§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, at the beginning, to insert:If at any time the Secretary of State certifies that the foreign Powers at present represented on the International Committee of Non-intervention have all passed legislation similar in substance and effect to the provisions of this Act, His Majesty may by Order in Council declare that.The purpose of the Amendment is to preserve the spirit of the Non-intervention Agreement. That was an agreement 1166 by a number of States to take action with regard to the Spanish rebellion. The Government in this Bill are proposing to take action by themselves. All we know at present with regard to action by other States is merely a suggestion that one or two other States are contemplating action. In our view whatever is done to make non-intervention effective should be done by all the States who have signified their adhesion to that agreement. The line that we have taken throughout is that it is inadvisable for this country to act by itself.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
As this point has been adequately explained, the House will not want long speeches. I certainly do not want to hear long speeches at this hour nor to have to sit in the Christmas 1167 week if I can help it. As was made abundantly clear in the speech of my right hon. Friend and the speech which I made half an hour ago, we attach great importance to the point, and therefore shall support the Amendment.
§ 10.31 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I would urge the Government, as the two Parties who are now endeavouring to make for delay have been abusing the Government for some years because they have not advanced quick enough in international affairs, now that we have a Government who are advancing quickly, to follow the dictates of their own minds rather than the very changeable nature of the Opposition on international affairs.
§ 10.32 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Dr. Burgin)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) expressed an opinion a little while ago that it might assist the proceedings of the Non-intervention Committee to-morrow if this Bill were not upon the Statute Book. The view was expressed on the Government side that, so far from that being the case, it was our opinion that the steps taken by this House in passing the Bill would very materially strengthen the hands of the British representative, who is the chairman of that committee. The Committee will appreciate that what is being sought by this Amendment is that the Bill should not come into force, not until one or more or several of the non-interventionist States have agreed, but until all have agreed. The Amendment suggests a 100 per cent. agreement upon something, which is a very large assumption anyhow. It is a very different proposition from the attitude of His Majesty's Government that it would be wise to give a lead in this matter which lies solely within the power of the Government to achieve. The Committee cannot wish that arms which cannot be sent from this country should be sent from another country in British ships to a destination which would be illegal if these ships loaded at British ports. That is an untenable attitude. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] It seems to me to be selfevident. I cannot think that the Committee will take that view. To exercise persuasion upon other countries to 1168 follow a lead is one thing, but to announce publicly that you propose to delay action until every other country has agreed to come in is a very different proposition. I would recommend the Committee to decline to accept the Amendment.
§ 10.34 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I fail to follow the argument of the hon. Gentleman. The Government have taken a prominent part in the work of non-intervention, and, as far as we know, have strictly and stringently carried out their obligations not to allow the export of arms to another country, while a considerable number of the other parties to the agreement are simply ignoring that altogether. Why His Majesty's Government, having found so very little backing of their previous efforts should now go further on a course which will practically isolate us I do not know. Instead they should say to other nations, "We went a long distance in agreeing that no arms should be sent out of this country. We carried it out scrupulously, but others who made the same promise have simply laughed at the bargain. We have gone as far as a nation can reasonably be expected to go, and we will go no further unless others are prepared to show better faith on this occasion than they have on previous occasions."
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I am astonished at the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary. I have heard hon. Members in all parts of the House ask that before the Foreign Secretary left for Geneva or for Berlin or summoned some conference, that the House should have an opportunity of discussing the matter and of hearing His Majesty's Government's views on the line they propose to take, and we have always been met by the reply that it is unwise that His Majesty's Government should be tied by any premature declaration before entering into discussions with other Powers. It has always been said that our hands must be free, and that if the House expresses itself on matters of high policy the advantage lies entirely with other Powers. In this particular instance we are told that the course of wisdom lies in having our hands tied. I have never heard a more astonishing argument than that advanced by the Parliamentary 1169 Secretary. If we are to have any influence at all upon other countries in the Non-intervention Committee tomorrow it must be by refusing to tie ourselves in this matter. We have been told for the last few months that other countries have been ignoring their obligations under the Non-intervention Agreement. Now, we are to take the initiative in surrender and in retreat.
It is said that we must declare our position before the world. What is our position? As it is, it leaves the whole of this territory open to Italy and Germany. No one will accuse me of Imperialistic desires or an inflamed patriotic passion, but I must say that if the destinies of this country are to be preserved we shall have to take them out of the hands of the super-patriots on the Government Bench. We have been faced with one humiliation after another. What is going to happen at the Non-intervention Committee if the Bill goes through? The Government will have declared its intention at all costs to prevent any assistance reaching the Spanish Government. The Italian and German Governments are prepared to allow their shipments to proceed through Portugal. We shall find ourselves involved in particularly delicate relationships with the Dominions—that difficulty has not been got over—and at the same time have deprived ourselves of any instrument for negotiations in our discussions with Germany and Italy.
What is the intention of His Majesty's Government? Is it that the Government re trying to give permanent diplomatic superiority to Mussolini and Hitler That is the consequence that will follow from their feeble attitude with regard to Spain. I believe that attitude is wholly unrepresentative of the people of this country. I speak on this matter with great feeling and in great earnestness. I believe we could occupy decisive place at this time and could play a decisive part if we allowed ourselves to be governed by our own generous impulses. I believe that if we said to Hitler and Mussolini, "So far, no further," we would put an end to their intervention and to the Spanish civil war in a very short time. I believe that if the Government took that line they would have the whole of the country behind them. But they will not do so. They are handi- 1170 capping themselves by this Bill, and I hope my hon. Friends will riot allow them to have it so easily.
I remember that at the beginning of this affair they had their alibi. It was that they were taking a line which was approved by France, Germany, Italy, the Scandinavian countries—in fact, by all the European countries, including Russia. I heard some of my hon. Friends on this side taking Russia as an alibi for their support for the Non-intervention Agreement. I heard spokesmen of the Government also taking that as an alibi. We then defended ourselves on the ground that we were taking that stand in cooperation with every other country in Europe. Now the Government are de fending this Bill on the opposite ground, that of taking the initiative. It seems to me that the opposite reasons are used all the time to justify a policy of cowardice, retreat and surrender. The prestige of this country in foreign affairs has already fallen lower under this Government than it had fallen for the last 50 years. I believe that after this Bill has been passed this evening, it will fall even lower. This Bill simply means giving a blank cheque to Hitler and Mussolini. It tells them they can intervene to whatever extent they like in Spain and that we will take no action. We shall have to meet the consequences of that. I would not like to be in the place of hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite when that happens and when they have to reap the harvest.
§ 10.44 p.m.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has no justification for the statement which he has made to the Committee, that the Government are pursuing a policy of cowardice and surrender. On the contrary, the Government are continuing their policy of non-intervention in the dispute in Spain. We have signed a Nonintervention Agreement and we are now proposing to take further action towards non-intervention in this dispute. The Socialist party entirely misjudge the feeling—
I am sorry if I was out of order, but I was endeavouring to follow the speech made by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. He directly alluded to the action of the Government, and said that it had been one of cowardice. I was contradicting that statement to the best of my ability.
The suggestion has been made that the Government are wrong in giving a lead, in this matter, to the other nations. I ask the Socialist party and the Liberal party whether they were not in favour of the Government giving a lead to the other nations with regard to disarmament, so that those other nations might follow our good example. But when it comes to giving a lead in prohibiting the export of arms to Spain then, for some reason which I cannot understand, they are opposed to such action by the Government. This is but another example of the inconsistency of both parties. They entirely misjudge the feeling of the people in this country if they think that the people will support them in trying to defeat a Measure brought forward by the Government with the direct object of preventing this country being drawn into war as a result of the dispute in Spain. The people are not much concerned as to which side in Spain wins or loses, but they are concerned with keeping this country out of war altogether.
§ 10.47 p.m.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade says that Great Britain is going to give a lead, but the President of the Board of Trade told us earlier that there were indications that such a, lead would be followed only by France and Norway. The right hon. Gentleman added, as though to reassure us, that in both countries there were Left-wing Governments. That is just the point. We foresee that the only countries to follow this lead will be those which would send supplies to the legitimate Spanish Government. We do not like a lead which is going to benefit one side, and that the wrong side.
1172 That is why we think that this Amendment would be some safeguard, though I cannot pretend to think that it would do much, because even if all the countries who have acceded to the Non-intervention Pact nominally agreed to take similar action, how many could we trust to take that action f Certainly not those who are at present supplying General Franco's troops.
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ Mr. THURTLE
It was rather amusing to hear the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade talk about the Government giving a lead. It is a new departure for the present Government to give a lead in foreign affairs. I suggest that the Amendment is necessary in order to rescue the Government from a legitimate charge of hypocrisy and insincerity. We have heard in the last few years a continuous refrain from the Government that in dealing with international questions of major importance, there must be collective action and not unilateral action. When we were dealing with the major controversy in regard to Italy and Abyssinia and the vital question of an embargo upon oil, we were repeatedly told that the Government could not dream of unilateral action in those matters, and that they must have all the other Powers with them before taking action. If that reasoning on the part of the Government was sincere, I suggest that the same reasoning applies to the present case. Either they were hypocritical and insincere on that ocassion, or they are hypocritical and insincere on this. It might be the case on both occasions. [Interruption.] Someone suggests "following their normal practice." In any event, we suggest that on so grave a matter as this there should be collective action among the Powers concerned, and unless and until the Government can get that agreement which will operate all round and fairly, and not to the detriment of the legitimate Government in Madrid, we say that this Measure ought not to come into operation.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:. Ayes, 139; Noes, 247.
