§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [2nd May] "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Which Amendment was: To leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Clynes.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. TOWNEND
I do not propose to detain the House more than a very few minutes. When the Debate was adjourned last evening I was endeavouring to reply to the taunt from hon. Members opposite that no helpful criticism of this Bill had been forthcoming from these benches, a taunt, I regret to note, with which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) allied himself. I would point out that certain difficulties stand in the way of helpful criticism of this Measure coming from these benches. The Attorney-General, when introducing the Measure, indicated that there were certain ambiguities in it, but, unfortunately, sat down without having explained the Bill. Yesterday we had a long statement from the Prime Minister, in which, despite all his words, he hardly made reference to the Bill at all. A third spokesman from the Government Bench, the Secretary of State for War, was equally unhelpful. Therefore, we have been left all along, and are left even on this fourth day of the Debate, to our own devices to ascertain what is to be understood by the various Clauses of the Bill, knowing full well that the ultimate interpretation of it will be in the hands of bodies outside this House who, we have already been informed, are not altogether favourably disposed to either the trade union or the Labour movement. We are informed that Clause 1 is put in to prevent a general strike, although mention of a general 1784 strike is not to be found in the Clause. We have also been informed by right hon. and learned Gentlemen in all parts of the House that this Clause not only prevents a general strike, and not only prevents a sympathetic strike, but that within it is to be discovered ways and means even of preventing an industrial dispute, confined to one particular trade. The Attorney-General, although repeatedly asked, has not been able to define the line of demarkation as between trade and trade. I would like to ask him, for instance, where the railway industry begins and where the transport industry ends, and whether the latter includes the former. I would also like to ask what is meant by the coercion of the Government. Would it not be pertinent to suggest that no Government worth its salt would be coerced under any circumstances, and ought not to require a Bill to bolster up its weak and vacillating policy? If the Government require a Bill to do this, then, I suggest, the best way to meet the position is for them to resign and make way for a Government that will be prepared to resist any form of coercion. Again, will the Attorney-General tell us what is meant by the community, and, more important still, what he means when he refers to a substantial portion of the community? As I have said, there are many difficulties, and we are still waiting for answers to the questions which have been submitted.
Clause 2 is one which sets a premium upon treachery. A man who pledges himself to abide by and loyally to respond to the rules and regulations of a trade union, rules and regulations that have been passed and confirmed by the Registrar-General, is encouraged under this Clause to break his bond beneath the pledge and under the protection of a Government Measure, and, if he is called to account according to the rules and regulations of that trade union, then, under Clause 2, the whole of the funds of that organisation are placed at the disposal of the before-mentioned bench of magistrates to give him compensation according to terms that they alone can determine. In addition, Clause 2 introduces a new principle. It makes innocent citizens of 12 months ago hard criminals to-day by reason of the fact that it is retrospective in its action.
1785 Clause 3 is embodied in the Bill to prevent intimidation. The Attorney-General gave a definition of what he meant by intimidation. It was about as accurate as the definition given by the Secretary of State for India in a speech that he made in Manchester a few days ago, when he described peaceful persuasion asa band of men with bricks in their hands waiting upon the home of a comrade for the purpose of imparting information.If the definition thus given were correct, then every Member on these benches would be behind a Clause such as this. But the Clause contains something else. We are informed that intimidation means causing in the mind reasonable apprehension of injury, which further is construed in the Bill as reasonable apprehension of ridicule or contempt. Thus, it is quite possible under this Clause that a picket, without even speaking to, without even looking at, without even making a gesture towards a non-striker, may, because he happens to meet that, non-striker, find himself accused of holding that man up to ridicule and contempt. Under this Clause, that non-striker can lead that picket into the dock, where, although he may never have dreamed of that non-striker in any shape or form, he will become liable to a fine of £20 or three months' imprisonment. Yet we are asked for helpful criticism of Clauses like that.
Clause 5 transforms the whole of the Civil Service into a huge slave plantation and throws us back to the days of Uncle Tom's Cabin. It places every civil servant in an inferior position to his friends and neighbours who are engaged in other industries. It denies to him the free exercise either of his political or trade union aspirations, and, in addition, it attempts to make the whole of that most intelligent section of the community neither more nor less than regimented robots. The Clause also informs him that every member of the Civil Service—and the Front Bench will certainly appreciate this—must respond with military precision to the instructions of his Departmental Chief, knowing full well that, if he does not, he renders himself liable to dismissal. Yet we are asked to submit helpful criticism. I would like to ask the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), who 1786 suggested helpful criticism from these benches, what his attitude would be if confronted by a holus bolus Bill of Tariff Reform from the Government. Would he endeavour to amend or improve it? He would bring the whole of his forensic ability into the lists for the purpose, not of improving, but of rejecting and killing the Bill.
We are asked by hon. Members opposite to test the very rope with which it is proposed to hang us. It is suggested that we test the degree of virulence of the poison that is going to lay us low. We are asked to test the edge of the blade with which we are going to be beheaded. What a request! It only shows the kind of mentality that is responsible for the Bill which we are now discussing. I want to assure the Government that, so far as these benches are concerned, we are convinced that this is a mischievous, a bad, and a vicious Bill. It was conceived in hatred and envy, and it reeks with malice and un-charitableness; and I want to assure the Government, on behalf of every one on these benches, that we shall not only fight every word and line in this House, but that we shall carry our fight outside with uncompromising hostility right to the bitter end, an end which no man in this House can foresee.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
A Measure of the provocative character of this Bill naturally generates feeling and disposes one to strong language. Mr. Balfour, when defending the hooligan conduct of the Tory party, during the Debates on the Home Rule Bill, said that there was a limit to human endurance. I quite agree with what you, Sir, have said more than once from the Chair during these Debates, that the ordinary Rules and procedure of the House of Commons afford ample opportunity for the full expression of opinion upon matters on which there may be grave differences. I am one by nature indisposed to provocative language and to strong invective, and I have a natural tolerance for political opponents, but even I, I am afraid, will have to exercise considerable restraint in dealing with the Bill which is now under discussion. I want, however, as calmly and as dispassionately as I possibly can, to try to examine one or two of the contentions which have been put forward by the Government to 1787 justify the introduction of this Measure. I confess that I have not been in the least impressed by the profound legal arguments which we have had in the course of these Debates. At this stage, at any rate, it is not so much a matter for lawyers as for the exercise of ordinary common-sense.
The Attorney-General, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, showed either that he did not understand the provisions of his own Bill or that the Bill had been deliberately drafted full of ambiguities, so that the Magistrates and the Courts might place their own interpretation upon it, dictated by their own prejudices. Perhaps the most remarkable speech that has been delivered during this Debate was that contributed yesterday by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). It was a most entertaining exhibition of tight-rope walking, an art in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman is a past master. There is no Member of the House, I am quite sure, who knew at the conclusion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech how he was going to vote. I suppose that he intended his speech to be a general support of the Measure, and he said he hoped to amend it. He has a greater responsibility for this Bill than any other Member of the House. I suppose that his speech, if intended to convey any conclusion at ate, was intended as a general support of the Measure. But, Mr. Speaker, there has been no speech delivered in this Debate which was such a condemnation of the grounds upon which the Government have justified the introduction of this Bill as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley. What did he say? He said the Bill was merely declaratory. He told us a year ago that a general strike was illegal under the existing law, and he told us yesterday that that provision of the Bill dealing with intimidation merely declares, perhaps with a very slight variation, the state of the existing law.
If it be the fact that the so-called general strike is and that the law of intimidation is practically what it will be when this Bill becomes law, what in the name of common sense is the use of arousing all this bitterness and throwing the country into a cauldron of boiling 1788 political controversy merely to declare what is already the state of the law. "But," says the right hon. Gentleman, "the general strike is illegal under the existing law. The law of intimidation is what it will be when this Bill becomes law; the people want to know; they need to be informed what the law is in regard to a general strike and intimidation." Why, did not the right hon. Gentleman himself inform the country a year ago that a general strike was illegal? Have not his speeches been reprinted and circulated by thousands? Did not the Attorney-General tell us two days ago that 12 months ago a judge of the High Court declared that a general strike was illegal? What more then do we want to inform the people as to the illegality of the so-called general strike and intimidation under the existing law.
That is what the right hon. Gentleman broadly declares the law to be, but his most severe condemnation was reserved not for the ambiguities of this Bill, but for certain declarations which have been made by the Labour party. He announced that we on this side opposed this Bill before it had been introduced into the House of Commons. Of course we did because we knew what the Bill would be. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] That only shows that hon. Members opposite are quite clearly not such diligent students of their own leaders' speeches as the Members of the Labour party. May I point out that the provisions which have actually been embodied in this Bill were announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech in Manchester before we made the statement that the Labour party were going to oppose this Measure. There has not been the slightest deviation in the out line of this slightest as compared with that which was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. "But," says the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley "we have announced that we shall oppose it and that we shall repeal the Measure if we get an opportunity to do so."
The right hon. Gentleman tried to justify his criticism of that declaration by one of the grossest pieces of misrepresentation I have ever heard in this House. Now I know the right hon. Gentleman's electioneering methods. His constituency borders on my own. The right hon. Gentleman 1789 the Member for Preston (Mr. Shaw) who spoke yesterday stated that misrepresentation is the stock-in-trade of the party opposite; but they will have a little to learn on the day when the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley follows those who have gone before him to the other side of the House, for he will be able to show them things in electioneering that they have never seen or contemplated. Let me justify the statement I made just now with regard to the gross misrepresentation made yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman in reference to our declaration that we should repeal this Bill if it became an Act. He said: "The Labour party will go before the country and say We propose legislation which makes intimidation legal and legislation which will make it lawful to substitute the will of an outside body for the will of Parliament.'"
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to explain? He has no doubt unwittingly failed to reproduce either the exact words I used or the obvious sense in which I used them. I did not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of misrepresentation, but it really was quite obvious to the House that what I was saying was that I thought it a very rash thing to declare in advance that whatever form this Bill takes, it is going to be repealed line by line. I simply did not believe that anyone would propose to repeal the declaration that intimidation is illegal. What I said was that:I do not envy the lot of any candidate or any party that really intends to advance those views."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1927; col. 1649, Vol. 205.]No one understood me to suggest that that was the view of the Labour party. I am within the recollection of the House—
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but as a matter of fact I was careful to say that one of the striking things in the course of the affair of 12 months ago was the constant way in which the trade union leaders had discouraged any form of intimidation.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
That is another illustration of the right hon. Gentleman's facility for mere quibbling. But he was very careful not to overquote. The right hon. Gentleman assumed that the Labour party would go to the country at the next election with that declaration, and he said that he did not envy their position. He stated that we were going to the country to say that although this Bill which is now before the House justifies the claims which are made for it as to its objects we propose legislation to the effect that intimidation is lawful. That is what the right hon. Gentleman said, imagining himself in the position of a Labour candidate at the next election. He went on to say:Or that a general strike, in a case where it is avowedly and admittedly aimed at the compulsion of the Government, or at substituting the will of an outside body for that of Parliament, is to be declared lawful.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I have read every word of the sentence with the exception—[Interruption]. The sentence began:Although this Bill is now in a form which justifies the claims made for it as to its objects, we propose legislation to the effect that intimidation is lawful.Then one of my hon. Friends said:Is it lawful now? You gave us the law on the general strike.And the right hon. Gentleman replied:If the hon. Gentleman will be patient with me, he will find out.Then he went on as I read just now:Or that a general strike, in a case where it is avowedly and admittedly aimed at compulsion of the Government, or at substituting the will of an outside body for that of Parliament, is to be declared lawful.And he continued:I do not envy the lot of any candidate or any party that really intends to advance those views.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May 1927; cols. 1648–9, Vol. 205.]The right hon. Gentleman put these words into the mouth of the Labour party at the next election:We propose to make intimidation legal; we propose to legalise the supersession of the Government by an outside body.When did the Labour party propose that? When have we proposed to make intimidation legal?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
When have the Labour party said that they would propose legislation to make it legal for outside bodies to supersede Parliament? We have never said that
§ Sir J. SIMON rose—
§ Sir J. SIMON
I really am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. The point is a very simple one to all who are willing to listen to it. The point is this, that, whatever may be said against the expediency of passing declaratory Clauses, when they are passed it is really quite impracticable for anybody to be proposing to repeal them. I have never for a moment supposed that the Labour party would seek to legislate that intimidation was legal. [Interruption.] Nobody who really listened with care to my speech, or read it fairly, could possibly think so.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I always welcome the right hon. Gentleman's interruptions, for, every time he rises, he succeeds only in making his position worse. The only thing that his latest interruption can possibly mean is that he now sees what a foolish thing he said yesterday in expressing what, no doubt, was at the moment his real feeling and intention It may be that for the moment the right hon. Gentleman forgot that he was addressing the House of Commons, and thought he was delivering one of his familiar speeches in the Spen Valley Division. We have declared that when we become a Government we shall repeal this Act. Suppose we do. Will the repeal of this Act make intimidation legal? [An HON. MEMBER: "Inferentially"!] I do not recognise the hon. Member who gives us that very intelligent interruption, but it is quite evident that he has not followed even the speeches of his own leader, because the point of the Attorney-General the other day was the same as the point made yesterday by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley, that this Bill was mainly declaratory in its purpose, that it did not materially alter the existing law. Suppose we do repeal this Bill; what is the position? [Interruption.] 1792 The position is that all existing trade union law is still the law of this country. If it be good law to-day that a general strike is illegal, a general strike will be illegal when we have repealed this Act. If intimidation be illegal, then intimidation will be illegal when we have repealed this Act.
Let me get back, after having dealt with the right hon. Gentleman to the points I was discussing. First of all, is this Bill necessary? With that I have in large measure already dealt. Secondly, will it achieve the declared purpose of those who are promoting it? The Prime Minister told us yesterday, in the extremely useful contribution that he made, that the justification for it is to be found in the events of last year—to prevent a general strike. That was not what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) said the other night. He did not say that this Bill was to stop a general strike. It was to modify the privileges trade unions had enjoyed, and further to curb powers they have used. The purpose of the Bill is declared to be to prevent coercion of the Government or any substantial portion of the community; but we are told that the right to strike is not being interfered with. But even the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley is not quite confident, even looking at it from the purely legal point of view, whether the Bill as it stands would make a sympathetic strike illegal. Those who do not look at the Bill from a legal point of view, those who have some practical experience of strikes, have no doubt at all. What is, in essence, the purpose of a strike?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The essential purpose of a strike is to coerce somebody. It can have no other object. It is a resort to force—the use of force to compel the concession of something. It may be used by the employers upon the workmen; it may be used by the workmen upon the employers; but it is always coercive. Then, again, just as the relations of capitalists and employers' federations are so intimate, so interlocked, to-day, so are the relations of the various trade unions, and it is an utter impossibility to confine a 1793 trade dispute to what is described in this Bill as within the trade or industry. It cannot be done. If the right is taken away from the trade unions to increase the pressure, to increase coercion by sympathetic strikes, then the strike weapon becomes absolutely useless. [Interruption.] Let us assume that another purpose of this Bill is to prevent coercion of the Government. Why, Sir, for what purpose do Governments exist? They exist only 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—coercion—upon the Government of the day to concede its demands; and the coercion is not confined to those outside the Government or outside the party of the Government. Nobody knows that better than the present Prime Minister. He confessed it yesterday. He admitted that he had been coerced into accepting a Bill with the whole of which he did not agree. [Interruption.] Surely, it is something new to make it a criminal offence to bring coercion to bear upon a Government in order to concede certain demands. I can imagine no more peaceful way of bringing coercion to bear upon anybody—upon any organised body or upon the Government—than by men simply stopping away from work and remaining peacefully at home.
As to the so-called general strike, my views are fairly well known. It is 20 years since I dealt with this question in a book I wrote, and I have never altered my view. A general strike for industrial purposes is general nonsense. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] In its very nature it never can be effective. I can imagine only two circumstances in which a general strike might possibly succeed. One is where the Government is entering into a war and quite obviously against the overwhelming wishes of the country. Possibly there might be some justification for a stoppage of work to coerce a Government which, again quite obviously, was seeking to pass through Parliament, by the aid of a powerful majority, some Measure for which it bad no mandate, or which it was perfectly clear—I will put it in another way—if it was perfectly clear that the overwhelming majority of the country were opposed to that Measure. But why in these two circumstances might a general strike possibly be 1794 effective Exactly because it had the support of practically the whole country. I cannot possibly imagine that circumstances and conditions like these would ever be present in an industrial general strike.
So much for that. Although a general strike, in my opinion, is always ineffective as an industrial weapon, yet it is not wrong. The argument against the general strike is net that it is wrong; the argument is in my opinion, that it is a foolish and an ineffective weapon to use. But—I hope hon. Members opposite will cheer this, too-the Attorney-General says that it is illegal at present. He is going to make it quite sure by this Bill. But does he think, and does the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley think, that if you put it into 50 Acts of Parliament and you get every Judge on the Bench to say that a general strike is illegal, that that is going to stop a general strike if the workers are determined to have it? Certainly not. It would not make the slightest difference. If they were determined to have it, they would have it, and all your pains and penalties would not have the slightest effect upon them.
This is my main argument in exposing the folly of the proposal that the Government are now making. Suppose that there is an illegal general strike. What are the Government going to do? Under this Bill every man who takes part in a so-called general strike can be sent to prison for three months. He certainly will not pay the fine. Well now, suppose that 5,000,000 men stop work. How are you going to deal with them? Are you going to bring those 5,000,000 men before the Courts? [HON. MEMBERS: "The leaders."] An hon Member opposite has suddenly illuminated this difficulty. You take the leaders first. This Bill says nothing about taking the leaders first. Every man who takes part in such an illegal strike must be tried either by summary proceedings or by indictment in another Court. Are you going to discriminate? Are you going to take a few leaders and others, and think that by sending them to prison for three months von are going to intimidate the rest to go back to work? You have 5,000,000 men to deal with and you are going to send them all to prison for three months. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Where are you going to confine them, and what is 1795 going to become of the trade and industry of the country during the three months that the 5,000,000 men are in prison? Therefore, this is not a Bill to stop a general strike; it is a Bill to prolong a general strike if a strike takes place.
The right hon. Member for Spen Valley did find one fault with the Bill: it did not include employers of labour. The learned Attorney-General told us why—because to do so would be useless and inept. I entirely agree. It is about the only thing in his speech with which I did agree. Of course it would be useless. You may put words into an Act of Parliament which appear to apply equally to workmen and employers, but no words in an Act of Parliament can ever place workmen and employers on the same footing. The employers have at their disposal a thousand means of coercion which no Act of Parliament can ever touch. Talk about coercion and intimidation of trade unions! Why, they do not know the first letter of the alphabet of intimidation and coercion, compared with the employers. The right hon. Member for Spen Valley probably knows something; he may have come across it in his legal work in dealing with the rules of employers' federations and trade associations. Coercion and intimidation Why, under some of these rules an employer of labour is ruined if he dares to sell his goods at prices other than those which have been fixed. His supplies are stopped. The effect is not only to ruin the employer himself, but to throw his workpeople too out of occupation.
Will hon. Members, those with gal minds, kindly answer this question? What is the difference between an employer or a body of employers agreeing to close down their works or to go on short time, and a body of workmen agreeing to stop away from work or to go on half-time? In the case of workmen it is a strike. They would be under pains and penalties when this Bill becomes law. The employers can close down their works and they need give no reason whatever for so doing. They will always find a thousand excuses or reasons other than the real one. The employers can dismiss men and they need give no reason. They can intimidate them, as they do. We were told by the Prime Minister yesterday that his justification 1796 and mandate for the Bill was the event of last year, the mining dispute. The industrial history of this country has never furnished a more glaring instance of an organised attempt to coerce the Government than was provided by the action of the Mining Association. In all the protracted negotiations that took place the mineowners were constantly—and indeed using no other weapon—using the force of coercion upon the Government. What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer say in regard to his negotiations with the Mining Association? They coerced the right hon. Gentleman and the Government into conceding legislation for an eight-hours day.
When the learned Attorney-General has an opportunity of replying, I would like to put a question to him. May I ask him, would a strike for a reduction of the hours of labour be a legal or an illegal strike under this Bill? How can the miners get a reduction of their hours of work except through Government legislation Government by law have fixed the hours of labour. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!" and "Yes!"] I concede this—it does not in the least lessen the force of my argument—that one way in which the miners can get a reduction their hours of labour is by some voluntary arrangement. [Interruption.] A voluntary arrangement is always open to them. That is altogether apart from a strike, but the Act and this is the point—which gives the mineowners the power to enforce an eight-hours day is an Act passed by the Government, and, therefore, it can only be repealed by bringing pressure on the Government to repeal it.
With regard to intimidation, the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley has said that it is already dealt with by the law of the land, but strikers ought to know what the law is. According to the Attorney-General, there were 7,000 of them last year who got to know in the Courts what, in the opinion of the magistrates, at any rate, was the law of England. It is a slander on trade unionism and trade union leaders to insinuate that they are in favour of intimidation and violence.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I am not replying to the right hon. and learned Gentleman; I am making a general statement. I say it is a slander. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may have been justified in thinking I was making a personal accusation, but he is so attractive, I could not keep my eyes off him. Imaginary cases have been quoted in the course of our Debate. May I give one more? This Bill introduces a new offence-the apprehension of being held up to ridicule. If it is to be made an offence even to hold up a person to ridicule, then the whole spice and enjoyment of life have been taken away. I do not think I am grotesque in the instance I am going to give. A number of men on strike are in a public house. A blackleg comes in. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is a blackleg?"] Without saying a word, they rise and walk out. They have undoubtedly held that man up to ridicule; they have given what will be quite satisfactory evidence to the magistrates of causing fear of ridicule. That is what this Bill is going to do. There is nothing that you can do by an Act of Parliament to prevent men from showing, either in their faces or sometimes by their words, their contempt for men of whose conduct they disapprove. I wonder if I have time to tell—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!"]—a little story which comes to my mind bearing upon this. When I was very young and employed in the Revenue Office, I was asked one day to write out a form of application for a clergyman. The chief clerk came to me and said, "He wants you to put D.D. after his name." I did so. He came back and said, "He is going to report you." I said, "What for?" "For insulting him." "Why," I said, "I never said a word." "No," he said, "but you looked it." Under this Bill I should not be permitted the luxury of "looking it." And there is going to be placed on the magistrates the duty of interpreting what a man's looks mean. Nothing more ridiculous has ever been proposed in Parliament.
