Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £298,434, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1932, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices, including Liquidation Expenses of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Contributions towards the Expenses of Probation."—[NOTE: £159,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
I believe this is the first time this year that the Committee has had anything to do with the Vote of the Department of thy right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Everybody will agree that the Home Office has been less open to criticism than any of the other Departments of His Majesty's Government. I do not know whether the reason is that the right hon. Gentleman is an admirable Home Secretary, or that he has been particularly fortunate; it maybe it is a 2122 little of both. The Home Office covers a very wide field indeed and touches us all very closely. Any controversy dealing with the administration of the Home Office immediately arouses a great deal of interest, and sometimes considerable excitement.
There is no subject of controversy facing us to-day. I only want to raise-one or two more or less non-controversial questions, on which perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us a little information.
In the first place, I should like to deal very shortly with the question of the immigration of aliens into this country. As the Committee are aware, there are various Acts of Parliament dealing with the immigration of aliens and regulating their entry into this country, and those Acts were passed, as everyone knows, to safeguard our own population from undesirable immigrants, who might import disease into this country, who might import crime, who might be dangerous in other respects to the community, and who also might take up work which properly belongs to our own people. It has always seemed to me to be very important that those Acts of Parliament should be carried out, not only in the letter, but also in the spirit, because, if they are not properly carried out, you are liable to leave a very large loophole which would considerably nullify the provisions of the Acts.
The point that I want to emphasise to-day is the entry into this country of aliens who come here to take up work. I have various White Papers here, from which I have obtained information. I find that, in 1920, 12,576 aliens were admitted in connection with the Ministry of Labour permit. It is perfectly true that the Ministry of Labour is partly responsible for the entry of these aliens, but the right hon. Gentleman, as Home Secretary, is, of course, ultimately responsible. A good many years ago I was at the Home Office for a couple of years, and I remember quite well that on many occasions the Home Office turned down the entry of aliens into this country, although they possessed Ministry of Labour permits.
Of course, the figure I have mentioned is a very high one, but I find from the White Paper that last year no fewer than 13,396 aliens were admitted on Ministry 2123 of Labour permits, or nearly 1,000 more than the previous year. That is to say, concurrently with an aggravated state of unemployment over here, an increased number of aliens were admitted to this country to take up work—persons who naturally, to some extent, must have competed for the diminished amount of employment available for our own people. I hope that no relaxation is taking place in the matter of immigration of aliens of this kind. I notice, when I look at the Estimates, that, although there are various increases in many of these items of the Home Office Vote, there is a decrease of expenses under the Aliens (Restriction) Acts amounting to £2,592 as compared with the year before. One-half of that decrease is due to a reduction in the travelling expenses of inspectors and immigration officers, and I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that reduction means that the inspection of these aliens has become less rigid, and that the control has become looser over alien immigration. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman could let us know about that.
Akin to this question of immigration of aliens is, of course, the question of the naturalisation of aliens. A White Paper has been published giving the figures relating to the naturalisation of aliens. Last year, naturalisation certificates were granted to 950 aliens, of whom no fewer than 488 were Russians. That seems to me to be a very large proportion of the total certificates, and I may point out that it shows that 66 more Russians were given certificates than the year before. If you take the whole British Possessions outside the United Kingdom, you will find from this White Paper that they only granted 11 certificates of naturalisation to Russians last year, and that was an actual decrease, as against our increase, on the year before. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is taking great care as to the persons to whom these certificates are given, and what inquiries he is making. I notice from the main Estimates that there is an Appropriation-in-Aid of £1,000 more in regard to these certificates of naturalisation than there was the year before. Is that increase in the fees due to an increase in the scale of the fees, or is it due to an increase in the number of persons 2124 to whom certificates of naturalisation have been given?
I raise this question of naturalisation certificates for a specific reason. Under the law of the Soviet. Union, Russian nationality can only be renounced by Russians living abroad by the special decree of the Praesidium of the Executive Committee of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, or, alternatively, in certain cases, consent can be given by the plenipotentiary of the Union. Does the right hon. Gentleman, before granting certificates of naturalisation to Russians, in every case make quite certain that this decree has been issued allowing the renunciation of Russian nationality, or that a decision has been given by the plenipotentiary? If the decree is not passed, the persons to whom these British certificates of naturalisation are given still remain citizens of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, and their allegiance first and foremost is not to this country, but to the Soviet Union.
It can easily be seen that this might lead to very undesirable results. I do not want to enter into any controversial matter this afternoon, but everyone in the House will agree, and the Soviet have said it over and over again, that one of their main objects is world revolution, and we know perfectly well that there are Soviet agents for this purpose all over the world. Therefore, a Soviet political agent here might get a British certificate of naturalisation, with all the rights and privileges attaching to British nationality, and yet remain a Soviet citizen, owing allegiance first and foremost to the Soviet Union. It would be very interesting to know whether this large number of Russians who receive these certificates really come over here to escape persecution, or whether they come here to make war underground against our institutions. I do not want to pursue that matter, but I shall be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman can let us have some information about it.
I would like now to pass to quite a different matter, and to refer for a moment to the question of street accidents. I agree that it is rather a jump, but we are talking about the Home Office as a whole. May I give a few figures with regard to street accidents in Great Britain? There is a very interesting 2125 White Paper published by the Home Office every year with regard to street accidents. The total deaths caused by vehicles and horses in the streets in 1928 amounted to 6,138. Two years later, the last year for which I have figures, they had risen to 7,305, an increase of 1,167. The total injuries in the same periods were about 178,000 against 164,000 the year before, or an increase of over 13,000. A figure of between 7,000 and 8,000 killed in a year is a very heavy toll of human life. If a great ship went down, or an earthquake or flood took place, and caused this enormous destruction of human life it would be regarded as a disaster of the first magnitude. These deaths take place day after day and week after week and people take very little notice of them. This increase has taken place concurrently with an immense increase in the cost of the police, which has risen in the last two years by over £3,500,000. A large part of that increase, of course, represents increased grants to the councils of counties and boroughs. Is the right hon. Gentleman taking any steps to see that the police are efficient in carrying out their duties in this respect? The Home Office gives the grant and it depends on the efficiency shown in their work by the police. I cannot help feeling that, with a little better organisation, the enormous figure of 7,000 or 8,000 deaths a year might possibly be reduced.
The other two questions I wish to touch upon were raised in the Debate last year, the questions of young offenders and mental defectives. In regard to young offenders, there is still a considerable want of uniformity in the way they are dealt with by magistrates. Sometimes they are sent to prison and sometimes to institutions. It is very desirable that the practice should be uniform and that young offenders should be sent to institutions and not to prison. The right hon. Gentleman could do a great deal to bring influence to bear upon magistrates by circularising them. Hitherto the practice of some magistrates has been only to send young offenders to institutions after several short terms of imprisonment. This, of course, means that they are far more difficult to reclaim than if they were sent straight away to an institution on the first offence. It is true that young offenders under 21 years of age who have sentences 2126 of three months and over are placed in certain prisons, but this really does not get rid of prison conditions.
To my mind, there ought to be a great effort to abolish altogether the practice of sending young offenders to prison at all. The conditions in Borstal and other institutions are quite different from the conditions prevailing in prison. All the inmates in those institutions are young. The whole régime is directed to reclamation and is suited to the age of the inmates. In prisons the inmates are of all ages, the prisoners only form perhaps a small proportion of the population of: a prison, and the whole administration treats them and regards them from that point of view. Again, in these Borstal institutions there is a great variety of training, and the training is spread over a considerable period, and this gives a real chance of developing the talent of the young inmate and discovering the bent of his mind. In prison again it is quite different. Sentences are short, and there is no proper period for experimental development at all. In prisons, moreover, the subjects of training are much more limited than in institutions, and they have less scope for adapting the work to the inmates. There is also far less opportunity of open-air training and physical exercise, and lastly there is always the risk in prison of contamination by the older prisoners. The authorities do their best to safeguard and to segregate the young offenders from the old, but it is impossible to keep them completely apart. In fact, last year the right hon. Gentleman agreed that the conditions in prisons were quite unsuitable for giving proper training and that segregation from the older offenders was almost impracticable.
Finally, I should like to draw attention to the case of mental defectives. Here again the Home Secretary could do a great deal by communicating with the magistrates. There is a practice in some courts of sending persons of doubtful mentality to prison in order to undergo observation. Here, again, the practice of magistrates differs considerably. Some take advantage of their powers under the Mental Deficiency Act, and others do not, but send mental defectives to prison as convicted prisoners. It is very undesirable that mental defectives should be branded as convicted felons, and it is 2127 very undesirable that prisoners of normal mentality should be herded in the same prison with mental defectives. The right hon. Gentleman could probably do a great deal by circularising the magistrates, and bringing this to their notice. Short sentences cannot possibly do mental defectives the slightest good in the world. To my mind they ought at once to be sent to a special institution. The difficulty is to get the person at once into an institution. Very often great delay takes place, and I believe that is one of the causes why these people are very often sent to prison, where they languish perhaps for many months at a time until accommodation in an institution can be found. In many cases the sentences expire before accommodation is found and these mental defectives are once more thrown on the world, after doing their spell in prison, to commit further wrongs against the community. The Home Secretary, I think, would be doing a great service if some arrangement could be made whereby accommodation could be found much more speedily for this type of case. As I said before, the Home Office has not presented as far as I can discover any vulnerable front to the public. These are the only questions I have to ask, and I should be very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman if he would reply to them.
§ Mr. MIDDLETON
I am not going to follow the right hon. Gentleman in the points he has raised, but, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has probably a greater variety of responsibilities than any other Minister, he will expect in the course of the discussion to be called upon to deal with a great many subjects. I want to say a few words, if I may, about the Carlisle State Management Scheme for which the right hon. Gentleman has to accept Ministerial responsibility. I have no doubt the Committee is aware that in that part of the country which I represent we have almost a complete scheme of State Socialism in the form of public ownership of the drink trade. That experiment, so-called, has been going on since, I think, 1916 or 1917. It was originally decided upon as a War measure, and it has been going on long enough now for the Home Office to—
I am afraid that we cannot deal with that subject on this Vote. That comes under Class 6, Vote 16. May I explain to the Committee that there seems to be a general misunderstanding in the Committee that when the Home Office Vote is before us everything that comes under the control of the Home Secretary can be discussed. That is not the case. Anything that is included in any other Vote cannot be discussed on the Home Office Vote. Only what the Minister is responsible for in so far as it is covered by this Vote, or anything not covered by any other Vote can be discussed under this Vote. Therefore, I am afraid my hon. Friend cannot raise the matter on this Vote.
§ Mr. JAMES HUDSON
It would be in order, I take it, to make reference to the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite?
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has any intention of making any reference to what the right hon. Gentleman said, but the subjects to which he referred are in the Vote, and therefore I ask hon. Members, when they come to discuss these Estimates, to make themselves acquainted with what is in the Vote.
§ Mr. MORRIS
I regret that the very interesting topic which the hon. Gentleman opposite was going to raise is out of order on this occasion. I want to turn to another subject altogether, namely, the Racecourse Betting Control Board. There is no Vote, I think, in respect of that, so that I think I may be in order under your ruling. On the eve of the adjournment of the House for the Whitsuntide Recess, I had an opportunity—a very short one, it is true—of putting some questions with regard to the balance sheet of the Board which at that time had not been issued. The report was not issued until some days after the Recess had started. Now we have an opportunity of discussing the position of the Betting Control Board with the report before us, and a very interesting report it is.
There are some questions I would like to put to the Home Secretary upon that report. I know that, probably, he will tell us that he has no responsibility whatever in the matter. It has always been 2129 one of the difficulties in this House to discuss the affairs of the Betting Control Board at all, because the right hon. Gentleman says that, as Home Secretary, he has nothing whatever to do with the affairs of the Board. Actually, he has responsibilities in three ways, first of all for appointing the chairman of the Board, and then for the form in which the accounts of the Board are presented, which form is prescribed by the right hon. Gentleman himself. I presume that one can raise questions as to the form in which they are prescribed, and show that that form gives no adequate information with regard to the actual position of the Board. The right hon. Gentleman has other powers beside. Under the Act he has power to see that a scheme is prepared by the Board for the distribution of the funds which they obtain from their operations and to see that those moneys from time to time are applied by the Board in accordance with the scheme approved by the Secretary of State. He has to approve a scheme under which they distribute that fund, and he has to approve the form in which the accounts are presented. Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the form in which the Betting Control Board presented their accounts for the two years 1929 and 1930? A good deal of discussion centres round balance sheets in these days, and one examines these balance sheets very carefully. In the beginning of their report, they say, in page 7, dealing with the activities of last year:The income received has been sufficient to meet all operating and administration expenses applicable to a normal year's working"—I do not know what "normal year's working" conveys to your mind, but it conveys absolutely nothing to mine—although failing to cover the interest on capital and provision for depreciation.They are very far from doing that. The total liabilities amount to no less a sum than £2,065,286 2s. 8d. What are their assets to meet that? Among their assets they show sums which are very difficult of explanation. There is an item on the asset side of £11,172 6s. 8d. What is that in respect of? It is described in the balance sheet as:Expenditure on alterations, etc., to buildings, transferred to Development Account.2130 For what was this £11,000 paid? Why have they not given us particulars of the items? I would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether that amount is in respect of their totalisator at Newbury, which was not a satisfactory machine, and has been scrapped. If so, why is not the item given here? There is another item of £93,005 19s. 3d. The description of that is:Expenditure on Experimental Plant, etc., transferred to Development Account—a very euphemistic description.
