HC Deb 06 April 1936 vol 310 cc2543-65

9.45 p.m.


I want to revert to the international question. I wish I had been fortunate enough to catch your eye before the Foreign Secretary made his reply, because I wanted to address a question to him. It is predominantly an economic question, and I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he replies will be good enough to deal with it. The Foreign Secretary repudiated with warmth the accusation that the Government had shown themselves deliberately half-hearted in dealing with Italian aggression in Abyssinia. To my mind his words carried considerable conviction, but when it came to the question of the particular form of pressure upon Italy which is occupying the minds of so many of us, namely oil sanctions, his reply seemed to be less convincing. Three reasons are put forward by different people why the League has not imposed oil sanctions upon Italy. One is the reason that was indicated by the Foreign Secretary, when he told us that at one period the Government took the view that the oil sanction ought to be imposed, but they yielded to the appeal of France for a further effort of concilation between the two parties at war.

There is a general impression in the country that the desire of France to bring about methods of conciliation between the parties was really only a cover for their desire to avoid the imposition of oil sanctions because they were likely to be effective, and that France wishes to retain the friendship of Italy so that she can have Italy on her side in the event of trouble with Germany. I suggest that France is now paying dearly for manoeuvring in the matter of oil sanctions. I do not think that anyone who has followed the course of British opinion recently on the European situation can deny that the expressions. of sympathy with Germany and the irritation with France, which have found their fullest expression in the speeches of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)—expressions which I deeply regret and which I think mischievous—have had their source in a feeling in the public mind that France in regard to Abyssinia has pursued a wholly selfish policy, and has shown herself anxious about the sanctity of treaties only when they concern the security of her own borders, and has been indifferent to her obligations in connection with the League. Nothing would so reassure public opinion in the matter of the Locarno Treaty and reconcile the public of this country to the fulfilment of their obligations under the Locarno Treaty than if, even at this late hour, the British Government and the French Government would combine in taking a strong line with Italy.

There has been another explanation why the Government have shrunk from the imposition of oil sanctions. That explanation was dealt with by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) and I think the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) put the matter even more plainly. They suggested that the oil sanction had not been imposed because it might lead to war. I wish we could get more clearly from those who speak with experience in these matters whether they seriously maintain that the imposition of oil sanctions on Italy, especially now, would actually lead to the declaration of war by Italy. When they threaten us with war, when they ask whether we mean war, we have a right to ask them which is really the greater risk—the risk of Italy going to war with Great Britain and with a united League (because nearly all the Mediterranean countries have given an assurance of their support if oil sanctions are imposed), or the risk of showing fear before a bully. In the European dispute, was not Germany encouraged in her action in the Rhineland by the feeling that she need not be afraid of the League, because if the League crumples up before Italy she is not likely to show a very firm front before Germany?

There is a third reason, which has not been touched upon and which is a matter upon which the House needs further explanation. We all know the serious impediment to the oil sanction caused by the attitude of the United States of America. Abnormal exports to Italy from the United States have been going on during the past two months. We all realise that that is a real danger. The Committee of Eighteen have reported that if America does not co-operate the result of the oil sanction would merely be to slow down and make more expensive the supply of oil to Italy. I do not think that anybody who has watched closely, as I have tried to do, the American attitude on neutrality in the past few months can deny that President Roosevelt and his administration in the autumn did show themselves keenly anxious to assure the League that they intended to remain true to the various assurances which they gave, for example, the assurance given by Secretary Hull to the League Co-ordination Committee, that the United States were deeply interested in the prevention of war and hence the sanctity of treaties and very desirous not to contribute, to a prolongation of the war. On the 30th October last the President warned the American people that tempting trade opportunities may be offered to supply materials which would prolong the war and expressed his belief that they would not wish for increased profits that temporarily might be secured by greatly extending our trade in such materials; nor would they wish the struggles on the battlefield to be prolonged because of profits accruing to a comparatively small number of American citizens. Not content with words, the Federal Government of America took strong steps to discourage abnormal oil exports, such as warning shipping lines which had received Government loans that the carrying of essential war materials, oil being expressly mentioned, was distinctly contrary to the policy of the Government. They threatened to foreclose a mortgage on a tanker about to sail with oil for Italy, and gave support of the Labour arbitrators to a strike of union labourers against a ship carrying war material to Italy. At that time President Roosevelt hoped to strengthen the Neutrality Act, which would enable him to stop the export of oil beyond the normal peace time quantities. We all know that he failed to secure the strengthening of that Neutrality Act and that the American supply of oil to Italy has steadily increased, and had risen to nearly 1,000,000 barrels in December, from 75,000 barrels in the same month of the previous year. We know, too, that American opinion has since hardened towards isolationism and that the oil interests of the United States are doing their best, as all trade interests do if they are not sternly checked, to profiteer out of the war. Can it be denied that the fluctuations of League policy and the weak handling of Italy have greatly contributed towards this hardening of American opinion; have caused the frustration of President Roosevelt's endeavours and destroyed the short-lived prestige of the League which followed the speech of the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) at the League Assembly in September last. The Hoare-Laval proposals did a great deal to chill American opinion, and ever since then there has been a steady falling off in the attempts of the United States administration to check the abnormal exports of oil.