Coming to the political levy, I can speak as an outsider. I have fought nine Parliamentary elections. I have never had trade union financial support; and this fact is not generally known, that three-quarters of the Labour candidates have no trade union financial support. Their expenses are raised wholly by the 1798 voluntary contributions of comparatively poor people. The Prime Minister told us yesterday that the justification of this Bill was the events of last year. What, in the name of common sense, have the events of last year to do with the political levy? When the Prime Minister was speaking yesterday, he was pressed by an hon. Friend of mine to answer that question. He made no attempt to do so. He said in that memorable speech of his—it will be remembered, because it is the only memorable speech which the Prime Minister has ever made—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame," and Interruption.] He said:We find ourselves, after these two years in power, in possession of perhaps the greatest majority our party has ever had, and with the general assent of the country.He went on to say:Now, how did we get there?Heaven only knows I But he said:How did we get there? It was not by promising to bring in this Bill."—[OFFIOIAL REPORT, 6th March, 1915; col. 840, Vol. 1.81.]That is, the Political Levy Bill. How then does he justify the introduction of a political levy Clause into this Bill? And, mark you, it is quite clear that when the King's Speech was drafted, the Government had no intention of dealing with the political levy. It is quite clear that the passage in the King's Speech has reference to industrial disputes only. It says:Recent events have made evident the importance of defining and amending the law with reference to industrial disputes. Proposals for this purpose will be laid before you.Not a word about the political levy in that. The right hon. Member for Hill head (Sir R. Horne) said—I am not using his exact words, but he will not deny that I am giving a correct interpretation—that the purpose and object of the political levy was that a majority could tell a man how to vote. The trade unions have never made any such claim.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
I greatly regret having to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he is—I am perfectly certain, unconsciously—entirely misrepresenting what I did say. I took up what was said by the right hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson), that when the political levy was first considered by the 1799 House, the claim of the Labour party was, that once a ballot had taken place and a majority had decided in favour of it, every man should be compelled to pay. I asked whether that was still the attitude of the Labour party, and I was greeted with cries of "No," and I went on to deal with the present Bill.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I think, if the right hon. Gentleman refers to the report of his speech, he will find that he said the claim we made was that the majority should dictate to a man how he should vote. I was in Parliament when this matter was discussed, and it is quite true that the position the Labour party and the trade unions took up was that the political levy should be compulsory. I am quite prepared to defend that, because a good part of the activities of trade unions must be concerned with political work, because conditions are so largely governed and regulated and controlled to-day by legislation, and therefore if through the efforts of a trade union certain concessions are won—a reduction in the hours of labour, improved factory inspection, a score of things that one might mention—if these benefits are won by trade union activities, every member of a trade union who enjoys these advantages ought in justice to make his contribution. That, roughly, was our case for the compulsory political levy, provided it had been agreed upon by a majority. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley was in the House when the Political Levy Bill was passed. Indeed, I believe he was the Solicitor-General at the time. He supported it. I remember he made some admirable speeches in defence of it.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I remember as though it were yesterday the right hon. Gentleman speaking from the second bench there, either upon the Trades Disputes Bill or upon the Political Levy Bill. I remember with what enthusiasm his speech was received by the small group of Labour Members then in the House. We little dreamt in those days that some of us would live to hear the right hon. Gentleman as loudly cheered by the Tory party in the House in supporting its repeal.
1800 The purpose of the Bill, according to the Government, is to prevent another general strike. I can imagine nothing better calculated to provoke one. The Bill has been introduced to foment class strife, and to arouse the defiance of the unions. The Prime Minister spoke yesterday about the supremacy of the minority movement in some of the trade unions. This Bill is the greatest godsend to the minority movement and to Communists alike. There is only one way of escaping from strikes. My hon. Friends behind me know that I have never been an advocate of strikes. In all my public life, I have advocated the setting up of machinery by which industrial differences might be settled without the dislocation of industry. That is my position to-day and that is why I deplore this Bill. Its introduction has made the position of men like myself extremely difficult, if not impossible.
How can we go on the platform now and appeal to our friends for a better spirit? They have the reply in this Bill. There is only one way, I say, of preventing a general strike or any other strike, and that is the setting up of machinery by which industrial disputes can be settled by reason and not by force, and I would to God that this Government instead of throwing this apple of discord into the industrial arena had asked Parliament to concentrate its attention upon trying to promote such legislation. Heaven knows we need it at the present time after five or six years of unprecedented trade depression. Is this going to help trade recovery? It is going to make it impossible. I will not trouble the House by reading—probably they know it—the expression of opinion from the. National Alliance of Employers and Workmen, the chairman of which is a former Conservative Member of this House. They have written to the Prime Minister deploring the introduction of this Bill and passed a resolution declaring what I attempted to say just now about the disastrous consequences of this action of the Government upon the future of industry. I know it is no use to appeal to the Government. The Bill will go through. It will become an Act of Parliament, but it will cost the country far more than a general strike. Coercion is responsible for this Bill. We are not the only party with an extreme minority. Every party has them, and 1801 no one knows that better than the Prime Minister. The minority movement has triumphed in some of the trade unions, he says. The reason why we have this Measure is that the diehard section of his own party have forced it upon him.
§ Sir ROBERT SANDERS
I do not wish to take part in the controversy between the two eminent Yorkshire representatives to which we have just listened. But I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that we on this side of the House were surprised at his statement that the fact that a general strike was made illegal by Statute would make no difference whatever. The part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech that I particularly wish to allude to was the statement which has been made several times in the course of the Debate that the Government in bringing in this Bill was giving in to some mysterious form of coercion or intimidation. That is absolutely untrue. It is an undoubted fact that on this matter the Government have for a good many years been subjected to a considerable course of peaceful persuasion. There is no mystery about it. Resolutions on this subject have been passed by every Conservative association in the country. It is not of recent origin. It has been going on ever since the War. I have inside knowledge. One Conservative association after another has put this question almost in the forefront. When we had last year a meeting of the Conservative National Conference at Scarborough more attention was devoted to this subject than to any other, and there was greater unanimity and enthusiasm than I have ever seen at a Conservative conference, and it has been my fortune to attend a great many. The feeling was so strong that people with very considerable positions in the party who ventured to cast a little doubt on the resolutions that were put forward had a very bad hearing. This did not come from the employers. If ever there was a movement in the party that came from below this was one. Throughout its history, and I have known some of the history of it in the party, it has been a movement which has been promoted and pressed forward by representatives of the working class. Time after time resolutions have come in on the subject. The Conservative working men in the country are a very large body 1802 or we should not be in the position we are. The two particular matters on which they laid stress are what is known as peaceful picketing and the political levy. In both those cases they complained that minorities are bullied. We have been asked to give evidence on this subject of the political levy. The amount of evidence that has been sent in to us is very considerable indeed. Case after case has been sent in to say that men subscribe to this political levy because they are afraid to refrain from doing so and to make an application to be exempt. We have been asked to state the names. Of course, we cannot state the names, because the very reason these people are complaining is that they are afraid of the bullying to which they would be subjected if they divulged their names. And this is not only the experience of the Conservative party. The same thing has happened on the Liberal side. I am informed that the National League of Liberal Trade Unionists—I quote from the "Manchester Guardian" of last November—issued a manifesto in which they said:It is unfortunately true that in some districts those who refuse to support the Labour party are subjected to forms of intimidation as had as our Liberal forefathers suffered at the hands of dominating Toryism in rural areas, but this tyranny will weaken and become powerless as soon as there is resolute and concerted action. Membership of the League is the way to secure this.We may not agree as to the remedy, but at all events both the Conservative party and Liberal party, according to that evidence, agree as to the disease. The argument has been put forward—I must say I have been rather surprised at the force with which it has been put forward, because I have always hitherto imagined that the case of the Labour party on this subject was that there is really no grievance at all—that everyone who wanted to be exempt from the political levy could be so. exempt. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is true to-day!"] That is true, but who has got the courage? We have a great deal of evidence that there are a great many people who funk making the application. I have just shown that the Liberal party have the same evidence. The case that has been put forward on the other side, in the course of these Debates, is not so much 1803 that anyone who wants can get off paying, but that a member of a trades union ought to contribute to this fund and that it is quite right that he should have to do so.
§ Sir R. SANDERS
As the lion. Member opposite has just expressed it, that is majority rule. As was stated in this House a good many years ago, minorities must suffer, but I must say that that is a doctrine to which I have never subscribed. At all events, if the minority has to suffer, you cannot expect the minority to like it. It is a fact that in a great many cases where they have passed the political levy resolution there is a very considerable Conservative minority, and these Conservatives feel that they are being bullied. They feel that they do not get fair play, and they are coming to the Government which they have done a great deal to return to power, and they are asking them to come to their assistance in this matter. Hon. Members opposite think that by means of the outcry against this Bill they are going to make a great political score in the country. Well, the reports that I have heard tend to show exactly the opposite. In one part of the country after another I have heard that this Bill is being received with enthusiasm. Reference has been made to the fact that leaders of the Labour party have stated that when they go to the country they will make a leading plank in their platform of their desire to repeal this Bill. I can only say that I hope they will, because, if they go to the country on that cry, I believe the Conservative party will come back to power with an even bigger majority than it has at the present time.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We have had a great deal of illumination cast by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells (Sir Robert Sanders) upon the way in which Governments are coerced. He has given us an account of the various resolutions which have been engineered by the Conservative party since the War in order to intimidate the various Governments to carry a Bill such as this. I am not sure that that does not come within the provisions of Clause 1. It involves a threat to withhold work from 1804 the Conservative party unless they did something which, as a Government, they were not at that moment prepared to do. I mean to approach this Bill from a different angle from the one which my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) approached it, in one of the most powerful Parliamentary performances it has ever been my pleasure to listen to in this House.
I do not propose to discuss the details of the Bill. I mean to challenge the wisdom of introducing a Bill of this kind at all at this moment, and I mean to give the reasons for that view. I agree with Lord Grey that the merits of the Bill are of minor importance. It is not often that Lord Grey gives me an opportunity of agreeing with him, and, when he does, I seize it with alacrity, and this is one of the matters upon which I am in entire agreement with him. It is not merely a question of the details of the Bill, but it is a question of the desirability and the wisdom of introducing a challenging, provocative Measure of this kind at a time when it is so essential that there should be the best relations between capital and labour with a view to our recovering our lost trade. I have no doubt at all that trade union law needs amendment and needs clarification. If it did not, it would be the only law in this country that did not need amendment and clarification. When you have the most ingenious profession in the world engaged every day in trying to alter signposts and turn them in the direction in which they wish to go for the time being, no wonder there is a good deal of obscurity. My complaint about this Bill is that it does not clarify; it muddles old obscurities and creates new ones.
If ingenuity had been employed in making an Act of Parliament obscure it could not have been done with greater cleverness than it has been done in this particular Bill. Great lawyers who are in favour of the principle of the Bill are not in the least pleased with the Measure itself. That is the real meaning of Lord Wrenbury's letter in the "Times." He suggested to the Government that you should lay down, first of all, Parliamentary Resolutions, that upon that basis you should have a Commission and that then you should draft your Bill. There was an hon. Friend of mine, the hon. Member for Luton (Captain O'Connor), who made 1805 a very good speech last night from the other side. He is a very able lawyer, and he has come to the same conclusion that some of the most vital Clauses of the Bill are Clauses which do not clearly early out the intention the Government has in view. Now, it is very dangerous where the law has to be interpreted by magistrates. I do not wish to say anything about magistrates, but the vast majority of them are drawn from a different class from those n ho will appear before them under this Bill, and, although I have no doubt at all that they do their very best to avoid introducing any prejudice into their adjudications, there is an unconscious class prejudice which does creep in. I know that from such experiences as I have had as a lawyer in cases of that kind. Therefore, when you have an Act of Parliament which deals with the law in reference to something in which a certain class is specially involved—a law which is interpreted very largely by employers of labour, because the vast majority of them are employers of labour—it is of vital importance that there should be no doubt at all with regard to the meaning of that Act of Parliament. The Attorney-General, in his speech, said something which I certainly was not clear upon from reading the Bill, and I have read it over and over again with such knowledge as I have. He said that strikes and sympathetic strikes were outside Clause 1, as I understand it.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
I think the right hon. Gentleman has misquoted me. What I said was that this Bill did not stop the sympathetic strike unless the sympathetic strike was directed against the Government and not against employers.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is exactly where the obscurity comes in, and it is really very important to clear up this matter. Those are the words to which I wanted to call the attention of the Attorney-General, and the Solicitor-General especially, as, I understand, he is to reply. A strike, as long as it deals with a dispute inside a particular trade, is not proscribed by this Bill, but, if there be a strike, either sympathetic or otherwise, which is designed or calculated to coerce the Government or to intimidate any substantial portion of the community, that, under this Bill, is to be prohibited and subject to all the penalties which 1806 are included in the Bill. The Prime Minister said, and said quite truly, that strikes now were on a very much larger scale than they used to be. I am coming to that later on. As he put it very aptly, in the old days, they fought in battalions, then in divisions, and now they fight in great armies.
That is so, but can you imagine a great strike like the miners' stoppage—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!" and "No!"] Well that was a stoppage. What is the use of quibbling about this? It was commenced by a notice given by the employers for a reduction in wages. It was not a strike for an increase in wages, and therefore I think it is right that you should use the appropriate term in reference to it, and it is not fair to protest against it. Take the late mining stoppage. I use the phrase which is perfectly legitimate. Here you have one of the most vital, basic industries in the country where you have a stoppage for seven months. Does anyone imagine that is not calculated to bring pressure upon the Government? Coercion means pressure with a view to inducing the Government to take certain action. Of course it would come well within those words. The magistrate might reasonably say "Here is an enormous stoppage which stops, not merely the business in an industry with a million of people engaged in it, but stops railways, stops the iron and steel trades, gradually closes down all the factories. That brings pressure upon the Government to intervene." If you use that phrase you will stop, not merely sympathetic strikes, but strikes themselves. Take the sympathetic strike. Take, if you like, the renewal of the old triple alliance between the transport workers—the railway workers, the dock workers, and the miners. Supposing a notice has been served by the employers on the miners that wages are to be further reduced, and the railway men and the dock labourers say: "We cannot stand this." They may do it out of sympathy or they may do it out of policy. They may say, as was said last year: "This is only the first; therefore we have to fight on this ground, because it is a general attempt to reduce Wages all round." Their motive will be purely an industrial one, first of all, out of sympathy with the miners, and, in the second place, because 1807 they have to fight their battle at some point and they take up the fight on this ground, which is the ground of wages. No one could say that that is not calculated to coerce the Government when they stop all these vital industries. Therefore, although the Attorney-General may give lip-service to the sympathetic strike, these words will make not only a sympathetic strike impossible but will make a strike in every vital industry come within the terms of the Bill.
I want to point out the danger of the words which have been used here; but I will give another illustration before I come to my general case. Take Clause 4. The Attorney-General first says that this is equally applicable to employers' Associations. I should like to ask a question upon that of the Solicitor-General. Take, for instance, the Licensed Victuallers' Association or the Mining Association. Both of these associations have intervened in politics. Both have used their funds freely for fighting political battles. I should like to ask the Solicitor-General this: Does it mean that in future it will not be permissible for those who are in charge of these associations to use the general funds of those associations for political purposes, either to support candidates or to support parties or to circulate political literature, and that the only fund which can be used will be a special fund specially contributed to by individuals by means of forms signed by each of these individuals in the industry, indicating their desire to contribute, and that the money should be used for the support of a particular political party. Is that the case? If so, it is a new view of that particular Clause.
I am not opposing this Bill on the ground merely of bad draftsmanship, or even on the ground that some of the Clauses are unfair and unjust. When I come to the particular Clauses I shall express my view of them in Committee I am opposing the Bill on the ground that at this stage, when we are struggling hard to recover our trade, when full recovery depends upon goodwill and cooperation between employers and workmen, when it is impossible to achieve recovery unless the workmen work wholeheartedly, it is exceedingly unwise to bring in a challenging, provocative Bill 1808 of this kind. The Prime Minister in his speech yesterday laid down, I can hardly call them four general principles; they were four rather general purposes and aims of this Bill. The first declared that there should be no general strike, the second that there should be no intimidation, the third that there should be no coercion to subscribe to any particular political party, and the fourth declares that party politics in the Civil Service are improper. I do not know anybody who challenges any of these propositions. But this Bill goes far beyond those four propositions.
May I just say at this point that I am very glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley is present? As he knows and the House knows, I have not always agreed with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) on this question. I have taken a different attitude during the last 12 months; but I thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley was rather unfair in the way in which he interpreted the sentence which my right hon. and learned Friend used yesterday. I did not hear the speech but I have read it, and I certainly never thought that my right hon and learned Friend intended to insinuate or to suggest that the Labour party at the next election were going to declare that they were going to repeal this Act with a view to making intimidation possible, or to making—[HON. MEMBERS: "He said that quite definitely; He meant it!") At any rate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley has rendered a very great service in making it absolutely clear that my right hon. and learned Friend never intended anything of the kind, and never said anything of the kind.
I want to say with regard to the propositions or the aims laid down by the Prime Minister, which we all accept, that this Bill goes far beyond them, and it makes an excuse of the imperfections of trade union law in order to create injustice. I challenge the urgency and wisdom of this Bill. I say, and I repeat it in spite of what the Attorney-General said, that it is not expedient. "Expediency" is another word for wisdom. I say it is inexpedient in effect, on the same grounds that the Prime Minister objected to it two years 1809 ago, in the very impressive speech which he delivered on that occasion. The Attorney-General was good enough to say about the party with which I am associated that in taking this line we were placing a very high value on expediency and a very low value on political honesty. What does expediency mean in this connection? It means this: "You may have a Measure the principles of which are quite just—the Prime Minister himself described the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) as a Bill in the justice of which he believed—but which is provocative of disturbance, which stirs up unrest and which at that moment it is unwise in the interests of the public to press through. That is what I mean by expediency.
The Attorney-General is the last man in the world who is in a position to take up this line. In 1923, he delivered speeches in the country in which he said:Unemployment is the one vital dominating question. The Prime Minister has discovered the remedy. The remedy is high tariffs and Protection.That was in 1923. In 1924, unemployment was practically the same. When the election came, unemployment had been going up gradually for two or three months. What did the Attorney-General do then, with his one vital remedy? He looked round and he said: "If I go and support and advocate the one vital remedy, there are hundreds of thousands of free traders who will not vote for me and my party." He dropped it; he contracted out; he subordinated it. He put a low value on political honesty and a high one on expediency. That is why he is Attorney-General to-day. This is the right hon. and learned Gentleman who lectures his political opponents upon the exalted principles of political honesty!
There are many Measures which, if you examine their Clauses and details, may be perfectly just on their merits but which it is the height of unwisdom at certain junctures in the history of this country, having regard to conditions, to introduce and press through. There is no political party which does not know that there are Measures of that kind in its repertoire. Take the Conservative party. There is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells. He knows very well that the Conservative party is associated with the National Union of Conservative Associations, which has 1810 been passing all sorts of resolutions for Bills, for years and years and years, and making appeals to their leaders, who turn deaf ears to them, why? Not because they disbelieve in these principles, but because they think it is extremely inexpedient at that moment to press them forward. This is not a question of political expediency; it is a question of national expediency. The Prime Minister has been quoted over and over again from his famous speech, in which he said:We believe in the justice of this Bill which has been brought in to-day; but we are going to withdraw our hand, and we are not going to push our political advantage home at a moment like this. Suspicion is preventing stability in Europe and is the one poison that is preventing stability at home.6.0 p.m.
When he made that declaration, it was hailed by his own party and by many outside his own party as a very sublime deed of statesmanship. It would have been more sublime if he had stuck to it. The Prime Minister says: "Circumstances have changed." If circumstances have changed, then that is an argument of expediency. The conditions were such two years ago that although it was just it was inexpedient. He says the circumstances have so changed today that what was inexpedient two years ago is necessary now. Let us examine that. What are the circumstances which have changed? Since then you have had the general strike. Let us examine that. I say, and I propose to give my reasons, that so far from the general weakening the position of the Minister two years ago it really strengthens it. Why do I say that? The general strike was a complete and humiliating failure. It was a failure within a week. [An HON. MEMBER: "No thanks to you!"] I can answer that, and I will do so in a sentence. The very organisation which the Government used was the organisation which was set up by the Government of which I was the head in 1921. The general strike demonstrated what was in doubt before, that no general strike can succeed in this country against the will of the community. What happened as the result of it—and this is rather important when you come to consider the question of the probability of its renewal? The trade union funds were 1811 bankrupted, the terms that were imposed were, to say the least, humiliating. I cannot conceive that any trade union in its senses, having regard to the experiment of last year, will ever dream of repeating it, and I feel confident that they will not. I go beyond that. [An HON. MEMBER: "Thee have already threatened it."] No they have not. There is just one man, and I will come to him later. At that time it was generally acknowledged that the general strike was illegal. It was not found necessary by the Government to put into operation the legal powers they had. It was suppressed without them.
