§ 4.6 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, to leave out "revoke," and to insert:suspend for a period not exceeding three years.I am sure that the Committee is obliged to you, Sir Dennis, for the statement you have made, and we have no wish to take any objection to the corrected form of words in the Schedule. With regard to the Amendment which I beg to move, when one looks through the findings in the report of the Royal Commission, one of the things which, I think, will strike anybody is their insistence upon the temporary modification of the constitution of Newfoundland. Looking at page 223, which is the Summary of Recommendations, under the heading "Main Recommendation" it will be seen that they say in paragraph (2):On the other hand, measures designed to alleviate the present burden of public in- 566 debtedness would not, in themselves, provide a solution of the Island's difficulties, since those difficulties are largely due to the reckless waste and extravagance, and to the absence of constructive and efficient administration, engendered by a political system which for a generation has been abused and exploited for personal or party ends.The "party," of course, being the Conservative and Liberal parties of Newfoundland.A complementary requirement, therefore, to measures of financial relief is that the present form of government should be temporarily modified in such a way as would serve not merely to check the unfortunate tendencies to which the present system has given rise but also to promote the rehabilitation of the Island on sound principles.Then, again, if one looks at page 192, where the rather fuller summary occurs under Chapter IX, "A Joint Plan of Reconstruction," it says:A complementary requirement therefore to measures of financial relief is that the present form of government should be temporarily modified in such a way as would serve not merely to check the unfortunate tendencies to which the present system has given rise, but also to promote the rehabilitation of the Island on sound principles.I need not refer the Committee to other passages where the same insistence is made upon the temporary suspension of the present Constitution of the Government of Newfoundland. Apart altogether from the general merits, which, of course can be discussed on other Amendments, but not on this one, we believe that it is very important, from a psychological point of view, if not also from the practical point of view, that the word "revoke" should not occur in this Bill, that it should be made quite clear that this is only a suspension and not a revocation. The word "revoke" necessarily implies a final, definite, conclusive action which puts out of operation permanently the present constitution of Newfoundland, and some new constitution will have to be made at the time when the Letters Patent proposed to be set up under this Clause come to the end of their useful period. We believe that the idea that the people of Newfoundland would then revert to full self-government after merely a suspensory period, is the idea that we should seek to put into their minds, because one of the great difficulties, as I see it, of 567 this method of dealing with Newfoundland, is that we are anxious that they should become more politically conscious, more able as a people to guide their own destinies.
We are, as a matter of fact, taking a step here which is going to put them completely out of touch with all methods of democratic Government. There is not in Newfoundland what we might have in this country if the central government were suspended. There is not even local government. There is no means by which the people of Newfoundland will get any experience whatsoever of any administration or any political control. Therefore, it is more important than ever, in our view, that they should have held out to them a fairly speedy prospect of the constitution which is being suspended coming back into full force. It is only if they see that in front of them as a definite object at which to aim, a right, as it were, that after a certain period of time it should come back automatically, unless, of course, circumstances are such that this House passes some fresh legislation; otherwise they may lose all hope of ever themselves partaking in their own political government. If they do that, then, indeed, the case of Newfoundland will be hopeless, because we shall not be educating the people to a political consciousness, but shall be doing precisely the opposite—dulling their political consciousness, and putting them in a position in which it will not be easier and easier for them to conduct their own Government, but more and more difficult to do so.
It may be said that there is not much difference between revocation and suspension. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that when the people have the Act put before them, it will make a great psychological difference whether they think it is a final Act for ever abolishing their constitution, as it is under Clause 1, with the hope that a new constitution may be re-enacted in the same sort of form as the present one, or whether you say, "Here you are in a time of difficulty. We are going to suspend your constitution only for a certain time, and when that time has expired you will, as a right, get your constitution back again with all its full democratic powers." I do, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentle- 568 man to accept this Amendment for the sake of the people of Newfoundland, and for the sake of their better opportunity of political development.
§ 4.14 p.m.
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
I am quite sure the whole Committee will agree with the general sentiment expressed by my hon. and learned Friend. In substance, he said that, whatever our views of this Bill may be, do not let us destroy in the minds of the Newfoundland people the hope of once again attaining self-government, and, in order to emphasise that, he said that if we accept this Amendment limiting the period to three years, that in itself would give a hope to those people that in three years they would once again attain self-government. I think that is a fair statement both of the arguments put forward and the object of the Amendment. I said on Second Reading, and I say now, that no Member of the Government, least of all myself, could be in any way happy about this Bill. No one can pretend for a moment that it is a Bill which any Government could welcome, and it is common property, as has been repeatedly stated, that it is only because of the very desperate nature of the circumstances in this Dominion that we are driven to this position. That being so, I associate myself absolutely with the wish not to destroy in any way the anxiety and the desire of the people themselves once again to take their full share in the responsibility of government. To put a period of three years in the Bill—
But even to insert a period in the Bill may, in my judgment, easily have the very opposite effect. That is a matter of opinion, and I will endeavour to show why it may have that effect. The one feature of this Report that disturbs everybody is the way in which corruption and misgovernment have been allowed to prevail. I do not want to condemn the innocent people who have been exploited. I could say much of my own personal view about those who are responsible for the corruption, but I am anxious to give those 569 people who have never had a real chance a new chance. I believe that we shall only do that by showing them that there can be better government, and better and cleaner administration, and that there will be people who are prepared to make every personal sacrifice to pull the Dominion through again. I am not one of those who believe that all hope for Newfoundland is gone. I believe there are great potentialities in the island, and that if we can only get the right conditions and the spirit of our own Civil Service in the administration of the island the people themselves will be the first to appreciate our efforts.
Does not my hon. and learned Friend attach importance to this? We know something of the politicians in Newfoundland; we know how one set has exploited the others, and so on. I need not elaborate it because we all know it, but has not the hon. and learned Gentleman considered that if we put a period of years in this Bill, the first thing that would happen would be that the same politicians would so exploit the situation, so destroy confidence and hope, that they would be able to say to the people, "Do not do what these people want because in two or three or four years the whole thing will be altered again and you will be all right." [Interruption] I do not know what the object of the interruption is. I am trying to met fairly and seriously the case put by the official Opposition. I think that they mean it seriously, and I am dealing with it in that spirit. I repeat that, if we are concerned with the future government of this island, nothing would be more fatal than to convey the idea that if the people would only wait for a given period everything would be altered.
"Temporary" is written all over this Bill, because we believe it is to be a temporary Measure. But I have no hesitation in saying that it will depend upon the Commissioners whom we send out, and it will depend also upon the economic circumstances, which may or may not change. We hope that they will change. It will depend upon the efficiency that is brought into the administration. We believe that this should be a temporary Measure, and we say to the Newfoundland people: "It is up to you to cooperate with us. We have undertaken a great liability. The British people are 570 only anxious to help you, and we believe that this is the way to help." For all these reasons, we prefer that there should be no fixed date for the change to take place, but rather that we should render all the co-operation we can in order to make the date as short as possible.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
No real party issue is involved in this Bill. In fact, there is much with which many of us agree with hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is not, therefore, for party reasons that I profoundly disagree with the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). We have to face what has happened in Newfoundland. Democratic institutions have completely broken down. I understand that the franchise of Newfoundland is on a very full and free basis, and the number of people who have votes is in proportion at least as large as that in this country. The system has absolutely broken down. I am not going to argue against democracy. I do not believe that such a condition of affairs could have occurred in this country or France or a few other European countries. In this country the voters can always get rid of any Government or individual with whom they disagree, and I do not believe that such a condition of affairs as has arisen in Newfoundland could have arisen here. But there are special reasons on the other side of the Atlantic why such things happen.
What has happened in Newfoundland is only on a small scale what is happening in other countries on the North and South American continents. Can' the great body of electors in New York and Chicago get the sort of government they want through the agency of the ballot box? Everybody knows that they cannot. Ask any American Labour man if he has much faith in the efficacy of the ballot box to produce the conditions in which he believes. The whole system has completely broken down in Newfoundland as, in fact, it has broken down in many parts of the North American continent. Newfoundland being a much poorer country, the results of corruption and graft are more apparent than in New York and Chicago. We must not be too mealy-mouthed about democracy. Let us face the facts and not be too ready to pay tribute to it after what has happened there. What is the use of saying 571 that we should adopt the three-year period? I rather agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in preferring the word "suspend."
§ Earl WINTERTON
But the hon. and learned Gentleman put a period in his Amendment. That is what I object to. He quoted very fairly from the report of the Newfoundland Commission, and it is true that he was able to show that the use of the word "temporary" was frequent in that report, but "temporary" is like Mesopotamia; it is a blessed word and may be abused. Do not let us put in three years, for that is a short time in the history of a country. I hear from the highest source connected with Newfoundland that any student of events in that country will tell you that should it happen that this Bill failed to get through and the whole proposal fell to the ground, and should the British Government not be able to carry out what it intends to carry out; and if in the due course of events another general election took place in Newfoundland, although the people of Newfoundland strongly support these proposals, the old gang would come back as they have done again and again in the past, and all the old scandals would be repeated. The conditions in the island are connected with the monstrous truck system by which the fishermen and workers are ground down—
§ Earl WINTERTON
I admit that there are many defective points in the Constitution. The object which the Opposition have in view is one with which we can sympathise, for these people should not be allowed to believe that this is going to be a permanent destruction of their Constitution. I do not believe, however, that that would best be attained by an Amendment of this kind, and I therefore agree with the Secretary of State. I am glad that he spoke with such vigour on this subject, because the people of Newfoundland should be in no doubt of the mind of the Government in this regard.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I cannot see what the answer is to the hon. and learned 572 Gentleman who moved the Amendment. I listened to the speech of the Dominions Secretary for an answer, and I could not see that he answered the point at all. The right hon. Gentleman is attempting to open up a discussion on wider issues. I wish sometimes that Members of the Government in charge of Bills would learn to confine themselves to the subject at issue. We are not discussing graft on this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), who is a man for whom I have a personal regard for his integrity, capacity and independence, flung about charges of corruption and graft, and I cannot understand why. These are serious charges to make against men.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he said about me personally, and may I point out that I believe some, at any rate, have in the past been in gaol.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
They may have been for some past offence, but why are not those responsible for the present conditions in prison? Here are men who, to use the language of the Dominions Secretary, have committed serious criminal offences, among the most serious on the Statute Book, and yet they are not dealt with and gaoled. Is the answer that if they were prosecuted others, some of whom might be in future in the Government under the Commissioners, would be involved also? A fact that stands out clearly is that the Governor presided at meetings while the corruption and graft were going on. Possibly he is going to preside over them in the future. The Governor is going to preside over where the graft and the corruption—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not this Governor!"] That is true, but the other Governor was not proceeded against, and there is nothing to prevent him from being one of the Commissioners. Take the position of any 573 of us here. We might be the chairman of a trade union or of a board of directors. If those directors were guilty of corruption or of graft should we not expect the chairman to be proceeded against? But that has not been done in this case. Indeed, from the way in which the Secretary of State for the Dominions looked across the Table, one would almost have thought that the hon. and learned Member who moved the Amendment had committed the graft.
The best way to stop corruption and graft in the future is not to deprive the people of the franchise but to punish the guilty men, in the hope that it will not happen again. The City of Glasgow had a, very small and meagre graft scandal, and there have been charges of corruption against various other local authorities, some on a large scale and some on a small scale, but nobody ever suggested depriving the people of their votes, suspending the local authorities and putting somebody else over them. What happened in those cases was that the men guilty were punished. We might as well say that the Salvage Corps is to be abolished because a certain man is charged with corruption. The right hon. Gentleman says, however, "I am not going to punish anybody. I do not wish to punish the unfortunate victims." Who is he punishing? The only people being punished are those not responsible for the corruption and the graft, those who did not get a pennyworth of graft. In this House of Commons there have been men who have been convicted of corruption, and the same thing has happened on local authorities, and in those cases they have been punished, and, in addition, have not been allowed to hold office.
What should have been done here was to establish a case against the men who were guilty, and then the legislature should have said to the people of Newfoundland, "If you elect these men again we will not allow them to hold office for a certain number of years." But no; the corrupt people are left with the money in their pockets and are not being punished, and the only ones to be punished are the ordinary people. The corrupt people are still there, but apparently the right hon. Gentleman is too afraid to prosecute them. He used to manage a union. Would he have shown so much kindness, 574 toleration and consideration to people guilty of corruption in his union? When he came across cases of corruption and graft in his union he acted, and I do not say that he acted wrongly. Sometimes he acted against a great deal of criticism. But he did not suspend the members of a branch from voting. He sent those who were guilty to the courts to be tried. [Interruption.] He did not "sack" the general secretary or the chairman of the union. No. the general secretary never was "sacked"; he "chucked it."
The right hon. Gentleman will not accept the suggestion of three years because, he says, this is a temporary arrangement. Three years is a fair time. "Temporary" might mean anything—10 or 12 or 14 years. The right hon. Gentleman also says, "If it is three years they may come back." If they come back he has a simple remedy—he can re-enact this Measure. The only difference will be that he will have to meet the House of Commons and justify his procedure again. If his contention be true that the men would only be waiting until the three years had elapsed the word "temporary" will not get over the difficulty, because they would wait just the same for their opportunity. But I say that though "temporary" is the word used there is no real thought in the minds of the Government that this action will be temporary only. If the Government feel that three years is too short a period let them say five years, or four. The only decent thing the House of Commons can do with a Measure which takes away the rights of the people is to limit its operations to a quite definite period of time.
§ 4.37 p.m.
I am afraid the hon. Member cannot have studied the report. Everyone who knows Newfoundland, as I do, knows that certain names have been brought up in connection with these scandals. The whole point of the Secretary of State's argument is that he wants to kill the system—that he cannot deal with individuals, because to do so would cover a very large number of people and a very long period of time, and that it is the system which is at fault from one end to the other. It would be no use proceeding against one or two persons, because we should never finish—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I did not want to stop the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), but I must warn the Committee that they have been rather inclined to drift a little beyond the terms of this Amendment. On this Amendment we cannot go into a general discussion of what should be done in regard to any charges of corruption.
I was going on to support the view of the Minister, because I feel that when the system is under discussion we cannot put in a time-limit of three years; and until conditions in Newfoundland are restored and the political situation is cleaned up I feel that it is essential to support the Government in their policy.
§ 1.39 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
Surely the answer to the argument of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) should be a fairly simple one, and I hope I shall not stray beyond the bounds of order in advancing it. It is a truism to say that a country gets the Government which it deserves. What normally happens when a country gets a bad Government is that it throws it out and substitutes a Government which is honest and efficient. In Newfoundland they did not do that. The people did not take their courage in both hands and throw out these Governments one after another. A few months ago, however, they put in the present Government, against which there is no breath of suspicion in the report. What did the present Government do? They asked for the Constitution to be withdrawn, and for six commissioners to be established in office.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
I was rather afraid of straying from the point, but what I wished to indicate was that the Newfoundlanders have asked for this themselves, and it would be a very dangerous thing to fix a period of only three years before the government of the country must be handed back to them. We should be incurring very grave risks, because politicians who are no longer in power might, in three years, undermine the position of the six commissioners. If by putting in a definite time within which the Constitution must be handed back we were to hold out any hope to the 576 politicians of Newfoundland, it would obviously encourage them to do their utmost to undermine the position of the six commissioners. For that reason it would be unwise to adopt the Amendment.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
Having regard to the circumstances of the case, I think it would be most inadvisable to insert any term, whether three or 13 or 30 years. The desire of this country to hand back to Newfoundland its constitution as soon as it is able to stand on its own feet has been made very clear. I would like to endorse a suggestion made by the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). It would be desirable to substitute the word "suspend" for the word "revoke," and I ask the Secretary of State to give some attention to that point.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I wish to support the Amendment and would ask the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision. A new issue which really disturbs me has been raised by him. Though he may not have said it in so many words, he left on me the impression that when we have suspended the present Government of Newfoundland self-government is to remain suspended until such time as we are satisfied that the people there have reached a moral standard which will justify us in restoring to them self-government. That is the attitude we adopt towards Protectorates, "The lesser breeds without the law." We are saying that we are to be the judges of when they are fit to govern themselves. That is something new. The Bill does not say that; the Bill only suspends self-government until Newfoundland is self-supporting financially. That is an entirely different story. That is a business proposition. If the figures are produced, you can say whether the country is self-supporting or not, but who can ever say when a nation is morally entitled to self-government? A balance-sheet is one thing, but morals are an entirely different thing; they are intangible and imponderable.
While the right hon. Gentleman declines to put a date in the revocation of self-government, there is a date put by 577 the Government themselves in the Bill. It is perhaps an optimistic date, but it is presumably a date which all the parties who have given close examination to the question have come to the conclusion is reasonable. The financial arrangements are due for consideration and revision three years hence, on 31st December, 1936. If it is reasonable to estimate that Newfoundland will be self-supporting in three years time, it is reasonable to say that, if the financial provisions are to be revised, the political conditions should be revised also. The fact that men have been very corrupt in the political life of the nation does not seem to bear very heavily on the question of how long the suspension of self-government is to continue. My own experience of graft is that people do not need to have a seat in Parliament in order to carry on corrupt methods. If the men who acted corruptly in the political affairs of Newfoundland are running about loose in that country, looking for further opportunities of gain for themselves at the expense of their fellows, I am sure that the opportunities will not be lacking. One of the reasons why I was anxious that this should go to a Select Committee rather than to a Committee of the whole House was that there might be an examination of the people who hold the stock.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Yes, perhaps that is so, but the point that I was making is simply this, and I think it still remains good, that I have no reason to assume that the very persons who were engaged in the corruption may not also be large holders or Newfoundland stock. I have no means of knowing. The right hon. Gentleman cannot assure me that the biggest people concerned in the whole thing are not probably very large holders of Newfoundland stock. We have this grotesque situation, that the government of the country is to be suspended so that we may make the investments of the corrupt Government profitable. That does not seem to me to be any solution, and I think it is a reasonable and a fair thing to ask that when this House is taking such a big step it should put in a definite limit, so that in three years' time we may review the whole situation with a view to seeing whether the financial 578 affairs of Newfoundland have got on to a decent footing, and how far the Government that have been put into operation have dealt with the corruption which will take place in the industrial, commercial and financial life of the community even though the political end of it has been put a stop to.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Commander MARSDEN
I am rather inclined to support the first part of this Amendment merely on the grounds that the word "suspend" more accurately defines the position. "Revoke," whether it is correct in grammar or in any other way, will certainly mean to the general public that this Parliament is imposing something upon Newfoundland—I may say, in passing, that the place is generally known to seamen as Nu'-fund-land'—that is what people generally will think, but actually that is very far from being the case. We are imposing nothing upon Newfoundland, but we are doing something which the people in Newfoundland are asking us to bring about. As for the second part of the Amendment, I do not agree with the period of three years. If the Newfoundland Government had thought that they could see daylight at the end of three years I do not think that they would have called upon us to help them. We may infer that they found themselves in a morass from which they could see no way out, and they called upon the Mother Country to come to their assistance. There is no definite period during which the suspension or revocation should be continued. In the address presented to His Majesty's Government by the Legislative Council of Newfoundland, not a definite day, but a definite moment was mentioned. The Council asked thatUntil such time as the Island may become self-supporting again, the administration of the Island should be vested in His Excellency the Governor acting on the advice of a specially created Commission of Government.I support the Government in rejecting the Amendment, because a time limit is unnecessary and would spoil all that we are seeking to bring about. The actual moment is the time, and that moment will be clear enough to anybody, for when Newfoundland is self-supporting the people will once again govern themselves. For that reason, I support the Government.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
As I have been sitting here, the question that has been in my mind is, "When are the people of Newfoundland going to have an opportunity of reviewing the financial arrangements which are now being made? Hon. Members have started off with the assumption that we are doing all this in the interest of the people of Newfoundland, but we are not doing anything of the kind; we are doing this for the bondholders. We are putting the brokers in. I understand that the payment of loan charges amounts to something like 60 per cent. of the annual revenue of Newfoundland, and we are putting these gentlemen in to collect the money for the joint-stock bondholders of Great Britain and for other holders of securities. A time limit cannot be given, because, if we consulted the people of Newfoundland within a reasonable space of time, they might repudiate some of the obligations incurred by the corrupt governments of the past. That would not interfere with the establishment of good government in Newfoundland so much as with the sleep and digestion of bond-holders. We must allow these commissioners to remain there indefinitely because they may have to remain there indefinitely in order to collect this money for the bondholders.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "We are going to pay the money." We are going to pay some of the money, but we are going to collect the revenues and hand it over to the bondholders. We are putting the bailiffs in to distrain upon the Newfoundland people in order to pay the bondholders, and, if the bailiffs cannot get enough, the generous people will pay the rest to the bondholders. That is the situation. I would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether he will inform the Committee that, in an appreciable space of time, the Newfoundland people are to be consulted as to whether the time has arrived for them to have their Constitution restored. The point that has been emphasised is that the Constitution is to be restored upon the initiative of the bailiffs. That is not fair. Ought not the people of Newfoundland themselves, at some time, to be allowed to determine whether they want their Constitution back again?
It is true that the Government which those people elected have asked us to 580 revoke the Letters Patent, but what that Government cannot do is to give their power away permanently. They have been elected and they have no right permanently to abrogate the powers of the Newfoundland people. This House of Commons has not the right to pass a law permanently suspending the right of the people of England to elect another Parliament. What the Government of Newfoundland have done has been to usurp the functions and the powers which have been reposed in them by the people of Newfoundland, and they have said to the British Government: "The Government of Newfoundland declare that no longer will the people of Newfoundland ever want to elect another Government again."
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not want to stop the hon. Member, but perhaps he will allow me to point out that he appears to be mistaken as to the contents of the Address.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That was what I wanted the hon. Member to understand. He spoke of Newfoundland having done a certain thing. What they have done is to ask the Government in this country to do that certain thing.
§ Mr. BEVAN
That is the very point I am trying to make. I cannot be making myself clear. I have understood from hon. Members and from the right hon. Gentleman that the Newfoundland Government are asking this Government to take the steps which are embodied in this Bill. We are determining in this Bill to set aside the Constitution of Newfoundland for an indefinite period.
§ Mr. BEVAN
That is the point that I am making. I want to ask the Committee whether any Government democratically elected have the right permanently to perpetuate themselves, or to give away the powers under which they have been elected. It appears to me that the point which is being raised in the Amendment is that, at some time or other and within an appreciable space of time, the people 581 of Newfoundland ought to be consulted as to whether they want to take those powers back again. How is it going to be done? The right hon. Gentleman might be making a perfectly good point, but I do not know sufficient about it to say whether he is right or wrong, when he says that if you put the Commission in for three years, the other people will be marching up and down the island sabotaging the attempts of the commissioners to get the country on its feet again. That may be perfectly correct, but it does not relieve the right hon. Gentleman of the obligation of providing some instrument by means of which the people of Newfoundland can democratically determine whether they want to have their Constitution restored.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bend his mind to that problem? I believe that Members in all quarters of the House will agree that some such provision should be contained in the Measure. Otherwise, the right hon. Gentleman exposes himself to the charge that he is not concerned about the people of Newfoundland, but is concerned with making an arrangement by means of which the brokers may be in permanently. That is a very serious charge to make against a British Government; it is a very serious charge to make against the probity of the House of Commons; and it is certainly a reversal of the tendency of all the Crown Colonies to become ultimately self-governing Dominions. Therefore, even if the Dominions Secretary cannot see his way to accept this Amendment, I would ask him to give the Committee an assurance that some instrument will be found by means of which the initiative for restoration of the Constitution may be exercised by the people of Newfoundland.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It is perfectly true that Newfoundland, through its elected representaties, has asked to have this Bill passed, and, that being so, the Government are fully justified in bringing in the Measure. But the question we have to ask ourselves is: When this scheme has been in operation for a few years, will the people of Newfoundland continue to be satisfied with the action of their elected representatives? I would ask the House to remember that in the time of Richard II this sovereign Parliament met at Shrewsbury and in three 582 days abolished all the powers of Parliament that had been built up in the preceding 150 years. They restored all powers to the Crown. But within two years of that date Richard II was deposed and murdered. You cannot rely upon the Newfoundland people remaining of the same mind indefinitely, and I think it is obvious, from what we know of English people everywhere, that as times goes on the people get dissatisfied with even the best of Governments. I am told that there is a feeling of dissatisfaction even with the National Government—after two years. [An HON. MEMBER: "Incredible!"] It is rather incredible, but that is the English nature. Give them a Government, and they will find something wrong with it—so unlike the Germans! But that is a national failing, or it may be a national advantage.