Nevertheless there is an immensely strong body of opinion in America which is sincerely anxious to avoid prolonging the war and which is passionately interested in peace, in spite of the aloofness of America from the activities of the League. Can we believe that this body of opinion is indifferent to what is happening to-day or indifferent to the fact that it is only by the use of oil, drawn mainly from American sources, that aeroplanes are able to rain down bombs and poisonous gas on helpless Abyssinian non-combatants? A large body of such opinion in America is as shocked and distressed as we are by the dreadful events of the last few months, but can we expect America to take any strong action in the matter so long as they know that the League has put on no oil embargo and that the Anglo-Iranian company itself, controlled largely by the British Government, is continuing to send its quota of oil to Italy? Suppose that even now the League were to take the risk of imposing an oil sanction and combined with this action a strong appeal to the United States not to make their action of no avail, is it certain that the United States would turn a deaf ear? If so it would be a direct breach not only of the assurance given to the League Co-ordinating Committee but of the earlier assurance given by Mr. Norman Davis when the Kellogg Pact was under consideration who said that: In the event that the States in conference determine that a State has been guilty of a breach of the peace in violation of its international obligations and take measures against the violator, then, if we concur in the judgment rendered as to the responsible and guilty party, we will refrain from any action tending to defeat such collective effort which the States may thus make to restore peace. Can there be a clearer case for demanding from the United States an implementing of that double assurance? I realise the difficulty and delicacy of any appeal to America which might be interpreted as an endeavour to entangle the United States in European conflicts, but surely there must be some method of diplomatic representation, some method of arousing the conscience of a friendly and peace-loving people which might evade the difficulties. I want to ask whoever replies for the Government whether any negotiations at all have taken place between this Government or the Committee of Eighteen and the United States for the purpose of finding out what would be the action of America if we imposed an oil embargo, or if—even in default of an embargo—the British Government set an example by taking steps to put a stop to the export of oil by the Anglo-Iranian Company. If any Member of the Government or any other statesman of such an eminence that his words would carry across the ocean were to make an appeal to the American Government and the conscience of the American people I cannot believe it would be fruitless, although it may not have a result immediately. If the Abyssinian war is continued until the autumn there is still time to do a great deal to bring the conflict to an end if only the supply of oil to Italy can be stopped. The House has a right to know what the Government are doing in this matter. There is a deep feeling of cynicism in the country. They feel that as long as we are so lax in carrying out our obligations to Abyssinia, in spite of the brave words spoken in the autumn, there is very little hope for collective security, and scepticism on that question is really darkening the whole European situation. Speaker after speaker has repeated that we must put our trust in a complete system of collective security. Here is a test case. If the League fails in this case how can we hope that it will succeed in a greater crisis?

Let me say one word on the relatively minor question which was the starting point of this Debate. I want to appeal to the Prime Minister to do something more to reassure the House that the decision twice deliberately expressed is not going to be set aside. I expressed doubt as to whether the method proposed in the Amendment of the hon. Lady was the best method of dealing with the question of equal pay in the Civil Service, but we received no assurance from the Prime Minister, and his speech to-day gave us no indication that the Government were going to do anything in the matter. I appeal to the Prime Minister to refer the question of the relation of men and women in the Civil Service to a committee to see if they can arrive at some solution which will meet the just claims of men and women for equal pay and will simultaneously have regard to the needs of men who have family responsibilities.

10.5 p.m.


