§ 4.0. p.m.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
I beg to move,That, in the opinion of this House, certain disclosures contained in the Report of the Board of Inquiry appointed to investigate certain statements affecting civil servants, and other disclosures made subsequently, regarding what is known as the Zinovieff letter, are of national importance and concern and should be made the subject of an inquiry by a body empowered to take evidence on oath, to send for witnesses and papers, and to report.The Motion deals with what is known as the Zinovieff Letter. The House must remember that it played two distinct and separate parts, and that it must be considered, first of all, in relation to one, and then in relation to the other. The first aspect of this document was a Foreign Office paper handled by the Foreign Office, the subject, first of all, of diplomatic consideration, and, in due course, of diplomatic action. The second aspect of the letter was as the subject of what is generally admitted now to be a political fraud—a fraud perhaps unmatched in its cold calculation and preparation in our political history. As a Foreign Office document and contrary to all—I do not suppose I can call them rules, but certainly to practices and traditions—it became the subject of hot political controversy. The point that was raised, both by candidates and by the newspapers that supported them, was that I had had this letter in my hands for a considerable period of time and that, with that letter in my hands, I had deliberately decided that nothing was to be done with it, because its treatment and publication were to have a political influence and were to affect the result of the General Election. That was the accusation made against me by scores of Members on the other side. Lord Curzon, who was my predecessor in office, was good enough to state quite categorically that I had had that letter in my hands for a month. Lord Birkenhead was a little more generous. Lord Birkenhead said that I had had it for three weeks. The Prime Minister and a few others were still a little more generous. They suggested that I had had it at least a fortnight, that I had sat upon it, that 48 I had kept it in the dark, and that, deliberately and of design, I, as the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, decided to treat that document, not as a national servant, but as a Party Leader, and to suppress it from publication. That was their accusation, the Prime Minister, as I say, being the most generous in suggesting that I had had it for a fortnight.
When the accusation was made, I was not in a position to reply, because I had not the information in my hands. As soon as I got the information, I gave the dates. I gave the dates at a meeting at Cardiff, and those dates have stood the test of all examination and all publication. I would like to remind the House that they are contained in the Report of the Treasury Committee that examined the Francs Case, but in order that the House may have a wider view, because a wider view is necessary for our Debate to-day, I will give a date or two that is not in the Treasury, Report. The Government was defeated on the 8th October, and the letter came into the hands of the Foreign Office on the 10th October. That was the first time that the Foreign Office knew of the existence of the letter. The 10th October was a Friday. Inquiries began to be pursued regarding the letter on the 11th. Sunday intervened, and it was not until the 13th that the responsible official at the Foreign Office made up his mind that he should regard the letter as a "live affair." On the morning of the 13th, I left London, and on the evening of the 13th, I spoke in Glasgow. Hon. Members can find their references in any newspaper published at the time. It was not until the next morning that the letter was registered in the Foreign Office, and it was not until the morning of the 14th, nearly 24 hours after I had left London, that it was decided that the letter was of such a nature as to be ultimately communicated to me—not at the moment, not at the time; not to be communicated to me on the 14th, but ultimately to be communicated to me. Where is the fortnight?
I started the journey south from Glasgow. On the 15th, I arrived in the Manchester area, and after an exceedingly heavy day, speaking all day long, I found the place where I was to spend the night very late that night, and in that place I found several dispatch bags 49 from the Foreign Office. And among the business, without any distinction, among the ordinary business, I discovered this letter on the 15th, either that night before 12 o'clock, or the next morning after midnight, and before I went to bed I dealt with this letter. I dealt with it without any prevarication and without any delay. I said that that letter, assuming that it was authentic and that its authenticity was proved, ought to be dealt with definitely, decisively and without any shilly-shallying. I minuted it for publication. Publication was minuted then, because at that time, as subsequently, there were two views as to how Russian affairs were to be handled. One view was that we should just allow our grievances against Russia to accumulate and that we should pigeon-hole them, as it were, in our hearts and in our recollection. No action to be taken—it was a very comical method, but it was the method pursued by the Government of hon. Members opposite—no communication, no publication, no definite and precise handling at the time. The other view was that every time there was a breach of proper, just, reasonable diplomatic relations in the action of the Moscow Government with us, it should be made the subject of a definite representation—that was my own view—and that, following the representation, as soon as the negotiations had been completed, as soon as the incident was finished by having gone through the whole of these stages, the negotiations should be published.
A few more dates. The date on which the letter was registered was the 14th. It reached me on the 16th. My handling of it went back to the Foreign Office on the 16th with instructions, and it was returned to me, with certain instructions that I had written on the 15th or the 18th, to Port Talbot, where it arrived on the 21st. On the 21st I was away. I had gone into the Midlands. I returned to Port Talbot late on the 22nd or early on the 23rd. On the 23rd, I dealt with the document lain, but, from the nature of my dealing with it, it did not appear to me to be strong enough or pointed enough to meet the circumstances. Therefore, I sent it back, and it reached the Foreign Office on the 24th; that was a Friday, and on the night of that day it was published. I gave those essential dates at Cardiff, and I am not, therefore, 50 giving them for the first time. To this day, there never has been a withdrawal of the accusation by any of those who made it, with the exception of what might have been regarded as a withdrawal, made, I think, in January, 1925, by the present Foreign Secretary, who said that if he had had the handling of the document he could not have done it otherwise than as I did. But that was after the event was over.
What has happened as a result of all this? There was no change in the policy of the Foreign Office. The publication on the Friday night was done in order to protect the Foreign Office from the attack that it knew was to be made, the political attack which it knew was to be made upon it through the "Daily Mail" and other newspapers next morning. It was done on the expectation that as soon as the definite proof was given of the way in which the matter had been dealt with at the Foreign Office, the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, to their party, to their candidates, and to the electors, had made the statement that we were handling that letter in order to suppress it, would withdraw. As soon as proof was given to the country that so far from that being the fact, the letter was being handled with an energy in relation to time, and an energy in relation to ideas with which documents of the kind had probably never been handled before in the Foreign Office, the expectation was that the statements about our sitting upon the document for a month or three weeks or a, fortnight would be immediately withdrawn. The expectation was rather an innocent one, and those who took the view that it was an innocent one were fully justified by the way in which right hon. Gentlemen opposite responded when the facts were known after my speech at Cardiff.
Moreover, Lord Curzon and the others said that my right hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson), who was then Home Secretary, had had that letter circulated; that he knew all about it and that he, also, was sitting upon it, aiding and abetting me in our policy of suppression. It is known perfectly well that that document could not be circulated as a Cabinet paper. Under the circumstances, no Cabinet meeting was held and no circulation of Cabinet papers was possible. The circulation that took place was not a circulation between political 51 Departments, but circulation between the Intelligence Sub-Departments of the various big offices concerned with the subject. Still, not a word of explanation and not a word of apology! There was a misunderstanding about the despatch of the Note on the Friday night. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said so. That misunderstanding, if the case had been honourably dealt with on the platform and in the newspapers, was purely a domestic matter and had no political significance whatever. It was a misunderstanding in the sphere of judgment and never in the sphere of loyalty either to the officer's chief or to his position as a servant of the nation. That misunderstanding, most unfortunately, owing to the way in which the hue and cry was used at the time, appeared as a very essential political issue.
That is the Foreign Office side. That is the history of the document as a State document being handled at the Foreign Office. The dates which I have given completely disprove and dispose, I hope for ever, of the great argument and the great stunt that hon. Members opposite used so liberally during that week and the following days before the Election, and to which they owe to a very large extent their success at the polls.
Another aspect of the letter is its aspect as a political weapon, as the powder, if we might so express ourselves, for a political explosion—a Guy Fawkes sort of arrangement which came off. Again, there are one or two facts which the House is bound to keep its mind upon in order to understand the situation. Our Russian policy at the time was being hotly attacked. To that we never objected, but no controversy of our time has enlisted the services of a greater number of blackguards than the Russian controversy. Documents were flying about like leaves, and, in refreshing my memory, as I have been during the last week, with some letters, memoranda and notes that I have under very careful lock and key, I was amazed to discover the number of photographs of forged documents which I have had come into my possession from time to time, and the forgery of which was so plain on the face of them—I confine myself to that limited statement— 52 that they had been detected after—mark you, not detected before anything happened, but detected after a more or less lengthy run to compensate the pains of those who had been to the trouble to set them into circulation. Moreover, during the last few months there have been cases in Berlin and Paris which prove conclusively that every European Government in those days was being inundated with forged documents, and there was a recent case in America which shows that the American Government officials were also imposed upon in the same way. Hon. Members have got to keep that in their minds. That is one of the factors.
The second point is this. No one has ever seen the original of that letter. I have come across no one who has alleged that he has seen the original of that letter, and, therefore, the ordinary means of detecting forgeries, similarities of handwriting and so on, do not exist as far as this letter is concerned. Proofs of authenticity or otherwise are almost impossible to get in relation to this letter. Then, on the third point, more than one copy of this letter simultaneously appeared. There was one copy that went to the Foreign Office. The late editor of the "Daily Mail" confessed to having had two copies sent to him from independent sources, and there is very good reason for believing that one copy went to the Conservative headquarters by the middle, or even the beginning of that week, and was acted upon. In any event, Fleet Street during the week was in possession of the news of the existence of the thing, and on the 23rd the "Daily Mirror" had a paragraph on the coming bombshell, naming Zinovieff and a letter written by him as being something that was to be sprung upon the Labour Government before the Election came on. In at least two provincial papers the London Letter contained a reference to the coming bombshell, and at least in one other case a journalist stated that journalists were invited to come to the Conservative headquarters on the Tuesday, and were informed that they should keep themselves ready for something that was going to happen at the week-end.
Then there is the other circumstance. I hope hon. Members will keep vary clearly in their minds that when this letter appeared, there were two major 53 falsehoods told about it by those who published them. The first falsehood was as to when it reached the Foreign Office. That falsehood was only possible because they carefully refrained from asking the Foreign Office when it did get the letter. They preferred to speculate, because by speculating they could impose their fraud more easily upon the public of this country. The second major falsehood is as to what was being done about it. Again, hon. Members must, in all fairness and justice, admit that when this letter came into the hands of those who published it, the very last thing that they desired to do was to find out anything about the letter, either whether it was authentic, or when it came into the hands of the Government, or what action the Government were taking about it. They preferred to tell their own story, and to manufacture the story out of their own malicious imagination.
Therefore, the conclusion is this. It was a deliberately planned and devised concoction of deceit, fitted artfully for the purpose of deceiving the public and to influence the Election. That it played a major part in deciding the verdict, no one would deny. That it was a fraudulent one, few would dare to deny. The Government cannot content themselves by saying, "Oh, well, the public have been imposed upon before. The best way to cure the public of being imposed upon is to leave the public to experience the evil consequences of their actions, while in a state of being imposed upon." And they are evidently doing their very best to enlighten the public in that respect. They cannot go on saying, "It is the public's look-out; we have benefited by it, and we have no further interest in it." They cannot reasonably and justly say that. We are all guilty, I dare say, of stepping over marks in the heat and in the rough-and-tumble of elections. Yes, but this is not that. This is something quite different. This kind of thing at an election belongs to a totally different category of action. This is a case of a successful conspiracy of a few people, some of them foreigners, including the controllers of own own newspapers, to influence the public mind, possibly by forgery, certainly by fraud, and to have this House of Commons elected in proportions that would have been very different but for that fraud.
54 We pass Orders at the beginning of every Session protecting ourselves against influences which we consider ought not to be exercised against us, laying down the rights and privileges of the House of Commons in this, that and the other respect. That Governments, however, can be elected by means such as these is the greatest blow struck at democratic election in our time. The people require safeguarding. People require safeguarding by an exposure of how fraud was committed upon them—how it was done. Not only the people, but this House itself requires safeguarding in exactly the same sort of way. If these illegitimate influences, now so well known and so well exposed, are to be treated as trivial, simply because they return a majority of Members to this House, what is going to be the position of our public life? If the present Government to-day, in spite of the benefits they have received by it, are going to get up and say in substance—I do not care what words they use, if they refuse this inquiry to-day—that it is perfectly legitimate that three or four men may use fraud and forgery during the last few days of an election—I say that if a few foreigners, a few editors of discredited newspapers, newspapers of Pekin massacres, lay their heads together and deliberately start a story such as I have recited to-day, and the Government have got nothing to say about it, then it is one of the greatest blows to the liberty of election in this country that this House has ever examined and rejected.