It is probably accepted in all quarters of the House that it would be impossible to restore to Newfoundland in three years, with any hope that the whole system would have changed in that time, its powers of self-government. That being so, if you want to prevent agitation in Newfoundland—fostered very largely by the people who have lost their power of graft—if you want to prevent that agitation from growing and making the task of the Secretary of State and this Parliament more difficult, you must provide some substitute for the liberties enjoyed at the present time by the Newfoundland people. At the present moment they have cast their Constitution and liberties to the winds and have handed over everything to the right hon. Gentleman to get them out of the mess: but that will not endure unless they feel that they too have a voice in controlling the right hon. Gentleman and influencing this Parliament. If they are completely shut off, if they not only lose their local government but have no influence over the new Government, we shall undoubtedly be face to face in a few years with a Home Rule agitation in Newfoundland very similar to the Home Rule agitations with which the right hon. Gentleman is so unpleasantly and thoroughly acquainted. I feel that everyone in the House of Commons must see that a perfectly simple way out of this danger, which is a very real danger, is that there should be a representative—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is forgetting on which Amendment he is speaking.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I quite agree. My Amendment will come on later, no doubt, when we shall be able to discuss the full significance of this point thoroughly and more at length, and take a vote on it. But it is very material to the Amendment which we are discussing at the moment, for how can we decide whether we ought to put a limit on this if we do not know what proposals the Government have at the back of their minds for creating the connection between Newfoundland and this country, and what substitute they propose for the democratic institutions which they are taking away from that country? The whole question is one of agitation. If you are going to have a three-year limit, then you may neglect any system of making the new régime more palatable to the Colony, but, if you are not going to have a three-year limit, it becomes all the more vital that we should know what is in the mind of the Government as to the representation of Newfoundland. I hope that those of us who are in doubt as to how to vote on this Amendment will have some assurance from the Secretary of State, before a vote is taken, that the Government do contemplate building up something in the nature of democratic representation to take the place of what they are taking away, because, if nothing is put in the place—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid I cannot allow the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to develop that by giving his reasons.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I would not think of giving any reasons, Sir Dennis: I would merely appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, in the interest of getting their Bill through and of reducing opposition, to let us know whether they have at the back of their minds something which is capable of taking the place of what we are destroying in this Bill. It is all very well to say that this is an Address which was voted by the House of Assembly at St. John's. That is quite true, but, if the Government base themselves on that, they will have, not only in this Debate but continuously from now onwards, an agitation to put an end to it. We are a sovereign Power. The Assembly at St. John's is 584 a temporary constitutional expedient for arriving at the views of Newfoundland, but the ultimate ruling of that country rests, and must always rest, with us. It may be that it is impossible so to amend this Bill as to provide the alternative, but at least let us have from the Secretary of State a reassurance that something is to be done to replace what is being destroyed.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
It is rather a pity that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Measure spoke so early as he did on this Amendment, as I feel that, after having heard some of the arguments that have been put forward, he might have been more willing—and perhaps he will do so now, having expressed his own point of view on the matter—to give further consideration to the present Amendment. I would like to adduce one or two other arguments in favour of the Amendment, or at least in favour of some promise from the Dominions Secretary to fix a period of time, so that the people of Newfoundland might be able to reconsider their position and we might be able to reconsider ours. The new Commission that is being set up will act, I have no doubt, in perfect good faith and honesty, but it will probably find, after experience in carrying out its new duties, that it will be necessary to impose some form of new taxation, and one of the things that will perhaps irritate the people of Newfoundland more than anything else will be the imposition of new taxes. I rather fancy, therefore, that Members of the House of Commons will be receiving within a very short time all kinds of memoranda from organisations in Newfoundland asking us to reconsider the position, in which they have put themselves by asking us to impose a certain form of government on them, which we are now proposing to do.
In addtiion to that, there will have been set up over there what I would call a new vested interest. No doubt there will be considerable changes in the Civil Service in Newfoundland; no doubt new people will be imported into the country to aid the commissioners in carrying out their work; and these people, once having obtained their vested interests—the commissioners and those who are employed by them—will not easily give up 585 the opportunities which they have of making, perhaps, a reasonably easy living, and every obstacle will be placed in the way of the people of Newfoundland if they have a desire, and express that desire, at any time in the future to have back their old freedom and rights under the Constitution as it exists to-day.
I listened to some of the debates on the Bill and on the Money Resolution, but I have not heard anyone yet give a reason why all the people of Newfoundland should be punished because a few of them were criminals—and, after all, that is what we are doing. We are taking away from them something that we in this country, and people in most other countries where they have the privileges that we have here, value very highly—the right to vote, the right to take their part and express their will in examining the policy of their Government. I venture to say that if anyone were to suggest that those privileges should be taken away from the people of this country, there would be a wave of resentment which no government could resist for very long. If we take that point of view ourselves, why should we punish, as we are punishing, the great mass of the people of Newfoundland because a few people there went wrong and committed what was undoubtedly a Crime? I cannot imagine the right hon. Gentleman advocating that principle on a platform, or trying to justify the punishment of the whole of the people of the country just because a comparatively few people, who were elected in good faith by them to carry out their duties honestly, went wrong, committed crimes, and exploited the position—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not discuss the question of punishment; he must keep strictly to the Amendment.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I am afraid I was led astray by the fact of the right hon. Gentleman himself referring to some of these matters. The point that I would make is this, that, if there is to be a punishment, that punishment should be restricted in time. I think that that is a perfectly justifiable view. I hope even now the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the Amendment from two points of view. In the first place, I add my plea to that already made from both sides of 586 the House that the word "revoke" should be taken out and the word "suspend," or some other such word, inserted. The other is that some period of time should be inserted or, failing that, that at some stated time an opportunity should be given to the people of Newfoundland, and also to Members of this House, to raise the whole matter. If then the House decided that the time had not arrived to restore the Constitution, a further period could be agreed to before their constitutional rights were given back. I hope the House will not permit treatment of the people of Newfoundland such as they would resent bitterly if it were imposed on them, that we should completely take away their political rights and their opportunity to use the franchise in the way that they themselves think best.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Sir PERCY HURD
I should like to ask if there are any legal or constitutional difficulties in the way of the adoption of a word like "suspend." Unquestionably, looking at it from the point of view of public opinion in Newfoundland, there is much to be said for the adoption of some such word as "suspend," because we are giving Newfoundland a new start. We are trying to make her see the virtues of good government on better lines than in the past, and we are holding out the hope that at some future time the Constitution in some form or other will be restored to them. The word "revoke" is an ugly word to use when you are holding that hope before the people. Is it not possible to use the word "suspend" in order to carry forward the hope in a more definite way than the word in the Bill.
§ 5.18 p.m.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
There is no difference between any of us on either side of the Committee as to the point of not conveying to these people that this is a change in the Constitution that is to last for all time. I want to make that above all absolutely clear. I am told that there is no material difference between the words "suspend" and "revoke" and, in order that the Committee shall be assured that we do not mean anything different, and that it is temporary, I will consider between now and Report whether there is any word as between "revoke" and "'suspend" which makes that clear. In their own interests I would much prefer 587 that there should be no question of a period. There seems to be a general and very natural anxiety that after the Bill passes we shall cease to be interested and nothing further will arise. I wish to assure the Committee that, whoever is the Dominions Minister, this House alone can be responsible, and it will be open to hon. Members at any time to raise the whole issue. It is too grave a problem to assume that, whatever may be the views of Newfoundland, this House will be indifferent to such an old Colony.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the other point: whether he cannot include somewhere in the Bill an instrument by means of which the initiative in obtaining the restoration of the Constitution can be exercised by the people of Newfoundland as well as by Members of the House?
I knew something of the position in Newfoundland before I took the responsibility of recommending the commission, but it would be said: "It is no use talking about self-government and saying the Dominions are free when you yourself attempt to interfere." I cannot give the hon. Member the assurance that he asks, for this reason. I want to give a new start to Newfoundland. The Government want to see these people have a real chance. Nothing would give me more satisfaction, however unpleasant the Bill is, than to be able by some new system that I may introduce to get rid of the track system. It is no good my making promises about plebiscites or periods of time, because no one can judge, but I shall welcome the day, possibly earlier than three years, when we shall be able to say to the House that the position in Newfoundland is restored, and I will do everything I can to bring that about speedily. That is the maximum assurance that I can give.
§ Mr. JAMES DUNCAN
Is it not possible to form some sort of consultative council to advise the Governor and the commission?
§ The CHAIRMAN
We are getting into a rather undesirable form of debate altogether. Questions have been put to the Secretary of State, the last in particular, which have nothing to do with the Amendment.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
It seems to me that the Amendment is seeking to protect the people of Newfoundland by giving them some idea when there will be a case to determine whether they shall get back to self-government. It is true that the Dominions Secretary has asked for a suspension until such time as the Colony is self-supporting again, but, when people are in difficulties, right down and out, they make assertions that they regret afterwards. We are considering this calmly, knowing the difficulties of the case and trying to give them some hope for the future. Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman insert three years time, and, if then they are not self-supporting or do not want to get back to the former position, the time can carry on a little longer. We are very anxious to protect these people on these lines, and, if the right hon. Gentleman can give us some assurance that he will indicate some time when the matter will be reviewed, we shall readily accept it. We can question him at any time, but it will simply be a question and answer, and the matter will be put on one side. We have a right to ask for an assurance that in a given period of time the people of Newfoundland will be able to come back to their former position if they desire.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I think there is a large measure of common agreement on this technical side of the Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) for the first time in his life very nearly brought some conviction to my mind. I think the period of three years might go. Several of us are a little worried about the words in the Bill. I am in a very great difficulty, because I am not a lawyer, and I do not know whether it is possible to put in other words at this point. You must have some word such as "revoke" or "recall," because I do not see how you can suspend Letters Patent.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I fully accept the position as laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman, but the word "suspend" there may be a technical error. 589 I do not know whether the Government, for purposes of economy, have suspended the Law Officers, but we are never able to get a legal opinion. I see no possibility of setting down a definite period. The right hon. Gentleman has already made two speeches, which have been most interesting, but he has had to admit that he does not know whether he can change the word "revoke" to "suspend." I am only out to try to help him out of his difficulty. We have r: o advice, and it is extraordinarily difficult to many of us to know what to do. I suppose we have to make the best of a bad job, and we must take it that "revoke" is the only possible word that can be used, but we are a little sorry that it has had to be put in. We are all agreed that we want to see the position brought back and the Newfoundlanders managing their own affairs. We should, wherever we possibly can, use terms that make it clear that that is not merely a pious aspiration. We want to lay it down very clearly that it is the intention of the House of Commons to restore to them some method of controlling their own affairs when the time arrives. I was delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs say that he was going to go into this matter carefully, and I entreat him to use words which will most explicitly convey the idea that we hope to see the position changed.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
I am certain that the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) will know exactly what to do by and by. He permits his thinking to be done by other people. He may grasp the purpose of the Amendment, but when the Division takes place he will permit other people to do his thinking for him. We are obliged to the Minister for giving this matter a second thought, and we hope that he will consider the whole of the Amendment. A time limit has really been specified in these Debates. I listened to the whole of the Debate on the Second Reading, and I heard the pledge of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Financial Resolution. The Chancellor of the Exchequer specified that in three years the whole matter would be reconsidered financially. The sum of £500,000 is being given this year, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer intimated, 590 in reply to a question, that until 1936 grants would be made to Newfoundland, and that at the end of that time the matter would be reconsidered.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The fact that the Treasury in that regard have considered some sort of time limit entitles the Committee to press for the acceptance of the whole of the Amendment. I hope that at this stage we shall not have a division on the matter, but that the Minister will intimate to the Committee that not only will he reconsider the terms but also the question of the time limit as well. Democracy and Parliamentarianism as such are sacred matters to Members of Parliament, and we hope that in their own interests the people who, according to the Bill, have asked the Government to do something for them, will be (permitted in three years' time on their own volition to ask for the whole matter to be reconsidered. It is too much to tie down the people of Newfoundland to a position for a period of more than three years. As far as we know, the Bill is really for the purpose of making a payment to bondholders, and it is too much to ask the people to sacrifice their Constitution in the interests of the rentier class in this way. I hope that even at this late stage the Minister will reconsider the whole of the Amendment, and not merely the part to which he has referred.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I am extremely sorry that the right hon. Gentleman, though he acknowledged that there was no fundamental difference between us, was not able to give a promise further than merely to consider whether he could possibly substitute the word "suspend" for the word "revoke." My hon. Friends on this side of the Committee advanced a series of convincing arguments in support of the Amendment as a whole. I should like to advance one or two arguments of our point of view at this end. I am not sure that I appreciate how the system is to work in this House, and I advance this objection as a ground for urging a limitation in the matter of time. What is to happen? As I see it, there will be in Newfoundland a governor acting in commission associated with six colleagues, 591 and apart from them, there will be no organ or machine of government. Those seven people will be, for all practical purposes, autocrats within the island, and I take it that from time to time they will feel obliged to carry certain pieces of legislation. The legislation will be carried by those seven people and will operate throughout the island. It will be carried in the name of the right hon. Gentleman, and I would urge that the time must be regulated because of the difficulties which will be created in this House.
The right hon. Gentleman, in support of his present position, urged that we should be able to review the situation from time to time. What will happen in point of fact? A law is propounded. How can we examine it here, and when? Suppose a law is carried with regard to the fisheries, when can we raise the matter, and how can we raise it? As I understand the position, we can only do so by questions in this House. We cannot discuss the actual terms of the law, until, if we think fit, the Estimates of the Department of the right hon. Gentleman come before the House. If that is the sort of system which is to be in operation, we ought not to have it prevelant for very long. Three years is far too long, because in practice there will be no sort of supervision, or cross-examination of the right hon. Gentleman by way of Debate, regarding the actual work that will be done in his name in Newfoundland. If this system lasts for three, five or 10 years, we shall have erected in Newfoundland for that period of time a system under which, in practice, seven people will be doing just as they please.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. Member is not only getting beyond the scope of the Amendment but beyond the scope of the Bill. The Bill, the principle of which has already been carried on Second Reading in this House, does not give this House or this Parliament the power to administer the affairs of Newfoundland here but to set up an administration in Newfoundland.
§ Mr. JONES
But a system of that sort should be limited in the matter of time. It is too dangerous a system to be allowed to go on indefinitely. That is the point which I am submitting, and it is the point 592 which the Committee ought to have clearly in mind when it empowers the Government to carry legislation of this sort. I do not wish to use terms which are unjust, but in my judgment we are asked by implication to allow a system of autocratic government to be established in the island. The right hon. Gentleman urged that he, like the rest of us, was not anxious to mulct the people of Newfoundland unjustly on account of the state of affairs which has existed. I submit that if we accept his word "revoke"—which, after all, is not the word which they themselves suggest in page 5 of the Bill where the First Schedule is printed—we are involving, not perhaps intentionally but by implication, the mulcting of these people in a form of punishment which they do not deserve. I will not argue the question as to the degree of corruption or otherwise which has taken place in Newfoundland. I see in page 7 of the Bill, in the last sentence of the Annex to the First Schedule these words:It would be understood that, as soon as the Island's difficulties are overcome and the country is again self-supporting, responsible government."—mark the words—on request from the people of Newfoundland, would be restored.I return to the point which I made at first. As I see the position, there will be no machine of government. There will be no vocal expression of the opinion or desires of the people of Newfoundland, no elected assembly, and no organisation. How then does the right hon. Gentleman propose to ascertain the mind and the will of the people of Newfoundland until, in their opinion, the time has come for this state of affairs to be brought to an end? What sort of expression of opinion will be acceptable by the right hon. Gentleman to bring it to an end? I merely repeat that a very unusual proposal is being put to the Committee. It is the abrogation of a right which has long been possessed by those people and of which they are very proud, and because it is such an abrogation, I submit that the time limit which we have suggested in sufficiently long for the condition of affairs such as we have hinted at.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I desire further to stress the point which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale 593 (Mr. A. Bevan) and stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) with regard to the absence of machinery by which the people of Newfoundland could make themselves heard. It is a point of very great substance and something of which the British Government ought to take note. The punishment, as far as the people of Newfoundland are concerned, is too great altogether. They are being punished for crimes which are not theirs. It is not so much bad government for which the people of Newfoundland are being punished, for the right hon. Gentleman has said that he wants to wipe out the past. The past was a very bad form of administration. There is something very repugnant to us in all forms of truck, but if there had been nothing more than truck in the Island of Newfoundland, no notice would have been taken. It is not bad government in the form of truck which has roused the British Government to
§ action, but bad bargaining on the part of the bondholders far more than truck.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
The Debate has been carried on without acrimony, and in an atmosphere of obvious good wishes so far as the people of Newfoundland are concerned. If we can conjointly get some form of words, or some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that he will provide a form of words that will give to the people of Newfoundland machinery which will be at their disposal when they desire to use it, it will meet the wishes of the House, and go far to meet the point expressed by hon. Members who support the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the word 'revoke' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 241; Noes, 41.595
|Division No. 25.]||AYES.||[5.47 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Christie, James Archibald||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Clarke, Frank||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Albery, Irving James||Clarry, Reginald George||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cobb. Sir Cyril||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Aske. Sir Robert William||Colville, Lleut.-Colonrl J.||Harbord, Arthur|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Conant, R. J. E.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cook, Thomas A.||Hartland, George A.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cooke, Douglas||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)|
|Barrie Sir Charles Coupar||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Croom-Johnson, R, P.||Hornby, Frank|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Crossley, A. C.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Bernays, Robert||Cruddas. Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Curry, A. C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Blindell, James||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tafton||Denville, Alfred||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Drewe, Cedric||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Duggan, Hubert John||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Briant, Frank||Duncan, Jamas A. L. (Kensington, N.)||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Dunglass, Lord||Jamieson, Douglas|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Elmley, Viscount||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Buchan, John||Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Burnett, John George||Fraser, Captain Ian||Leckle, J. A.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Levy, Thomas|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Lindsay. Noel Ker|
|Carver, Major William H.||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Goff. Sir Park||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Goldie, Noel B.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Blrm., W)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. G'n)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. M. (Edgbaston)||Grattan- Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Grimston, R. V.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C.G. (Partick)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Pybus, Percy John||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|McKeag, William||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Rea, Walter Russell||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Raid, David D. (County Down)||Thompson, Luke|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Raid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|MacPherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Rickards, George William||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Magnay, Thomas||Robinson, John Roland||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Ropner, Colonel L.||Tree, Ronald|
|Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Runge, Norah Cecil||Ward. Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Watt, Captain George Stevan H.|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||White, Henry Graham|
|Morrison, William Shephard||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Scone, Lord||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Munro, Patrick||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Newton, Sir Douglas George C||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Sinclair, Ma). Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Penny, Sir George||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Percy, Lord Eustace||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Petherick, M.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)||Storey, Samuel||Commander Southby and Dr. Morris Jones.|
|Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Potter, John||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Banfield, John William||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Maxton, James.|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Thorne, William James|
|Buchanan, George||Grundy, Thomas W,||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cape, Thomas||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jenkins, Sir William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cove, William G.||John, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Daggar, George||Lawson, John James|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Logan, David Gilbert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. Groves and Mr. C. Macdonald.|
|Edwards, Charles||McGovern, John|
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, after "revoke," to insert:after a plebiscite of the people of Newfoundland has approved the Address by the Legislative Council and House of Assembly in Newfoundland in the terms set forth in the First Schedule to this Act.'The point of the Amendment is very obvious, and I need not elaborate it. The Parliament of Newfoundland has agreed to give away the rights of self-government for Newfoundland, and the British Imperial Parliament is in process of approving that decision. The only people whose approval has not been asked, and whose approval under the present provisions of the Bill will not be asked, are the people whose lives are concerned in 596 the proposal. The central proposal of the Bill is to rivet on to the workers of Newfoundland the responsibility of the debt for a period of 60 years. From every fish they catch, every tree they fell, every bit of food they grow, the first share is to go to the bondholders of the Newfoundland debt for 60 years. For the next 60 years we are tying these people up to a bargain which involves their lives, and they are the only people who have not been consulted and who are not going to be consulted.
We are told by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) that if the Newfoundland people were allowed to have a general election just now, they would return to power the very people who are responsible for the corruption. I am always very suspicious of 597 political prophecies; I am suspicious of my own prophecies, and I have almost ceased to attempt prophecies. I do not know whether a general election in Newfoundland would return a government of the same description as that which, has brought the country into its present trouble, but if that be so, then the Government need have no hesitation in submitting this question to a plebescites, because, presumably, they would get the answer that they want, namely, an endorsement of the suspension of self-government for the period suggested. There may be same argument about the time involved in taking such a plebiscite, but I do not think that need be a very serious consideration. Such a plebescite could be very simple in form. The question could be asked: "Are you in favour of the proposal contained in the Bill, that the Government of Newfoundland should be put into commission and that your Representative Assembly should be abolished? It would only require a yes or no answer.
Presumably the people are well-informed about all the circumstances and about the proposals of the Measure. They have been discussed in the Assembly and, therefore, there need be no undue delay in ascertaining whether the people of Newfoundland are prepared to accept the rule of a commission over whose appointment they have no control, and no say in the selection of the personnel, and which ties them in a hard, firm way, for an extended period of time, to devote their labours and efforts, not primarily to the development of their land and the resources of the island, or to get better conditions of life for themselves. The guiding principle of this Bill is so to reorganise the affairs of Newfoundland that the debt to the bondholders may be regularly and steadily met. That is the purpose of the Bill, and anything else that is being done or proposed to be done by the report is incidental. The big purpose is to secure the interest on the debt. There is a curious reticence to say who these bondholders are; an extraordinary reticence to say where the money is held. We know that some of it is held in New York. [Interruption.] I think I can speak with complete confidence that no portion of the interest to be ground out of the Newfoundland fishermen is to come to the constituents of my two hon. Friends and 598 myself, nor do I think that very much will go to the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman.
These are circumstances which justify us in urging strongly that this House should know, that the former Government of Newfoundland should know, and that the proposed Commission Government should know, precisely what the people of Newfoundland think about these proposals. Indeed, if one is to anticipate any success on the part of the commission in their attempts to govern and reorganise Newfoundland, it is only if the commission have the cordial support of the Islanders as a whole. It will not help the production of wealth or the payment of interest to have the people of Newfoundland opposed to the policy. Unless the Islanders themselves are prepared to accept the government of this commission, and to reorganise under their guidance, no result will come. If I were a Newfoundland fisherman—in examining these things I always try to put myself in the place of the toad beneath the harrow—and was faced with this Bill, with its deprivation of political liberty and economic and industrial slavery, I would walk down to the pier at St. John's, get on board the first boat and keep going on until I had put thousands of miles between myself and the Island. [.Interruption.] The hon. Member opposite knows that I would not take myself outside the British Empire. I might go as far as Vancouver, where I think the climatic conditions are infinitely superior, the natural resources are not inferior and political corruption has not yet become quite so obvious.