|Division No. 29]||AYES||[10.52 p.m|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyk||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Potts, J.|
|Adams, D. (Consett||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Price, M. P.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Adamson, W. M||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Qulbell, D. J. K.|
|Ammon, C. G||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Rathbone. Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Anderson. F. (Whitehaven||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Harris, Sir P. A.||Riley, B.|
|Banfield, J. W||Hayday, A.||Ritson, J.|
|Barnes, A. J||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Batey, J||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bellenger, F||Hicks, E. G.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Benson, G||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rowson, G.|
|Bevan, A||Hollins, A.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Broad, F. A||Hopkin, D.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Bromfield, W||Jagger, J.||Shinwell, E.|
|Brooke, W||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Short A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Silkin, L.|
|Buchanan, G||John, W.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Burke, W. A||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cape, T||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cassells, T.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Charleton, H. C||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Chater, D||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cluse, W. S||Kirby, B. V.||Stephen, C.|
|Cove, W. G||Lathan, G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Staffor||Lawson, J. J.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Daggar, G||Leach, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dalton, H||Lee, F.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton||Leonard, W.||Tinker, J, J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr||Leslie, J. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, H||Logan, D. G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Dabble, W||Lunn, W.||Walker, J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley||McEntee, V. La T.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Ede, J. C||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.||Mander, G. le M.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Marshall, F.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H||Maxton, J.||Westwood, J.|
|Foot, D. M||Messer, F.||White, H. Graham|
|Frankel, D||Milner, Major J.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gallacher, W||Montague, F.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Gardner, B. W||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Garro Jones, G. M||Muff, G.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Windsor. W. (Hull, C.)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey||Oliver, G. H. Owen, Major G.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gibbins, J||Owen, Major G.|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock||Paling, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Groves and Mr. Mathers.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Duggan, H. J.|
|Albery, Sir Irvin||Channon, H.||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Anstruther-Gray, W.||Christie, J. A.||Dunne, P. R. R.|
|Aske, Sir R. W||Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E, Grinstead)||Eastwood, J. F|
|Assheton, R||Clarry, Sir Reginald||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Edmondson, Major Sir J.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanl||Colman, N. C. D.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Balfour, Cant. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Elliston, G. S.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Baxter, A. Beverle||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C||Courtauld, Major J. S||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Craddock, Sir R. H.||Entwistle, C. F.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Cranborne, Viscount||Ersklne Hill, A. G.|
|Bernays, R. H||Crooke, J. S.||Everard, W. L.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D||Crookshank, Capt. R. F. C.||Fildes, Sir H.|
|Blindell, Sir J||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Bosoom, A. C||Cress, R. H.||Furness, S. N.|
|Boulton, W. W||Crowder, J. F. E.||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W||Culverwell, C. T.||Ganzonl, Sir J.|
|Boyce, H. Lesli||Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Brass, Sir W||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Glucketein, L. H.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R.||Dawson, Sir P.||Goldle, N. B.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R||De Chair, S. S.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Granville, E. L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Denville, Alfred||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Dodd, J. S.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L||Doland, G. F.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Butler, R. A||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Cortland, J. R.||Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake)|
|Cary, R. A||Drewe, C.||Guest, Maj. Hon.O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Guy, J. C. M.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Dugdale, Major T. L.||Hamilton, Sir G. C.|
|Hanbury, Sir C||Maxwell, S. A.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Harbord, A||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Scott, Lord William|
|Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Mills, Sir F. (Layton, E.)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P||Moore, Lleut.-Col. T. C. R.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Hepworth, J||Moreing, A. C.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Clr'nc'st'r)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Holdsworth, H.||Munro, P.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Hopkinson, A||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hulbert, N. J||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Storey, S.|
|Hume, Sir G. H||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Hunter. T||Palmer, G. E. H.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Insklp, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H||Patrick, C. M.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Peat, C. U.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Keeling, E. H||Penny, Sir G.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham||Perkins, W. R. D.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Unlvs.)||Petherick, M.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Kimball, L||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Latham, Sir P.||Porritt, R. W.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Procter, Major H. A.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Leckie, J. A.||Ralkes, H. V. A. M.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsbotham, H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Lewis, O.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Llewellin, Lleut.-Col. J. J.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Wardlaw-Mllne, Sir J. S.|
|Loftus, P. C.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Lumley, Capt. L. R.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Lyons, A. M.||Remer, J R||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Wickham, Lt.-Col E. T. R.|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|M Connell, Sir J.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon M. (Ross)||Rowlands, G.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Wise, A. R.|
|Macdonald. Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.||Wragg, H.|
|McKie, J. H.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)||Wright, squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Magnay, T.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Makins. Brig.-Gen. E.||Salt, E. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Markham, S. F.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney) Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Ward and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
§ 11.1 p.m.
§ Mr. PRITT
I beg to move, in line 11, after "place," to insert:or be discharged or transhipped in the ports or territorial waters of any country adjacent to Spanish territory for the purpose of being forwarded to Spanish territory.The object of the Amendment is to prevent a loophole being used through the Bill by ingenious, or not even very ingenious, persons by shipping goods through Portugal with intent to carry them to Spain. Perhaps the Committee will follow me through the words of the Clause, which are not really complicated, but which deserve a little thought in order that it may be seen how the Amendment is designed to come in. No draftsman of a Bill which is designed to prevent people doing something they want to do is content to say simply that they should not do it. The Clause begins, 1176No article to which this Act applies shall be discharged at any port or place in Spanish territory or within the territorial waters adjacent thereto from a ship to which this Act applies….That is the first straightforward prohibition. Then it goes on to deal with slight evasions—…and no such article shall be transhipped on the high seas from any such ship into any vessel bound for any such port or place….Then come the words of the Amendment; and after them the words which rather add a little additional prohibition merely for protection sake—…or be taken on board or carried in any such ship for the purpose of being discharged or transhipped as aforesaid from that ship.The scheme of the Clause without the Amendment is this. You shall not unload munitions from a British ship into Spain; you shall not tranship on the high seas 1177 munitions into a ship which is going to Spain; you shall not put anything on an English ship or carry anything in an English ship for the purpose of being discharged in a Spanish port or transhipped on the high seas into a ship obviously hound for a Spanish port. And the idea of the Amendment is "Nor shall you take it into any port of any country which has land communications with Spain for the purpose of its being carried on from that country to Spain." It is not necessary for this purpose to suspect Portugal. Hon. Members can, if they desire, share with the Foreign Secretary the distinction of being the only people in the world who do not suspect Portugal. All that this Amendment is designed to achieve is to stop a loophole.
I will not ask hon. Members to suppose what would happen if this Bill were law to-morrow, because all who are assuming that it will be law to-morrow have forgotten the existence of another place, of which, of course, we on these benches are very conscious. I do not see how it can be the law at the earliest till to-morrow afternoon. But suppose it is the law the day after to-morrow. A shipowner goes to his solicitor and says "My ships have not been sailing very profitably lately, my shareholders are becoming particularly and have the offer of a perfectly good, reasonable, well paid charter at 1s 6d. a ton over the market rate to carry some munitions from a port in Greece or Bulgaria or Mexico to Spain. [HON.MEMBERS: "A port in Bulgaria?"] What is worrying hon. Members? Do not they know that Bulgaria has a coast? If Bulgaria worries them I will withdraw it, and substitute any other country, except Russia, which is reserved for an hon. Member behind.
However, the shipowner goes to his solicitor and says "I want to perform this charter," and the solicitor says "Well, you cannot perform that charter if the ship is going to any Spanish port." "What can I do?" asks the shipowner, and the reply would be "Take it to any Portuguese port. You need not even pretend" —if this Bill goes through unaltered—" that you do not know about its destination. You can write up its destination, if you like, in your offices in Leadenhall Street. That is perfectly and absolutely law. The British Government, which wants to stop every loophole, has resisted an Amendment and informed the 1178 world that all you need to do is to take it to Portugal and see whether the Portuguese authorities will let it through." Everybody knows that the Portuguese authorities might be very friendly to General Franco. They might, for all I know, have still in operation the direct line from Lisbon to Badajoz which has been deposed to by many quite impartial journalists. "At any rate" the solicitor will say "all you need to do is to take the goods to Lisbon. Ask the people who want to charter your vessel whether they are content to have the munitions delivered in Lisbon. Ten to one they will say 'yes' and if they do you can earn your charter money; and we know from the declarations of His Majesty's Ministers that if you take them to Lisbon and anybody interferes with you the whole might of the British Navy will back you up. We know that because, although the British Government told you at five o'clock on 1st December that if a Dominion vessel went to a Spanish port it would not be protected, it told you at six o'clock that it would."
As I understand it, the two matters are very much on the same footing, and just as if the Bill goes through as it stands any British shipowner who wants to carry munitions will have to take the trouble to transfer his ship to Canadian registry in order to get the whole support of the British Navy, so, if this loophole is left, all he will have to do is to take the goods to Lisbon instead of directly to a Spanish port. So far as I can see there is no difficulty of international law and no difficulty of municipal law. We have a perfect right in this country, I believe, as a matter of law to forbid British shipowners to carry a particular commodity from anywhere to anywhere. We have built up, as I understand it, what is called the greatness of the British mercantile marine by not forbidding, but we have a perfect right to forbid if we want to; and we have just as much right to say, "You cannot take to Portugal to send to Spain," as we have to say, "You shall not send to Spain."
With regard to the wording of the Amendment, I do not think there is anything difficult about the matter. The word "adjacent" is a word that has sometimes caused trouble, but sometimes it has not. It already appears in this Clause, and I see the word 1179 "purpose" appears in many English Statutes. It is always easier to forbid an act without worrying about its purpose than to forbid for a particular purpose only. Many Statutes have faced that particular difficulty with courage, and this particular Clause already has in it the prohibition of things being taken or carried for the purpose of reaching Spain. There is no difficulty about that. I do not want to say anything particularly inharmonious, but if the Government want to resist this Amendment to stop a clear loophole—and a Bill that has passed its Second Reading must of necessity be regarded as a Bill which they intend to pass—and to prevent British ships carrying munitions for Spain, some doubts as to their bona fides will really arise if they insist on preserving this obvious method of any resourceful shipowner if he wants to use it.
§ 11.13 p.m.
§ Dr. BURGIN
The hon. and learned Member who introduced this Amendment gave the analogy of Sub-section (1) of Clause 1. I do not quarrel with that analogy, but I want to add this. He did not call attention to the words "territorial waters adjacent thereto" in page 1, line 8, and I would just remind him that the words are inserted to prevent it being lawful for a British ship to discharge over her side into lighters when she has reached the three-mile limit. I am only adding that in order that the analogy which the hon. Member made quite properly should be absolutely complete.