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is entering into details of the accounts and not the precise form of the accounts. All that the Home Secretary is concerned with is the form in which the accounts are presented, I understand that is so, and, if so, we can only decide whether they are intelligibly placed before us.
§ Mr. MORRIS
I want to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to this. Here is an account which I fail to understand, and which conveys no accurate information to anyone's mind. The reason why I am calling attention to these items is this: Is this the form which satisfies the Home Secretary? That is the defence of the Board, because they set it out on page 33:The accounts are presented in the form prescribed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department.That covers them completely, as long as it is in the form prescribed by the right hon. Gentleman, but that form covers a whole host of secret items, and conveys no information at all as to the true position of the Board. I venture to submit on that point that I am perfectly in order. My complaint against this balance sheet is that if it satisfies the form, as they say it does, and I accept that, then this form does not demand from them any true statement of the real position in which the Board finds itself to-day with £2,000,000 liabilities. Let me go further into this balance sheet to show how serious is the position actually disclosed. The last item on the asset side sets out the sum they have earned during the year, and it is of some concern to this House. The sum earned during the year was £261,323 15s. 10d., to meet an expenditure of £355,090 5s. 6d. There was, therefore, a dead loss on the Board's working for the year of £197,944.
I am not sure that the Minister is in any way responsible for this loss. After all the hon. Member is really criticising the financial statement and not the form in which the accounts are presented. The Minister is not responsible, as I understand, for the loss or the profit, if one may use those words.
§ Mr. MORRIS
With every respect, it is perfectly true that the Minister is not responsible for the loss incurred by the Board, but he has responsibility that the Board shall show clearly what the true financial position is. I cannot show that that form is unsatisfactory unless I discuss the actual items that make it up.
The hon. Member has no right to criticise the Minister for accounts for which he is not responsible.
§ Mr. MORRIS
I am not making myself clear. I am not criticising the body of the report. Supposing the whole of the items were amply set out, showing the exact profit and loss account, and it showed a loss of £197,000, it is true I would have no right to criticise the Minister, but when the Minister prescribes the form, and there is no full statement showing how these losses have been arrived at, surely I am entitled to criticise the Minister, not upon the loss but upon the form prescribed which should show the actual loss. I am referring to these items, not to criticise the Minister for the actual loss, but because the prescribed form which, apparently, satisfies him, and which the Board use to cover them, does not show the true position. Take the first figure on the top of page 40. There they give the sum they spend on salaries and wages—£27,062—and the first sentence on top of that page is:Administration expenses, after deducting amounts allocated to Buildings and Equipment Accounts.My complaint about the form of that is that when they set out a sum of £27,062 in respect of salaries and wages, it does not represent in any way the amount spent in salaries and wages, because on turning over the pages one finds that a sum in respect of salaries is included in the amount of £624,146 in respect of buildings. How can anyone say what is the sum spent by the Control Board upon buildings and what is the sum spent upon salaries? Surely that is a very unsatisfactory way of presenting 2132 the accounts. We do not know the true position of the Board from the way in which these accounts are kept. Salaries and wages are given in the operating expenses as £109,881 10s. 8d. Appendix IV of the report sets out—I do not know whether it is a sort of genealogical tree—a large number of the officials of the Board in tabular form. What is the good of presenting a report to the House giving the total sum of £109,881 10s. 8d. in respect of salaries and wages? Why should we not be given the exact sum paid in respect of the chairman of the Board, the secretary of the Board, the chief accountant and the general manager? Why are not the salaries set out?
That is not the only thing about which I have to complain. Take the question of losses which have been made. There is nothing to indicate how those losses have occurred or how the Board hopes to evade them in the future. I will give an instance of how they hope to recoup themselves. I do not want to get out of order. I am not using the figures in order to complain of the administration of the Board, because there is nothing at all in the prescribed forms which demand that the Board should show in the accounts presented to Parliament the real result of their operations on the racecourse. What has occurred at Ascot? They installed at Ascot a building worth £250,000, and the total amount received at Ascot from the totalisator was £220,000, and, taking the gross profit at 10 per cent., it would give a yield of £22,000. The net profit actually made, however, was £9,000, and that means a cost of £13,000 on the day's working. I have taken that as an illustration, but there is nothing to show, from beginning to end, the position after any day's racing during last year.
There is another and more serious complaint concerning the report. Parliament is very much concerned with this. I am dealing with the right hon. Gentleman's right to appoint the chairman of the Board. When the Bill, which is now an Act, was introduced into the House it was urged upon the House by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn), who was the sponsor of the Bill, that one of the aims he and the promoters of the Bill had m view was that it would do away with off-the-course 2133 betting. He criticised off-the-course betting in very unmistakable terms. He said that it led to more crime than any other form of betting and that he wished to suppress it. I am not discussing the ethics of betting at all. I am merely concerned with the attitude that this House took towards betting, and the undertaking which was given to the House when it passed the Bill. Off-the-course betting was condemned by the promoters of the Bill, and yet, when I turn to this report, I find, in page 19, set up in heavy type, the words:'Off-the-course' betting.I want to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to some of the passages contained in paragraphs 37, 38 and 39:The arrangements entered into with the London and provincial Sporting News Agency, Limited, continued in force throughout the year and proved an efficient service.At the commencement of the year the board were considering proposals from the Guardian Pari-Mutuel Limited, which was desirous of obtaining facilities for placing bets with the racecourse Totalisator on behalf of its members. An agreement was entered into by this organisation which was in force during the year, its bets being tendered at the racecourse by the medium of the London and Provincial Sporting News Agency Limited, and accompanied by the requisite amount in the form of chits.The fact is you can only do cash betting with the totalisator.
I am not very much concerned about this. In the event of the Board of Control doing anything wrong, regarding off-the-course betting, it can be challenged in the courts of law, and the Minister himself is not in any way responsible. If that be so, I cannot see that this matter is in order at all.
§ Mr. MORRIS
That is the whole point; it cannot be challenged in a court of law for this reason. What is legal with the totalisator is cash betting. Credit betting with the totalisator has been prohibited under the Act itself. I am not at all clear, but that was the intention of the Act. There is no credit betting with the totalisator. The undertaking given to Parliament was that—
I am not concerned at the moment with the undertaking given by the hon. and gallant Member to Parliament. I am concerned with the 2134 Vote before us and the Minister's responsibility for that Vote. If the hon. and gallant Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn) expressed an opinion, or gave an undertaking, it does not bind us at all in this discussion.
§ Mr. MORRIS
The Minister has this power with regard to the Board. He appoints the chairman of the Board. The chairman of the Board and the Board itself are not carrying out the undertakings given to Parliament. They have devised a way in which to get behind the Act. The right hon. Gentleman is in the position that he can supplant the chairman, see to it that a chairman is appointed to carry out the undertakings given to Parliament, or he can withdraw the chairman entirely. He is in that position. Therefore, I am raising the point and urging the breach of the undertakings in this House as a reason for the right hon. Gentleman to take steps to remove the present chairman. I am not concerned with the individual, but with the fact that five out of the 12 representatives of the Board were Government nominees, one of whom was the nominee of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has power over him, not to determine his action, but to remove him and to cancel his appointment. In that case, I submit that I am perfectly in order in saying that here is a reason, because the Board is doing something which is a violation of the undertakings given to this House, why the right hon. Gentleman should take action and remove the chairman of the Board or decline to continue his appointment and appoint someone else That is an action which is clearly within the rights and powers of the right hon Gentleman.
I am sorry to have to intervene again. We are concerned with an Act of Parliament and not with any undertaking urged at the passing of that Act of Parliament. If the chairman is not carrying out the Act of Parliament, the hon. Gentleman would be quite in order, but, when he tells me that somebody gave an undertaking, I want to know whether that individual was appointed by the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. MORRIS
It is not an undertaking which is binding upon the Home Secretary, I agree. Nothing is binding 2135 upon the Home Secretary except the Act of Parliament itself. There may be reasons why the right hon. Gentleman should or should not put into operation the provisions of an Act of Parliament, but the powers he has in this case are concerned with the honour of this Committee. They concern the question of pledges given by the promoters of the Bill. It was not an irresponsible undertaking. It was an undertaking upon which the House passed the Bill by a very narrow majority. The answer may be that it is now an Act of Parliament, and that therefore the history of the passage of the Bill through the House becomes, in a sense, immaterial. That, in a narrow technical sense, may be quite true, but I very much doubt it. I maintain that it is within the power of the right hon. Gentleman to remove the chairman of the Board. Here is a Board doing something which is encouraging off-the-course betting, which was never contemplated by the Act.
There is no money in this Estimate for any of the things to which the hon. Member has referred; no money whatever. All I am concerned about is the responsibility of the Minister, and nothing beyond that. In the Estimate as presented to us to-day there is no money involved. Perhaps the Minister will help us.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Clynes)
It may ease the situation if I say a few words. I understand from the hon. Gentleman that I have no power over the actions of the chairman. That, I think is admitted. He pointed out that I have authority to appoint him or to remove him. I am not sure that to remove him or to appoint another, in the circumstances, would afford any remedy. We are dealing with an Act of Parliament, and under that Act my authority, as I understand it, is limited to sanctioning the form in which the Control Board shall present its accounts. That form is determined on the advice of accountants of the very highest standing and position. If my hon. Friend will bear in mind that the form of presenting these accounts is a new stage, and, it may be, an experimental stage of a new organisation, and if my hon. Friend can suggest improvements in the form of the 2136 accounts in which my authority is limited, I shall be very glad to consult with him and see how far, jointly, we might make helpful representations in the proper quarter, to the chairman and to the Control Board.
§ Mr. MORRIS
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his suggestion, but I am not content with the first part of his remarks. The right hon. Gentleman began by assuming that it would not help very much if he removed the present chairman and appointed someone else in his place. That may be true, but the position since the Act passed has so changed that not only is it not necessary any longer for the right hon. Gentleman to make a new appointment, but no appointment should be made at all by the Home Office, and for this reason. When the Act was passed, it contemplated a situation in which it was generally thought that totalisators could not be set up on racecourses without a special Act of Parliament authorising their being set up. The Act limited the setting up of totalisators on racecourses for horse racing and horse racing only. The whole object of the Act is said to be for the improvement of horse breeding. The right hon. Gentleman has a statutory obligation upon him to devise a scheme by which money shall be paid for the purpose of improving horse breeding, but there is no hope of a single penny being set aside for horse breeding. Since the passage of the Act totalisators have been set up on racecourses which have nothing to do with horse racing—on dog-racing tracks—and the result has been that cases have come before the courts. The Divisional Court has held that a totalisator can be set up on any racecourse by any group of people and by any private individual. That is a change altogether. No one contemplated that that was the law until the decision of the High Court was given. If that be so, and I or anybody else or any combination of people can set up a totalisator upon any course in the country, why should it be necessary to have this august body of 12 nominees, five of whom are Government nominees? Why should the right hon. Gentleman appoint upon this Board—
§ Mr. MORRIS
The Home Secretary can do what he pleases. It is not mandatory upon him to appoint. I beg pardon. That may be so. It may be that it is obligatory upon the right hon. Gentleman.
If he has to appoint a chairman, then he is exercising a function which devolves upon him, and if it has been found that, under the law, it is possible to create totalidsators everywhere, I do not see that we can criticise that on this Vote.
§ Mr. MORRIS
I agree that in that case it would require amending legislation. If I might digress for a moment, I would say that it has become clear that we do not need an august body of this sort, with Government representatives upon it, to do something which any private individual can do. The thing is laughable and farcical. Although it may be obligatory upon the right hon. Gentleman to appoint someone, it is high time that the chairman of the board should be a person who will satisfy the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary must satisfy himself that the Act has been properly administered and carried out, and it cannot be said at the moment that the accounts disclose anything in regard to the true position. The public in the past year subscribed something like £300,000 to the totalisators and they have a right to know the real position. I welcome the suggestion of the Home Secretary that a form should be put before him which would reveal the true financial position of the Racecourse Betting Control Board. I thank him for that assurance.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
I appeal to the Home Secretary on a matter which is arousing very widespread interest and attention. A very large number of people are much concerned about the working of the cinemas in this country, and they are particularly concerned about two matters connected with the cinema. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the system of censorship.
I understand that the Home Secretary has nothing to do with the censorship. All that he is concerned with are the duties of the police where necessary in connection with the showing of films. I find that the cinematograph 2138 adviser does not arise on this Vote. We cannot have a criticism of the censorship of films on this Vote.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
May I state the line that I was going to take? The Home Secretary has power, if he likes, to appoint a committee of inquiry to go into the question of censorship.
The hon. Member may ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will appoint such a committee, and, if he says "yes" or "no," that is an answer, and that ends it.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
Surely, I am entitled on the Home Office Estimates to ask the right hon. Gentleman to appoint such a committee, which has been frequently asked for but which he has so far declined to appoint. I am going to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on the Floor of the House to appoint the committee and to satisfy public anxiety about the working of the censorship and the influence of the cinema upon children.
