undoubtedly restored for the time being the fortunes of the Debate, so far as his side is concerned. 2172 He rendered a service to the House as a whole in showing that in the armoury of Parliamentary debate there was a great weapon which can be used in this House, far superior to some other weapons to which we are occasionally subjected. The right hon. Gentleman has made a speech, very fluent, not too long, but still ample, packed with hard words and bitter thoughts and sharp expressions and injurious epithets. We have put up with that very well. He and his Friends will, I hope, extend similar liberty of debate and latitude to me in the time that remains for me, and will endeavour to rival in fortitude the exhibition which hon. Members on this side of the House have given. [Interruption.] They also serve who only stand and wait. I wish to recall to the House the grave realities which were the final cause of the bringing in of this Bill. One would have thought, to hear the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that he and his Friends wandered, and wended their way placidly, innocently, calmly along the path of life, when suddenly the Tory party in its inate wickedness had fallen upon them in a gross, unprovoked, aggressive action and had exposed them to all the cruel perfidy of this Measure. But we must look back. At any rate, our memories must be refreshed by the events of a year ago. I am going to read to the House only a fragment from the general strike order issued by the Trade Union Council on the 1st May last year. It reads as follows:At 12 o'clock the Conference of Executives of Unions affiliated to the Trades Union Council met at the Memorial Hall and formally approved the General Council's proposals for a general strike, to begin at midnight on Monday, 3rd May. The industries to be involved in the strike were: All transport, including all affiliated unions connected with transport, i.e., railways, sea transport, docks, wharves, harbours, canals, road transport, railway repair shops, and contractors for railways and all unions connected with the maintenance of, or equipment, manufacturing, repairs and grounds-men employed in connection with air transport, printing and the Press; iron and steel, metals and heavy chemicals; building, with the exception of houses and hospitals; electricity and gas, etc.The next day the Communist party fell into line and published their manifesto urging every member of the working classto do his utmost, in the next few days, to mobilise the workers in every locality 2173 around the Trades Council, vested with full authority as a Council of Action to press for the creation of a Workers' Defence Corps and a commissariat department jointly with the local co-operative, and to demand that the General Council shall immediately summon an international conference of all trade union organisations to prevent blacklegging and secure co-ordinated action in defence of the miners.The railwaymen received this telegram:Executive Committee instruct all our members not to take duty after Monday next, arrangements to be made locally so that all men will finish their term of duty at their home station on Tuesday morning. (Signed) CRAMP.10 p.m.
There, Sir, is the last and final provocation which has led to the presentation of this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why do you not tell us what happened on the Sunday night?"] In consequence of these unprecedented commands, several millions of men left their vital duties, throwing into unemployment very large numbers who were not concerned or consulted, and the whole life of the country, not merely its productive energies, but its very means of existence, was brought within an ace of complete paralysis. The responsibility which devolved upon the Government at that crisis was awful. We had to try to supply the needs of the immense population, of the people crowded together in this small island, to secure for them the means, not of earning their living, but of getting their daily bread and water. We had to do this with the certainty that if, by any chance, we failed, that if the task proved too difficult for any organisation of Government, that if there was a breakdown, large tracts of the country might be faced with famine and anarchy. If we failed we had the certainty of knowing that undoubtedly, whether you intended it or not, Parliamentary institutions would fall. It would have been quite impossible for any Government to have survived if they had been unable to weather the general strike. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the sooner they crumble the better, if this is the means!"] If the hon. Gentleman appreciates the position I am condemning he only makes the issue more clear on what we are going to vote this evening. Whether it was intended or not, the only possible result of the failure of the Government to do this unprece- 2174 dented task would have been that those who had been defeated at the general election only a year before would have been called, as a consequence of the general strike, to come in and help the country out of its difficulties. Fortunately, we were not unprepared. The right hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate on that side told us that this Bill did not arise out of the general strike. I quite agree. This Bill arose out of the general strike only because the general strike was the culmination of a gross and a grave stroke at the public and the general community. I well remember the situation which arose immediately after the War. The new menace was the threat of the strike of the Triple Alliance—the railwaymen, the miners and the transport workers. We were told everywhere how the affiliations were being arranged, authority got by card votes, and so forth, all being worked up to let off a Triple Alliance strike. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) is not in his place tonight. He goes to Bosworth and makes a fine speech as to how he was going to be the friend of the miners, etc. He took quite a different line, with his customary skill and manœuvres, and endeavoured to separate the railwaymen and the miners so that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) and his friends went off a year earlier than the miners, and the railwaymen, having been left alone on that occasion, declined to be associated with the miners a year later.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Those were the days in which the anti-strike organisation of the Government was first brought into existence by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. We must do full justice to the late Government in this matter of antistrike measures, for they were considerably improved when they were in office, and it was left for us to put the finishing touches. As a consequence of these, we came through this extraordinary strike, far greater than the triple alliance strike, with all the vital services of the country maintained and with a service of reliable information distributed to the people. We came 2175 through, but there was left behind, as result of these nine years of continued depression due to labour upheavals, in the mind of the general public a determination that the law should make it clear that what happened in May, 1926, could never happen again without those who were responsible exposing themselves to the penalties of the law, and without those who are being duped and misled having the fullest information beforehand as to the character of their action. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon)—it is curious how the Spen and the Colne Valleys always seem to come into contact with one another, those two chilly streams flowing through inhospitable dales, each of which nourishes a different type of democracy—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley quoted a speech which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley when he addressed the Clifford Foundation; but he made a very different speech in this House on the Second Reading of the Bill. He laid down some doctrines which were so erroneous and vicious that I am compelled to animadvert upon and to stigmatise them this evening. After all, it is very important. The right hon. Gentleman is not a hot-head from the Clyde, he is the most preeminent statesman in the whole of the Labour party, or at any rate the most pre-eminent statesman whom the party has in the House this evening. He said:For what purpose do Governments exist? They exist for the purpose of being coerced. The purpose of an Opposition is to coerce and harass the Government Every organisation, every party, every interest is constantly bringing pressure upon the Government of the day to concede its demands.Then he went on:Surely it is something quite new to make it a criminal offence to bring coercion to bear on the Government in order to concede certain demands, and I can imagine no more peaceful way of bringing coercion to bear upon any organised body or any Government than by men simply stopping away from work and remaining peacefully at home.The House can see the two really vicious fallacies which are contained in that 2176 statement. The first is that you are to-use industrial pressure to coerce the Government. Why should you do that? By all means use all the weapons of debate, by all means win the by-elections if you can, although you were at the bottom of the poll in the last four, by all means win at the general election; use all the rough interplay of British Parliamentary and public life, do all you can in every constitutional way to turn out your political opponents and instal yourselves in their place, but you have no right to use the industrial weapon for this purpose. You have no right to strike at the fortunes of our struggling industries and drag them into a party fight. You have no right to carry the war of Socialism and Toryism into the mines and workshops of this country. Not only is it a question of right, but you cannot do that without inflicting injury upon the country as a whole, but especially upon that particular section of the country whom you make it your pride to claim that you represent. Who is to judge whether a Government is pursuing a policy in regard to which it is justifiable to have a general strike? The right hon. Gentleman argued that strikes for industrial purposes were always foolish, but that a general strike for political purposes might sometimes be justified.
Who is to be the judge of whether circumstances justify a general strike for political purposes? Certainly not Parliament. Some outside body is to be the judge of whether it is right for the Government to take this action or that in foreign affairs, or whether there is an overwhelming opinion. that the Government should not carry this or that Measure. Some outside body, not Parliament elected by a democratic franchise. I put it to hon. Members opposite, are they really wise to try to set up outside rival authorities to the House of Commons? Are they quite sure that if, by any chance, this sort of plan started of setting up rival authorities they themselves would be the authorities? Where this has taken place in many parts of Europe, quite different authorities have been set up to those directed by the Socialist party. In Russia, it is true, and it is the only exception that I know of, the authority which has devoured Parliament is a Communist authority and with what melancholy results, but everywhere else, 2177 once the power has been filched away from the representative institutions, it has passed into the hands of some form of arbitrary junta or dictatorship. It has passed not to the Socialist or Labour party but to other bodies. I urge most strongly the right hon. Gentleman to revise the doctrine which he has laid down and which he, being, as he is, an ornament of the House of Commons, should be the last to lend any countenance to. By all means turn us out, if you can, by Parliamentary methods, but do not attempt either to wreck Parliament by the industrial weapon or to paralyse the industries of the country by dragging them into the maelstrom of party politics.