The purpose of this Amendment is to endeavour to stop what the hon. and learned Member calls a loophole. It is suggested that if you tell British ships they must not—which they know already—load from British ports or carry from British ports munitions of war for the purpose of discharging in Spanish territory—if you tell them that, and if you go on to tell them that after the passing of this Bill by both Houses of Parliament they will no longer be able to carry the same things from foreign ports and discharge them in Spanish territory, there might be a temptation to endeavour to get the same articles carried in British ships for a Spanish destination through some other port or place. That is the object of the Amendment. The Com- 1180 mittee appreciate at once the point that was made during the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill, that we are not dealing in terms with the port of Lisbon alone, or the country of Portugal alone—that the Amendment would cover, as an hon. Member said, Marseilles or any port in the whole of France as well as any port in the whole of Portugal. [An HON. MEMBER: "Morocco."] I quite understand what is the meaning of the words, but this Bill has been introduced by the Government as a practical measure. It has been introduced as a measure of implementing the Non-intervention Agreement already entered into by this country, and as being something within our power to prevent, namely, that a British ship, already not allowed to sail from a British port, should not be allowed to sail for the same destination from a foreign port, with the same material.
The words which the Committee are now being asked to accept would throw upon British authorities some form of supervision in every port of France and of Portugal. Look at the magnitude of the task which the Committee are being asked to put upon British authorities. What was the experience in the Great War? A number of hon. Members in the Committee will know of the doctrine of continous voyage, and will have considered how, in practice, you prevent contraband reaching an enemy country through a, neutral country. I am not dealing with the present dispute; I am not using the words "enemy" or "neutral" in connection with the present dispute. I am merely putting the case clearly so that the Committee may understand. A clear summary of the experience of the Great War would be that in order to prevent contraband passing through a neutral country to a belligerent, you have, in effect, to censor, supervise, check and control the whole of the traffic to the country through which you suspect it may pass.
Let the Committee realise what it means, and what it would be like. It is suggested that Portugal, one of our oldest allies—[Interruption.] I am, after all, but stating an acknowledged fact. It is suggested that we should control, supervise, check and stop the whole traffic of British ships to that country. [Interruption.] I have just said that it the whole 1181 traffic that you have to control and supervise, in order to be quite sure that the contraband is not passing through to a destination of which you disapprove, and the hon. Member says, "But surely you are only attempting to stop all munitions traffic." That is just the point. You cannot do that. The whole experience of the War was that in order to stop it passing through a neutral country to a belligerent, you had to search ships to see whether they had contraband. You had to search the honest man to find out whether, by chance, he was a dishonest man. I am asking the Committee to give attention, at the moment, only to the magnitude of the change which would be introduced, with this Amendment carried.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
If, in the opinion of the hon. Member, a difficulty presents itself in searching ships bound for Lisbon or any other Portuguese port, is the difficulty not the same in the case of ships intended for ports of Spain? Will not British men-of-war be called upon to search every vessel, no matter what commodity is carried?
§ Dr. BURGIN
One of the points which I was endeavouring to bring to the attention of the Committee was the width that was being given to the Clause by the words of the proposed Amendment. The hon. Member says, if you do not widen it, if you have a smaller number of ports, would not the same difficulty present itself? Yes, it would, but in a much smaller measure. There is a certain number of lines which are accustomed to go to Spanish ports, but the number of lines that will go to either French ports or Portuguese ports or Spanish ports is a very large multiple of the number that is likely to go to Spanish ports. It is a question of degree.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
This seems to be an entirely new point. Do we now understand that British men-of-war will be called upon to search every British vessel proceeding to ports in Spain, no matter what goods are carried?
§ Dr. BURGIN
No, Sir; I hope the Committee will understand nothing of the kind. I hope they will understand that a vessel proceeding under the British flag to a Spanish port, if it happens to be stopped by a Spanish vessel, will seek the aid of a British vessel of war, and the British vessel of 1182 war, no doubt, in determining the amount of protection it can give to the British ship, will make its own inquiries as to what cargo the British ship has on board. The position, surely, is clear. What I am asking the Committee to realise is that the lessons of the Great War have shown that, if you are to attempt to stop goods passing through one country to another, you in effect have to set up a complete system of supervision of all the shipping in question going to all or any of those ports or all or any of those countries. I am pointing out to the Committee that, from its sheer width, that is an impossible performance.
§ Dr. BURGIN
I hope I am not misleading the Committee in any way in attempting, before we deal with the arguments of the Amendment, to understand to what the Amendment refers. I conceive it to be my duty in the first instance to expound it. The Amendment seeks to say that, in addition to the prohibition in Sub-section (1) of Clause 1, you should say, not merely that goods must not be loaded for, or carried to, or discharged on Spanish territory, but that there should be a like prohibition as regards ports or territorial waters of countries adjacent. I am pointing out that that would apply to the whole of France and the whole of Portugal, and that it is impossible of performance.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
But not the whole of the ships. The hon. Gentleman says that all British ships going into Portugal or into France would have to be searched or looked after, but that is not correct. It would only apply to British ships sailing from foreign ports.
§ Dr. BURGIN
Yes, I think the hon. Member is right. I do not disagree at all with that interpretation. We are not in this Clause dealing at all with ships sailing from British ports; that is quite clear. I hope the hon. Member does not think I was attempting to say anything to the contrary.
§ Dr. BURGIN
I am very glad, if my words were too wide, to have that correction which the hon. Member has made. This will only apply to vessels sailing from 1183 foreign ports. The view I have attempted to put before the Committee is that, while we do not in any way countenance the carriage by British ships of ammunition intended for Spain from any port or from any country which is adjacent to Spain, the prohibition which this Bill gives is a prohibition applying to ports in Spanish territory and their adjacent territorial waters, and I must ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Dr. BURGIN
The hon. Member must not put into my mouth the according of rights to the Spanish authorities. I have never said anything of the kind and I am most anxious that the Committee should not make that assumption. It is quite different. I am not referring to rights at all. I am saying that the probabilities, or the possibilities, are that a British vessel proceeding to a Spanish port within, if you like, the zone prohibited by this Bill may encounter some Spanish armed trawler or vessel of war which may call upon her to heave to. The vessel obeys or does not obey. I am imagining the possibility that the captain of the merchant vessel, confronted by the display of force, which may well be an illegal display of force, may signal to a British vessel of war "I require your assistance." The British vessel comes to her assistance. What does she do? Surely the most likely thing is that the commander ascertains for himself whether or not she is proceeding on a lawful voyage with a lawful cargo to a lawful destination. On the assumption that she is she is accorded full help. On the assumption that she is not, we must wait for the event to occur. On the assumption that the vessel is carrying an illegal cargo to a destination to which she is not entitled to go by the passing of this Bill, surely the most likely act is that the British vessel of war will direct that merchant ship to accompany her to a British port, because she is not committing an infringement of international law but of our municipal law.
1184 The whole object of this Bill is not to leave it to the parties in Spain to determine whether or not our vessels are committing a breach of international law but to give our naval vessels the power to address themselves to a much simpler proposition, whether or not they are committing a breach of our own municipal law. Happily there is no need for General Franco's or Spanish Government warships to intervene. The thing is for our vessel to be taken to the nearest available and convenient British port where the matter can be dealt with by a court of law as an infraction of the municipal law of the land. That is the meaning of the Clause and I hope that explanation will satisfy the Committee.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
Is it really the intention of His Majesty's Government to invite General Franco to stop every British ship that comes along and put the proviso into practice? I never understood that there was to be that humiliating procedure. I cannot believe that the Committee will accept that interpretation as the intention of the Government. I have not heard anything more humiliating in my life.
§ 11.31 p. m.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not think, with all due respect—and I desire to preserve that respect—that the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman was really very helpful or very germane to the speech which the Parliamentary Secretary has just made. The ship of His Majesty's Navy, unless it sees reason to suspect that a British ship is breaking what, under this Bill, will be the municipal law, will convoy that ship, if necessary, to its destination and afford it all protection. Only if the captain of the ship of His Majesty's Navy sees that there is a prima facie case to suppose that it is breaking our municipal law and committing an offence against the laws of this country will it be taken to the nearest British port for adjudication. That, I understand, is the Government case.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
It is an entirely different explanation from that given by the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will permit me to proceed. I venture to suggest that, whatever imperfections there were in the ex- 1185 position of my hon. Friend—and we are all ready to recognise the imperfections of our friends—he agrees with my interpretation of what he said. It is not really for that purpose that I rise, though I hope to remove what I believe to be an entirely unnecessary misconception by these few words. But I am a little troubled by the statement of the position of the Government. My hon. Friend mentioned the question of continuous voyage. That has become a very important part of international law. It was developed at the Courts of the United States in the Civil Wars very much at the expense of British ships which carried goods to the Bahamas, where they were transferred into smaller ships, which ran them into various small creeks or ports in Florida. In the Great War, when we had to exercise throughout the full rights of a belligerent at sea, we acted on the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, and perhaps even developed them in the matter of continuous voyage. I do not want to speak dogmatically, but to seek further explanation. My hon. Friend says that we should have to supervise, check, stop, or arrest every British ship proceeding, admittedly not from our own port, but from some foreign port, not merely to Spain, but to Portugal and France. As I read the Clause it applies finally and definitely toany port or place in Spanish territory or within the territorial waters adjacent thereto…and should be transshipped on the high seas for any such ship into any vessel bound for any such port or place….And these are the important words:or carried in any such ship for the purpose of being discharged or transhipped as aforesaid from that ship.I do not quite see that that is continuous voyage. You carry them up to a point outside the immediate jurisdiction of the State, it need not be three miles, it may be 10 or 20, or 50 miles, and you discharge them into other vessels for the purpose of transport and delivery in Spain. Is that doctrine available if there is any reason to suppose—and it is only when there is reason to suppose that you would act—that the arms consigned to Hamburg or Bordeaux or Lisbon are intended to be transhipped to Spain? I do not want to be dogmatic and I am not sure that I grasp the whole of the case, but I submit to the Government that they have not yet shown cause 1186 why they should not prevent not merely transhipment in "territorial waters adjacent thereto," but transhipment by continuous voyage if there is reason to suppose that there is a faked destination from which the arms are to pass to ports which are prohibited. I hope that some member of the Government will address himself to that problem. I keep an open mind upon it until he has spoken.
§ 11.39 p.m.