If the 280,000 human beings in Newfoundland do not accept this scheme and decided that there are other places in the world where the conditions are more congenial, where the debt is not so heavy, and where some measure of political dignity can be maintained by the individual citizen, and left the Island; if these men decided that there were better places to go to than Newfoundland, this whole scheme falls to the ground. It does not work, it fails, unless there can be a substantial increase in the present population of Newfoundland. But it is bound to fail; it cannot possibly succeed. At an earlier stage I said that to ask some 70,000 actual wealth producers out of a population of 280,000, working in industries which are badly depressed, in 599 which the prices of their commodities are already depressed, to produce the capital and interest on £20,000,000 of debt, and at the same time maintain themselves and a government, is to ask an impossible thing. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, putting aside general democratic theories—in these days democracy as a theory is in a very anaemic condition, and democrats on whom we formerly relied to support democracy as a principle only support it now when it happens to be convenient—putting aside questions of democratic principles and theories, and looking at it from the point of view of the practical possibility of success, the right hon. Gentleman should make sure by a consultation with the people that they accept the proposals.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
I cannot understand the reluctance of the Dominions Secretary to respond immediately to the reasonable request made by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). I hope the right hon. Gentleman appreciates the momentous issues involved in the proposal. This is the first time a Dominion has been asked to relinquish its political rights. There is no parallel to the demand on the people of Newfoundland to surrender their rights of self-government in such a complete way, and the refusal of the Government to consider the Amendment, under the pretext that the Government of Newfoundland have already expressed the opinion of the island, does not meet the case. We do not wish to multiply hard words against the Government of Newfoundland or unduly to stress the unfitness of that Government to speak for the people of the island. Newfoundland is a small community, but it has held its place as a member of our self-governing communities within the Empire, and there has been, up to the moment, no difference between the political status of the inhabitants of Newfoundland and the inhabitants of any other part of the Empire. Now there will be a difference, because they are to be denied the right to say whether they desire to continue the present government, and they are to be denied that right because the British Government are willing to accept the opinion of the discredited Government in Newfoundland. Newfoundland is a small 600 and poor community with a population of 280,000. Are we taking this action because it is a small and a poor community? Is there any Imperial limitation to this kind of thing? Suppose that next year New Zealand is in financial difficulties—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member must raise that argument on a later Amendment; he cannot do it on the present Amendment.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
I am arguing the right of the people of Newfoundland to be consulted. The First Schedule says:It would be understood that, as soon as the Island's difficulties are overcome and the country is again self-supporting, responsible government, on request from the people of Newfoundland, would be restored.They have a right to be consulted regarding the restoration of their Government, and is it not equally right that the consent of the people should be obtained before they relinquish self-government? I see no argument against the Amendment, and I would like to point out that it would be quite possible to apply the same procedure in the case of larger Dominions. If the rule is to be applied here, it must be based on sound justification. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will say why this elementary right is being denied to the people of Newfoundland. 6.14 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)
It was not because of any reluctance to reply to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) that I did not rise immediately he sat down, but because I thought the hon. Member for Grower (Mr. D. Grenfell) desired to speak. We appreciate fully the motives of the hon. Member, but I am afraid that to accept the Amendment would be to interfere with something which is constitutionally within the discretion of the Newfoundland Government and Legislature. The point is that Newfoundland is still a Dominion. We are asking Parliament to pass legislation which is going to affect that Dominion and the procedure to be gone through in a case like that was laid down at the Imperial Conference of 1926. It was there said that this Parliament has no right to legislate for any Dominion, Newfoundland or any other, except at the request and with the consent of that 601 Dominion. But it does not lay down anything beyond that, except that the Dominion itself can decide what should be the form of expression of that request and consent.
It is no part of the duty of this Parliament to say to Newfoundland or to any other Dominion, "You have to express your consent or your request in this or in that particular form." The Government of Newfoundland have chosen to make the request in a certain way. The two Chambers of the Legislature have addressed His Majesty without a single dissentient voice, asking that this change of Government should take place, and we cannot constitutionally quarrel with the method that they have chosen. Quite apart from that, it is fair to say that all the information we have got or that hon. Members have got, both in the way of newspaper reports and information from other quarters, indicates that these proposals have the consent of the overwhelming majority of the Newfoundland people.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
I expected to hear a reply from the Government, but not quite the reply that we have had from the Under-Secretary. I understand him to say that the reason why he cannot accept an Amendment which has commended itself to all of us is that there is a constitutional difficulty. What constiutional right has the existing Government in Newfoundland to give away the democratic rights of the people of Newfoundland? That point has not been replied to yet. What an elected representative has no right to do is to give away the right of other people to substitute someone else for him. It has been suggested that the existing Government of Newfoundland is a good Government, that all the others were bad Governments but that the present one is a good one; and that this good one has decided to ask this Parliament to take over Newfoundland. How do we know that this Newfoundland Government is a good one?
§ Mr. BEVAN
All the other Governments in Newfoundland have exhausted the possibilities for graft inside the island, and the bondholders have now got 602 hold of the present Government and are saying "Unless you come to our rescue the whole edifice will collapse." That is all that has happened. All the other Governments were in the hands of the internal grafters and this one is in the hands of the external grafters. That is the only difference. The Under-Secretary suggested that the present Government, at the request of the bondholders, said, "For heaven's sake come to our rescue quickly, for if you do not the value of the bond will collapse and you will not be able to collect your money." The Under-Secretary says that that is a constitutional request. I suggest that if he really believes that the Government of Newfoundland is a good one and that it represents the people of Newfoundland, he should carry out the suggestion of the Amendment and consult the people of Newfoundland. Why should this House be asked, after our experience of the Governments of Newfoundland, to accept any request of this kind when the people of Newfoundland have not been properly considered? We shall have something more to say about this matter on the question that the Clause stand part of the Bill, and then we shall be able to expand our arguments. The Under-Secretary will find it difficult, however, to persuade me that he has not more mental agility than to find an argument so obviously addled as the one he has just put forward.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I could not follow the argument of the Under-Secretary about the constitutional rights. I can imagine a relative of the Prime Minister being always clear in his arguments, but I cannot understand the Under-Secretary saying that because we are unable constitutionally to do this we are to suspend the constitution. He says that we cannot constitutionally take a plebiscite, but we can constitutionally suspend the Government. His argument comes to this. "You cannot take a plebiscite because the constitution says No. but you can suspend the constitution because the constitution says yes." That argument is not good enough. I would not expect it from the Dominions Secretary because he is a seasoned negotiator and Parliamentarian. There may be something in the case that as been put by the Government, but I cannot follow it. This is a serious step 603 that is being taken. It is a step that no one would take of his own free will, but we are told that circumstances are compelling it. We say that the people of Newfoundland ought to have some say on the matter. The Newfoundland Government wish this Bill to be passed in order to overcome certain difficulties.
I remember that the Secretary of State, at a certain stage in the Irish business, told us that if a vote of the Irish people could have been taken at that stage he had no doubt that the Irish people would not have supported the policy which now receives the support of the Irish Government. I gathered from him then that he would have liked to have seen a plebiscite of the Irish people taken, apart from the usual voting procedure. Surely then he cannot think that there is anything wrong in our making the simple request of this Amendment. Government is being taken from the Newfoundland people. There may be a strong feeling among the people behind this proposal, but I am not so sure about it. Let me give one illustration of the working of a plebiscite. I remember that in my own native city of Glasgow we were all brought up with the idea that the Scottish people woud never break the Sabbath. There was a campaign for the opening of the City Art Galleries on the Sabbath day. We were told that the people of Glasgow would not stand for it. We had a plebiscite, and, to my surprise, by an overwhelming majority the people voted for the Art Galleries being opened on the Sunday, though nearly everyone thought that the proposal would be defeated. The Under-Secretary says that the people of Newfoundland are behind this proposal. We do not know. At the last election in this country none of us thought that the results would come out as they did. I confess that they staggered me. One is never sure of democracy. It exercises its mind in its own way and the result is very difficult to prophesy. We say in this case, "Make sure."
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) put a point with great force. Parliament has a right to decide many things, but a Government has no right entirely to abrogate the will of the people. For many reasons the Secretary of State has a greater responsibility in 604 this matter than any man in this House, apart from being a Member of the Government, because his whole upbringing has been in democratic movements. One of the first things that my union put me into was the co-operative movement in which the right hon. Gentleman had taken a very prominent part in building up a printing society. The three Labour representatives in the Government are supposed to be a leaven of democracy in the Government. The people who voted for them quite seriously thought that when they were elected there was a firm guarantee that democracy would at least not be betrayed in the Government. Their position in the Government carries with it very serious responsibility.
If the Dominions Secretary is as sure as the Under-Secretary says, that the people of Newfoundland are with him, he ought not to be afraid of a plebiscite. Let a plebiscite be taken. I am convinced that when the reports of the Debates in this House are read in the homes of the Newfoundland people a majority is not likely to be found for these proposals. We ask that the democratic will of the people of Newfoundland should be ascertained.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. MCGOVERN
I desire to associate myself with the Amendment. The proposal is extremely modest, and one which might have been expected to appeal to the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary. But I have always been alive to the fact that those who shout most about democracy are often the very people who are prepared, on occasion, to take away the rights of democracy. Democracy is a fine word, as long as the people have no power to make use of democratic institutions but, once they have that power, attempts are made to filch their democratic rights from them. The Under-Secretary said that certain institutions in Newfoundland had decided to apply for this commission because, we may take it, they found themselves in such a financial condition that they could not meet the obligations of the State for which they were responsible. It might be said that the only way of allowing democracy to operate properly in that case was to take away the major cause of the trouble in the island, and 605 that what is termed the "grafting element" might be dealt with, just as the man who steals coal or steals food is dealt with. But, because there are grafters, we propose to take away the rights of the people of Newfoundland and leave them no opportunity for democratic expression.
We on this side plead that before such a step is taken, the proper thing to do in a civilised community is to give the people the opportunity of expressing their mind by a plebiscite. Surely the Secretary of State cannot have any arguments against that course. If he has, then all we can say is that in this case he is approving of a dictatorship which he seeks to condemn in the "News Letter" and other periodicals. The people of Newfoundland have a right to a say in this matter. They are expected to bear the burden of the bondholders and moneylenders who invested money in that State. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the right of the people to select their governments was won, not by the present Government of Newfoundland or the present Government of this country, but by the heroic efforts of mankind in bygone days, and the duty of individuals in responsible positions to-day is not to give away that which they did nothing to win, but to endeavour to enlarge and extend the rights of democracy. If the Newfoundland Government have the right to demand that a commission should rule that country, have the people of Newfoundland no right to say whether or not such a course must be followed?
What would be the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman if the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) and other hon. Members at present on this side of the House were on the Front Bench opposite, and if they were to say that a commission or a dictatorship would be appointed to rule in this country because democratic government had fallen on evil days and they were not going to trust to the ordinary Parliamentary rules any longer? Those who are occupying the Front Bench opposite, and especially those who term themselves Labour representatives, are supposed to be there to prevent dictators and autocrats from exercising dictatorial power. They profess to be safeguarding the rights of democracy, but in this 606 case they propose to hand away the rights of the people of Newfoundland. It is Newfoundland now, but later it may be New Zealand, or New South Wales or Queensland, or some other part of the British Empire. It may be that this is a "try-out" to see how dictatorship or Fascism would apply if run from the centre—
§ Mr. MCGOVERN
It may be that I am, and I desire to get back to the question of the plebiscite. After all, there is a wide scope in connection with this Bill. What I wish to point out is that the power of selecting governments was won by the people and, while it is proposed here to take away that power, let it be remembered that the last word remains with the people of Newfoundland as to whether this new system is going to operate or not. In this country people fought for the right to vote. On one occasion at the Derby a woman threw herself before the King's horse and was trampled to death—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is still making a Second Reading speech. He must confine himself to the question of whether or not the people of Newfoundland should be consulted by a plebiscite as to the carrying out of the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I was using an illustration. I was pointing out the necessity for taking a plebiscite of the people on the question of whether those democratic rights, which were won for us in the past, should be taken away from them or not. People have been prepared to endure death because they believed it essential that they should have the right to select the Government under which they had to live. Are we to take it that in Newfoundland there is no hope of getting a Government composed of non-grafting elements? I do not believe it. If that applies to Newfoundland, it applies to every other part of the British Empire. The people of that country ought to be allowed to express their views on whether or not a certain part of their lives and their energies is to be devoted to paying debts on the stock of bondholders.
607 The people of Newfoundland have a right to say in what way they are going to live. They can only do so under a system of government of the people, by the people, for the people, and that is their right. While so-called democrats are here proposing to hand away that power, we on these benches claim our right to maintain that democracy has not completely failed for the reason that it has not been completely tried. If in this case there is no plebiscite, and if
§ this power is taken away from the people of Newfoundland, I still have hope that the people who could chase a Government and lock them up for a night or two, who could parade and riot in the streets, will also chase these men whom you are sending out there and make their lives unbearable should they attempt to rule the country in that way.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 38; Noes, 247.609
|Division No. 26.]||AYES.||[6.40 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Granted, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Groves, Thomas E.||Thorne, William James|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cape, Thomas||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hicks, Ernest George||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cove, William G.||Jenkins, Sir William||Williams. Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||John, William||Williams, Or. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Mr. Buchanan and Mr. McGovern.|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Christie, James Archibald||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Clarke, Frank||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Graves, Marjorie|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Grimston, R. V.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Cook, Thomas A.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cooke, Douglas||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Crooke, J. Smedley||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Croons-Johnson, R, P.||Harbord, Arthur|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Crossley, A. C.||Hartland, George A.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Headlam. Lieut.-Cul. Cuthbert M.|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Bernays, Robert||Denville, Alfred||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Dickie, John P.||Hornby, Frank|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Doran, Edward||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Blindell, James||Drewe, Cedrie||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Duncan, James A.L. (Kensington, N.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Briant, Frank||Dunglass, Lord||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Eastwood, John Francis||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Elmley, Viscount||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Buchan, John||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clara||Jamieson, Douglas|
|Burnett, John George||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Janner, Barnett|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Fraser, Captain Ian||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Leckle, J. A.|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Goff, Sir Park||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Levy, Thomas||Palmer, Francis Noel||Storey, Samuel|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Petherick, M.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Potter, John||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Pybus, Percy John||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Thompson, Luke|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Rea, Walter Russell||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Rickards, George William||Tree, Ronald|
|McKeag, William||Robinson, John Roland||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradestan)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Macpherson. Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Ross, Ronald D.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Magnay, Thomas||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Runge, Norah Cecil||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||White, Henry Graham|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Scone, Lord||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Band)|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & KInc'dine, C.)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Morrison, William Shepherd||Smithers, Waldron|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Munro, Patrick||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Sir George Penny and Captain|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Austin Hudson|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, after "Governor," to insert:subject to the approval of the Dominions.The Amendment as it stands on the Paper is to insert the words, "subject to the approval of the Dominions under the Statute of Westminster," but closer examination of the Statute of Westminster discloses the fact that there is no machinery in it that provides for this being done, although I think it is only fair to say that the conception of consultation with the Dominions on all matters affecting the Dominions is implicit in the whole Statute of Westminster, which is the setting up of a new conception of equality between the various parts of the British Empire. Therefore, although I am compelled not to include the words "under the Statute of Westminster," I urge the Dominions Secretary very strongly to accept my Amendment. I do not think the withdrawal of those words weakens the Amendment in any way. The consultation with the various Dominions may be just as serious and genuine if carried out by the Dominions Secretary himself, under the definite instruction of this House. Even supposing that the Statute 610 of Westminster does not confer specifically on him the duty to perform it, I presume that the Dominions Secretary would still accept an instruction from this House that this important matter should be submitted to all other places in the British Empire of similar status to Newfoundland, and presumably with as keen an interest in Newfoundland as has the Government of Great Britain itself.
The Dominion of Canada has a very obvious and close interest in the question of how Newfoundland is going to be ruled, and also a considerable interest in the financial standing of Newfoundland. The report of the commission indicates that at earlier stages the Canadian authorities have been consulted with reference to what was to happen in Newfoundland. Indeed, I gather that they were asked to share financial responsibility or to propose some steps by which Canada should be more intimately associated with the government of Newfoundland. That was at an earlier stage. His Majesty's Government obviously recognised in those consultations the close interest of the Dominion of Canada with Newfoundland, and I think it is not asking the Dominions Secretary to go far 611 beyond where he has already gone, having consulted Canada in the preliminary stages, to ask him to consult it now as to what its views are on the completed proposals as embodied in this Bill. If he admits, as he has admitted, the close interest of Canada in the future of Newfoundland, it is only a very limited step for him to recognise that Australia, South Africa, and Ireland have also their interests and their rights in the consideration of what is going to happen in this first Dominion to lose Dominion status after it has achieved it.
I do not know, and nobody here knows, how many other Dominions may be in difficulties, and nobody knows, if they were in difficulties, what steps the home Government would propose to take to aid them in their difficulties or to arrange for their future. In an earlier part of the discussion I suggested that it was a concern not merely of Great Britain, but of the whole Empire, and I would urge the right hon. Gentleman that it is most desirable that all the Dominions should have an opportunity of expressing their opinion on this Bill and approving or disapproving of it. I do not know the extent to which Imperial Conferences bind the Government in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman is probably fully informed on that aspect of the matter, but I remember that Imperial Conferences did make decisions along the lines of imposing compulsory consultations in certain circumstances on the various parts of the Empire.
Although I do not doubt the ability of the right hon. Gentleman to deal with this point himself, I would add a word to what was said on a previous Amendment by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), to the effect that the absence of the Law Officers on this occasion is to be noted. It is becoming a most unusual thing on important Measures for Law Officers ever to be present in the House, and while I do not want to digress from the main purpose of my Amendment, these gentlemen are taking somewhat higher emoluments than the average on the assumption that they have special knowledge that is available for the service of the House. I think that, on a matter such as we have here, where very great legal issues may easily be in- 612 volved, it is desirable that one or other of the two Law Officers, or failing the two English Law Officers, one or other of the Scots Law Officers, should be present. It seems to be an extraordinary state of affairs that we should have four Law Officers in the service of the nation, and here, on a matter of high Imperial policy, we cannot get the service of even the most junior of them. I hope and trust that the omission will be rectified before very long.
§ Mr. MAXTON
No. I do not want to do that. I do not want to interrupt the discussion of the Bill in that way, but I hope the Dominions Secretary will take steps to get one or other of the Law Officers here. I can remember on one occasion, when the Labour Government was in office, that a tremendous trouble was raised at about midnight as to the absence and whereabouts of the then Lord Advocate for Scotland. Indeed, there were very grave reflections cast upon the Lord Advocate, which must have been quite baseless, having regard to the fact that the present Government have elevated him since to a very high judicial position. I hope I shall never stoop to the depth of Parliamentary Opposition that Members who now occupy the Front Bench engaged in on that occasion, but I hope this very mild and, I hope, fairly couched protest of mine will meet with some response before the Debate goes very much further. Otherwise I shall be inclined to take the course suggested by hon. Members above the Gangway and move the Adjournment of the House until we have the benefit of that superior and highly-paid advice which is necessary for the full and adequate discussion of important Measures.
I made that digression because I was not fully aware of the extent to which Imperial Conferences impose a responsibility upon the Home Government to consult with the Dominions in matters affecting one or other of the Dominions. Apart from definite statutory obligations, there is a great obligation of courtesy involved. If the Secretary of State recognises the courtesy of consulting the other Dominions in a matter of this description, he can have no objection to making such consultations explicit within the four corners of the Bill.
§ 7.1 p.m.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I have listened for a considerable number of years in this House to Committee stages of Bills, stages which have enabled Amendments to be put down with the purpose of eliciting information and of improving Bill, but invariably with the purpose of making some real contribution which, even if it were not illuminating on the particular subject of the Amendment, was at least interesting to the House on the Bill as a whole. My hon. Friend, I am sure, will allow me to congratulate him and to say that I cannot remember an Amendment ever being moved in a speech which gave such a wide and interesting review of the position but in which—doubtless owing to my ignorance—I could find less connection with the Amendment.
I was not reflecting on the Chair, but paying a remarkable tribute to my hon. Friend's ingenuity in expounding a matter which does not appear to be quite the same on paper. I am looking rather at the Amendment which is on the Paper. I am in some doubt why the presence of the Law Officers is necessary on this Amendment, but I gathered that my hon. Friend, who is always considerate, did not call upon me to explain where they are or where they are likely to be. He made an incidental reference to past events. I am quite sure that if any legal point is involved this evening, we shall be assisted on these benches by the Law Officers. I put it no higher than that.
My hon. Friend has moved an Amendment, but not the Amendment on the Paper. Let the House observe that the Amendment on the Paper is to insert the words:subject to the approval of the Dominions under the Statute of Westminster.The hon. Member deleted the words "under the Statute of Westminster." He did not tell us why, but I ought to tell the Committee the reason. He was not perfectly sure when he put that Amendment down that it would be covered by the Statute of Westminster, but now, being perfectly aware that Newfoundland herself is ruled out of the Statute of Westminster at her own request, he very cleverly moves the Amendment with the words "Statute of Westminster" left out.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The explanation is much simpler than that. The reason why I cut out the words "under the Statute of Westminster" was that the Deputy-Chairman would not rule the Amendment in order as long as they were there.
Which shows, incidentally, how near the truth I was, and saves me the trouble of dealing with that part of the Amendment. My hon. Friend says he hopes that I will accept the Amendment. No one would be more shocked and surprised than my hon. Friend if I were to do so. I cannot conceive my hon. Friend sitting in that seat if I got up from this Bench and said, "I am going to accept an Amendment which says to all the Dominions, 'You yourselves must now be consulted and called upon to express an opinion upon the affairs of another Dominion which, in its own way, by its own Constitution and of its own free will, has asked for a certain action to be taken.'" The first answer the Dominions would give would be the same answer that my hon. Friend would give. They would say "Nothing doing; we not only do not want to be consulted—it is not our business—but if we for one moment assumed that we had a right to be involved, it would take away that very freedom and independence which we claim for ourselves."
My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that this would not only be an absurd situation, but also one that would not be accepted by the Dominions for a moment. He would agree at once that his only object in moving this Amendment is not that he is really concerned with the opinions of the Dominions, but that it would delay what he believes to be bad legislation. He will admit that he looks upon this as a bad Bill. He looks upon it as a reactionary Bill, as a Bill which would not do good to Newfoundland. We, on the other hand, regard it as a good Bill, and we do not admit that we are saying to the people of Newfoundland, "You fishermen, you miners, you general workers, you are now being called upon to do something wrong." That is not the truth. The truth is that this Bill is submitted to this House at the request of the Newfoundland Government under a Clause in the constitution of that country. We sincerely believe that it is in their best interests; we intend to make it a success in their interests, and consulta- 615 tion with the rest of the Dominions is not involved. For all those reasons I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
As I have some apprehension with regard to this matter, I should have liked the right hon. Gentleman to explain to the House how this country comes to have a more intimate relation with Newfoundland than Australia, Canada or South Africa.
The hon. Member does not, I think quite follow the reference to the Statute of Westminster in the Amendment on the Paper. He will observe that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) deleted the words "under the Statute of Westminster." The Statute of Westminster itself proivided, at Newfoundland's request, that it should not apply to her if she so desired. She made that request, and that is why the Statute of Westminster is not applicable to this Act.
§ Mr. BEVAN
That, of course, still leaves me in a very ambiguous position. I understand, because I have the Statute here, that Sections 2 to 6 inclusive are to apply to any Dominion which wishes to contract out or refuses to come in. I wish to know whether any relationship which exists between Newfoundland and this nation as a consequence of not coming under the Statute of Westminster involves us in the obligation of coming to the rescue of Newfoundland in these special circumstances any more than it involves Australia, South Africa or Canada. I can quite understand that there is a different constitutional relationship. I want to know whether the constitutional relationship which exists between us and Newfoundland is of a character which makes us more responsible to Newfoundland in this regard than the other Dominions. That is not yet clear. We understand that all the Dominions are peers with us; we are all equal within the British Commonwealth of Nations. Such obligations as we have one to the other are obligations voluntarily asumed. We have no right to impose upon any one of them any burden that it does not voluntarily accept. I should like to know whether, if one of the Dominions got into difficulties, it would have a claim upon us?
§ Mr. BEVAN
I understand that the Amendment which my hon. Friend has moved says the Dominions shall be consulted. We have not heard from the right hon. Gentleman whether such a consultation has taken place and, if so, in what form it has taken place and what are the results. I want to know, and I think my question is in order as arising upon the Amendment why we should come to the rescue of Newfoundland—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That point does not arise. The hon. Member is not entitled to ask whether we should or should not be asked to come to the help of Newfoundland without consulting the Dominions, or whether we should consult the Dominions before we do so. He cannot raise the point of our relationship with the other Dominions on this Amendment, or whether we are obliged to come to the help of any of them in any circumstances.