That is not all. It is all the worse that it was the Foreign Office which was attacked. The Foreign Secretary is supposed to be a person who is protected against the ordinary rough-and-tumble fights in our partisan politics, and it is very good that he should be. It is very largely a matter of national necessity that the Foreign Secretary, while criticised, and while different points of view should be brought to bear upon his actions and his policy—while all that should be done, it is perfectly right that the Foreign Secretary, both in the country and in the House of Commons, ought to be regarded as occupying a specially protected position. What is the claim here? The claim is that while these negotiations were going on, while the handling of this letter was being proceeded 55 with, while the affair was being dealt with, publication should have taken place, and because the publication did not take place then, all sorts of sinister influences and sinister intentions were attributed to those responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs. I say it is an impertinent claim on the part of any editor that a spy, or a friend, or a friend of a friend, or anyone in possession of documents, is doing patriotic duty in forcing the hand of Foreign Office officials instead of allowing them to study, without any disturbance of mind, what are the real national interests. From this narrow but extremely important point of view, this affair is doubly dangerous. It is a deplorable innovation upon which the Government are called to take action by instituting an inquiry into the whole circumstances in which it originated and became successful. Russia in 1924; who may it be in 1929? Germany, France, America? They are nations with whom we are in diplomatic relations, and, if those relations were handled in the same way as those people handled that Red Letter, creating that political stunt, they would bring about a condition which would very much worsen our relations with those countries and perhaps prevent the spread and establishment of goodwill between us.
Further, around this affair a perfect forest of suspicion, rumours, and tales have grown up, and some of them have shaken public confidence in the Civil Service. If they are to die out very well, but they are not going to die out. Make no mistake about that. They are not going to die out until they are settled, and settled in exactly the same way as the Treasury Committee settled the position created after the law case relating to the francs. In the national interest, they must be sifted, and we must have a Report from a Committee explaining the whole situation. In the Report of the Treasury Committee, certain references were made to this letter. The references were widened in Part III. I am not at all sorry, although Part III did not deal and could not deal fully with the whole question from the national point of view. But immediately after that a letter appeared in a Sunday newspaper from the editor of the newspaper which was responsible primarily for the stunt and the imposition upon the public. His 56 explanations of what he did are tantamount to an accusation against the public service. There was, according to him, an old and trusted friend of his who telephoned to him that there was a document in London which he ought to have, and he was able to inform him that "the Prime Minister knows all about it and is trying to avoid publication." He said that it had been circulated by the Foreign Office to the Home Office, the Admiralty and the War Office. If that be true, that information came from inside. Are the Government going to allow it to remain there?
That is not all. This gentleman says that when he heard that the Foreign Office, the Home Office, the Admiralty and the War Office—may I say, parenthetically, in order that there may be no misunderstanding that these were not the political Departments of the Foreign Office, the Home Office, the Admiralty, or the War Office, but the Intelligence Departments—[An HON. MEMBER: "Worse still!"] No, it is not. It is not fair that the two functions of these offices should be mixed up and that the assumption should be made that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson) who got the letter and saw it. It was nothing of the kind. It was the heads of the Intelligence Departments, and I say that the heads of the Intelligence Departments who received that letter thought it was such nonsense that they described it to me later as "blank"—hon. Members can supply the adjective themselves—tripe. "The problem that was put to me," says this late editor, when he knew that these four Departments had the letter, "was a comparatively simple one"—that is to get a copy of the letter. "The last sentence of the message was almost a solution of it." That, again, is an accusation against these four Departments.
This gentleman says this,, not in conversation when it might be loosely and dramatically expressed, perhaps reported again with additions and trimmings, not in the hot blood of the election or on a platform, but sitting at his own desk writing a document which he knows is going to be published and which he is certain will create a considerable amount of interest. Therefore, the sentence is not a loose one, and is not uttered without consideration.
57 But the effect of this sentence is that, in accordance with his experience, he knew that if a document passed into any one of these four offices it was a perfectly simple thing for him to get a copy of it. He had another friend, a friend who knew about the letter, and this friend came to see him and said that he was disposed to be indignant at the Government's reluctance to allow publication. It is wonderful how all the friends were wrong in the most essential part; and this is very significant. I have it here, and it is as good evidence as I have heard produced to support a much more serious accusation than this. But doing a little bit of constructive work, the curious thing is that all these gentlemen say—I have not said believe—that the Government were doing their best to suppress the evidence,, telling the same story, and so showing quite conclusively that their only purpose was a political stunt. The last sentence:He came to see me, and he was disposed to be indignant at the Government's reluctance to allow publication, but did not think he could help me to get a copy of it.What does that indicate? "He did not think he could help me to get a copy of it." Was that friend a member of the Civil Service? I think we had better know. It is perfectly certain that this peculiar form of words describes far more the position of a man who is in an official position and either has a copy himself by virtue of that position, or knows people who by virtue of that position have a copy of it, than any other type of man who could have been carrying on that conversation:I insisted that I must have it, and at length he promised that if he could obtain the approval of a third person he would send me a copy through the post.Can any form of words be more suspicious of an illegitimate transaction than this? That is not all. Another person came along half-an-hour after, and he had the thing in his pocket, and what he wanted was:My advice as to the best method of publication.What an innocent man he must have been to go to this gentleman who had published more rubbish than anyone else in the course of 10 or 12 years, more lies, more things of the type of the bloodcurdling description of the Pekin 58 Massacres! He goes to this gentleman and asks him for advice as to how he could get it published. He knew perfectly well what he was doing, and that he was going to the place where he would get it published. It is of the greatest importance to the free public life of this country that we should know who these various gentlemen are and how they came into possession of the document. In the end, he got his two documents. There is a clear indication, if this story be true, and I lay emphasis upon that—it is our duty to assume that it may be true, not by way of making an accusation, but by way of establishing a case for proper inquiry—that there is a systematic leakage of important State documents to certain newspapers from public offices.
That is the grave charge that is made here. We have had several leakages recently. I heard the Prime Minister the other day fencing with questions about rubber. Everybody knew his difficulty; at any rate everybody suspected his difficulty. How long is this going to go on? The point here is that if that kind of thing which I experienced during those four days of that week-end, when I was deprived of essential information, which, in spite of all my efforts, I could not get, is going to be resorted to in our future electoral fights, we had better know in order that Departments may be ready to meet that kind of warfare, which, thank goodness, has not yet made itself conspicuous in the public life of this country. If these statements mean anything, they mean that if Labour came into office again, people inside the Departments would carry to its opponents' newspapers information to be used for political purposes. I want there to be no doubt about it.
The position has gone so far that it demands an inquiry, and therefore we would like to know how the letter came into the country, into whose hands it went, and who gave it to this newspaper? Fill in the names and details in an appendix to the statement which appears in the Sunday newspaper. Who was the old and trusted friend? Who was the friend who came and said he had a friend who could give him authority to hand over this paper Who was the friend who had the paper in his pocket—British or foreign? If it is not possible to establish anything more than that, it 59 would be interesting. Who handled it? What happened to it in the Government Departments to which it was sent? These are plain questions, which I hope the Prime Minister is anxious to get answered. It is because I assume that he is anxious to have an answer to them, although he has been a very great beneficiary under the circumstances which gave rise to them, that I move the Motion which stands in my name.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
At breakfast this morning, on taking up my "Daily Herald," my eye was caught by a headline, "Red Letter Day." I said, "Whose Red Letter Day?" In this discussion, it is very important to remember the lesson that I remember being taught many years ago by a most admirable schoolmaster, "You must never write history in the light of after events." I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman's speech has been a little coloured, not unnaturally, by the fact that he has read a certain amount into contemporary history of what happened afterwards. To get a clear perspective of this case, which deserves close and careful examination, it is of considerable importance to put ourselves back, first of all, into the first weeks of October of 1924. Parliament had just been dissolved; the country was just entering upon a General Election. Two events had occurred quite recently which had perturbed the country a good deal and shattered the faith of a great many of the electors that the then Labour Government could handle difficult situations with firmness and with some continuity of purpose, and the two cases were the Campbell case and the Russian Treaty.
If investigations are to be held, no investigation will be more interesting than one into the Campbell case, unless it were an investigation to show why the terms of the Russian Treaty were altered after declarations had been made beforehand that no such alteration would be made. Campbell was arrested on 5th August, and on 6th August he appeared at Bow Street, and was remanded for a week. During the day that he appeared at Bow Street the Communist party circularised all the 60 Labour Members of Parliament, urging on them that the proceedings must be abandoned.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Everyone will be at liberty to put his views to the House later. On the 13th, Campbell came up again at Bow Street. No evidence was offered by the Crown and he was discharged, and the next morning, in the "Daily Herald," there appeared this, published by the Political Bureau of the Communist party:The withdrawal of the charge was made on the sole responsibility of the Labour Government, under severe pressure from such well-known Members of Parliament as George Lansbury, who had volunteered to give evidence on Campbell's defence of justification, James Maxton, A. A. Purcell, John Scurr, and many others.That was an event which had made hon. Members on the Opposition Benches apprehensive that the extreme wing of the Labour movement was controlling the Government. That was quickly followed by the Russian Treaty. In June the then Prime Minister had stated that there would be no question of a loan to Russia. In August, when the Treaty, after negotiations had been broken off, was brought before this House, it contained a Clause which guaranteed the interest and sinking fund by British taxpayers of loans to be raised by the Soviet Government. That, again, caused considerable apprehension, not only as to the prospective burden which it was liable to place on British taxpayers, but because it was widely felt that the same influences which had been at work in the Campbell case had been at work in the matter of the Russian Treaty. It was with those two events fresh in people's minds, with the election turning largely on the handling of the Russian question and the power of the extremist section in the Labour party, that the election began, and by the day that the letter and despatch were published—the documents of which we have been speaking to-day—that election, so far as the Labour Government was concerned, was already lost.
I would like to dwell for a few moments, as the Leader of the Opposition did, on the question of whether this letter was genuine or not. The Labour Government had an inquiry, and could not make up their minds, and very honestly said so. They were complete agnostics; 61 they did not know whether it was a revelation or not. When our Government came in, as was explained very fully by the Foreign Secretary on 15th December, 1924, during the Debate on the Address, we began by setting up a Committee, which comprised an unusual number of men familiar with dealing with all kinds of evidence. The Committee contained a Lord Chancellor, an ex-Lord Chancellor, two former Foreign Secretaries, and Lord Cecil, himself a barrister of no mean attainments. The result of their investigations was that they were convinced that the letter was genuine. The Foreign Office, I think, obviously believed that it was genuine. But you have some very interesting evidence, some in this country and some abroad, to which it is worth giving a minute or two's consideration. Lord Haldane said at Reading, during the election:For myself I think the Foreign Office have done right in treating the document as, on the balance, not being a forgery but being a genuine document. It may be so. On the balance of evidence the Foreign Office are bound to assume that it is so, and that is the line apparently taken by the Prime Minister himself in his speech at Cardiff this afternoon.I shall have a word to say on that speech by and by. But I want the House to know this: There was nothing new in the so-called Zinovieff letter. It embodied teachings with which we were all familiar, in reports of speeches from Russia, in articles in the Press; and there had broken out all over Europe at that time similar documents——[Interruption.] Yes, but the curious feature is this, and perhaps hon. Members opposite have forgotten it—that in no other country but this did the Soviet authorities say that the documents were forgeries.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I am sorry to interrupt. The right hon. Gentleman has just made the statement that in no other country did the Soviet Government deny it. Is he aware that they not only denied the authorship but asked for a prosecution in France?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not wish that we should misunderstand each other. There were so many documents lying about Europe. Perhaps what the right hon. Gentleman says is true, and I take it from him. But the line of 62 attack, by corrupting the loyalty and discipline of troops, which was one of the principal things recommended in the Zinovieff letter, is what had gone on from before that time and during that time, and is going on still. It was for that that the "Workers' Weekly" was prosecuted in the Campbell case. Leaflets of the kind I have mentioned were given to the troops when they went to China. They have been given to the troops in China, bearing the sickle and hammer, showing the mark of their origin. There were some cases, the House will remember, in the Autumn of 1925, when several men were sent to prison for the same reason, There is a case going on in Scotland now for the same cause.