We have had a typical Debate in this Parliament, typical in the sense that unlike most other Parliaments the Government find very few debaters to support their case. In my experience, which is not as long as many hon. Members, whenever the Government appear to be failing in strength there are always large platoons of supporters only too anxious to dash into the breach in support of the Government. That has been typical of all Governments, even coalition Governments, but this Government differs from all Governments, I believe I am right in saying within living memory, in that it finds it difficult among its own supporters to find people who can be articulate in defence of the Government they were sent here to support. The Debate to-day has been typical of the Debates we have had in this House, where the vast majority of speeches, from whatever quarter they come, are not enthusiastically in support of the Government. My right hon. Friend quoted one case after another when only one poor ewe lamb rose to speak in support of the Government, and the Government are relying now on their numbers to get them out of all their difficulties.

Apart from the speech of the Home Secretary, which was on a special problem, there have really been two speeches which were of some help to the Government. The first was that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who thrives on the plaudits of his political opponents on the other side, and whose great contribution to the Debate was to provide what might be called collateral security for the Government. The Foreign Secretary intervened and tried to put a little heart into the crestfallen back benches behind the Government Treasury Bench. His speech, like others of his speeches, was perhaps more notable for what he omitted to say than for what he said. I thought we were to have a chronological story day by day of the international situation during the last 15 months, but it suddenly stopped short at the end of May of last year. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that from December, 1934, to April of last year the only question at issue was the Wal Wal incident, and that it was not before May that matters reached a situation of international importance owing to the movement of Italian troops to Italian colonies in Africa.

I would like to put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a series of questions as to the events preceding May, when the matter became one of international importance. Is it not a fact that in February of last year it was announced, and I believe known generally, that two divisions, comprising 30,000 Italian troops, had been mobilised for service in Africa? At the time I think the Italian Government said that that action was only a precautionary measure. Is it not true that within a week of that announcement two battalions of Blackshirt Militia left Naples for East Africa? Is it not a fact that within three weeks from that time, towards the end of the first week in March, General Graziani and General de Bono were appointed to command the Italian troops in Africa? Is it not a fact that within a fortnight of that announcement, as a result of the continued dispatch of Italian troops to Africa and the delay in starting negotiations with regard to the Wal Wal inci- dent, Abyssinia appealed to the League to investigate the dispute, which appeared likely to lead to a, serious situation? Abyssinia at that time stated that Italy was making military preparations.

I have asked certain questions to which I hope I shall receive an answer. Those military preparations had gone beyond the stage of preparations. The Negus felt that Ethiopia was imperilled, and he demanded full investigation of the situation by the League. From 11th to 14th April, nearly four weeks after Abyssinia had appealed to the League for action, during the time when Italian troops were still being despatched to the Italian colonies in Africa, there was the Stresa Conference. Is it not a fact that although the then Prime Minister, now the Lord President of the Council, and the then Foreign Secretary, now the Home Secretary, took with them their Abyssinian experts, they did not raise the question of the dispute, which was at least impending, between Italy and Ethiopia? A good deal depends on the answer to the question, which my hon. Friends on this side of the House would like to have, whether, in the light of the knowledge which they had of the international situation, it is a fact that the two representatives of His Majesty's Government meeting Signor Mussolini did not raise the question which was troubling Europe? Signor Mussolini has since said—if he has been wrongly reported we might have known, and if what he has said is untrue, then it ought to be so stated in this House to-night—that during the Stresa Conference—and I quote as my authority an interview in the "Morning Post," which I understand to be a highly respectable paper—he was prepared to reopen the question of the rectification of Italy's position in Abyssinia. Indeed, it was there that a joint resolution was drawn up which began with these words: Representatives of the Governments of Italy, France and the United Kingdom, have examined at Stresa the general European situation. Signor Mussolini has said that it was he who inserted in that resolution the word "European," in order to show that the African situation had been omitted. Is that right or is it wrong? I would not have raised this point to-night but for the intervention of the Foreign Secretary who began a story, did not even read the whole of the opening chapters and very conveniently forgot to refer to the later chapters. A good deal happened after May to which no reference was made by the Foreign Secretary. This is only part and parcel of the thimble-rigging foreign policy of the Government. We are invited from day to day to guess under which thimble the pea is and nobody ever knows. The Foreign Secretary invites our attention to the League of Nations thimble while some other Minister, it may be the Secretary of State for War, who makes indiscreet speeches outside this House, invites us to find the pea under another thimble.