§ Mr. BEVAN
But I am entitled to ask whether the condition of any Dominion is a collective matter for the Dominions; otherwise it would have to be shown that we have a special obligation to Newfoundland. The right hon. Gentleman has not made that clear. What he wishes to establish is that there shall be consultation between all the Dominions to discuss the Newfoundland position. I should like, therefore, to put the specific question to my right hon. Friend: In what respect are we bound to Newfoundland at this moment, so as to entitle us or oblige us to pass this Bill, which does not involve a similar obligation upon all the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I cannot allow the right hon. Gentleman to answer that question on this Amendment. This Amendment raises the point of whether or not the Dominions should be consulted. The House cannot go into the whole question of the relations between this country and the Dominions on this Amendment.
§ Mr. BEVAN
But I understood that I am entitled to argue that we are in no more special a relationship to Newfoundland than is any other Dominion, and that consequently Newfoundland's plight is a collective concern of all the members 617 of the British Commonwealth of Nations. That is the issue which has been raised, and also what form a consultation has taken. I understand that we are entitled to ask that, and I submit that we are entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman the question, to which he has not replied, whether such a consultation has taken place and what the results of it are?
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I should like to ask the Secretary of State one question. He made it clear that we could not expect to have the opinion of the Dominions. That is clear, and I do not want any legal information on that subject. Canada is a very close neighbour of Newfoundland and there was a Canadian on the commission. Obviously, there has been no official approval by Canada in this matter, but I would like to have the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman whether Canada approves of the action we are taking. From information I can get I gather that it is all right so far as Canada is concerned, but I think before anything is done we should have assurance that there has been no objection from the people of Canada which is a far closer neighbour to Newfoundland than we are. That is an assurance which can be given without committing anyone. If there is the good will of Canada behind this scheme, it means a good deal in future, and, if we can have that assurance, it will make the position under the Bill much easier for many people to accept.
§ 7.17 p.m.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
That is not a question that ought to have been put. I ask the House to realise the implications of it. I pointed them out in my speech in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), and I said clearly that, so far as the Government of this country were concerned, it was not our duty to consult the Dominions on a matter that was purely one between Newfoundland and ourselves. Let me repeat the broad facts. We with Canada made a temporary loan to Newfoundland to meet her obligations. The first contribution was a joint one between Canada and ourselves. The next contribution was by ourselves alone, because, as I explained to the House, Canada did not want to join in. That was explained to the House long ago. The appoint- 618 ment of the commission followed, and a Canadian was one of the commissioners. Newfoundland also appointed one representative. They not only, as report shows, visited Newfoundland, but they visited Canada, and they signed a unanimous report. The essence of that report was not whether the fishermen or the miners in Newfoundland would be called upon to pay the bondholders, but whether the British Government would relieve the Newfoundland people of this obligation.
That was the issue. That is what this Bill is about. I am asked whether the British Government, in accepting a responsibility which we believe to be in the interests of Newfoundland, should not first consult the Dominions. My answer is that we have not consulted the Dominions for the obvious reason, as I have already pointed out, that the Dominions would say: "This is not a matter about which we should be consulted."
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I should like to make it clear, so that there should be no misunderstanding about what I said, that I stated that there could be no official consultation. That is clear, and there was no need for the long explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has told us what I wanted to know. It is that the Canadians helped in the first loan and in the commission, and also that the commission went to Canada and made inquiries. We can, therefore, rest assured that as far as Canada is concerned, she can naturally give no approval one way or the other, but that there is no feeling in Canada that we are doing the wrong thing. If there had been any such feeling, it would have come to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, but he has cleared up the position, and I am grateful to him for having done it. I am sorry if I caused him to make a long speech.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I do not want to enter into domestic differences between the hon. Gentleman and his leaders. Far be it from me to stir up strife between a follower and his leader. The point raised by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) is a real point, and one begins to wonder if the Dominions Secretary is not becoming a little con- 619 fused. He said that the Newfoundland Government asked us to take over these financial responsibilities. What the Government have undertaken is to make up any deficiency that the Newfoundland people cannot make up themselves. His statement about the fishermen is sheer nonsense, because they have got to find the money. It can be taken that a Government which cannot find more money for the means test will see to it that the fishermen will have to provide all they can. The real point is whether the other Dominions have any rights in this matter. Have they no interests which entitle them to be considered? The right hon. Gentleman knows what happened in the old trade union movement. I remember him at 'a Trades Union Congress laying down the proposition that a trade union might not be involved in a dispute, but because of the serious nature of the principle involved in the dispute other unions had a right to some consultation about it.
Have the Canadian Government or the New Zealand Government any rights to consideration in this matter? If you can take away the Government from the oldest Dominion, obviously that is a matter that interests every other Dominion. It is a matter of vital importance to them. If Newfoundland gives away its status, the other Dominions have a right to be considered, because they cannot 'allow even Newfoundland to give away her status in an easy fashion. I can imagine a town in this country prepared to give away its local government, and every other town in the country would be entitled to say: "We are not going to allow you to give away your local government, because, once you do it, our local government is in danger." The reason for this Amendment, which has not been met, is that once you allow this to happen in Newfoundland it can happen to any other Dominion. If I were in the position of New Zealand, I would take up the position that you were endangering the rights of the New Zealand Government.
This Amendment is of fundamental importance to the Empire, because you cannot allow one part of the Empire to be run with a commission without a serious position arising for every other part of 620 the Empire. It is common sense and good business to consult the other Dominions on this matter. A burden is likely to fall on the British taxpayer, but, if the Dominions had been consulted, their desire to keep the rights of self-government for each Dominion might have been so great that they would have come forward and offered to meet the financial liability jointly as an Empire instead of leaving it for Britain to do it alone. The Dominion Governments might have said that it would be a danger to allow the Constitution of Newfoundland to be held up, and they might have been prepared to meet the financial liability rather than that should happen.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman realises how important are some of the things which he has said. The last Imperial Conference and the Statute of Westminster laid down a certain conception of the British Commonwealth of Nations, a conception of free nations in partnership; and anything that happens to that partnership, to diminish its size, or to alter the status of any one of the partners, must be a matter of vital concern to all the partners. It may be that before very long another partner will be raising difficulties as regards status within the Empire. The result of this Bill is that Newfoundland ceases to be a partner—of her own free will, as the right hon. Gentleman would say. That is doubtful, because it is merely an expression of the Government and not of the people. Assume for a moment, however, that it is of her own free will that she ceases to be a partner. That must be a matter of concern if the conception of the Commonwealth of the Nations is to continue.
The right hon. Gentleman says it has nothing to do with anyone except us and Newfoundland. Suppose Newfoundland had sold herself to America, which she might have done, for a financial loan from America. Suppose she had said to America: "You send in a commission to govern us; "—she could have done that if she had wished—"if you put up the money to pay the bondholders you can appoint the commission." Would the right hon. Gentleman have said then that it was a matter between America and Newfoundland and no concern of ours, that Newfoundland had a perfect liberty 621 to do that and the other members of the Commonwealth were not concerned? It raises a most extraordinary precedent to say that an arrangement such as this is a matter of no concern to other members of the partnership. It is raising an extremely dangerous precedent for this country, because we might have Canada and South Africa, or South Africa and Ireland, making an arrangement together which we in this country might think was not of advantage to us. They might arrange to go out of the Commonwealth together, and in such a case I can imagine the right hon. Gentleman saying: "This is a most profound matter of importance to this country, one in which we insist upon our rights of consultation."
He may say that in this case it does not very much matter about consulting with the other Dominions, but what he did say was, "This is a matter of no concern to the other Dominions, and they arc not entitled to be consulted on it "—a very different thing from saying it was not worth while. He is laying down a new principle in the Commonwealth of Nations by his speech here to-night. He is saying for the first time that the question whether one partner in that Commonwealth ceases to be a partner, whether she goes out or stays in, is not a matter of concern to the other partners, and I venture to suggest that he is laying down a doctrine which is as likely to break up the Empire as any doctrine he could lay down. I hope before the Debate is finished that he will at least make the point clear, so that it will not go out from him as a statement of His Majesty's Government that the departure of one of the Dominions from the Commonwealth of Nations is not the concern of the others. Because that is what is happening—it does not matter whether it goes out because it becomes a colony again, or an independent nation, or a dependency of America or of France, it is the act of passing out of the Commonwealth of Nations which is the vitally important act and which we think is a matter of vital concern to every one of the Dominions in this Commonwealth of Nations. We shall therefore certainly support this Amendment.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I do not agree with the arguments put forward in favour of this Amendment, nor shall I 622 support it, but I think attention should be called from some other benches than those of the Opposition to the actual phrase which the right hon. Gentleman used. I hope that he or the Under-Secretary will see his way to explain it a little more fully. I do not for a moment think that this Committee ought to lay it down that this arrangement, which we on this side of the House believe has been entered into with the free will of the people of Newfoundland, needs the approval of the Dominions, but I must say that I should be very unwilling to see it go out from any responsible Minister in this House that the departure of one of the self-governing States from the Commonwealth of British Nations or the British Empire, whichever people may prefer to call it, is no concern of the others. I would really beg the right hon. Gentleman—though I do not wish to be pompous—to be extremely careful in his use of language. Surely the proper way to put it is that it is not necessary to ask for the approval of the Dominions when an arrangement has been entered into, freely and willingly on both sides, between two States of the Empire; but to say it is no concern of the Dominions when one nation ceases to be a Dominion is not going to strengthen but to weaken the right hon. Gentleman's hands in another controversy which he is carrying on. It is the concern of the other Dominions when any one of the Dominions ceases to have Dominion status or goes outside the Empire, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not stick to that phrase—I am sorry to use a slang—that it was no concern of the others.
§ 7.36 p.m.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I respond at once to the appeal made by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) about the phrase which, incidentally, my hon. Friend the Noble Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) was not in the House to hear.
Well, we had better face the situation and be frank. I only regret that the Noble Lord was not in the House, because he would then have understood exactly what has taken place. If he had been in the House, I think he would have reflected very much before 623 he gave the lecture he has just delivered. I am as jealous as he is of Imperial interests.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I never suggested that you were not. I only asked you to withdraw an unfortunate phrase.
I only wish the Noble Lord had known the full circumstances, and for his benefit, and that of other Members in the Committee, before we talk of withdrawing I had better recapitulate the situation. An Amendment was moved the effect of which was to say that we should consult the Dominions. I gave reasons why that was not necessary. I did not suggest for one moment, and do not suggest—if any words of mine conveyed that impression—that the Dominions were indifferent to a question of this kind. That is the last thing I intended to imply. They could not be indifferent, for the very good and sufficient reason that Canada was first asked by us to join in the guarantee to Newfoundland, and we consulted the Canadian Government about the appointment of the Commission; all of which shows, and proves conclusively, that I did not intend to convey any feeling of indifference. Let me correct that at once. Still, we feel that to accept that at once. Still, we feel that to accept an Amendment which would make it a condition that other self-governing Dominions should themselves undertake a part of this responsibility, under the Statute of Westminster, or even through an Imperial Conference, would be to ask them to undertake a responsibility which, I said earlier, I believe they would resent. I repeat that I am not going to have it suggested for one moment that I would assume that any Dominion was indifferent to the welfare of Newfoundland, and would not wish her God speed and a return of her old Constitution.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend. I gather that the effect of his somewhat elaborate explanation is that he agrees that the phrase, "No concern of theirs," was an unfortunate one.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Recapitulation is the order of the day, but I do not want to prolong this Debate unduly, because I have other Amendments which are of 624 much more concern to me than this one. I was raising in this Amendment an issue which I thought was of high Imperial concern. I do not care one brass farthing whether the Empire goes to smithereens or not—the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct in that—but the Amendment gives me the opportunity of pointing out that in this House of Commons, with a Dominions Secretary whose reputation is that of being a revolutionary Socialist and who, if I remember aright, was the prime leader of the General Strike, the Conservatives, who are concerned about the maintenance of the Empire, who tell the people of this country that the maintenance of the Empire is the overriding consideration, have left the Dominions Secretary entirely on his own. The discussion as to what repercussions this happening in one corner of the Empire may have on the rest of the communities within the Empire is left to the Opposition and the revolutionary Dominions Secretary; the other elements in the House think it is a matter of complete indifference. While the right hon. Gentleman may now, in response to the appeal of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), and the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) minimise the force of what he said earlier, the impression he left on my mind was precisely the same as was left on the minds of others, that no Dominion other than Great Britain has any concern with any Imperial matter unless it is itself involved in that matter, that no Dominion has a right to a general interest in the Empire except Great Britain. That was the statement of the position as I heard it from the Dominions Secretary.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Is it suggested that the Governments of the other Dominions have no care for the bondholders?
§ Mr. MAXTON
My hon. Friend raises another point. I do not know where the Newfoundland bonds are held, and I do not know how they are held. The question which comes before us is one of important political concern. The right hon. Gentleman jested because I had made a technical mistake in putting into my Amendment the; Statute of Westminster, but I understood, and the reading of the Statute bears it out, that although there is no machinery within its 625 four walls for doing what I asked should be done, yet the basic principle of the Statute of Westminster is to establish a joint responsibility for the whole and an equality of partnership among the constituent elements. Now the right hon. Gentleman says that not even as a matter of courtesy will the big change proposed in this Bill be submitted to the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Africa or Ireland. This is the declaration of policy now—that when any two Dominions, Great Britain not necessarily being one of them, make a bargain to follow a certain course of conduct, none of the others, including Great Britain, has got anything to do with it. That is the doctrine as enunciated to-day, and, as I say, it is a doctrine which I am quite pleased to have, and I shall watch with very great interest the future running of the British Empire on that basis.
§ 7.45 p.m.
Mr. A. RAMSAY
I only intervene because the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) thought it necessary to suggest that the Dominions Secretary had no support from the Government side of the Committee and that the only interest in this Amendment came from the Opposition. I suggest two reasons why more Government supporters have not spoken; the first is the regard we have for Parliamentary time in view of the number of Amendments which remain, and the second is because the issues seem so plain and open to us. The subtleties to which we have been listening in the last hour can only have been discovered by those who were looking for them.
What view will the plain man take of this question? It has been magnified into an issue involving the disintegration of the British Empire. What nonsense. Surely the position is just this: One of our Dominions, through bad government, has got itself into a position of difficulty from which it cannot extricate itself. Can the Opposition, and the hon. and learned Gentleman upon their Front Bench who is so concerned in this Debate for democratic government—but not outside the House—adduce any evidence that the Dominions have been rushing forward to assume financial liability for Newfoundland? Of course not. The Government have had to come to the House on two occasions, and finally they have had 626 to produce a Bill which I am certain they did not want to produce.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The hon. Gentleman has asked me a question. The reason why I did not deal with the matter to which he refers was because it would not have been in order to cover such a wide ground.
I am perfectly ready to agree that the hon. and learned Gentleman would have dealt with it if it had been in order. A Dominion has got into difficulties, and we have said: "For a temporary and limited period we shall assume your financial responsibility. We wish you well. When you are able to effect good government through an improvement in the moral sense of the community, and when you are able to assume your own burdens, we will hand it back willingly and completely, and will congratulate you upon the departure that you have made." The particular charge is that, having assumed this responsibility, we should have gone round to the various Dominions and have asked them to permit us to do so. I suggest that the House is not taking this question seriously and that the objection savours very much of, shall I say, Parliamentary obstruction. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If it be obstruction, while there are hon. Members in the House who will enjoy the by-play, there will be many people outside who will be inclined to agree with the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) that some modification in our Parliamentary system is necessary.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. E. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. A. Ramsay) has been accusing us of obstruction and of delaying the proceedings. We are treating this matter really seriously. I remember one of the best legal arguments that I have heard in this House being made during the Debate upon the Statute of Westminster by an hon. Member on the Front Bench below the Gangway, and I remember that hon. Member obtaining support from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). If I remember correctly, the argument postulated exactly what has happened now, namely, that when something happened, such as has taken place in the case of Newfoundland, we should 627 be obliged to carry the baby. That is what we were told, and the suggestion was strongly opposed. I should have thought that the Dominions would have been greatly interested in this matter. Some people are saying that the money which has been given and which is to be given for the next three years, and the £17,500,000 plus £1,000,000 interest, are all for the purpose of assisting the bondholders. Quite a number of hon. Members may question that. Others may think that the reason why we are so much concerned about Newfoundland is that it is one of the strategic points, perhaps for a new Transatlantic cable.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I thought that I was meeting some of the arguments that have been put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, but I am quite prepared to be put in order on this matter. We read in the report that Canada was asked if she was prepared to bear some of this burden. It seems very singular that she should not have been ready to do so. We are faced with a situation comparable to that which has been described by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). Ireland may take advantage of it. She has perhaps already done so to a partial extent, but she may go still further. Statements made by the Secretary of State for the Dominions some time ago suggested by inference that Mr. de Valera might find that advantage could be taken of it. South Wales might, as a consequence, find itself in a worse plight than it is at present, by the loss of its coal trade. I am hoping that hon. Members, and particularly Government supporters, who are always talking about Imperialism, will realise the gravity of the present situation, and that they will rise in their places and help us to save the Empire about which they talk so much, but which, apparently, they are not making much contribution to save.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
I should not have intervened at this stage of the proceedings, although I should have done so certainly later on, as I have an Amendment of my own, if it had not been for the extraordinary speech made by the hon. Mem- 628 ber for West Bromwich (Mr. A. Ramsay). We are faced with a very important Bill affecting the constitution of the British Empire in many ways. This matter has a very unsavoury past which we all very deeply regret. All of that is deeply disliked by many Conservative supporters of the Government, as anybody knows who talks to them, and I have no doubt that the Government themselves regret very greatly having to introduce the Measure. To suggest, in a situation of this kind, that the Bill should not be discussed from every possible point of view, is an attitude which the House will not tolerate, and the more suggestions of that kind, the longer this Debate will go on.
Mr. A. RAMSAY
I do not think that the hon. Member is in a position to judge my speech or others, and to place them in their context, in view of the fact that he has just come into the House for the first time during the discussion of this Amendment.
§ Mr. MANDER
I am perfectly in order in expressing my views with such knowledge as I have. It is true that I have not been here all through this Debate, but I was here during the Second Reading. I took part in that, and I have taken a very great interest in this question. If the hon. Gentleman's example is followed by many supporters of the Government, we are in for a very long all-night sitting. The lion. Gentleman quoted what seemed to me a very disputable statement that all that is to happen is that we are to put Newfoundland on her feet and in a good financial position, and then to hand things back to the same Government, the same gang of crooks—there is no other description for them—who have recently been in control. I hope that that is an entirely wrong reading of the situation. The hon. Gentleman may not agree with me, but I do not see the present representative system being handed back to Newfoundland for a very long time. Their Government have shown themselves unfit to administer the system under present conditions, and I cannot think that the present situation can be gone back upon. I believe that the future situation of Newfoundland and of its Government—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member now seems to be anticipating the speech which he hopes to deliver at a later stage.
§ Mr. MANDER
If I had had an opportunity of saying two or three more words I think that you would have seen that my remarks were in order, because I was going to say that I believe that the future destiny of the Colony of Newfoundland will be a matter that very closely concerns the various Dominions of the British Empire. The Secretary of State referred to the fact that certain conversations have taken place with Canada. I certainly think that we ought to consider very seriously whether Canada ought not to take over the whole responsibility for Newfoundland. I may not go into that matter any further, as I am sure that it will be debated at a later stage of the proceedings.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is in difficulties. He is faced with criticisms from all sides; in front of him and behind him. He has had a very nasty dust-up with some hon. Members behind him, and he has not come out of it unscathed. Even his ability has not enabled him to do that. He has been attacked from here, and I have no doubt that he will next be attacked from there. I want to rally to his support. I assure him that I think his attitude is right, and that this Amendment cannot possibly be accepted. I am sure that he will agree with me—
§ Mr. MANDER
—that the right constitutional point of view is that every Dominion in the British Empire, theoretically and before this situation arose, had an absolutely equal interest in Newfoundland. South Africa and New Zealand had just as much right to do a deal and to help Newfoundland as we have, but it so happened that we were the only element in the British Empire which was prepared to come to her rescue. In those circumstances, as we have made a deal, or are proposing to make a deal, whether we think it is a good one or not, it affects us, and no other State in the British Empire. I think that that is the situation. It may be thought—
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
Does the hon. Member take the view that the position of Newfoundland affects us any more than it affects South Africa?
§ Mr. MANDER
I am simply dealing with the constitutional point of view. I say again that it was open to any one of the British Dominions to have made a deal similar to this, with Newfoundland. We were the only country to do it, wisely or unwisely, and therefore it concerns us, and does not concern them at all.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt? Is he suggesting that going out of the Commonwealth is no concern of the other Members of the Commonwealth except Great Britain?.
§ Mr. MANDER
The situation of Newfoundland is entirely different. Newfoundland is not a Dominion. It is not a member of the League of Nations.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The hon. Gentleman must excuse me, but Newfoundland, in Section 1 of the Statute of Westminster, is defined as a Dominion.
§ Mr. MANDER
It is not a Dominion in the same sense. It is not a separate member of the League of Nations. All the other Dominions are.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is the theory this, that unless a Dominion joins the League of Nations it is not a Dominion? In other words, is the trade union card for membership of the British Empire to be membership of the League of Nations?
§ Mr. MANDER
I am saying that the position of Newfoundland in the British Empire—of which she is the oldest Colony—is not quite the same as that of the other Dominions because she is not a member of the League of Nations. That is the point that I am making. None the less I want to rally whole-heartedly to the support of the Government.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I should like to examine the attitude of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) a little further. I understood that in the British Commonwealth the Dominions—someone referred to them as "our Dominions," which is a rather curious phrase going back to the time when they were our Colonies—were a body of States collaborating on equal terms. Is it really contended that the departure of one of those 631 States makes no difference to the group? The hon. Member has been talking about the League of Nations. Would it be a matter of no concern to other nations in the League if some rich State paid the debts of one of the many indebted States, and if in return that State disappeared from the League? The whole point of the British Empire is that it is a group of States. How far is this to go? For instance, what should we think if New Zealand were taken over by Australia and disappeared? From the point of view of the other Dominions, it makes a good deal of difference in the balance between the different Dominions, and I really think that the hon. Member, if he reflects upon it, will see that the point is a very serious one. I am surprised that the Hon.
§ Member is now supporting the Government having previously opposed on the same point. I can only understand his attitude on the assumption that this is his day for supporting the Government. There was something said last night about the bugle giving an uncertain sound. I think that the discrepancy was due to the fact that yesterday was an odd and to-day an even day; the hon. Member supports the Government on the even days. If that is the explanation, the right hon. Gentleman will have rather to moderate his transports over this unexpected accession of support.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 38; Noes, 208.633
|Division No. 27.]||AYES.||[8.4 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maxton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Parkinson. John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Groves, Thomas E.||Saltar, Dr. Alfred|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Thorne, William James|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cape, Thomas||Jenkins, Sir William||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||John, William||Williams. Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Cripps. Sir Stafford||Lawson, John James||Wilmot, John|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Edwards, Charles||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. Buchanan and Mr. McGovern.|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Albery, Irving James||Clarry, Reginald George||Grimston, R. V.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cook, Thomas A.||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Cooke, Douglas||Hamilton, Sir R.W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Crooke, J. Smedley||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Harbord. Arthur|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Crossley, A. C.||Hartland, George A.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford;|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Davies, Ma). Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Holdsworth. Herbert|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Denville, Alfred||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Dickie, John p.||Hornby, Frank|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Drewe, Cedric||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Dunglass, Lord||Hume. Sir George Hopwood|
|Blindell, James||Eastwood, John Francis||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Elmley, Viscount||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Emmott, Charles E. G. C||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Entwlstle, Cyril Fullard||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Jamieson. Douglas|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Janner, Barnett|
|Buchan-Hepburn, p. G. T.||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Jennings. Roland|
|Burghley, Lord||Ford. Sir Patrick J.||Jones, Sir G. w. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Fraser, Captain Ian||Ker, J. Camobell|
|Burnett, John George||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Cadogan. Hon. Edward||Ganzoni, Sir John||Leckle, J. A.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Glucksteln, Louis Halle||Leech. Dr. J. W.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Goff, Sir Park||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Goldie, Noel B.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Loder, Captain J. de Vera|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Christie, James Archibald||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Strauss, Edward A.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Pybus, Percy John||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwlch)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|McKeag, William||Ramsay, Capt. A, H. M. (Midlothian)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Ray, Sir William||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Magnay, Thomas||Rea, Walter Russell||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Remer, John R.||Thompson, Luke|
|Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Rickards, George William||Titchfield, Major the Marcuess of|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Robinson, John Roland||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Ropner, Colonel L.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Mitchell. Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Runge, Norah Cecil||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Salmon, Sir Isldore||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||White, Henry Graham|
|Morrison, William Shepherd||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Savery, Samuel Servington||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Scone, Lord||Williams. Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Munro, Patrick||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Nunn, William||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Smith. R. W. (Aberd'n & KInc'dinc, C.)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Smithers, Waldron||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Penny, Sir George||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Petherick, M.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Captain Austin Hudson and Mr. Womersley.|
|Pickering, Ernest H.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Potter, John||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, at the end, to insert:Provided that the special Commission of Government so set up shall be required to secure the assent of the House of Commons to any financial proposals imposing taxation upon the people of Newfoundland, and that any taxpayer or body of taxpayers shall be given opportunity to make representations to the House of Commons for the amendment or rejection of such proposals.I think that this proposal is very important from one or two aspects. We must remember that the United States of America was at one time a Colony of Britain, and the real reason why we lost the United States was over the question of representation and taxation. That was really the kernel, the main structure, of the quarrel. In this Amendment we ask that, before taxation is levied, the House of Commons shall be consulted as to the nature of that taxation, and that the people who have to find the taxation shall be allowed, before the tax becomes operative, to make any suggestions that they think fit for either its modification or its rejection.