I ask the Solicitor-General: In what respect were the Government hampered in the least by any defect in the law? If they wanted to prosecute, it was an illegality, but very wisely they did not, because there was a much more effective way of bringing the strike to an end, It was not even found necessary to put the existing law into operation. In spite of that a Bill is introduced to amend the law when the powers the Government had at that time were not put into operation. I ask the Solicitor-General this question: Suppose they had all these powers in May, 1926, in what respect could they have curtailed that general strike by a single day? [An HON. MEMBER: "Prevented it,"] How could they have prevented it? That is what I want to know. There were two ways in which they could have done it, one by an injunction to prevent the unions using their funds. The miners did not have enough money to carry their fight for a single month—[An HON. MEMBER: A week"]—for a single week, but they went on for seven months in spite of that fact. Does anyone imagine that these powerful unions, if you had withdrawn every penny from them, could not have carried on that strike for 0longer than 10 days, which is the time it lasted, when the miners carried on theirs for the whole seven months? You are not going to stop a general strike in six days instead of 10 merely because you enjoin them in regard to funds. As a matter of fact, it would have been the best thing in the world for the National Union of Railwaymen if an injunction had been granted.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS indicated assent.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) would now be saying "God bless the Attorney-General !" As a matter of fact, it would have strengthened trade unions in that respect and not weakened them. What is really the most shattering fact of the general strike is that it dissipated the reserves of the trade unions. This Bill would not in respect of funds have curtailed the general strike by a single day. What else could you have done? I heard the answer given to the right hon. Member for Collie Valley with regard to the prosecution of four or five million persons out on strike. The answer was, "Oh, no, we would prosecute the leaders." As I understand, the last general strike was illegal and you could have prosecuted them. The Government, wisely, did nothing of the kind. If they had, that strike would have lasted much longer. I am going to talk quite plainly and in a way in which my hon. Friends above the Gangway cannot talk. What would you have done? You would have put into prison men who went into the general strike reluctantly, hesitating, and not believing in it—it is no use pretending—and you would have substituted for them men who really believed in it. If you had put them into prison you would have simply had a third set who would have been still more resolute.
There is not a Clause in this Bill which krill stop a general strike, but there are many that will prolong it. The Prime Minister himself, speaking after the general strike—I was present in the House—made a speech which showed that at that time he was still of the same opinion as he was in March, 1925, when he delivered his great speech. In answer to the Leader of the Opposition, who was apprehensive of legislation of this kind and who made an appeal to the Government, the Prime Minister said there would be no attack on trade unionism as such. I do not think it is open to anyone to say that he has broken any pledge; but let me point out the words the Prime Minister used, which showed that he had a little more in his mind than that. He referred in that speech to the people among the employers and 1813 workmen who were anxious for trouble, who stir up trouble, and he said:Let us get the waters calm as soon as we can lest their work"—That is the work of these mischief makers—spoils the work of half a century."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th May, 1926; col. 1051, Vol. 195.]There is only one meaning to that, and it is that at that moment the Prime Minister was of the opinion that the general strike was not a justification in his mind for departing from his great mission of peace and conciliation between the classes in this country. That was his feeling, his sentiment and his conviction then. I honestly believe that it is his conviction at this moment. The only circumstances that have changed are not the industrial circumstances. The whole explanation was given by the right hon. Member for Wells when he gave a detailed account of the pressure which had been exercised by the political organisations behind him. That is the real explanation. Every argument drawn from the failure of the general strike is an argument for proceeding with the work of conciliation. The Prime Minister, the day before he delivered that speech in this House, delivered an equally remarkable speech at Birmingham at the meeting of the Midland Conservative Association. He was then in favour of peace. He was then pointing out the dangers ahead, dangers coming from the evolution of industry, things beyond our control, things in themselves perhaps beneficent, but which had not yet fully developed—the development of great organisations and associations amongst the employers, the gigantic developments, on the other hand, of trade unions in labour—new features not yet settled down, and he wisely said that what was wanted was time for these forces to become settled, but meanwhile he said let us have peace, and referring to what was going on in Europe at Locarno and to what the Foreign Secretary was doing there, with the aid of other Ministers, he said:Why should this be confined to peace abroad? There are questions of more vital moment to us on this side of the Channel. Why must we reserve all our talk of peace and our prayers for peace for the Continent and forget to offer our talks and prayers for peace at home?1814 I am sorry the Prime Minister has given in at the first check. The check of the general strike was a, serious one, I agree. It was a provocation to him to leave the path of a messenger of peace. But there were many checks in Europe, too, with regard to Locarno, there were many excuses for abandoning the policy of the Foreign Secretary and his associates and it was nearly wrecked. There were many people who wanted it to be wrecked. In fact, the same people in France and in this country were practically urging that this course should be taken. The Foreign Secretary and his associates stood by their policy in spite of it, and they achieved a very remarkable triumph. I wish the Prime Minister had been true to the words he used and b-d pursued, in spite of what happened last year, his peaceful policy of conciliation. The trouble of this Bill is that it does not deal with the realities of the nation, with the real needs of the nation. You may impound all the funds of the unions and imprison their leaders, you may cripple their political funds, you may do more than that, but you cannot force workmen to work better or to work more efficiently by any Act of Parliament you can pass. That is the thing that is essential at this moment. That depends on one thing, and that is goodwill.
You cannot stop the developments of the last few years which have increased the stoppages through labour disputes. The Prime Minister dealt with this and I, once before, quoted the figures in this House. It was not the general strike that did the damage last year; it was the stoppage in the mines. I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer after the general strike was over get up at that Table and give the figures of the loss to this country attributable to the general strike, and everybody was very surprised and pleased that the losses were not greater. But I also heard him give an account of the losses to the revenue and to the trade and industry of this country due to the stoppage in the mines. What is this Bill for? It is a Bill which is introduced to deal with the first, which no one except a few extremists believes can be repeated, and it is a Bill that will not touch the other which caused gigantic losses to this country. If anyone will take the trouble, which I took, to look up the losses due to stoppages in this country through 1815 trade disputes—I will give the figures, again dividing them into seven-year periods—for 14 years before the War and the seven or eight years after the War, he will find that in the first seven years there were so many days lost; in the second seven years there was double the number of days lost, and in the seven or eight years since the War, he will find that we have doubled the number for the second period and more.
What I want to point out is that this Bill does not deal with that problem at all. Conciliation, improvement in conditions: There have been suggestions that you might improve your machinery of conciliation. We have, I think, on the whole, the best machinery of conciliation almost in the world in some of our trades in this country. In the iron and steel trade you have had no great dispute for 50 years. In the boot and shoe trade there has been no great dispute for 30 years. The cotton trade has been very free and the shipbuilding industry has already put up another agreement which I hope will avert trouble there. It would have been worth the Government's while investigating the question of whether it is not possible somehow to expedite and facilitate methods of conciliation such as Whitley Councils and others. That they have neglected. But the most important thing of all is not the machinery, but the spirit. No machinery will be of the slightest use if you have bad feeling, bad temper excited by any cause, whether by the 'Government or otherwise, and the Government have just thrown this discord into the trades, at a time when it is essential that you should have goodwill. I wonder whether the Prime Minister has seen the appeal —I think it was directed to himf—from the National Industrial Alliance, founded to secure friendly relations between employers and workmen. I understand my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley referred to it, but I think it is so important that it is worth referring to it again.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then if the House will permit me I will refer to it again. I do not know who are the workmen who are in that body, and for this purpose it does not matter, but you have 1816 there some of the greatest captains of industry, some of the largest employers of labour in this country—Sir Arthur Pease, Sir Hugh Bell, and Sir Edward Manville—who was a Member of this House, a very highly respected Conservative Member of this House—[Laughter.] I do not see why that should be a source of laughter. I repeat it—a very highly respected Member of this House. There are several other men who are engaged in some of the biggest industries of this country, and this is their appeal to the Prime Minister:The Alliance, representative of both employers and workmen, is of opinion that the Trades Disputes and Trade Unions Bill will seriously prejudice the movement for industrial peace, and will hamper the revival of trade, two independent needs vital to the industry of the country at the present time. Further, the introduction of the Bill has already developed antagonisms between employers and employed just when industrial relations are beginning to improve,and then they make the appeal to the Prime Minister. I ask this question of the Government representative to-night. Can he give me a single request that has come from any great industrial combination of men, actually engaged in industry, asking him to bring in this Bill—any one? I am not thinking merely of workmen's associations but of employers' associations. There are several employers who are opposed to it root and branch and think it is fatal. There are several, no doubt, who probably see in it a way of going back upon their surrender to trade unionism which is quite recent. After all, trade unionism in the railway world is only a new recognition. In 1907, when I, as President of the Board of Trade, tried to settle a dispute between the railwaymen and the employers the managers and directors would not receive the representative of the union. It is a new thing.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is so; it is quite a new thing, and I have no doubt at all that a great many of them are resenting it, and that some of them, in their hearts, would like to go back upon it. But the majority of employers, I believe, mean to work it honestly, and they are frightened by this Bill. The fact of the matter is that this Bill is dictated by political expediency entirely. 1817 The Government have forgotten the depression in trade and have tried to remedy the depression in the circumstances of the Tory party. This is not a Bill for trade recovery, but for Tory recovery. But once you embark upon this line, it will be very difficult to stop. Other countries have discovered that, including Italy. You may carry the Bill; that is not the end of it. I know it is said that the agitation is merely engineered from the top. After all, most agitations must be co-ordinated and engineered from the top. Even the Conservative agitation for the Bill is engineered from the top. The 5,000,000 leaflets are not printed in the industrial districts. They are all printed here within a short distance of this House.
I am not complaining of it. I have taken part in these agitations myself, but there is one thing that those—and I see many of them here—who take part in agitations know that with a population of 45,000,000, it begins slowly but it goes on increasing in momentum. Hon. Members opposite may have their agitation. My hon. and right hon. Friends above the Gangway may have theirs. There will be intense feeling on both sides. I am not in the least disagreeing with anything that has been said by my right hon. Friend about there being great feeling on the side of the Bill. But there is passionate feeling against it. How does that help the trade of the country to recover? And when the Bill is through and the agitation for it is at an end—you cannot agitate for a Measure that has been passed—the agitation against it will go on. What does that mean? It means that just as there was a new feeling creeping in— [Interruption.] It is all very well to say that Mr. Cook says there is going to be another strike. Mr. Cook was beaten at the Trade Union Congress by a two or three to one majority, and let me point out that there was no other great trade union besides his own—they stood by their secretary naturally from loyalty—behind him. Do not let us exaggerate that. There is the fact that, in spite of all his personal popularity, the organised trade union movement voted him down. Trade union leaders have been making appeals—I have been watching them in the last few months—for conciliation, for good will, for co-operation, pointing out the dangers 1818 to our trade. Things were improving—even in the coalfields production is better than it has been for a great many years—and you bring in a Bill of this kind which upsets everything and stirs and stimulates passion. We shall pay the penalty for it.
§ Mr. JEPHCOTT
I want an opportunity to intervene for a few minutes to refer to a statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday. I think the right hon. Gentleman said that the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Spencer) was the only trade unionist who supported the Government on this question. I want to inform the Prime Minister that he is wrong, because I have been a trade unionist for over 45 years—a paying one, and not a receiving one. Let me say to my Labour friends opposite—and some of them know it already—that for over 20 years in the city to which I belong, there was no more active trade unionist than I was. I accepted the responsibilities of office without pay because I realised then, as I do now, that it is the duty of workmen to organise legitimately for the benefit of themselves and their families. I worked in that sphere, and some hon. Members opposite may ask me why I am not working with them now. Some of them, possibly, have a personal respect for an old man like me, and I will tell them that the difficulty they are in to-day arises from the fact that they gave up industrial action and took to political action. Since that period, from about 1906, the skilled organisations of this country and many of the labouring organizations—have they gained anything out of political activity? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] They have not, and you know they have not.
You know, some of you who are in agreement with me as to the necessity for trade unionism, that in the early days of trade unionism, when it was not so fashionable as it is now, when men did not go to courts and garden parties, but went to their meetings in their slacks after they had done a day's work, we had our hearts in it industrially, and at that time, when we were not fashionable, we did more for the uplifting of the class I belong to than has been done during the past 10 or 15 years. Some of you know that,, even in the engineers' dispute for an eight-hours 1819 day, I was not outside. I faced the music when other men were frightened, and I would face the music to-day with you if you would drop your political point of view, and be prepared to take a man of my standing into your industrial activity. Let me tell you a little story. Notwithstanding that I had left the factory for some years, the engineer members of certain branches in the Kingdom nominated me to go to election as a candidate for this House. Our executive wrote to me, and said was nominated, and they asked what were my views. I said that on trade union questions I was prepared to sign any document they submitted, and that I would loyally support the Labour party in the House of Commons on industrial points, but that on the question of the disestablishment of the Church—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] Well, that is not industrial work. But on that and other germane subjects, in which I, in my quiet way, have assisted the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) more than once, I was not allowed to be a candidate.
Is that your liberty? Is that your desire, as was read in my own organisation in the reading-in years ago, to welcome "men of all creeds and all politics" into your trade unions? Do you do it now? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] You do not. I say to some of you that men's lives are made uncomfortable. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] You have had your innings. It is rarely that I speak in this House, and I have not spoken because of the old associations with many men on that side. That is true, and my friends know it, but if I do speak, and if you do not agree with me, listen, because I have not interrupted you. I say then that men who are Liberal trade unionists, men who are Conservative trade unionists, feel the pressure of the political activity of the Labour party, either in the workshops or in the factories. If the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) were here, I would say to him, that I personally know a man who, in the general strike, or lock-out, or dispute a year ago, remained loyal to his employers, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and it is only this last week that he has been to tell me, not that there is that 1820 concord which the Labour party preach, but that he can hardly pursue his occupation because of the quiet hostility of men who came out on strike when he remained in. [An HON. MEMBER: "We can give you hundreds on the other side victimised!"] I am not an under-dog to you, and do not forget that.
I have quietly, as my friends know, done my duty to the class to which I belong, and I want to support the hon. Member for Broxtowe, who has come out into the open, who has had the courage of hips convictions, who has risked popularity, and who has been charged with receiving money for work that he does. Let me incidentally ask how many of you, and I, have received money for the work we have done. I wish my political opponents in the Labour party would give us, who are as anxious as we can be for the uplifting of our class, the same credit for honesty of purpose that we were prepared to give to them. The hon. Member who was driven out of office had, not on his own initiative, but on the initiative of other men, formed an organisation, I will not say that is in the true sense hostile to the Miners' Federation, but that is a new departure, a departure that this Bill is going to encourage and increase, a departure back—[Interruption]. I am not an Irishman, and I cannot understand what you say. May I remind some of my hon. Friends opposite that I have had an experience at street corners the same as they have, and I know the dodges that they can get up to, as I have got up to?
The attitude of the hon. Member for Broxtowe has brought into being, not hostility to trade unionism, but hostility to the political aspect of it, and when we get this Measure on the Statute Book, I deny your right—you can come to Birmingham and go for me if you like—to say that the legitimate trade unionist is going to be destroyed by a Bill of this sort. Even the first Clause, which has created so much opposition and difficulty, as to a sympathetic strike, does not seem to me to have all the terrors that our opponents put down to it. Let me, in my simple way, give an illustration of what I mean. In my own city we have large bedstead factories, and there are iron casters and brass workers. If the iron casters came out for an increased rate, and the men in that industry, 1821 although not in their trade, the brass workers, came out to support them, I do not think any Prime Minister or anyone else could deny that it was a legal, sympathetic strike, but if, as happened in the general strike, the tramway men in Birmingham were to come out in sympathy with the brass workers, that would not be a sympathetic strike; that would be an attack on the Corporation. I say, therefore, in regard to this Clause, that there is not the fear that some of our friends will try to make out there is.
With regard to some of the other Clauses, I will not go into them in detail, because I have almost exceeded my time now, but let me go into the question, I will not say of the Capital Levy—I will not make that mistake, because you have forgotten what that means—but of the political levy. Some of you may be surprised and may open your eyes—but do not open your mouths—when I say that I pay the political levy. I pay a political levy, but do not go and glory in the fact that you have got someone returned to the fold, because you have not. I pay the political levy so that I can have a go at some of you men, and I have done it many times successfully, and may do it again. That does not mean that, because I have got impudence, other men have it likewise. There are many quiet trade unionists who do not believe in political activity, but who will not go to the branches to face the music, not because you are ogres or anything like that, but because they do not want to mark themselves out. It is true, my friends, and you know it as well as I do, and it is that type of man that I sympathise with, and that I want not to be called upon to pay for what he does not want to pay for, but to let the man who does believe in political activity pay for his opinions.
Some of you will pay, because you know as well as I know that when men have to say they will pay they have a happy knack of sending their children and wives to the branches, and do not go themselves. It will not be an agitation against this Bill that you will have to get up; it will be an agitation to get money out of your supporters who agree with political action. Devote yourselves to that. I heard it said, I think, this morning in a Committee room that if this Bill passed, certain of the hon. 1822 Members opposite would have to clear out. I do not believe it. I do not believe you have not got wit enough to find means by which you can come here, if you want to, but I do say to you, in the exercise of that wit, and, shall I add, humanity—you have some of it, like me—Use it on your own friends, and not on your opponents. If you will do that, if you will endeavour to work this Bill, not with unmeasured hostility, but with an honest endeavour to see whether there is anything in it worthy of support, I say that, if I should be in the next House of Commons, although I am almost getting too old for it, and you as a Labour party can show me—and you know I am open to conviction—that parts of this Bill are destructive to your activity, your honour, and your work, I think I can say, along with the hon. Member for Broxtowe, that both of us would stand up and speak and vote for and support you in your opposition to details of this Measure.
Forgive me for exceeding my time. I do not like to break a promise. I am not a lady, and, although it has no relation to the Bill itself, I have found by experience that many men tell tales that have no relation to what they are talking about. It is done here, it is done elsewhere; shall I do it? There was a certain lady going to elections—you send them; women have not got all that cheek to go to them, only just a very few of the straight-laced ones—who used to pursue me at every meeting at the last election. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] Ah! I had to tell her this: "I am not married"—you ladies here can remember that— "I am not going to get married, and, if I were, I would not marry you."
§ Miss WILKINSON
I find it a little difficult to follow the excellent speech which has been made by the hon. Member opposite, in view of his concluding remarks, because I am afraid he will go from this House to his constituency and say that not only did the women follow him at his election—
§ Miss WILKINSON
—but, alas, they followed him in this House also. I am afraid the hon. Member's remarks with regard to women Members are rather like his remarks with regard to trade unionism in general; they are rather old- 1823 fashioned. While we respect his grey hairs and the long work he has put in in the trade unionist movement, we realise that he speaks for a past generation. Previous speakers have pointed out many peculiar features of this Bill, including the new crimes which have been created, and the general feeling of uncertainty which will be left as to what trade unionists will or will not be able to do. The most amazing thing about both the Debate in this House and the advocacy of the Bill in the country has been the curious misunderstanding of working-class psychology shown by the Tory party. I think the hon. Member for Yardley (Mr. Jephcott) understands that very much better than many of those who have spoken with him. They do not realise that though trade unionists may grumble, that though minorities may want this or that alteration, the trade unions which have been built up during more than a century are a very sacred thing indeed to the working classes of this country.
I am going to ask certain hon. Members of this House, such as the hon. Member for Stockton (Captain Macmillan), the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Duff Cooper), and other hon. Members for working-class constituencies, whether it is not the fact that while minorities here and there are prepared to grumble, the mass of trade unionists are extremely suspicious when employers show any considerable interest in their trade union. I want to give an illustration of that from a side of this question which has not yet been touched on in this Debate. A prominent supporter of the Government, addressing a large meeting of women about this Bill, made the following statement:The Government will protect the working class wife and mother from having her income suddenly interrupted by wild cat folly like the general strike; and will protect her and her husband if they decide together that he shall work and not strike. This Bill will protect her and hers from hatred, ridicule and contempt.I have already heard a Conservative meeting for working women addressed on those lines. It is rather from the point of view of the working women and their attitude with regard to the Bill that I wish to speak.
The working women of this country would be exceedingly glad to have some 1824 protection from this Government. They would like some protection from the profiteer; they would like some protection from the price-fixing associations, about whom evidence has been given before the Food Council, who are able to raise the price of food in a time when wages are low; they would like protection from such associations as were referred to by an hon. Member who spoke about farmers pouring milk down the drains rather than allow it to be sold at a low price. These are all things done by employers' trade unions, but there is not one word in this Bill as to how the women are to be protected in that respect.
They are to be protected from intimidation. I can understand a woman being very much upset when a crowd of men come round her house at night because her husband is going to work, but I can understand her being still more upset when the employer sends his foreman or his manager, as was done in a very large number of cases during the recent coal dispute, to tell that woman that, unless she persuades her husband to go to work, there will be no more work for her husband or her son, and that she will have to leave the tied cottage, which belongs to the colliery. While I admit that a number of men round your house may be unpleasant, it is much more serious intimidation to go into that woman's house and tell her that there is not going to be any more work for her husband or her son unless she brings influence upon her husband to persuade him to go to work. It is very curious that the Government should only want to protect a working woman from her fellow working men, that they should only want to protect a woman from the organisation that exists to improve her husband's wages and conditions. If, as the Tory party say, this Bill is to be a charter of protection for the workingwoman, let us have protection all round. Let us give her protection from the employer who reduces her husband's wages and increase her prices. There is not one single word of that protection in this Bill.
I would like to know how this protection is going to be given. The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General are very clever men, and it may be possible for them, though I do not know how they are going to do it, to deal with the case 1825 of men meeting in a public house, such as the right hon Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) referred to. I would like to ask the Solicitor-General, since he is here, how he proposes to protect the wife of a blackleg and the blackleg himself from the hatred, contempt and ridicule of the women in a mining village, or anywhere else where there is a large strike? How is he going to force Mrs. Striker to speak to Mrs. Blackleg if she does not wish to do so? Are the local police to keep lists of the number of times Mrs. Brown asked Mrs. Jones to tea previous to a dispute and the number of times she asks her afterwards? Are we going to have policemen calling on the wife of a striker and saying, "Mrs. Brown is in tears because you are not asking 'her to tea any more. You did it before the strike, and unless you ask her to tea you are bringing her into hatred, ridicule and contempt. She is very much upset about it, and unless you ask her to tea you will have to go to prison." I would like to ask the Attorney-General whether he proposes to send policemen into the sewing meeting of the local church? I have attended those functions, and I know something about them, and I can imagine that the wife of a striker and the wife of a blackleg will have a distinctly unhappy time.
I regret that the Solicitor-General is not prepared to enlighten us on these important matters, but I would like to know whether there are any means by which the ladies congregated round the church sewing-machine can be prevented from showing their hatred, ridicule and contempt of the woman whose husband has gone to work and so helped to break a strike for better wages. I do not know whether we are going to have a new Tory commandment added to the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt love the neighbour that tries to take the bread from thy children's mouths." If that is the position of the Tory party, they are going to have an extraordinary difficult time. They can legislate against overt crimes, but I cannot see how they are going to legislate against people showing their feelings towards those who are attempting to break a dispute when the men are engaged in what they believe is a fight for their lives.