The hon. Member must appreciate my difficulty. I cannot allow him to discuss anything for which the Minister at the moment is not responsible. I have been making inquiries and I understand that the only thing that concerns the Minister is when the police say that certain films are indecent, and the police then have a right to interfere. Then the action of the Minister may be criticised.
§ Mr. FOOT
Suppose that the hon. Members feel that the right hon. Gentleman should have regard to the protest that is being made through the country against the character of the films that are now being shown. Can we not press upon him in this Debate the advisability of the appointment of some committee or board of inquiry to ascertain the working of the existing censorship and to suggest its improvement for the protection of the public interests?
The hon. Member can ask for the appointment of a committee but he cannot enter into details in regard to a matter on which the Minister is not for the moment responsible.
§ Mr. BENSON
If the hon. Member is allowed to give reasons why such a committee should be appointed, would 2139 another hon. Member be entitled to give reasons why the Home Secretary should have nothing whatever to do with the censorship?
That question illustrates my difficulty. If I allow an hon. Member to urge that the committee be appointed, I cannot deter another hon. Member from urging that no committee be appointed.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
I regard this matter as very important in the interests of the Home Secretary himself. I should have thought he would welcome a discussion on the Floor of the House rather than denunciations in the country.
Even if that be so, the proper place to raise this matter is in connection with the salary of the cinema adviser. I suppose he advises the Minister; I do not know. Well, whoever he is. That would come on Vote 14, Class 7.
§ Miss PICTON-TURBERVILL
May I raise this point of Order. If it be the case that films can only be censored by the police if they offend against decency, and the Home Secretary has power over the police, would it not be in order to urge the Home Secretary that he should—I do not want to use a slang phrase—ginger up the police to be more stringent in their censorship of what is and what is not decent?
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
May I put this point of Order? There are many voluntary arrangements for controlling the nature of the films shown to children, and so forth. I believe, subject to correction, that the Home Secretary is responsible for the administration of these voluntary arrangements; I may be wrong, but it is not sufficient to say that the Home Secretary has no power of censorship and that, therefore, the question of censorship cannot be discussed. That is obvious, but if he is responsible to this 2140 House for the general question of films and if he can, by agreement with the industry, safeguard the quality of the films, is it not open to us on the Vote for his salary to question him and discover how he is carrying out those duties, which may be extra-statutory duties?
§ Mr. CLYNES
I have frequently been questioned in the House on the subject of the censorship in relation to the demand that I should appoint a committee of inquiry generally into the form of the censorship. The present form is that of an independent body of film censors and there is dissatisfaction with that condition. Consequently, I have been pressed to appoint a committee. I raise no objection whatever to my action in refusing to appoint a committee being made the subject of debate and criticism in this House. I can see your difficulty, and it is for you, as Chairman, finally to determine whether a debate should take place now or on some other occasion.
It is impossible on this Vote to raise matters over which the Minister has no control, although he may have been questioned on the Floor of the House. Hon. Members must seek another opportunity, such as on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House. I am not in a position to allow a discussion ranging over the question of film censorship, for which there is no money in this Estimate; not a single penny piece.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
Surely, on the Minister's salary I might raise the question of the cinemas. I put down a Motion to reduce the Minister's salary in order to ensure my being able to speak on this subject, but I withdrew it on subsequent consideration. Surely, on the salary of the Minister and the general question of the Minister's duties I am entitled to ask him to reconsider his decision not to appoint a committee to inquire into these matters that are exciting so much general interest.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
What I was going to do was to point out that the censorship was very unsatisfactory in its present stage. May I call your attention to some words that were used by the 2141 Attorney-General the other day before the Committee which is considering the question of Sunday cinemas?We may very rapidly, I think, come to the time when there will have to be lists of what films can be shown and what films cannot be shown. The time is quickly coming when we really shall have to take this question in hand. I think the whole system of the licensing of films at present is very unsatisfactory.
That does not arise on this Vote. I cannot allow the hon. Member to go off at a tangent in this way. He must confine himself to something which is concerned with the Vote.
Even if that be true, the police action does not arise on this Vote, as I have already pointed out.
§ Mr. DENMAN
It may be perhaps for the convenience of the Committee if I call attention to a matter which is in order. The Vote very definitely provides that for the Roll of the Baronetage there shall be provided £128, which I note is a saving of £8 on the Vote for 1930. That is a matter for congratulation. It shows that the Government are taking economy seriously. It is a matter of great interest to our party, because we have lost one of our baronets. I do not know whether that is a matter which is in any way reflected in this Vote. This particular sum is, however, less satisfactory than it might be, because I notice that there has been a greater decrease in the Appropriations-in-Aid. Last year the baronetage enrollment fees amounted to £150, but this year they are estimated to produce only £135, so that the transaction in relation to the baronetage shows decreased revenue. In 1930 we made a profit of £14, and in 1931 we are only making a profit of £7. I was in hope that this Government trading, if it be right so to describe it, would be more and not less successful in 1931 than in 1930. I have mentioned this matter in order to restore our Debate to perfect order.
I will conclude by drawing attention to two more substantial points. When the Home Secretary first came into office 2142 he was very patient with me, under a certain amount of examination, as to his administration of the naturalisation laws. I discovered, in the course of my investigations, that naturalisation in previous times had been so costly as to make it outside the range of poorer persons who by their long residence and by their excellent records of character and service in their work had shown themselves abundantly qualified to become naturalised British subjects. The sole difficulty with them was money; they could not afford the high fees that were then charged. The Home Secretary undertook to examine the matter, and I think he made a change in the regulations whereby it was possible for such deserving cases to obtain naturalisation at more reasonable figures. I should be glad if he would tell us how that experiment has succeeded and whether he proposes to extend it. I notice that in the Appropriations-in-Aid he estimates an even larger income from fees under the British Nationality (Status of Aliens) Act, in 1931 than in 1930, and it may be that the smaller fees now charged in such deserving cases have brought in, and are likely to bring in, a bigger revenue than the higher fees.
To one other point I must refer. A curious change has occurred in the treatment of persons who have changed their name under the proper legal provisions. A case was brought to my notice not long ago of a man who within three or four days—he was a British subject—had changed his name by the ordinary legal method, with proper publicity and so on, and for all practical purposes since then he has been known by his new name. In 1920 he had a passport that took him abroad under that name. Recently, however, in obtaining a new passport, he has found inscribed upon it, I understand in accordance with the regulations laid down by the Home Office, the fact that 20 years ago he had another name. Of course it is a perfectly true statement of history, but it is not a very agreeable statement to have announced in that way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If you have changed your name at a given moment and published the fact, people know that it is done, but if you have it recorded on a document and you present that document wherever you happen to be staying abroad, and it is there recorded 2143 that 20 years ago you had another name, there is no explanation made as to the reason for the change, and nothing is known about it. Obviously it does suggest to the authorities of the other countries that there may be something queer about it. In the case of British citizens it should surely be quite unnecessary, after a limited number of years, say five years, for such details to be published on documents. Such publication is liable to create difficulties and objections, and even pain quite out of proportion to any practical result that can possibly be regarded as beneficial. I am sure that the Home Secretary will look into these points. If he can give us any information as to improved facilities for naturalisation I am sure the Committee will be glad to have it.
§ Captain HAROLD BALFOUR
I wish to raise one point regarding the Home Office Industrial Museum which is mentioned on page 17. The Home Secretary will find exhibited at that museum various guards for particular machines, and that they are really impracticable to be put into ordinary use in workshops. Particularly do I refer to the guards on certain types of presses. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, in common with all who are interested in industry, desires that the museum should be of the greatest possible benefit to those engaged in the administration and organisation of workshops. If one went to the museum to see how to put a guard round a particular press, and one then duplicated that particular guard in one's own workshop, the output of the machine would come down so as to make the retention of the machine absolutely impracticable. That remark applies not only to certain double-action presses, but also to grinding machinery.
I would like to have some information from the Home Secretary as to how many managers and those responsible for workshops have visited the museum during the past year. Perhaps it would be an advantage to industry in general, and to this museum in particular, if there could he some closer co-ordination between the Home Office and organisations of employers engaged in the engineering industry; if there could be some joint committee set up to review the exhibits in 2144 this interesting museum, including perhaps those engaged in the practical side of industry as distinct from those engaged in the supervising side, such as the Home Secretary and his Department. Perhaps such a committee could make some contribution which would make the retention of this museum more valuable to national industry than it is at the present time. The average payment per person for workmen's compensation in the engineering industry is 20s. to 30s. per cent., according to the particular class of output of the factory. I feel sure that with a greater use of practical examples in industrial museums, a more practical liaison between industry and the Home Office, the percentage rate which firms have to pay for Workmen's Compensation Act insurance, would be materially brought down and the number of accidents would be fewer. I think that the museum would be a greater benefit under such a scheme than it is now.
§ Mr. MILLS
I have always been qualified for Broadmoor. I have in mind the deplorable results of the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Lovat-Fraser), and I have endeavoured to begin by giving chapter and verse for the point upon which I wanted to speak. However, it is on the Home Office Vote, and it relates to administration.
It cannot be on the Home Office Vote if it is on page 23. The Vote before the Committee now is the Home Office Vote. The Vote on page 23 relates to the police of England and Wales, and is a different Vote.
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
With fear and trembling I approach the subject that I wish to raise in this Debate. I hope I have some excuse for my intervention in the fact that the matter upon which I wish to speak was raised definitely by the right hon. Gentleman who began this Debate. I want to refer to the responsibility 2145 of the Home Office for street accidents, not so much police intervention in accidents but the part which the Home Office plays in the matter. I agree entirely with what the right hon. Gentleman said, that this becomes year by year a more serious issue, and that Parliament should take every opportunity to impress upon the Home Office the need for better regulations and better intervention. To have a list of accidents that approaches pretty well a war casualty list year by year is something that ought to lead to a great deal more care on the part of the Home Office in discovering what steps can be taken to prevent these serious results.
In the statistics that are prepared for us year by year it appears that between 80 and 90 per cent. of the total accidents are due to human causes, to mistakes in judgment, and that only 10 to 20 per cent. are classified as due to mistakes or defects in the machine, in the motor. As far as I can judge, the anxiety of the Home Office, in the regulations that are published and in the pressure that it brings to bear on the police, and through the police, is mainly with respect to the machine. All sorts of regulations are made and all sorts of pressure is used to see that the brakes are all right on motor cars, the red light is burning at the proper time, and that the other rules laid down are being kept, but so far as the human side of the matter is concerned very little indeed seems to be done by the Home Office.
Taking the total casualty lists, it appears from the 1930 figures that 33 per cent. of the accidents were caused by private cars and taxicabs; 12 per cent. by vans and lorries; that motor cycles and sidecars took a large toll, 16.7 per cent.; and that motor cycles driven solo were responsible for 22 per cent. The most remarkable fact of all in these figures is that motor omnibuses and coaches, which one would have expected to have taken a very large proportion in this annual toll of road accidents, were responsible for only 5.3 per cent. of the accidents upon the road. I want to suggest that the regulations that have been applied by municipalities and by private companies who are responsible for the running of these motor omnibuses have had a great deal to do with the limitation of the accidents to the particularly 2146 low figure of 5.3 per cent. of the total. You may ask what type of regulations could have had such an effect as this. There was given to the Royal Commission on Licensing some very remarkable evidence by Dr. Courtney Weekes who was acting as the specially appointed Secretary of a committee representing the House of Commons and the House of Lords in putting forward a particular point of view to the Royal Commission. He had sent a special questionnaire to all municipalities and all private companies engaged in the running of those motor omnibuses to find out what might be the cause of this very low percentage. It was discovered as a result of this questionnaire that of the municipalities 88 per cent. were—
That does not arise on this Vote, because it is not the responsibility of the Home Office. There is no reference at all to the authority of the Home Office in this matter. If the hon. Member wishes to refer to street accidents, he must show how far the Home Office is responsible.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I am only referring to the fact that the Home Office has issued regulations and circulars to the police to see that the law is carried out. If you run a motor bicycle and sidecar which has not an effective brake, you will have two burly policemen stopping you and telling you to put the brake on so that they may test it. I understand that sort of thing is done by policemen, because they receive circulars and instructions for which the Home Office is responsible.
Surely these regulations are issued by the Minister of Transport and not by the Home Office.
§ Mr. MILLS
On that point of Order, may I remind you that, in my own experience, workmen travelling to work on what was regarded as defective pillion seats were prevented from proceeding, under the terms of the Road Traffic Act, by policemen operating on instructions from the Home Office.
Again, I must point out that, if hon. Members want to criticise the police in any way, they must wait until we come to the police Vote.
§ Mr. HUDSON
On that point of Order. Surely all this expenditure on staff at the Home Office pre-supposes expenditure upon making clear to the police what is the law upon these matters.
I am informed that the Home Office has nothing whatever to do with this matter. It is the Ministry of Transport.
§ Mr. HUDSON
If that is your Ruling, Sir Robert, I bow to it. But may I say, on the point of Order, that I understood, when the Opposition puts down a Vote for discussion, that that is the opportunity we should take to raise the issue which the Opposition considers should be raised. Is it not true that on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) acting for the Opposition, raised specifically the question of Home Office responsibility for road accidents. Is it not unfair, when that question has been raised by the Opposition, that we should be precluded from discussing Home Office responsibility?