§ Mr. R. ACLAND
It seems to me that in this matter the Government have become adepts in giving wrong reasons for not doing the right thing. During the Second Reading Debate we were told that arms were to be allowed to be landed in Portugal in case Portugal should be left defenceless in the face of a victorious Spanish Government in arms. The Amendment makes that reason inapplicable, and so we have been given another. The sole argument the Government put in opposition to the Amendment is that it is physically impossible; we have not got enough ships. I want to ask the Government seriously what is this task? I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his clear definition and explanation of the functions of British ships. He made it perfectly clear that a British warship would only be called upon to render service in the event of a British merchantman being called upon by a warship of one or other of the parties in Spain to do something. In that event—and only in that event—the hon. and learned Gentleman made it clear that a British warship might have some function to perform. If that be so, the number of British ships required in any particular part of the seas to which we may extend the operation of this Bill must be roughly proportionate—I do not know the proportion, but the Government must know it—to the number of Spanish warships of one party or the other which are to be found in those waters. May we know from the Government whether it is their view that there are now, or are likely to be, any warships of either party to the Spanish war off the coast of Portugal or the coast of France? If there is none off the coast of Portugal or the coast of France, no British warships will be required to carry out the services which were so clearly set forth by the hon. and learned Gentleman.
It is a fact that most of the Spanish warships on both sides are now concen- 1187 trated off the coast of Spain. I ask for a very definite answer to this question from some member of the Government. It must be known to the Government, because apparently the British Navy has already been acting for some days as though this Bill were now in force. How many ships of the Royal Navy are now involved in enforcing this Bill, or what this Bill would be if it were passed? If the hon. and learned Gentleman has based his argument on the grounds that we cannot do what is suggested in the Amendment because we have not enough forces, we are entitled to know, in order that the Committee may judge on this matter, how many ships are being used. If the hon. and learned Gentleman can say that 50 ships are required in order to make this policy effective off the coast of Spain, I will grant him that he has made out his case. In that event, we cannot extend it to Portugal or France, but if the number is very much smaller, it is fantastic for him to bring against this otherwise wholly reasonable Amendment, as his only argument, the suggestion that we could not carry out the Bill if the Amendment were added to it.
§ 11.43 p.m.
§ Mr. NOEL-BAKER
I am most grateful for the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) of the speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary. It seemed to us that the Parliamentary Secretary had gone very far towards giving belligerent rights to General Franco. There was one point which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham did not completely clear up, and I hope it will be cleared up. As we understand the matter, the first duty of any British ship will be to tell any Spanish ship which stops a British merchantman that it has no business to do so, and only when the Spaniard has disappeared from the scene will His Majesty's warship proceed to examine the contents of the cargo of the British vessel.
I hope the Government will reconsider their opposition to this Amendment. I think that the Parliamentary Secretary has misconceived the difficulty which it would involve. Surely the work of supervision will not be done for the most part on the high seas, but by consuls and others. Surely the major part of super- 1188 vision will be done by the consuls in the ports of Spain. They will have to work hard. But why should consuls in the ports of Portugal and in the ports of France not work hard also if it is to make this Bill more effective than otherwise it would be? I hope the Government will consider that the difficulties in the way of working continuous control are not so great that they could not be overcome by using the services of the consular officers in the various ports concerned.
§ 11.45 p.m.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I, too, feel puzzled by the Government's refusal to consider this Amendment. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), I suspend judgment on it, but this, after all, is not a question of those intricate examinations of ultimate destinations and those arrangements as to safe consignees which had to be operated during the War. I suppose I had as much experience as any hon. Member here of conducting that system during the War. Surely it is raising a rather absurd bogy to bring up all those questions in connection with shipments of munitions—articles for which, normally, His Majesty's Government would not grant export licences, unless they were consigned to the Government of a foreign country. Similarly, as the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) has said, the consular officer at Bordeaux or Lisbon or whatever the port might be would, prima facie, investigate any suspicious circumstances if a British ship arrived at that port with a cargo of munitions consigned to anybody other than the Government of France or of Portugal as the case might be. Surely, therefore, the problem is a comparatively simple one.
The Amendment only asks the Government to do what the Government have said is the object of the Bill, that is, to apply to British ships trading between foreign ports what would be applied to British ships trading to the ports of this country. There is no doubt that the Board of Trade if asked for a licence for the export of munitions—and that is all the Bill applies to—from this country to Lisbon, will take very good care that such a licence is not granted unless they are certain that there is no question of the cargo being sent on to Spain. The Amendment asks that precisely the same rule shall be applied by His Majesty's 1189 Government and by Consular officers in those ports to shipments from other countries. All this talk, in this connection, about the duty of His Majesty's ships to search vessels on the high seas is irrelevant. The question does not and cannot arise.
§ 11.48 p.m.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
The hon. Gentleman who represents the Board of Trade said that a British ship sailing in Spanish waters, if called upon to heave to—it might be quite illegally called upon to do so—would hoist a signal and that a British warship would go to her assistance. I do not know how hon. Members opposite regard that position, and I want to ask this question: If an honest, sturdy, independent British seaman brought up in the traditions of British seamanship refuses to heave to at an illegal command—at a piratical command—what is going to happen? Will the Minister please tell me that? An intimation has been given here that Franco, the pirate, can call on British ships to heave to. If an independent skipper refuses, what is to happen to him?
§ 11.50 p.m.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I wish to clear up a remark made by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in reply to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who asked whether he was right in assuming that this Bill applied merely to British ships coming from foreign ports. My hon. Friend gave me to understand, I think, that that was the case. I cannot see in the Bill that that is the case. It says in Sub-section (3) —
I do not think that we can pursue further arguments in connection with this Amendment.
§ Mr. SANDYS
Am I not in order to ask the Parliamentary Secretary either to confirm or correct that statement?
§ Mr. SANDYS
That is the question which I wish to ask. I would like to say also that the territories to which this Amendment would apply include not only France but Morocco, Algeria and the international zone of Tangier.
§ 11.51 p.m.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I wish to join in the request to the Government to accept this Amendment. The hon. Member who preceded me pointed out that it was not only France and Portugal which were concerned but Northern Africa as well. But I want to remind the Parliamentary Secretary that the Government have given us the assurance that the French Government are going to take similar action. That would dispose of the difficulties with regard to the French coast. The statement has been made by the Government that they intend to adopt an attitude of positive neutrality, and in the face of all that has been said with regard to Portugal, and how through Portugal the main munitions are going for the service of Franco, surely in this Measure the Spanish Government are entitled to see that the British Government are going to keep its assurance of real positive neutrality. So I say that on the Government's own showing it would appear to me that they should be eager to accept this Amendment. I am not clear, having heard the Parliamentary Secretary, as to what is proposed under this Sub-section. I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary was very clear himself. There are British ships from foreign ports which are proceeding to these territorial waters. May I take it that apart from action by Spanish Government warships or insurgent warships there will be no interference by the British Navy with these British vessels? Will the British Navy only come into the picture with regard to the British ships when trouble arises with some Spanish or rebel war vessel interfering with the British ships? I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to make that clear. He said that part of the function of the Navy would be to exercise a general oversight and if for some reason they suspected a British vessel was possibly proceeding to a Spanish port and carrying munitions, they would search her and see if she was all right. Later he made the other statement that it appeared that the British warships would be sufficient to look after cases when either Franco's war vessels or the Spanish Government war vessels were interfering with British ships. I hope that he will make the position clear.
I did not feel very much impressed by what he said with regard to the extra 1191 ordinary difficulties. If the British Government are going to be really neutral, they must make it perfectly plain in this Bill that they will not allow British ships to be used in this way through, say, the port of Lisbon providing the munitions for one side in this conflict. I do not see that the British Government can prove their neutrality in any other way than by the acceptance of the Amendment now before the Committee. The two right hon. Gentlemen behind the Government on the benches opposite said sufficient to the Committee, I think, to make the Government understand that there is a real apprehension on all sides with regard to this matter, and the Government ought not to allow themselves to be put into the position that their neutrality can be doubted. In listening to this Debate, I have sometimes wished, if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) will allow me to say so, that instead of his protégés on that bench being allowed to get up and explain what they are doing, he himself were there, because I do not think they have made a very good job of it, and I hope they will take his advice and accept this Amendment.
§ 11.57 p.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
The Parliamentary Secretary keeps referring to what will happen when this Bill passes, but we have been told already that the Bill is in operation in effect. No doubt we shall get to that point later on, perhaps between three and four in the morning, but in any case it will have to be dealt with. I hope the hon. Gentleman will respond to the appeals which have been made from all parts of the Committee with regard to this Clause, because it really is not as I think he, quite unintentionally, represented to the Committee. First of all, he suggested that the difficulties were so immense that it was outside the bounds of practicability that in respect of every country bordering on Spain every British ship should be searched. We see now, however, that the task is closely circumscribed on three points. First of all, the only country which really comes into the picture is Portugal; then you get the point that it is only British shipping going from foreign ports that are involved; and then it is only those ships when they are stopped by one of Franco's 1192 or one of the Spanish Government's ships. The task is very much more limited, therefore, and, I should have thought, well within the scope of the British Navy, and I think the hon. Gentleman ought to give us an explanation on that question. I am sure the Government are anxious to act fairly in this matter and not to show any differentiation as between the two sides, but if you are to insist on the Bill as it is and say that you will not undertake the task of including Portugal, you are deliberately differentiating on the side of the rebels, and that is an additional reason for responding to the appeals that have been made.
There is one more point, a new one that I wish to put. Suppose a British ship sailing from a foreign port approaches a Spanish port and is stopped by a, naval vessel with the colours of Franco and with the flag of Franco, if he has one, but quite obviously being really an Italian ship or perhaps a German ship. I understand that something of this kind has been done already, and as the trouble goes on there will be a greater tendency to use the ships of the Fascist powers on the side of Franco. What is to happen in these circumstances? Is the merchant ship and the British naval vessel to assume that it is a genuine Franco vessel, or are they to take action in accordance with the real facts of the case?
§ 12.1 a.m.