I was very much struck by a remark made by a woman in my constituency when I was pointing out that one might 1826 be sent to prison for calling a man a blackleg. She said, "Oh, well, that does not matter, we will call him a Douglas Hogg." That raises a very interesting point. Suppose a bench of magistrates were dealing with a striker who had called a blackleg a "Douglas Hogg." Would the magistrates decide that it was a term of ridicule or contempt? It will be a very difficult position for men who have any respect for our learned Attorney-General, and I have no doubt whatever that that woman's phrase is likely to be current in any dispute of the kind.
Tory speakers in this Debate have said the working class are not excited about this Bill. I think that on the whole that is rather true, but I think it is because they know perfectly well that this Bill will not work. If they want to strike they will strike, and nothing we can do will prevent them. It may be asked, "Then why this opposition to the Bill?" It is because when you get a Bill like this the danger lies in the fear of petty tyranny towards the obscure man. It is not men like my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald), or even Mr. A. J. Cook, who are the victims of a Government at the time of a dispute. During the late dispute the safest person in this country was Arthur Cook, because the Government knew perfectly well what would be the effect of putting a man like that in prison. The whole difficulty centres round the obscure man, the man in the little village, the man who is at the mercy of every small informer and his wife. When I was going round hundreds of small mining villages in my capacity as a member of the Miners' Relief Committee, I saw the amount of petty tyranny that was going on, the number of people who went round to the police and said, "So-and-so has called me a blackleg." Even then men and women were put in prison because it was said they had intimidated others.
The hon. Member who spoke before me said that women always break their word. I do not propose to break mine. I would like to say, in conclusion, that the Conservative party as a whole has entirely misunderstood the psychology of the 1827 working classes. There are men like the previous speaker who are the malcontents, the minority, but, if you have a great wave of working-class feeling like you had last May on the part of men who were not concerned with coercing any Government but who were concerned in showing their sympathy with the miners—if you have that spirit again, you will have the same result, not because the leaders want it, or because the men consciously want it, but because you have a great mass wave of sympathy that nothing is going to prevent. If, as the result of that, you put 5,000,000 working men in prison, you will have 5,000,000 working women behind them ready to go too.
§ Mr. JAMES KIDD
Beginning with the Prime Minister's speech yesterday, we are getting into a bigger region in this Debate than that of mere legal interpretation. In the opening part of his speech the right hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) said truly that one may agree or disagree with this Bill, but it is certainly a Bill with the most far-reaching effects. I entirely agree, and I think we do well to try and discover in this Debate—as a supporter of the Bill I see them—the sane possibilities of the Measure. The legal points for and against the Bill have been canvassed with great ability and rare acuteness. The ability of the legal discussion has been such as to attract Members from all sides of the House. However, am I not right in saying that the man in the street, the worker, will apply a larger test to this Bill? His test will be whether the Bill will tend to promote conditions likely to encourage greater prosperity in industry and whether the Bill is thereby likely to increase the wage fund of the workers. The right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Shaw) made an observation—and I think the same line was taken to-day by the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden)—to the effect that it was impossible to discover the relation between the political levy and the general strike. The very fact that the right hon. Member for Colne Valley fails to grasp the very direct relation between the political levy and the general strike is a conclusive proof to me of the extraordinary confusion that has been created even in the best of minds by the intermixing of politics and industry.
§ Mr. KIDD
The right hon. Member for Derby, who very properly asks why, will agree with me that the very basis of the Socialist party and the excuse for its confusion of politics and industry is to be discovered in the slogan "The Solidarity of Labour." Am I not right in saying that the general strike is the last phase of the dogma of solidarity? What do you mean by solidarity? Do you mean to suggest that by some device you can eliminate that competition which exists between man and man, firm and firm, industry and industry? Can you eliminate that law, which is designed not by this party or that, but is part of the scheme of providence to protect the consumer? If you do not propose that what do you propose I If you propose that then the solidarity of labour is truly nonsense. If you agree with that view then the direct result of this cry "The solidarity of labour" when you materialise it and put it to the test is the general strike. I see the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) shakes his head.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I shook my head because it appeared to me that the hon. Member was getting confused. Did he suggest that the political levy was not urged in order to secure that representation through this House which is much better than any general strike?
§ Mr. KIDD
The right hon. Member avoids my point with characteristic skill. I shall clear it up. My point is that this doctrine of the solidarity of labour is ruinous to the competitive industry. We seek for the prosperity of the country not in the arbitrary wage of the service or sheltered industry; you find the evidence of our prosperity in the value of the wage fund of the competitive and unsheltered industries. That prosperity will reflect itself inevitably in an increased wage for the man in the sheltered industry. How does this cry for the solidarity of labour work? I am a member for a mining constituency. I was its member during the mining dispute in 1921 and also during the mining dispute in 1926. Am I not right in saying that in 1921 the miners were encouraged to believe that, in proof of the solidarity of labour, they would have the support of 1829 the railway men? What happened? When the precipice was reached the miners went over alone; the railway men were wisely advised to avoid it. What did that represent? It represented that the right hon. Member for Derby had turned his back upon the political slogan when it came against the industrial test, and the miners were left alone. In 1926 again the miners were encouraged to believe that, as a proof of the solidarity of labour, they would have the support of all classes of the community.
What happened then? The miners toppled over, but the railwaymen were rightly advised by their distinguished leader to get back to solid ground in a very short time. If the miners' leaders had taken the industrial stand with the miners there would have been no stoppage. If the right hon. Member for Derby had not as a politician misled the miners there would have been no stoppage. The right hon. Member for Derby qua politician encouraged the miners of my county and of every other county to believe that they would have the support of the railwaymen; the right hon. Member for Derby qua railway adviser took his stand on both occasions on sound economic facts to save his own men. When it came to the industrial tussle he had to stand by his men. Where is the identity of interest between the railwayman and the miner? Between the sheltered trade with an arbitrary wage and the unsheltered trade with the competitive wage? The railways belong to the former—sheltered with competitive wage, to maintain which wage they want to keep down other costs—notably coal, of which they are large consumers. On the other hand, the miner's is an industry which, however much it may have resembled a monopoly in days gone by, is to-day most intensively competitive. It has to meet foreign coal, oil and hydroelectric power. Therefore, it cannot have an arbitrary wage. The miner must take an economic wage. Being a producer of coal, he as naturally wishes coal to be dear to sustain his wage. The antagonism is clear. If you had a long strike, the right hon. Member for Derby would be faced with his men asking him: "Are you using us for political purposes Do you suggest an identity of interests between us and the miners?" The right hon. Gentleman anticipated that, and that is the reason why the railways went on.
1830 But what has happened? I know those miners. They were at the village school with me, I have played on the cricket and football field with them, I hold their affection and I hold their confidence professionally. I see hundreds of men in my own district in middle life, whose savings of a lifetime have been scattered away, and who in middle life are asked to face a dismal prospect of broken wage and broken time. Why have they suffered so? They hays suffered because of the abuses of the trade unions for political purposes. Some have pretended that this Bill will prejudicially affect the unions. Is there any earthly reason, apart from a few political ambitions, why the unions in this country should not pursue the policy now more and more pursued by the American unions? Can it be doubted that the prosperity of America is due to the spread of peace in industry? To a spread of peace which arises there from the fact that the unions are establishing more and more conditions wherein all in industry through union investment are there in a common character however varied in degree, with a common knowledge of their industry? In that common knowledge you have peace as certainly as you have serious unrest as a result of a common ignorance here, because there is not here as in America the common outlook.
I am distinguishing between the industries of America where these doctrines apply and where you have peace and those industries where they do not apply and where you have occasionally unrest. I suggest that the unions' contribution to peace in America is a large one. You may say that there are physical conditions in America explaining the prosperity there as compared with the absence of prosperity here. There are no such physical conditions. The raw resources of America are trivial as compared with our Colonies. In transportation the rail freight of America will be found to be not favourable as compared with our shipping freight. Take again the case of man power and there again the Mackenzie Commission says we are not second in the world. In the matter of machinery and of conditions of work they again report that we are not behind. On the last analysis, you will find that the source of American prosperity lies in the constitutional fact that the American Constitution—which in a republic can keep clearer 1831 than our old monarchical Constitution can, the doctrine of individual freedom—because our graded society assists confusion—that American Constitution reinforced by anti-trust law, has shut the unions off from political action. So shut off, they have taken naturally and easily to the industrial line and investment, finishing with those labour banks, which in six years' time have accumulated disposits to the tune. of £22,000,000.
I shall venture during the Committee stage to put down Amendments along the lines of bringing directly to the worker the knowledge that his union as a matter of right may secure what allotment it wishes in any public issue in which its men are interested. I know the reply may be that I am going too far; that the Bill itself will create conditions similar to those in America so that the unions here may develop along the same lines. There are three replies to that argument. The first is that this Bill will not get rid of the constitutional differences which I have mentioned. In the second place, I would say that America is not the last word in political science. And lastly, as all parties are responsible for encouraging the confusion of politics and industry, it is the duty of the Government to conclusively get rid of the confusion by bringing home to the individual worker the simple fact that his union is invited and enabled to pursue the larger mission as the American unions more and more are doing. As one who has always taken a great interest in these matters, I welcome this Bill coming from a Conservative Government.
It will be remembered that during the coal strike Debates the Prime Minister said that the coal industry must discover for itself or have discovered for it a system which would resent rather than invite political interference, and in that attitude he was simply pursuing the policy of his great predecessor Mr. Disraeli. Hon. Members will recollect how Mr. Disraeli defended the workers both on the spending and the earning side. His charter to the co-operative society recognised in that organisation the medium for effecting economies for the humblest worker through the group purchase of his society on behalf of its members which otherwise a worker could not effect. In other words, through the 1832 society he sought to introduce the worker to the current of capitalism on the spending side. Similarly, he saw in his charter to the trade union movement the possibility of employing that organisation as a medium for introducing the worker through the investment of the union to the current of capitalism on the earning side. The irony of it all is this, that because of the confusion of politics and industry emphasised since 1906 we have not pursued the policy with our unions which the intended, but on the other hand, our American cousins have done so. I welcome this Bill because of my interest in trade unions. I welcome the Bill because of the promise it holds out that trade unions will discover in it the possibility not available now of pursuing the larger mission which that great Conservative statesman intended.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I will not follow the hon. Member who has just spoken in his analysis of the relative merits of trade unionism at home and abroad. We are all familiar with the character who believed inFreedom's cause,Ez fur away ez Payris is.I think the hon. Member has shown a keener pleasure in supporting trade unionism in America than in Linlithgow-shire which he represents. Whatever effect this Bill may have, it will have one political effect in Scotland, and that will be to change the representation of the constituency which the hon. Member for Linlithgow now represents. I now turn to the speeches which have been made from the Front Government Bench in support of this Measure. The Prime Minister stood at that Box yesterday in the garb of injured innocence, and proceeded to tell us that the working classes of this country were responsible for the introduction of this Measure. He reminded us of the developments which have taken place in the industrial field since trade union law was reviewed and revised a generation ago. He said that the workers then fought in brigades and that now they fought in armies. He told us that the small unions had federated, that we had had masses of federations, and he appeared to attribute all that working class unity to working class wickedness. The Prime Minister was never able to realise that our industrial difficulties and 1833 troubles have a material rather than a moral basis, and so he is always tempted to go on praying when the demands of the situation demand good works. If the right hon. Gentleman had wanted evidence of the cause of the mass federation of workers, he could have found it on the benches behind him. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) is the head of a large chemical trust. He is an owner of mines and now he has become a bank director. Is it not the most natural thing in the world that the common employés of this employer should be driven into a. federation, that the miners, the chemical workers, and the bank clerks he employs should have sympathy with one another in dealing with questions of wages. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen is a type that may truly be regarded as the father of the sympathetic strike. If the right hon. Gentleman would only turn to the other side of the Gangway on his own side of the House he would find there the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) who, I understand, is busily engaged in organising a British combine in the iron and steel industry to join a European combine, and he wants to bring into that combination the employers of France and Germany. Where will that inevitably lead? Will not the workers of the future employed by this international combine tend towards international organisation and will not the possible strike of steel workers in the future be international and not merely national in character? In these circumstances, is it fair for the Prime Minister to stand up in this House and attribute to the wickedness of the workers the mass formations into which they are being forced by the development of the capitalistic system?
The Prime Minister proceeded to praise himself for the self-sacrificing efforts he had made to avert industrial trouble in 1926, and he told us that when the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) introduced his Trade Unions Bill that, although it had the sympathy and support of the majority of his followers, he frowned upon that Measure. He told us that he had gone further and exposed his party to a charge of cowardice by granting a subsidy to the mining community after he had declared that he would never grant that subsidy 1834 The Prime Minister likes to pose as a patient, honest man, but the facts are not always in favour of his honesty. In a speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman at Chippenham on 14th June, he referred to the strike that had occurred and he said:It was inevitable that if the strike had not come on the 3rd of May it would have come on some other date.Therefore, he granted the subsidy under the belief that the strike was inevitable. He prepared, as he stated in another speech, to meet the strike, and the granting of the subsidy was part of his plan because he wanted a breathing space. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister used the funds of the State to facilitate a class campaign. He acted as he did, he said, in order that he might avoid firing the first shot. He granted the subsidy because his ammunition was not ready, and he preferred during the operation of the subsidy not to remove the difficulties of the mining industry because he had never any intention of doing that. He appointed a Royal Commission, but refused to give statutory effects to the decisions of that Commission, and he gave as his excuse for not doing so that neither the employers nor the employed would agree with their recommendations. May I point out that the right hon. Gentleman has introduced this Bill without any anxiety at all as to whether employers and employed agree with his proposals. The right hon. Gentleman refused to give effect to the evidence given before the Samuel Commission because it tended to interfere with the class control of the industry, a principle which dominates His Majesty's Government. But I think he has been guilty of something even more shameful. Under the guise of his beloved honesty, he made an eloquent appeal to the Labour leaders of this country to assist him in creating an atmosphere in which we could avoid strife and secure peace by negotiation. The Labour leaders responded to his appeal in a manner that brought them to the verge of humiliation. The columns of the Tory Press of this country for months were filled with articles by prominent Labour leaders appealing for support for the Prime Minister's policy. Luncheons attended by employers and employés, and, I believe, patronised by the right 1835 hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), were held in the Savoy Hotel for the same purpose. At least one prominent Socialist leader appealed to the workers to postpone their demand for Socialism, and to concentrate meantime on securing an improvement within the capitalist system. Having in this 'manner created in the minds of a large number of workers in this country the impression that the Prime Minister was good and the employers were not bad, our Labour leaders get their reward in this Bill.
This Bill is not designed to secure peace by negotiation. It is framed with the direct object of securing peace in industry by the use of the police, the Law Courts, the Judges, and, if necessary, the prisons. I submit that that is one of the most shameful actions of which any prominent statesman in our country has been guilty for a considerable number of years. The Attorney-General, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, submitted to the House four propositions; and he invited the House to regard these as objects with which we were all in agreement, and the Bill as calculated to give effect to those propositions. Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman very adroitly proceeded to appeal to us on this side of the House to regard ourselves as being in agreement with the objects, and differing only as to methods. He said, "The language may be vague; certain Clauses may be weak; but let us co-operate fraternally in getting a Bill that will realise the objects with which we are in general agreement." I wish, so far as I can without encroaching too much on the time of the House, to question the extent to which these four propositions laid down by the Attorney-General can be justly applied to the actions of trade unions.
The first proposition was that the general strike is illegal. I do not think it carries us any further when we make a general statement like that. The fact of its being illegal does not touch at all the question whether it is right. A Government with the will and the power can make anything illegal. Time and circumstance to a large extent determine illegality. A monarchy is illegal in France, Germany or America, but no 1836 hon. Member on the other side of the House would get up and say that the institution is wrong because in certain parts of the world it is illegal. A Parliament like this is illegal in Russia; opposition to a dictatorship is illegal in Italy; but none of these circumstances determines whether or not the things that are illegal are right or wrong. What we have to discuss here is not what is legal, but what is morally justifiable. I submit that it is a misuse of words to describe what occurred last year as a general strike. At no time were there more than 20 per cent. of the workers of this country in the field, and to describe as a general strike a situation in which 80 per cent. of the workers continued in employment is, as I have said, a misuse of the English language. A general strike is a practical impossibility. There are certain workers without whose services even a strike could not survive, and the party opposite, the representatives of the Government and their supporters, know quite well that you cannot have a general strike.
What this Bill is aimed at is a sympathetic strike. It is a sympathetic strike that we have to justify, and I, for one, to my own conscience have no difficulty whatever in finding justification for it. Everyone admits the right of the individual to withhold his labour if he so desires; it is the mark of distinction between a free man and a slave. But to-day the wages of workers are not settled individually. The worker has no choice in the matter. He is not free to negotiate individually with his employer. Wages are settled in the mass formation form to which the Prime Minister referred, and, whether the railway worker or the miner likes it or not, his employers and his fellow-workers insist on collective bargaining with regard to wages, and he has to accept those conditions. How, then, could it be maintained that, while an individual is forced to sink his individuality in bargaining for wages, you are thereby justified in depriving him of his free man's liberty? I submit that that is a position which cannot be justified. And not only that; I go further, and say that that principle carries us far beyond the bounds of any particular Industry. We are told by speakers on the Front Bench that, while that may be true of, say, a man engaged in the 1837 railway service, it does not justify an engineer in going to the assistance of the railway workers. But I submit that it does. For years Lord Weir and others have carried on a campaign to draw attention to the disparity in wages between the employés in sheltered and in competitive industries, and have pointed to the importance of reducing wages in the sheltered trades in order to enable employers in the competitive trades to deal with their workers in a manner that would enable them to compete with the foreigner in the neutral markets of the world. If Lord Weir be right, if all that Lord Weir represents be right, in the contention that the engineers' wages are determined by the wages of the railway workers, then, when the railway workers are fighting for a standard of wages, are they not at the same time fighting for a standard of wages for engineers; and, in these circumstances, how can the engineers be morally prevented from going to the assistance of their railway fellow-workers? I submit that there is no case against the moral justification for a sympathetic strike. Whether it is wise or not, whether it is good tactics for the workers to adopt, is beside the question altogether. The wisdom or folly of such action is a question for the workers, and for the workers only, to determine, and is one that is beyond the jurisdiction of this House.
Then we are told that intimidation is illegal. That is all right in the abstract; intimidation is illegal; but I have no doubt that all the legal magnates who rise in this House and tell us these things know of cases where they would justify even violence, and have justified violence, in the Courts. If a man proceeds to attack me in order to rob me of my watch, any of these legal gentleman would find legal justification for my knocking that man down; and, if I may use intimidation against a man in such circumstances, if I may be very threatening, even though I stop short of action, against a man who wishes to rob me of my watch, how can it be argued that I am not morally entitled to go a long way against the man who tries to deprive me of my bread? If we may take a case in point, it might be this, that if 600,000 railwaymen decide to-morrow to resist a reduction in wages, 1838 and if, among that 600,000, there is a minority of 100,000, the ballot being five to one in favour of a strike, it is quite clear that, if the minority of 100,000 continue at their work, they may, and probably will, determine, not merely the wages of themselves, but the wages of the majority as well. It would be all right to grant this freedom to the minority if they were only, by their blacklegging, determining their own wage conditions; but on what grounds are you going to justify a minority of one in six determining the wages of the majority of the workers? There can be no justification for that, and I submit that it is as big a crime to deprive a man and his wife and children of their daily bread as it is to deprive a man of certain forms of property. Therefore, there is nothing extraordinary in the fact that the law as it stands to-day allows workers to go a long way towards persuading a minority of their fellow workers, in a time of industrial strife, to abide by the decision of the majority. It is exactly the same procedure as is adopted by the State. When a nation goes to war, where are the rights of the minority? The nation claims that it is fighting for the common good, and that, willy-nilly, they must all come in, whether they approve of it or not; and the very same principle that justifies that action on the part of the State justifies the action of a trade union majority, in a time of industrial strife, in insisting on acquiescence by the minority.
Coming to the third proposition, with which I do not wish to deal at any length, namely, the proposition that no man should be compelled to subscribe to the funds of a political party against his will, that, again, may be all right in the abstract, but this Bill is aimed at the Labour party only. The Labour party is not merely a political party; it is partly political and partly industrial. We all remember that the coal dispute of last year was fought out to a large extent, and I believe determined, on the Floor of this House, and, surely, when the Eight Hours Bill was being discussed, a Bill that was destined to have the most vital effects on the dispute that was going on outside, the miners of this country were entitled to be directly represented in this House. It was as essential that they should have their representatives 1839 here as at the conferences where the matter was being discussed, and the Miners' Union were just as much entitled to use their political funds in sending their representatives here as in sending their representatives to discuss the wages problem in any other part of the country. I might go on and deal in the same way with the fourth proposition, regarding the Civil Service. The Government are laying it down now that when a man enters the Civil Service, he is to find at the door a statement, "Abandon citizenship all ye who enter here." The proposition is seriously submitted that a person cannot at the same time be loyal to his class and loyal to the State. If that proposition be sound, there are not many loyalists to the State on the other side of the House, because I do not know a single one of them who is not loyal to his class; and, if a rich man can be loyal to his class and at the same time loyal to the State, then I submit that the postmen and other civil servants of this country can be trusted as much by the Government of this country as any section represented on the other side, or sitting on the other side, of the House.