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman, when making his speech, referred to street accidents in London, and Home Office regulations dealing with the same.
If I had understood him to refer to road accidents in the country, I should have called him to order. Now I learn that the regulations to which the hon. Member is referring are issued by the Ministry of Transport.
§ Mr. BENSON
We have here a Vote of nearly £500,000 for the Home Office, and so far no one has been able to discover what the Home Office does. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to give us some outline of its work?
Hon. Members are apparently paying no attention to the Vote. If they look at the Vote they 2148 will find that there is a lot that the Home Office does. I am concerned primarily with what is covered by this particular Vote. If hon. Members want to discuss-the police in relation to the Home Office they will have to do it on Vote 3, not on Vote 1.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I want to raise the question of the administration of the Aliens Acts, 1914 to 1919. I see by the Vote that there has been an economy effected this year in the officers who carry out the regulations. There has been a saving of £1,692 on the salaries and allowances of officers, and there is a further saving of nearly a third on travelling and incidental expenses. I should like the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to be able to assure us why it has been found possible to do away with one or more—I should like to know how many—of these officers whose duty it is to administer the Aliens Acts. Will he also explain how it is possible, on this comparatively small allowance for travelling and incidental expenses, on which we have to depend for the mobility and consequently the usefulness of these officers, to save nearly one-third of the total?
I found recently that the Home Office have withdrawn the restriction in one particular case on a Russian—I am informed he is a Communist and no one has denied it—and he is absolutely free in this country at the present time. When I raised this matter on the Adjournment the other night, I carried it a little further than I had given the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary notice of, and I asked one or two questions. I wanted to know whether the conditions imposed upon the landing of foreign Communists had been generally relaxed or removed, and, if that were so, whether the officers of the ports, having these instructions from the Home Secretary, were now allowing the entrance of a larger number of undesirable aliens. I wanted to know how many aliens had been admitted during the right hon. Gentleman's tenure of office, and whether they are free of restrictions and are allowed to carry on Communist propaganda throughout the country. Those questions, I have no doubt, the Home Secretary will now be able to answer as I gave him notice 2149 that I would raise them. I hope he will be able to assure us that perhaps my fears are groundless.
There has been a further development. I understand from a notice which I have seen in the Press that we are very shortly to be favoured with a visit from Russia of a Soviet ship containing 300 of the best Communist workers that they can send. These the only casual visitors, but I want the Home Secretary to assure us that no part of that human cargo is to be left behind in the Port of London. When you get a large number of these Soviet citizens it would be very natural to assume, knowing the conditions under which they work, that a very considerable number would prefer to remain permanently in this country if they could evade the regulations. They are going round on a trip, and they are going to be watched to see how they are to carry out their propaganda. They are to visit such diverse places as London, Stamboul and Genoa.
If the hon. Member is dealing with the question of aliens coming to this country, he is entitled to ask questions on the subject.
§ Sir B. PETO
All I ask is that the opportunity shall not be given of the arrival of this ship to allow any of the 300 Communists to slip through the regulations and remain behind. When I see that we are reducing the Vote for the officers to carry out the restriction regulations, and still more their power of movement from place to place, I am anxious as to whether the benevolent views to which the Home Secretary gave expression with reference to the Communist violinist may not cause him now to put the telescope to his blind eye on this question of communists getting through. There are two views of this matter. There is the view we take of the propagandist value of these people in this country, and there is also the fact that they have to earn their living if they are not paid from foreign sources. Even if the Communist is a violinist, he is doing an English violinist out of a job, and our English musicians are suffering very 2150 severely by the introduction of automatic music in cinemas. I am anxious, with the enormous unemployment we have to-day, that there shall not be the slightest relaxation of these Orders and Acts preventing the incursion into this country or aliens from abroad.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
It is interesting to note the perturbation which seems to be present on the benches opposite with regard to the administration of the Aliens Acts. I rise merely to make a short observation in the hope that the Home Secretary will persist in the relaxed administration of the Acts. The right hon. Member who opened the discussion expressed great concern about these matters, and it has just been reechoed by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto). Do they recollect the circumstances in which this Act and its regulations came into operation? It is now 17 years since the Act was first started, and owing to the special circumstances of that time changes were introduced which I suggest have no warrant in the circumstances of to-day. It was one of the glories of England in 1914 that opinion was free. It was thought necessary, erroneously as I thought, to contract and restrict expression of opinion for the purposes of the War; but is there any reason why that contraction should continue now? The hon. Member for Barnstaple does not surprise those of us who are accustomed to his views on such matters when he reiterates his concern that in connection with some trip a number of Communists are about to visit this country. I have not heard of this trip, and frankly I think it is a matter of no consequence whatever. Putting matters at their worst, and supposing that these persons arrive here and express Communist opinions, what does it matter?
We are accustomed in this land to provide the fullest freedom for expression of opinion, and even unpopular opinions, and while we thought it necessary to contract that right during the War is there any reason why that contraction should continue now? In his administration of the Aliens Act my right hon. Friend is taking the right course in adapting its regulations to the changed circumstances of the time, and it would be most unfortunate if any expression of his gave any currency to the fears expressed by the 2151 hon. Member for Barnstaple, that this Government entertains any sort of fear about the expression of political views whatever their character may be. We understand that the apprehensions of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) are well founded The more his views are examined the less likely are they to be accepted. We on this side are glad to hear the expression of any views. We have always the safeguard that if they are accompanied by an act of any illegal character proceedings can be immediately instituted against the offender, but the mere expression of opinion is no circumstance to excite terror on any side of the House. Even the moderated terror of the Noble Lord, accentuated in the case of the hon. Member for Barnstaple, is no reason why we should be affected by any expression of opinion. It is the general desire on these benches that the least impediment possible shall be placed on the interchange of opinions between country and country through the administration of the Aliens Act.
A recent incident has been mentioned of a distinguished Russian, with certain political activities, who attended here for another purpose altogether; in order to take part in some scientific deliberations. Apparently, on the benches opposite there are no politicians of scientific attainments. They are accustomed to associate politicians merely with political activities, but in a case such as the one to which reference has been made, where a politician was a man of considerable attainments in scientific matters, was that any reason why his visit to this country should be the subject of the clamour which occurred in, certain quarters, to which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary refused to give way; a fact upon which I should like to compliment him. So far as that aspect of the administration of this Act is concerned I hope my right hon. Friend will persist in this relaxed and progressive view of its administration. There is another aspect of the administration of this Act to which reference has been made. Complaint has been made about foreign musicians coming to this country. They do not come in, large numbers. But what about the musicians who proceed from this country to foreign lands? I am not in the habit, like some 2152 hon. Members opposite, of attending foreign resorts of pleasure, but a few weeks ago I found myself in a foreign land and I was taken to one of the places of amusement. There I discovered that there were British artistes of considerable attainments. Why should we complain of foreign musicians coming into this country if British musicians are allowed to go and perform to the delight of other lands.
I want to ask in all seriousness, whether, now that so many years have passed since this panic legislation was started during the War, the time has not arrived when we should reflect upon what this country stands for and make some effort to resume its traditions. We want free political opinion, with a careful look out for extremists—that has been our national policy. Why should we not allow opinions to be freely expressed, interfering as little as possible between the interchange of views between one country and another, and give up the foolish notion that we are called upon to prevent foreign musicians coming here whilst everlastingly complaining that our own musicians are denied the opportunities of employment abroad? I express this view with all respect to the Committee and I hope that the Home Secretary will persist in the good course he has so far adopted.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
Although the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) and the right hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) have introduced a perfectly novel feature into our Debate by raising a discussion on a subject which is entirely in order, perhaps the Committee will forgive me if I strike out on a different line, although I hope I shall be within the rules of order. On these Supply nights each hon. Member has his own pet grievance to air to which he cannot expect other Members to listen in virtue of the fact that they are intent upon airing their own. Those hon. Members who wish to bring forward their own particular case will have to postpone it for a brief space whilst I occupy the attention of the Committee for just a few moments. They have my sympathy; but my deepest sympathy is reserved for the Home Secretary who has to sit and listen to all our grievances and then to satisfy us as best he 2153 can without unduly pledging himself and his colleagues. The grievance I desire to raise is one to which the Home Office is getting accustomed, but I hope that familiarity will not breed contempt or indifference. I do not think that contingency is likely to arise, because I know that the Home Secretary is in sympathy with me and that if he was the only Member of the Cabinet to be consulted on the matter he would satisfy me. But there is always behind him the sinister figure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I am speaking quite impersonally, because every Chancellor of the Exchequer is a sinister figure.
I want to ask how far and how soon the particular recommendations of the Committee on Youthful Offenders are going to be implemented, that is to say, I hasten to add, those recommendations which do not require any further legislation. Last autumn the Home Secretary was good enough to give me a lengthy reply to a question I put on the subject. He expressed himself as generally sympathetic towards it, but he dwelt more particularly upon the organisation of the juvenile court and he informed me that he had circularised every court of summary jurisdiction on the subject. I should like to ask him what has been the effect produced by the circular and what has been the results of the committee which he set up to consider juvenile courts He also made a sympathetic reference to the subject of remand homes which I raised on the adjournment some month or two ago, because I considered it to be one of great urgency. He expressed himself as absolutely sympathetic, but he was in a parsimonious mood on that occasion. I do not blame him under the present circumstances, but I should like him to say whether there is any hope now that these remand homes will be instituted in accordance with the recommendations of that committee.
Finally, he made a reference to the hopeless overcrowding at Borstal institutions and there he held out considerable hope of improvement. The right hon. Member who opened this Debate said that the Home Secretary appeared to be the only Member of the Cabinet who did not seem to have got into trouble, and he suggested that it was due to one of two causes, either that he 2154 had not had much trouble at the Home Office or that he was a better man than his colleagues. I suggest that he is a much better man than his colleagues. He has been struggling with adversity throughout his official career during the last two years but, nevertheless, he has made an attempt by starting a new Borstal institution at Lowdham, near Nottingham, and Camp Hill is to be transformed. He has certainly that to his credit. The Borstal system is not having a fair trial. The lads are hopelessly overcrowded, especially at their work, which should more resemble the work they are likely to do when they are outside these institutions at the end of their term. There is also little of that classification which is an essential and integral part of the whole Borstal system. At Lowdham you have beginners mixing with the old hands, which is quite wrong, and you find the smart young motor bandit and forger associating with the lumbering hooligans. That is quite wrong.
Moreover, the staffs at the institutions are hopelessly inadequate. I do not think there has ever been a full complement of the superior staff at any of the Borstal institutions, and with regard to the lower grades of staff I should like to suggest that some of the assistant housemasters should be paid better salaries. By that means you will get individuals who are far more suitable to work the Borstal system. I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to allay my misgivings on these points. I am one of those who look forward fervently to the time when no single young person under the age of 21 shall go to prison at all.
I must draw the hon. Member's attention to the fact that the subject of the Borstal system does not arise under Vote 1, Class III. Of course, if the hon. Member is dealing only with the probation of offenders system, he is in order in doing so on this Vote, but the Borstal Institutions come under Vote 4, Class III.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
I am sorry if I have gone beyond this Vote, and I suppose I may consider myself rather lucky to have been allowed to get in so much. As I say, I trust that the time will come when no young person under 21 will go to prison. We know that there is a contagion within prison walls which no 2155 young person can possibly hope to escape. We already have the machinery for the new system. What is required is that that machinery should be kept in good order and controlled by experienced hands, and, last and most important, that it should not be called upon to bear a too great a strain. We have the probation system, the juvenile courts, and, even in the ordinary prisons, we have arrangements for segregation, which mitigate to some extent the abominable evil of sending young persons to prison. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to strengthen and develop that machinery and make it capable of bearing the strain which it will be called upon to bear. New ideas in the treatment of young offenders are useless and illogical unless carried out upon approved lines.
For the benefit of hon. Members who may not have given the subject as much time and attention as I have been able to do, I may point out that the new system depends on two basic principles, namely, classification and individual treatment. Unfortunately, under present conditions in industry there are a great many young people with idle hands—through no fault of their own—and for them there is plenty of temptation. It is not likely that the curve of juvenile delinquency will take a turn for the better. It is essential to realise that we have to face an intensification of the problem. Again, I congratulate the Home Secretary on hastening the provision of the increased accommodation which the necessities of the case require. I urge in the strongest terms at my command the immense importance and the immediate necessity of carrying into effect an already well-proven remedial system of dealing with young offenders. Gone are the days when we thought we had discharged our duty to these unfortunate youths by castigating them and putting them in durance vile. There is now, in the first place, prevention, and, in the second place, remedial treatment, and these are the appropriate methods of approaching and tackling the problem. Let us do all in our power to prevent crime. Better housing and education are the first preventatives. If these fail, let us give the cure a proper chance and not apply it in some makeshift way, which may 2156 bear a remote resemblance to the original, but will only result in bringing the new system into contempt and disrepute.
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
It has been evident in this discussion that hon. Members are under some difficulty in raising certain matters. There are one or two serious matters to which I wish to call attention, and for that purpose I propose to move to reduce the salary of the Home Secretary by £100.
It is not necessary for the hon. Member to do so in order to discuss anything which is in order on this Vote, and he must not think that if he moves to reduce the Home Secretary's salary he will then be able to discuss something which is not in order on this Vote.