§ Mr. CLEMENT DAVIES
Many hon. Members have already said that it is obviously the desire of the Government to let no munitions or articles mentioned in the Bill reach Spain directly or indirectly. It seems reasonable to suggest, as the Amendment so ably moved by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) does, that the right way of doing it is to prevent any articles to be discharged to any port in any territory adjacent to Spain. There is, however, a confusion of thought, and there was the same confusion of thought in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). They are both thinking in terms of war. They are both thinking that belligerent rights are already existing. This is an effort to apply municipal law to a peculiar situation and they are both talking in terms of international law during a time of war. 1193 Under international law in time of war there is the right of the belligerents on either side to interfere with neutral trade—the right to stop ships and to search, and the right, if they find there is contraband, to board and condemn. Very rightly, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham pointed out that that right, which was begun in the American Civil War and extended during the Napoleonic War, was largely extended by us during the late War. That is the right, when a ship is destined for a neutral port and is carrying goods which are perhaps really intended for the enemy, to stop and search the ship and to condemn the goods as contraband. The right is the right to search every ship, whatever her destination may be, and it is a peculiar right which arises during war. Unfortunately, because of the exercise of that right there has been a good deal of friction, and time and again during the late War we were, because of it, very nearly brought into conflict with neutrals. The Americans and the neutrals round Germany complained because of our treatment of the vessels which were going into their territories. All that will arise during this civil war.
What is the position here? This is a Bill which applies in the first place to ships. If we turn to the Sub-section we find that it says that articles, which can shortly be defined as munitions, shall not be discharged from a British ship—where? In Spanish territory, in Spanish territorial waters; not be carried on a vessel which is destined for Spanish territory or Spanish territorial waters. That, I should imagine, is about as far as we could go without interfering unnecessarily with international relations. What are we going to do under this Amendment? Are we going to say that we have a right to interfere with articles going to France, or Portugal or Morocco, merely because there is a possibility that they may go through to Spain? Somebody has got to deal with that possibility when the question of destination is raised. Assume that the article is discharged in a French port, and is claimed by a Frenchman.
§ Mr. DAVIES
For the purpose of being transhipped. But that will be a 1194 matter for proof. Someone will allege it, and someone will deny it, and someone else will have to decide between them. Where is the court which is to decide that point? Obviously we shall have questions raised in the French courts as well as in the Portuguese.
§ Lord E. PERCY
There is no question of any case being raised in the French courts. There is no question of the British consul being able to stop the delivery of the consignment. The question will be "Is that British shipowner liable to prosecution afterwards in British courts under the law of the land?"
§ Mr. DAVIES
Will the right hon. Gentleman read Sub-section (6), beginning at the bottom of page 2 and read on to line 19 in page 3. A ship is destined for French territory and the goods are to be discharged in French territory, and then a Frenchmen makes a claim because the goods have been interfered with.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am pointing out that if we accept the Amendment we increase the difficulties. The best we can do at the moment is to say that no article shall be discharged from a British ship in Spain or its territorial waters. If it is in some vessel which may be likely to take it to Spain it obviously will be somewhere within the waters adjacent to Spain. If we go further we shall increase our international difficulties, which is what we all wish to avoid. For that reason I oppose the Amendment.
§ 12.9 a.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I listened with great interest and some deference to the statements of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. Davies) but I think his whole argument neglected the consideration that this Measure deals only with British ships, and therefore all his worry about neutral countries getting annoyed does not arise. This is a Measure of the British Parliament to deal with British ships and solely with British ships, and confers no rights with reference to any other ships.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
The goods which are in that ship are dealt with in the Bill, because Sub-section (5) makes 1195 them forfeit in certain circumstances. It is not right to say it applies only to the ships. That is where the difficulty arises —with regard to the goods which are in the ship, which are capable of being forfeited.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke from the Labour Front Bench said, if we are going into difficulties arising out of the goods in the ships which are not the property of Great Britain or British nationals, and the dangers of complications with the friendly neutral countries, then you are bringing forward, as he says, an additional tremendously strong argument against the Bill as a whole. Certainly there can be no argument brought forward which makes the Bill a good thing applicable only to Spain and adjacent waters, but makes it a bad Bill if extended to Portugal. As my hon. and learned Friend said, if it be true, as the Foreign Secretary has told us it is true, that the French Government are taking the same line on this, France can be put out of consideration. The problem is purely a Portuguese one, and I think we are entitled as a Committee to have an answer to the issue raised by hon. Members on the Labour benches as to what exactly are the naval commitments that are going to be involved in this matter?
I am glad to see there is a representative of the Navy present now. I think this is the first time he has appeared to-day, though I should have thought this matter was of sufficient importance for the First Lord to be present. There may be some good reason for his absence of which I do not know, but undoubtedly if this Measure is to be an effective Measure, the executive work of it will have to be done by the Navy. Now I think we are entitled to an answer to the question that has been put—What portion of the Navy has been found necessary to operate this Measure in the period of anticipation, which the Government have permitted themselves in advance, of getting authority from this House—because we have been told they have been operating it without authority from this House? What proportion of the ships of the Navy have been used in this work during the last week? Have they been found sufficient for the purpose, and what additional 1196 ships would be required if the Amendment were embodied in the Bill? After all, the only argument that was advanced against the acceptance of this Amendment was that to make it effective would be cumbrous and an impossible task. Well I do not suppose anyone here will ask the Government to shoulder an impossible task. I myself wish them to shoulder a possible one. To wish an imposibility would be to go too far. But I want to ask whether they have found the present job of patrolling the coasts of Spain well within the scope of the Navy, and would it make it a very much greater task to patrol also the coasts of Portugal, and to see that British ships entering Portuguese ports are not carrying munitions of war from other countries for the purpose of the insurgents in Spain? It is an answer that can come only from the Admiralty, but we are in Committee here and I think we ought to have it from the Admiralty. What have they been doing during the last week or two, and what more do they expect to have to do in the weeks that lie in front?
§ 12.15 a.m.
§ Sir ARNOLD WILSON
I hope the Amendment will be rejected and the Government stick to the Bill. The last occasion when this particular type of situation occurred was, I recollect, as far back as 1911, when the arms traffic in the Indian Ocean was at its height. Arms had been run for many years from foreign countries to India from Persia and Afghanistan. It was not possible for us, failing an international agreement, and failing the consent of the Persian Government, to stop British ships carrying arms into Persian ports, until the Persian Government had itself agreed to prohibit the importation of arms. Once the Persian Government had agreed to do it, we were in a position to stop our own ships and, with consent, other ships. Till then, we had no right to stop even our own ships. It was necessary to conclude the Brussels Convention, which is still operative in those waters, in order to regularise the position, and to confer upon the British Navy the right to search not only its own ships but those of other countries who were not signatories.
What we require in the Mediterranean in a new Brussels Convention, covering 1197 all the Littoral States. Until we have it, I think we are bound, in this case, to limit the intervention of the British Navy strictly to the terms of the Bill. We cannot include Portugal without extending it and raising a whole series of further international problems, which might be very much against our interests, in similar circumstances that might arise in future. I do not pretend to be an international lawyer, but I had a personal responsibility for some years for operating, on shore, enactments and Orders in Council following upon the arms traffic. I have a very clear recollection that, without the previous consent of the Power which owned the intermediary ports, we could not stop arms going into Afghanistan, through a third country, That seems to be a fairly close parallel with the situation with which we are now confronted. I, therefore, hope that the Amendment will be rejected.
§ 12.18 a.m.
§ Dr. BURGIN
It is not always easy when one is arguing a case against an Amendment to avoid some possibility of the words being an argument in favour of the Bill. Perhaps that is what happened in this case to-night. In dealing with the extension of the Bill that would be brought about by the acceptance of the Amendment, I was naturally called upon to discuss a number of hypothetical cases. Some of the answers given to those hypothetical cases have been treated as though they were explanations of the Bill. May I reply to the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) as to continuous voyage. He read Sub-section (1), and emphasised the words "transhipped on the high seas." May I say to him and to the Committee that the Clause is at present expressly drafted to limit it to transhipment on the high seas, and not to include transhipment in territorial waters or in port. Both Portugal and France are Members of the Non-intervention Committee. Once ships come within the jurisdication of those countries, the ultimate destination of the goods must be a matter for the Governments of those countries, and no British officer, naval, consular or any other, can, when articles are discharged, for example, at the port of Lisbon or Marseilles, control in any way their ultimate destination. 1198 I am giving this explanation in order that the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee may not feel that there is something that has been overlooked. On the contrary, the Bill is expressly drafted to include that which it lies within our power to supervise, to prohibit and to prevent, namely, the carrying towards and the discharge at a port within Spanish territory. The Committee understands that under the Arms Export Prohibition Order of 1931 and the Instrument of 19th August, 1936, the class of articles to which the Bill relates cannot be loaded at or carried from United Kingdom ports to Spanish territory. Keeping the territory, the articles and the ships the same, the variation of this Bill is as to the port from which the ship proceeds. That is done deliberately, because it avoids the difficulty that you have immediately you embark on the international question of the discharge of goods into the ports of a friendly country with some possibility of transhipment, reconsignment, and delivery by road. I am not sure whether I have dealt fully with all the points of the right hon. Gentleman, but I trust I have given him the explanation of the drafting of the Clause.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
If the Chairman will allow me, I will put my point again when my hon. Friend has finished his speech. I think I can do it better in that way.
§ Dr. BURGIN
I wanted as far as I could to deal with that point. The point raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) was a separate issue from that which has been raised in the general discussion. I wanted to make it quite clear that this Clause, whatever its merits may be, is drafted deliberately only to apply to transhipment on the high seas, and not to deal with transhipment in a port of a country which happens to be a non-intervention country. That, we have felt, is entirely a matter for that country.
Some hon. Members have spoken as if they misunderstood the object of the Bill and the object of this main Clause of the Bill. I would re-affirm that it is the conception of the Government that by making the carrying of arms by British ships from a foreign port to Spanish territory an offence against municipal law you avoid any excuse for the warships of 1199 either party in Spain having anything to do with British ships at all. I agree with the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) that the first duty of His Majesty's ships will be to resist any interference with British ships by Spanish warships, and the reason for any interference is caused to disappear entirely by announcing to the world, by the passage of this Bill, that any improper act by a British ship travelling from a foreign port to Spanish territory is an offence against the municipal law of this country, so that a British ship offending against that law can be dealt with by a British warship, taken into a British port, and dealt with by a British court of justice. Let it be clearly understood that, so far from giving any encouragement to the warships of Spain to interfere with British ships, this Measure will do precisely the reverse. It provides them with absolutely no excuse and no reason for interfering with a British ship at all.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
Surely a Spanish ship has to stop the merchantman first of all to ascertain whether its suspicions are correct that it is carrying contraband?