Whatever else may be said about the proposal, it cannot be accused of being unfair. Since I have been in the House of. Commons I have constantly heard the phrase repeated, "taxation and representation." If a person pays taxes, at least he should be entitled to some form 634 of representation. These people, as the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned, are responsible for raising the interest and principal payments in respect of this, comparatively speaking, large sum. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has already pointed out that there are fewer than 70,000 wealth producers to meet the interest and principal payments on £20,000,000—a very considerable drain, especially when one considers that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton pointed out, the total population of Newfoundland is only about a quarter of the population of Glasgow or Birmingham or Liverpool. They have to meet this huge burden without any great resources and without machinery or equipment, and it must be a terrible struggle. One can easily see that this body which is to be set up under the Constitution must impose taxation. Certain people will feel, quite rightly, that the taxation is not of an equitable character. Indeed, in the case of almost every tax that I have seen imposed somebody has felt that it was not just.
In this case, all the greater care must be exercised because the various constitutional Governments of the past in Newfoundland have not been very equitable in their treatment of the poor people, and it may well be that the powers of this body may be used to impose taxa- 635 tion in such a way as to make the lives of the poor people of the Island almost intolerable. What is fairer than that, before a tax operates, the House of Commons shall be consulted about it and shall hear representations from the people affected? What guarantee have we that the taxation that is levied may not be unjust? There is no curb on the activities of this body, and there is no one for them to approach if the burden becomes impossible. A body which they do not elect and over which they have no control decrees their taxation. All we are saying is that, in the absence of any other body, the House of Commons ought to be given a say as to the kind of taxation to be imposed and that some channel should be open for them to make representations.
The right hon. Gentleman may say that the taxation of Newfoundland is not our job, but these are terrible powers to be given without a check. It is almost a matter of life and death. They might make the taxation so severe as almost to take away the livelihood of a section of the people. Surely it is not too much, when so much is involved, to ask that the House of Commons should discuss the kind of taxation, leaving their own domestic problems alone. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept our first proposition, what compromise can he offer us as to the way these people can have their representations heard? This body that is being set up has immense powers. When men get dictatorial power they are apt to become different from what they were before. There is no guarantee here of any personal approach if the people of Newfoundland feel that the proposals are harsh. Obviously, they cannot come across here and see the right hon. Gentleman. It would have been as well in some of our other problems if we had had some machinery of easy approach; for instance, in the case of the Victorian settlers. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the spirit of the Amendment, because we feel genuinely alarmed at the absence of any democratic rights. A taxpayer is entitled to have some check on abuses that may be imposed upon him.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
I support the Amendment, but not in any spirit of wishing to cause Parliamentary obstruction. The 636 Government have taken over the administration of the Colony's finances, and the responsibility rests upon us to deal with them as we should deal with our own people. The argument used on the Second Reading was that we should back these people up, because they are part and parcel of us, and in the Great War they provided regiments and fought shoulder to shoulder with our people and did exactly what our own people did. They have got into difficulties, and the Legislature has handed over to this country for the time being the powers that it ought to exercise. The Government of this country is represented to me through the House of Commons, and any responsibilty for any financial change ought to have expression through the voice of the House of Commons.
This Amendment tries to do that. It wants to give the same rights to the people of Newfoundland as we have here: that is, to express themselves at any time that they feel that unjust taxation is being put upon them. I am not assuming that these six commissioners will not act rightly and fairly. We say that about Ministers of the Crown, but we criticise them if we are not satisfied with what they are doing. The people of Newfoundland ought to be able to say to the House of Commons, "We are not satisfied with the way this taxation is being put on," and then the duty would devolve upon us to deal with their appeal. I do not see how any objection can be taken to an Amendment of this kind. It would at least give to the people of Newfoundland the idea that the Mother Country was paying the closest attention to their welfare and that it was not satisfied to leave full control entirely to the commissioners but desired to ensure that, if at any time anything went seriously wrong, there should be some expression in the House of Commons. The arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) are well worth consideration. They certainly appeal to me. When I looked at the Amendment I had no idea what line of argument the hon. Member would follow, but after hearing him and examining the Amendment, I am confident that there is substance in it and that it ought to have some recognition from the Government.
§ 8.26 p.m.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
No one could take exception to the spirit in which the Amendment was moved and supported. Briefly, I understand the object of the Amendment to be to ensure that before the commissioners impose any taxation upon Newfoundland the proposed taxation shall be subject, first of all, to review by this House.
The Mover of the Amendment must have known what he meant, and he has already accepted my interpretation. He will be the first to observe that in a previous Amendment on the Order Paper in his name which was ruled out of order, he set out that:The immediate duty of the special Commission of Government, referred to in paragraph (6)"—and so on, is—to make provision, as the first charge on the revenues of Newfoundland, for payments to be made to unemployed men and women, and people in need of public assistance, in Newfoundland on the basis of the rates of payment made to people in similar circumstances in the United Kingdom.
I will illustrate the analogy between that position and the Amendment which is now being moved. Had the first Amendment of my hon. Friend been in order, and if the Committee had accepted the Amendment, it would have said that the first charge on Newfoundland taxation or revenue was that the same rates of pay should be applicable to all unemployed in Newfoundland as were applicable here. That, of course, in itself would have been almost an impossibility for the obvious reason that the standards would be different whether by means test or by any other test. But for my purpose I merely point out that there it was intended to show that the people of Newfoundland—
§ Mr. TINKER
On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman. Is the right hon. Gentleman in order in discussing an Amendment which you have ruled out of order?
§ The CHAIRMAN
As far as I can make out, the right hon. Gentleman is only using it as an illustration in his reply, and I do not think that he is out of order at present.
The Amendment is in the names of the hon. Gentlemen, and I am merely endeavouring to show the inconsistency which would render it impossible for me to accept the Amendment. I repeat—and I am putting it fairly to the Committee—that if that proposal were accepted the first duty of the commissioners would have been to have said, "Never mind what the revenue may be, unemployment benefit must be paid to you in Newfoundland on the same scale as in England." The proposal which I am asked to accept is that before any revenue can be obtained, and before the commissioners can obtain any revenue in order to administer Newfoundland, the proposals, whatever they may be, must be subject to the approval of this House.
I put it to my hon. Friend when he talks about abuse, that there are many men both he and I know who are different men when they get power from what they were formerly. He and I have seen that sort of thing very often. It is not limited to any one class, and no greater mistake was ever made than assuming that a monopoly of virtue was vested in one class. My hon. Friend's point was that he wanted if he could to save an abuse.
All I can say to him is that I do not think that the proposal would be practicable. I do not think that it would be fair. There has been common agreement in this House that we want the Constitution to be restored as soon as possible. I have already said that we must trust the commissioners. If you are to say, in addition to that, that the House of Commons must be the one body which must sanction the expenditure of this island, or to be the final judge as to the taxation to be imposed, I would ask any Member of the House: "Would he like to undertake that responsibility?"
The commissioners are on the spot. They are appointed for the work and are there with the full knowledge of all the circumstances, and I refuse to believe that there can be anybody in this House sufficiently acquainted with all the circumstances as the commissioners would be who could arrive at so fair a decision.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
To-day we are legislating on a far bigger thing than on taxation. We are legislating on the life of this Dominion. We are doing it here. We are doing it on the recommendation of a committee. We are only asking for a comparatively small thing. The Commission have made recommendations, and we ought to be the judge of them, that is all.
I am afraid that my hon. Friend will be the first to realise that, while legislating in the sense that we are affecting their future position, no attempt is being made by the Government or anyone else, either in a resolution or in an Amendment, to lay down the conditions governing the everyday life and circumstances of the people. It is an entirely different thing. I put it to my hon. Friend fairly, that all we can promise is, first, that in the selection of the commissioners no politics and no influence of any sort or kind will determine the position. Every effort will be made to select the best men for a very difficult and responsible task. Secondly, we want to give Newfoundland a fair chance. Nothing could be more absurd than to say, in advance: "No matter what your knowledge and experience may be, after being there for months, we in the House of Commons must be the determining authority." That would not be fair to the commissioners and it would not be fair to Newfoundland. I think it would destroy that very democratic spirit which we discussed on an earlier Amendment, when it was said that we want to keep in the minds of the people of Newfoundland the knowledge that some day they will have their constitution restored. If we were to adopt the Amendment, it would destroy that spirit, and for these and other reasons I am unable to accept it.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
We have had from the right hon. Gentleman a most extraordinary reply consisting of a mass of irrelevancies. We had a wholly irrelevant discussion on another Amendment which 640 was out of order, and we have had a mass of irrelevancies about expenditure. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment is not thinking of expenditure, but of taxation. All that he does in the Amendment is to deal with taxation. The right hon. Gentleman talked a lot about conditions of this sort and that sort, but he never referred to the points of the Amendment. We are not concerned in this Amendment as to whether there is to be any control over expenditure, but what is to be the kind of taxation the commission will impose and what will be the distribution of the taxation between the different classes of the community. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment rightly pointed out the great constitutional importance of the question of taxation and representation. The right hon. Gentleman's reply is: "We are going to have excellent people, excellent dictators, and we must trust them." That is the kind of proposition that Charles I might have put up. He would have said: "Here are two excellent men, Strafford and Laud, and I am going to trust them entirely. It is absurd to think that this House should have any control." That is exactly the Stuart position.
The right hon. Gentleman is taking a line which is very curious on the part of a man who has held the position of Secretary of State for the Colonies. Through the Secretary of State for the Colonies we keep control over Colonies all over the world, and we have an opportunity of dealing, through the Secretary of State, with the Governors and with estimates of one kind and another. It must be remembered that in this Bill this Parliament is taking very serious financial responsibilities. We have to make up whatever cannot be found by taxation. Why should we not have some say in regard to the taxation? The right hon. Gentleman may say: "You cannot have this House dealing in that way with another country, because that other country has been a self-governing Dominion." I gathered that that was the purport of his last observation. I would remind him that in this House every year we do the same thing with regard to a part of the British Empire which has been self-governing for a 2reat deal longer period than Newfoundland—the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man Customs Bill comes before us every year, and there is no reason why the Budget to be put for- 641 ward by the commissioners in Newfoundland should not come before this House for discussion.
There is another important point of view which the Government spokesmen conveniently ignore, and that is that the Newfoundland fishermen have been subjected to the most vicious form of capitalism and moneylending. We have it in evidence that there has been corruption in the Island, and there is a state of affairs there where owing to the property qualification the wealthier classes rule. We want to know where the money that this House is going to put up is going to be expended. Unless we know what the taxation is going to be we cannot know what proportion will be placed upon the merchants and the moneylenders and what proportion will be put upon the fishermen and agriculturists. Until we have that information we cannot judge how the money that this House is providing is going to be spent. I think that the Amendment might bo amended, to include the words "any taxpayer or body of taxpayers in Newfoundland," and that the proposal is perfectly sound and in line with all the traditions of this House, and would be a mitigation of the extreme action that is being taken with Newfoundland. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that the matter had better be left to the commissioners, without too close an observation by this House. I believe that Newfoundland under a commission such as is proposed would be glad that its Budget of taxation should be open to discussion in this House and that they should have protection drawn from the various classes of society, poor men as well as rich men, on the Floor of this House, to see that whatever taxation is imposed the fishermen and the poor people should have a square deal, which I do not think they have had hitherto.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to meet us on this matter. The Amendment is not moved for the sake of obstructing, or creating difficulties, or delaying the passage of the Measure into law. We would have preferred that the Bill had not been introduced in this form, but on failing to secure that we have endeavoured to see that the people of Newfoundland should have an opportunity of giving their assent to it. We failed in that effort, and now we are asking the 642 right hon. Gentleman if he can see his way to concede to those people—from whom everything in the way of political rights is being taken as far as the internal affairs of their Island is concerned—that the annual Budget proposals affecting the islanders of Newfoundland shall be made available in this House. While discussion in this House would not be as satisfactory as discussion on the Budget proposals in Newfoundland, it would be a substitute and would give an opportunity of criticism and would shed the light of publicity on the financial proposals of the commissioners.
I could not make the point which was made by the right hon. Gentleman about our out-of-order Amendment on unemployment insurance. That was an effort to secure that while the people of Newfoundland were making big efforts to meet their liabilities outside, their first basic human need should be secured. I cannot see what was wrong with that or where the illogical, contradictory nature of these two Amendments arises. I would rather the people of Newfoundland made the conditions themselves, but the right hon. Gentleman has decided that they are not to be allowed to manage their own affairs and that the management is to be transferred from St. Johns to Westminster. I endeavoured to secure them some power in a former Amendment; and now when I am endeavouring to provide some safeguard against excessive taxation, perhaps not excessive taxation but an unfair incidence of taxation, the right hon. Gentleman wants to know if my unemployment benefit in Newfoundland would be subjected to a means test. My means test was in another Amendment which I regret has been ruled out of order. It was not to be applied to the fishermen of Newfoundland but to the drawers of interest on the bonds. Failing to move these Amendments we arc pressing on (he right hon. Gentleman the necessity in some way of providing some check at this end over the expenditure and the revenue of Newfoundland.
The right hon. Gentleman says it must be left to the Commission on the spot. Do I understand from that that he himself is going to have no check on the expenditure or taxation which the commission will impose on these islanders? I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman at any moment if he will tell me 643 his position in this matter. Is he going to give up his ordinary powers as Dominion Secretary? He appoints a commission, sends it out to Newfoundland and says, "There, you go and take over the powers which I give to you and exercise them as you please in the realm of taxation, I shall not interfere with you during the continuation of the commission." In refusing this Amendment he is also rejecting the House of Commons. I want to know whether he also rejects himself as a supervising authority with the same contempt that he rejects the House of Commons. Is he putting himself completely out of action in regard to these six supermen, who are to be chosen without regard to political influences and for all the lofty reasons we hear about in such selections but which are not quite so evident in the men after they are selected. Will he expect these commissioners to give him regular and steady reports of their operations in Newfoundland, of their financial dealings in Newfoundland? Will he expect an annual statement of expenditure and revenue to be submitted to him? If he will answer these questions now it might save time. Or perhaps he has not had time to give them any consideration so far; perhaps these questions have not arisen in the Government's consideration of this problem.
§ Mr. MAXTON
But the reports, when they have been submitted to him, are they to remain confidential documents in a safe in the Dominions Office? In the course of the Second Reading Debate he told me that questions in this House would be in order about the internal affairs of Newfoundland. If these financial reports are submitted to him as laid down in the White Paper I shall certainly be in order in asking the right hon. Gentleman to give the House the contents of the reports. But will he on the statement he has just made answer 644 me that these are private and confidential matters between himself and the commissioners and that I as a Member of the House of Commons have nothing to do with them? That is all I can get out of his reply.
There seems to be a contradiction. Let me put it this way; that the right hon. Gentleman, in so far as this particular bit of work is concerned in connection with the administration of the Dominions Office, is putting himself outside criticism by the House of Commons. In other words, he is trying to get for these Newfoundland commissioners the same status that the Minister of Labour got for the commissioners he put into Durham. He says that whatever these people do they are responsible to me, not to you, and you are. not allowed to ask any question whatever about their operations in Durham. That was the Minister of Labour's attitude on that matter. I want to know, and I am going to stick on my feet until I have some measure of satisfaction or until the Government take appropriate measures to stop me, in explicit terms precisely whether I as a Member of this House will be able to raise the operations of the commission in so far as they are empowered by the right hon. Gentleman and by the Bill to impose taxation upon the people. Our Amendment provides a perfectly simple and easy way. There can be no difficulty in carrying it out. There need be no tremendous or acrimonious Debate.
It is one of the commonest forms of Ministerial reply in this House, when one is asking for Parliamentary control of this, that or something else, for the Minister to say, "You must trust the man on the spot." The right hon. Gentleman asks me to trust these commissioners, whom I do not yet know, three of them to be chosen by him—of course we have a fair measure of confidence in that choice, though, mark you, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will do it on advice, and I am not quite so sure that I can trust the advice—and three to be chosen by someone else whom I do not know, by, I think, the Government that has abdicated because it was unfit to run its own island but is fit to choose three men who are capable of running it.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "You must trust the unknown six to be fair 645 in their taxation." I have very great respect for these unknown men, but this may seem strange to the right hon. Gentleman—I have a greater trust in myself, and a very great confidence in the House of Commons, at least to the extent that while injustices may be perpetuated even with a House of Commons in existence, they are not perpetuated in silence. The injustice, if it is done, is publicly known. It is not the torture of the secret chamber; it is not Star Chamber methods of taxation. That is what this proposal is, unless there is some way in which the full light of publicity can be shone on the financial proposals of the commissioners.
We are asking for two things in this Amendment. One is that there shall be an annual opportunity by the laying of the proposed Budget statement of Newfoundland on the Table of this House. Everyone knows that this House, in circumstances like these, does not attempt to go into any miserable niggling criticism of the details of a proposal. It is one of the characteristics of the House. The tendency is all the other way. Big proposals, if they are far away from home, are dealt with in a very lordly fashion. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman need not have any fear that the presentation of the Newfoundland Budget to this House would result in attempts to alter the minor details. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman could arrange that it be presented in such a way that amendment of minor details would be impossible, that we would be empowered only to reject it, and throw it back to the Newfoundland people in the event of it containing proposals that were obviously unfair and inequitable.
That is one aspect. We ask that one definite Parliamentary opportunity per annum be offered for discussion of the Newfoundland Budget. The other thing that we are asking is that, failing a Parliament over there, failing any form of representative government in Newfoundland, there shall be established some definite chance by which aggrieved taxpayers in Newfoundland may voice their objections to the commission's proposals, and have their objections forwarded to the quarters that are influential. The right hon. Gentleman did not treat the Amendment rightly. I do not think he played fair. I have seen him engaged in this House in many Committee fights.
646 Indeed I think my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) will agree with me that during the 1924 to 1929 Parliament the only occasion when we felt ourselves in complete harmony with the right hon. Gentleman was when he was engaged in these fights, leading the Labour party at that time. But he will be bound to admit that always on those occasions he expected from the Government of the day reasonable concessions to a reasonable proposal moderately put. That is what is being put to him now—a reasonable proposal in moderate and reasonable terms. But in a most perfunctory manner the right hon. Gentleman tried to score a debating point against the hon. Member for Gorbals, on the question of unemployment insurance, and did not answer the essence of our case at all.
I ask him to accept this Amendment in the form in which it is moved, or, failing his ability to do that, to secure the same end by a revised form of words. I know that in the time of the Labour Government, when the Government were beaten flat on the logic of a case and had to admit that the case for an Amendment was unanswerable, as this one is, they would say, "Well, we are deeply impressed by the representations made to us, and although this Amendment is not properly drafted we promise that we will bring in new words or by some other means meet the wishes of the hon. Member." I ask the right hon. Gentleman either to accept the wording of this Amendment, which I think is as good as he will get, or, if he wishes to do so, to consult his officials and to say the same thing in different words. We shall not have the slightest objection.
The essential thing for which we ask in this Amendment is that this House of Commons shall have the opportunity of reviewing the financial operations of the commission which the right hon. Gentleman is going to appoint to rule Newfoundland—that this House shall have the opportunity, if necessary, of dictating to its dictators. Secondly we ask that the right hon. Gentleman shall take steps in Newfoundland to ensure for the people there at least an annual opportunity of examining the taxation burdens which they are being asked to bear and some constitutional means by which their 647 views on proposed taxation can be referred to the people in authority here. Those proposals represent the bare minimum upon which a House of Commons with any sense of decency ought to insist. I had hoped that by this time the right hon. Gentleman would have risen—[Interruption]. I hope that nobody will dare me, because the Eleven o'clock Rule is suspended and I have no pressing engagement until 1.30 p.m. to-morrow when I hope to catch the train to Scotland. If any effort of mine can do anything to make the lot of the men out there less intolerable than I think it is being made by the proposals before us, I am going to make that effort. I believe that this Measure is riveting chains on the workers of Newfoundland—
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Will the commissioners have the power to raise taxes upon food and clothing and things of that sort?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I hope the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) will not be led away by a question of that kind.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The right hon. Gentleman has told my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Wallhead) that he must trust the commission. So long as they get the money, it does not matter from which part of the fisherman's body they cut off the pound of flesh. We are riveting chains on these men. For 60 years their labour is to be mortgaged to make good the admitted defalcations of dishonest politicians.
§ Mr. MAXTON
No. it is the price of a careless democracy and all I am doing here is to try to get the British House of Commons to take its political responsibilities a little more seriously than the Newfoundland House of Commons took theirs. It was a wise man who said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Democracy depends on vigilance. It depends on men being prepared to stand up and protest against invasions of liberty when the majority are inclined to be happy-go-lucky about it and to say that "it does not matter." We are often told, "Do not worry about this matter or that matter. It is too small." These 648 things are always too small for consideration until they are all added up, and then the total is too big to be dealt with.
I am going to try as far as I can to get this little measure of precaution and safety for these men. If they are to be tied down to giving the first fruits of their labour for 60 years in the payment of debts which they have not created, I am going to do my best to ensure that they shall have some say as to where the chains are to bear heaviest on them. That is all I am asking. If heavy taxation is to be imposed on the toil of these men, there should be some way in which they can voice their views as to how that taxation shall bear upon different sections of the people and different aspects of their lives. It will not do for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "You must trust the commissioners." I do not, because I do not know them. I cannot trust anything I do not know, but if the right hon. Gentleman were to choose the six finest men in the British Empire I should still insist that their work was due to be reviewed, not by supermen, but by ordinary men who can put themselves in the place of the ordinary taxpayers.
I honestly think that the proposal to place taxation in the hands of six men, independent of all control by Parliament or by the people of Newfoundland, is going back to Star Chamber methods of government. It is retrailing the reactionary road, it is going back on the whole history of progress that this House has made for something like 500 years. The present House of Commons is prepared to go back on all that in a night. My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals referred to the American War of Independence and the "No taxation, no representation" basis of that war. I suppose it is too far back now to worry about, but for many, many years the underlying lesson that was taught there was not forgotten in this House, and as far as I know this is the first occasion when we are deliberately taking a backward step. These are not coloured people. Perhaps I ought to explain that the natives of Newfoundland are not black men, or yellow, or some inferior breed. These are men of English, Scottish, Irish, and even Welsh descent. and though perhaps some of them have deteriorated, like others, by absence from their own soil, none the less they are people of exactly 649 the same type as those of us who sit in this House, and it is the first time to my knowledge that any part of the British Empire has been subjected to a small body of men and, having had political freedom, have had it taken away from them.