Let me just remind the House of this. When the letter came to England, what was the reaction in Moscow? According to our evidence Moscow was for a moment in a state of panic. Why? Because the Russians could not make out whether the Zinovieff letter had been sent from Moscow by someone who had betrayed the Russian Communists, or whether they had been betrayed by an English Communist in London. On the evening of 24th October, M. Rakovsky telegraphed, not in cypher, to Moscow, the contents of the document, and I think also the despatch. Immediately after that, according to information which we have, M. Tchitcherin told his colleagues that he had questioned Zinovieff concerning the letter. Zinovieff admitted that the letter had been sent to the Communist party, but he was at a loss to know how the British Government had got a copy of it. He presumed that the leakage was due to treachery either in Moscow or in London. The text of the document, he said, was in some places slightly mutilated, but M. Tchitcherin said that it would be impossible to accuse the British Government of having mutilated the document, because that would be equivalent to a confession of authenticity. The only course they could take was, at once, to denounce it as forgery.
The evidence I am not going to disclose, but I have the consent of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and, if the Leader of the Opposition, who has held the Office of Prime Minister, desires to see it, it is at his disposal. About a month later, Tchitcherin told his 63 colleagues that after the Communist party in England had received the original it had been destroyed by a gentleman named Mr. Inkpin. This, Mr. Tchitcherin said, will enable our Government—that is the Soviet Government—to insist on an investigation into the matter, because no actual copy had ever been produced. It is interesting to observe that Tchitcherin took his colleagues into his confidence again this March, alter the holding of the Francs Case Inquiry and before Mr. Marlowe's letter. He was then inclined to think that the leakage had occurred in London, and, like hon. Members opposite, he is strongly in favour of holding an inquiry. Tie added that they were on safe ground concerning the Communist International, since the Soviet Government always publicly dissociated themselves from their activities.
So much for what took place in Moscow. There is only one other circumstance which to my mind is one of the most interesting facts, suggesting that they, at any rate, believed in the authenticity of this letter and it is this: Not very long after the Zinovieff letter appeared in England, a Russian in Moscow was apprehended by the Soviet Government. They had every reason, I understand, to believe that he was connected with the giving away of a copy of that letter and he was shot on that account. The right hon. Gentleman made some observation about forgeries. I understood, diligent reader of the papers as I am, that we were to be confronted to-day with an affidavit from someone who is going to swear that he had forged the Zinovieff letter. Perhaps that is coming, but if hon. Members opposite can produce one on those Benches, he will indeed join a gallant crowd. I have several names of those who have a prior right to claim that honour, and I think it will interest the House to learn them. Druzhilovsky, Zhemtchevzhnikov, Pantziurkovsky, Bernstein alias Henry Lawrence, alias Lorenzo and Shreck. Each of them has provided a most circumstantial story as to how he forged that letter. So much for whether the Zinovieff letter is genuine or not. Hon. Members opposite, I imagine, will continue to believe that it is not, but the question of whether it is or is not matters a great deal as I shall show in a minute. The point I was going to ask at this 64 moment was—did the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Labour party mean to publish the letter and the dispatch or not?
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I am perfectly certain the Prime Minister has had access to the minutes. Publication, certainly, when the negotiations were completed. Does the right hon. Gentleman accuse me of withholding—[interruption.]
§ The PRIME MINISTER
In the circumstances, it is a matter of great importance whether publication was made, so that the people of this country might know the kind of campaign Russia was carrying on at the moment when we were proposing to lend her money.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Is the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that when. I used the word "publication," I did it for the purpose of covering an intention to withhold it from the public? Has he been informed that. as a matter of fact I intended to publish as soon as the dossier was complete?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, I imagine the right hon. Gentleman said he meant to publish. I imagine he would have given his consent to publication by the Monday or Tuesday. He would not have held it longer than that, because, I am sure he would not have desired the Election to proceed to the end without the country knowing these circumstances that had occurred. This really is a rather important point. If the right hon. Gentleman was not proposing to publish it, then of course it would be a very serious thing. If he was proposing not to publish it, so as to conceal the truth, it would be to use a phrase which he uses very often, "a fraud on the English people." As he was going to publish it, I have the greater difficulty in seeing what his grievance is in the anticipating of this publication by a matter of a few days. Hon. Members have allowed themselves to get so prejudiced in this matter that they find it very difficult to throw themselves back to the period when this publication was made. When I first saw the publication of the letter and the despatch which appeared together—I think on the Saturday morning—the first thing I thought was, "Thank goodness the Prime Minister at last is showing backbone." If the Prime Minister had stuck to that line and followed it up with a 65 powerful speech on the lines of that despatch, I believe he might easily have saved a very large number of seats. But when he spoke at Cardiff on the Tues-day——
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Then he dissipated altogether the ideas which I had formed about him. I read that speech with great care and I was unable to make anything of it. I have had recourse in my difficulty to one who could form a far better judgment than I of what words mean, because he had greater experience and that is Mr. Asquith as he was then. I looked up to see what he said of that Cardiff speech and he said he could not remember to have read a more distracted, incoherent, unilluminating statement in the whole of his political life. He said:The Prime Minister was full of indignation. He talked a great deal about mares' nests and red herrings and red plots, but what was it all about? Until Saturday morning the whole world was in the same state of ignorance as to the existence of any such letter, be it genuine or forged, as Mr. Ramsay MacDonald seems to have kept the members of his own Cabinet.He had a good deal more to say about it, but I will only give one more extract. He observed that the Prime Minister, as he then was, said:I have no doubt Russia will carry out the treaties with her.Mr. Asquith said that wasthrowing dust in the eyes of the electors, and I make no further comment upon it.He added:I want to make it perfectly clear that we"—that is, the Liberals—at any rate who are fair-minded critics. … are profoundly dissatisfied and more than dissatisfied. We feel humiliated. It is a humiliation to our public life that an incident of that kind should have been possible.I have tried to illustrate the position in the country at that time to show where the anxieties of the electors were and how essential it was for them that they should know the whole truth up to date. What, after all, is to be the subject of the inquiry which we are asked to consider? According to the Motion, it is to inquire into disclosures contained in the Civil Service Report, and subsequent 66 disclosures concerning the letter. Under the first head, I do not think there is really anything except certain facts which have been obtained from a statement made by a former servant of a Mrs. Dyne, as to fragments of conversation overheard while in her service. The Leaders of the party opposite, I believe, attach very little importance to that themselves. It has been examined, fully investigated, and reported upon by the Fisher Committee, and they say in paragraph 53:We are satisfied that there is not the slightest foundation for any of the suspicions. which have in our opinion most unjustly attached to Mr. Gregory in connection with the events of 24th and 25th October, 1924, and we beg to report accordingly.I think no more need, be said about that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh !"] I do not think the Leader of the Opposition made any reference to that case in his speech. It is made the peg on which to hang this discussion—a rusty peg, but still a peg—and when I was asked to find time for such a discussion, I immediately said I would because I think discussions on the subject of Zinovieff and his letter are always interesting and can never fail to do good. I have heard one or two hon. Members opposite say, and I know the right hon. Gentleman himself has either said or written it recently, that it is a matter of indifference whether the Zinovieff letter be a forgery or not. To my mind, that is of capital importance, because, if it be a forgery, then there is a case of gross fraud in publishing it. If it be a genuine letter, the whole situation is entirely different and publication might become a public service. It cannot be wrong to tell the electorate the truth, provided that that truth is not obtained in an illegitimate manner. What new facts have come to light in what is now known as the Marlowe letter?
It was always known that the "Daily Mail" had a copy of this letter. We now know that they had two copies. I do not think there is very much in that. As for the information, where the right hon. Gentleman said it was tantamount to an accusation against the public service, remember this: Mr. Marlowe is an honourable man and a great journalist, but he is at present in the South of France, he is away from all his works of reference, he is speaking of events which happened three and a half years 67 ago, and I have never yet known newspaper men, with all their virtues, who were anxious to belittle the importance of their calling. And mark, that the information of which he speaks and which the right hon. Gentleman considered so confidential, was entirely wrong on the subject of date, and as to any question of circulation of such a kind, the wording is of a very misleading nature, although the right hon. Gentleman put in an explanation, evidently seeing that I should at once put my finger on this. Anyone who has ever had any time in any branch of the Service, and in many places in the Forces, and who has served as I say, at any time, is perfectly familiar with the procedure in these cases, and there is absolutely no evidence of any kind that a communication of that kind was made or need necessarily be made by anyone connected with the public service.
We are speaking so much in this House as though we were discussing a British State document. We are discussing a document sent from Moscow to the British Communist party, and anyone who knew of its existence was perfectly at liberty to go to the Press. Why should not he? Is there anything fraudulent about it, or is there anything in the nature of a conspiracy about it? There was a wider circulation than hon. Members realised. It was on the 10th October that this letter had already been discussed by the executive of the Communist party. You do not suppose they all hold their tongues. When men are traitors—
§ Mr. MAXTON
This is rather an important matter if the proper course of the Debate is to be followed. Will the right hon. Gentleman give something to support the very categorical statement that the Communist party executive had already discussed it? It is not enough in a case like this merely to make statements of that sort.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, Sir, that I will not do. I will add this: If history has taught me anything, it has taught me that when men are traitors to their own country, they will be traitors to one another. The form of inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman wants is one by which we can find out how the "Daily Mail" got the document 68 Remember, it was not an official secret, it was not the property of His Majesty's Government, it did not emanate from the Civil Service—that, he has said himself—and it was a document the publication of which, in my view, was a public duty, provided that it was obtained by honourable means. At this point the not unnatural question occurs to me, Why did not the Prime Minister in October, 1924, send for Mr. Marlowe at once, instead of waiting three and a half years to ask for this inquiry?
§ Mr. THOMAS
The Prime Minister has just made a statement and asked a question. [Interruption.] I want to ask the Prime Minister, Before he made that statement, was he not aware that Mr. Marlowe was sent for?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Hon. Members on my left bring forward a Motion, and then they decline to hear the reply.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) made use of an expression which cannot be permitted in this House. I must call upon him to withdraw it.
§ The hon. Member withdrew accordingly.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It is a very interesting fact that the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) has just given us, and it would be interesting to know what Mr. Marlowe said.
§ Mr. J. JONES
On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman just said Mr. Marlowe was not called upon, but now he says what he said when he was called upon.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
There would have been, so far as I know, no inherent difficulty in the Labour Government having set up an inquiry before they left office, but they did not do so, and threeand-a-half years afterwards they are asking us to do so, on such grounds as the right hon. Gentleman has put forward. Now let me put to the House of Commons one or two practical difficulties. There is nothing perhaps in this country by which our people set greater store than the freedom of the Press. It is, like all forms of freedom, extraordinarily difficult to know, if you are going to interfere with it, where you are going to interfere and where you are going to stop. In this country we have generally taken the line of allowing them complete freedom, and, generally speaking, that confidence has been justified. But in that great profession of journalism are certain principles to which all journalists hold, more closely perhaps than we can imagine in other walks of life. It is looked on as the one thing that cannot be done to betray the confidence of anyone who has given them information. I know myself the difficulty that sometimes arises. Things have got out into the Press which I would much rather did not. I have no means of finding out how they have got there.