I do not want to occupy time any further except to say that I believe this Bill will become an Act of Parliament, and that a great many things that have been said about the likelihood of this creating greater difficulties for the Government than exist at present are absolutely true. I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that when the Bill is placed on the Statute Book and the workers are up against the new conditions that are created, they will find means of defeating the tyrannical legislation that is now before the House. In their attempt to find ways of evading a law which has no moral justification and therefore deserves no respect, as far as I am concerned and anyone for whom I can speak in this House, we will enable and we will assist them to find means of evading and defeating it by every resource in our power.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG
This vigorous Debate has had many interesting contributions from eminent leaders of trade unions, with whom, perhaps, for the moment I might class the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, but it 1840 appeared to me that, valuable though their contributions have been, they have all rather been deficient in the helpfulness that they might have had owing to an initial error of strategy. It used to be taught in all schools of strategy that the worst mistake that you can make is to develop your attack before you know the distribution of the enemy's forces, and that, it appears to me, is precisely what the leaders in this attack in the House have done; they have developed an attack upon the Bill before they knew what the Bill was, and, as it has turned out that the Bill is a different Bill from that which they expected, the attack is in the air. They are attacking the Bill as a Bill which is directed against the right to combine. Of course it is not so. In order to attack the right to combine, you would have to deal with the trade union legislation of 1906 and earlier. Some think that it ought and some think that it ought not to be dealt with. At any rate, it is not dealt with. Then they attack this as a Bill against the right to strike. They will really never succeed in convincing the commonsense of the country that Clause 1 is directed against the right to strike. Particularly is that so, after the free statements that have been made from the Treasury Bench as to the intention of the Clause and the willingness to accept Amendments better to express that intention if better words can be found. Finally, they attack this Bill as a Bill directed against the Labour party. I think we may say that it is not a Bill directed against the Labour party unless the Labour party are willing, to parody a familiar phrase, to write upon the front of their building, "Supported by involuntary contributions."
This Debate has also bad many valuable contributions from distinguished members of the legal profession, who always bring so much to our Debates; and in particular from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). These eminent members of the profession have all criticised Clause 1 because it is vague. It may be so, but I think it is well that it should be so. The Clause deals with conditions which are new to our law, conditions which are new to our social structure. Under these circumstances it is actually of advantage that the terms 1841 used should be such as can be understood by the general public. Lawyers, perhaps, are always a little too much inclined to be critical about popular wording and terms which are not terms of art in new Measures. I have no doubt that when Magna Charta was being drafted the lawyers thought it was very badly drafted. They said nobody could tell what a "trial" was, or a "peer." Nevertheless, the people have understood it, and valued it ever since. The people, I believe, when they understand this Bill, will value it on something like the same grounds as they value Magna Charta, as a defence of liberty.
Let me proceed to deal with the arguments advanced from a particular point of view, in especial by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). It is an argument which must have appealed to some of those on these benches. It was, "Why not let well alone? Why bring in a Bill now?" For the first reason, if for no other, that this Debate has clearly exhibited the profound confusion and differences of opinion which exist as to this most fundamental element in our laws. The law-abiding citizen in this country desires nothing more than to know what the law is in order that he might obey it. Recent events have put him into the position of not knowing what his duty to the law is in a very important case, the case of another general strike. He is entitled to know without doubt what the law is in that case. It is the obvious and simple duty of the Government to give him assistance by telling him. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said, "How is this Bill going to help you to stop a general strike?" For this reason, that our people are a law-abiding people, and when they know that a general strike is illegal they will not embark on it.
There are stronger and deeper reasons than that why this Bill is needed, even though it is good to let well alone. I must cover what is very important ground in a very summary manner. There are deeper reasons than that why you cannot refrain from action. We are told, "Do nothing in order that you may preserve peace and advance prosperity." Peace and prosperity can exist only upon a firm foundation of law and of liberty. The foundations of those have been 1842 shaken, and they must be repaired before we can be assured of prosperity. There are certain rules which we know well, the keeping of which is essential to the very existence of the State. Indeed, nothing less than the existence of the State has been put in jeopardy by recent events. One rule is this, that authority shall not be exercised save with the consent of the people as a whole. In the events of last year, authority was exercised, by those who organised the general strike. It is in controversy over whom they desired to exercise authority, whether over the mineowners or the State. There is no controversy that they did desire to exercise authority. That authority was not based on the consent of the people as a whole. It was based only on the consent of a section of the people, the trade unionists. It is impossible to leave that state of affairs without a declaration of the law. Otherwise what would be the result? No other section of the community will sit down under the burden of having authority exercised over it by another section. If you leave things in that state people will take the law into their hands, and we shall drift directly on to the rocks of civil strike.
There is another rule necessary for the existence of the State. It is that authority should be exercised only under form of law, because otherwise no man knows what his rights and duties are. To permit any other state of affairs is the straight way to extreme uncertainty in all the legal relations of life, and there is no relation of life that has not its legal aspect. It would ruin prosperity. Last year, in those direful events, authority was exercised, and not under form of law. People are now in a state of doubt and uncertainty about their legal rights and obligations, which they are entitled to have removed. The last rule necessary to the existence of a State which I would mention is this, that authority must be exercised only by the organs of the Constitution. That is because if you act otherwise, if you allow any other organs than those of the Constitution to exercise authority, you enfeeble the State. You begin to have two sources of sovereignty; you try to derive law from two sources. That leads to absolute insecurity of all rights and duties. In the events last year it was 1843 sought to exercise such authority, not by an organ of the Constitution, but by the General Council of the Trade Unions. Thus another source of law erected its head in rivalry with the State. For the sake of the security of rights and duties, of life and property, the people are entitled to have such a state of affairs made impossible for the future.
Such were the grave lesions inflicted on our social life last year. A section of the nation took the law into their own hands. It is impossible for the safety of the State to allow that state of affairs to continue or to be repeated. Why? We all know that even the best of citizens has a sense of self-restraint in obeying the law. If we have a wrong to put right or a right to establish we know that we exercise a certain self-restraint and sacrifice in leaving it to the law to do those things for us. The State can demand that sacrifice from the law-abiding citizen only if it demands it with absolute equality. If you allow any section to take the law into their hands, other sections will take the law into their hands, and thus you proceed straight to anarchy.
That is as to the necessity of this Bill from the point of view of law. Let me say a word about it from the point of view of liberty. The common citizen, whose opinions I feel are perhaps represented by what I have said, is distinguished no doubt in the first place by a very great reverence for law, but in the second place by an equal affection for liberty. Why is this Bill necessary from the point of view of liberty? I think that on these benches we feel from time to time the motion of a prejudice against all legislation. We are inclined to favour the point of view, "Why legislate about it?" Legislation so often does more harm than good. The prejudice is largely due to the fact that much of the legislation to which we have been used of late is legislation that restricts liberty. On the other hand, a Bill that enlarges liberty is entitled to our hearty support. I believe that this Bill enlarges liberty. The strongest weapon in the armoury of the age-long enemies of liberty is the will to use the power over a man's livelihood to constrain his opinions. That throughout the ages has been the most formidable 1844 weapon which the oppressor has used. In the earlier stages of the age-long fight for liberty the contest centred round the land. The land was necessary to a livelihood, and under the feudal system the power over the land was used to make a man's livelihood depend on his support of the accepted system. The first great victory won for liberty was when livelihood from the land was made independent of a man's opinions. The second great fight for liberty was fought over the religious questions. There was a time when a man's right to earn his livelihood was made to depend on his holding certain religious opinions. The final victory in that other fight came when the Test Acts were repealed and a man was allowed to enter any profession or to earn his livelihood in any way in the State independently of his religious opinions.
Now in this latter end of the day we find another and even more dangerous attempt to make use of this time-honoured weapon to constrain a man's opinions. It is in the practice of the great organisations of industrial wage-earners. We find under the system of organised industry, with the immense power of the trade unions, this last reappearance of this favourite enemy of liberty, the desire to constrain a man's political opinions and to make his right to earn his livelihood in his trade depend on his opinion as regards political matters. Now in this latter end of the long contest we have to stand up against yet another attempt against liberty in its most sacred schrine. Believe me, it is that will to use power over a man's livelihood, to prevent his holding this opinion or that, that is the worst enemy of liberty. The right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) said yesterday, should not the will of the majority prevail? Certainly that has to be granted. That is democracy. But when the power of the majority is used to say you shall not earn your living, you shall not get a livelihood, you and your wife and children shall starve unless you hold these opinions, that is where democracy and liberty end and persecution begins. I have no fear about the success of the task of defending this Bill against the many misrepresentations that have been 1845 made, since it serves these two high ends—that of the fortification of the law, and that of the enlargement of liberty.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down gave the House an extremely interesting address on constitutional law. He dealt with the importance of liberty, of majority rule, and of the State being governed by public opinion. I think that that comes ill from his lips. The House ought to be reminded that at the last General Election he was returnd as a Liberal, and since that time he has shown such little regard for the opinion of the majority, that he has decided to go on representing them as a Conservative.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG
If I may say so, that is a comic reference to my representative position, which is actually stronger than that of most Members. Since I crossed the Floor, my Liberal Association has formally and expressly rejected a proposal that I should resign my seat. My representative authority, therefore, has received a more recent refreshment than that of Members who received theirs at the General Election.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that his authority is not derived from any Liberal Association. That authority is derived from the many thousand electors who sent him here. There has been, in nearly every speech delivered from the other side, an evasion of the main issue which is before the House. The Attorney-General, in his speech presenting this Bill, enunciated four great principles, not one of which, as far as I have heard, has ever been controverted. The question before the House is not that of the four idealistic principles which the Attorney-General enunciated. The question before the House is: Is this Bill a good Bill or a bad Bill? The right hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young) suggested that it clarified the law. My suggestion is that if the law were obscure before, it is 10 times more obscure now. I do not often indulge in a Latin quotation in this House, but there is an old Latin aphorism which runs "Obscurum per obscurius," which implies an attempt to explain a thing which is obscure by something which is 10 times more obscure. That 1846 applies very aptly to this Bill, and, very shortly, I propose to explain why I consider that is so.
Clause 1 is undoubtedly the most important Clause of the Bill, and, as an example of the extremely wide ground it covers, I am going to give two cases which, I believe, would be covered by the wording of this Bill, and I shall challenge the Attorney-General to dispute that such cases would be covered by this Bill. Supposing after the next General Election five Conservative Ministers went to a Conservative Prime Minister and said, "Unless you repeal this Bill, we will give up our job, we will stop working, we will not support the Government." Under the definition of a strike that would be a threat by those persons to give up work, and it would be outside any trade or industry, and would be an attempt to coerce the Government. I am perfectly well aware that is not the intention of the Government, but there are many similar cases that can be quoted to show that Clause 1 is extraordinarily worded, and could be interpreted by a Court of Law to cover any form of strike whatsoever. It is said that it would not cover a strike designed to secure an industrial object alone, but the day has long gone by when we can separate industrial and political objects. Questions such as minimum wage and hours of labour are questions which have been dealt with in the past, and which border on industrial and political questions. If the Government at any time happened to be considering enacting by legislation something which the employers were refusing to give in negotiation, and the men struck work to secure that thing, they would be trying to coerce the Government.
A similar case which might arise in the future is this: Supposing a body of trade unionists in any particular industry decided to strike to ensure that no men over 65 years of age should be employed in that work. It might very well be a part of the Government's unemployment policy that everybody over 65 should retire from industry in order to make way for younger men, and thus solve, or assist to solve, our unemployment problem. If a Government at any time is considering any industrial question, and at the same time a body of men strike to make their employers give it by negotiation, that strike would be an illegal 1847 strike under Clause 1 of this Bill. That is one of the points which has not been dealt with by the Attorney-General. I also want to ask whether it is intended to prevent certain types of trade unions from striking. There are certain trade unions which have their members in several industries. Is the weapon of the strike to be entirely withdrawn from them? Is the General Workers' Union never to be allowed to strike at all? Unions are not necessarily organised by trades, and you cannot segregate any particular trade. A strike of the transport industry or the agricultural industry would be a very deadly weapon directed against the State, but would not be illegal under this Bill. On the other hand, if the Attorney-General is quite prepared for any strike to take place as long as it is only sponsored by one union, what is the position of a union like the General Workers, which recruited its workers from every field of industry, but maintains the right to strike because they are all organised under one union?
There is another case I want to put, and I put it in order to emphasise my argument that you cannot get industry going properly except on a basis of goodwill. The working men, the manual workers, can prevent the restoration to prosperity if they wish it without any resort to a general strike at all, and I am going to indicate one way by which it could be done. Supposing, instead of a general strike, the unions got together and said, "This weapon has been taken from us unjustly, as we think, but we have another weapon. We can inaugurate a system of general ca'canny, or working to rule, or absenteeism, or half or quartertime." By a policy such as that, each man, although attending his work, receiving secret or open instructions not to produce the goods, not to get on with the job, it would be possible, more slowly, perhaps, but with an equal deadly certainty, to complete the industrial paralysis of this nation without the protection of this Clause at all. The other part of the Sub-section which, in my view, tends to make the Bill obscure, is that which deals with actiondesigned or calculated to coerce the Government, or to intimidate the community or any substantial portion of the community.1848 It has been asked a hundred times, if once, what is a substantial portion of the community? Neither the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister nor the Secretary of State for War, nor any Government or back bench spokesman has attempted to tell us what is intended by that phrase. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Liberal party!"] The Liberal party is 3,000,000 of the community, and there are 40 of us in the House. Probably the Attorney-General would say 40 was a substantial portion of the community, if 40 millionaires, and not 40 working men and women. It is said that if action is calculated to coerce the Government or to intimidate any substantial portion of the community, it is illegal. The question arises—calculated by whom? Is it to be calculated only in the minds of the strikers, or calculated by the Government? The Attorney-General suggested that when he said, "If I appeal to the High Court for an injunction against a strike, all the world will know it is illegal." But that is not the authority under the Bill at all. The people who decide whether action undertaken by 10,000 men is calculated to coerce the Government or not, are the local Justices of the Peace. Perhaps two or three elderly, apoplectic country squires are going to have authority to send 10,000 men and their leaders to gaol, because they consider their action is calculated to coerce the Government or intimidate any substantial portion of the community. It is perfectly useless for an hon. Gentleman opposite to shake his head. If he does so, it shows that he does not understand the Bill. I say that a Court of Summary Jurisdiction can send 10,000 men to gaol if they consider the provisions of Clause 1 bring a strike within the terms of the Clause as being an illegal strike.
I want to say one word more, and that is in regard to Clause 3. This is another case where I want the Attorney-General, if he will—I know my voice does not have very much effect upon him—but I hope he will do me the honour to reply to this. He stated as one of his great principles, that intimidation shall not be employed against a trade unionist who refuses to strike. There is intimidation which can be prevented, and intimidation which cannot be prevented. Already, under the 1913 Act, the Registrar of 1849 Friendly Societies is empowered to make a binding order to prevent any man from suffering any disability or disqualification whatever by reason of refusing to pay the political levy. There is another sort of intimidation with which this Bill purports to deal. My suggestion is that the law is strong enough to deal with intimidation which can be stopped, and that intimidation which cannot be stopped will not be reached at all by this particular Clause. As an example I want to ask whether the Government brought a single case into the Courts during the last general strike of intimidation which failed owing to inadequacy of the law instead of inadequacy of evidence. I remember reading of a case in which 14 women were sent to gaol because they followed a blackleg from place to place—merely following. Surely you cannot go stronger than that. The Bill imposes penalties if a person attends at a place for the purpose of intimidating. There is a far more deadly form of intimidation which is the very opposite of attending, and that is going away. It is the weapon of the boycott, which is not touched by the Bill at all. If a milkman refuses to deliver milk to a man who has refused to strike for three months he does not come under this Clause. The most effective and deadly and cruel form of intimidation cannot be reached by the law, and the forms of intimidation that can be reached are covered by the existing law, and I see no reason for having any further enactment.
The Bill may be summed up in this way. It aspires to do many things which it does not achieve and it achieves many very dangerous things to which it does not aspire at all. The last occasion on which an attempt was made to pass a repressive Act against trade unions was in 1800. The Combination Acts of that date addressed themselves to persons who were guilty of the preposterous offence of making an agreement to keep wages high or hours short For this terrible offence this Combination Act provided two months' imprisonment. I have no doubt the Lord Birkenheads of that day thought themselves very wise men. In the words of Lord Birkenhead the other day, they thought they had taken on a very noble quarrel, but within 24 years that Act of Parliament had been repealed, and the difference 1850 between that Act of Parliament and this one, in my opinion, is that whereas that one was not repealed for 24 years, this one is likely to be repealed within something approaching 24 months. What is the locus standi of Lord Birkenhead and other Ministers who are proposing to carry the Bill through? Who are they to set themselves up as defenders of our Constitution? I am sure the public memory is not so short that it has forgotten the events of 1913, when right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that bench were the leaders of an attempt to defeat the Constitution. Lord Birkenhead himself was a member of the Ulster Volunteers. I notice that he became very eloquent about this Bill the other day. He said: "We are taking on a great quarrel. You can make your speeches, you can raise all your agitation, you can unfurl all your flags, but when you have done it all we shall still pass this Bill." What was he saying in 1913? "You can pass all your Bills and we will still unfurl our flag, the flag of rebellion." Only the other day the Minister of Transport was in Ulster and was making a speech. He, too, had been a member of the Ulster Volunteers. He did not regret what he had done then. He said if the same circumstances existed to-day he would do the same thing. In other words, when the Constitution suits right hon. Gentlemen on that bench they defend the Constitution. When it does not suit them they will not defend it. Therefore, I think we are entitled to look with suspicion on right hon. Gentlemen who set themselves up as defenders of the Constitution. I consider that this Bill makes the law 10 times more obscure than it is. It will certainly provoke animosity throughout industry, postponing indefinitely the recovery of our trade, which is our primary need. It does not fulfil what it intends to fulfil, and it achieves many dangerous objects which it is not intended to achieve, and I am satisfied that the Government will find within a very short time that they have made one of the greatest mistakes a Government has ever made.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
To borrow the phraseology of Lord Birkenhead, I look upon this Bill as a downright act of treason against Parliamentary Government, not against Parliamentary Government 1851 as the Communists know it in its true nature, but against Parliamentary Government as is hypocritically claimed for it by the Tory party itself. I have said previously that it is legislation of this sort which completely destroys what we call the majesty of law. Every British citizen would be a contemptible creature if, after the passing of this Bill, he held any British law in respect or reverence and the Tory Government would find out their mistake if they believed in their old saying that the Labour movement is made up of abject poltroons who do not know how to fight and how to destroy the citadel of Toryism and Capitalism. They will soon find out their mistake. The Russian Revolution failed to arouse the British worker to its pitch. The present legislation is a repetition of the hideous mistakes of the Czar of Russia in 1906 and this is going to put the British worker on his mettle, and we shall be thankful to the present Government for it.
Before I come to the important motive of the Government, I would offer a few observations on the minor details of the Bill. With regard to the political levy, there is provision for those who have a conscientious objection to refrain from paying it, but what the Government are now proposing is to prohibit a general collection from those who have no such conscientious objection, and if that principle is introduced in legislation, what would happen to joint collections of funds for joint purposes? Some sober people, or over-sober people, might say they do not use water and do not wish to pay the water rate. Or some might say they do not use the parks, or the lamp lights in the streets, or they do not require the police, and refuse to pay their portion of the tax, and the Government would say each one must individually agree and fill up a form and say: "I want to use the police or the street lamps or the waterworks or the parks." The whole thing is ridiculous. The Prime Minister is wickedly wasting the time of the House and misleading it in discussing the political levy. I challenge him, has he not already obtained a pledge from the Cabinet that the Bill will not be put on the Statute Book unless he is permitted to withdraw the political levy Clause as a last-moment peace-offering to the Labour party. He 1852 knows quite well that he is wasting the time of the House in making it discuss the political levy when there is a definite pledge that it is not going on the Statute Book, and we challenge the Tory party to show by their action that the political levy Clause is seriously intended to form part of the new law. It would be worth seeing if they put it in after the dissensions in their own ranks.
Then we come to the question of lockouts. Of course, lock-outs will not be needed after this Bill. The working man is a serf. He is a slave. He is not going to propose terms. He is going to be dictated to. He cannot strike; he cannot defend himself; he cannot take any counter-action in his own defence. So the Bill itself is devised as a perpetual lock-out in the hands of the master class, and a declaration of a lock-out after such legislation as this being passed would be useless. With regard to the civil servant, the Bill suggests that the ordinary employé of the ordinary industrial master is in more cases than one doing work of public service, something without which the State would not exist and the community's life would not be maintained. The Government, in this Bill, are not making much difference between the industrial worker's work and the civil servant's service. Both are, and rightly so, essential services required by the community for the maintenance of the State, yet, while they admit that the industrial worker has the right to trade unionism and to keep up his organisation, the civil servant, who is no more important to the State or community than the industrial worker, is to be deprived of that right and is to be put in a still lower state. With regard to persecutions, and to the ridicule that might be cast upon a man, I must tell the Government that if ever they put this Bill into operation and a series of actions are brought into the Courts of law on the ground that this man said that, and that man said this, and so on, they would not in reality be punishing those who dared to pour contempt and ridicule upon one another, but would be causing the whole world to pour contempt and ridicule upon Great Britain. What a sight it would be for the nations of the world!—men and women going up to the magistrates and saying, "He made faces at me," "He did not speak to 1853 me," "He walked out of the assembly." What nonsense to come from the Tory party! We heard last Monday morning of a Minister of the present Government going to Hyde Park last Sunday. We saw a report in the "Daily Mirror"—the patriotic organ—that when the National Anthem was sung some people did not like to join in. Some did not remove their hats, but their neighbours promptly forced them to remove them. Could those people be put into prison?
I do not know how far the Members opposite were guilty, but after some visionary event in my own life, I read in the newspapers that the Tory Members walked out of the House when the Member for Battersea rose to speak. Were they all to be clapped into gaol? [An HON. MEMBER: "They ought to be!"] The Whole point is so ridiculous, childish and nonsensical that the man who framed such a law ought to be turned out and his name scratched off as a lawyer of any merit. It is quite idle to talk about the last general strike as not being a general strike in its proper sense. Of course, technically, it was not a general strike for the simple reason that it did not develop fully into a general strike. But there is no doubt that those who wanted it intended that it should be a full fledged general strike. Has anybody the right to deprive the working class of this or any country of the right to a general strike? If a strike within one industry is legal, how, by its mere extension through the simultaneous action of various trade unions, can it be declared illegal? There is a lot of loose talk on all sides in this House about the last general strike being illegal. No one has explained whether it was ever contested at law, that the last general strike, apart from any technical faults of not giving proper notices or so, was in its nature illegal. What is a strike?