The Dominions Secretary said, in the only reply that he has so far given on this Amendment, that he was not prepared to create any democratic method by which these men might voice their grievance at unfair taxation and that he was not prepared to allow this House to review the expenditure of that taxation. I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot rise to his feet and make some statement on precisely what constitutional checks the people of Newfoundland have against unfair taxation by the commission that he proposes to send out and that is being set up by this Bill. Failing that, it will be necessary for us to go into the Lobby in support of our Amendment.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. E. WILLIAMS
During the last week there has been a great deal of publicity particularly in the South Wales papers of a statement of the right hon. Gentleman in the House of Commons, made, I think, on the Second Reading of this Bill, to the effect that Newfoundland may provide ample scope for miners and people of that kind.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Perhaps the Dominions Secretary will look the matter up. I am prepared to accept his statement, but we have heard references in the Debate that Newfoundland may be a place to which the unemployed may be sent. In the interests of the people who may be sent to Newfoundland, I think we are entitled to ask the Government to accept this Amendment. After all, some of these people, living in this country, have a right to express any grievance that they have upon taxation and to approach their Member of Parliament, and that Member of Parliament, when the Finance Bill is presented to the 650 House, can represent their views to the Government. I think every hon. Member will agree that if there is anything that we jealously guard against—and we know the powers that Mr. Speaker has in this matter in defining a Finance Bill—it is the power of taxation being taken out of the hands of the Members of the House of Commons.
We know that the people of Newfoundland are relatively very poor indeed. It is said that on the 287,000 inhabitants, there is a taxation of about £4 per head, and one can well imagine that 60,000 or 70,000 wage earners would correctly represent the economic capacity of labour in Newfoundland. If that is so, obviously the taxation for an economic unit of the Island would be from £12 to £16 per head.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
For this debt alone. If they have to be saddled perhaps with additional taxation, without having a right to express their dissent at any time, I think all hon. Members will agree that that is certainly very unjust. After all, the six commissioners who are to be appointed by the Dominions Secretary will have omnipotent power. We hear people talk about the House of Lords, but they will have substantially more power than the House of Lords. They will have more power even than the Commissioners in Durham, or in any other place for that matter, for while we have no right in this House, apparently, to question what may be done by one of the Commissioners in Durham, such a. Commissioner has no right to impose taxation upon the people. But the six Commissioners that are to be appointed by the Secretary of State will have the right to impose upon those people additional taxation. Some of us, including myself, have personal experience, of living under the truck system. Most of these people are living under the truck system. It is very difficult to find a concourse of people suffering from a greater degree of relative poverty than the people in Newfoundland. Yet they will have no right whatever of questioning the action of the commissioners. We shall, apparently, have no right in this House of getting to know what is being done. The Estimates will not be submitted to the House in order that we may question them. Three years hence, after we have been 651 giving money for three years, the Treasury is to decide whether the loan of £17,500,000 is to be a loan, or to continue to be a gift. That will obviously depend upon what the commissioners advise.
After hearing all the arguments for the Amendment, and especially the able speech delivered by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and by our deputy-Leader of the Opposition, I cannot see how any hon. Member can help agreeing that this is one of the most reasonable Amendments that has been submitted to the Committee to-day. I am hoping that at this late stage, although we have spent some time in discussing this Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that we are pressing to help the people upon whom taxation is imposed to gain the right to express the hardships that will befall them. No Member of the House would stand such a condition in his own constituency. The number of inhabitants in Newfoundland is not many more than the average population of some of our larger constituencies. There would certainly be a revolt in this country if any hon. Member could stand up in the House and say that his constituents had additional taxation imposed upon them, and that he had no right to express their hardships and their views.
In this Debate, as in all discussions in which there is so much humanity involved, we should not sever Newfoundland from the people who have to reside in that very difficult country. We should consider the human element all the time. I am certain that if the human element is the dominant element in our minds, we shall realise the reasonableness of this Amendment. I trust that the Secretary of State will again rise and that he may be pressed by some of the hon. Members who support the Government to realise that this is a very grave attack upon political democracy, and that Parliament is of no avail at all if taxation can be imposed upon people without their having the right to express their convictions concerning it. I trust that we shall hear from the Secretary of State or his Under-Secretary a reply upon this matter. The case for the Amendment is unanswerable, and we shall expect him to meet it in his reply.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
We are entitled to a reply upon this Amendment to the very powerful speech addressed to the Committee by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). For the future these seven Commissioners are to be in charge of Newfoundland, but we understand that the Governor will be answerable to the right hon. Gentleman and under his authority. The right hon. Gentleman will not permit the Governor, I am quite sure, however great his confidence in the Governor may be, carte blanche to do as he pleases without reference to the right hon. Gentleman. He is not going to allow his name to be used without having the general direction of what is being done in his name. That is a reasonable position to take up. If the right hon. Gentleman is not willing to allow the seven men to do as they please without reference to him, why is this House expected to allow them to do as they please? Why must we take it on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman that all is well in Newfoundland without our having, not a daily or a monthly statement, but all that this Amendment asks, namely, an annual statement of how the finances of this area are to be obtained? The principle is not at all a new one. Wars have been waged in this world, and we have lost a substantial proportion of what was a part of the British Empire, on account of the principle involved in this Amendment. It is vital that we should know precisely the answer of the Government to this Amendment.
If we knew exactly how long this condition of affairs would last, there might be something to be said for it, but the right hon. Gentleman himself to-night resisted an Amendment setting a time limit to it. He said that he could not have the three years put in, because for various reasons he did not want a time limit put in. As the Bill now stands it might last for three, five. 10 or 15 years. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that this House is never to know exactly how the taxation is to be obtained? We are concerned with the principle. The right hon. Gentleman, who has been associated all his life with the principle of democracy in practice, ought to be the last to refuse this simple proposition. We are entitled to a more adequate reply 653 than has yet been given. Unless we have stronger evidence against this Amendment than we have yet heard, we shall feel bound to go into the Division Lobby in its support.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 38; Noes, 201.655
|Division No. 28.]||AYES.||[9.35 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Banfield, John William||Groves, Thomas E.||Salter, Dr. Allred|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Thorne, William James|
|Bevan. Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Brown. C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jenkins, Sir William||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Buchanan, George||John, William||Williams. Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, Or. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawson, John James||Wilmot, John|
|Cripps. Sir Stafford||Loqan, David Gilbert|
|Daggar, George||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Davies. David L. (Pontypridd)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. McGovern.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Edwards, Charles||Maxton, James.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Albery, Irving James||Ganzoni, Sir John||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Goff, Sir Park||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Goldie, Noel B.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Grimston, R. V.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Morris-Jones. Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Muirhead. Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Beaumont. M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Munro. Patrick|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Harbord, Arthur||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hartland, George A.||Nunn, William|
|Blindell, James||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Henderson. Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Penny, Sir George|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Perkins. Walter R. D.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Petherick, M.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hornby, Frank||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Howard. Tom Forrest||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Burghley, Lord||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Potter. John|
|Burgin. Or. Edward Leslie||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Pybus, Percy John|
|Burnett. John George||Hunter. Capt. M. J. (Bring)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hurd, Sir Percy||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hutchison. W. D. (Essex. Romf'd)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Ray, Sir William|
|Cayzer. Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Jamieson, Douglas||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Jennings, Roland||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Remer. John R.|
|Christie, James Archibald||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Renwick, Major Gustay A.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Ker. J. Campbell||Rhys, Hon. Charles Aruthur, U.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Knight, Holford||Rickards, George William|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Robinson, John Roland|
|Cooke, Douglas||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ropner, Colonel, L.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Law. Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Crookshank.Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Leckle. J. A.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Runqe, Norah Cecil|
|Davies. Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemoufh)|
|Denville. Alfred||Lister. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)|
|Dickie, John P.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Drewe, Cedric||Lockwood. John C. (Hackney, C.)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Loder, Captain J. de Ve'e||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Dunglass, Lord||MacAndrew, Lieut. Col. C. G. (Partick)||Scone, Lord|
|Edmondson, Major A, J,||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark. Bothwell)|
|Elmley, Viscount||McCorquodale, M. S.||Skelton. Archibald Noel|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||MacDonald. Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||McKeag, William||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & KInc'dine. C.)|
|Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||McKie, John Hamilton||Spears, Briqadler-General Edward L.|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Magnay, Thomas||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Spens, William Patrick||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Stourton, Hon. John J.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Strauss, Edward A.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Ward. Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Summersby, Charles H.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Tata, Mavis Constance||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Weymouth, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thompson, Luke||White, Henry Graham||Commander Southby and Captain|
|Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Whyte, Jardine Bell||Austin Hudson.|
|Thorp, Linton Theodore||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, at the end, to insert:Any Letters Patent issued under this sub-section shall be laid before the House of Commons for a period of twenty-one days during the Session of Parliament, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty against any of the provisions contained in the Letters Patent they shall be withdrawn and amended Letters Patent issued in accordance with the desires of the House of Commons.The point raised here is rather important. Under the Clause now, it will be the duty of the Commission to make the constitution of Newfoundland by Letters Patent issued by His Majesty. We are not now contesting the point that the commissioners are to make the Constitution. We are not discussing the commissioners, their numbers or their fitness or capacity. We are down to the narrow point of the advisability of laying that constitution as a Parliamentary Paper on the Table of the House of Commons. We have made other demands and every one of them has been defeated, but we accept our defeat, and I do not wish to do what the Secretary of State for the Dominions constantly does, and that is to extend the argument, because that prolongs discussion. I say frankly that if it had not been for the Secretary of State we should have got on more quickly. If one of the Under-Secretaries had been here not a tenth of the time would have been wasted, because they have too much ability. They have cheek, bub they have ability.
I do not want to delay the proceedings, but to narrow the issue down to one simple point. It is simple. [Laughter.] I enjoy a joke as much as anyone, though I get very few. There is a lady Member who has got a mouth. I wish she had some sense as well as a mouth. Well, I am sorry for that; I ought not to have said it. Whatever we may have said about our former Amendments we are very serious on this Amendment, and I 656 think there is a point of substance concerned. The Constitution is to be framed by these commissioners, and we are asking that it shall be laid on the Table of this House so that the House may, if it so desires, challenge that Constitution. I should say that was an eminently fair proposal and one to appeal to hon. Members. We do not because we have been defeated deny the right of the commissioners to make the Constitution, or their capacity and their character, but we say the Constitution ought to lie on the Table of this House for 21 days before it operates. The six may do their work well, and if they do they will be supported by a vote of this House, which would strengthen them in their task. If they do their work badly, the House will have an opportunity to remit the Constitution back. It is a simple elementary demand we are making, quite in keeping with Parliamentary traditions and the doctrines of all parties.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
I notice with some alarm that the Government have had to call up reserves, and that the Front Bench is occupied by a very representative party of the various sections composing the Government. I am sure they are very competent, but I should feel happier if the Secretary of State for the Dominions were still here—[HON. MEMBERS: "He has got to eat sometimes."]—and we had the advantage of his ripe wisdom and constitutional outlook in dealing with constitutional Amendments. I have felt that many of the Amendments moved so far have hardly been fitting or likely to improve the Measure, but this Amendment is eminently wise, and in keeping with the various Measures we have been putting through the House for the last few years by giving an opportunity to the House of Commons to have the last word. In an almost revolutionary experiment of this kind—because none of us know exactly how this is going to work out—we should all feel very much 657 easier in our minds if we knew that before the actual decisions of the commission were put into operation we could review them and have explanations made to us as to the why and the wherefor of the various plans.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I must point out to the hon. Member and the Committee that I understood this Amendment to mean that when Letters Patent issue setting up the commission they should lie for 21 days on the Table of the House, and that if an Address was not moved by this House against the Letters Patent, then they would be in force. The hon. Member appears to me to argue as if the Letters Patent would be continually open to discussion.
§ Mr. MANDER
It would give the House of Commons an opportunity of further consideration of this matter in a more detailed form before the proposals were actually put into operation.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
The hon. Member does not seriously mean that the Measures we have been putting through in the last few years have given this House the last word?
§ Mr. MANDER
There is a good deal in the criticism of the National Government's work which my hon. Friend has just made. In many ways they have given us the formality of consultation without its reality, but I am hoping that in this matter, because of its novelty and of the great interest taken in it, Parliament will insist on making fuller use of the opportunities to review these Letters Patent than it does in the case of the Import Duties Advisory Committee resolutions, to which my hon. Friend was referring. I hope the representative of the National Liberal section of the Government is going to do his best to show how he can stand beside the efforts of the National Labour representative of the Government, and will accept the Amendment.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
This Amendment raises a very important constitutional point which hon. Members who have not been here all this evening will not appreciate. It is also important because it gives the Minister an opportunity to tell us what precisely is the meaning of basing the new Letters Patent on the recommendations of the Royal Commission referred to in the Address. Those recom- 658 mendations are very voluminous and detailed. We are anxious to know, before we consider whether Letters Patent ought to be laid before Parliament, precisely which of the recommendations are going to be incorporated in the Letters Patent. It is obviously an extremely important matter, as regards the supervision of this House and of this Parliament, which is being made responsible for the Government of Newfoundland, that we should know what it is intended to lay down as the basis of government in that country.
The Address merely asks that the new Letters Patent, which will be the constitution as it were of Newfoundland, should be on the basis of the commission's recommendations. That is an extremely vague phrase. They could well be on the basis of the recommendations if two of them were adopted and six were neglected, or vice versa. We want to know which of the recommendations set out on page 224 of the report are to be incorporated in the Letters Patent and in what form. I will take heading (c) from the recommendations on page 224, obviously an important matter, which reads:The Commission of Government would be composed of six members, exclusive of the Governor, three of whom would be drawn from Newfoundland.We want to know how they are to be drawn from Newfoundland. There is no provision here as to their appointment, who shall appoint them, how they shall be selected or what class of person they shall be. There is a suggestion that these three persons shall be paid out of Newfoundland moneys, while the three English commissioners will be paid out of moneys presumably voted by Parliament. There is no provision that I can see in this Bill for paying for the English commissioners, although the recommendation of the commission is that the three English commissioners should be paid out of moneys provided by this House. Therefore, presumably, at some time we shall require another Bill to provide for the payment of the three English commissioners, who will not be able to be carried upon any of the Votes which at the present time come before us.
That is a matter of very great importance, because the method of selection of the three persons drawn from Newfound- 659 land will make a very great difference to the population of Newfoundland. Will they be representative of all classes in Newfoundland? Will they be three merchants, three financiers, or three civil servants? Will there be a representative of the fishermen among them? The fishermen are by far the largest body of persons in Newfoundland. If there is to be any representative capacity at all, as regards those three Newfoundlanders, presumably some of them will be drawn from the lower classes of society as well as from the upper classes of society.
Then there is a provision in regard to the absence of the Governor. I should like to know whether the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs thinks it satisfactory that the Chief Justice of Newfoundland should hold the casting vote in this commission, on occasions when the Governor is absent? There will be three local persons and three English commissioners, and, when the Governor is absent from the Island, the Chief Justice, according to the Recommendation, will take his place.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The Noble Lord is quite right, but this arrangement as regards the Governor is not the same as in any other Colony or Dominion, because he is not acting as an active person in this arrangement. He is to be one of seven.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I do not put my legal knowledge against that of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I happen to have studied the constitutions of the Colonies. There are a great many Colonies where the Governor has personally to administer affairs, and in his absence the Chief Justice or the Chief Secretary invariably acts.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I quite agree with the Noble Lord. I do not pretend to have the intimate knowledge of colonial government that he has. He has had an opportunity in the Privy Council of studying a good many examples. I suggest to him, however, that there are no cases of a body of seven persons acting dictatorially in this way, without any local advisory council—which is a very new feature in colonial government—where the Governor has the balancing 660 vote between three local people and three people sent out from England. I shall be interested to hear from the Under-Secretary, or from the right hon. Gentleman, whether that is going to be put in as part of the Letters Patent.
Then, on page 224 of the Report, there is paragraph (f). I should again like to know whether this is to be incorporated in the Letters Patent? It states:Your Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would, for their part, assume general responsibility for the finances of the Island until such time as it may become self-supporting again.What does "general responsibility" mean? Does it mean that we are to be responsible for everything and, as it were, to give a complete indemnity to the island in all events, or does it apply merely to a general supervision of the finances of the island? Those are two extremely different things. Paragraph (g) raises a very important point indeed, which has already been touched upon in this Debate. It says:It would be understood"—and this is part of the recommendations upon which the Letters Patent will be based—that, as soon as the island's difficulties are overcome and the country is again self-supporting, responsible government, on. request from the people of Newfoundland, would be restored.What provision is to be made in the Letters Patent for that request to become vocal? Quite clearly, if the Letters Patent are to be based upon the recommendations of the Royal Commission, they must include some provision by which the request of the people of Newfoundland can be made vocal and can come, either to this House or to the Crown, at such time as they think that they are self-supporting and are anxious and willing again to take up responsible government. Perhaps whoever replies for the Government will tell us what view they take as regards that matter. The complexity of the matters that are raised here, in the setting up of a new constitution, for a country—it may not be a very big country, or have a very large population, but to the inhabitants the matter is of vital and fundamental importance—is, according to this Bill, to be by Letters Patent, which is much the same as by Order in Council, in respect of it being done by the Minister, on the advice of 661 the people in his Department, without their being submitted in any way to this House.
If we pass this Clause of the Bill, and if we do not vote in favour of this Amendment, we are now parting for ever from control of any questions of the constitution of Newfoundland. The matter cannot be raised in this House unless some new constitution is brought in, superseding the the which is now about to be made, when curiously enough it can be raised. If such a constitution is made, it is to be raised. That would be quite a sensible provision if we were going to discuss this Constitution now—if we had the opportunity of having the Letters Patent before us now, when we are discussing the Bill in Committee, and could say that we object to this, that or the other in the Letters Patent. But we are discussing this matter absolutely in the dark. We have had no indication from the Government as to what they intend to include in the Letters Patent. We are asked to give this blank cheque to the Government, although the Government themselves admit that, if on a subsequent occasion the Letters Patent are altered, it is right and proper that the House should consider them.
I should like the Under-Secretary to explain how it is that in the first event they should not be put before the House of Commons, although it is admitted that subsequently, if they are changed, the change must be put before the House of Commons. Surely it is logical to do it in one way or the other—either to say that the House has no concern with the Constitution of Newfoundland, or to say that on all occasions when the Constitution is decided upon the House must have the opportunity of commenting upon it. I very seriously press the Government in this case to say that, when we are dealing with so important a matter as a new Constitution for a part of the Empire for which we, the Parliament of this country, are taking the responsibility, we should at least have the opportunity of making suggestions, possibly constructive suggestions, as regards the form of that Constitution.
§ 10.8 p.m.
§ Mr. M. MacDONALD
I am sorry I am not able to accept this Amendment, despite the arguments which have been put forward, but in fact the Letters 662 Patent will not cover matter which has not already been decided and agreed upon by the House. We have had now three Debates on these various questions. We had one lasting for some hours on the Money Resolution; we had another fairly long Debate on the Second Beading the other day, and to-day hon. Members are taking many opportunities of trying to get Amendments to the Constitutional proposals which have been recommended by the Royal Commission. Therefore, by the end of these Debates on the Bill, I do not think anyone will be able to say that the House of Commons has not fully approved the new Constitution which it is intended to set up in Newfoundland.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
It is all very well for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say, "We do not know what it is," but what have we been discussing in the House on two or three occasions during the last fortnight?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
If I might answer that question, we have been discussing, very largely, the report of the commission, but which part of the report of the commission is going to be incorporated in the Letters Patent, I am perfectly certain, not a single Member of the House, with the possible exception of the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary knows.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I am leading up to that point, and, if the hon. and learned Gentleman will be a little patient—
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I asked the question rhetorically in answer to an interruption by the hon. and learned Gentleman, as he well knows. We have had extremely interesting discussions on the detailed recommendations which will be covered by the Letters Patent. We had some interesting discussions as to the type of individuals that these six commissioners were to be, and there was any amount of opportunity for the House to decide that instead of there being six commissioners there should be, say, eight, or instead of there being a purely commission form of government there should be some kind of popular assembly or advisory assembly established in order to alter the recommendations made by the 663 Royal Commission. All that I would say is that the Letters Patent will not include anything in the way of administrative machinery which is not in the report, and which hon. Members have not had an opportunity of discussing in the House.
The Letters Patent will merely make the provisions which are constitutionally necessary in order to set in being the detailed recommendations, to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred, on page 224 of the report. The Letters Patent will establish government by commission; they will establish that there shall be six commissioners assisting the Governor in that commission; they will establish that three of those commissioners shall be chosen from the United Kingdom and three from Newfoundland. They will not go beyond what is constitutionally necessary in order to establish these proposals, which have already been put before hon. Members in the pages of the report.
§ Earl WINTERTON
May I ask my hon. Friend one question on a point which I do not quite follow? Is it proposed to put into the Letters Patent the actual words of the recommendations on page 6 of the Bill; and, if so, would he explain how it is proposed to put in paragraph (g) on page 7? [Interruption.] It is not as easy as some hon. Members seem to think.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
It is not easy, I agree. I was going to deal with that point before I finished, but there were one or two other questions asked, even before that question was raised, by the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last. He asked, for instance, how are the three Newfoundland representatives to be chosen? As I understand it, the particular machinery will not be laid down in the Letters Patent. The Letters Patent will say that there shall be three commissioners chosen from Newfoundland. The actual way in which those commissioners will be chosen is of course not worked out in detail in the Report, but I cannot add anything to what my right hon. Friend said the other day in answer to a question in the House, namely, that there must obviously be consultation with the authorities in Newfoundland as to who those three representatives most properly can be. Those representatives will be appointed by my 664 right hon. Friend, and the Letters Patent will make provision for that.
Then the hon. and learned Gentleman asked whether we were satisfied that, on those occasions when the Governor is absent from the Island, the Chief Justice should take his place in this Commission of government, and should have the opportunity, on rare occasions perhaps, but still should have the opportunity, of giving what was virtually a casting vote—though it is not really a casting vote—in cases where there was an equal division between the six commissioners on any subject. My Noble Friend pointed out that there are Chief Justices holding responsibilities and wielding powers in some Colonies at least as great as that on occasion. One cannot exactly give a parallel case to this, because this is an unparalleled situation, but we have Chief Justices in other parts of the Empire wielding on occasion just as much authority and in just as important cases as are likely to arise in Newfoundland. Therefore, my answer to that question is that the Government are quite satisfied with that provision. Then he asked whether the words "general responsibility" meant a general supervision or something else. They mean general supervision of the finances of the Island.
§ Mr. ALBERY
Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to stand by that? It seems to me that they mean a definite responsibility for the finances of the Island.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
We shall exert that responsibility through the six commissioners and the Governor, who will form the Government by commission, and the detailed supervision will be carried out by them, and my right hon. Friend, as the representative of the Government responsible here, will have the general supervision of the business. That is all that I mean when I say that the phrase means a general supervision by the Government in this country. As regards the question asked about the celebrated paragraph (g) on page 7 of the Bill, the Letters Patent, as I understand it, will not go into greater detail than this and the actual details of the provisions which will have to be made in order to implement this will be worked out later. I am advised that all that the Letters Patent will embody is what is constitutionally necessary in order to establish a machinery of government which, by the 665 time these debates are over, will, I believe, have the approval of the House.
My hon. Friend asked one final question: why should future Letters Patent amending or revoking the Letters Patent which we are now going to issue come before the House if we do not think it necessary for this first instrument to be laid on the Table. That is the whole point, that these first Letters Patent will not embody anything which has not already got the approval of Parliament, and we are making the special provision that future Letters Patent should lie on the Table if they embody some revision of the Constitution which has not had the previous consent of the House, and, therefore, it is necessary in that second case that they should be laid so that the House can have the opportunity of passing its judgment on them. In this case it is not necessary, because the House will already have approved the principle and the machinery that is to be established by this first instrument.