The right hon. Gentleman quoted a speech which I made in 1906, on the subject of trade unions, but we have gone a long way since 1906. I never mind discourtesies which do not wound. I ask the party opposite to consider why it is that this trade union legislation we are passing should encounter such very slight opposition compared with the feelings which were aroused 20 years ago when the Taff Vale Judgment was given. Obviously an immense change has taken place. In those days the trade unions could look for very great support outside their own ranks irrespective of party, but now in the interval they have instilled the feeling into a very large number of people that they have subordinated the special interests which they were created to guard to other external interests connected with politics.
We feel that we have been the subject of aggressive tactics. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs told us of the increase of strikes which have marked the last 20 years, and he gave three periods. I have checked the figures. In the first seven years' period ending 1906, 20,000,000 days were lost by labour disputes; in the second period ending 1913, 87,000,000 days were lost; and in the third period 320,000,000 days were lost. I do not say that the blame for this is all on one side, but surely that can be connected with the growing politicalisation of the trade unions and the use they have made of the legislation of 1906. We do not hold the world's record in many things, and our fortunes are not improving in a great many important directions. 2178 Our exports may be declining, our balance of trade may be turning against us, and our saving capacity may be diminishing, but there is one thing in which we have undoubted primacy, and that is the number of days' work lost through industrial disputes. No country can compare with us in our output of strikes, quarrels and industrial stoppages of one kind and another. Have we deserved it as a country? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Then why have we deserved it?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Judged by every comparison we can make, the lot of the wage-earner of this country is superior to the lot of any of the people in any European country. With America I do not attempt to draw a comparison, but as for countries similarly burdened to our own and living under the same conditions, by every test the conditions under which the wage-earners in this country get their weekly wage and live their lives are superior in this island to every other country. Why then should we have been singled out for an attack upon the industrial peace of this country, which finds no comparison or precedent in any other country in the world? If we have not deserved it, at any rate we are the last country in the world that can afford it. There is no part of the world so overcrowded as this in which we live, and we have only to go on tearing each other to pieces like this to inflict injury not upon the wealthy but upon the whole mass of the people, and on the means by which future production is to be achieved, which it may be well beyond the power of any party or any Government to repair. There are too many strikes, there have been too many disputes; and it is very remarkable that this great increase has corresponded, step by step, with the increasing activity of the trade unions in the party political sphere. There is a political sphere in which trade unions for years played their part, but it was a political sphere connected with their own affairs. If as a working-class organisation you are going to take the industries of the country and put them in the forefront of party, I believe you are going to produce the destruction of the commercial and manufacturing power 2179 of this country within a very limited period of time.
The right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) spoke of this Bill as an attack upon liberty. He said freedom was at stake. I regret I did not hear his speech, but an account of it was given to me by a gentleman who did. He spoke of the feelings aroused in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when people died to defend their liberty. We agree with him that liberty is at stake in this Bill, but we claim ourselves to be its defenders. We claim to be defending the rights of the citizen against the privilege of powerful guilds. We claim to be defending freedom against the ever-growing attempt to set up an authority apart from the law of the land regulating the conduct of private affairs and, if possible, the conduct of public affairs. Why should it be claimed that freedom is attacked if Liberal and Tory trade unionists are not forced to contribute towards Socialist candidates? Why is freedom attacked because 20 men sitting round a table are not to have the power to lay the whole industry of this country under an interdict? Why is freedom attacked because it is laid down in an Act of Parliament that a man must not be intimidated, in his home or at his place of work, from exercising his undoubted rights? Why is freedom attacked because it is said that civil servants are to keep clear of all the different competing political parties? The right hon. Gentleman himself, statesman as he claims to be, used language to-night which shows the kind of mood of tolerance in which he approaches these questions. The language, the words, "scab," "blackleg," uttered by the leader of a party expecting, demanding to be made the responsible Government of this country, and the attitude of mind that can use with so much gusto and venom those foul expressions, are utterly unsuited to the dignity of the official Opposition.