If Mr. Marlowe—and he is the only person from whom we can get the information—is sent for before a Committee of any kind, and you put a question to him, and he refuses to answer, what can you do? You may commit him to the Clock Tower, if it be a Parliamentary Committee, and there are certain circumstances, if you stretched your powers, by which you might commit him to prison, probably in the second division; and you would wait for a time, a week, a fortnight or a month, and supposing he still refused to say anything—[An HON. MEMBER: "Leave him there!"]—if you tried to do that, in the first place, you would find that you had made yourself a laughing-stock, and, in the second place, you would have public opinion mobilised against you. You must remember this: If in the Press any escape of a document at any time puts the national State in danger, then indeed a Government can 70 proceed by every means in its power and will have behind it the support of the whole country and of the whole Press, but in this case no British secret has been betrayed, no disservice to the nation has been done; and the Government refuse to lend themselves to an inquiry which can serve no national end and is foredoomed by its very nature to futility. In fact, in a position of this kind, the only source of information that you can get is not from the Press; it is from the man who gave it to the Press. He is free to speak; the Press are not.
Now, within the last 48 hours, there has come to my notice a statement from the gentleman who gave the first information to Mr. Marlowe which Mr. Marlowe received. I agree with Mr. Tchitcherin. I always felt that the leak occurred in London, and not in official circles. I never thought there was a conspiracy; I never thought there was fraud. I felt that the belief in these things had grown up subsequently to the last General Election by considering the history of that time in the light of after events. The information was obtained in London. It was obtained ultimately from the Communist. party. It was possessed by a gentleman unconnected with office and politics, or with any of those things which make a conspiracy—a man in the City; and it was possessed by him and known of 48 hours before the document reached the Government, and known in detail 24 hours before; and he has made a statement, which I have had checked and verified as far as I have been able, in the course of the last 48 hours. I met him three hours ago; I have never seen him before or heard his name, and he has authorised me to read his statement to the House of Commons, which I propose to do. I will say, before I read it, that it is the statement of an honest and a patriotic man, and that I think the action of the "Daily Mail" was the action of a patriotic newspaper. This is the statement:In view of the attacks which have been made by the Labour party and others against the Army and Navy and Civil Services with regard to the communication to the Press of the Zinovieff letter, and having been released from a pledge of secrecy which I gave at the time to my informant, I am now in a position to place you in possession of the whole of the facts which have been known to me from the very beginning.71On the afternoon of 8th October, 1924, at about 6 p.m., I met in London on business matters a gentleman with whom I had had business transactions in the past, and who was, as I knew, in close touch with Communist circles in this country. I may say at once that this gentleman was not, and never had been a British official, nor had he ever been, so far as I am aware, either employed by or connected with any British Government Service.At the conclusion of our business conversation he mentioned to me the fact that he had learnt of the arrival in this country of an extraordinary letter from Moscow, a letter which had been sent to British Communist Headquarters by an individual called Zinovieff, whom he knew as 'Apfelbaum'. From his description of the contents of this letter, I saw at once that the matter was serious, and in view of the incitements to sedition contained in it, I asked him if he could obtain for me the complete text of it. He said 'Yes,' and gave me the complete text at approximately 9.30 a.m. on the following day, 9th October.On reading the letter, I was very indignant to find that at the time when the Labour Government was proposing to lend good British money to Moscow, as part of a treaty which they had actually negotiated, Moscow was at that very moment engaged in fomenting sedition and revolution here. I was particularly incensed by their plans for conducting subversive propaganda in the Navy and Army.I thereupon decided to do two things:
When the necessary arrangements for the safety of my informant had been made, I handed my copy of the letter, not to the 'Daily Mail' direct, but to a trusted City friend whom I knew to be in close touch with that newspaper, and requested him to arrange for its publication.
- (i) To bring the facts to the notice of the Government Department mainly concerned, which I did; and
- (ii) To communicate this information to the electorate of this country through the Press, as soon as my informant was able to settle his affairs here, and to get to a place of safety, for he assured me that his life would be in danger.I would certainly do again in similar circumstances what I did then, and am only too glad to think that I have been instrumental in placing the electorate in possession of the whole of the facts before they supported a policy of lending millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to the country which was at that very moment engaged in fostering sedition in this country.I would add that at no time did I obtain any information whatsoever with regard to the letter or its contents from any official source, and that from first to last I was solely responsible both for obtaining the text of the letter and securing its subsequent publication in the 'Daily Mail.' At no stage in these transactions did I receive any assistance from anyone employed in 72 any capacity in any Government Department. I need hardly say that my action in this matter was dictated solely by patriotic motives and that at no time did I receive any payment or any other reward therefor.
§ Signed: CONRAD DONALD IMTHURN."
§ Mr. MacDONALD
May I ask the Prime Minister whether before he communicated that document to the House, he took the precaution to compare it with official statements of how the letter reached the Foreign Office?
§ Mr. MAXTON
At breakfast this morning, when I took up my "Daily Mail," I gathered from the leading article that this House was to be bored to tears this afternoon by a wearisome renewal of the discussion on the circumstances surrounding the Zinovieff letter. Perhaps this is the period at which the boredom begins, but, up till now, the House of Commons has shown a keener interest in the probing of this matter than anything of which I can think in recent times, except the new Prayer Book. It is probably the element of mystery and superstition in both that causes the particular interest in these two matters. I am surprised at the right hon. Gentleman standing up here and making the speech which he has delivered, and expecting that the country will regard that as a serious and responsible handling of an important matter by the Prime Minister. The telling bits in his statement were quotations from sources which he is not prepared to support in any way. I found from my previous investigations into this matter that, on the one side we had many Communist people, whose word, of course, is discounted by hon. Gentlemen opposite before they say anything, because of their political views—we found, in attempting to investigate, that the Communist people, both in Russia and here, were willing to throw open to the most strict examination all their archives, and every document that was in their offices. They were prepared themselves to appear in the Courts and be cross-examined, and challenged and examined on oath as to 73 their part in the matter. On the other side, there was no one who could be produced or ever has been produced, either to the late Prime Minister or to the present Prime Minister, who had ever seen the document. No responsible Minister of this country has ever seen the original document, or the man who insinuated the copy of it into a Governrnent Department.
I would not worry very much if the issue that was involved was the defeat of my right hon. Friend at the General Election. It was perfectly obvious to me, all the time my right hon. Friends were in the Government, that the right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen sitting on the benches opposite were waiting patiently for a chance to catch them in something discreditable. For nine months the first Labour Government carried on all the intricate work of administration and legislation in this country, and during all that time hon. and right hon. Gentlemen could not point out anything discreditable in their work—not one solitary thing. Nine months was much too long to allow this to go on, and, having failed to get them in anything discreditable, they started to manufacture things against them. I make the accusation here quite bluntly, that that document known as the Zinovieff letter was manufactured by the friends of the right hon. Gentleman, that it was slipped into the Foreign Office by them, and that at the appropriate moment it was slipped out of the Foreign Office again by them, and then, in the country, the worst possible complexion was given to the action of my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary over this letter. I not only read this morning the leader in the "Daily Mail," but I read the leader in the "Daily Mail" on the morning when the great exposure was made. It said:In our main news page to-day we publish a document of overwhelming importance. It should be studied by every man and woman in the country that they may know the great danger which faces them.The right hon. Gentleman tells us that these matters contained in that document were matters of public knowledge throughout the country before; everybody knew what was in the Campbell article which led to the prosecution of Campbell, and all the things in this letter had already been said and written, so that the. "Daily Mail" was not doing 74 anything clever in telling the world that the Communists were supposed to be agitating for violent revolution. That was not the importance of the exposure of 1924. The importance of the exposure was this, that my right hon. Friend and his friends in the Cabinet driven by me, an extremist—and I know I am of immense value to right hon. Gentlemen opposite and to their Press as an extremist, mainly through matters of personal appearance rather than through matters of fact—that my right hon. Friends, driven by the extremists in their party, were entering into understandings with Moscow to bring about violent revolution in this country, and that, if the Election returned them to office, what was going to happen here was Red rule, and the overturning of the Constitution by violence with blood streaming down the streets. That is good enough for the platform, away from this House, but hon. Members know that it is far from being an adequate description of my right hon. Friend's attitude. While it is convenient to describe me as a revolutionist, we know also that that is not even an adequate description of my attitude.
To suggest that Labour in this country was planning and organising in alliance with Russia to bring about violent revolution in this country was to suggest a falsehood and a lie. I put it to right hon. Gentlemen opposite that the tenour of this "Daily Mail" article was the tenour of the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen on the public platform. My right hon. Friend has been asked why this was allowed to remain in the dark for years. I will tell you why. I agreed with the right hon. Gentlemen who investigated this business—we were all quite satisfied—that this matter was a forgery—that is, the committee which investigated this matter on behalf of the party. We reported in those terms to the Labour party executive, and the Labour party executive reported in those terms to the annual conference of the party. We were quite satisfied that it was a forgery, because there was no evidence of its despatch from Russia and no evidence of its receipt here. The Prime Minister may read any document he pleases, but the original letter was never in the headquarters of the British Communist party in this country. It was never there.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Mr. McManus, to whom the letter was supposed to be sent, was actually in Russia at the time it was addressed to him, was living next door to Zinovieff. If he wanted to have secret revolutionary instructions conveyed to this country, he only had to put them in his pocket to bring them over. They were never brought. I know there has been a lot of talk about casting reflections on the Civil Service, and on this person and on the next person, But McManus had a very serious reflection cast upon his honour, and it was cast again to-day by the right hon. Gentleman, when he said men who were traitors to their country could not be honourable to one another. I turn that back on the right hon. Gentleman. That is the matter which I, at least, from these back benches, and the majority of my hon. Friends, want investigated—that underneath our decent public life there is a great cesspool of secret service work—maintained by the public money—behind every Department—and the actions of the clean, decent civil servant and the actions of the responsible political heads, particularly in matters involving our relationship with other countries, depend upon the statements and reports of men who are in the very essence of their trade professional cheats and liars. If our public safety is to depend on this sort of thing, what hope is there for a decent stable system of society of any description?
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that this was a matter of no moment because the trick on this occasion was worked on a Labour Government, but my right hon. Friend will remember that a similar thing happened with reference to the Arcos raid. There it was not the insinuation of a document into a State Department, but the vanishing of it from the Department—right out of the War Office, under the eyes of the right hon. Gentleman and his Army Council and all his field marshals and generals, after, as the Home Secretary told us in the House, they had had three or four warnings that attempts were being made on this paper. I have not refreshed my memory on that particular point, but that is my recollection of what 76 the right hon. Gentleman said—that out of the very middle of the War Office there vanished an important document, not under an incompetent Labour Government——
§ Mr. MAXTON
The interrupter asks me if that was not the Russian secret service. Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest that I would stand here and defend any secret service? If it is dirty in Russia, it is dirty here. If it is indefensible in Russia, it is indefensible here. My hon. Friend will justify it in Great Britain while he condemns it in Russia. I condemn it wherever it appears. I did not push this matter because my right hon. Friends agreed with me, and I agreed with them, and the subsequent happenings have proved the correctness of the view, that there were so many people who had been involved in this business that sooner or later the truth would get out. We saw perfectly well that no investigation could produce definite court of law evidence unless the Labour party was itself prepared to set up a spying system, or unless it had behind it the powers of government to compel the presence of witnesses and to investigate their statements. We believed that sooner or later one of the scoundrels would give his friends away. While I do not want to suggest that the particular individual whose name has been associated with this recent development is a scoundrel——
§ Mr. MAXTON
take the view that if Mr. Gregory's only fault was gambling in francs—if that was the only fault the Government knew against Mr. Gregory, the punishment was much too heavy for the crime. I suggest that the Government knew of other things.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I do not know whether I ought to read here the servant girl's declaration. I gather from my right hon. Friend below me that he proposes to read a portion of it at a subsequent period of the Debate, and I will refrain, 77 but the interesting and important thing about this document, which I did not lay any stress upon when I saw it 3½ years ago, is this, that the first part of the statement has been borne out in absolute detail by the happenings and disclosures in the Dyne-Ironmonger Case report—with absolute accuracy. The gossip of this servant girl has been borne out in a court of law. I suggest that it does not do for an official inquiry just to push forward the other part and to push this aside as being of no moment at all. My hon. Friends never made the suggestion that the Fisher Report comes out to mean that Mr. Gregory, having lost money on francs, started to recoup himself by manipulating the franc market through his situation. We never suggested that. We do not have the same knowledge of market-rigging and francs and other financial operations as hon. Gentlemen opposite, but at least we have sufficient knowledge to know that they are the principals of the game, and we know it was almost impossible for Mr. Gregory to use his position in any way to influence currency for his own advantage. But we do make this suggestion—that the very great financial embarrassment which had been surrounding Mr. Gregory became very greatly relieved after the date 24th October, and the suggestion we make is a much more serious one than the one on which Mr. Gregory has been condemned.