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I do not think the hon. Gentleman's reply can be regarded as very satisfactory. He has not given any reason that I can see for not laying these Letters Patent before us. He says we have discussed what sort of people the commissioners should be. We have discussed them, but we have not come to a decision. He says that we have decided that there should be some kind of representative Chamber. We have not decided any such thing.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
We have not decided it, and therefore I did not say it. I said it had been discussed in the House whether we should have something like that. My only explanation of the hon. Member's misunderstanding is that he was not present when the matter was being discussed.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I was, but we will let that pass. We may have discussed it, but we have not decided it, and that is one of the reasons why I think we should have the Letters Patent laid. Then he said nothing would be put into them which was not in the report. But there is a great deal in the report. We do not know how much of the report is going to be embodied. It may be that nothing is going to be put in them which is not in the report, but we do not know how 666 much of the report is going to be put into them. We are still completely in the dark, and we still ask with every justification how these commissioners are to be chosen, by whom they are to be chosen, and who they are to be. None of these things has been decided and it is because they have not been decided but only discussed at large, in the most airy and hypothetical way, without any decision being reached, that some of us think that this Amendment is reasonable and that we might well ask, if we are going to assume responsibility and general supervision of the whole business—they are his own words—to see the Letters Patent before we come to a final decision. However anxious some of my friends may be to abrogate the whole of the powers of the House as quickly as possible in every Measure that comes before us, the hon. Gentleman ought to recognise that some of us are very anxious not only about this method but about the rapidity with which the House is being asked to divest itself of all the powers that it ever had. I would press the hon. Gentleman on the matter, because he does not seem to have put forward any valid reason why the Letters Patent should not be laid.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
The hon. Member did not assist the House at all when he suggested that it had already given its consent, or will to-night give its consent, to all the Government ask from it. If it is the intention of the Government to embody in the Letters Patent only what appears in the recommendations here and in the Bill, what harm would there be in putting those Letters Patent in their complete form before the House of Commons? If, on the other hand, the Government do not propose to make those Letters Patent fully representative of what appears in the recommendations, the House of Commons has a right to discuss whatever changes may be made by the Minister.
It is a very important departure which the Government are asking the House of Commons to accept. We read, on page 197 of the report, of the nature of the constitutional changes which are to take place upon the recommendations of this commission and we proceed and find that specific duties are to be allotted to 667 a body of people, three of whom are to be drawn from Newfoundland and three drawn from this country. They are to be in charge of several Departments of Government, an indeterminate form of government which we are asked to endorse. We do not know how that responsibility is to be carried out, and who really is to be the final authority in Newfoundland, but we know that certain commissioners are to be put in charge of its services. We find that the three drawn from Newfoundland are to be allotted certain services, but the commissioners drawn from this country are to have superior and overriding services which will determine very largely the quality and character of the services to be governed by the Newfoundland Commissioners. We read that:The remaining Departments, grouped as follows, might be placed in charge of the three members of the commission chosen from the United Kingdom.On page 199 you will find that Finance, Customs, Income Tax, Post Office, are appropriate departments to be placed under the charge of the commissioners from the United Kingdom. The key positions if you like are to be under the supervision of these commissioners, but the commissioners drawn from Newfoundland are to be in charge of Home Affairs, Justice, Education, Public Health and Welfare and so on. Are these recommendations to be fully implemented in the Letters Patent? Is there to be any modification of these recommendations? Are there to be any new and specific instructions given to these people as to how they are to carry out their duty? What form do the Letters Patent take? Are they simply a re-publication of these recommendations with the signature and authority of the right hon. Gentleman behind them, or are they simply instructions to the new Government based in a general way upon these recommendations but containing much that is new to the House and different from the subject of the discussion in the House of Commons to-night? I am not satisfied. I shall be called upon to vote without knowing, or having the faintest sketch in my mind of what is proposed to be done by these commissioners.
We have asked for many safeguards to be introduced. We have asked that the people in Newfoundland should be con- 668 suited and should be kept in contact with the new Government which is to be imposed upon them with very important control of their life and death—of the nature of their social services and their future development. All that is to be given to these people, and we are not told how they are to give effect to what this Parliament most desire, namely, that, having superseded the Government of that country, a Government more efficient, more sympathetic and more progressive in every way should be put in its place. We have no assurance on that point. I very much suspect the powers that may be given to some of the Newfoundlanders who may be appointed. Will they be people who have been involved in the previous reprehensible conduct in any way? Will they be people who are or have been in partnership with the defaulters, who are still in Newfoundland and who, presumably, will play an important part still in the social life of Newfoundland? Is that class of person to be drawn upon? Is the proposed Government to be very much different from the old Government in personnel? I admit that there is to be a limitation of the power of Government given to the Newfoundland representatives; the key positions in Government are to be given to the representatives from this country, but, even so, I doubt very much whether the Government that is to be set up will not be subject to the same insidious influences which have been exerted in Newfoundland life for many years.
We ought to know a great deal more about the character of the instructions to be given to the new Government. We have respect for the experience of the right hon. Gentleman, but it is asking too much that we should, without knowing more, give to a set of people whom, possibly, the right hon. Gentleman does not know and whom the House does not know, authority to carry on virtual dictatorship in the Island, without our having any indication from this House of the extent to which we are willing to trust them, and without giving any direction as to the wishes of this House in regard to Newfoundland. There are many things that one distrusts in connection with this matter. This action on the part of His Majesty's Government has been taken because of the awfully wicked ramp in Newfoundland. The conditions which existed shortly prior and subsequent to 669 the institution of the Commission of Inquiry are in themselves sufficient to cause the profoundest suspicion in the minds of every clean-thinking politician in this House. We ought to have much more safeguard of the public interests of this country, and we ought to have an assurance that this House is doing right. We cannot have that assurance unless we are given very much more information from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Major HILLS
I have sat silent all through the Debate. I think the Bill is a fine Measure and that the right hon. Gentleman is doing the right thing in the right way, but I have been interested in the arguments that have been used in support of the Amendment, and I think my right hon. Friend would be wise in accepting it, or, if he cannot accept the words, he might accept the Amendment in some modified form. In the first place, it would do no harm. It is not the case that the Letters Patent would not be valid until approved by this House; that is not asked for, but it simply means that if the Letters Patent are disliked by this House and a Prayer is carried asking that they should be amended, then they would be withdrawn and amended. The Amendment would not do harm and would not be troublesome to the Government. An even stronger argument is that we are giving vast powers to my right hon. Friend, and I believe he will exercise them wisely, but we ought to know something of the form which the Letters Patent are going to take. In view of the great powers which are being given and in view of the right of this House to see these Letters Patent in concrete form before approving them, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept the Amendment.
§ 10.31 p.m.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I am sorry that the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) was not present earlier in the day when I stated quite frankly that there is no one on the Government side who pretends for a moment that this is a Bill which is presented with enthusiasm to the House, No one pretends that it is, least of all myself. I want hon. Members to keep in mind our difficulties. The criticsm made by the Noble Lord the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) 670 the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon and the hon. and learned Member for Bristol, East (Sir S. Cripps) on this matter is not a criticism which I resent. On the contrary, it is a fair House of Commons point of view. I say quite frankly that it is the kind of thing you would ordinarily expect this House to be most jealous to safeguard, but I ask hon. Members to appreciate the difficulty. I have no idea who the commissioners are likely to be, nor has anyone else. Our difficulty is this, that we have undertaken this liability.
Hon. Members opposite say that the Bill has no other purpose than to pay the stockholders, to look after their interests. That is their argument. I am not arguing that point now, but I say that taking the history of the Colony, and the hardships and sacrifices which the people of Newfoundland have made during all these years, we honestly believe that if we had not undertaken this liability disaster would have come not to the stockholders alone but to the whole Island and to the workers in the Island. Hon. Members opposite may not agree with it, I am not asking them to agree with it, but that is our object, and, therefore in doing it we have to trust somebody in the matter.
I will give the Committee this guarantee, that so far as Letters Patent are concerned we do not intend them to include anything other than that which enables the machinery of the scheme to be put into operation. I am sympathetic to the view put forward and I will see whether in another place I can find words to meet the position. I assure the House that we are not desiring to slip something through unknown. It is a difficult situation. It is one that we are all anxious to remedy, so that we can give Newfoundland a real start. I assure the Committee that I am having this point looked into in order to see whether it is possible to deal with it in another place.
§ Mr. ALBERY
Would it not be possible at a later stage in this House for the right hon. Gentleman to make a more ample statement to cover the issues that have been raised?
My hon. Friend cannot have looked at the proceedings of this House during the week or he would not have asked that question. When there is a point made in this House and the 671 statement is made that it will be reconsidered in another place, my hon. Friend should appreciate that that is the maximum that I can say. Statements have been made about this House having no opportunity of discussing anything. As a matter of fact hon. Members will have an opportunity to question me every week and probably every day, and whenever they like to put my Vote down that can be challenged. But that is another issue.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The right hon. Gentleman has made a conciliatory reply. Personally I should never have voted for the Amendment anyhow, because I am generally supporting the Bill, but I sympathise very much with the arguments put forward in all quarters of the House regarding the Amendment. My right hon. Friend has not quite adequately dealt with the point at issue. He has given a promise that he will have this matter dealt with in the House of Lords, but he has not shown in his speech that he has fully realised the great importance of this matter. I put that to the Committee as a very old Member who has seen a good many Constitutions put through this House. I was responsible for getting through a small one myself, the Constitution of Burma. This is the first time that the House of Commons has been asked to pass a Constitution without the ipsissima verba of that Constitution being before it. That may seem a small matter to those who do not think much about Parliament, who think that Parliament has become a back number and only a nuisance in the way
§ of Governments having complete executive control. I hope there are none holding those views on either Front Bench. This is not a small thing, but one which involves an important principle. The real reason why the Dominions Secretary has not been able to deal with the matter is the question of time. Time is the essence of the contract.
§ I wish entirely to dissociate myself from the opposition to the Bill. I have supported the Bill at every stage by vote and speech. But here we are being asked for the first time to vote a Constitution without having seen it. The Letters Patent will constitute the actual instrument of the Constitution. That is a serious departure from our customary practice. It is only another instance of the way in which Parliament, for one reason or another, has to do its business in these days. It may be all right. It may be that my hon. Friends of the Tory party think that it is a precedent about which they need not worry. But they may live to see a state of affairs when they will be sorry to have created a precedent of this kind, just as they may be sorry that it has been necessary to do so much by Orders-in-Couneil. But before we part with the proposal let us not fail to realise how important it is. I know that the Dominions Secretary will be as good as his word and try to get the matter dealt with in the House of Lords. I can only hope that he will be successful.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 46; Noes, 201.673
|Division No. 29.]||AYES.||[10.40 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar. South)||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McGovern, John|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||McKeag, William|
|Banfield, John William||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Batey, Joseph||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Harris, Sir Percy||Maxton, James|
|Buchanan, George||Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth. Herbert||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jenkins, Sir William||White, Henry Graham|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James||Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|Edwards, Charles||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leads, W.||Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Aske, Sir Robert William||Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley|
|Baldwin Webb, Colonel J.||Goldie, Noel B.||Potherick, M.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Grimston, R. V.||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Potter, John|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L,||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Pybus, Percy John|
|Bernays, Robert||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ramsay. Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Harbord, Arthur||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Ray, Sir William|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hornby, Frank||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Horsbrugh, Florence||Remer, John R.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Howard, Tom Forrest||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Rickards, George William|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Brown, Brig.-G en. H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Buchan Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hurd, Sir Percy||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Burghley, Lord||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burnett, John George||Jamieson, Douglas||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Jennings, Roland||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Ker, J, Campbell||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Carver, Major William H.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Scone, Lord|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Both well)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Leckle, J. A.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Christie, James Archibald||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Dolman. N. C. D.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Loder, Captain J. da Vere||Spent, William Patrick|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||McCorquodale, M. S.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Davies, MaJ. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||McKie, John Hamilton||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Denville, Alfred||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Dickie, John P.||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Thompson. Luke|
|Drewe, Cedric||Magnay, Thomas||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Dunglass, Lord||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Touche. Gordon Cosmo|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Munro, Patrick||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Williams. Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Nunn, William||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Palmer, Francis Noel||Womersley, Walter James|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Penny, Sir George|
|Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Percy, Lord Eustace||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Goff, Sir Park||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Mr. Blinded and Commander Southby.|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 10.48 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
There are several points that I would like to raise upon this Clause before the Committee leaves it. I do not think some Members of the Committee have realised the seriousness of what it is that we are doing by Clause 1. It is the first time that there has been an inroad upon the democratic 674 government of any of the Dominions. All the Dominions have gradually increased from a Colonial status up to a Dominion status, where they have got full self-government in the comity of nations which is called the British Commonwealth of Nations, and this is the first time that we have ever taken a retrogressive step in that gradual advance to free government within that Commonwealth. I think the Committee ought to consider whether the circumstances 675 arising in Newfoundland are really such as to make it necessary to take that backward step. It does not necessarily follow that the solution of the troubles of Newfoundland is bound up with the abolition of democracy. Those of us who are anxious to preserve democracy both here and in other countries view with considerable apprehension this tendency to accuse democracy of a crime for which it is not responsible. There are other ways of dealing with democracy besides getting rid of it. Capital punishment is not the only punishment for democracy. You can take steps to mend its ways and to make it more effective and more truly capable of carrying out the will of the people of the country.
There is one very grave defect in the democratic system that has been enforced in Newfoundland to which hon. Members of the Committee have perhaps not attached sufficient importance. There has always been a property qualification for the members of the Newfoundland House of Assembly. That qualification is set out on page 11, paragraph 50 of the Report:The qualification of candidates for election to the House of Assembly is possession of property exceeding 2,400 dollars in value or a net annual income of 480 dollars.Those figures may not sound very large figures when one is considering a country like America or a country like this, but when one is dealing with a community which largely consists of persons possessing no property at all and—as we have heard in these Debates and read in the commission's report—in which many of the people never have money through their hands at all in the course of the whole year owing to the truck system that persists there, it is obvious that a property qualification of that sort seriously limits the class of persons from whom the elected members of the Assembly may be drawn. The industrial and merchant community of Newfoundland is a very small one, and one gathers that among this small class of propertied persons in Newfoundland there has grown up this system of political impurity which is so fully described in the course of the commission's report. It certainly appears that the blame attaches rather to a particular class of propertied persons, the class of persons who have been 676 entitled to become elected members of the Assembly in Newfoundland.
That is obviously a very great weakness. It is a thing that we got rid of in this country many years ago, and we suggest that one of the things which might well have been regarded before democracy was killed was the question of whether it was not possible to revive democracy by making it more real and more effective, instead of proceeding to substitute a dictatorship. That is the modern way of curing democracy in every country in the world, and the one which the right hon. Gentleman opposite is adopting so freely in this case, although I understand that in some of his writings he professes himself against it. The view that the only cure for democracy is death and substitution by dictatorship is certainly not a view that I hold or that this party holds. If any hon. or right hon. Gentleman has ever read anything I have written, he will see that I do not hold that view, but if he has only read the "Morning Post" he may think differently. In any event, the personal aspect is wholly unimportant. But to the people of Newfoundland this question of whether or not we can cure democracy instead of killing it is one of vital importance as there has been and is to be no provision for any testing of the opinion of the people of Newfoundland by plebiscite or in any other way. We are forcing upon them, as a condition of the financial assistance we are giving, a dictatorship, because, apparently, the argument runs that the particular type of democracy that they have had in Newfoundland has been unable to resist the temptation of the capitalists who have been offering money corruptly.
Therefore, because that particular type has failed, we give up all hope of instituting any better type or any alternative type of democracy and say that our only resort lies in dictatorship. We believe that this is an extremely unfortunate and vicious thing to do. especially in the present stage of world development, for we are merely adding to the world tendency to kill democracy. This would really have been a magnificent chance, especially for the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretary, both of whom believe firmly in the Socialist co-operative commonwealth, to have tried it in practice in Newfoundland. I know that they believe that, given the right circumstances, such 677 a system is bound to produce the most beneficial results for all the workers. Of course, it implies getting rid of loads of debt which are the result of exploitation by capitalists, and they would sympathise, I know, with jettisoning all that unnecessary load of debt. We jettison it quite cheerfully by making nominal payments when it is a question of the debt to America. Why not let the Newfoundland people make a token payment to the bondholders? Why should the Canadian banks receive 6,000,000 dollars in cash from the taxpayers of this country? I presume the Canadian banks took the usual banking risks in lending the money to the Prime Minister, or whoever it was, in Newfoundland, and I am bound to say it is difficult to follow the logic that now makes it necessary for this country to pay in cash in full the overdraft of the corrupt Newfoundland Government.
It would surely be much better to adopt the straight honourable international financial system of giving them 80,000 dollars as a token payment. It would have salved the consciences of the people who made it, and, I suppose, according to the ordinary standard of morality in international debt nowadays, it would have satisfied the Canadian banks. Having done that, having got rid of this load of debt which has been built up by the corruption of the Government in Newfoundland, and what the commission call the very ready lenders they found to hand to assist them in the job of exploiting Newfoundland to their advantage, he might have started to set up that which has always been the right hon. Gentleman's aim in life—the Socialist commonwealth. He would have seen no doubt rapidly growing under his aegis in Newfoundland that which he has long been dreaming as possible for his own country.
I can imagine nothing that would have pleased the right hon. Gentleman more than this opportunity for the practical realisation of the dream of a lifetime. It seems to us that it must have been very trying for him when he found that his Conservative colleagues in the Cabinet refused to allow this great opportunity to launch this island on a successful Socialist career. We do really feel sympathy with him in the struggle he must have had in the Cabinet with his one or two faithful Socialist colleagues to try and get this scheme launched against the opposition of the reactionaries.
678 However, unfortunately, he has failed in that gallant fight. Now we find that the broker's men are put in, and they are presumably to squat there until the debt is paid according to the ordinary capitalist system. That is the provision, that until Newfoundland can pay the bondholders and the banks and others this commission is to stay in occupation. We resent very much the idea that the fishermen and the other gallant workers in Newfoundland, instead of being freed from this incubus which has been put on them by the vice and greed of the richer people of Newfoundland and the banks outside, should be tied down to this load of debt, and that apparently no steps are to be taken to give them a new and better basis than the basis of corrupt capitalism which has made their lives a misery.
§ 11.1 p.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
I want to pursue a point which I raised on the Second Reading, to which, it seems to me, the Under-Secretary did not give an adequate reply. What action do the Government propose to take during the next few years, when the Colony is administered under the Letters Patent, with respect to the possible association of the Colony with Canada? We ought to have a definite statement from the Government as to what negotiations have taken place in the past. The Secretary of State did make some reference this afternoon to past negotiations, but it is much more important to know what is to happen in the future. I will recapitulate the points I made on Second Reading. I pointed out the very close industrial, educational, religious and economic ties which bind our oldest Colony to Canada. At the time of the Federation, in 1867, it was fully anticipated that she would join Canada, and in 1895, when there was another financial crisis in the Colony, negotiations took place between the two States and agreement was very nearly reached. There was a matter of £1,000,000 outstanding, which this country was asked to pay, and which it refused to do. As late as 1928 a debate took place in the Canadian Senate, when the general view was expressed that it was desirable that Newfoundland should become associated with Canada, and negotiations were definitely started for that purpose. It was only 679 the coming of the great depression which nipped off those negotiations. The commission dealt with this point in their report, but I would venture to quote certain passages in order to point out that they seem to be totally inadequate to explain the non-exploration of the subject from that point of view. Paragraph 533 says:Unless the Canadian Government were prepared to offer strikingly generous terms no such solution would be acceptable to Newfoundland public opinion.Surely, now that the people of Newfoundland have the offer of a free grant of a large sum of money from Great Britain, they are not exactly in the mood to come to terms with somebody who would deal with them more on the basis of their actual position as a bankrupt State. In paragraph 540 it is suggested thatApart, however, from the hostility which proposals for political union might be expected to evoke among certain interests.Surely the fact that certain interests, financial or otherwise, possibly not very reputable, might object to negotiations to join with Canada is not a very good reason why they should not take place.?Probably the very people who are responsible for so much of the trouble in the past would be those who would object to this union taking place. I submit that there again there is no hope for it, but perhaps we come closer to the objections here. Paragraph 542 says:Chief among the possible disadvantages is placed the necessity for direct taxation, hitherto unknown to the fisherman in Newfoundland.I cannot see, because the Newfoundlander might be called upon to pay direct taxation for the first time, that that is a valid argument for not joining the Dominion of Canada. I hope that the matter is going to be thoroughly explored, and I appealed to the Under-Secretary to deal with the matter in his reply. It is only because his reply was very inadequate that I am raising the matter again. I hope that the Secretary of State will deal with the matter which is of very great importance, and of far greater importance than he is prepared to admit, and cannot be passed over in the light and airy way in which he has attempted to do. The hon. Gentleman said that the Commission examined the suggestion that Newfoundland should join in the Dominion of Canada, 680 but after sympathetic consideration they had found that it was, in the economic and political circumstances of the time, absolutely impossible as. a method of meeting the situation. I appreciate that. I have been trying to point out what some of those obstacles were. But there was a counter-offer of a very attractive kind, and while they had that before them, they were not going to listen to any other method which might be discussed with the Dominions on a more realist basis. I notice in the famous paragraph (g) that there is a statement that:It would be understood that, as soon as the Island's difficulties are overcome and the country is again self-supporting, responsible Government, on request from the people of Newfoundland, would be restored.If it got abroad that, when we had spent all this money and administered the island, all that was going to happen was that automatically on demand from those very people in Newfoundland who are responsible for all this mischief, they were to have the whole thing handed back to them so that they could get up to the same tricks again, it would be a first class disaster. There is no reason why they should hare it. I say most sincerely that so far from that position being accepted, it ought to be made clear now that, during the. intervening period, the right hon. Gentleman will do all he can by private negotiation and by diplomatic pressure,: on the most friendly possible way, to bring together the Dominions and Newfoundland, pointing out to them their unity of interest, and, obviously, in the long run their interest is one. We are in a position not only to give good advice, but to exercise a little pressure in view of the great sacrifices that we are making for the country. Whether this view which I am expressing is the right one or not, I seriously suggest that it requires further exploration, and a definite statement from the Secretary of State, who will not get round the difficulty by treating it lightly, as if it were of no importance as to what the policy of His Majesty's Government is in the matter. In all friendliness and with every desire to assist the true future of the Colony of Newfoundland, which I believe lies with the Dominion of Canada, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some information on the point.