I would like to make a reference to the extremely courageous speech the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley delivered this afternoon. He expressed a measured judgment and summing up on this Bill which I hope will be studied throughout the length and breadth of this country. No one occupies a more impartial 2180 position than he, and the speech he has made in supporting this Bill is one in which, obviously, he has not hesitated to go contrary to every calculation of political self-interest. While one is paying a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for his speech, I think, after what has occurred to-day, that the majority of the House at least will feel that, at this closing moment of these discussions, some tribute of admiration and respect should be paid to the Attorney-General—[Interruption]—who, with tireless industry and inexhaustible patience, has piloted this Measure to its concluding stage. This Bill is now passing away from the House of Commons, and it will soon become the law of the land. Of the large majority who will vote for it to-night, I do not think there is one who will have any—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It is quite within the power of hon. Members to prevent me from saying what I wish to say, and, certainly, I do not wish to cast my pearls before those who do not want them. [Interruption.] I do not think that any Member who votes for this Measure will feel himself at a disadvantage with his constituents, or weakened in his political life, by the vote which he is going to give, and of this I am quite sure, that, if at the next election you inscribe upon your party programme the determination to repeal this Measure—[An HON. MEMBER: "And the Eight Hours Act!"]—then I say that your effort to repeal this Measure will be met with the utmost confidence and with serene composure by all of those, and they are many, who take their stand on the broad and general interests of the British Realm.
§ It being half-past Ten of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 16th May, to2182
§ put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 354; Noes, 139.2185
|Division No. 204.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Clayton, G. C.||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A.D.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hacking, Captain Douglas H|
|Alexander, E. E.(Leyton)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Centr'l)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cope, Major William||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Couper, J. B.||Hanbury, C.|
|Apsley, Lord||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Harland, A.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Atkinson, C.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Balnfel, Lord||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsay, Gainsbro)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Berry, Sir George||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Bethel, A.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hilton, Cecil|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Davison, Sir W.H. (Kensington, S.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Drewe, C.||Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Blundell, F. N.||Duckworth, John||Holt, Captain H. P.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Homan, C. W. J.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Ellis, R. G.||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Elveden, Viscount||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Falls, Sir Charles F.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Fanshawe, Captain G. D||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Buchan, John||Fermoy, Lord||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Fielden, E. B.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Finburgh, S.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark(Mldl'n&P'bl's)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M|
|Burman, J. B.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Forrest, W.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Jacob, A. E.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Fraser, Captain Ian||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Frece, Sir Walter de||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Campbell, E. T.||Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Ganzoni, Sir John||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gates, Percy||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Cayzer, Maj, Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Goff, Sir Park||Lister, Cunilffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Gower, Sir Robert||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Grant, Sir J. A.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Long, Major Eric|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Looker, Herbert William|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Lougher, Lewis|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Lumley, L. R.||Perring, Sir William George||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Preston, William||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Price, Major C. W. M.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Macintyre, Ian||Radford, E. A.||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|McLean, Major A.||Raine, Sir Walter||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Ramsden, E.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Tinne, J. A.|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Remer, J. R.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Rentoul, G. S.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Malone, Major P. B.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Rice, Sir Frederick||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Ward. Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Meller, R. J.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Merriman, F. B.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Rye, F. G.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Salmon, Major I.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wells, S. R.|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-|
|Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sandon, Lord||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks, Richm'd)|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Savery, S. S.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Cilve||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Windsor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Withers, John James|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfst.)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Skelton, A. N.||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Wood, E.(Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)|
|Oakley, T.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Smithers, Waldron||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Pennefather, Sir John||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Penny, Frederick George||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Major Sir Harry Barnston.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Duncan, C.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Dunnico, H.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Edge, Sir William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Fenby, T. D.||Kelly. W. T.|
|Baker, Walter||Gardner. J. P.||Kennedy, T.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Barnes, A.||Gibbins, Joseph||Kirkwood, D.|
|Batey, Joseph||Gillett, George M.||Lawrence, Susan|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Gosling, Harry||Lawson, John James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lee, F.|
|Briant, Frank||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lowth, T.|
|Broad, F. A.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William|
|Bromfield, William||Groves, T.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Bromley, J.||Grundy, T. W.||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||March, S.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hardle, George D.||Mosley, Oswald|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Harney, E. A.||Murnin, H.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Harris, Percy A.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Clowes, S.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Oliver, George Harold|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hayday, Arthur||Palin, John Henry|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Compton, Joseph||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Connolly, M.||Hirst, G. H.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Potts, John S.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Purcell, A. A.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Riley, Ben|
|Dennison, R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Ritson, J.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W.Bromwich)||Snell, Harry||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks,W.R.,Elland)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Rose, Frank H.||Stephen, Campbell||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Strauss, E. A.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Sutton, J. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Scurr, John||Taylor, R. A.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Sexton, James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Westwood, J.|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton), E.)||Whiteley, W.|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Thurtle, Ernest||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Smillie, Robert||Townend, A. E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Trovelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||Windsor, Walter|
|Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Viant, S. P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Hayes and Mr. Charles Edwards.|
Question put, and agreed to.