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
This is a matter with which the Home Secretary deals directly, but whether you, Sir Robert, will rule it out of order on this Vote or not, remains to be seen. The point which I wish to raise is that of the very serious increase in crime in the London Metropolitan area and for that matter throughout the whole country, though I proposed to confine myself, as it appears to be necessary to do so on this occasion, to the Metropolitan area. Mr. Justice McCardie at the Sussex assizes this year said this:The attention of the police"—
The hon. Member was in order until he mentioned the word "police." I must draw his attention to the fact that if he wishes to discuss the administration of the police, or the action of the police, he can only do so on Vote 3, which refers to the police. He cannot, when we are dealing with Vote 1, discuss matters which properly arise on Vote 3.
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
Would I not be in order in moving to reduce the salary of the Home Secretary, and then pointing out the disastrous state of affairs which exists in the Metropolitan area in this respect?
The hon. Member would then be taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by a Motion to reduce the Home Secretary's salary, to raise something on this Vote, which 2157 ought to be raised on another Vote, and I could not allow him to do so.
§ Lord E. PERCY
There are two points to which I should like to draw attention, but before doing so may I refer to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Holford Knight). Never since Tartarin of Tarason went to Africa to shoot a lion that was not there, have such heroic gestures been made as those of the hon. and learned Member this evening in threatening what was purely a phantom of his own imagination. It has been stated from this side of the Committee that we desire to be satisfied that the Home Office is administering the Aliens Restriction Act with a view to restricting a flow of labour into this country which might compete with our own people. We have not even mentioned any question of suppression of opinion, and any doubts or fears which we may have, as to what is commonly called propaganda, would, I can assure the hon. and learned Member, be covered by his own phrase about "keeping an eye on the extremists." But I hope that the hon. and learned Member in his heroic gesture did not intend to convey that he wished a Labour Home Secretary to establish, as far as possible, free trade in labour between this country and foreign countries, because that is the point which we wish to press on the attention of the Government. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman is not going back to Nottingham to say that he does not care how much competition comes from abroad, in the form of labour competing with the labour of our own people.
I wish, firstly, to raise the question of the action of the Government concerning correspondence relating to sweepstakes. I am aware that I am not entitled to question the action of the Postmaster-General in opening letters, in so far as the Postmaster-General acts in that matter solely upon his own general powers under legislation to prevent the passage through the post of illegal matter. But I wish to ask whether the action taken in the opening of mails has been thus taken by the Postmaster-General in pursuance of his general powers, or whether he has been acting under warrant issued by the Home Secretary. If he has been acting under 2158 warrant issued by the Home Secretary, I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that this is a subject which has always been very jealously regarded by the House of Commons. I am bound to put my criticism in a hypothetical form because I am asking a question. If it be true that the Home Office has issued a warrant for the opening of letters, with a view to detecting sweepstake tickets coming from Dublin to this country, then it is almost certain, I fear, that the warrant has been issued in a general form permitting the opening of any envelope which, in the opinion of some official of the Post Office, might be regarded as suspicious. Certainly we know with what an extraordinary appearance of hap-hazardness this search for incriminating matter has been conducted. I ask the Home Secretary to address himself to that point and to explain under what system, and by what authority the Post Office has acted in this matter.
Secondly, I wish to put forward a rather broad point of policy. Hon. Members this afternoon have found to their cost the extraordinary character of the Home Office. The Home Office, like the Ministry of the Interior of every nation which I know, is a congeries of departments, a receptacle of miscellaneous duties which do not fall on any other Department and are therefore unloaded on to the Home Secretary. For some extraordinary reason Parliament has required that the Home Office Estimates should be presented in a form closely corresponding to this strange organisation. In the case of any other Department, such as the Board of Education for instance, it is possible to discuss on the main Vote any subject for which the President of the Board of Education or whoever may be the head of that Department is responsible to Parliament. In the case of the Home Office, it has been ruled apparently that the Home Secretary shall account separately to the House of Commons for prisons, for police, for Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, for reformatory and industrial schools and all the other matters within the scope of the Department. It is therefore almost impossible to have a general debate on the state of crime in this country or on practically any broad subject of policy with which the House 2159 of Commons would wish to deal on the Home Office Estimate. I raise that point in passing for the purpose or suggesting that it might be well for us to consider, not now but on another occasion whether this form of presenting the Estimates is satisfactory or not. There is, however, one subject raising a broad question of policy which can be discussed on this Vote and in view of the Debates of previous years, I am surprised that is has not yet been raised this evening. I refer to the question of factory inspection.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I do not wish to discuss the general question of factory inspection, but to mention a point which has been impressed very much on my mind by previous Debates on the subject. Since I became a Member of Parliament, nearly 10 years ago, I have heard Home Secretary after Home Secretary express his desire to increase the number of factory inspectors and declare that he was convinced of the inadequacy of the system of inspection, but year after year the occupant of that office has been compelled to add that, in view of the financial situation and the hardhearted-ness of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he could do nothing. The present Home Secretary has increased the number of inspectors as an experiment. He has increased the number of Class I inspectors by nine, and Class II inspectors by five, and has made one or two small variations in other directions; but no one supposes, and I am sure the Home Secretary himself would not argue, that that increase is sufficient to render Home Office inspection of factories what it ought to be, nor, in my judgment, can any conceivable increase in the number of inspectors really make this service as efficient as it ought to be.
In this matter, as in so many others, the administration of this country runs on from year to year, not noticing the changes which are taking place in the nation, and adhering to old lines of organisation simply because they are old. When the factory inspection was originally set up, it was for the purpose of controlling industry, which was at that time not collected in great aggregations 2160 under one management, but was scattered in a number of small firms throughout the country. The management of those firms was carried on under the doctrine of enlightened self-interest, and conducted with extreme disregard very often—I am speaking of a 100 years or so ago—for the health or the other interests of the employed people, and it was necessary for the State to step in and enforce standards of safety, and so on, in the factories. What has happened to-day? We have had the growth of great aggregations of capital building up businesses, industries and factories under one management. We have had at the same time great aggregations of workers in national trade unions well organised in every factory, certainly in all the large factories, and we have had of recent years the establishment of national industrial councils representing both the employers and the employed. The action of the State as pioneer, and later of employers and workers, has established now in most industries a high and recognised standard of safety, of health and of the prevention of disease—
§ Lord E. PERCY
The danger of running on with this system of factory inspection as if it were imposed by the State from above is that the official worker, not having as many inspectors acting as intelligence officers as one would wish, tends rather to fall behind the standard of industry itself and not to act as a pioneer in advance of industry. In many industries we might get more rapid advance and more easy adaptation to the new discoveries of science if we delegated more responsibility from the Home Office to industry and made it answerable for the maintenance of a high standard of safety, health, prevention of industrial disease, and so on. Of course, the Home Office have not been blind to the desirability of that development, and they have sought to encourage the development of responsible statutory committees and the delegation to them of a great deal of responsibility. My submission is that until you carry that system very much further than you have, until you delegate to these great aggregations of industry far more than you do of responsibility for maintaining a high standard of 2161 safety and so on in the factories, you will never have enough officials or enough inspectors to keep track with all the small workshops and the small factories where abuses in the matter of safety regulations most commonly occur.
It is this vast congeries of miscellaneous small workshops which forms the real problem of factory inspection. It is there that you get abuses and disregard of safety regulations, and until you can concentrate your inspecting staff far more upon that, you will never make any progress. This policy involves a distinctly new attitude towards the administration of industrial and economic matters in this country. It means a direct encouragement by the Government of the development of responsible bodies in industry; it means that you can no longer administer this country in its present economic conditions merely through central departments and local regional authorities, and that you have to administer it, certainly in matters of factory inspection, far more through economic authorities representing not a geographical region, but an industry or an occupation. This is the really interesting line of advance, the really interesting development in administration which it seems to me the Home Secretary should be really considering. He is like the old woman who lives in a shoe, and has so many children that he does not know what to do with them; and he must be often worried to death in boxing their ears or giving them a passing stroke with the cane instead of being able to concentrate on any broad administrative policy. I suggest that the broad administrative problem from which these petty distractions ought not to divert him is that of developing in this country in connection with factory inspection a new experiment in government by the addition of responsible authorities, responsible to the central Government, to the local regional authorities through whom we carry out the bulk of our administration.
§ Mr. CLYNES
This is, I think, about the time when it is customary for a Minister to deal with some of the points which have been raised, though my rising must not be taken as indicating any unwillingness on the part of the Home Office to deal with points that may be raised later. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary 2162 Secretary has a few points in mind, and will be prepared to deal with them in due course. There is no ground for any complaint on the part of the Home Secretary concerning either the terms or the tone of anything that has been said in any part of the Committee, or in any one of the topics which the Chairman has permitted hon. Members to bring forward. Indeed, I must acknowledge the very kindly and cordial terms in which the right hon. Gentleman who began the Debate led the way in his references to the work of the Home Office—a very intimate work in our internal life, and a varied work, as the restricted discussion has already indicated.
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the restrictions relating to aliens and the general conditions under which they have been permitted to enter this country have not been in any sense loosened as to permit competing labour from other lands to come into an already over-loaded labour market, and no decision of the Home Office or the Ministry of Labour can be cited to prove the contrary. Aliens who seek admission to this country for employment form a special class. They cannot be admitted indiscriminately to look for work, and are required to present at the port of arrival a permit for their engagement issued to the man's prospective employers by the Ministry of Labour. Before giving such a permit, the Minister satisfies himself that every effort has been made by the employer to find suitable labour in this country, and that the wages to be paid are not less than those usually received by British workers for similar work. Nearly half the permits are in respect of female domestic service, and the biggest groups are theatrical, vaudeville and concert artists, musicians', foreign correspondents, clerks, voluntary commercial students, and teachers of foreign languages. In the case of hotel and restaurant employés, permits are with a few exceptions issued only on condition that a British subject is sent abroad in exchange so that he may have the opportunity of learning foreign languages and foreign hotel practice.
It is essential in the public interest to maintain some form of control over aliens, apart from the necessity of excluding aliens who are individually undesirable, criminal, diseased, or destitute. 2163 The principal feature of the past year has been the simplification in the procedure in connection with the admission of aliens and the kindred question of naturalisation. Instead of a total of eight documents, the whole of the necessary information is now contained on one application form for naturalisation. Five statutory declarations have therefore been wiped out, and now only the applicant himself is required to support his application by a statutory declaration, written references, not on oath, being accepted from his British sponsors. The new form of application has been drawn up as simply as possible so that an applicant should be able to complete it himself instead of having to take it to an agent or solicitor. These were the conditions which made applications for naturalisation a very costly process, and placed the figure higher above the capacity to meet it of many of those who had proper ground for applying for naturalisation. This new procedure enables the Department to deal more expeditiously with applications when they are lodged, and more applications have been considered than was previously possible. It is not the case, however, that naturalisation is being granted more freely. The standard expected of an applicant for the privilege of naturalisation is being well maintained, but I have simplified the process by eliminating certain sources of delay before applications were taken into consideration, and it has been possible to overtake some of the arrears accumulated before the present Government took office. There was, indeed, a long, long queue of waiting applicants wearied by years of waiting for their cases to be dealt with. The question of fee has been referred to. The present fee is £10. This is sometimes regarded as prohibitive, but let us not forget that this process of conferring British nationality upon aliens is a costly process, requiring great expenditure on the part of the State, and very expensive machinery in the way of staff and offices in order that the facts shall be assembled and tested, and finally that the naturalisation should be granted. My own view is that British nationality is a possession which ought to be highly prized by anyone receiving it, and therefore is so good a thing as to be worth paying for; and the simplification of the 2164 procedure has enabled the alien to dispense with the services of a solicitor or agent.
The Secretary of State has undertaken to consider, in any cases where it is claimed that the maintenance of the present fee debars a respectable alien from obtaining British nationality, whether the circumstances justify an application to the Treasury for their consent to the remitting of the fee, so that in the case of poor persons clearly unable to meet this payment steps have been taken, and periodically are taken by me, either completely to remit the fee or substantially to reduce it, so as to bring it within the means of the Act. In the earlier part of the Debate reference was made to numbers, and figures were cited. Although it has been made easy for everybody concerned, both from the standpoint of administration and from the standpoint of the applicant, the figures reveal the fact that the Labour Government are not indiscriminately letting in people and naturalising them upon application. Taking as a comparison the figures for the year 1928—a year in my predecessor's term of office—and 1930, I find that in 1928 registered certificates were issued to 1,393 persons and in 1930 to 1,409, a difference of a very few in favour of the Labour Government.
It was pointed out that many of those naturalised are of Russian nationality. That is true, but it is not accurate to say or to imply, as I think was implied by the hon. Baronet opposite, that we were loosely admitting to these shores Communists and Soviet nationals and naturalising them. The truth is that nearly all, certainly a very large proportion, of the Russians who in due course receive British nationality are Russians of long residence here, who lived here before the War or before there were any such strained relations as it is now sometimes represented exist between Russia and this country. In the main they are fathers and mothers of children who are British subjects. Their children born here acquire British nationality. Therefore, we are not as guilty as is sometimes urged upon the platforms of this country. Coming to percentages, I find that in 1928 the percentage of Russians naturalised was 37 per cent., and in 1930 34 per cent., so that a Labour 2165 Home Secretary has naturalised fewer Russians than was the case under the preceding Government in 1928. On the point of renouncing nationality, we do everything we can to prevent double nationality, but naturalisation is an act of Sovereignty, and we could not make it a right on our part to require a Russian or any other alien to renounce a foreign nationality. That is a step, so far as I know, which has never been taken by any Home Secretary or any Minister who had to deal with these cases. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his very helpful speech, almost apologised for jumping from one subject to another, having no relation to it. I must follow his example.