All through this business my right hon. Friend has deemed it to be his duty as ex-Prime Minister, as ex-Foreign Secretary, to stand up and defend his officials. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] One of my hon. Friends says "Hear, hear!" I think in that my right hon. Friend was profoundly mistaken. I say here quite bluntly and brutally to him that he has been much more loyal to them than they have ever tried to be to him. In support of that fact, I not only bring out their absolute incompetence over getting into effective touch with him at the time when this matter was at a crucial stage, but I bring forward this further point, that during the four days when this matter must have been the subject of common discussion among the responsible officials in the Foreign Office my hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside Division (Mr. Ponsonby), who 78 was then Under-Secretary, was actually sitting in the Foreign Office on one of those days in conversation with M. Rakovsky. Round about him in the office were responsible officials discussing the whole of the happenings connected with this business, and never once did one whisper of it reach the ear of my hon. Friend. Although the officials concerned knew that their chief was away in a far distant part of the country, and moving about, and difficult to get into contact with, they deliberately, designedly and with malice aforethought concealed the knowledge from the Under-Secretary, who, as Under-Secretary, had been the man in charge of all the negotiations with reference to the Russian Treaty.
I suggest that there is prima facie evidence to justify this House and the country expecting that the Government of the day, if they have nothing to hide, as we have nothing to hide, will subject the whole of the circumstances connected with this letter—its origins, its authenticity, its method of getting into the public offices, its method of getting out and its method of getting into the Press, to an investigation. We stand here as a party absolutely in agreement, but supposing there did turn out in the course of such an investigation things which cast reflections of one kind or another upon us, we are prepared to stand for them, and we ask the Government and their supporters if they are prepared to stand for the same thing? The right hon. Gentleman may feel very, very confident that the "Mail" will never turn on them. I want to remind him that it was the same "Daily Mail" which exercised undue pressure on the Government on the eve of the General Strike,, that broke off the negotiations, that flung the country into the General Strike.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The Home Secretary shakes his head. That was the Prime Minister's statement. Negotiations were going on at midnight. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) was struggling all he knew for peace. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Well, nobody doubts that statement except one or two Members opposite. 79 When the Prime Minister told us that he was struggling for peace, he suddenly heard his master's voice over the telephone, and the Government that was congratulating my hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend upon having discovered some backbone found it had none itself. The Government discovered that the "Daily Mail" was more powerful and more potent in the affairs of this country; they were compelled to break off the negotiations, and they plunged the country into the great General Strike. I know it has always been said by hon. Members on the other side of the House that Mr. Cook was to blame, and that he caused the General Strike. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That has always been the contention of hon. Members opposite. This newspaper which played its definitive part in the General Election, and which precipitated the General Strike, has been an evil influence in the affairs of this country, and the country has a right to ask that the whole of the circumstances affecting civil servants and affecting the Conservative party and the "Daily Mail" should be subjected to the most open and most detailed inquiry, so that the affairs of the country can be rendered clean and pure.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I think the Leader of the Opposition, who moved the Motion we are now discussing, only made out part of the case for the necessity for having a searching investigation. The Prime Minister, who followed my right hon. Friend, really made out a much stronger case for the need of a searching investigation, and more especially the need for further evidence to be taken on this subject. There never was a more irresponsible speech delivered in this House than the one which has been delivered to-day by the Prime Minister. It is an absolute fabrication, and the Prime Minister knows that it is a fabrication, got up by his assistants within the last 48 hours. That is the sort of thing which has been put before this House in all seriousness as evidence. The dignity and self-respect of the House of Commons demands that the Prime Minister's statement should be made the subject of an investigation. I challenge every line contained in that statement, which is nothing else but a tissue of fabrications 80 from beginning to end. Not only is that statement a fabrication, but the Prime Minister has been a party to it from beginning to end. The House was not sitting when the francs case came before the Court, and I knew nothing about it until I read one morning in the newspapers that the Government had appointed a Committee. I was not aware at that time of the sworn affidavit by a woman who was acquainted with a lot of facts about this case. I was completely unaware of those facts, but from other sources I was made aware that a lot of money had passed, not necessarily into the pockets, but out of the pockets of some important persons in the Conservative party in connection with the Zinovieff Letter.
The morning I read those statements in the newspapers I wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and suggested that he should include within the inquiry that was being made an investigation as to whether any money had passed to or from those persons concerned, with the assistance of any civil servants, to certain foreign or local political organisations. Up to the present moment, I have not received even an acknowledgment of my letter. When the Session opened I discovered that I had committed a technical error, and I was told that my letter should have been addressed to the Prime Minister. I think it is usual in such circumstances for the Foreign Secretary to pass such a letter on to the Prime Minister, but the Government wished to conceal an unpleasant fact. Even after I had made that discovery the Foreign Secretary continued to ignore my letter, and I passed on my question to the Table of the House to be put to the Prime Minister. I do not say that my question was turned down, but I was advised that the matter I wished to raise could not be connected with the Francs Case, and doubt was expressed whether my question was in order. When the Report came out, I saw that the Foreign Office did investigate the other matter, and therefore it was up to the Foreign Office, as well as the Prime Minister, when a suggestion had come from a certain quarter, to see that an opportunity was given of bringing the evidence I suggested before the Committee. Without giving a chance of producing the evidence which I had suggested, the Government shut down the 81 inquiry and declared that the Committee had been convinced by the evidence placed before it that no moneys had passed in these transactions. What was the object of the Prime Minister in reading out three or four foreign names? The right hon. Gentleman knows the secrets behind the scene, and he knows that these people are ready to make a sworn affidavit that they forged the letter. What does that show? It simply shows thatBirds of a feather flock together.If there be any truth in that suggestion, it is not merely expedient, but it is the duty of the Prime Minister to investigate the conduct of certain. British citizens. Why did the Prime Minister shut them out of the inquiry? The class of stuff which has been put before the House is just the random statement of some person who went to another person and made a statement, and then we hear in the so-called statement made by the Prime Minister that one person in the city meets another person who is connected with some other person who knows what is going on in the Communist party. It is a mean trick to try to make the public believe that the person who gave all this information to the Prime Minister was a member of the Communist party. We are not such simpletons.
The Prime Minister and many hon. Members opposite are living under the delusion that the Communist party is nothing but a body of conspirators, and that the executive of that party does everything in secret. As a matter of fact, we have less secrets than the Conservative party. We have been told that the Government have a source of information which they do not wish to divulge, but there is not a particle of truth in that statement, because nothing of the sort has happened. It would be far better that the Prime Minister should not invent stories in order to hide what happened in the year 1924. When the Prime Minister has made a statement I suppose every decent man and woman will expect that he and his friends will set up an impartial inquiry to show that the statements which have been made are correct. If there be so great a conspiracy against this country as that which has been suggested, then anybody who came forward to give evidence would become popular, because 82 he would be doing something to safeguard the lives of 45,000,000 people in this country. Now I come to the question embodied in my Amendment—in line 4, after the word "letter," to insert the wordsas also the preparation of an offensive document to the Soviet Government by the then Secretary of State for Foteign Affairs prior to the establishment of the authenticity of the said Zinovieff letter.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
If the hon. Member is thinking of moving his Amendment I wish to say that I have come to the conclusion that it is not in order, because it deals with an entirely different question from that raised in the Motion.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I understand your ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I shall not be allowed to move my Amendment. I ask the House to reflect on the position. If, in 1924, the "Daily Mail" or the whole Press of Great Britain could have published a copy of that childish letter as a document, I am certain nine out of every ten readers would have laughed at it and put it on one side. It was not really the publication of the letter or of the so-called authentic secret document which created the situation, but the publication of a despatch with the letter which gave it any status at all. If the letter had been published alone, nobody would have taken it as a genuine letter, and it would have been considered of no importance. It was the despatch accompanying the letter which gave to the forgery all the status and importance of a serious State document. The right hon. Gentleman has tried to impress upon us that there was some sort of a leakage in these matters in Great Britain. We have been told that the man who made that entirely false and untrue statement was an honourable man and a patriot. Of course, that man had friends among the high officials. At six o'clock in the evening on the date which has been alluded to, he learned of the existence of a most treacherous and seditious document calculated to bring about a revolution in this country.
At half-past nine the following morning, he was able actually to obtain a copy of it. If that man really was a man with any grain of common sense, or honesty, or patriotism about him, he would have set the police on the heels of these persons to get the original document.
83 That was his plain duty as a citizen, and not to sit down and be content with a copy of it. Here was a serious document, and this man said, "I will go and give a little money to a traitor in the Communist party, and he will sit down somewhere in the dark and make a copy of it for me." The gentleman who made that statement to the Prime Minister was in reality a traitor if he was speaking the truth; but, of course, he was not a traitor, because he was not speaking the truth; the whole thing is a pure fabrication from beginning to end.
What I am trying to impress upon the House is that, while an investigation is absolutely necessary, the investigation into the despatch is of a much more serious nature than the investigation into the incidental events associated with it. We are told that this document was dated the 15th September. For about a week before that time, and for some weeks following that, Comrade McManus and Zinovieff were living side by side just outside Moscow, as is customary during the hot summer weeks there. The first forged draft obtained by the "Daily Mail" was certainly over the signatures of Zinovieff and McManus, because the White Russians who, in conjunction with the Conservative party, started the idea of this forgery stunt, were at that time well aware that Zinovieff and McManus were not only together, hut were acting together on behalf of the British branch and were living side by side. On that account, in order to make the story look natural, the first draft which Mr. Marlowe obtained was a draft with the two joint signatures. It was only afterwards, when they received a telegram from Lithuania, that they learned to their surprise, that McManus was preparing to leave for London, quite unexpectedly, on account of the changing over of the situation here. When they received that telegram, they saw that it would not be proper to keep McManus's signature, as he would be sure to challenge it, and so a second draft was produced a few days later, which it was sought to confuse with the original draft with McManus's signature, making the draft appear to be addressed to McManus.
Anybody with the document in front of him could see that there was no rhyme or reason for such a document. Of 84 course, we are told in this House that it was quite like the Communist party, that it contained all the resolutions of the Komintern, which were published in the "Pravda" in July. These are all reasons why no secret document should come to us. They do not show that there was any necessity for the passing on to us of a secret seditious document; they are exactly the reasons why no secret document was necessary in October, when all the resolutions had been openly passed and published in the "Pravda" in July and August. What happened? According to our record, and we should like an investigation as to this, about the 8th August, the draft Treaty with Russia was prepared and signed in London. It is no secret, but is well known to all of us, that all the Clauses of that Treaty with Russia were not to the liking of our then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It is no secret that some Clauses were introduced into it without his approval, but they were there.
The White Russian Organisation in Lithuania got startled, and if our Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who are so busy collecting secret information, would get the documents and correspondence that passed between Lithuania and Berlin at that period, between the 17th and 25th August, they would find a considerable amount of correspondence showing that the White Russians were quite bewildered as to why the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at that time had completely deserted them and gone over to the Bolshevist side altogether, in including in the Treaty, clauses which they had not expected to be included. At that time, communications began, and ways and means were being devised and discussed between Lithuania and Berlin as to what might be done, either to frighten the right hon. Gentleman out of his position, or to strengthen his hands and enable him to shake off his extremists. It was out of these discussions that the first forgery came, and, as I have said, it was distinctly and deliberately over the signatures of Zinovieff and McManus, because it was known to the forgers that these two people were sitting together side by side every day, almost in the same room.