The intention of a strike by a section of the working class is to draw the attention of the public to their grievances; to say to the public, who are indifferent to their grievances, and who yet entrust production and distribution of necessities of life to private individuals, "You are not bringing proper pressure upon the State to remedy our grievances." Supposing the boot-makers go on strike. The whole nation 1854 wants boots and the community would be affected. What if the butchers or the dairymen go on strike? In every industrial strike, you are bound to affect a large section of the community. They have a right to do so. If the bakers declare a strike, it is legal. If the butchers declare a strike it is legal. If the market-porters declare a strike, it is legal. If the dairymen declare a strike, it is legal. But if all serve their notices and declare a strike simultaneously, it would become a general strike. Suppose you decided upon a simultaneous action similar to the two-minutes' silence on Armistice Day. Is the Attorney-General going to punish one of the groups concerned? If the railway workers, the miners, the engineers, the seafarers and the textile workers come forward at the same time and handed in their notices demanding wages of £7 or £10 for a five-days' week, and then withdrew their labour, which of the unions is going to be guilty of being the general striker, and which are the unions which are not guilty? The Solicitor-General himself, if he found himself out of office to-morrow and was paid sufficient money, would be the first person to teach the trade unions how to dodge this farcical law and how to devise the general strike. In fact, many hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, if they were paid sufficient fees, would willingly give advice to the trade unions how to put themselves outside the scope of the law when a strike was going to be declared. The whole law is farcical.
The Prime Minister confessed yesterday that it was the event of last year that compelled him to change his mind, but he did not explain which event. Was it the event of our Foreign Secretary meeting his great Italian Master on a, river yacht for secret conversations? Was it the event of the Foreign Secretary's son being introduced as an honorary member of the Italian Fascisti? Which event of last year has made this Bill possible? And then, he tells us, he was against it once upon a time because he would not fire the first shot. That explains why the Prime Minister, by a conspiracy with the master class, put up the coalowners to give a wanton notice to the miners and thus fire the first shot. In such a Debate as this it does not behove one to take up much 1855 time. I have only got to say this to the Government, that we in the Communist movement do not believe in relief being sought by the working classes by a mere promise that the Bill shall be repealed, though we are heart and soul with those who desire that it shall be repealed, and we will work towards that end. I put it to the Government that the last effort at a general strike did not fructify owing to many difficulties within the Labour movement. This Bill challenges the Labour movement of Great Britain to strike, and to work continuously for small strikes and large strikes until they have reached the point of a general strike. The right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) said that the Communists and the Conservatives welcome this Bill. We do not welcome it. We say to the apostles of the inevitability of gradualness, that there is no such thing as gradual progress for the working classes. We say that the working classes cannot get their rights so long as the capitalist class is in power. The capitalist class believes in giving knock-out blows of the most unscrupulous character every time they can find the chance, and the policy of the working classes must be to give them open, deliberate, knock-out blows, one after the other. We will co-operate with our friends in the Labour movement and we will work heart and soul with them in this matter of repealing this Act, but we, remind them of the existence of the House of Lords, and also of the fact that we have no guarantee that the present Government will not even alter the Parliament Act and strengthen the position of the House of Lords." The delusion of the leaders in the movement has always been, as far as I understand it, that the proletariat are too slow to respond to any extreme measures. This Bill will enlighten the proletariat and quicken them up, and then you will see the unity between the Communists and the trade unionists, and you will see that even the process of the repeal of this Act will be achieved through industrial direct action, so long as the House of Lords exists. You may take our word for it that settled government in this country and so-called law and order by a gang of conspirators and forgers is impossible. We challenge you to go ahead 1856 with this Measure, and you will see where you fall down.
§ Mr. ROY BIRD
I think that most hon. Members, at any rate, those sitting on these benches, will agree that the speech just delivered is one of the strongest arguments that could be put forward for this Bill. The right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) made a complaint that too many lawyers had taken part in this Debate, and he said that he was going to address the House as a man of commonsense. He thereupon proceeded to deal with his right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), and dealt with what that right hon. Gentleman said yesterday as to what would happen if the Labour party came into power. It has been threatened from many quarters on the Opposition Benches that the Labour party will, at the first opportunity, put an end to this legislation. There is some difference of opinion between the Labour Front Bench and the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley exactly as to what the effect would be if this legislation were taken off the Statute Book by a Labour Government. We have to bear in mind that certain parts of this Bill are only declaratory. The right hon. Member for Colne Valley referred to what the right hon. Member for Spen Valley had said as to what might be done at the next election by the Labour party, believing in intimidation and general strikes, and said that would not be the effect of repealing the proposed Act. I intervened and said that it would be by inference. I interjected that remark, which caused some merriment on the other side. It seemed to me a very pertinent remark, made not by a learned Member of this House but by one speaking with commonsense or, shall I say, as a man in the street. If when this Bill becomes a Statute you take it off the Statute Book, the man in the street will say: "They have repealed that Act therefore, intimidation is lawful and general strikes are lawful." That is the reason why I interjected the remark and said that, inferentially, the man in the street would declare that intimidation and general strikes were lawful.
The hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) yesterday gave the House some figures, I think from the "Bankers' 1857 Magazine," and attempted to draw a conclusion from those figures. He said that at the beginning of January certain Stock Exchange securities stood at a certain figure, and at the end of December they had gone up, and therefore the capitalists had profited by the general strike. That is a wrong conclusion to draw. The reason why investments went up at the end of last year was because the general strike was a thing of the past. It was a bogey that had been laid. Industry had been suffering for years from the threat of a general strike. The general strike came last May, and the general sense of the community defeated the general strike ignominiously. After the general strike was over, the community trusted the Conservative party to say that never again would the leaders of the Labour party, the leaders of trade unionism, be in a position to call another general strike. They bore in mind the speech of the Prime Minister in 1925. They bore in mind a certain portion of that speech, which was quoted by the right hon. Member for Spen Valley for quite another purpose, and also quoted by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, who attempted to use it to-day in defence of himself, because he has put expediency before honesty. The Prime Minister, when he was referring to associations that had grown up, associations of employers and of workmen, pointed out that those associations might get, perhaps, into such a condition as to become a danger to the State. It was not because of that fear that he postponed legislation, but because he intended that speech, which he made in this House, as a warning to the Socialist party and as a warning to the trade unionists to put their own house in order. The warning was not accepted; the gesture was not accepted; the general strike was the answer, and the general strike, as far as I know, has never been officially repudiated either by the Labour party or by the trade unions.
We have heard during this Debate several references to the fact that the general strike was not illegal and that it may happen again, as I understood the last speaker to say. I think he hopes that it will happen again. A great many people are uncertain, according to the late Solicitor-General, as to whether a general strike is legal now or not. 1858 Opinion on this side is that it is illegal. So that there can be no doubt this Bill is brought in with a declaration so as not to leave the question in the air, so that it is understood by every body in the country that a general strike is illegal. I think I shall have the assent of the House when I say that everybody in the community and in this House welcomes this Bill, but for different reasons. It is welcomed by hon. Members on this side of the House because it is a redemption of pledges given; a measure of freedom to trade unionists, a measure of freedom for workmen who are not members of trade unions, and it is not an attack on trade unions. It is a charter of freedom. It is welcomed by hon. Members opposite because it gives them a chance of going round the country, as they have started to do, in a campaign of gross misrepresentation, saying that it is an attack on trade unions, which they repeat at the corner of the street and wherever they go.
I think some of them have a habit of under-estimating the intelligence of their listeners, not only in this House but in the country. The country wants to know the answer to very definite questions, and it is no good burking the point that hon. Members opposite will be asked, whether they believe in a general strike, whether they believe that the Government of this country should be subordinate to the trade unions; whether they believe that there should be another general strike. These are simple questions to answer, and I suggest that the hon. Gentleman who is going to wind up the Debate for the Opposition should answer them. There is another series of questions that the right hon. Gentleman should answer in connection with the Clauses dealing with intimidation. Does the Labour party advocate and believe in the kind of intimidation that took plane during the last general strike? Do they advocate the right to work, as well as the right to strike. These are some of the questions which the working men and women of this country want answered. Hon. Members opposite seem to muddle up trade unionists and trade union leaders. Trade unionists interests are very often different from trade union leaders.
There are other questions which we should like answered on the political levy. We regard the Clauses in connection with the political levy as giving back to the 1859 working man a right that has been taken away from him. Under the Act of 1913 there is a theoretical freedom of political opinion. You can contract out, hut in practice that provision has proved to be a snare and a delusion. If a man contracts out, he finds himself in a very awkward position, and as a general rule you find that a man does not like to offend his fellow workers and therefore is prepared to subscribe to a party with whose political views he does not agree. Within my own knowledge there are many men in my own division who contribute to the political levy because they do not want to get into trouble with their fellow workers.
§ Mr. BIRD
It is a little surprising for one section of hon. Members opposite to say that it will make no difference at all to their political fund if this Clause is passed into law, whereas another section, notably the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Mackinder) says that if it becomes law he personally would not be able to come to this House.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
What I said was that some hon. Members opposite would like to prevent us coming here.
§ Mr. BIRD
Therefore, by inference, he would have to get money from the trade union, and if he did not he would not be able to come here. If the answer is that they will not be affected by this Clause, what is the objection of hon. Members opposite? There can be no logical objection to this Clause, unless this levy is extorted from working men and women who do not give voluntarily, taken from them out of their hard earned wages, in order to support a policy in 1860 this House and at the corner of the street with which they do not agree.
§ Mr. TINKER
One can well understand judging by the language of the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Roy Bird) why this Bill has been introduced. There are extreme men on the other side, who have pushed this Bill forward and I would advise the hon. Member, therefore, before he begins to criticise hon. Members on this side, to examine his own case, and he will understand why we take up the attitude we do. Let me say a word on the question of tolerance which was mentioned yesterday. During the Debate yesterday it was said that Mr. Thomas Ashton, a former Secretary of the Miners' Federation, was a Conservative, and that he was the best Secretary the Miners' Federation ever had. I quite agree. Mr. Ashton at the present time is the General secretary of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation, respected by everyone, and, if he is a Conservative, it goes to show that we as trade unionists can show a fair amount of tolerance to men of other political views. The point I want to put to the hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. Dixey) is that instead of criticising us he should criticise the Prime Minister, who said on one occasion that the Miners' Federation was dominated by the extreme section, or what is called the minority movement. He could tell the Prime Minister then that 14 days after we were locked out last year, and after the Samuel Memorandum had been issued, realising that we had no chance of winning the battle then, I addressed a branch meeting of over 2,000 men and put this view before them. I said, "I do not think we have any chance of winning now, and we had better accept the Samuel Memorandum."
In that branch there is not a minority movement man, not a single Communist, yet unanimously they rejected my proposal, because they felt the bitterness of the terms which were offered. I felt that myself, but I also realised that we could not win through, and advised them to take whatever they could get. I want the Prime Minister to realise that the minority movement has never had control of the Miners' Federation. We fought then because we considered we were not being fairly dealt with, and we were determined to make as good a fight as we could. The Prime Minister 1861 should carefully examine all the facts of the situation before he makes such statements. I want to turn to the Bill itself. I am glad to find a difference of opinion on the other side as regards the Bill. The Attorney-General, speaking on Monday, could not see any ambiguity in it, but later on, the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) and the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir L. Scott), cast some doubts as to what Clause 1 really meant, and they said that when we got to Committee stage representations would be made because they believed it really bars out sympathetic strikes. Anyone reading the Bill would consider that Clause 1 does bar out a sympathetic strike, but I am open to enlightenment on the matter.
I cannot for the life of me see how it is possible, if a sympathetic strike takes place, for the men taking part in it to avoid being proceeded against under Clause 1; and that is why I am deter mined at all costs to fight every line and every word of that particular Clause. But I wish to refer to a point in connection with the Bill which affects me more than anything else. That is the provision of Clause 3. I have come very near to being taken in, because I spoke at several meetings against blacklegs. I was told on the Floor of this House by the Home Secretary that my conduct had brought me very near the hands of the law. All I did was to address a mass meeting and to point out the conduct of the blacklegs and to urge on the blacklegs that they were doing wrong. Then I passed on to something which cannot be avoided in this connection. I passed on to the word "contempt." How anyone dealing with blacklegs could leave out the word "contempt" passes my comprehension. In this Clause the word "contempt" appears and if anybody can satisfy a Court of Law that he has been brought into contempt, the man who has caused that stands to be prosecuted under the Bill The employers when they were anxious to get at the men sent their managers round telling the men that unless they came into work no places would be found for them when the stoppage was over. That was what went round the colliery villages. We then went to the men, and I want to say here and now that, so far from preventing any man 1862 from going to work if he wants to do so, I am not going to stop him at all, but, at the same time, I want to put my side of the case to the men. I spoke to the men and told them exactly what the position was.
As far as this Bill is concerned we are not allowed to go near the houses of the men or to go near the collieries to state our case. The only other course is by mass meetings, and when we put the case before the men at mass meetings what other word can we use except "contempt" to the man who is blacklegging? When we bring in that word, then we are liable to prosecution. Take my own case, for instance, if I have to go to a court of law to defend my action. If I am asked did I mean contempt of the blackleg I would have to say, "Yes, I have contempt for the man who has broken away from his fellows." But if I say that, I am liable to be condemned. The method to which I have just referred is not the only method used by the employers. Let me deal with another point. Does the question of bribery enter into Clause 3? I have here two circulars issued by colliery owners in Lancashire. First they put up at the pithead the terms and the pay on which the men could resume work. The hours, of course, were fixed after they had got the Government to back them up. That did not take on, and they issued statements like this—and I will give the name of the firm, if required:These collieries will be open for work on Wednesday morning, the 13th October, at 6 a.m., on the terms already posted at the colliery and circulated.We are prepared to pay a cash bonus of 10s. to all men working on that day.A similar cash bonus will be given to all those working on Thursday, the 14th.Thereafter until 2 o'clock on Tuesday, the 26th October, a bonus of 3s. per day will be paid.One-half the above sums will be paid to all women and boys under 16 working on these days.Was not that bribing the men? These are not ordinary terms. This was a bribe to bring these men away from their fellows. Here is another one:Notice is hereby given that work can be found at once for a limited number of workmen on the terms already offered.Later application will be dealt with as work becomes available.To all persons who start work this week a free grant of £1 will be paid in four instalments 1863 over the first six days and, in addition, a gift of one hundredweight on coal will be made immediately.Consideration will also be given to deferring payment of arrears of house rent.9.0 p.m.
That is bribery pure and simple. We have no chance of resisting that except by means of mass meetings, and when we put our case before the men, we may be charged under this Clause with intimidation and with bringing men into contempt. The Home Secretary during the last lock-out almost gloated over the fact that he had got powers to deal with anything and that he was going to use them. I admit that he had full powers; yet the Government are not satisfied with that, and they are introducing this Bill to prevent the leaders of the working men from putting the facts of the case before the working men. I am sorry, indeed, that at a time like the present this Bill should have been brought forward. But the two points which I have mentioned in regard to Clause 1 and Clause 2 are not the main purposes of this Bill in my opinion. The Clause dealing with the political levy is what is behind all this Bill.
So long as we do not put forward our just claims, so long are we regarded by hon. Members opposite as being all right, but when we come forward determined to assert our rights and when hon. Members opposite realise that we are going to come into power, then they make up their minds that some action must be taken to try to prevent that. The only possible way in which it can be done, according to hon. Members opposite, is by stopping the political levy. Hon. Members opposite have said that that is why we are so upset over this Bill. I am not upset at this attempt to stop the political levy. You cannot stop the onward march of Labour and Socialism, do what you may. By efforts of this kind you are only causing us to fight harder than ever we did in our lives. I am in the position of a back bencher, but I say to our leaders that not only will they have to carry out the mandate which has been given to them to remove this Bill from the Statute Book when they get the opportunity, but they will also have to remove from the Statute Book the Eight Hours Act and replace it not by a Seven Hours Act, but by a Six Hours Act. I am not saying 1864 that in a spirit of bragging. I firmly believe that, as a result of the attitude of the Conservative party in the present instance, both the present Measure and the Eight Hours Act will be wiped out of the way as soon as ever we get back to power.
§ Mr. LUKE THOMPSON
I am reminded at this late hour that the sands of time for this Debate are swiftly passing, and it would be quite inappropriate for me to occupy much time. I shall, therefore, confine what I have to say more particularly to words of assurance and of support to the Government for the policy that they have inaugurated in the Bill that is now before the House. In so doing, I would like to remind myself and the House that, at the initiation of the Debate, the Attorney-General laid down certain principles for the guidance of this House, and after listening very carefully to the major portion of the Debate that has been proceeding, and after having shorn it of all its excrescences and irrelevancies and of all its obstructions, I have been more than confirmed in thinking that the case made out by the right hon. and learned Gentleman at the very outset has been overwhelmingly sustained throughout the Debate. I would like to say, further, that I think the Government have interpreted quite accurately the mind and the spirit, not only of the electorate in general regarding this matter, but of the average working man and trade unionist as well. I say that with considerable confidence for this reason, that I have been permitted during a long experience to have a considerable knowledge of the working class constituency which I have the high honour to represent, and I believe that the average working man welcomes wholeheartedly the Bill now before the House.
A great deal has been said about every part of this Bill, and the last speaker and other speakers have made a great deal of the political levy. It is not so much a question of whether a man contracts in or contracts out, but the question in the mind of the worker is whether it is right for him to subscribe to a political levy at all. As a matter of fact, some of the advanced thought, even of the trade unionists, goes as far as that, and their line of argument is quite reasonable and fair and will, I think, appeal to every part of the House. It is that in no other walk 1865 of life are they held under restrictions such as they are under the political levy. That is the statement made. I care not whether you take it in their religious associations or their social associations, they have a perfect right to contribute to anything that they choose, and yet, apparently, they have not that right in regard to one thing, and that is the trade union, which is vital to their welfare. I think the hon. Members opposite will admit that a man who refuses to subscribe to his trade union or to become a trade unionist has very little opportunity of maintaining his work in that particular branch.
§ Mr. THOMPSON
It is true in Sunderland and everywhere that men are brought into that position. They say that if it is a fact that they can exercise their individual liberty in every other direction, then they claim the absolute right to do so as regards political organisations. So far as contracting in or out is concerned, they wish to have perfect liberty. I want to say that I have not the least shadow of a doubt that the policy of the Government, as enunciated in this Bill, is correct and is acceptable to the general public, and I wish to assure the Government, both personally and on behalf of those whom I represent, of undivided support for this Bill.
§ Mr. THOMAS
If any evidence were needed to prove how difficult would be the task of Members on that side of the House to justify the votes that they will shortly give, it is to be found in the speech of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. L. Thompson), which we have just heard. Here is a Member, speaking probably quite sincerely, saying what he believes, or rather what he has been told.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Then, if it is not what he has been told, it is what he knows to be a fact—one of the two things—and he actually gets up and makes the statement to the House to-night, within 1866 two hours of the division, that within his knowledge any man who does not subscribe to the political levy is not secure in his employment. That is his statement. I had hoped it was something that had been told him, but he denied that, and said, "No, it is not what I have been told, it is what I know for a fact." He is the hon. Member for Sunderland. In my own union last year there were 55,000 members who claimed and received exemption, and there was not a complaint from the Registrar, not a complaint from any of those members, and a number of them are working in Sunderland.
§ Mr. THOMPSON
My argument was this, that the worker claimed the right in his industrial relations to say whether he wished to contribute or not. I further said this, that if he refused to become a trade union member, he lost his chance of work.
§ Mr. THOMAS
There are enough fair-minded Members on that side who heard the statement of the hon. Member, and the OFFICIAL REPORT will show to-morrow that he said nothing of the kind.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The OFFICIAL REPORT Will show. The statement made was that if a man refused to pay his political levy he was not secure in his employment. That was the statement made. If the hon. Member believes that, I assure him it is not true. The Registrar's return will show with regard to the shipwrights in his own constituency that more are exempted than pay the levy; and the boilermakers are in precisely the same position. Then what becomes of the action of any member who goes into the lobby in the belief that he is voting for something to prevent a man having to pay for something he does not believe in?
I want to put this question to the House. Suppose that instead of this party warfare and political passion the question we were to vote upon at 11 o'clock was put in this way: the country was badly hit during the War; there is a heavy debt and heavy taxation and in many ways we are handicapped; we are anxious to remedy the difficult economic and financial situation of the country, how can we give a vote that will express 1867 in words what is most likely to help towards this recovery? In that case I beg to say the overwhelming mass of this House would vote for "Better industrial relations; the possibility of eliminating as far as we can industrial strife and unrest." That would be the verdict given by every Member of the House. As one who has made some contribution towards that effort—which will not be denied by the responsible employers in my own industry—I say deliberately, with all the knowledge and experience I possess, that I know of nothing that has happened, not even the events of last year, which will do more to destroy any hope of industrial peace, or is so calculated to engender had feeling, or that so drives moderate and extreme men together, than this Bill.