§ Sir B. PETO
Before the right hon. Gentleman finishes with the subject of aliens, will he tell us whether the figures he gave of 1,393 and 1,409 are the numbers naturalised or the figures of admissions to this country without restrictions?
§ Sir B. PETO
And can he answer my question as to how many aliens have been admitted into this country during the last two years?
§ Mr. CLYNES
I do not happen to have those figures before me, but my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will give that information later.
It is lamentable that there should be a very substantial increase in the number of street accidents, but the reason is obvious. With the revolution in street traffic and transport conditions, and in this age of increasing speed, I think it is inevitable; unhappy as it may be, this substantial increase is almost unpreventable. Touching this matter from the standpoint of police action, I can only say that the police have become more and more the guardians of the public interest as regards road safety, and by regulations and instructions, and by ceaseless watchfulness, they do a great deal to lessen the number of accidents, large as that unhappily is. Public safety depends, and must depend more and more, upon private carefulness, upon the avoidance of those reckless steps which are so frequently the cause of loss of both life and limb. The police have, I 2166 claim, become much more efficient in the handling of traffic, and do all they possibly can, faced as they sometimes are with the baffling condition of satisfying some motorist eager to gain time and at the same time guarding pedestrians, who in no sense are guilty of any abuse of our public roads.
There was another topic referred to by the hon. Member for Finchley, whose services in the matter of Borstal work and young offenders is very real and extremely valuable. I would like to acknowledge the good work which I know he has done, and the time and service which he has given to the pursuit of this human interest. I wholeheartedly agree with him in the line of argument which he followed. There is an increase of enlightenment on the part of all of us as to how we should deal with young offenders. We have learned by experience, and are making the very best use of that experience, even if at times it is rather costly to do so. Persons under 16 are not sent to prison save in rare and exceptional cases where the Court certifies that the young person is so depraved or so unruly as to be beyond aid or cure by being sent to, say, a place of detention. A substantial number of persons between 16 and 21 years of age are received into prison. The latest figures available show that in 1929, 1,560 boys and 93 girls between 16 and 21 were sentenced to imprisonment. The figures have been declining rapidly. In 1922 there were over 3,000, in 1926 over 2,000, and from 1928 to 1929 they dropped from approximately 1,850 to approximately 1,650.
Some of these young prisoners had many previous proved offences and, so far as we can judge, might well have been sentenced to Borstal treatment. Others had no previous offences, and of these many might possibly have been dealt with under the Probation Act. The policy advocated in the Home Office Circular of July, 1928, is that for young offenders the general policy should be either probation supplemented by the use of hostels or homes, as conditions of probation, or Borstal, and the courts appear to be coming more and more to follow this advice. As a result, the number of young offenders sent to gaol is decreasing and the number of young persons sent to Borstal is increasing. Accordingly, as 2167 the hon. Gentleman pointed out, we require to incur heavier expenses in preparing Borstal buildings and generally adapting our present system to that particular line of treatment. Compared with the total number of offences committed by young people between 16 and 21, the number sent to prison is undoubtedly small, but we believe it ought to be still smaller.
In addition to the young people sentenced to imprisonment, there are substantial numbers of young people remanded to prison but subsequently dealt with by some other method than imprisonment, such as fine or probation. From London and the surrounding points all male young persons under 21 are sent to Wormwood Scrubs, and there accommodated in a special block, and special arrangements are made to keep them apart from the older prisoners. In the provinces a young person sent to prison goes to the nearest local prison, but if the sentence is more than three months he is transferred to one of the prisons which are used as collecting centres for young prisoners. The question whether there is any alternative to imprisonment is a matter where in each case the discretion of the court must be exercised. The Home Secretary, in October last, addressed the Magistrates' Association on this subject; and the Prison Commissioners call attention to the matter each year in their annual reports. I have personally done what I could to impress upon many magistrates the necessity for following the London policy, with which my hon. Friend opposite and myself are in complete agreement. A circular to which my hon. Friend referred contained recommendations definitely expressing our views, but I regret that, so far, we have no evidence collected as to what has been the result either in individual cases or in mass. That is an important point. In all things experience is the greatest teacher; in this respect we find out by experience what the magistrates and the courts have been doing and what generally has been the result of this appeal.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of mental defectives. As soon as a prisoner is found certifiable, the case is notified to the Board of Control, who communicate with the local authority and arrange as soon as possible 2168 for the transfer of those prisoners to an institution for mental defectives. Considerable numbers of prisoners, though not certifiable, are recognised by the medical officers as being of subnormal intelligence or with a defective sense of responsibility. The treatment of those persons in prison is a matter to which the most careful consideration has been given. Those who are serving sentences of any length are transferred to certain selected prisons for special arrangements to be made for their treatment and occupation. In all cases, special care is taken not to subject them to undue discipline. We endeavour as far as we can, by treatment, attention and classification, to make the lives of these classes easier for them while they are in prison, and when, in due course, they emerge from detention.
The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour) has referred to the subject of the Home Office museum. He asked for figures of the number of people who have taken advantage of the opportunity of seeing the exhibits there. I find that the number of visits for the six months ended 31st May last was 2,667, and that that number included 80 separate parties. I am not saying that I am satisfied with that number, but we must not judge the usefulness of the visit from the size of the figure. Probably those persons were representing bodies or were delegates who were certain to make the fullest use, both personally and officially of the information which they gained. I have been to that museum. I cannot fall back upon any practical knowledge with regard to the character and the value of, for instance, safety guards, which was the matter referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman and I do not know in what way those safety guards could be made practicable as instruments of safety, if transferred to factories and workshops in different parts of the country, but I shall see that that view of my hon. Friend is represented to those who are better judges than I am as to how to make practical use of the exhibits which are on view in the Home Office museum. One suggestion which the hon. and gallant Gentleman made I should like to test. It is the suggestion that we should make better use of those exhibits by calling together joint bodies for consultation and for testing the value, and, 2169 as it were, popularising, the use of those exhibits. I am not certain at the moment whether that could be done, but I think it is a view that might properly be put before organisations of employers and workers to see whether some joint body could extract greater value from the exhibits of the museum than has so far been the case.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) raised certain questions about aliens, and asked whether the reduced figures of the money and salary paid to immigration officers indicated that any less attention has been paid to their duties. The answer is that the fall in the figures is due to the fall in the cost-of-living bonus. Immigration officers have been treated as other employés, and the lesser figure appears in the report. I repeat to the hon. Baronet that we are not relaxing the Regulations, or loosening our hold on the safety of the State. One of my hon. Friends mentioned the case of the musicians. Our artists and performers go from England to all other lands, and it is our boast that they are to be found on platforms and in concert halls in every part of the world. One recalls the lines:The man that hath no music in himself,Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.…therefore, I will say to the hon. Baronet, be not afraid of a musician coming into this country, even though he is a Russian who has long been out of his country and longs to remain out of it. I am not certain that the Soviet ship, of which the hon. Baronet spoke is likely to do us any harm. If those travellers land, they will do so under leave, like those who come from any other ship. I have not before me any information indicating that there is the slightest ground for any fear of these travelling Russians doing any harm, in the short time during which they are allowed to land, if they are allowed to land at all.
The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) referred to the subject of the opening of letters, in our efforts to enforce the law relating to sweepstakes. The Labour Government have taken no different action from any other Government, in respect either to sweepstakes which are illegal, or in respect 2170 of enforcing the law under any other head. I say, as definitely as I can, in answer to the precise questions of the Noble Lord, that letters are opened by the Postmaster-General, who acts under the express authority of the Secretary of State. The power of ordering the opening of a letter is derived from, and is part of, the ancient prerogative of the Crown, which attaches to the Sovereign in his capacity as guardian of the State. This power has been recognised from time immemorial, and successive Acts of Parliament have confirmed it. The latest statutory recognition is contained in Section 56 of the Post Office Act, 1908, which provides penalties for any officer of the Post Office opening postal packets, but says expressly in Subsection (2):Provided that nothing in this Section shall extend to the…. opening or detaining or delaying of a postal packet…. or in obedience to an express warrant in writing under the hand of a Secretary of State.I agree, as I am sure we all will, that it is a distasteful thing for a Government Department to have to do, but it is essential to the enforcement of the law. The law decrees that a certain lottery is illegal, and requires the police authorities, the Post Office authorities and the Home Department to see that that law is not violated; therefore the State Department must take steps to prevent the violation of the law and to detect wrongdoers. I can assure the Noble Lord that there is no general or sweeping signing of authority by any Department. A warrant is signed in each individual case, for a particular person and for a particular address. There is no general, wholesale giving of authority to the Post Office, from any Department whatever, to take that action.
§ On the question of the factory inspectors, I am in complete agreement with the general argument used by the Noble Lord. I particularly welcome it, because the Home Office has for some time been following precisely those broad lines of adapting factory inspection to the changed industrial conditions, which have been enormously altered by big amalgamations, and because of the immense factories and workshops that have taken the place of smaller institutions. Inspectors are doing rather different work now from what was their 2171 job 30 or 40 years ago. I can remember as a factory lad, say from the age of 10 to 15 or 16 years of age, often living in fear of the factory inspector coming to our room. In those days, we were warned of the oncoming of the factory inspector, and it was part of the way in which we earned our living to get out of his sight and to keep out of his sight until the way was clear. Conditions are very different. Adequate precautions, conditions of safety, the setting up of elaborate welfare organisations within the works, all tend to alter the service of the factory inspector and to make it unnecessary for him to do the things which he had to do 50 or 60 years ago. There is still very much else for him to do in the way of good work, and I welcome the terms in which the Noble Lord has so well described that work.
I will content myself by indicating that we are endeavouring to follow, not only on the lines of what the Noble Lord has said, but to make a substantial increase in the number of inspectors within the lifetime of this Government. In 1929, the total number of inspectors was 205. Now the number is 282. We have made a very healthy addition to their service of watchfulness over the life of the factories of our country. I am in complete sympathy with what the Noble Lord said, and I am sure that we are working on the lines of his speech. Let me finally thank the various hon. Members who have spoken, not so much in criticism of the Home Office. By their comments, they have done something more to help the Home Office in the work which it is doing.
§ Mr. MATTERS
The Debate on this Vote has necessarily been limited in its scope, but, none the less, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the Committee still find the field to be wide enough to allow them to indulge in a gallop on their favourite steed of Communism, knock-kneed, broken-down crock though it be. The whole question of the treatment of aliens and the carrying out of the naturalisation laws has been criticised from the other side entirely from the point of view of this ancient political prejudice which seems to obsess certain Members on those benches. I would like to put this point to those who have criticised the action of the Home 2172 Office and of the right hon. Gentleman in the admission of aliens, and who, possibly, have not been satisfied by the excellent reply which he has given, that there is a good deal of virtue in the admission of a certain type of alien into this country. It is true that we do not want those who are destitute, who are diseased, who may have criminal tendencies; but, for my part, knowing something of the outer world, as I may claim to do, I should like to see a much freer admission of alien citizens, particularly those who may come into this country to acquire in our workshops and factories a knowledge of the technique of British industry, and who will carry back with them to their own countries a favourable prejudice towards this country, and towards its products, its machinery and its goods.
I have in mind the whole field of Latin America, from which, if the restrictions and regulations dealing with aliens were much less drastic than they are to-day, we might draw many scores of thousands of worthy South Americans and Central Americans, whose period of stay in this country would have an enormous influence on our foreign trade with those countries. As it is to-day, and as it has been in the past, the Latin American peoples have definitely passed this country by. They have gone to France, to Spain, to Italy, to Germany, and to other countries, largely because of the regulations and laws which arose in this country after the war-time hysteria, and from that hysteria, unfortunately, we have not yet recovered. These Latin Americans do not as a rule learn the English language, but they have a very great affection and admiration for British institutions and for this country. It has been my own experience among them to find that they resent their treatment in this land, where, until quite recently they were dubbed aliens. More fortunately, the present Government has decided to describe them as foreign visitors. These Latin Americans come into our ports and meet our immigration officers, and these officers, who, despite their innate courtesy, have necessarily considerable limitations, particularly in the matter of foreign languages, have been infected—I do not blame them for it—with the suspicion that anybody dubbed an alien coming into this country must necessarily be doubtful. The Latin Americans, of all people, have 2173 resented the supervision, the catechism which takes place on those lines, and for which there is no longer, in my judgment, any reason in substance. If we can get rid of that, and abolish all this nonsense which still survives from a period of war fever and hysteria, it will be the better for this country and for its interests in the broader international field.