When all is said and done about delays, from the 10th to the 24th October 85 is a full 14 days, and it is felt very strongly, not only in the Communist party but among the working classes generally, that the whole of the General Election turmoil came about because of the draft reply prepared by the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Why did be do that We, as members of the Communist party, against whom such serious allegations are made from time to time, have a right to justice, to inquiry, and to fair play. Why was that draft prepared? If the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gets in front of him a document suggesting mutiny in the Army and Navy, suggesting an armed rising in the country at some period or other, suggesting grave conspiracies, he either believes in that document or he does not believe in it. If he believed in it, what would he naturally do? He would go to Rakovsky and demand an explanation, or demand to be convinced that at any rate there was no hand of the Soviet Government in the doings of the Communist party.
What would be his second action? It would be a serious appeal immediately—not after four days but within four hours—to the Home Secretary, to the Law Officers of the Crown, to look into the matter at once and to take action. If the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs believed that this document was genuine, it would be his duty, when he was out of town, to instruct the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to take the matter up immediately with Rakovsky, and not to leave it to the civil servants and clerks and office boys in the Foreign Office to do so. If the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for one moment believed that this document was genuine, it was his duty, in spite of the General Election, immediately to consult the leading members of his Cabinet, to send them round a copy of it, to sound their judgment, to tell them not only that it might lead to a grave rupture, but that, if it had been with any country other than Russia, it might lead to war. If he believed for a moment that the document was genuine, he would not only have circulated copies to his colleagues, but would most certainly have instructed the Under-Secretary of State, who was then in London in his absence, to take the matter up immediately with Rakovsky.
86 The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at that time did nothing of the kind, and that means that he did not believe for one moment honestly or sincerely that this was a genuine document. And yet he drafted that despatch, and the drafting of a despatch to a foreign Government is a matter of far greater importance than merely the method of retailing gossip from one office to another, or from the Civil Service to the Press. I candidly say that, in matters like that, leakages do not necessarily and always take place by bribery and secret documents. We know that we are living under a system of class society. The aristocratic clubs, where high officials would go and mix with other officials, are sufficient channels through which to pass gossip and information and to take care of class interests. We do not charge the officials in all public offices with being class conspirators, but we say that it is quite natural for them to be class-conscious. There is not the slightest doubt in our minds that, as long as the present machinery continues, there is a class bias and a class partiality in all the public offices, and for any Labour Minister at the head of such an office to ignore the fact that that office is a class-conscious office, with high officials who are class-biased and class conscious, is nothing short of a great misfortune for the workers themselves.
We believe that the matter for investigation is the origin of the drafting of that despatch, and, if again, there were an examination of some of the correspondence of Abramovitch and Company, who may have been responsible for giving this information to the "Daily Mail" which we are quite ready to believe—it would be found that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in making that draft, succumbed to that exact conspiracy which was worked up by the White Russians, with the abject either of overthrowing the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs or of strengthening his hands and enabling him to overthrow his extremists. We believe that, if an investigation is made, it will be found that that draft was made, and everything was done in August, in order to help him, after the General Election was over, to fight his own extremists and come to terms with Mr. Asquith for another Coalition Ministry.
87 While the chief matter has been completely ignored, these little details are taken up from time to time as subjects for investigation and searching inquiry. We do not for a moment disagree with taking up these little details or with the investigation of the character and general moral of permanent civil servants, but I would put this to the House: Suppose for a moment that it was not the Russian organisation and the Russian Government, but an American organisation of some anarchists, or an Italian organisation, or a French organisation, which had written, to the Communist party or to some other organisation in Great Britain, a letter with the object of spreading sedition in the Army or of doing something injurious to this country; and suppose that the Foreign Secretary had written a letter half as insulting, half as offensive, and half as unjustifiable, made up in defiance of the interests of the working class in this country. Every sentence of that dispatch is an insult, not to the Soviet Government but to the workers of this country. If such a despatch had been sent to the American or the French Government, we should have been brought near a situation of war. That is a very grave matter, and it was on that account that I suggested the Amendment which you, Sir, have ruled out of order. But I beg the attention of the House to this, that, instead of taking it flippantly and lightly, instead of accusing the Communist party of doing this and that, it would be much more honourable for people on all sides of the House to go in for an open-minded and impartial inquiry into all matters relating to the events of the Election of 1924.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
Having listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in presenting this Motion to the House, he has left me in a state of bewilderment as to what his attitude is and as to what his grievance is. As I understood him, he repudiated with indignation the accuracy of the suggestion that he was anxious to avoid publication of the Zinovieff letter. At the beginning of his speech, in order to show with what expedition the matter had been handled under his direction, he 88 claimed credit to himself for the fact that the document was sent to the Press on 24th October, and yet at a later stage of his speech his grievance seemed to be that circumstances which he resented had made it necessary for him to take that course. The question I should like answered, which so far as I know has never been answered yet by the Opposition, is not whether the Leader of the Opposition meant when the election was safely over to publish the document and his note in reply to it, but whether he meant to publish it in time for the people who were going to vote at the General Election to know what was in it before they voted. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman is not here to answer that question. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has answered it"] Did he answer "Yes" or "No"? His own followers do not know which way he answered it. I see the right hon. Gentleman has returned. The question I was putting was not the question whether or not the right hon. Gentleman meant to publish the document. He has told us he intended it to be published. I need not assure him, of course, that I accept that assurance.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I hope I need not assure the right hon. Gentleman that I accept his assurance. The point I am putting is quite a different one. The point about which I should like information, about which his followers think he has given information, though they do not know what it was, is this. If there had been no intervention by the "Daily Mail," if his hand had not been forced, to use his own expression, if the publication had not taken place owing to the "Daily Mail's" discovery, did the right hon. Gentleman intend that the document should be published in time for the electors to make up their minds about it before the General Election?
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Is the case the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to make that in the middle of negotiations, if a General Election comes on, everything should be published immediately? If so, if an election took place last week, would he have justified me in publishing all I know about Egypt?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that he has not answered my question.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Evidently, then, I did not make it plain. I will try again. But for the "Daily Mail's" intervention, did the right hon. Gentleman intend to publish the Zinovieff letter before the General Election or not? Answer that.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I intended to follow the practice the Foreign Office always has followed. It publishes its correspondence with a Foreign Power when the correspondence has come to a proper end.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I understand that answer to be a rather indirect way of saying that the right hon. Gentleman did not intend to publish it until after the General Election.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Why should not the right hon. and learned Gentleman take the answer to mean that I assumed that I was as met by honest opponents?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Because I was not asking the right hon. Gentleman whether he assumed he was met by honest opponents. I was asking him a very simple question—when did he mean to publish the Zinovieff letter?—and he cannot answer. Let me put this dilemma. Either he did intend to publish it before 29th October or he did not. I still do not know which, but I think he means he did not. If he did mean to publish it before 29th October, what grievance has he that he was compelled to publish it before then? If, on the other hand, he did not intend to publish it before 29th October, does he not now think he ought to be very grateful to the "Daily Mail" for having prevented him from concealing what he now knows and admits the electorate regarded as a most material fact which they ought to have known before they were asked to pronounce their verdict? If the right hon. Gentleman does mean the House to understand that his intention had been to keep this document until after the General Election unknown to the electorate and then to publish it, I think I must remind him that fraud does not 90 consist only in misstatement of fact but equally in the concealment of it. There is another question about which I am in some doubt. Does the right hon. Gentleman now say the Zinovieff letter was a forgery or not? I do not know what he says. I do not believe he does himself.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
As the right hon. Gentleman pauses for a reply, I would refer him to what his own Prime Minister said a few minutes ago.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have a most cautious lack of desire to answer a straight question with straightness. I need not remind him that I cannot insist on an answer, but if he will not give me an answer I think the House can draw its own conclusions. The truth is that the right hon. Gentleman, in his own heart, believes the document to be genuine, but he dare not say so. I know well enough that some of his back-bench followers have said the document was a forgery, and have repeated the statement to-day. The only difference is that they do not know any of the evidence and the right hon. Gentleman does know some of it.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
As the Foreign Secretary told the House as long ago as December, 1924, the evidence of this document reached the Foreign Office, not from one source, but from four different and independent sources, every one of which was a source which had previously been tested and found to be absolutely reliable.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman thinks that a relevant or even a useful interruption——
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I ask the right hon. Gentleman how many of these four sources were paid from Secret Service money, or other money, for information.
That question I cannot answer "yes" or "no," because I do not know, but I would remind the House that if they were paid they were paid by the Labour party.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to be misunderstood by carelessness. I presume he means the Labour Government.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The hon. Member is perfectly correct. I did not mean to suggest that it was paid out of the party fund.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
It shows how much wiser the Labour Government Front Bench is when in power than it sometimes is when in opposition. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), of course, has no doubt about it. He says it is a forgery, and he is able to tell us why. He says he knows it is a forgery, because he has been to Russia——[HON. MEMBERS: "He never was in Russia!"]—then he has even less means of information that I thought he had—or that he knows someone else who has been to Russia, and that other gentlemen have assured him that the Russians have said that if they searched their archives they would not find anything in them.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I do not think that I brought the Debate on to any cheap line. Investigation in Russia was mainly on behalf of the Labour party by representative trade unionists, assisted by a competent expert in foreign affairs. They were not merely offered access to the Russian archives, but they had access to the Russian archives. I am quite prepared to admit that the right hon. and learned Gentleman can suggest that the archives were specially prepared. Will he allow us to search his archives?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The Government will certainly not allow the hon. Member to search any archives. [Interruption.] The position, therefore, is, that the hon. Member who does not know the evidence, is told by highly creditable people, whose word I thoroughly accept, that they have been to Russia and that there is nothing now in the archives, which proves that the letter was not sent. The hon. Member 92 evidently has not studied the law of evidence very well, because he would withdraw that conclusion if he had. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition regarded this publication as a bombshell. The hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division told us that the reason it produced such an effect was that it was suggested that this letter showed that there was a plot between the Labour party and the Russian Government to bring about a revolution in this country. I doubt very much if all the ingenuity of the right hon. and hon. Members opposite could ever find, even in the speeches of the most irresponsible candidates, any such statement. I will remind the House of what the relevance of the letter was, and why it was a bombshell. The reason it was a bombshell was that the election was being fought upon the issue of whether or not we ought to make the Treaty which the Labour Government had signed, or had arranged to sign, with Russia. That Treaty provided for a very large number of millions of pounds—£44,000,000 I think the sum was, speaking from memory—being guaranteed by the British taxpayer to the Russian Government, and the Zinovieff letter showed the people of this country that the danger which we had been pointing out was fully justified, namely, that this Russian Government, whom we were being asked to finance, were going to use this money to produce a revolution in this country. That is the bombshell, and that is of what the people of this country showed their appreciation when they voted for us.
What is the inquiry upon which we are asked to embark? Is it an inquiry into the genuineness of the Zinovieff letter, or is it an inquiry into the question of how the "Daily Mail" obtained possession of the letter? If it be an inquiry into the genuineness of the Zinovieff letter that is a matter which, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, cannot be inquired into by any public body or by any body outside the narrow circle of the Privy Council, and is an inquiry, further, which has been already undertaken twice in 1924-once by a Cabinet Committee, which he set up showing what he thought was the proper sort of body to inquire into the question, and once by the Cabinet Committee, which we set up, and which gave us a report which absolutely satisfied everybody who heard 93 it as to the genuineness of the letter. Why is it we cannot have a public inquiry? It is for exactly the reason some hon. Members opposite want to have an inquiry. There are two dangers which would result from such an inquiry. The first is, that it might disclose to the Russians what are the Government's sources of information? That is why Mr. Tchitcherin wants an inquiry, but that is not a reason why the House of Commons is going to grant one. And the second reason why they would like an inquiry is to find out who, in the ranks of the Communist party, gave away the secret which the hon. Member who has just spoken said does not exist. That, again, is a reason which may appeal to some hon. Members opposite but is not a reason which will appeal to the House of Commons. Those are reasons why an inquiry of that character, as I think the right hon. Gentleman himself knows, is impossible.