The Foreign Secretary's intervention interesting though it was, needs further exploration but that is not the only issue before the House to-night. The Prime Minister came down here and asked for a Vote of Confidence in the Government and to quote the words of the late Lord Asquith he left the House in "a state of inspissated gloom." [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] I invite hon. Members to look up the late Lord Asquith's speech. The right hon. Gentleman in support of his contention that the House should give the Government a Vote of Confidence, confined his statement to the question of equal pay for equal work. If I may say so, that case had been equally well put by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on Wednesday last. The Prime Minister has really discovered this question for the first time. He had been supplied with a brief of trite—[HON. MEMBERS: "Tripe?"]—yes I agree with that, too—of trite and time-worn arguments which many of us on this side have been familiar with for the last 30 years and on the strength of that, the right hon. Gentleman asks for a Vote of Confidence. The Prime Minister knows that there is grave dissatisfaction with the Government's handling of affairs. It is because of their mishandling of the business of this House and because of their incoherent policy, that they are in this position. Ever since the Debate in this House on the Hoare-Laval discussions, the prestige of the Government has been steadily falling. Dejection is now the prevailing mood of hon. Members opposite. At least they show very little confidence in the Government which they were sent here to support.

I said at the beginning that this Parliament differs from other Parliaments which I have known in the fact that it lacks supporters who are prepared to be articulate. It suffers from this also, that Governments which have had a long and difficult time, towards the end of their term of office, feeling exhausted, like Micawber, wait for something to turn up. This Government, within five months of its re-election, has even passed that stage. Its supporters now sit supinely by, waiting for the Government to be turned down. There is hardly a single issue which has been before this House since the last General Election on which the Government could claim that it had the full and undivided support of its followers. On every big issue it has been subjected to heavy broadsides from the people who sit on that side of the House. On the biggest issues some of the most experienced Members of this House, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) on more than one occasion have taken the Government severely to task, and while hon. Members opposite have not shown any enthusiastic support of the Government in this Chamber, the Lobbies of this House have been murmuring with discontent. The Committee Corridor is regularly ringing with discontent, Conservative committees upstairs saying among themselves what they dare not tell their leaders down-stirs. Of course, there is this discontent, and it is a most astonishing situation in so short a time after a General Election.

The real charge that we are making to-day, the charge which was made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, is this ill-starred Government's incompetence and ineptitude both in the matter of policy and in the matter of the conduct of business. Whether its policy is right or wrong is not a matter for discussion by me at the moment, but it is important to know, as my right hon. Friend said earlier in the Debate, whether the Government is carrying out the will of the people and whether it is carrying out the will of the House of Commons. Hon. Members opposite are almost as gravely disturbed as are hon. Members of the Opposition. This Government is one over which is brooding a sense of impending doom. The Government supporters by their attendance in the Division Lobbies have already proved that they are weary and disillusioned. On important matters of public business the House is lucky if half the Members vote. Government supporters have lost their zest. There is not the glint of battle in their eyes. There is a good deal of apprehension when a three line, underlined whip is sent out, but, apart from that, even the Patronage Secretary seems to be ignored. This is no disciplined army. It is a rabble. This, surely, is very bad for Parliamentary Government.

There is no real leadership in the House. Ever since the Hoare-Laval incident the Prime Minister has never shown the same confidence in this Chamber on any occasion when he has spoken. I say that in the knowledge of hon. Members opposite. They have talked about it when we have kept our mouths sealed. They are really no organised followers of the Government. Having shamefully shirked their responsibilities, they led the Government to a shameful and humiliating defeat last week. The Government have behind them a long trail of wasted opportunities, opportunities which are now familiar to Members of the House. We are voicing from these benches to-day what hon. Members would like to say about the Government and what many of them have expressed about them. I submit that no Government can carry on for long in those circumstances. On this occasion, when the Patronage Secretary has whipped up what the Prime Minister called his myrmidons, he will no doubt get his majority. It will not bring him great comfort, and it will not bring the Government any more comfort, for today has disclosed their inner weakness, the lack of enthusiastic support from their own Members.

In these circumstances, we would wish the House not to go into Committee of Supply to-day but instead, that the Government should do what they ought to have done in December, when the Prime Minister and his colleagues threw over one of their friends, and resign. I have no hope that they will resign. It may be that there will be other diplomatic resignations; one never knows; but I have no hope that to-night the Government will resign. I am satisfied, however, that as the weeks go by this feeling of dissatis- faction with the Government will grow, because there is a feeling that the Government do not know their own mind, and that even if they did they have not the organisation in this House or the force of character to carry out the policy that they want. Even Opposition papers have been kind to this Government, but during the past week the most profound supporters of this Government in the Press have found serious cause for criticism. This Government will be destroyed, not by a minority in the House of Commons, but by a majority of public opinion outside.