§ Dr. BURGIN
The Spanish ship has no reason to worry about the matter at all. If the British ship is carrying contraband, the British warship will do whatever is necessary. This is a notice to Spanish warships that we have told our British nationals that they are not to carry these goods, whether from the United Kingdom or from foreign ports. If they do, they are liable to be dealt with by our warships and taken into our ports, and the goods are liable to be confiscated and so on.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
Are we to understand from that that no Spanish warship is to stop any British merchantman on the seas and that only a British warship will be permitted to stop and search it?
§ Dr. BURGIN
Certainly. If I did not give that impression, the fault is entirely mine. It is the impression I endeavoured to create. I think it will be found, when the words are read, that we have said in terms that that is what the Spanish ship has not the right to do. [Interruption.] It means that British ships will not be interfered with by ships 1200 which have no right to interfere with them. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Acland) asked as to the number of naval units engaged in this work. It is not the practice of the House, and it is not in the public interest, to disclose the disposition of His Majesty's Forces. At present, under an instrument dated 19th August of this year, these commodities cannot be taken from United Kingdom ports to Spanish territory. The present Bill seeks to make it equally an offence for British ships to be used as a means of carriage of the same goods from foreign ports to Spanish ports, or of transhipping them by loading over the side into lighters. It does not consider it necessary to deal with goods transhipped except on the high seas.
§ 12.28 a.m.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
My point of view—I do not wish there to be any mistake about it—is quite contrary to that of hon. Members opposite who opposed the Second Reading of the Bill. I regret very much that what I thought was an important engagement prevented me from recording my vote on the Second Reading. My whole purpose in returning to the House was to support the Government in what I believe to be the right policy, and it is from that point of view, of the effectiveness and complete success of the policy which the Government avow and support, that I intervened earlier in the Debate. I do not think my hon. Friend has entirely met the case which I put, or which was put by my Noble Friend.
The case of the Government is this: We have prohibited the merchant navy of this country, and our own citizens of this country, from selling or carrying munitions of war to Spain. We are now applying the same law to British ships starting from a foreign port and not touching at a British port, but with a Spanish destination. My hon. Friend says we do not prohibit the shipment of arms to Portugal, and why should we prevent the carrying of arms from a foreign port in a British vessel to Portugal? I am not sure it is fair to put an important argument to him; perhaps I ought to put it to the Cabinet Minister in charge of the Bill, because when you come to a question of a certain magnitude I, who have been an Under-Secretary myself, know that Under- 1201 Secretaries have not the same degree of authority as has the Cabinet Minister in charge of a Bill.
I put it to the Government that they have overlooked one feature of the case. If a British firm in this country applies to-morrow to the President of the Board of Trade for a licence to ship arms to a private company in Portugal, will he grant it? He licenses the shipment of arms to the Government of Portugal but not to some irresponsible person. Why should you allow British ships to engage for profit in a trade in which you will not allow any resident in this country to have a share? I really think the Government are getting themselves into a quite unnecessary difficulty. They appear to be afraid, on the one hand, that this, might be considered as an unfriendly act—and I am using the word "unfriendly" in the sense in which we use it in private life, and not in the full sense which is attached to its use in diplomatic language. They are afraid that France or Portugal might consider this an unfriendly act. How is it conceivable that Governments which have definitely undertaken not to allow arms to pass should treat it as an unfriendly act on our part to say that if any British citizen attempts to pass them through their country, we shall hold him responsible in our own courts as we would a man resident in this country for the same thing? I cannot see it. The original plea was that this opens so vast a field, that we should have to examine every ship that traverses neighbouring waters; but you cannot examine every ship that passes near Spanish waters. Are you going to take into Gibraltar for examination every vessel of the P. and O. or other lines travelling through the Mediterranean out to India or Australia?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
Of course not. You are not going to assume that every British ship is breaking British law. You are going to act only when you have a prima facie case to suspect that some British citizen is infringing our municipal law. Really, that is my case. I am putting it as a hearty supporter of the Government's policy and not as a critic, like hon. Gentlemen opposite. They really ought to examine it and not be frightened by imaginary bugbears of their own creation.
§ 12.35 a.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Perhaps the President of the Board of Trade will save the time of the Committee by allowing me to put my point before he answers. I am profoundly dissatisfied at being fobbed off by the reply the hon. Gentleman gave me in reference to this question of naval forces. I must say, in this instance, that he should have given me the most cowardly of all answers, about it not being in the public interest, is a complete misuse of what is admittedly a right and proper thing to ask. If one asked a question about the disposition of forces in reference to a nation with which we were at war, I would say that would then be a legitimate and proper answer to give, but when I am asking for some information as to the call that will be made on the Navy to operate what is a bit of police duty with reference to our own citizens, to tell me it is not in the public interest to answer is only treating an hon. Member of this House in a contemptuous fashion. I want from the Minister some statement as to whether any calculation has been made as to the portion of the Navy which is required for this purpose, and how much more will be required if the Amendment here proposed were accepted. I think that is a reasonable thing to ask, and that an hon. Member is entitled to an answer, and not an evasion.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
May I say, before the right hon. Gentleman answers, that I do not commit myself in any way to the wording? It may not be an appropriate wording. I confine myself to the case I have stated, which I hope the Government will consider.
§ 12.38 a.m.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The reason why I have not intervened before in the Committee stage is that my hon. Friend has been handling this, as he always does, with very great skill. As long as he and I work together at the Board of Trade I wish to see a proper division of duties, and on the Committee stage on an important matter in which legal knowledge and acumen are needed, I prefer to leave him to deal with the details which come up from time to time. The question put to me is whether I, as being a person of greater responsibility than an Under-Secretary, will be prepared to give a 1203 different interpretation from that which he has given of the proposal at present before the Committee?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
No. I did not ask for a different interpretation, but for a reconsideration of the attitude of the Government. I thought it unfair to press the Parliamentary Secretary unduly because, after all, an Under-Secretary has not, unless he is expressly empowered to do so, the same authority to accept an Amendment as the result of discussion in this House as has a Cabinet Minister.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I will not pursue that point. We are asked whether we can, on this very difficult subject, meet legitimate requirements expressed in various quarters of the House? My right hon. Friend has stated very clearly to the House, and I think the House fully appreciates, the point of view which has actuated those of us who are trying to make this as nearly as we can watertight. That really is what we are all naturally driving at. It is not an easy thing to do. It is extraordinarily difficult to handle. We are dealing with what is, to some extent, a departure, and we must naturally consider every detail of it with great care. That has been done before the Bill was submitted.
With regard to the points which have been put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) and by others in this House, I think I can say that while at the present time we do not see the necessity for making the change which he has suggested, we are quite prepared to look into the matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] At once, between now and the stage in the House of Lords. We must get the Bill now. Before the next stage is taken in the House of Lords, I will undertake that we shall look into the matter. The various Departments concerned will examine it with great care, and we will do what we can. If necessary, we will alter the wording, but we will do what we can to satisfy the quite legitimate objects of my right hon. Friend and those for whom he speaks.
§ 12.42 a.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
1204 Surely this is a very vital matter which goes to the root of the whole Bill, and if this is a matter for reconsideration, the Bill ought not to be rushed through at this time of night. I cannot believe that a day or a day and a-half would make all the difference, and the right thing is surely that we should report Progress so that the Government may have time to look into these considerations, which did not seem to be present to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade before they were raised in this House.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not press this point If he really wishes to see the Bill go through, I am sure he will regard it as necessary that we should get it.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I put it that the right hon. Gentleman has not replied to the point, which is that here is a very vital matter affecting the whole policy of the Bill. It now appears that it has not been considered, and we have not had a word from any Minister to-day or any day to say that this Bill is so urgent that it should be passed in a day. In those circumstances I shall certainly press the Motion.
§ 12.44 a.m.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider this Motion. I quite frankly voted against the Bill, and I am not trying to fly under false colours and say I am a friend of the Bill. At the same time, this Clause is one of the reasons why I voted against it, because I saw that unless the Clause were amended we should prevent munitions going direct to the Spanish Government but not from going to the rebel forces through Portugal. Now this objection would be very largely met if the suggestions made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) and the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy)—made in the first place by the. Leader of the Opposition and supported by those right hon. Gentlemen—were accepted. But the important thing is that if we part with the Bill on the basis which the President of the Board of Trade has suggested, we leave this vital Amendment to be made or rejected in another place. We shall have no power to move and 1205 shape the Amendment. It is not as though the President of the Board of Trade had said, "I am very much impressed by the force of what the Leader of the Opposition says. I see there is a strong case for this Amendment." On the contrary, he is not convinced there is any necessity. He has not said, "I should like to be able to make the Amendment, but there are all kinds of technical difficulties, and it is a very difficult matter for me to decide whether it will be possible, and we must have time to consider it." He is not even yet convinced of the necessity, and therefore I think it would be very wrong on the part of this House to allow this question of the necessity, or even the technical feasibility, of the Amendment to be discussed and decided in another place. The Bill has, in fact, been in operation, I think I am right in saying, for four or five days. It really should not make any great difference to the police of the Government if the endorsement of that policy by Parliament were delayed for one or even two more days. If we are to keep control of this Measure I do hope that the Government, out of respect for the rights and responsibilities of this House, will agree to the Motion for the postponement of this Debate and for the decision on the Amendment to be made by this House either to-morrow or the day after.
§ 12.48 a.m.
§ Mr. EDE
I hope that the Committee will adopt the Motion moved by my right hon. Friend, because only after a most pointed appeal by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) did the Minister in charge of the Bill rise. Then he addressed the Committee for the space of only two or three minutes and it was only after an appeal from the right hon. Gentleman that he rose to say, not that he was going to accept this, but that after we had parted company with the Bill and were no longer in a position to make any effective steps towards amending it he would consider whether he would put in some words in another place if he was then convinced of the necessity of them. It is true that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said he was not tied to our form of words. I do not imagine we are either. If we can get the substance of the matter, the exact form of words does 1206 not matter at all, but if we let this Measure go and the Minister then decides that he will not put in the words, neither the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham nor the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) nor anyone else can get the words in after that stage. If the Lords put in some words, we may suggest an Amendment to their Amendment, but if they do not put in any we are powerless to prevent the further passage of the Bill. We shall have parted with it.