What is the other inquiry? The other inquiry is as to how the "Daily Mail" got information about the letter. My right hon. Friend and Leader, the Prime Minister, has pointed out already to the House the futility of embarking upon such an inquiry, the impossibility of arriving at any conclusion after Mr. Marlowe has refused, as he has already refused, and as he said he will refuse, to give information. Surely, after the statement which has been read this afternoon it becomes too ridiculous even to the Opposition. [Interruption.] I heard one right hon. Gentleman opposite ask who is Mr. im Thurn. Mr. im Thurn is a gentleman who is very well known in the City of London. His uncle, I think it was, was Governor—[Interruption]. There seems to be a great reluctance to hear the answer. His uncle was the Governor of two or three of our important Colonies. His brother has a very responsible position in either the naval or the military forces of the Crown, and he himself is a gentleman in a very responsible position in the City of London and is well known by the great bulk, at any rate, of City men. He is a gentleman of unblemisned reputation, a gentleman who is unconnected with any political party, who is not connected with the Government in any shape or form or with the Civil Service or any branch of Government service, and he has told us 94 —he has told the House of Commons—over his signature that he gave this information not for any pecuniary reward or advantage of any sort or kind, but simply and solely because, as a patriotic citizen, he thought that if information of that kind existed it ought to be known to the electors before the General Election.
I think my right hon. Friend made it clear; if not, I am anxious to make it clear, that the source from which Mr. im Thurn got his information was not any one of the sources from which the Government obtained their information. It was a wholly independent source altogether. We have, therefore, the fact that, as far as an inquiry into the genuineness of the letter is concerned, that is impossible, and the only possible inquiries have taken place three and a half years ago. As far as an inquiry into the means by which the "Daily Mail" obtained possession of the document is concerned, if, indeed, that were a matter of national concern, that inquiry has been rendered wholly unnecessary by reason of the fact that we have already got the information in the only way in which we can got it, that is to say, by the voluntary statement of the man who gave the information, and not by locking up the editor of the "Daily Mail" because he refuses to give the information.
There are only one or two other sentences which I want to utter. First of all, there has been a statement made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division making a bitter attack upon Mr. Gregory, an attack which I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition either welcomes or endorses, an attack which accused Mr. Gregory in explicit terms of having sold himself and sold the nation for a large and pecuniary reward, an attack which, if it were made outside this House of Commons, might result in Mr. Gregory being in a different financial position if the hon. Member were able to pay the damages. [Interruption.]
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The hon. Member asked me, "Is that a threat?" I hold no brief for Mr. Gregory. I have no authority to speak for him, but I am resenting what I regard as an abuse of 95 the privileges of the House, attacks made upon an ex-member of the Civil Service without notice to him and without any evidence adduced in support of the charge, and when that attack is made, after there has been a full inquiry, and after there has been an expressed exoneration by the findings of a Committee, which, up to that moment, I had understood even the Opposition accepted, and in which they stated in these terms:We are satisfied that there is not the slightest foundation for any of the suspicions which have, in our opinion, most unjustly attached to Mr. Gregory in connection with the events of the 24th and 25th October, 1925, and we beg to report accordingly.I know that what is said within these walls is absolutely privileged, but, none the less, not even knowing Mr. Gregory—certainly having had no connection with him with regard to this matter—I do protest against what I regard as the greatest abuse of those privileges, the sort of insinuation and attack which the hon. Gentleman has seen fit to make this afternoon.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I wish at once to withdraw anything that I have said if it can be rightly described as an attack on Mr. Gregory—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—I did not write the official report. I think that was the most serious attack on Mr. Gregory's character so far. The official report went beyond the bounds for which it was set up, and raised a whole number of suspicions round Mr. Gregory's name. I do Mr. Gregory a service, which I am entitled to do as a Member of Parliament, when I say there should be further open and public inquiry, since there is a further cloud cast upon his character.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The House will judge of the adequacy of that service when I remind it that the hon. Member an hour or two ago told the House that Mr. Gregory's bank account had been largely improved——
§ Mr. MAXTON
That is not true. I certainly cannot allow that to pass. [HON. MEMBERS: "You said it!"] It is a gross travesty of my statement. I said that the affidavit of the servant girl stated that Mr. Gregory, who was suffering from serious financial embarrassment, was relieved of financial embarrassment on or about the 24th October.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
If that is what the hon. Member said, I accept what he says he said, and if that. is what he intended to say, then Mr. Gregory is completely vindicated, after inquiry, by the Committee. I did the hon. Member too much credit when I said that he made the charge; he only insinuated it. He went on to suggest that Mr. Gregory had been more harshly punished by the Government, because there are other things which were not disclosed in the Report. If that is not an attack upon his honour and character, then I do not know what it is.
The hon. Member proceeded to make an attack on the Secret Service. I am not sure that I need pay much attention to the hon. Member's attack, after what has just happened. If an attack is to be made upon the Secret Service, let me remind the House of two things, first of all, that the Secret Service which the hon. Member so despises or, rather, the use of secret methods, is a use which the Labour party itself boasts of adopting when it needs it. This is what Mr. Hamilton Fyfe said, in his diary of the General Strike. He was, I think,, editor of the "Daily Herald" in May, 1926:We have, of course, our informants in the ranks of Baldwin's people, who know pretty well what is going on in their camp. It is not a nice business, spying and employing spies, but it is not so nasty as usual in this case, for those who supply us with information are not paid agents; they are the friends of Labour.The Government did not think it necessary to set up an inquiry when Mr. Hamilton Fyfe's diary was published. Since the Secret Service, not of a party but of the country, are attacked, let me say, here and now, that as far as I am concerned, and as far as the great bulk of the party for whom I speak are concerned, we regard the members of the Secret Service as people who are giving most valuable work for the State, even in circumstances of considerable danger to themselves,, and we regard the services which they render as a real benefit to the nation. No doubt, the existence of that Secret Service is repugnant to some hon. Members opposite, and no doubt they would like to know how much the Secret Service find out and how they get their information. Those are not matters with regard to which we desire to satisfy their curiosity. So far as this 97 Motion is concerned, we ask the House unhesitatingly to reject it, because it is futile in its inception, and it has become ridiculous in its conclusion.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I would remind the Attorney-General that it was unnecessary on his part, at the outset of his speech, to mistake the House of Commons for the Old Bailey. My right hon. Friend the ex-Prime Minister was trying to keep in mind the fact that, when he was dealing with foreign policy, he expected the usual traditional treatment from all parties in the House, that no party bias should enter into the policy. To suggest that he ought to answer a plain "yes" or "no" to the Attorney-General on a subject such as we are now discussing, is far more suitable for the Old Bailey than the House of Commons. I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman not to be too squeamish about the innuendoes of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). What did the Attorney-General mean by the series of questions which he put to my right hon. Friend, "Did you or did you not intend to publish this document?" That was the meanest kind of innuendo. The Foreign Secretary, after making a speech in Glasgow dealing with this subject, came back to the Foreign Office and examined the documents and took the first opportunity of making a speech in this House. The effect of that speech did not confirm the statement of Lord Curzon that my right hon. Friend had had the document in his possession for a month, nor the statement of Lord Birkenhead that he had delayed three weeks, nor the statement of the Prime Minister that he had delayed for a fortnight; the Foreign Secretary admitted that he had no complaint of any kind to make against the expeditious way in which my right hon. Friend had dealt with the matter.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain)
Yes, and that is what makes the inquiry of the Attorney-General so pertinent. Did the right hon. Gentleman intend the document to be published when it was, and when it was ready for publication, or did he not?
§ Mr. THOMAS
Do I gather that if last week we had been in the midst of a General Election, the right hon. Gentleman 98 the Foreign Secretary would have published his Egypt despatches in the same way?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
No, Sir, I would not have published those negotiations, because they were negotiations. There were no negotiations going on at the time in question on the matter we are discussing. The right hon. Gentleman's claim is that it was published as expeditiously as possible. I agree, but is it his claim that it was published before he intended it to be published?
§ Mr. THOMAS
We will observe, first, the significance of the answer of the Foreign Secretary. He says distinctly, "In the midst of foreign negotiations, I would not be influenced by an election." [interruption.] Hon. Members opposite may protest, but the Foreign Secretary accepts that statement. My right hon. Friend the ex-Prime Minister this afternoon did not set out to claim that he had been very expeditious in the handling of it. His claim was to answer some of the contemptible things that had been said about him.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Lord Curzon said that he knew the document had been in my right hon. Friend's possession a month. Lord Birkenhead said that he knew the document had been in my right hon. Friend's possession three weeks. My right hon. Friend's object this afternoon was to show that that was not true. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] I will give the full story of the publication. But I want, first of all, to draw the attention of the House to the reason for this Debate.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not a point of Order. There are many dialectic questions put in this House, but we must allow hon. and right hon. Members to make their replies in their own way.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The House is entitled. to know the changed circumstances which have led to the demand for an Inquiry. I will give them. When the last Debate 99 took place, so far as Mr. Gregory was concerned, certain hon. Members on this side knew that he had signed the document, knew that he had signed it without the authority or knowledge of the then Prime Minister, knew that the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs was in the Foreign Office and had not been consulted, knew that Lord Haldane, who had been left in charge, was never consulted, and never heard a word about it. Although we knew all these things, I, speaking publicly, said that I did not accuse Mr. Gregory or the late Sir Eyre Crowe of any mean or party action. I went further and said that I thought they were incapable of such a thing. That was my attitude then. The House should know the changed circumstances. I am not going to have the Attorney-General nearly laying out the hon. Member for Bridgeton as someone prepared to make charges and not to substantiate them. I will tell the House why I thought Mr. Gregory was an honest man, and why I told him so. Three and a half years ago, after the Debate in this House, the document now in my possession was brought to me, and I am going to read it. It is a document to which we attach importance. It is a sworn statement from a servant girl. When the House has heard it, and heard what I did on receipt of it, and has followed subsequent events, I believe that, however strongly the House may feel, it will see the importance of knowing it.
§ Mr. SKELTON
If this is a vital document in the Debate, why was it not produced at the beginning instead of at the end of the Debate?
§ Mr. THOMAS
This is a sworn document by Violet Digby:Through a registry office in July, 1924, I obtained a situation as housemaid for Mrs. Bradley Dyne. I started at Birchington, near Margate, where she had a furnished house. We left there and went to Glencoe, Cedar Road, Hythe, and stayed there 2½ months. Mr. Gregory used to come to Hythe for week-ends. He stayed almost all one week and came almost every other weekend. I gathered he was an official at the Foreign Office. We left sometime in September, 1924, and came to live at Kenway Cottage, Kenway Road, Earls Court. Mr. 100 Gregory came in about 10 a.m. every morning. Mrs. Dyne used to see him in private. Mrs. Dyne told me they had lost a lot of money through speculating in francs, that Mr. Gregory would have to leave the Foreign Office and get a job elsewhere. She also said she was going to get work. This was about the 21st October. On a number of occasions I heard her telephoning to a firm named Ironmonger, about keeping them waiting for certain funds. Mr. Gregory pretty well lived there during that week. They went out to lunch together, and generally came to tea and left about seven. On Saturday, October 25th, Mrs. Dyne called attention to Mr. Gregory's photo in the paper. She went out to lunch. On the same day Mrs. Dyne spoke to the bank manager on the telephone and asked if he would wait. She mentioned the sum of 60,000 francs, and said it would be all right. About this time Mrs. Dyne said Mr. Gregory did it when the Prime Minister's back was turned. On Monday, 27th October, Mrs. Dyne said that Mr. MacDonald got thrown out and Mr. Gregory had made his name. Mr. Gregory should have come to London, but Mrs. Dyne said he had 'phoned up to say he had gone to Cardiff to see Mr. MacDonald.Observe the significance of the dates:On Tuesday night, 28th October, Mr. Gregory came with a man aged about 40, a foreigner. Mr. Gregory said laughing, 'Come into the plot.' They went into the room together, staying until about nine, when the Russian left. They appeared to be very pleased, and coining out Mrs. Dyne said. Come, we are fifty-fifty in the situation.'