10.31 p.m.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

Listening to the Debate to-day I have been reminded somewhat of a relay race. It began with equal pay for equal work; it went on to a discussion of the general record of the Government; then the race was handed over to, the runners on foreign affairs. After that the torch was handed back to a Welsh Member on the question of the administration of justice in Wales; once more it has come back to foreign affairs, and finally we have had the speech of the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), who barged about the whole field in his usual rumbustious fashion, without achieving any great success or defining clearly the points he wished to make, and without shedding any fresh illumination upon points that had been made before. A great part of the discussion has turned upon some very important aspects of foreign affairs, and a number of questions has been addressed to the Government, most of which were answered by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary at an earlier stage in the Debate.

I am not the Foreign Secretary, and it can, I think, hardly be expected that I should be fully equipped with a complete history of all the incidents which have characterised the progress of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute. But when the right hon. Member for Wakefield accused my right hon. Friend of having stopped short in his story at the important point, I think he forgot that on this occasion my right hon. Friend intervened only to answer those points which had been made in the discussion this afternoon, and that he has on other occasions given the fullest and the most complete answer to the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not intend myself to go over the old story again, but for the benefit of those hon. Members who have already forgotten what took place on this subject last October I would refer the House to columns 213 and 214 in the OFFICIAL REPORT of 23rd October, 1935, in which hon. Members will find a very complete account by my right hon. Friend of what took place at Stresa, and why the discussions at Stresa did not include the question of the Abyssinian dispute.


Not a convincing one.


That may be. I have no doubt that the hon. Member is very hard to convince; but let me say this, that if the Debate this afternoon has served, as I think it has, to bring out once more not only the difficulties but the dangers which are inseparable from a policy of collective security for the purpose of obtaining collective action by States of unequal size, of different views, of different degrees of armaments and, above all, running very different risks, it will indeed prove useful in educating public opinion, and in keeping under review the whole structure and condition of the League of Nations as it stands to-day.

The right hon. Gentleman was ungrateful towards the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) when he accused him of amusing himself by affording collateral security to the Government. Those who were present during the speech of the hon. Member will recollect that he began by saying that the leader of the Opposition had made the speech of his life to-day and had for the first time shown some signs of being able to present a case for an alternative Government of the country. It is true that after paying that compliment to the right hon. Gentleman the hon. Member went on to point out that, before the Opposition could go with any confidence to the country and ask for a mandate to represent them as the Government of the country, they must make clear where they stood on the question of peace and war. So apposite were his comments on this, that he was very soon engaged in quite a pretty quarrel with the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton). That was the heart of the whole Debate, for if one thing has been made clear by the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), it is that heir policy is simply a policy of bluff. What they urge the Government to do is to wave a revolver in the face of the aggressors, regardless of whether that revolver is loaded or not, and hope that the sight of it will be sufficient to deter them from their purpose. To do that is to mistake the character of the people with whom we have to deal. The right hon. Gentlemen think that they are to be turned from their purpose by mere bluff. Before we take risks of this kind we must be prepared for the consequences and we must see that our weapons are weapons that will shoot if they are required to do so.


Will they not?


The right hon. Gentleman asks me whether they will not shoot. The weapons of which I am speaking are not merely the weapons of this country, they are the weapons of the League as a whole. It is fairly obvious from what has happened in the last 12 months that the League's weapons to-day will not shoot. Naturally, it is the habit of Oppositions to try to throw on the Government of the day the whole responsibility for international mistakes or misfortunes, but we, as a practical people, have to recognise that a policy of collective security is a collective matter. We must not allow ourselves to take upon ourselves alone the whole burden of collective security. We have to satisfy ourselves that others are not only willing, but able to play their part.

I want to answer one specific question which was put to me by my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). He said that there was confusion in the minds of the public as to the attitude of the Government about Colonies and mandated territories, and he thought that the House was entitled to have a clear statement from the Government as to what the position was. I will try to satisfy my right hon. Friend. In the first place, let me point out that there is a clear distinction between Colonies and mandated territories. As far as I know, no one has ever asked or suggested that the British Empire should give up any of its Colonies, and I need hardly say that, if any such demand were made, it could not possibly be entertained for a moment. Mandated territories are not Colonies; they are in a somewhat different category, and are only a part of the British Empire in what I may call a colloquial sense.