I cannot understand why hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite should show such concern lest the present Administration should be admitting Russians into this country, and, above all, admitting them to British nationality. They are constantly telling us that Russia is an unfortunate country, that it is a country from which anybody ought to be glad to escape, and one would imagine, therefore, that they would welcome the news that this or any other Government was admitting Russians here on a large scale, and, particularly, endowing them with the rights and privileges and the very serious responsibilities of British citizenship. Those who have discussed this question this afternoon have apparently had very little experience of what the process of naturalisation means, or they would know that it is not by any means a simple process. I personally have had to handle a few individual cases, and I want to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and his Department on having made it possible for myself to handle those cases, instead of the individuals in question having to go to agents and be bled by them for a substantial fee to acquire this right. The procedure, as the right hon. Gentleman states, has been made simple, and so plain that the applicant himself or herself can, with at least a very little guidance, put forward his or her own papers and go through this process without paying an exorbitant fee for it.
In any case, however, it is an ordeal for the genuine and well-meaning foreign subject to secure naturalisation, even under present conditions. The degree of inquiry carried out by the Home Office to-day is meticulous and stringent in the extreme, and the person who applies for naturalisation actually has to undergo a very severe cross-examination, which I think I am right in saying amounts to an ordeal through which very few of the critics of these foreign nationals would be prepared themselves to go. I want to 2174 point out a fact which seems to be forgotten, namely, that the right of naturalisation is one that is definitely prescribed by law. Even the Home Secretary has only some degree of discretion in the matter of exercising or putting into operation the regulations. Even to-day this Government is not yet doing what it might and holding strictly to the letter of the law itself. We know that no foreign national can be naturalised unless he or she has had a residence of something like 10 or 12 years in this country. It may be slightly less to-day, but the Act does not actually require that. The Act says that the period of residence need be no longer than five years, and, consequently, any respectable alien should surely have the right to secure naturalisation, everything else being equal, once he or she has complied with the strict requirements of the Act.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lamp-son) raised the point, if I understood him correctly, that the Home Secretary should not naturalise any Russian subjects or nationals unless they first secured from their Government a certificate of denationalisation—unless they were first freed from their Russian nationality. Surely, the right hon. Member is aware that a good many other countries beside Russia maintain that their natural-born subjects or citizens remain with that nationality despite their obtaining the certificate of this country. I think that Poland requires that its nationals shall first secure permission to acquire British or any other foreign nationality. In any case, I do not fee why we should insist upon that requirement in the case of Russia alone. The obligation is upon the individual applying for naturalisation to observe the laws of this country, and the Home Secretary and the Government have always been in control of the procedure.
With regard to the question of the opening of certain correspondence, I prefer the explanation of the Home Secretary, and, if he will allow me to say so, I think it is one which would satisfy the House in general. I would like to know, however, what degree of evidence the Home Secretary considers to be necessary before he will issue the warrant to which he referred. In a recent case, one of 2175 our most respected magistrates described it as a horrible business that the post of this country should no longer be considered safe. He was then dealing with a case, brought, I presume, under the authority of the Home Secretary, in connection with the Irish sweepstakes, and it is rather significant that in that case, after offering some very strong opinions indeed as to tampering or interference with mails, the magistrate, Mr. Halkett, summarily dismissed the charges. I agree that it would become indeed intolerable if the suspicion were to grow and spread throughout this country that the mail is no longer the safe custodian of what we regard as our own private and extremely personal property, and I think it would be well to let it be known that any light treatment of the undoubted legal right which the Home Secretary has in this matter would not be tolerated by public opinion in this country, even though the object were to enforce the law in relation to a rather debatable question like that of ten-shilling sweepstake tickets.
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
I rise to ask the meaning of the item "Special Constabulary Medal." I see that the sum has been reduced this year from £1,750 to £150. I should like to ask the Secretary of State what exactly this special constabulary medal is for. Is it for long service, or is it for some distinguished service, or what exactly is it for? Further, if it is for special service, why has the amount been reduced? Does that mean that there were fewer special constables in 1931 than in 1930, or that the right hon. Gentleman does not consider that they have done their work sufficiently well to justify their having this medal? If he does not consider that they have done their work sufficiently well, one might draw attention to the statement of Mr. Justice McCardie that crime was on the increase in Great Britain, and that more and more criminals every year were escaping unpunished. If, on the other hand, it is that there are fewer special constables, I would suggest that this is not the moment at which to reduce the special constabulary. In 1911 indictable offences known to the police were 97,171. The latest figures are 130,464. There were 68,575 persons proceeded against in 2176 1911, and the latest figures are 63,194. The actual offences have increased by 34 per cent. It is very important that we should have a large number of these special constables. We really must put down this crime. We cannot have housebreaking going on like it is. The latest figures show a great increase.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Dunnico)
I am not sure that we can have a large discussion on housebreaking on a Vote for medals.
§ Lord E. PERCY
On a point of Order. Are these special medals for constables or medals for special constables?
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
It comes to the same thing in the end, because these special constables are there to stop crime, the same as the ordinary police are. I suggest that there should be more constables and more medals for good work for these people. These special constables are at present dealing with various road accidents, motoring offences of a trivial kind and helping children across roads. The number of minor motoring offences which constables had to deal with in 1928 amounted to 12,000. Instead of them getting medals for that kind of thing they should really be dealing with crime.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not see any Vote for special constables. This is a Vote for special constabulary medals, but not for special constables'. The hon. Member is entitled to argue that the medals ought or ought not to be given, but not to go beyond that.
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
I am arguing that more ought to be given, because they have been reduced. I want to know whether the special constabulary has been reduced because the medals have been reduced. It is a very serious thing if the constabulary has been reduced. It should be increased. I would ask the Home Secretary, if he has reduced it according to this figure, whether he will not only put it back to its former numbers, but increase the numbers so that we may be able to give more medals and have more police, and so that the special constabulary will not be given medals merely for detecting minor 2177 offences of silencers on motor cars, obstruction and things of that sort, but will be looking out for general criminals. Every house in a road near mine has been burgled. Where is this special constabulary which has been given these medals? Why are they not doing their work in that neighbourhood? If they are, why are there not more of them to take charge of these things and see that these houses are not broken into? In other suburbs the increase in burglary has been very great.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I understand that these special constables are appointed by the local authority, and not by the Home Office.
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
If that is so, why does the Home Secretary give them medals? We are asked to vote money for the medals, yet we have apparently no control over their employment. I should like the Under-Secretary to tell us exactly what this money is, why it has been reduced, also whether it is the number of men that has been reduced or is it only that he considers they have not done their work sufficiently well to justify the same amount of money being paid this year as last year for these medals. I should also like him to tell us whether, in the light of this very serious increase in crime, he will not increase the numbers of the constabulary throughout the country.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
I find myself in considerable sympathy with the hon. Member in his difficulty over the special constabulary medals, principally because, although only for a short period and not very effectively, I performed the duties of a special constable, but no one ever offered me a medal. I, therefore, feel considerable sympathy with his demand for further information on the point. However, I rose for another object—to put before the Home Secretary a question in which I know he is very interested, and in which he had a great deal of correspondence with various Members in different parts of the House. I refer to the very difficult situation which arises in the case of men or women who were born in this country and have gone to other countries, particularly America, and have found it necessary, in order to secure employment there, to become naturalised. Many cases occur 2178 in which these people afterwards desire to return to this country. It may be because they lose their employment, or for reasons of health or for family reasons, that they desire to settle again among their own people. At any rate, I understand there is a large number of such cases.
I know it is extremely difficult for the Home Secretary to decide what he should do and to what extent permission should be given for men who are in fact American citizens to settle here. If he applies, as he perfectly rightly does, the order against foreigners coming to settle in this country, he is bound logically to apply the same regulations against people who were originally British subjects, but who have now become subjects of some foreign Power, and I do not at all complain of the attitude that he has taken up. But I think it is a matter which the Government will have to decide, because there is an increasing number of such cases, perhaps owing to economic conditions throughout the world. It is a great hardship on men in this position to find they can only get a permit for three or six months, and are then literally forced out of what in their hearts they believe is their own country.
I have here particulars of two cases such as I have been referring to, both relating to my own constituency. One is a British subject by birth, born in this country of British parents. He became a naturalised American. He lived in this country until he was 38, and went to America to improve his position. He is now 55 years of age. He is prepared to go the length of saying definitely that he will give up any idea of working in this country at all if he is allowed to remain. He does not like to say he will not seek work, but he is prepared to give that undertaking rather than be forced to leave the country. The other case is one of a man, also a British subject born of British parents, who found himself out of work 20 years ago, went to America and became naturalised. He sent money home regularly to his relatives. He offered his services to the British Canadian Forces, but was refused on grounds of health. He now wants to settle in England and he also is willing to agree not to undertake work in this country. I know the difficulties that face the Home Secretary. These people have chosen to become naturalised Americans 2179 and are, in the eyes of the law, foreigners. Therefore, there seems no logical reason why they should be treated differently from any other foreigner who wishes to settle in this country. At the same time, it is a very great hardship, and Members upon all sides of the House will feel with those who, having been born and brought up in this country and having been away a few years, desire to come back and settle here but find they are considerably harassed by constant demands on them either to leave the country or to get permission to stay a few months longer. I would ask the Home Secretary if it would not be better for some definite arrangement to be made in such cases. There must be similar cases of foreigners who are not connected with this country at all or born of British parents. In such cases there may be claims made which may seem quite as just as in these cases.
The sympathy of the House will go out to those born and brought up in this country who have always felt themselves in their hearts to be British subjects and who want to settle down at home. I want the Home Secretary to see, where he can get an undertaking that a man will not seek work—though I admit it may be difficult to see it is carried out—and particularly where the man is past middle age, if he cannot lay down some rule whereby it will be possible for such a man to become again a British citizen, or, at any rate, to get permission to remain in this country for the rest of his life. I hope he will be able to tell us that this matter has received the very careful attention of the Government, and will give us some indication of what general rule they propose to lay down, so that it will not be necessary for those people to make constant appeals for an extension of the time.
§ Mr. MUFF
I am very glad that the Noble Lord has raised the question of additional factory inspectors. Not only in the stabilised industries like wool and textiles and so forth do we need more inspectors, but also in the newer industries, such as the manufacture of artificial silk and in the newest industry of cinema film production. The Home Office could very well bend its energies towards seeing what could be done in 2180 securing the more minute inspection of such industries as I have mentiined. There has been a change of heart in the Home Office in my knowledge of its administration ever since the days of Lord Gladstone. Hon. Members who remember him when he was Home Secretary will recognise that he introduced a new spirit into the Home Office which has been carried on by Home Secretaries ever since, whatever their politics. The Committee will forgive me if I touch on a matter which has already been mentioned by the Home Secretary. I remember, when I went into the factory at the age of 10, that I was examined by the doctor appointed by the Home Office and all he did was to say, "What is your age?" I told him I was 10. "Let me look at your teeth?" he said and, after looking at my teeth in the same way that they can guess the age of a horse, he came to the conclusion that I was 10 and allowed me to pass. There were, however, some of my colleagues who passed the doctor who were but nine years of age.
Compared with these days there is quite a revolution now. In those days the inspector was the pacemaker. We were always on the look-out to warn the overlooker when the inspector came along. We would even clean out the stinking privies which were a menace to our health in those days. On visiting factories in the woollen industry to-day, as I do when I am at home, I find a revolution in outlook which is largely due to the humane and enlightened policy of the Home Office and their inspectors. In those days fenced machinery was a bugbear to the overlooker, while, as for the youngsters working in the mill, I have a nightmare to this very day, which comes to me when I am dreaming, and it is that I am entangled in unfenced machinery, which was prevalent in the bad old days. I am not going back a hundred years ago, as the Noble Lord might suggest, but to a much later period. In those days, too, the factory inspector would come along and say that the women should not kiss the shuttle in order to catch the thread, but should use a little instrument for so doing. As soon as the factory inspector's back was turned, the woman herself would kiss the shuttle and endanger her health. The factory inspector would say, too, that we must 2181 have shuttle guards on our looms, but, when his back was turned, the shuttle guards were taken away. That is entirely a thing of the past owing to more enlightened operatives and more enlightened employers. The Home Secretary should pay more attention to those newer industries.
I would like to mention the decrease of £1,600 in the Vote for the special constables. The hon. Member for Everton (Mr. Hall-Caine) was asking why there was a reduction. I believe it is entirely due to a large shower of medals which were given in various parts of the country for services rendered sometimes in strikebreaking. I hope the Home Secretary will see to it that the special constables are not used for purposes of strike-breaking. I myself before coming to this House sat for many years on a watch committee, and we dealt with the work of the special constables. If there was some special visitor to our town or some special duty to perform—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The special constables are not appointed by the Home Office, but by the local authorities, and the matters referred to by the hon. Member do not arise on this Vote.
§ Mr. MUFF
I hope there is going to be no cheeseparing policy in cutting down this £1,600. For the sake of a few pounds, I would suggest that the Vote be increased rather than decreased, because I contend that this decrease of the Vote from £1,750 to £150 shows a change of policy on the part of the Home Office, and a lack of recognition of the special constables.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member rather misunderstands. As far as I am aware, the Home Office grants these medals on the recommendation of the local authorities concerned. It simply gives the awards on the recommendations made by those authorities. It is not a question of the Home Office making the awards themselves.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That is the Ruling I am giving from the Chair and precludes the hon. Member from pursuing that point.