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Is this the same document which the Civil Service Committee investigated last month, and said they did not believe and were satisfied was unfounded?
§ Mr. THOMAS
Certainly. Let the House observe the significance. This document was in my possession in February, 1925. What did I do with it I sent for Mr. Gregory at once, and I said, Now look here, Gregory, this is the kind of thing that is going about, and it is only fair you should know it, and I am taking the straightforward course of showing it to you right away." He thanked me for it, and his answer was, "There is not only not a vestige of truth in it, it is not only absurd and ridiculous, but the facts are that Mrs. Dyne's husband was a college chum of mine and I merely visited the house." I said, "I accept that unreservedly." That was in the early part of 1925. I ask the House to imagine what my feelings were when a few months ago in the Law Courts everything said in that document which I had three years ago was revealed. 101 Every Member of the House knows that is a fact. I have read the document relating to the facts. I ask any fair-minded man in any part of the House, reading the evidence as it came out at the Law Courts a few months ago, if it is not remarkable that this document is almost identical with that evidence. What was the next stage? In so far as the francs are concerned—I am dealing exclusively with the question of francs—I ask the House whether it is not absolutely consistent with that statement. The Government very promptly and rightly set up a Committee of Inquiry. The House will agree that it was my duty then, with this document in my possession, that I should give them the benefit of it. That is what brings the reference to it into their Report. But I am entitled to ask a question now. That Committee were not only not empowered, but it was not their business to inquire into the political side of the question. Therefore, what we demand now is that, as public reference has been made to it, there should be an inquiry into the political side.
I, certainly, do not suggest, and never did suggest, that Gregory sold this document. I do not think for one moment that any such charge could be laid against him. Whatever may be said, I at least would not associate myself with any such statement, but I am entitled to say that Gregory deliberately lied to me, and when I at least played straight and showed the document to him, when I accepted his word and said nothing about it, then I at least am entitled to say that he deceived me in this matter. That was the only thing the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind. But I will give another reason for this Inquiry. Whatever the sources of information, as far as the document is concerned, the statement now made by the Prime Minister in the document he has read is entirely inconsistent with the information at our disposal, and at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. Just as he said in the last Debate that one must be very careful in dealing with this kind of document, I say deliberately that, although the document just read by the Prime Minister comes, I gather, from an individual who says that he himself supplied the letter to the "Daily Mail," and also says the source from which he got the document, yet when my right hon. 102 Friend tried to obtain the sources of information on which that document reached this country, he not only could not obtain it, but it was positively refused him, and we have never known it until this day. If that be so, there is a double reason for an Inquiry now.
You cannot have it both ways. On the one hand, the Prime Minister says this afternoon, "What need is there for an inquiry when, as a matter of fact, here is the source of the information?" That is the case for the Prime Minister. Our answer is that it is entirely inconsistent with our inside knowledge in the Department. But there is a much stronger reason than that. This document was circulated to four Departments. We know, and every Minister on that side who has investigated the case knows, that it was not only not treated seriously in some Departments, but it was not shown even to the military heads of one Department. In one Department it actually went through seven hands, including three junior clerks. When a statement has been made such as Mr. Marlowe makes, which makes it perfectly clear that he had inside knowledge as to which of the Departments it went through, and when we know that it actually went through seven hands in one Department, then it is not we who are reflecting upon the Civil Service, but in their interests we demand an inquiry. Of course, the Prime Minister is quite justified in saying, "Let us try to go back to the atmosphere of 1924." The then Home Secretary is sitting here to-day, and he has been waiting three years for the Secretary of State for India to apologise to him. The mischief was done in the Election when the statement was made that the Home Secretary had with knowledge deliberately suppressed this document. He publicly repudiated it. He says, and says now, that he has never even seen it. We are entitled to ask the House, in considering the situation, to keep in mind the circumstances of the moment.
I conclude, therefore, by asking the Prime Minister whether he himself can be satisfied with a situation so unsatisfactory as it is to-day. He knows perfectly well that there is a grave suspicion in the public mind, that there are men and women, even members of the Conservative party, who are not happy about 103 the circumstances surrounding this letter, and that there is a suspicion that this was a deliberate forgery for party purposes.[An HON. MEMBER "Do you believe it?"] I am asked: "Do I believe it?" I say,, "Yes," and I will give my reasons. On the Saturday the assumption was that the letter was genuine, but after I had investigated it the one thing which satisfied me that it was a forgery was an examination of McManus, who, the House will remember, is supposed to have signed the letter. McManus was speaking in Manchester on the Thursday night on the eve of the Election, and he put this to me. He said: "Assuming the letter is genuine, assume that it is the deliberate intention of Russia, I am supposed to have signed the letter and to have been present when it was drafted. Then why did not the writer give it to me to bring over, seeing that I was here before the letter arrived?"
§ Mr. THOMAS
Hon. Members can answer that question for themselves. Why should he not have brought over the document? The answer was because he was suspected, but the Government, who only have an interest in the Army and the Navy, did not dare then to deal with McManus. Let me give my second reason. On the Tuesday prior to the publication of the document on the Saturday morning the "Manchester Evening Chronicle" reproduced a photograph of Zinovieff and said, "Look out for a bombshell re Zinovieff at the end of the week." That was four days before the publication of the letter. Further, the Wednesday edition of the "Daily Mail" of that week reported the visit of an important Russian to the Conservative headquarters. All this is prior to the bombshell on the Saturday morning. That is why I believe it was a forgery. That is why there is no anxiety to examine this question further; so many hon. Members opposite benefited by the forgery, and because an investigation would show conclusively that the Government are not exempt from responsibility. But it is purely on the ground of the Civil Service that we put forward this Motion.
104 No one is more ready to sacrifice himself rather than involve the Civil Service than my right hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. MacDonald). The Prime Minister, in his speech to-day, said that the country was surprised and mystified by the silence of my right hon. Friend in his Swansea speech. The bombshell had exploded on the Saturday morning, and everyone expected the Prime Minister to deal with it on the Saturday afternoon, but he never said a word. Hon. Members who made speeches on that occasion said that it was because he was afraid, but the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister know that on that occasion he sacrificed himself and his party rather than let down the Civil Service. He has had to bear all this burden and insult, and it is fair that the House and the country should know that, when my right hon. Friend first inquired why this document had been published, he received a reply to the effect that he himself had initialed it. He received that reply on the eve of his Swansea speech. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No!"] I say deliberately that he did. I will repeat it. I say that on the Saturday afternoon, when he was expected to deal with the document and was, in fact, going to deal with it, he had telegraphed to the Foreign Office to ascertain the facts concerning its publication and that he received a reply from the Foreign Office saying, "You initialed it." He knew he had not, and he had to face that audience and the country saying to himself. "I am told I did something, but if I dare act I shall throw the Civil Service over."
§ Mr. THOMAS
I say to the House that, in fairness to my right hon. Friend, nothing short of an inquiry will satisfy us. In any case, the Prime Minister has refused it to-day for reasons which I cannot understand or appreciate. He has refused it for the flimsiest of all excuses, that he is afraid Mr. Marlowe will not appear. I answer him by saying that if on an important issue like this, which affected, as he knows perfectly well, the fate of the General Election—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—at least that was the view of the present Home Secretary who, speaking on the Saturday, that is 105 the day on which this letter was published, said:I believe this is the most serious matter that has arisen, and I cannot help thinking that it will decide the election.Hon. Members know perfectly well that it did decide the election. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I am asked "why." Because of the fraudulent use you made of it, because so many folk both lied and libelled my right hon. Friend.
§ understand, of course, that Plymouth is an exception to all rules. I say that hon. Members took advantage of the situation, and, although the Prime Minister may now refuse an inquiry, we say that the position cannot remain where it is, that this matter is occupying and disturbing the public mind, and that we at least will not be satisfied until there is a, free, full, and impartial inquiry into the whole situation.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 132; Noes, 326.109
|Division No. 45.]||AYES.||[7.26 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hardie, George D,||Saklatvala, shapurji|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayday, Arthur||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Henderson. Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hirst, G. H.||Scurr, John|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sexton, James|
|Baker, Walter||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barnes, A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Broad, F. A.||Kennedy, T.||Smith, Rennie (Penlstone)|
|Bromfield, William||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||Kirkwood, D.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lansbury, George||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lawrence, Susan||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Lawson, John James||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lee, F.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lindley, F. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Connolly, M.||MacDonald, Rt. hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Townend, A. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Mackinder, W.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davles, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||March, S.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Day, Harry||Maxton, James||Watson, W. M. (Duntermilne)|
|Dennison, R.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Palsley)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Duncan, C.||Montague, Frederick||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dunnlco, H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Murnin, H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Oliver, George Harold||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry||Whiteley, W.|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln.,Cent.)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wright, W.|
|Groves, T.||Riley, Ben||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ritson, J.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.||Mr B. Smith and Mr. Hayes.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Atkinson, C.||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Albery, Irving James||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Blades, Sir George Rowland|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Balnlel, Lord||Blundell, F. N.|
|Ahixander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool,W. Derby)||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.|
|Ashley, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bennett, A. J.||Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.|
|Astbury, Lieut-Commander F. W.||Berry, Sir George||Brass, Captain W.|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent,Dover)||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Brassey, Sir Leonard|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Briant, Frank|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Goff, Sir Park||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Gower, Sir Robert||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Grace, John||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Brocklebanlc, C. E. R.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Grant, Sir J. A.||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Buchan, John||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Grotrlan, H. Brent||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F.E.(Bristol,N.)||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Burman, J. B.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Meller, R. J.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hacking, Douglas H.||Merrlman, F. B.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hamilton, Sir George||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hammersley, S. S.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hanbury, C.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Cayzer. Maj. Sir Herbt.R (Prtsmth.S.)||Harris, Percy A.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Cecil. Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Haslam, Henry C.||Morris, R. H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.sir J.A. (Birm.,W.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivlan||Murchison. Sir Kenneth|
|Chllcott, Sir Warden||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Christie, J. A.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford. Watford)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon, Winston Spencer||Hills, Major John Waller||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hilton, Cecil||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'd.)|
|Clayton, G. C||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Oakley, T.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Pennelather, Sir John|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Homan, C. W. J.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Couper, J. B.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Peering, Sir William George|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Pilcher, G.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Preston, William|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro)||Hudson. R. S. (Cumberl'and, Whlteh'n)||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ramsden, E.|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Huntingfield, Lord||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Hurd, Percy A.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Remer, J. R.|
|Davies, MaJ. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Jackson, Sir. H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Drewe, C.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthtaert||Robinson, Sir T. (Lane., Stretford)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall,St.Ives)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Ellis, R. G.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|England, Colonel A.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rye, F. G.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Salmon, Major I.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lamb, J. O.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Lister, Cunliffe-. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Fairfax. Captain J. G.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Loder, J. de V.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A.D. Mcl.(Renfrew,W.)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Long, Major Eric||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Flelden. E. B.||Looker, Herbert William||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Finburgh, S.||Lougher, Lewis||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Skelton, A. N.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Slaney, Major P. Kenvon|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Lumley, L. R.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne.-'C.)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Smithers, Waldron|
|Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Gates, Percy||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Maclntyre, Ian||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||McLean, Major A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Steel, Major Samuel Strang||vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Storry-Deans, R.||Wallace, Captain D. E.||winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||withers, John James|
|Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Warrender, Sir Victor||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Sykes, Major-Gen, Sir Frederick H.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Tasker, R. Inigo.||Watts, Dr. T.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wells, S. R.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple||Wragg, Herbert|
|Tinne, J. A.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Tltchfield, Major the Marquess of||Williams, Com. C. (Devon. Torquay)|
|Tomlinson, R. P.||Williams. C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough||winby, Colonel L. P.||Major Cope.|