Why is there so much bitterness? There is bitterness because this Bill is not only inconsistent with but is a direct contradiction of everything the Prime Minister has said. We have heard a lot about the general strike, and my views have been quoted. I withdraw nothing I have said about the general strike. I believe to-day that it is not only a bad method but that it is a useless method and cannot succeed. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, that is my view but if you think you will stop a general strike by this Bill it only shows how ignorant you are. There have been speeches about last year's events. The Prime Minister is here, and he can tell the House—and there is a shorthand note to prove it—that nothing that has been said in condemnation of a general strike, nothing that even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has said about the right of the community, was said more forcibly than I said it in the Prime Minister's presence a few hours before the general strike started. [Hon MEMBERS: "Why did you call it?"] Are you not getting somewhat mixed as to what is a general strike? Do not forget that when this Bill is passed, employers of labour and labour leaders have got to repair any mischief that this House may do, and these laughs and sneers will not keep the wheels of industry going unless a fair chance is given to those responsible and decent people who may not laugh but who all play their part and are the people who can control and influence 1868 and are followed by not a handful of men but by hundreds of thousands of men. I come back to the question of why there is so much feeling. The day the strike was called off, the Prime Minister made this speech in the House:The peace that I believe has come, the victory that has been won, is a victory of the common sense not of any one part of the country but the common sense of the best part of the whole of the United Kingdom. … We should resume our work in a spirit of co-operation, putting behind us all malice and all vindictiveness."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1926; col. 878, Vol. 195.]Looking ahead! Putting behind us all malice and vindictiveness! And here is a Bill that says people can go to the Law Courts and claim damages for the events of last year. That speech was applauded by all sections of the House, and it was accepted as giving effect to a broadcast speech the Prime Minister had made—he will remember it, a speech that was made after a discussion with the Labour leaders. The House does not know it, but the broadcast speech of the Prime Minister which said what I have quoted now, which asked the country to forget the events, was made after a joint discussion with the labour leaders. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] The Leader of the Opposition, on the day the House rose, said to the Prime Minister, "Give us a message." We had their message, that now these events were over there was no intention of being vindictive but of working together. This is what the Prime Minister said:The Leader of the Opposition devoted a portion of his speech to showing that he hoped there would be no attack on trade unions as such. I cannot imagine that there will be such an attack. I should not countenance it. … At a time like this there are some who like fishing in troubled waters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th May, 1926; col. 1050, Vol. 195.]He added, "Let us have nothing to do with them." There you have an illustration in practice of the Prime Minister's speech, namely, Let us forget the past; let us co-operate together; let us forget all the events. Some Members on the other side have expressed surprise at the feeling aroused, and I observe that the Press in the country is drawing attention to the rowdyism and scenes in the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am trying to locate some of those Members who were saying "Hear, hear!" They happen to be very new parliamentarians. 1869 They forget or do not know that when the Irish Home Rule Bill was introduced a present Under-Secretary threw a book at the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and when they organised an attempt to howl Lord Oxford down, Lord Balfour said:Please remember there is a limit to human endurance.If people's passions can be aroused over a controversy of that kind, are not we to be on this side, who remember that the privileges we enjoyed which you are now trying to take away from us mean the home life, the happiness and the comfort of millions of men, women and children? That is why there is strong feeling, that is why I feel it. I want to make no excuse about Rights or Lefts or Moderates or others. I take my stand on all my public work, on all my trade union efforts and on the great organisation I represent, and I say there is no man on these benches or outside who more bitterly resents this Bill and will fight it than I myself.
Please keep in mind that this is the expression not only of myself and my colleagues here but the feeling of millions of decent workers. We resent it because we believe it is a mean and miserable attempt to injure your opponents. We resent it because we believe it is an attempt by a minority Government, who got in by a fraud of a letter, to use their majority to try to cripple the only bargaining power of the workers. We resent it because of the miserable humbug of Members who get up and say they are voting for this because they believe they are the friends of liberty and freedom. It would at least be decent to say that you know you are doing and that you want to curtail the liberties of these men. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] We resent it and we will fight it because the Bill shows a class bias which destroys any confidence in democratic government.
§ Mr. THOMAS
In the first place, it shows a class bias in attempting to inflict upon one section of the community a penalty not applicable to the other side. The Attorney-General said that the Bill was carefully drawn and that the Clause dealing with the workers was taken out of the Munitions of War Act. So impartial and so anxious to do the right 1870 thing are the Government that they took one Section out of the Munitions of War Act that applied to the workers and left out the Section that applies to the employers. The excuse is that, after all, there is no intimidation among the employers. There is a Member who sits behind me and I will give his case of intimidation. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Spencer?"] I will deal with Spencer. Incidentally apart from the way he was dealt with by one of my hon. Friends, to whom I wish Members had been here in equally large numbers to listen, he appears to me to be the one person who would benefit under this Bill. I will deal with cases of victimisation.
There is a Member sitting behind me whose daughter, at considerable expense, received a good education. She was a candidate for a position in a big insurance office. There was a large number of applicants and she was one of 12 in the final selection. She was ultimately appointed and started work, having gone through a test and having come out most successfully. She started work and then it became known that her name was Henderson, and a letter came to say she must give the name of her father and his occupation. She put down "Miners' leader," and a private letter came from the firm after she had been there a fortnight, that she was to be dismissed and no reason to be given. That is not 10 years ago; it is less than a few weeks ago. [HON MEMBERS: "What is the name of the firm?"] I do not want to develop it ton much, because there happens to be a Member of the Government who is a director of the firm. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] I am not one of those who would attempt to indict all employers on one case, but I am going to give other cases to show that, when you talk about the intimidation of a strike, you all know perfectly well that there are hundreds of ways and means in which the worker can be intimidated. My hon. Friend the Member for South Leeds (Mr. Charleton) was an engine driver on the Midland Railway and he struck work in 1911 with his colleagues. Afterwards we held an inquiry about victimisation, and the present Judge Atkins was appointed arbitrator.
I conducted the case for the men, and when we happened to have a private examination of the company's books, we 1871 suddenly found a number of red-ink marks alongside a number of men. We probed the matter out, and it was actually revealed that this was the company's method of marking those who took part in the strike. [An HON. MEMBER: "All the agitators!"] I cannot improve upon that; that is exactly our case. But there was no lock-out. Does the House forget the case last year of an engineering firm, where there was a dispute in which the Amalgamated Engineering Union themselves took no part. It was a strike among the men in one small factory, and the engineering employers gave an intimation that, unless the strike was settled, there would be a lock-out in the whole of the industry. Yet we are told that there is no need, in fact it would be inept and useless, to deal with the employers in this Bill.
Let me give a much better illustration of intimidation. Does the House forget the case which happened in Cardiff a few years ago where the bakers were charging 5d. per loaf? One firm decided that they would be making sufficient profit by charging 4½d., and they gave notice to their customers that on and after a given date 4½d. would be charged. The next day they got a letter informing them that if they continued to sell at 4½. per loaf, no more flour would be supplied to them. I would like to ask, is that coercing the Government or the community? Why is it that nothing is said about this matter and that no attempt to deal with that class of case is made in this Bill?
Let me deal for a moment with the idea that the trade union movement is simply running riot in controlling the community. The first railway strike that took place was in 1911, and then there were 100,000 railwaymen getting less than £1 per week. At that time the railwaymen did not strike for 1s. a week, and in 1911 they struck, not for an increase in wages but for the right of the general managers recognising the union. It is well known that one of them said—I can give his name if necessary:The rails would rot before he gave way.''Some hon. Members will recollect that on the Friday morning that strike took place, there were difficulties in Morocco between the French and the Germans. We are talking about the interests of the 1872 country, and on that day an ultimatum came from Germany. At 5 o'clock in the morning in the Board of Trade yard in Whitehall the President of the Board asked me to see him privately. He told me that a very serious situation had arisen, and that the troops were mobilised. He said the Germans had sent an ultimatum, that the situation was very serious, and he asked me if I could do something in the interests of the country in regard to the strike. I said, "Do I understand that the interests of the country are so unimportant to the railway directors that they would even imperil the country rather than meet the trade union officials?" I then told the President that he had better go and tell the directors what he had told me.
Would the House believe that it took six hours to persuade those railway managers even to meet us, and they actually put in their document that, in view of the great interests of the country, they had agreed to do this. These are the people who talk about us being anxious and feeling strongly about the Government proposing to take away the only bargaining power we possess. I know that all these things have to be determined by the magistrates and the Judges. You wonder why we are rather sceptical about magistrates and Judges. I suppose hon. Members are aware that there are 9,600 acting justices in this country, and only 719 of them are Labour men. That at least indicates that the bias in these cases will not be on our side. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because you know perfectly well that in industrial disputes of this kind there is and must of necessity be bias.
I will give a more concrete reason as to why we are suspicious of Judges and Magistrates. You are reversing to-day, by this Bill, the agreed Measure of 1913. That Measure was introduced as a result of what is called the Osborne Judgment. Osborne was a member of my union. Osborne was financed by members of that Government. [interruption.] Let us see what happened. When this rule was drafted, there was a body of railwaymen constituting the executive committee—drivers, guards, shunters, signalmen, and so on, and they wanted to keep within the law. They wanted to do the right thing, and they instructed me to get the best counsel I could to draft the rule for them. At that time there was a very 1873 distinguished counsel named Sir Robert Reid, who ultimately became Lord Loreburn. I wrote to Sir Robert Reid and said, "Here is our rule-book; will you draft a rule covering the political objects?" He replied, "Certainly I will—at the usual trade union rate." Then, in order to make doubly sure, we said, "Well, now, Sir Robert Reid is a distinguished Liberal lawyer. Who is there on the other side that we could have?" We looked round, and Sir Edward Clarke at that moment was a very distinguished man, and we said to him, "Will you confer with Sir Robert Reid and give us a joint opinion?" The same fee was paid, they agreed, and they issued the rule. We put it in the rule-book just as they made it, without alteration of any sort or kind. In the interval, Sir Robert Reid had become Lord Loreburn, and Lord Chancellor. The case went to the House of Lords, and the House of Lords said that what Sir Robert Reid had given to us was bad law, and we had to pay. And then you wonder why we are not breaking our necks to accept this Bill as defining the law for Magistrates and Judges!
A strike is to be legal unless it coerces the Government. Let us see how that works out. It is curious that my union always gets landed in this legal business. We had a case determined in the House of Lords within this last month. It was taken to the House of Lords in order to get a judgment as to the position of a look-out man on a railway. Last year, 57 men were killed, in one grade alone, on the permanent way, and, whatever our views as to wages and hours may be, we, as trade unionists, believe that the protection of human life stands paramount. The look-out man is supposed to be there to protect the railwaymen by warning them when trains are coming, and the ganger is held responsible. The Law Lords said that the ganger must have the responsibility, but we took this case. The ganger had appointed a look-out man, but his chief officer said, "No, a look-out man is not necessary"; and, therefore, he had to choose between protecting life and being regarded by his inspector as incompetent to look after his men. The result was that only last week I took a deputation to the Ministry of Transport to say that we wanted the railway regulations carried 1874 out by the railway companies. The only people who can alter it are the Government, by an Act of Parliament framed with the intention of protecting the lives both of passengers and of railwaymen. We failed to persuade them. The railwaymen say the railway companies cannot alter it; the only people who can alter it are the Government; and we have to coerce the Government and all get landed in gaol for trying to protect the lives of our own people. [Interruption.]
It is said that this Bill does not interfere with existing rights, that the sympathetic strike is untouched. Let us see how that operates. The railwaymen in London are threatened with a reduction in wages. Suppose that negotiations fail, and they decide to strike on the tubes. The only people that are likely to influence their position would be those on the omnibuses and in the transport industry. Suppose the transport men say, "We believe that the railway men's case is a good case; we believe it is a just strike; we are coming out in support." Is that injuring a substantial portion of the community? [Interruption.] Some on that side say, "No," but, at all events, what will happen under this Bill will be that some magistrate will be asked to say, and of course we know in advance what the answer will be. I have no hesitation in saying that it is because we believe that this will cripple, that it will interfere with, our bargaining power, because we believe that there are numbers who want to cripple our bargaining power, that we resent, not only the way in which this Bill is introduced, not only the time at which it is introduced, but the complicated details that are contained in the Bill. But, unfair and mean as we think all these things are, the most amazing thing is that the Prime Minister should justify Clause 4 on the events of last year. There was considerable coercion in 1922 on the then existing Government to interfere with the political rights of trade unions. The late Mr. Bonar Law was questioned, and this is the statement that he made, which took the form of a pledge in November, 1922. He said:Members of trade unions should not be compelled to pay to the political funds of a party with which they do not agree. That seems reasonable. But we are not going to have any rash action about it. Before we dream of dealing with it, we shall consult both trade union leaders and employers; 1875 and, if we have to do anything, we shall certainly try to get an arrangement that seems fair to reasonable members of trade unions. I am not speaking for myself alone; I am speaking for our party.That was Mr. Bonar Law's conception of fair play; that was his view of his party at that moment. What incident last year in connection with the general strike altered that situation?
I will tell you what my view is. My right hon. Friends the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), and the Leader of the Opposition, myself, and many of my other colleagues here, have been quoted during the week in regard to what we said about the general strike; but the thing that none of you quoted, which we all said, was this: "The advice we give, the direction in which we want to mould opinion, is not for industrial upheavals and general strikes, but if reform is necessary, as it is, the right way is on the Floor of the House of Commons." That is the change since last year, and because we gave that advice, because we still believe in it, you are not only content in interfering with our industrial power, but you take the mean advantage of trying to cripple our political power. The last speaker said he believed that the men who did not pay to this political fund were not secure in their employment. I have already given 66,000 in my own union, and that figure is typical of many others. But the anxiety for purity, for freedom! The present Lord Younger when he was a Member of this House admitted one Friday afternoon that out of the funds, not of the workers, not on an open balance sheet, not on something that is sent to the Registrar, not anything which can be complained of so far as the public are concerned, but out of the Tory party funds, 4,000,000 were public—[HON. MEMBERS: "Voluntary contributions."] What is that, voluntary? This document I have in my hand was issued by the Tory party, millions of them. It says:POLITICAL LEVIES. TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY.If you are a Trade Unionist and not a Socialist, do not contribute to the political fund of your union.Then it sets out the reasons why a man should not do so. On the other side the document states:You need not be bothered yourself. We will send you a book of forms. Each book 1876 contains 50 forms, so that you and your friends can all sign together and send them in together. The agent of the Unionist Committee in your constituency will help you in this.No interference, no intimidation, purely disinterested! Yes. But let us read on and see how it squares with this Bill:The Registrar has power to enforce his decision upon the union, and his protection should prove adequate.The Unionist Association considers that the Registrar's protection is adequate, but the Government says, "Oh, no." [HON. MEMBERS: "It says it should be adequate!"] The Government says it should be adequate! Then this Bill reflects on the Registrar that he does not do his duty. It is one of two things. The Registrar's Report says that there were only 13 complaints last year. The answer I get to that is that hon. Members think that the Registrar is biased. He is a public servant and cannot defend himself, and I do not believe in attacking people who cannot defend themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Judges?"] When all this is done, when all this is advertised, do hon. Members forget that this tremendous levy, this injustice that they can all get out of, amounts to 1s. a year and that that 1s. includes not only representation in this House but on all the local authorities in the country? Do you expect working men to lose time? When they are rendering public service, are they not entitled to be paid? It is because you know perfectly well that this levy goes to their payment that you are anxious not only to cripple their power here but in the local authorities as well.
To sum up, we will oppose this Bill because it is partial and biased. Were I to view this question purely from the standpoint of party I would welcome the Bill, and my reason would be this: When the Taff Vale judgment was given against the railwaymen in 1904 and they paid £10,000 damages, they said, "Very well, we will try another method." At that time there were only two avowed Labour Members in this House. At the next election there were 29, and the vote then cast was 323,000. Next the Osborne judgment came. At the following election 191 Labour Members were returned to this House. At the last election there were 5,500,000 Labour voters in spite of 1877 the Zinovieff letter. Therefore, if I were viewing this question purely from the standpoint of party I would welcome the Bill. But I have said outside the House and I say here that there are some things greater than party—the interests of the community and peace in industry.
As my last word I would say this: if there is any Member opposite who believes that this Bill will deter any man from striking he is living in a fool's paradise. Half a million railwaymen struck in 1911, not on the advice of any leader—illegally struck. Five thousand pensions were due within a month. Men in the last strike were actually due to retire within a week, after 45 years' service or more. Their whole pensions were thrown in. If they will risk their whole because they believe they are helping their fellows, it is not a miserable Act of Parliament that will prevent it. You are not only foolish; you are blind to all experience. Yes, but there is something else. How many of you who talk of the strikes of recent years realise that there is hardly an executive or responsible official who could have stopped any of those strikes? You hear of these strikes, and you read about them, but you have no knowledge of the number of strikes that have been stopped by the leaders. And by this Bill you will simply destroy that. I honestly believe that this House never took a step so disastrous to the future of this country. I have said outside, we will not fight if I can avoid it this Bill by industrial means. We will fight it by political means. But, having said that, you do not make agreements on paper that are worth anything. You do not get peace in industry by phrases. You have got to convince men that they are having a fair and square deal, and you cannot do that until you have created the atmosphere. Talking in this House, or voting in this House, is a different thing from facing week after week, as I have got to face, hundreds of thousands of men.
Because I believe you are making a mistake; because I believe the country will suffer; because I believe, after all the warnings we have given you, you are tied to this Measure, you cannot retrieve it; because I believe that, I believe that the votes you will give you will regret. I believe the country will not thank you. No, and I only wish that 1878 you would have the courage to test it immediately. You have abused your position; you have abused your majority; you have struck a blow at those who desire peace in industry. There is no Right, no Left, no Middle. We stand four-square, every section of this party inside and outside the House and on the hustings, with all that it means. You cannot have this conflict and let it remain as it is. You may pass this Bill, but the agitation will go on. Because I believe you are rendering a disservice to the country; because I believe you are doing harm to the country; because I believe that the only person who will benefit is the unfortunate Member, with whom I sympathised yesterday—[An HON. MEMBER: "He does not need it!"]—he wanted it in times of stress from me when he did not know you. I regret more than I can say the circumstances in connection with his case, but that is no justification at all for him to forget his own long experience in the movement. His experience is mine—I say you cannot solve these problems by mere Acts of Parliament. You will carry the Second Reading. We will carry the fight to the country, and we will win.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
The end of this protracted Debate finds the House, undoubtedly, face to face with an issue of undeniable gravity. Nobody could complain of a close, even a critical, examination both of the principles upon which the Bill is founded and of the expression which those principles find in the Bill. We have heard some complaints of the failure on the part of the spokesman of the Government to expound the Bill sufficiently to the satisfaction of hon. Members opposite. I think it needed considerable courage on the part of those who made that complaint, when they remember the conditions under which the exposition took place. And, I am bound to say, that, on the whole, if any complaint of the failure to expound the Bill were justified, the greater part of the observations which the right hon. Gentleman has just addressed to the House appear to me to have very little to do with the principles contained in the Bill. If I am allowed a freedom which former speakers did not enjoy, I may possibly be able to elucidate—[An HON. MEMBER: "Do not be provocative!"]—I may be able 1879 to correct some of the mistakes which they would have been glad to make impossible. An hon. Member invites me not to be provocative. The right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) confessed to the House the temptation under which he labours of using provocative language.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
He promised on this occasion to refrain from provocative language. While I listened to him, I hoped I might be in the House when he would yield to the temptation. At any rate, I am different from the right hon. Gentleman. I feel no temptation to be provocative, I hope, either on this or any other occasion. I should like to state what I believe to be the underlying principle of this Bill. The right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) stated that the question at issue was the interests of the community I am prepared to agree with him. I would state the principle that is involved in the Bill in this way: That no community can long survive that suffers a stronger power within its borders than itself, and the single question that emerges in all the Clauses of the Bill is whether are greater the interests of trade unions or the interests of the community. My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General propounded four statements which he submitted represented the different aspects which this issue wears in the Bill, and I hoped, when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition came to reply to him, that he was about to grapple with those propositions and to inform us of his assent or dissent from them. I was encouraged in that hope when I heard him refer to the legal questions as of merely secondary and trumpery importance. My hopes were short-lived. He was anxious to avoid a collision with anything half so solid as my right hon. Friend's propositions. On this occasion, at any rate, his lead has been faithfully followed by those who sit behind him. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), who followed him, directed his attention chiefly to those secondary and trumpery legal points which are very intriguing to a lawyer but not generally interesting to the House. I shared almost entirely the views taken by the right 1880 hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley when he said he was not at all impressed with the solemn legal disquisition to which the House had been treated. This Bill raises questions which are far above the disputes in which lawyers ordinarily engage.
But it may be said that if the principles were correctly stated by my right hon. Friend at any rate this Bill fails to include them. Let me repeat what the Prime Minister has already repeated. If there are ambiguities in the Bill, which is quite likely, ample opportunity will be afforded for their correction. No one who has grappled with the task of dealing with trade union legislation can be unaware of the difficulties with which he is faced. The complexity of the legislation, the tortured texts of the Acts of Parliament which are before us, the complication of the trade unions themselves render the task of any draughtsman almost impossible. But whatever opportunities can be given in Committee will be afforded by the Government. We invite from hon. Members that assistance that they may give in placing the Bill in a condition in which it represents the principles stated by my right hon. Friend. I have always been taught that the first task of a draughtsman is to be quite clear about the principles he is intending to express. It was for that reason that my right hon. Friend stated the principles it was intended to express. His first proposition was one concerning the illegality of the general strike and the impropriety of penalties for refusing to take part in it. I am still at a loss to know whether the Opposition agree to that principle or disagree. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), I think, destroyed the already tottering fabric of any argument based upon the statement that no general strike has ever been known by this country. The question as to the legality or illegality of the general strike is just one of those questions which I believe lawyers delight in raising, but when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) said that a declaration of its illegality will not prevent its recurrence and that only common sense will prevent it, surely on this occasion, at any rate, we may take care that law and common sense agree. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley said also earlier this 1881 afternoon that this question would be decided by the common sense of the people. We think that it will be of assistance to the common sense of the people, if they find it clearly stated in the law of the land that the general strike is to be illegal.