I do suggest that if the right hon. Gentleman can meet his right hon. Friend the two sides of the Committee will be so nearly in agreement that it might very well be a matter of great advantage to the Government, in presenting this Bill to the Non-intervention Committee, that they would have a far more nearly agreed Measure than they are likely to get if they insist upon the attitude adopted by the Government up to this stage. I agree with the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) that there was not a single word in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade to indicate that he was really going to do more than push off the opposition from behind him until he had got the Bill to the other end of the corridor, where he did not anticipate there would be very much trouble. This, after all, is a matter of the greatest delicacy for those of us who represent seaport towns, because no attempt has been made to answer the question of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who asked what is to happen if an ordinary British seaman—and the hon. Member himself has been a seaman in his time—is called upon to heave to?
I see conversation is going on. I have no desire to interrupt the conversation; in fact, I was going on in order that the conversation might continue. I have noticed, in the course of a somewhat chequered career in this House, that such conversations are frequently snore fruitful than speeches from this side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman is a native of my constituency and he knows the position that may arise in a shipping town if a British ship, proceeding on the high seas, is ordered by a ship under the command of someone holding his commission from General Franco to stop. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that is an act of piracy.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must remind the hon. Member that we are now discussing the question that I "do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."
§ Mr. EDE
I was suggesting that this was a reason why we should have time to consider the Bill and the issues of principle raised. If the Bill is likely to be more an agreed Bill than it is at the moment, it will reinforce every Department of the Government in dealing with this matter. I hope that the Government will realise the desire that this Bill shall be a watertight Bill.
§ 12.52 a.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I would like to reinforce the Motion to report Progress. There are matters to be considered. The first of these is that the Bill is not like a great deal of our legislation, domestic in character. The effects of this Bill, more perhaps than any other Bill we will have to discuss this Session, will be felt in almost every part of the world. For the sake of its reputation the Government should try to carry with it as large a section as possible of the House of Commons. When to-morrow it is read internationally that the Government only got the Bill after tremendous hostility and possibly an all-night sitting, the force of the Government's action is lost. I am not an international expert. I have never done more than journey from here to Glasgow, but anybody I have listened to on these matters has told me—and good sense tells me the same thing—that it will be bad for the Government if to-morrow it is read that sections of the Opposition and supporters of the Government are dissatisfied and that, for good or ill, an all-night sitting was the result. I have been here for a good many years and, even in domestic legislation, the Government has not gained either in reputation or stature by having an all-night sitting. It may be that on such an occasion the Government has got its Measure and rushed it through, but looking over the matter some time afterwards it has always been questionable whether the Government gained anything.
Here is this important Amendment. When we are endeavouring to show dictator countries how we can do things, the Government's action creates an almost impossible position. We are told 1208 that this Bill cannot be amended in this House, but that another place can amend it. This House seems to be getting into a position in which it is really second to another Chamber. The House of Commons is entitled to protest. I understood from the Foreign Secretary that there is a meeting of the Non-intervention Committee to-day. Assume that the Government do not pass this Bill. Are they not in a much stronger position when they go to the Non-intervention Committee? With this Bill passed, and no Amendment made, what is their position? The Government will be faced with the position that the Non-intervention Committee take the view that the House of Commons is not backing the Government; that it is only a section of the House that is backing the Bill on party lines.
If the Bill is held over the Government can say to other countries, particularly France, that they are holding the Bill over for the purpose of making the British system more watertight than it is now. The effect of the Amendment would be that not only were our ships not to carry munitions to Spain, but that they were not to go to Portugal either. If the Debate is adjourned the Government would be able to say to France that we were not weakening in the matter. The Government have everything to gain by delay. I have been through my fair share of all-night sittings and I suppose I shall enjoy it as much as the others, but I am not anxious on this matter to go through with it, as this is a very important matter. I have never kept from my mind the gravity of the issues raised, or the complications. I have felt the gravity of the sailors' position. I think that the Committee and the right hon. Gentleman ought to endeavour to carry the Members of the House with him as much as he can. It is on that account that I make an appeal that the Debate should be adjourned. The right hon. Gentleman will lose nothing by it and the Government will gain in every possible way. At the end of the day they will be very much stronger as a result of listening to the appeal made to them. I do not want such grave issues as those which Conservative speakers have pointed out—those of war and peace—discussed through the night in the atmosphere of an all-night sitting. That would not be 1209 good for the Government or for the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman would raise the dignity of Parliament if he accepted the Motion.
§ 1.0 a.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
I hope that the Government will respond to the proposals that have been put forward. There are a large number of Amendments down to this Measure. I have several down myself, which will take hours of discussion if they are in order. I appreciate that when the Government hoped that they would get this Measure through by 11 or 12 o'clock it was a reasonable thing to expect to get it through to-night. But the Bill has raised serious issues and controversies which cannot be dealt with at this hour of the morning. In regard to the question of urgency, if Sub-section (8) had not been in the Bill there would have been a great deal in the contention. I do not think it should be in the Bill, but it is there and I propose to read it to the Committee in order that they might thoroughly familiarise themselves with it. It says:Anything which has been done before the commencement of this Act in purported exercise of any such power as is mentioned in Sub-section (6) of this Section, and which would have been lawfully done if this Act had come into operation on the twenty-third day of November, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, shall be deemed to have been lawfully done.They are seeking by that an indemnity for illegal action during the last few days. With the protection of that Sub-
|Division No. 30.]||AYES.||[1.5 a.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merloneth)|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Adams, D.(Consett)||Foot, D. M.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Frankel, D.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Gallacher, W.||Leach, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'isbr.)||Gardner, B. W.||Leonard, W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||George, Megan Lioyd (Anglesey)||Logan, D. G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Gibbins, J.||Lunn, W.|
|Benfield, J.W.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bellenger, F.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Benson, G.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Mander, G. le M.|
|Bevan, A||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Marshall, F.|
|Broad, F. A.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Maxton, J.|
|Buchanan, W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Milner, Major J.|
|Buchanan, G.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Hayday, A.||Muff, G.|
|Cassells, T||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Henderson. T. (Tradeston)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Daggar, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Paling, W.|
|Dalton, H.||Holdsworth, H.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Hollins, A.||Potts, J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jagger, J.||Price, M. P.|
|Day, H.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Dobble, W.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Unlv's.)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||John, W.||Ritson, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
§ section in front of them they can perfectly well delay the passing of this Bill into law for another day, or another week. It cannot make any difference. The Government have not chosen their ground very effectively in suggesting that there is urgency. It is obvious that there is no urgency in law. In view of the way the discussion has been developing it would facilitate the passage of the Bill if the Government were now able to say that they would adjourn.
§ 1.3 a.m.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
I appeal to the Government to accept this Motion.
I have supported the Government in every Division on this Bill. I have been struck with the contributions made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). Those of us who are supporting this Bill are concerned that munitions shall not only not go to Spain directly but also shall not go indirectly. I think the right hon. Gentleman put that point plainly, and even the supporters of the Bill would feel a good deal more content if time were given to consider whether some words could be put in the Bill to meet the point he made. I make a strong appeal to the Government to reconsider the point and accept the Motion.
Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 108; Noes, 204
|Rowson, G.||Sorensen, R. W.||White, H. Graham|
|Seely, Sir H. M.||Stephen, C.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Sexton, T. M.||Stewart, W. J.(H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Slikin, L.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Silverman, S. S.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Simpson, F. B.||Thurtle, E.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Tinker, J. J|
|Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Watson, W. McL.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Smith, E. (Stoke)||Westwood, J.||Mr. Mathers and Mr. Charleton|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Palmer, G. E. H|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Entwistle, C. F.||Patrick, C. M|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Erskine Hill, A. G.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Everard, W. L.||Perkins, W. R. D|
|Assheton, R.||Fildes, Sir H.||Petherick, M|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Fremantle, Sir F. E||Ponsonby, Col. C. E|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Furness, S. N||Porritt, R. W|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Fyfe, D. P. M||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Ganzonl, Sir J||Ramsbotham, H|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Gluckstein, L. H||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Glyn. Major Sir R. G. C.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Goldie, N. B.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Bernays, R. H.||Granville, E. L.||Ropner, Colonel L|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gridley, Sir A.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Grimston, R. V.||Rowlands, G|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Guest,Maj.Hon. O. (Cmb'rw'll, N.W.)||Runciman. Rt. Hon. W|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Guy, J. C. M.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Harbord, A.||Salmon, Sir L|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Salt. E. W|
|Burghley, Lord||Honeage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Butler, R. A.||Hepworth, J.||Sandys, E. D|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P|
|Cary, R. A.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Scott, Lord William|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hulbert, N. J||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Caralet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Hunter, T||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn, Sir A. (Br.W.)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H||Simmonds, O. E|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Kerr, Colonel C. (Montrose)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Channon, H.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Chapman, A. (Ruthergien)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Christie, J. A.||Lamb, Sir J. Q||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Law, R K. (Hull, S.W)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L|
|Clarice, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Leckie, J. A Leckie, J. A||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Leech, Dr. J. W||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Leighton, Major B. E. P||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L||Strauss. H. G. (Norwich)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J||Strickland, Captain W. F|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Loftus, P. C||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton (N'thw'h|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Lumley, Capt. L. R||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lyons, A. M||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F|
|Crooke, J. S.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G||Sutcliffe, H|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||M'Connell, Sir J||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Cross, R. H.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Culverwell, C. T.||McKle, J. H||Train, Sir J|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Maclay, Hon. J. P||Tufnell, Lieut.-Corn. R. L|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Magnay, T||Turton, R. H|
|De Chair, S. S.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R||Wakefield, W. W|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Markham, S. F||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Denville, Alfred||Maxwell, S. A||Wardlaw-M line, Sir J. S|
|Dodd, S.J||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J||Warrender, Sir V|
|Doland, G. F.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Waterhouse, Captain C|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R|
|Dower. Capt. A. V. G.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Drewe, C||Mitchell, H. (Brentlord and Chiswick)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Duckworth. G. A. V. (Salop)||Moreing, A. C||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hltchin)|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H||Wise, A. R|
|Duggan, H. J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cir'nc'st'r)||Wragg, H|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Muirhead, Lt. Col. A. J||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Munro, P||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J||Sir George Penny and Sir James|
|Elliston, G. S.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Han. W. G||Blindell|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."|
§ Mr. STEPHEN
Might I ask the Minister now that he has had time to consult with his colleagues whether he is not prepared to put forward a form of words. I think, perhaps, the Government are now prepared to meet the situation pressed upon them from all sides of the House.