§ Mr. THOMAS rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."682
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 200; Noes, 47.683
|Division No. 30.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Nunn, William|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Albery, Irving James||Fraser, Captain Ian||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J.Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Petherick, M|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n. Bilston)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Goff, Sir Park||Potter, John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Goldie, Noel B.||Pybus, Percy John|
|Baldwin-Webb. Colonel J.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'ri'd, N.)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Grimston, R. V.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Ray, Sir William|
|Bernays, Robert||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Guy. J. C. Morrison||Remer, John R.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Blindell, James||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rickards, George William|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Harbord, Arthur||Robinson, John Roland|
|Borodale, Viscount||Hartington, Marquess of||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Horsbrugh, Florence||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Howard, Tom Forrest||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hudson. Robert Spear (Southport)||Scone, Lord|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Burghley, Lord||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Hurd, Sir Percy||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Burnett, John George||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Butt. Sir Alfred||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jamieson, Douglas||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Jennings, Roland||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Ker, J. Campbell||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Leckie, J. A.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Christie, James Archibald||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Leighton. Major B. E. P.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Cooke, Douglas||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Thompson, Luke|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||McCorguodale, M. S.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||MeKie, John Hamilton||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Denville, Alfred||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Tree, Ronald|
|Dickie, John P.||Magnay, Thomas||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Drewe, Cedrie||Makins, Brigadler-General Ernest||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Mitchell, Harold p. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Elmley, Viscount||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Munro, Patrick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Sir George Penny and Lieut.-Colonel|
|Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Daggar, George|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Buchanan, George||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)|
|Banfield, John William||Cape, Thomas||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Batey, Joseph||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Edwards, Charles|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lawson, John James||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Logan, David Gilbert||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||McGovern, John||White, Henry Graham|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||McKeag, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Wilmot, John|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Mainwaring, William Henry||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Janner, Barnett||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Maxton, James||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."684
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 32.685
|Division No. 31.]||AYES.||[11.18 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Albery, Irving James||Fleming, Edward Lascelies||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Aske, sir Robert William||Fraser, Captain Ian||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gilmogr, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Glucksteln, Louis Halle||Munro, Patrick|
|Balfour. Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Goff, Sir Park||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Goldle, Noel B.||Nunn, William|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Bernays, Robert||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Grimston, R. V.||Petherick, M.|
|Blindell, James||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Potter, John|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Pybus, Percy John|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Raikes. Henry V. A. M.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Harbord, Arthur||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hartland, George A.||Ramsay, T, B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Ray, Sir William|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Remer, John R.|
|Burghley, Lord||Horsbrugh, Florence||Renwick. Major Gustav A.|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Howard, Tom Forrest||Rickards, George William|
|Burnett, John George||Howitt. Dr. Alfred B.||Robinson, John Roland|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hunter. Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hurd, Sir Percy||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Jamieson, Douglas||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Christie, James Archibald||Jennings, Roland||Scone, Lord|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Ker, J. Campbell||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Leckle, J. A.||Smith. R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Spears. Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Llewellin, Major John J.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Storey, Samuel|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Denville, Alfred||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Dickie, John P.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Drewe, Cedric||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Sugden. Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McKeag, William||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Dunglass, Lord||McKie, John Hamilton||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Eastwood, John Francis||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Thomas. James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J,||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Thompson, Luke|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Magnay, Thomas||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Elmley, Viscount||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Whyte, Jardine Bell||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Tree, Ronald||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon. S.)|
|Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)||Wills, Wilfrid D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)||Sir George Penny and Lieut.-Colonel|
|Weymouth, Viscount||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|White, Henry Graham||Womersley, Walter James|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Edwards, Charles||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Banfield, John William||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Buchanan, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Williams, Thomas (York., Don Valley)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Wilmot, John|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawson, John James|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Logan, David Gilbert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Daggar, George||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||McGovern, John|
§ 11.25 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
On the Question, "That Clause 1 stand part," the most important Clause of the Bill, a speech was made from this Front Bench, and no attempt has been made to deal with the arguments submitted. What immediately happened was that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander), who has been a most valiant supporter of the right hon. Gentleman, made a speech, and thereupon the right hon. Gentleman got up and said: "After that speech there is no need for anything more," and he moved the Closure. It is not suitable that this House should continue to debate this important Bill when the Secretary of State is not prepared to reply to arguments. To anyone who has been listening to the Debate the reason is perfectly obvious. Every time the right hon. Gentleman has tried to make a reply he has made some terrible blunder that has brought protests from either side of the House, and not only from the Opposition. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) and the right hon. and galiant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) have had to intervene. We all realise that the right hon. Gentleman is under a very great strain over this Bill. He sees one Dominion departing and he is under very great strain over another Dominion, and it is clear that by 11.30 p.m. he is totally exhausted. The fact remains that here we have a very important constitutional matter to discuss.
Anyone who has listened to the debate will have realised that on the whole question involved in Clause 1, ever since the time that the Bill was introduced, hon. Members in all parts of the House have 686 become more and more concerned when they saw the extremely awkward precedent that was being set and they understood the full implications. Naturally, special points were brought up on each Amendment, and the right hon. Gentleman failed to satisfy the House, but we were hoping to get a really coherent defence of Clause I from somebody. A point was put, extremely moderately, by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), in a short speech—there was no wasting of time—a logical speech, that demanded an answer. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton put forward a very interesting question as to whether the proposals in the Bill were fixed for all time or whether any consideration was going to be given to certain proposals which he had put forward, but the right hon. Gentleman brushed him entirely aside, made no attempt to answer his argument and simply used the brutal force of his majority. I submit that in these circumstances it is clear that the Committee should not continue to sit when we (have a Minister who either cannot or will not reply.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I desire to support the Motion to report Progress. [Interruption] I do not see the need for hilarity because it is not unusual for opposing elements in the House of Commons to find common ground for action. I am supporting the Motion to report Progress because of the plain insult that has been offered to an hon. Member who sits on the Liberal benches and does not support the party to which I belong. The relationship of hon. Members to one another and to the Government would become entirely different to what we have been accustomed if the House were to 687 allow individual private Members to be subjected to gross and offensive insults such as was offered to the hon. Member. I hope that I take very well all the remarks which may be passed in a humorous way between the right hon. Gentleman and myself, just as I hope he takes them from me, but that is an entirely different story. There is a certain amount of give and take in the course of a rough and tumble Debate, but there is a point where it ceases to be fair exchange in Debate and becomes positive rudeness which would make the work of this House quite impossible if it were to become the practice instead of the exception, and I hope that before we proceed with the business the right hon. Gentleman will offer some amends to the hon. Member and to the Committee. The progress of business and his own dignity would not suffer in any degree by such an action.
Hints have been thrown out that some of us are anxious to obstruct the passage of the Measure. Let me be perfectly frank. My feelings are so strong that I do not want to facilitate its passage. I have no desire to see it on the Statute Book. I think it is an unutterably bad Bill, and the proceedings on the various Amendments, which could have been prolonged, have not been unduly prolonged. It was only necessary at any stage to move the Closure, and on several discussions that we have had I should not have resented it. My hon. Friend and I have been responsible for the main Amendments to Clause 1, and they involved considerable time and trouble to get them in a form which would ensure an opportunity for Debate. I have not spent one minute outside the Chamber yet when we come to debate the Clause standing part which enables a general discussion to take place, which I proposed to use as an opportunity to ask the right hon. Gentleman to make a statement indicating that the interests of the people in Newfoundland would be safeguarded in every possible way within his own personal control, the right hon. Gentleman moves the Closure. After one-and-a-half speeches—the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton did not speak at any undue length—and when others in different parts of the House were rising to catch the Chair- 688 man's eye, the Dominions Secretary moved the Closure.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Closure was accepted and passed by the House. The hon. Member must not now question the Closure or the passing of it.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I am merely objecting to the time at which and the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman rose to move a Motion on that subject.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not make any reflection on the time at which the Closure was moved.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I, of course, accept that Ruling. You are telling me that I must not say anything that casts a reflection on the Chair. I accept that at once.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is wrong. I did not mean that at all. It is a question of a reflection on the decision of the House. The House decided on the Closure. The rule is perfectly well known to the hon. Member. It is well known to me because I have suffered from it myself.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
In discussing a Motion to report Progress because of a grievance that the Closure has been moved in a rather hasty manner by a member of the Government, is it not in order for Members to point out that in their opinion the Closure of the Debate was too hasty—in their opinion?
§ Mr. MAXTON
I get your point, Mr. Chairman, and I accept it. The fact that the House has decided that the Closure was right at that time makes it right. I accept your decision that that cannot be debated, though I voted in the minority. I shall confine myself, in conclusion, to the manner of the right hon. Gentleman's poposal of the Closure, and again I ask him to put himself right in the eyes of the Committee by stating that his attitude towards private Members is not due to a feeling that because he happens to have the power he will use it offensively to crush out hon. Members in the legitimate exercise of their duties here.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
If there is one thing that this House is unanimous about it is that however keenly or fiercely hon. Members may debate any question, or however much they may differ—I have 689 had 25 years' continuous experience—they will not tolerate from any Member, whatever his position, what I call hitting below the belt or a personal affront. If my hon, Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) or the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) think for one moment that I meant any personal reflection, I assure them at once that nothing whatever of the kind was in my mind. I would recall to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton our conversation in the Lobby only a few hours ago, which confims what I say. If he or the hon. Member for Bridgeton think that there was anything personal towards them on my part I can only say that my remark was not so intended. I now come to the Motion. From 3.45 p.m. until 11 p.m. we have debated Clause 1.
I presume the Amendments moved were relevant. We have debated them at length, with good temper and I think with general agreement that they all raised questions worthy of consideration. After seven hours, when all the relevant Amendments had been disposed of, the Motion was "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", On that Motion the hon. and Learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) did not add any new contribution to those already offered, except in one respect. He took the opportunity to make it clear that whatever he might have said in the country—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is getting very near the bounds of Order. I cannot understand the point of his remarks, unless he is going to refer to the question of the Closure.
I was going to say that I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that no new issue was raised in the speeches on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill".
§ The CHAIRMAN
No. The Closure has been approved by the Committee and any reflection upon the moving of the Closure is a reflection upon the decision of the Committee.
§ Mr. Neil MACLEAN
Is it not in Order, in speaking on a Motion to report progress, following a Closure Motion, to refer to the manner in which the Closure has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am not sure what the hon. Member means by "the manner in which the Closure is moved". That might refer to the fact that it had been moved in a loud voice, or in a voice that could not be heard. I must repeat what I have already said. When the Closure has been moved and carried it is not in order to debate or reflect upon the moving of the Closure at all.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
On that point of Order. It is, I think, in order to state that the Closure was moved without a reply having been made by the Government, and to comment on that fact.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Is that not carrying the matter rather far? It is clear that we cannot reflect on the Committee's decision to have a Closure, but the Committee has not come to a decision as to whether it was right or wrong for the Minister not to reply.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must remind the hon. Member that the Committee decided that it was time to Closure the discussion.
§ 11.47 p.m.
I am only concerned to remove, as I hope I have succeeded in doing, any personal feeling in the matter. I hope my hon. Friends the Members for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) and Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) will accept unreservedly from me my explicit assurance that nothing personal was intended.
§ 11.48 p.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
I must say that with reference to the incident which occurred just now, to which I must be very careful not to make any reference, I have endeavoured to be as reasonable and friendly as I could, and to ask for a reply on a question in which I thought the Committee would take an interest. I have been supporting the Government, except on one point, all through the day,' and therefore I was a little surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's action. I fully anticipate that he will take such opportunity as may present itself to deal with the particular point that arises. I fully accept that there was nothing personal in his action, but I look forward with anticipation to the remarks which we think he ought to make on the point in question.
§ 11.49 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
It is usual for the Government at this time of night to make some statement as to how long they intend to ask the Committee to sit. I have been here a great number of years, and at what we term the turn of the clock a Motion to report Progress is always taken in order that the Government might make some statement as to the future trend of business. I was wondering if the Patronage Secretary would give us an idea on the subject now. The Prime Minister said he wanted to take four Orders, namely, this, the Unemployment (Money) Resolution, and two other Orders, one relating to potatoes and the other relating to hops. The Prime Minister said he did not intend the House to sit unduly late, but he added, I admit, that they must get the first two Orders. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to say, first of all, if it is still his intention to proceed with the other two Orders—that is the Potato Marketing Scheme and the Hops Marketing Scheme—first, and, secondly, if he still intends 692 to sit throughout the night on the Financial Resolution on the Unemployment Insurance Bill? It is, as he knows, a time-honoured practice that at this time of the evening he should make some statement in order that the Committee may know its future commitments, and I call upon him to make such a statement.
§ 11.51 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Captain Margesson)
I sympathise with the request of the hon. Gentleman. It is not the Government's intention to proceed either with the Potato Scheme or the Hops Scheme tonight. The Prime Minister said at Question Time that we were suspending the Standing Order in order to get the first two Orders, and, if we settle down to business now, we should be able easily to carry out the programme which we have before us. I must, however, point out to the Committee that we have already had one full day on the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution on the Unemployment Insurance Bill, and another Financial Resolution has only had to be brought in on account of the concession made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We also informed the House this afternoon that, in view of the full day already given to the Financial Resolution, the discussions need not be prolonged, and I therefore hope that the Committee will enable us to get those first two Orders without delay.
§ 11.53 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
Does the Patronage Secretary remember that no reply at all was made by the Government on the general discussion during the last Debate on the Financial Resolution on the Unemployment Insurance Bill? The only reply that was given was in response to an Amendment moved from this side. We have not yet had a reply, and is it not highly undesirable, in view of the fact that many hon. Members are obviously very tired, to proceed any further with this Bill to-night if we are to have a repetition of the bad temper of which we have had recent experience? We are entitled to receive a reply from the Government Front Bench on the general provisions of the Financial Resolution. After the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke on Monday the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) spoke, and a 693 number of other hon. Members spoke, and to those speeches we have not yet had a reply.
A very important point was made as to whether certain provisions in the Resolution would not seriously handicap the Chancellor of the Exchequer in preparing his Budget. To those observations no reply at all has been given, and now we are to have a general Debate on this important question in the early hours of the morning. I submit that this is not treating the Opposition fairly. We are a very small number, and we have to throw ourselves largely on the mercy of the House. We are entitled to expect a huge and overwhelming majority like that of the Government to show us, if not mercy, at least some degree of justice, and to hold this Debate on such an important subject in a few hours' time when we are not so fatigued as we are now. I submit that if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will not persist in demanding the Financial Resolution to-night, it may be possible to make arrangements to get it more easily later on. If, however, he persists in asking for it to-night, it is obvious that we cannot agree willingly.
§ 11.55 p.m.
§ Captain MARGESSON
My recollection of the Debate on the Financial Resolution a few days ago was that two Cabinet Ministers took part in it and a final speech was made by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. My recollection is that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) himself rose and moved the Amendment on the topic of the Financial Resolution under discussion. Had the hon. Gentleman not moved the Amendment, but had carried on with the general Debate longer, a reply would have been made on the general Debate. If there had been any complaint that Monday's Debate was inadequate or that the Government had not taken their full share in it, it would have been made by the Leader of the Opposition, but I have heard no such complaint.
§ 11.56 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
That Debate took an unusual course, and the whole of it became nugatory owing to an alteration having been made in the Financial Resolution and that Resolution withdrawn so that a new one could be moved. It would therefore have been futile to complain, because we thought we should have another opportunity for discussion.
§ 11.57 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
It was understood on Monday that no reply was made on the general discussion because the Amendment was to be taken and finally disposed of. I understand from my own Front Bench that the Amendment on the Order paper to the Resolution is not going to be moved because a discussion has already been held on it. To that procedure I take no exception. What I am pointing out is that no reply has been made on the general Debate. The statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer came early in the evening, and we are entitled to ask the Government that a member of the Cabinet shall be put up to reply to the statements made that night. I submit to the Patronage Secretary that it is not our fault if the Government make a mistake and have to withdraw their Financial Resolution. The Government made that mistake, and they must not now ask the House to pay for it. I would ask hon. Members to realise that once the House has parted with the Financial Resolution we shall be gravely limited in the Committee stage of the Bill—
§ Mr. BEVAN
I am only pointing out how necessary it is to have the most ample opportunity of discussing the Financial Resolution, because, once we have parted with it, we shall be strictly limited in Committee on the Bill. This is an unusual Bill and an unusual Financial Resolution. The passing of the Resolution imposes strict limitations on the Committee stage, and we are therefore entitled to ask for the amplest and best opportunity of discussing its provisions. Therefore I suggest to the Patronage Secretary that the best interests of time would be served if he could give an assurance that after a certain stage has been reached in the present Bill, he will allow the House to adjourn and discuss the Financial Bill some other time.
§ 11.59 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I will not follow the line of my hon. Friend, but will offer a few observations in order to enable the Patronage Secretary to make up his mind as to his reply. In supporting the Motion to report Progress, I must be careful not 695 to allude to any incident that took place before the last Division. I only want to allude to the speech which was made by the Dominions Secretary since. I think that we ought, in the interests of the conduct of Debate and of the right hon. Gentleman himself, to report Progress, because it was obvious from that short speech which he made—so much shorter than any of the speeches he has made before, including the speech he did not make before the Division—that he is feeling very tired and is really fatigued. I do not wonder. He has enormous responsibilities'. Even when enjoying his usual rude health he has lost only two of the Dominions. If it is weakened he may lose the other four. We are looking to him to preserve his health in order that he may take on the Home Office and teach the police the sartorial details of which he knows so much more than the present administrators. And apart from the desire to preserve his health we feel that we ought to have the Dominions Secretary here in his full intellectual vigour.
What has happened to-night? We have not got the Law Officers of the Crown. The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General are enjoying their fees elsewhere. We have not got the Prime Minister to explain in his lucid way the exact position in Newfoundland and if the Dominions Secretary is to be here in a state of mental collapse what is going to happen not merely to the high traditions of this honourable House but of the Empire, of which Newfoundland and ourselves form a part. For those reasons I hope the whole House and all who honour our traditions and love our Empire will support this proposal.
§ 12.2 a.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I would like to add a little to the moving speech to which we have just listened. I think it had the effect of adding, perhaps, a stimulant to the Dominions Secretary, but stimulants are not the kind of thing on which the House ought to discuss matters of such very grave importance as are before us now. You may stimulate a person in many ways, but you cannot expect a person acting under a stimulant to be able to give that attention to this extremely important matter which a Minister of the Crown ought to pay to it [Interruption] I had an opportunity of witnessing an exhibition earlier in the evening. 696 Although my back happens to be turned to the hon. Lady I am quite aware of the nature of the stimulant.
§ Mr. HANNON
On a point of Order. Is this conducive to the dignity of the House? Is the argument submitted by the hon. Member related to the Motion to Report Progress? Are we to have the House turned into a sort of bear garden.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Is the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) in order in casting reflections on the Committee by saying that it is becoming a bear garden while you are in the Chair?
§ Mr. McENTEE
I do not feel in the least upset at the very absurd interjection of the hon. Gentleman. I have beer: in the Committee and have heard most of the Debate, and I have taken some little part in it. I am as qualified as the hon. Member to deal with the question which is before the Committee. The point I was trying to raise was in regard to the time and the circumstances in which we are likely to discuss the Financial Resolution that will follow the Bill which we are now discussing. I would ask the Patronage Secretary whether the Resolution that is to be submitted will be entirely different from that which we discussed the other day. There appeared to be some hon. Members who were ready to thank the Government [Interruption] I shall finish my speech, though we have to stay here all night. I do not mind at all. I am trying to make the point with the Patronage Secretary, as to whether the £300,000. which is the amount—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman must not discuss the contents of the Financial Resolution, which is not before the Committee to-night.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I accept your Ruling, but I have no intention of discussing in any way the Financial Resolution, and I was referring to the fact of its importance which is such that it ought not to be discussed in conditions of levity such as those in which this Bill is being discussed. The discussion ought not to go on in the way it has continued for the last 10 minutes, when matters are of such importance to the country and to the Dominions. I cannot help wondering, in 697 view of what has taken place, whether we are to be subjected to the same kind of treatment on the Resolution as we have had on the Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
For the second time I must warn the hon. Gentleman that he is not within the terms of the Motion before the Committee.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I am trying to draw (attention to the fact that there are other Clauses yet to be taken, and, if we are to be treated in the same way as we have been treated—
§ 12.10 a.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
We have now been discussing for some little time a Motion to report Progress, and I am sure the Patronage Secretary will realise (that, the proceedings having been delayed for various reasons to which I cannot now refer, the House does not seem to be in a frame of mind at present to settle down to the consideration of the major Measures which are still on the Order Paper. Moreover, I agree with other Members that one can see that the Dominions Secretary has had a very long day, and is obviously feeling tired, and it would be unfair to the House to insist on his embarking on a long all-night sitting. I am sure the work he has to do in his office to-morrow will necessarily suffer if we keep him here through the night, and, however much he may be stimulated by the references of another hon. Gentleman, I am afraid he is bound afterwards to experience a relapse and to suffer from that feeling which one gets after stimulation the night before. Therefore, we ask the Patronage Secretary to let us know the term of our toil. If he will say that, after all, this Bill is all he can reasonably expect, in view of incidents to which I am not allowed to refer, it will no doubt be possible to get through its remaining stages in a comparatively short time; but if it means that we are here for the night anyway, well, let us be here till to-morrow morning. In that case I would follow the example of Mr. Jorrocks, and say:Where I dines I sleeps, and where I sleeps I breakfasts.I am sure, however, that the sweet reasonableness which always accompanies 698 every act of the right hon. Gentleman will lead him now to say that, in view of the friendly feeling which has been restored to the House, he will go no further tonight than the Newfoundland Bill, and will find another opportunity for discussing in a calm and reasonable attitude of mind, when we are all fresher, the very important subject of the Unemployment Resolution.
§ 12.13 a.m.
§ Captain MARGESSON
I always like to meet the hon. and learned Gentleman as far as I can, but the Government feel that they must get this Bill and also the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution. I would quote the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman after the Chancellor of the Exchequer had spoken on Monday in the Debate on the Financial Resolution:I shall merely say that everyone who is interested in the local authorities will be glad of the concession, even though it is only a small one. We will certainly willingly lend our assistance in the procedure which the right hon. Gentleman has outlined as being the desirable procedure for putting this matter in order."—["OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1933; col. 104, Vol. 284.][HON. MEMBERS: "That was moving the Chairman out of the Chair! "] It was a question of the procedure to be followed in putting down the new Resolution. It was agreed that we had given a full day for discussion of the Financial Resolution, and therefore it would not be too much to ask the House, when the new Resolution—which only embodies the concession which has been made—had been put down, to let us have that next stage, or rather, continuation of the same stage, without undue discussion. The hon. and learned Gentleman himself says it would be possible to get through the remaining stages of the Bill in a short time, and, if we can turn our minds to business straight away, without further debate on the Motion to report Progress, we can have a short discussion in Committee on the Financial Resolution and still get home in very good time.
§ 12.15 a.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I really think it would be better if we took the Unemployment Money Resolution on Monday or Tuesday of next week. If the Patronage Secretary realises that this Bill, which was not looked upon as a serious thing at first, has during the discussion raised issues of great importance which have 699 been voiced in every part of the Committee, he will agree that there has been no obstruction on this side at all.
§ Mr. LOGAN
I came to this House filled with the knowledge of its great traditions, and it is because of those traditions that I feel bound to support the Motion to report Progress. The flippancy of some of the remarks that have been made is ill-becoming to the Committee, and indicates that the Committee has reached a stage at which it is not in a condition to discuss important matters any longer [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Judging from some of the remarks one would think this was a Zoo, and not the House of Commons. It is because I think that at the stage which we have reached the mentral capacity of the Committe should be able to be fully exercised, and its function of thinking quietly and well on the matters which it is administering, continued in full, that I think the Motion should be supported. It is patent to every Member that the
§ Committee is not in a condition to bury decently or to carry on the business of the Committee. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I agree it is nonsense. I am in full agreement with hon. Members. No one can dispute that it is nonsense. That is the very reason why I got up to protest that this nonsensical kind of business should be brought to a close. It is right that all thinking men should point out the unwise course the Committee is about to pursue and I know the great traditions of this House. I know how glorious is the reputation we in this House have to sustain. It is because I want those stars not to be dimmed, and because I want the nation to realise that the sterling vitality of the National Government is not impaired, that I support the Motion.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 35; Noes 184.701
|Division No. 32.]||AYES.||[12.20 a.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Edwards, Charles||McGovern, John|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Banfield. John William||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Batey, Joseph||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Buchanan, George||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Sir Percy||Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Cocks. Fredrick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Wilmot, John|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Daggar, George||Lawson, John James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Logan, David Gilbert||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.|
|Agnew, Lieut. Com. P. G.||Carver, Major William H.||Goff. Sir Park|
|Albery. Irving James||Cayzer. Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Goldle, Noel B.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Graves, Marjorie|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Christie, James Archibald||Griffith. F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Colman, N. C. D.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Cook, Thomas A.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Cooke, Douglas||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bernays, Robert||Dickie, John P.||Harbord, Arthur|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Drewe, Cedric||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Harvey. George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Duncan. James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Borodale, Viscount||Eastwood, John Francis||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Bossom, A. C.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E, W.||Elmley, Viscount||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Bayce, H. Leslie||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney. N.)|
|Broadbent. Colonel John||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||FlemiNo. Edward Lascelles||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Ford. Sir Patrick J.||James. Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Fraser, Captain Ian||Jamieson, Douglas|
|Burgin. Or. Edward Leslie||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Jennings, Roland|
|Burnett, John George||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Nunn, William||Spens, William Patrick|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Storey, Samuel|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Palmer, Francis Noel||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Leckie, J. A.||Patrick, Colin M.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Leech. Dr. J. W.||Penny, Sir George||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Petherick, M.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'vorh'pt'n, Bilst'n)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Pickering, Ernest H.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Potter, John||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Pybus, Percy John||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Thompson, Luke|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|McKeag, William||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Rea, Walter Russell||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Tree, Ronald|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Robinson, John Roland||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Ropner, Colonel L.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Runge, Norah Cecil||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Mitchell. Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Rickards, George William||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Morris, John Patrick (Saltord, N.)||Scone, Lord||Womersley, Walter James|
|Morris-Jones, Or. J. H. (Denbigh)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Munro, Patrick||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Sir Frederick Thomson and Major|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||George Davies.|