I think that perhaps there is some confusion as to the way in which these mandated territories were allocated in the first instance, and as to the manner in which it would be possible to alter the present arrangement. The mandated territories—territories formerly belonging to enemy Powers—were allocated by the principal Allied and Associated Powers, who voluntarily undertook a mandate from the League, and by Article 22 of the Covenant they are bound to render a report from time to time to the League as to their administration of these mandated territories. So far as I have been able to make out, it was not contemplated, at the time when these mandates were allocated, that there ever would be any change in the mandates. No provision is made for the transfer of a mandated territory from the original mandatory Power to any other Power, and I believe it may be taken that, in order to effect such a transfer, there would at least be required the assent of the mandatory Power, the assent of the Power to whom the territory was to be transferred, and. finally, the assent of the Council of the League of Nations. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the natives?"] I am not saying what is right or wrong; I am merely stating what I understand to be the position. The position of the Government upon this subject has already been made perfectly clear by the Colonial Secretary in answer to a question, when he said: His Majesty's Government have not considered and are not considering the handing over of any British Colonies or territories held under mandate. As to what might happen in the future, I think it would be unreasonable to ask me to predict the action of future Governments, but this I will say at any rate. Mandates are not held by this country alone. I cannot conceive that any Government would even discuss the question of the transfer of its own mandate quite irrespective of what will happen to the mandates held by other Governments. I would say, in addition to that, that we recognise that we have definite obligations to the people who inhabit these territories and that we would not think of surrendering those obligations or handing those territories over to any other Power, even for the sake of obtaining that general peaceful settlement which all of us so much desire, unless we were satisfied that the interests of all sections of the populations inhabiting those territories were fully safeguarded.

I want to say a few words upon the question of equal pay for equal work in the Civil Service. I wish particularly to address my remarks to those Members who are deeply interested in this question and who sincerely believe that some injustice is created by the present position. Let sue say this to start off with. We could not introduce a system of equal pay for equal work into the Civil Service without completely destroying the principle upon which the remuneration of civil servants is based. That principle has been described as the fair wages principle. It has nothing whatever to do with the Fair Wages Clause, which is an entirely different matter. What one means by the fair wages principle is that the remuneration of civil servants should be roughly comparable with that enjoyed by men and women who are doing comparable work in outside industry. We place ourselves in the front rank of employers, but we do not place ourselves outside or beyond them, and that is the principle that has been endorsed by numerous committees and commissions which have gone into the subject in the past. If you are going to introduce equality of pay for equality of work, you depart from that principle, and, if equality is the principle which you wish to substitute for the principle under which we are working to-day, there is only one logical solution of it, and that is the one that has been advocated by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone). You must fix a new standard and you must supplement that by family allowances to those who have extra responsibilities. That is a system which has been adopted in a number of countries. But I warn hon. Members that that is not going to be a system which would satisfy those who are asking now for equal pay for equal work, because it would really mean a redistribution of the present rates of pay, which would benefit those who have the responsibility of a family at the expense of those who have no such responsibility.

I want to say one word more on the question whether we are paying the women in our Civil Service adequate rates of remuneration. More than half the women in the common entry classes of the Civil Service are in the clerical class. They are recruited at the ages of 16 and 17, and rise by annual increments to a maximum of just under £5 a week. That is fully equal to, and even better than, the rates of remuneration generally paid to and gladly accepted by women with university degrees in outside industries. It cannot be said that we are not paying the women in the Civil Service adequately, or that we are not model employers in regard to rates of pay. It has been suggested that apart from the merits of this question of the pay of the Civil Service, the Government are not justified in, as it is said, disregarding a vote of the House of Commons and bringing into play their majority on a Vote of Confidence to reverse a decision already reached. I do not think it has been suggested by any one, not even the Leader of the Opposition, that the Government of the day is bound to implement any decision that may have been come to by the House. What the Leader of the Opposition rather said was that the Government should pay more respect to it, and go some way to meet the views that have been expressed.

If the matter the other day had proceeded further, and if the House had taken not one step, but both steps in the direction of accepting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson), perhaps there would have been something to be said for the point of view put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. But there were two votes, and the second vote reversed the first. The result was not the same as if the House had accepted the second question. As to the attitude of the Government, let me remind the House of one thing. The Government suffered a defeat on the first question. That defeat has been claimed by hon. Members opposite as the climax of a series of incidents which they say has thoroughly discredited the Government in the House and in the country [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members cheer that, but do they not see that that makes it absolutely essential that the Government should challenge the House? How can we preserve our position in the world if we do not have the confidence of the House of Commons? The moment we suffered that defeat we were bound to challenge a Vote of Confidence in the House. In asking the House to-night to support the Government end to show that it has confidence in the Government, we are not really discussing the question of equal pay. This is a vote of confidence, a vote without which it would be impossible for the Government to carry on its work. I have not the slightest doubt that the supporters of the Government will rally loyally to us, and it is a ridiculous suggestion to make that we have lost the confidence of the country.