Let me attempt to deal with the question that Clause 1—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Bill?"]—goes further than is necessary or does not go sufficiently far in declaring the illegality of the strike. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) propounded a case which admits really of a simple answer. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) followed him with a similar case. It is most desirable that there should be no misconception, at any rate, as to the legality or illegality of what I may call an industrial strike. The case propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince was the case of miners, who, anxious to improve the conditions of labour in their county, decided that they must withhold their labuor from their employers. Is it possible that anybody is under the impression that a strike of that character is aimed at by Clause 1. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] I am not surprised at the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince perhaps being under that impression if he has been sitting at the feet of the hon. and learned Member for South East Leeds, whose ideas upon servitude and serfdom are familiar to the House, but I am really at a loss to know how it came about that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs came to be under that impression. Even, the most inexperienced student of the Bill could hardly have failed to discover that a strike in an industry to improve the conditions of the strikers is not within those matters which are prohibited by Clause 1 of the present Bill.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
May I put a question? The hon. and learned Gentleman has told us his opinion about a county strike, but how can the miners of a county get a reduction of hours if all the other counties are against them?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I cannot answer for the right hon. Gentleman with 1882 whose speech I was dealing, but I can take the case as he propounded it. If hon. Members will be good enough to refer to the OFFICIAL REPORT of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince I think they will find that his question was in this form:If the miners in a county for which this minimum wage is fixed endeavour to raise their wages in accordance with the vastly increased cost of living … the men at once become criminals because of this Measure.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd May, 1927; col. 1588, Vol. 205.]Therefore, I am dealing with the precise case put by the hon. Member's own leader. The answer to that case—and the answer is the same if the strike were not in a county but were a national one—is that if it is a strike in which the workers' sole object is to improve the conditions of labour—
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
If the hon. Member will allow me to finish my answer I think I shall make myself plain to him. The Bill is intended to express, and I believe does express, this, that workers whose sole object is to improve the conditions of labour in their own industry are free to strike, even if the natural and probable consequence of their action may be to bring pressure to bear upon the Government, or even to compel the community to submission.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Hon. Members opposite, surely, are prepared to listen to what I am stating as the intention and the effect of the Clause. If that is not the effect of the Clause, I can say here and now that the intention on the part of the Government is that it shall have that effect. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Let there be no mistake about that. I am confident that the Clause has that effect at the present time.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Solicitor-General has given way for the hon. Member. He is entitled to put his point. [Interruption.] Order! Hon. Members are often too anxious to do my job for me. If they will allow me, I will conduct the business. 1883 The Solicitor-General has given way in order that a question may be asked, but in view of the time which now remains I hope there will not be many more questions.
§ Mr. PALING
In view of what the Solicitor-General has said, does he mean that the words in the first Clause, which read as follows:.… a strike designed or calculated to coerce the Government, or to intimidate the community or any substantial portion of the community, …will be taken out?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I gave way to the hon. Member in order that he might put a question, and I hope, considering the time at my disposal, that there will be no charge of discourtesy if I do not give way again. Those words will not be taken out of the Clause. Those words are intended to make it plain that a strike of a different character from that with which I have been dealing is illegal, but their inclusion in the Clause does not prevent a strike such as I have described from being perfectly legal, if it is a strike to improve the conditions in the industry in which the strikers are engaged.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) interrupts me to ask about the sympathetic strike. He is a Professor, and he must know that I cannot deal with two matters at once. I will come to the sympathetic strike if the right hon. Gentleman will curb his impatience. The sympathetic strike is, of course, a more difficult question, and the difficulty arises, not, I think, from any doubt as to the facts, whenever they come to be stated, if they ever are stated, before a proper court; but from the fact that the question is never stated outside a court with sufficient facts to enable it to be answered. But let me try. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston put a case, and his case was this. Supposing the miners stopped to improve or maintain conditions of labour in thei industry and the railway men struck in order to avoid carrying what he 1884 described as blackleg coal. The answer to it depends, of course, upon whether the intention of the railwaymen 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 bears 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, and I think if hon. Members will read the words of the Clause, and decide the case by reference to the language of the Clause, they will find themselves more likely to reach a right conclusion than if they use language that is not to be found in the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham put a question as to the sympathetic strike. The word "sympathetic" is a word of no exact meaning. I do not know when the word first became current. Sympathy is a gracious thing, it is human in its appeal, and we get into the habit of thinking that a sympathetic strike must be excellent because sympathy is so admirable. If we confine ourselves to the words in the Bill, and decide the cases which will come before us by reference to the language in the Bill, instead of using these fantastic epithets like "sympathetic," we are likely to arrive at a safe conclusion. [Interruption.] I am glad to have the right hon. Gentleman's approval on this point. It is quite true that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have expressed suspicion as to the meaning of the Clause, but hon. Members opposite who have spoken have all been so suspicious of the intentions of the Government that they are hardly in a fit state of mind to pronounce on the language of the Clause. Hon. Members have asked what is the meaning of the phraseto intimidate the community or a substantial portion of it.I rather suspect this sudden assumption of a limited vocabulary on the part of hon. Members opposite. They are not generally at a loss for words when they desire to use them. Indeed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson) himself used the word "intimidate" in the course of the Debate when the hon. 1885 Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) was impeding his right of Parliamentary speech, and the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken in his closing sentence used the word "community," when he said that this Bill raised questions regarding the interests of the community. If it is legitimate for the two right hon. Gentlemen to use the words "intimidate" and "community," in senses which both they and everybody else understands, is it not legitimate for us to suppose that these words will be understood when we put them in an Act of Parliament? The word "intimidate" is not a new word. It has stood in the Act of 1875 for 51 years, and we have never heard any suggestion that the Act of 1875 was obscure when it referred to the intimidation which is there aimed at. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman asks me whether it has the same meaning in this Measure. I am dealing with Clause 1 of the Bill and the word "intimidate" in Clause 1 will have, of course, the same meaning as it bears in the 1875 Act and every other Act where it is used without qualification.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman asks me if it means physical violence to the community. If he is confusing the definition which is given in Clause 3 with the use of the word in Clause 1, perhaps there is some reason in his interposition. I think the use of this word "intimidate" is perfectly plain and one which would not embarrass anyone who has to administer the Measure. Let me make this final observation about Clause 1. Some hon. Members have been speaking of the general strike and the illegal strike as if it were something which grew up in a night—as if it were sown while men slept. These things are not done in a corner; and when we remember the trumpetings which heralded the general strike of exactly a year ago—
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
—when we remember the elaborate preparations of which only a part are known to the general public even yet, how can anybody confuse the general strike with such 1886 spontaneous ebulitions of passion as we are sometimes faced with in the lightning strike? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby asked what was the use of propounding the illegality of the general strike? I will give the right hon. Gentleman greater credit than he is prepared to give himself when I suggest that if he knows that the law makes a general strike illegal, he will not lend himself to it when it is proposed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley asked what the Government would do if they had to deal with 5,000,000 men who were on strike; would they fill the gaols with them; would they prosecute them in the magistrates' Courts? If the right hon. Gentleman knows as much as I suspect he knows, of the character of the British people, he will know that Acts of Parliament are not administered by the police but by the law-abiding character of the English race. Some Members have asked, how would the country or the Government be any better off if another general strike were proposed when this declaration stood upon the Statute Book? I do not know whether the leaders will be any better off or not, but at any rate they will have a warning and a knowledge which, perhaps, some of them have lacked hitherto. But what about the followers? Are they not more likely to be better off if they know, by a modern Act of Parliament and in language which I hope will be made clear and unambiguous, that what they are asked to take part in is illegal. It will be a notice before the catastrophe instead of the information which the right hon. Gentleman was so ready to give after the catastrophe.
I can deal more shortly with the other Clauses of the Bill.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I will tell the hon. Gentleman, if he will allow me, what I think fit about the Bill and not what he thinks—
§ Mr. TAYLOR rose—
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman expressly stated, a few moments ago, his intention to explain what was meant by 1887 the expression "a substantial portion of the community," and before he leaves Clause 1—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is an inquiry, not a point of Order. I would point out to the hon. Member that the hon. and learned Solicitor-General has spent half an-hour over Clause 1 already.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I hope the hon. Member will not think me guilty of any discourtesy if I reserve what, after all, is a comparatively small point to the Committee stage. I was going to say that, before I come to the general observations which I want to make about the Bill, I can deal much more shortly with Clauses 3, 4 and 5. Some people are still in ignorance, I think, as to what is allowed in the way of picketing. The Clause deals with intimidation. It provides a special definition of intimidation for the purpose of this Clause, and in that respect the Bill, undoubtedly, does make a change in the law as it exists to-day, and I want hon. Members to notice that for the purpose of an observation which I will make in a moment. The second change which is made is that a succeeding Sub-section of this Clause 3 protects the home. It is quite true that it may be the home of a blackleg. The right hon. Member for Preston used words of withering effect as to the man whom he described as a blackleg. The language in which he described him was singularly alien from the kindly character of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and I am bound to say that as I listened I almost literally shuddered to think that words so dreadful could be used of a fellow-worker. But let it be supposed for a moment that those withering words were true, the man's wife and his children in any case share the obloquy which besets a man who has stepped out on a rough and lonely road. Let him, at any rate, have one place where his wife and children will be free from the besetting of his fellows. Let him, at any rate, have one place where he may, mistaken though he be, enjoy the company of those who alone make life worth living for him.
When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley said that when this Bill is repealed they will be really 1888 putting back the law into the state in which it was before the introduction of this Bill, he is wrong. When he repeals this Bill he will deprive the home of this protection which it has not had hitherto. There is a mistake under which more than one hon. Member, and even right hon. Members, opposite have laboured. The right hon. Member for Preston last night said there is nothing in this Clause which deals with the employer. Is it possible that, having determined to oppose the Bill before he knew it, he has not troubled to read it? Is it possible that if he had read it it could have escaped his observation that both employer and workman are dealt with in the Clause under consideration? The answer is obvious. The right hon. Gentleman stated—
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I know the answer to it. I will answer it for him. The right hon. Gentleman stated—
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
If there is any doubt about it, the right hon. Gentleman will see his words recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT. He stated quite plainly that there was nothing in Clause 3 which dealt with the employer. If he refers to Clause 3 he will find that the employer is dealt with, and intimidation by the employer is prohibited just as much as intimidation by the workmen. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby referred to intimidation which has taken place on the part of employers. I do not pretend that this Clause deals with all acts of intimidation. Employers undoubtedly are sometimes guilty of intimidation with which this Clause does not deal. But there are other people who are guilty of intimidation with which this Clause does not deal. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Derby has for the moment left the House, because I have here an illustration 1889 of intimidation with which this Clause does not deal which is an answer to or opposed to the intimidation to which he was referring. [HON. MEMBERS: "Here he is!"] I wonder what the right hon. Gentleman thinks of this new Red letter, which is not forged. [Interruption.] This is a statement addressed to railway non-unionists and members in arrears. It states that:The time has come when you must join and keep your contributions up to date or you should get off the job. We extend you a welcome to join before it is too late, as on May 2nd, 1927, and five following days we are having an inspection of trade union cards"—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]and shall have a complete record of enemies or friends. Those members in arrears are requested to clear their cards, and all nons to join up before that date, as we cannot be held responsible for any definite decisive action that may be taken to clear out all nons"—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Law Society?"]from the railway industry.In other words, we have the corollary to the threat which the employers, in the cases given, held out to their employés that they would not be employed again. This is an answer to that. It is said they will be cleared out of the railway industry and a living for them will be made impossible.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman asks, "Who signed it?" It is headed, "The National Union of Railwaymen," and it is signed, "By Order of the Council, C. Rayner, Secretary." The right hon. Gentleman is not going to tell me that this document is not one which has been issued under the authority of a branch or a council of the union.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that this document is repudiated by the Council of his union. Will it satisfy hon. Members opposite if I tell them that the Government also repudiates intimidation by employers. [Interruption.] In any event, we may say this, that whether we are able entirely to circumscribe the activities of intimidating employers or 1890 railwaymen, we have by this Bill done something to circumscribe the activities of the man who tries to compel others to action by threats of violence and loss of employment.
Let me say one word about Clause 4 of the Bill, which has scarcely been noticed in the Debate in comparison with Clause 1. I am bound to say that when a man is told that he must belong to a union whether he likes it or not, it is only fair that he shall have the amplest opportunity of refraining from contributing to the political funds. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) asked a question which I am anxious to answer. He asked if employers' associations such as the Brewers' Association and the mineowners are involved. The answer is that they are not touched at all by this Bill. Their actions are legal or illegal under the Act of 1913, without this Bill having any effect on them at all. [Interruption.] I am answering the proposition put by the right hon. Gentleman. It is not singular to the employers' associations that the employment of money upon political purposes is legal or illegal under the Act of 1913. It is the same with regard to all trade unions. This particular Clause deals with the liability of individuals to contribute to the political fund, which is a wholly different question. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman is that the 1913 Act stands as the Statute which decides the legality of certain activities of the different trade unions, whether masters or men.
In the few minutes which are left to me I want to deal with another point. It has been said that it is an inopportune time at which to pass this legislation. The right hon. Gentleman has been scathing in his denunciation of the Prime Minister. Is it quite fair for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs to tell the House that the Prime Minister has turned his back on the path of peace on which he had entered? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Why, in August, 1926, did the right hon. Gentleman taunt the Prime Minister with being afraid to face cold steel? I have another quotation. Three or four years ago a Bill was being passed through this House for which the right hon. Gentleman claimed the credit this evening. 1891 It was the Emergency Powers Act. The right hon. Gentleman said it was the Act upon which the present Government based its action for dealing with the general strike. But whether he made that claim or not, my observation will be the same for this reason. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince was dealing with the Bill introduced while the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was Prime Minister, and he made precisely the same plea as the right hon. Gentleman now makes. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince said:Could there be any worse dementia shown by anyone than that shown by bringing in a Bill at that particular time, a time when, above all others, men of responsibility and good will should try to pull together?Nevertheless the right hon. Gentleman persisted in his dementia, and what was the result? It was the Bill upon the strength of which the Labour Government drew up their proposals for dealing with an apprehended industrial struggle. It is that same Act of Parliament upon which the right hon. Gentleman said this Government acted, and I hope the same beneficent result will follow the persistence in the course which the Government has marked out for itself in connection with this Bill. We have been told that this is a lawyer's Bill. It is a citizen's Bill. It is a Bill which is conceived in
§ the interests of a large, silent, suffering class. [Interruption.] We have been told that the trade unionists number between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000. but what about the millions who are told that they are to be trampled on but may not complain? Are they to be the silent victims of this strife between employers and employed? The Government have not been swift to act. Two years ago the Prime Minister made what he described as his gesture in this House, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) taunted the Prime Minister this evening with praying when he ought to be acting. Two years have passed. One year was spent in preparation for a struggle as disastrous as the floods which are now threatening to engulf a city. [Interruption.] Another year has been spent in making preparations for another struggle in many quarters. We hoped that, the trade unions would carry out the reforms which the Prime Minister waited for. The time for waiting has passed, and the time for action has arrived.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 388: Noes, 168.1895
|Division No. 106]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bentlnck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Berry, Sir George||Burman, J. B.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Bethel, A.||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.|
|Albery, Irving James||Betterton, Henry B.||Burton, Colonel H. W.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Butler, Sir Geoffrey|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Caine, Gordon Hall|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Campbell, E. T.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Blundell, F. N.||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Appiln, Colonel R. V. K.||Boothby, R. J. G.||Cassels, J. D.|
|Apsley, Lord||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Brass, Captain W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Atkinson, C.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Briggs, J. Harold||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Briscoe, Richard George||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Balniel, Lord||Brittain, Sir Harry||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Chilcott, Sir Warden|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Christie, J. A.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Buchan, John||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Clayton, G. C.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Bennett, A. J.||Bullock, Captain M.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Hartington, Marquess of||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Philip||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Haslam, Henry C.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Cope, Major William||Hawke, John Anthony||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Couper, J. B.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Murchison, Sir Kenneth|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Hills, Major John Waller||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hilton, Cecil||Neville, R. J.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cunllffe, Sir Herbert||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Holt, Captain H. P.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Homan, C. W. J.||Oakley, T.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N).||Perring, Sir William George|
|Drewe, C.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Duckworth, John||Hume, Sir G. H.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Phllipson, Mabel|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hurd, Percy A.||Pilcher, G.|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Ellis, R. G.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Preston, William|
|England, Colonel A.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Jacob, A. E.||Radford, E. A.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Raine, W.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Jephcott, A. R.||Ramsden, E.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Falls, Sir Charles F||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Kidd, J. (Llnlithgow)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Remer, J. R.|
|Fielden, E. B.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Remnant, Sir James|
|Finburgh, S.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Lamb, J. Q.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Forrest, W.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Fllnt)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Ropner, Major L.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Rye, F. G.|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Loder, J. de V.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Gates, Percy||Looker, Herbert William||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Lougher, Lewis||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Goff, Sir Park||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sandon, Lord|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Lumley, L. R.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Grace, John||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Savery, S. S.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks. W. R., Sowerby)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||McLean, Major A.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Macmillan, Captain H.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's, Univ., Belfast)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Skelton, A. N.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Macquisten, F. A.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dlne, C.)|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Malone, Major P. B.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Margesson, Captain D.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E)|
|Hanbury, C.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Meller, R. J.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Harland, A.||Merriman, F. B.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Wallace, Captain D. E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Strickland, Sir Gerald||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Stuart, Crichton., Lord C.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Withers, John James|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Warrender, Sir Victor||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Styles, Captain H. Walter||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Womersley, W. J.|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Tasker, R. Inlgo.||Watts, Dr. T.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||Wells, S. R.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Tinne, J. A.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wilson, Sir C. H, (Leeds, Central)|
|Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Winby, Colonel L. P.||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Waddington, R.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardie, George D.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harney, E. A.||Scurr, John|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harris, Percy A.||Sexton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Hayday, Arthur||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Baker, Walter||Hayes, John Henry||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Briant, Frank||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, H. B. Lees-(Keighley)|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Bromfield, William||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Phillo|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kennedy, T.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kirkwood, D.||Sullivan, J.|
|Clowes, S.||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawrence, Susan||Taylor, R. A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lee, F.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lindley, F. W.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Connolly, M.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lunn, William||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Mackinder, W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||MacLaren, Andrew||Townend, A. E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||March, S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maxton, James||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Walsh, Rt. Hon Stephen|
|Dennison, R.||Montague, Frederick||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Duncan, C.||Morris, R. H.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Dunnico, H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Mosley, Oswald||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Fenby, T. D.||Murnin, H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Oliver, George Harold||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Palin, John Henry||Whiteley, W.|
|Gillett, George M.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, Dr. J. H (Llanelly)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Potts, John S.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenall, T.||Purcell, A. A.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffs)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Riley, Ben||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Ritson, J.||Wright, W.|
|Groves, T.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Rose, Frank H||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1896
§ The House divided; Ayes, 386; Noes, 171.1901
|Division No. 107]||AYES.||[11. 13 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hanbury, C.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Harland, A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool. W. Derby)||Cooper, A. Duff||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Cope, Major William||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Couper, J. B.||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)|
|Atkinson, C.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hills, Major John Walter|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsay, Gainsbro)||Hilton, Cecil|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir- S. J. G.|
|Balnfel, Lord||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Holt, Captain H. P.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Homan, C. W. J.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Berry, Sir George||Dixey, A. C.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Bethel, A.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Drewe, C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Duckworth, John||Hudson, R. S. (Cumb'l'nd, Whiteh'n)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Ellis, R. G.||lliffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||England, Colonel A.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Jacob, A. E.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Everard, W. Lindsay||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Brass, Captain W.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Falls, Sir Charles F.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Fermoy, Lord||Kidd, J. (Linllthgow)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Fielden, E. B.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Finburgh, S.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Forrest, W.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Buchan, John||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon- George R.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lister, Cunliffe., Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Burman, J. B||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handswith)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Gates, Percy||Loder, J. de V.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Looker, Herbert William|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lougher, Lewis|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Campbell, E. T.||Goff, Sir Park||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Gower, Sir Robert||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Cassels, J. D.||Grace, John||Lumley, L. R.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Grant, Sir J. A.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H.(W'th's'w, E.)||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||McLean, Major A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Blrm.,W.)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Macmillan Captain H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Grotrian, H. Brent||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Gunston, Captain D. W.||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hammersley, S. S.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K||Remer, J. R.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Meller, R. J.||Remnant, Sir James||Thom. Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Merriman, F. B.||Rentoul, G. S.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Rice, Sir Frederick||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Mond, Rt. Hon Sir Alfred||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Ropner, Major L.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Russell, Alexander West-(Tynemouth)||Waddington, R.|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Rye, F. G.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Moreing, Captain A. H.||Salmon, Major I.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Neville, R. J.||Sandon, Lord||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Savery, S. S.||Wells, S. R.|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Oakley, T.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Shepperson, E. W.||Wilson, Sir Charles H. (Leeds, Central.)|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wilson. R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst.)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Pennefather, Sir John||Skelton, A. N.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Penny, Frederick George||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Withers, John James|
|Perring, Sir William George||Smithers, Waldron||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome.||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Philipson, Mabel||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wood, E. (Chester, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Pilcher, G.||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Preston, William||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Storry-Deans, R.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Radford, E. A.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Raine, W.||Strickland, Sir Gerald||Young. Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Ramsden, E.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Styles, Captain H. Walter||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Day, Colonel Harry||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dennison, R.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Duncan, C.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Baker, Walter||Dunnico, H.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Barnes, A.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Barr, J.||Fenby, T. D.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Batey, Joseph||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Gardner, J. P.||Kennedy, T|
|Bondfield, Margaret||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gibbins, Joseph||Kirkwood, D|
|Briant, Frank||Gillett, George M.||Lansbury, George|
|Broad, F. A.||Gosling, Harry||Lawrence, Susan|
|Bromfield, William||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lawson, John James|
|Bromley, J.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lee, F.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Greenall, T.||Lindley, F. W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lowth, T.|
|Buchanan, G.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mackinder, W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Groves, T.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Charleton, H. C.||Grundy, T. W.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Clowes, S.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||March, S.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Maxton, James|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hardie, George D.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)|
|Compton, Joseph||Harney, E. A.||Montague, Frederick|
|Connolly, M.||Harris, Percy A.||Morris, R. H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hayday, Arthur||Mosley, Oswald|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Murnin, H.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hirst, G. H.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Oliver, George Harold||Sitch, Charles H.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Palin, John Henry||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Paling, W.||Smillie, Robert||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Smith, Ronnie (Penistone)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Potts, John S.||Snell, Harry||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Purcell, A. A.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles||Welsh, J. C.|
|Riley, Ben||Stamford, T. W.||Westwood, J.|
|Ritson, J.||Stephen, Campbell||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Whiteley, W.|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Strauss, E. A.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Rose, Frank H.||Sullivan, J.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Saklatvala, Shapurji||Sutton, J. E.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Taylor, R. A.||Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Scurr, John||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sexton, James||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Windsor, Walter|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wright, W.|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Thurtle, Ernest||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Townend, A. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||Mr. Hayes and Mr. T. Henderson.|
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next (9th May).—[Commander Eyres Monsell.]
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.