§ Mr. MUFF
I bow to your Ruling, and will not transgress, and will not get in a point which I wanted to make about special constables, whether they are to be male or female. I pass to the Vote for £49,500 for probation officers, which shows an increase of £500. I wish to congratulate the Home Office on the increase of that Vote, because it appears as if the Home Office was recognising increasingly the value of these probation officers. I presume that this is for salaries for probation officers, and I would like to ask the Minister whether he is paying due attention to appointing an increasing number of women probation officers. It is by appointing un-uniformed women as probation officers to look after and care for the people who, unfortunately, have taken the wrong turning and by sympathetic treatment that we can try to bring them back—to use a platitude—to the paths of rectitude. In this matter the Home Office is likely to meet with more success by appointing a greater number of probation officers than by increasing the uniformed staff of women in the police forces. I wish to emphasise that point very much. After an experience of many years on the Watch Committee and of the lack of success of the uniformed police, I feel, with regard to the un-uniformed probation officers, that there is likely to be an increasing degree of success in the future.
I close with another point which the Home Secretary mentioned, the question of juveniles who are certified as being mentally affected. He said the magistrates certified these children and that they were then reported to the Board of Control. It has also been one of my duties, in addition to sitting upon a watch committee, to sit upon a committee to deal with these unfortunate people who are mental defectives. I do not think it comes directly under the control of the Home Secretary, because he said that they were handed over to the Board of Control. I want to emphasise that here is the tragedy. We have had these cases reported to us time after time and we want to deal with these unfortunate juveniles where we can segregate them and take them away from any taint of prison or of similar influences.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
There is a separate Vote dealing with tie Board of Control, which is not included in this Vote.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It does not matter what the Home Secretary mentioned. Where there is a Vote for a special service, that special service can only be discussed when that Vote is before the Committee. It is the Home Office Vote which is before the Committee at the present time, not the Vote for the Board of Control.
§ Mr. MUFF
I close my remarks, then, by asking the Under-Secretary to remember that, when his Department has certified these children to be mental defectives, there is an absence of treatment after they have been certified, and that they are thrown upon the streets unclassified and unsegregated. Some of them find themselves either in maternity hospitals or, if not, in a prison cell again and again owing to inadequate treatment and—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is discussing a subject outside the jurisdiction of the Home Office. Mental defectives come under county councils.
§ Mr. KELLY
I wish to raise one or two matters upon this Vote, and I hope to keep within the circle of Order. I should like to know whether there is a sufficient number of certifying surgeons in view of the numerous industrial diseases in the country. One finds that in the case of the asbestos industry, and wherever fibre is part of the material operated by those engaged in industry, there is an inadequate supply of certifying surgeons. I hope that when the Under-Secretary of State replies he will be able to give an assurance that the matter will be gone into, and that not only will a sufficient number of medical men and women be appointed, but that some means will be taken to make it well known to the people engaged in the various factories and workshops where the certifying surgeons are to be found. I know that by making an application 2184 to the local town hall or to the municipal buildings in a neighbourhood that information may be obtained, but a great many of our people are not aware of that fact.
Another point which I wish to raise relates to the chemical industry and the operation of the various regulations issued by the Home Office. One finds that in the case of aniline dyes many persons are affected by a very serious disease, and I would ask whether consideration is being given to the issuing of regulations under which such persons will be compensated in the event of being disabled from following their employment. I know of a case in the Manchester area in connection with one of the works at Clayton where not only was the husband disabled by reason of that with which he had come in contact in the matter of dyes in the establishment, but the wife who happened to wash the clothing he had been wearing was also badly infected. Because of the absence of a regulation there was no opportunity of securing compensation from the wealthy undertaking concerned as a result of the injury those two people sustained by reason of the nature of the work in that particular establishment. I ask that there should be closer investigation on the part of the inspectorate in the heavy as well as the light chemical industry of this country. It is possible that as a result of such investigation—and I am speaking for an industry with which I am directly concerned—it may be found necessary to issue regulations for the better protection of the workpeople.
Although I have spent many years dealing with the explosives industry of this country, I have never yet come across any of the staff of the Home Office, as far as the inspectorate is concerned, which has been dealing with those establishments. When I realise the danger in these places, I ask myself whether the Home Office is considering the need for the staffs of the inspectorate being in proportion to the number of factories in the country. We have recently had a serious explosion at Halton Heath. I am not sure whether the Home Office has the power to inspect the explosives factories of the Admiralty, but, if so, I urged that they should go very closely into the explosion at Halton Heath in order to try to find out whether there 2185 was any neglect at any stage with regard to the awful happening at that place. There is an item in the Estimates with regard to Woolwich Arsenal, and I would ask whether the inspectors have reported as to the number of boys employed in the danger area at Woolwich Arsenal. I really cannot understand boys being permitted to work in the danger area of Woolwich Arsenal. Have the inspectors made any report with regard to Woolwich Arsenal, Waltham Abbey and the other explosives factories in the direction of Enfield?
With reference to the item under the head of "Workmen's Compensation Acts," I notice that there is a sum of £17,500 under E(1) and that the Appropriation-in-Aid is £12,000, showing a difference of £5,500. Am I to understand that in every case where the medical referee is called upon, those concerned in the cases are not asked to refund to the Department the amount expended in regard to the appointment and upkeep of medical referees in the various courts of the country? The names of the medical referees should be made better known. There is another item in regard to which I should like an explanation. It appears under "F.—Expenses Under the Disabled Men (Facilities for Employment)." I notice that there is an increase of £95. I am not taking exception to the increase in the amount, but I should like an explanation as to how many of the men who returned from the War disabled, and for whom the Home Office undertook certain responsibilities, are employed at the present time and the necessity there is for the increased amount. I hope that there are many men employed, but I trust that none of them meets with accidents and requires assistance.
The industrial museum has been in existence for some time now, and it would be of interest if we could have a report as to the success of the museum, and whether there is any intention of extending the museum both in regard to the number of items to be shown and the explanations to be given which will be of advantage to those who visit the museum. I hope that an increasing number will go to the museum. The last item to which I wish to refer is the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hastings (Lord E. 2186 Percy) in which he said that it was not an increase in the number of inspectors that we required at the present time, but rather that there should be a better understanding between the Home Office and those engaged on the two sides of industry—the employers and the employed. I should like to see the Government Departments paying greater attention to the trade unions of the country. At present one finds that the trade unions, even when they are members of the Joint Industrial Council, are not recognised by the Home Office in a way that would be to the advantage of the administration there. I will give as an illustration the two-shift system, which I dislike and which I have done everything possible to prevent coming into operation. It comes under this Vote, Mr. Dunnico. The two-shift system comes under the administration of the factories.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not attempt to instruct the Chair as to its duties. The two-shift system, so far as it is permitted by law, cannot be criticised. The hon. Member can only criticise any action or inaction on the part of the Home Office affecting its operations.
§ Mr. KELLY
It is the administration of it with which I am going to deal. While I made the statement which you considered to be out of order, which I regret very much, I am sorry that the trades unions, as representing the working people, are not considered, even when members of the Joint Industrial Council, to be people who ought to be heard and whose opinion ought to be expressed. I wish to ask the Under-Secretary how many persons are engaged at the present time upon this particular system and whether the inspectors are frequently reporting as to the length of time the system is in operation in the various factories? I hope that they are watching the matter very closely, especially as so many young people are concerned in, this operation. It often means that young people begin work at six o'clock in the morning, and, at the other end of the day, at ten o'clock at night, and I hope that the Home Office, through its inspectors, is watching this position closely. I urge upon the Home Office to give close observation to this system for 2187 the benefit of the people engaged in industry and for the benefit of industry itself.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Short)
I rise for the purpose of replying to the few questions that have been put to me. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Wardlaw-Milne) raised a very important matter in relation to the admission into this country of British-born subjects who at some period went to America and became naturalised citizens of that country. He stressed the importance of that particular problem, and suggested that it was well worthy of the serious consideration of my right hon. Friend. I can assure him that the problem is a serious one. It is one that has been made for us, and it requires careful examination from time to time. There is a stream of such people finding their way here, owing to the tragic unemployment in America, and anxious once again to settle in this country. We have to deal with them under the law as it is, and we have to treat them as aliens. We have to give consideration to the various cases on their merits. While I cannot give the hon. Member any such undertaking as he sought to obtain, I can assure him that the question causes the Department grave anxiety. In so far as such an undertaking can be given in respect of the two cases that he mentioned, on condition that if they are permitted to remain in this country they will take no employment of any kind, I can only say that such an undertaking would weigh with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. It is a very important problem and is becoming more serious every day. It engages the constant attention of my right hon. Friend and those associated with the Department.
As regards the special constabulary-medals, mentioned by the hon. Member for Everton (Mr. Hall-Caine) and the hon. Member for East Hull (Mr. Muff), I may say that the medals are given for long service, for nine or 10 years' service. It so happens that the variation in the amount paid is due to the fact that the period of years served coincides with the particular year mentioned in the Vote. In regard to the expenditure upon probation offenders, we are developing our 2188 probation system and are very anxious that young children, being dealt with for the first time, should not find themselves in prison, but should be put upon probation. An increasing number are being so treated, and that has Jed to an increase in payments. We are also having to increase the number of probation officers. We are seeking to establish a higher standard of remuneration that will attract the right type of men and women for probation purposes. That accounts for the increased sum in the Vote. With regard to young children who are mentally defective, I am not able to deal with that aspect of the matter, but in so far as they come within the Home Office supervision from the probation point of view or the prison point of view, we do all we can so far as their mental defect is concerned.
The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) asked for information respecting the number of aliens. My right hon. Friend was unable to give him the information on the spur of the moment, but I have the figures, which I hope will satisfy him. He will see that the proportion of aliens who come into the country and who leave is pretty much the same. There is a slight rise or fall in given periods. In 1927 the number landed was 412,686 and the number that left was 409,925. In 1928 the numbers were 403,419 landed, 432,853 left. In 1930—I give the figures for 1930 which is a full year of administration under the present Government—the numbers were 454,752 landed, 449,741 left. The figure of 454,752 is slightly less than the figure in 1929. I think those are the figures that the hon. Baronet sought to obtain.
§ Sir B. PETO
Does that mean that over 5,000 more aliens have come into this country than those who left last year, and that therefore they are able to stay here permanently?
§ Mr. SHORT
I do not think that is the conclusion to be drawn from the figures, but I will clear up that point for the hon. Baronet. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) asked me a question in regard to the certifying surgeons. If my hon. Friend had given me a little more notice, I would have sought to obtain the exact information for him. I will see that the information is made available. So far as I am advised, the number of certifying surgeons is sufficient. I have 2189 no reason to think that they are not sufficient at the moment. I can assure him that they are under review from time to time, and if the need arises, consistent with the expenditure of public money, we shall be happy to increase the number. The hon. Member also asked for information as to the whereabouts of the certifying surgeons. If an application were made to the factory inspectors' office, the information would be made available to any legitimate inquirer. It is desirable that such information should be made available, and I will inquire whether any increased facilities are necessary in this respect.
The hon. Member also asked me a question with regard to dyes. I should like to have an opportunity of going more fully into this matter, because the hon. Member raised questions of compensation and as to whether the workers were entitled to compensation. I should like to see how far the law covers these particular workpeople and whether it is desirable that better facilities should be provided.
§ Mr. SHORT
I will have further inquiries made and see if any further step can be taken in the direction suggested. As regards explosives, I understand that we have four inspectors dealing with explosives. I can assure the hon. Member that in so far as the Halton Heath explosion is concerned, the report on that accident will be fully considered, and any improvements necessary in connection with the handling of explosives will undoubtedly be attended to by my right hon. Friend. The hon. Member also suggested that the names of the medical referees should be more widely known. I answered a question a few weeks ago on that subject, when I indicated that such information would be made available. In so far as more general access is required, I will see that it is done. The hon. Member made reference to the museum and stressed the importance of the valuable work done by the museum. I should like to see a larger number of people visiting the museum. As the hon. Member rightly emphasised, it is not the number of visitors that matters, so much as the representative character and quality of the visitors. I should like to appeal to Members of Parliament who 2190 might reasonably pay a visit to the museum. It would be a real instruction to them and would enable them to give useful and valuable advice to their constituents.
Finally, the hon. Member made reference to the two-shift system. His; opinions on that subject are well known. He pleaded that the trade unions should be consulted. Under the present system the application has to be a joint one. The workpeople involved have to be balloted, their opinions have to be sought and, as a result of discussions in this House, the factory inspector visits the factory and interviews the persons involved, in order to be satisfied that the opinions of the workpeople have been secured without duress and without their being put under any obligation to the employer. The hon. Member seemed to think that the joint industrial councils were ignored, but it is clear from the Order that if a joint industrial council makes a joint objection to the Order coming into operation, I think I am right in saying that my right hon. Friend loses the power to issue the Order. The hon. Member asked for the number of Orders in operation. I can give him a few figures. In 1930, 129 Orders were issued. I have not the complete figures for this year, but 81 have been issued up to date. There are 825 firms operating 930 Orders. It must be remembered that some of the Orders issued only operate for a short time. They are not constantly in operation. Some are only issued for temporary periods, such as in the canning industry, which is becoming established in Lincolnshire. I hope that I have given sufficient information to satisfy the hon. Member.