What else can they do?


The hon. Gentleman did not hear the right hon. Gentleman opposite say a little while ago that this was no disciplined army. It is an independent House of Commons, and the time must come in the life of every House of Commons when Members are asked to make their choice, it may be, between some minor question upon which individual views may differ from those of the Government, or whether they would lose the Government which they were returned to support. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton was quite right when he said that the Opposition were not able to convince the country at the election that they could form a practical Government. Does anyone suggest that the country would have them to-day? We are asking not only for a Vote of Confidence in the Government, but also for a Vote of Censure upon the Opposition.

Question put, "That this House will, To-morrow, resolve itself into the Committee of Supply."

The House divided: Ayes, 361; Noes, 145.

Division No. 142.] AYES. [10.57 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Cruddas, Col. B. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Culverwell, C. T. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.
Albery, I. J. Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C. Holmes, J. S.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Davies, C. (Montgomery) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (E'kn'hd) Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil) Hopkinson, A.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Davison, Sir W. H. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Dawson, Sir P. Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir R. S.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) De Chair, S. S. Horsbrugh, Florence
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. De la Bère, R. Howitt, Dr. A. B.
Apsley, Lord Denman, Hon. R. D. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Assheton, R. Denville, Alfred Hudson, R. S. (Southport)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hulbert, N. J.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Dixon, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. Hume, Sir G. H.
Baldwin-Webb, Cot. J. Dodd, J. S. Hunter, T.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Donner, P. W. Hurd, Sir P. A.
Baifour, Capt. H. H.(Isle of Thanot) Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.
Balniel, Lord Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Jackson, Sir H.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Drews, C. James, Wing-Commander, A. W.
Baxter, A. Beverley Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Dugdale, Major T. L. Keeling, E. H.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Duggan, H. J. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)
Beit, Sir A. L. Duncan, J. A. L. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Blrchall, Sir J. D. Dunglass, Lord Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities)
Blair, Sir R. Dunne, P. R. R. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.
Blaker, Sir R. Eales, J. F. Kirkpatrlck, W. M.
Boothby, R. J. G. Eastwood, J. F. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Bossom, A. C. Eckersley, P. T. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.
Boulton, W. W. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Latham, Sir P.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Edge, Sir W. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Leckle, J. A.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Leech, Dr. J. W.
Boyce, H. Leslie Ellis, Sir G. Lees-Jones, J.
Bracken, B. Emery, J. F. Leigh, Sir J.
Brass, Sir W. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Levy, T.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Entwistle, C. F. Lewis, O.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Everard, W. L. Llddall, W. S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Fildes, Sir H. Llndsay, K. M.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Findlay, Sir E. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Bull, B. B. Fleming, E. L. Lloyd, G. W.
Bullock, Capt. M. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.
Burghley, Lord Fraser, Capt. Sir I. Lodor, Captain Hon. J. de V.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Loftus, P. C.
Burton, Col. H. W. Furness, S. N. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Butler, R. A. Fyfe, D. P. M. Lumley, Capt. L. R.
Butt, Sir A. Ganzonl, Sir J. Mabane, W. (Hudderstleld)
Caine, G. R. Hall- Gibson, C. G. MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. Sir C. G.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. McCorquodale, M. S.
Cartland, J. R. H. Gledhlll, G. MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)
Carver, Major W. H. Gluckstein, L. H. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)
Cary, R. A. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Castlereagh, Viscount Goldie, N. B. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Goodman, Col. A. W. McEwen, Capt. H. J. F.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Gower, Sir R. V. McKle, J. H.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chlppenham) Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh Granville, E. L. Magnay, T.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Maltland, A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Mannlngham-Builer, Sir M.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Gridley, Sir A. B. Markham, S. F.
Christie, J. A. Grimston, R. V. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Gritten, W. G. Howard Maxwell, S. A.
Clarke, F. E. Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Clarry, Sir R. G. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)
Cobb, Sir C. S. Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Mellor, Sir J, S. P. (Tamworth)
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P. Gulnness, T. L. E. B. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)
Colman, N. C. D. Gunston, Capt. D. W. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Guy, J. C. M. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswlak)
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Hanbury, Sir C. Mitcheson, Sir G. G.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs) Hannah, I. C. Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.
Cooper, Rt. Hon. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Moreing, A. C.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Harbord, A. Morgan, R. H.
Courthope, Col. Sir G. L. Hartington, Marquess of Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)
Craddock, Sir R. H. Harvey, G. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)
Cranborne, Viscount Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Critchley, A. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Morrison, W. S. (Cirenccster)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Mulrhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Crooke, J. S. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Munro, P.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hepworth, J. Nall, Sir J.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.
Cross, R. H. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Nicolson, Hon. H, G.
Crowder, J. F. E. Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey) O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth) Tate, Mavis C.
Orr-Ewlng, I. L. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Palmer, G. E. H. Salmon, Sir I. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Patrick, C. M. Salt, E. W. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Peake. O. Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Peat, C. U. Sanderson, Sir F. B. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Penny, Sir G. Sandys, E. D. Titchfield, Marquess of
Perkins, W. R. D. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P. Touche, G. C.
Peters, Dr. S. J. Scott, Lord William Train, Sir J.
Petlierick, M. Selley, H. R. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Shakespeare, G. H. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Pilkington, R. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Plugge, L. F. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Wakefield, W. W.
Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Shepperson, Sir E. W. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Porritt, R. W. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Wallace, Captain Euan
Pownall. Sir A. Asshcton Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Procter, Major H. A. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Ward, Irepe (Wallsend)
Radford, E. A. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Wardlaw-Mllne, Sir J. S.
Ralkes, H. V. A. M. Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Warrender, Sir V.
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Smithers, Sir W. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Ramsbotham, H. Somerset, T. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Ramsden, Sir E. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Weddorburn, H. J. S.
Rankin, R. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wells, S. R.
Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Rawson, Sir Cooper Southby, Comdr. A. R. J. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Reld, Captain A. Cunningham Spens, W. P. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Reld, Sir D. D. (Down) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchln)
Reld, W. Allan (Derby) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Remer, J. R. Storey, S. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Stourton, Hon. J. J. Wise, A. R.
Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Ropner, Colonel L. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry) Strickland, Captain W. F. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wragg, H.
Rowlands, G. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Sutcliffe, H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Runclman, Rt. Hon. W. Tasker, Sir R. I. Captain Margesson and Sir James
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Milner, Major J.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Montague, F.
Adams, D. (consett) Gibbins, J. Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Green, W. H. (Deptford) Naylor, T. E.
Adamson, W. M. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Oliver, G. H.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Grenfell, D. R. Paling, W.
Ammon, C. G. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Parker, H. J. H.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Parkinson, J. A.
Banfield, J. W. Groves, T. E. Pethick-Lawrence. F. W.
Barnes, A. J. Hail, J. H. (Whitechapel) Potts, J.
Batey, J. Hardle, G. D. Price, M. P.
Bellenger, F. Harris, Sir P. A. Pritt, D. N.
Benson, G. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Quibell, J. D.
Bevan, A. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Riley, B.
Broad, F. A. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Ritson, J.
Brooke, W. Hicks, E. G. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Burke, W. A. Holland, A. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Cape, T. Hopkin, D. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Cassells, T. Jagger, J. Rowson, G.
Chater, D. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Salter, Dr. A.
Cluse, W. S. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Sanders, W. S.
Cocks, F. S. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Seely, Sir H. M.
Compton, J. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Sexton, T. M.
Cove, W. G. Kelly, W. T. Shinwell, E.
Crlpps. Hon. Sir Stafford Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Short, A.
Daggar, G. Kirkwood, D. Silverman, S. S.
Dalton, H. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Simpson, F. B.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Lathan, G. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lawson, J. J. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Day, H. Lee, F. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Dobbie, W. Leslie, J. R. Smith, Bt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Ede, J. C. Logan, D. G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) McGhee, H. G. Sorensen R. W.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Maclean, N. Stephen, C.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Stewart, W J. (H'ghfn-le-Sp'ng)
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) MacNeill, Weir, L. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mainwaring, W. H. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Foot, D. M. Mander. G. le M. Thorne, W.
Frankel, D. Marklew, E. Thurtle, E.
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Tinker, I. J.
Gardner, B. W. Mathers, G. Viant, S. P.
Garro-Jones, G. M. Maxton, J. Walkden, A. G.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'vn) Messer, F. Walker, J.
Watkins, F. C. Wilkinson, Ellen Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Watson, W. McL. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.) Woods, G. S. (Flnsbury)
Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Welsh, J. C. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Westwood, J. Wilson. C. H. (Attercliffe) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Charleton.