§ 1.14 a.m.
§ Dr. BURGIN
The Government have not at any time wished that munitions of war consigned to or destined for Spanish territory should reach that destination by any indirect route. Taking into account the wishes which have been expressed by hon. Members of the Committee, I have a suggested form of words which it might be possible for the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) and the Committee as a whole to accept. Perhaps I might read the Clause and then read the words which are proposed. Let me start by assuring the Committee that we all desire the same result. It is the Government's desire as much as that of any hon. Member who is moving an Amendment to see that munitions do not get to Spain by an indirect route. Clause 1, Sub-section (1), says:No article to which this Act applies shall be discharged at any port or place in Spanish territory or within the territorial waters adjacent thereto from a ship to which this Act applies, and no such article shall be transhipped on the high seas from any such ship into any vessel bound for any such port or place.So far, I think, I have followed the words of the Sub-section down to the word "place" in line 11. My suggestion is that the second word "or" should be deleted after the word "place" and that we should insert these words:and no such article consigned to or destined for any such port or place shall.If I may read the Clause, still going on with line 11, it is:be taken on board or carried in any such ship.Then delete the wordsfor the purpose of being discharged or transhipped as aforesaid from that ship.With the object in view, which is shared by hon. Members on all sides, to stop munitions of war reaching Spain by indirect routes, Sub-section (1) now contains the new provision that no such goods shall be taken on board or carried in any such ship. I am advised that is a matter of drafting that includes goods, whether discharged or transhipped, 1214 if consigned to or destined for Spanish territory. If the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith would substitute those words for the words which he has introduced, I think he will find that they cover the same ground, and with the assurance that the Government have the same object in view, I would ask the Committee to accept that Amendment.
§ 1.18 a.m.
§ Mr. PRITT
I have, of course, had very short notice, but so far as I can see those words do achieve the same result. If I find afterwards that I have misled myself, arrangements must be made in another place. I accept the Amendment, and beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 1.19 a.m.
§ Dr. BURGIN
I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, to leave out "or," and to insert:and no such article consigned to or destined for any such port or place shall.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I would ask leave to thank the hon. Gentleman. The matter is thoroughly satisfactory, and I am very grateful to him.
§ 1.20 a.m.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
Although the right hon. Gentleman has accepted the Amendment, to many of us it is obvious that the Amendment being moved by the Government may or may not meet the case which was submitted in moving our case. I hope we may take it that the purpose behind the Amendment which we moved, that is, to prohibit any munitions going through Portugal or any country adjacent to Spain, is actually covered by the Amendment which the Government now move. I should hope the assurance that the hon. Gentleman gave from the Government Front Bench is absolutely categorical in that respect.
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In page 1, line 12, leave out the words:for the purpose of being discharged or transhipped as aforesaid from that ship." —[Dr. Burgin.]
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I have to point out to the Committee that I had some doubt about accepting the original Amendment standing 1215 in the name of the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt). I came to the conclusion that it was within the scope of Standing Order No. 34, and I think the same applies to the Amendments moved by the Government. Under that Standing Order the Committee can make an Amendment which is relevant to the subject matter of the Bill, but not included in the Title and in each case they must amend the Title, and consequently an Amendment of the Title will be necessary under the Standing Order.
§ 1.22 a. m.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
I beg to move, in page 2, line 4, at the end, to insert:Provided that any such Order in Council shall not have effect until approved by Resolutions of both Houses of Parliament.The object of the Amendment is very simple and clear. The Bill says that at present munitions are not allowed to be carried from this country to Spanish ports, and it therefore proposes to add the prohibition of munitions picked up on the way. The definition of munitions to which the Bill applies is very far-reaching and all-inclusive. I cannot imagine that there will be any possibility or desire to add any article to the list of munitions, because that seems to be fully covered in every department. But the Bill says, at the top of page 2, that the Government want to take powers, under Order in Council, to add anything else —presumably in addition to munitions—by Order in Council. That seems to us to be too strong an order unless the Committee approves.
It has been suggested with some force that what one side in the Spanish civil war may want more than anything else is food and petrol. Suppose that the other side objects to our sending food and petrol, will the Government be willing, by Order in Council, to add food and petrol? I think that would be a very serious thing, because food, at any rate, is not and ought not to be regarded as prohibited under a regulation such as this. Unless we can get a real assurance from the Government that these few sentences at the top of page 2 are really intended only to enable possible small technical gaps in the list of munitions, as previously defined, to be filled up, we shall feel that 1216 we ought not to take any strong action in regard to the prohibition of things like food or petrol, unless it is not only done by the Government by Order in Council but confirmed by both Houses.
These are very serious things. We are exploring waters which are very little known, it is true, but surely that is all the more reason why we should not allow this prohibition to be unduly extended unless both Houses have consented to it? That is a matter which was not made at all clear in the original manuscript read to us by the President of the Board of Trade some hours ago, when he moved the Second Reading of the Bill. I move this Amendment at any rate in order to draw from the Government a statement as to what they think they intend under this provision, which enables them to add extra articles to the prohibited articles, the list of which seems already to cover all munitions.
§ 1.25 a.m.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)
I think I can give the right hon. Gentleman substantially the assurance for which he asks. The scheme of Sub-section (2) is this: As he knows, the Arms (Export Prohibition) Order, No. 413 of 1931, contains a list of goods prohibited for export from this country to Spain, and the general intention of the Bill is that in respect of the articles in that Order the Bill should apply and that it should be an offence to convey these articles from ports, other than ports in this country, to Spain. The Bill had necessarily to provide for a possible addition to the Arms (Export Prohibition) Order of some article which it was found ought to be within the general category of goods covered by it, so that this could be added to the articles prohibited for export from this country.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Yes; sui generis. All that Sub-section (2, b) does is to give power by Order in Council to add to the ambit of this Bill any article which by Order in Council under the existing statutory provisions can be added to the Arms (Export Prohibition) Order. I hope, with that explanation, the right hon. Gentleman will see his way not to press the Amendment
§ Sir F. ACLAND
I agree that it is only to bring things in which might be 1217 prohibited under the Arms (Export Prohibition) Order. What we are afraid of is a general extension. In these circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 1.29 a.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
I beg to move, in page 3, line 29, to leave out Sub-section (8).
This is the Subsection dealing with indemnity for illegalities to which I made reference just now. I move this Amendment for the purpose of obtaining some information regarding the necessity for the Sub-section. Will the Minister who replies say what precedents there are for putting in an indemnity of this kind and why the Government find it necessary to act in this precipitate way? I ask the Attorney-General to say precisely what are the acts for which they are asking an indemnity? What orders have been given to the British Naval vessels in the Mediterranean up to the present? Some reference was made to it in the Second Reading Debate. What instructions have been given to them to take action or not to take action in accordance with the terms of the Bill? I think the Committee are entitled to further information on this point before they pass the Sub-section.
§ 1.30 a.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
As the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) knows, it was on 23rd November that the Foreign Secretary announced the decision of the Government to resist any interference with British ships by Spanish warships, and it is the Government's intention to make it illegal for British ships to carry arms to any port in Spain. As the Committee know, the purpose of that policy—and I think I can state this without arousing at this late hour a general discussion of whether the purpose was a wise one or not—was to prevent incidents which might have consequences leading even to war. His Majesty's Government having come to the conclusion that such incidents might occur in the then circumstances and that their conclusion might be such as I have described, they would clearly be failing in their duty if they had not taken immediate steps to see that such incidents did not occur. They therefore took immediate steps to see that nothing of this kind should happen.
1218 His Majesty's Navy were from that date authorised to resist any attempt made, should any attempt be made, by Spanish warships to interfere with British ships. They also—and this of course is complementary and supplementary—decided as far as possible to prevent British ships with arms on board proceeding to Spain, and for that purpose, if necessary, to interfere with the movements of those ships.
Assuming, as I think I am entitled to ask the Committee to assume for the purpose of considering this Amendment, that that decision was a proper one, it clearly was necessary, if such incidents might occur and were likely to have undesirable consequences, to take immediate steps. These instructions were therefore issued in anticipation of the Bill. It would be quite wrong not to protect His Majesty's Navy; those instructions having been given in order to prevent the possibility of these incidents arising. It is quite right that retrospective legislation should always be scrutinised, but these are the circumstances. There is no question, of course, of any penalty being retrospective. It is merely to see that should any action have been taken by His Majesty's Navy on those instructions with the object of preventing incidents, those who took it would be protected from any legal consequences.
§ 1.33 a.m.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I have listened to the Attorney-General but I must say I am surprised at the indefinite nature of the answer that has been given. I would have thought he would have given some indication of what has happened since these instructions were given to the Navy. I would have thought that he would have let the Committee have some information as to how many ships were dealt with in this way, and how many ships of the Navy were despatched in connection with carrying on this work, but all he does is to say that if something has happened in carrying out this work, if something has happened in carrying out these instructions and claims are to made, we want to have an indemnity for the Navy taking that action on the instructions of the Government. Surely the Government have learned by this time that the House would like a little more information about what it is doing and what are the consequences of its action. I do not think I am putting it too high when I make that request 1219 to the Attorney-General. Already this evening various members have asked the Government what has been done in connection with this departure in policy. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade told us in the most casual way it, was not in the public interest and was never the practice. He gave us no proof that it was never the practice, and it is in the recollection of members of the Committee that such information is constantly being given in this House on various matters.
I remember, when action was taken in connection with the trouble in the Far East, that every day we got information with regard to ships of the Navy that were being ordered to the Far East. But here, all that we get is this inept remark of the Parliamentary Secretary "It is not in the public interest." Really I think the Parliamentary Secretary could do himself more justice if he would treat the Committee with greater consideration, and not avoid giving information of this character which we are entitled to have before we let this Sub-section go. The Committee ought to have some indication of what is really involved in this Sub-section. I hope that we are going to get these details from some member of the Government. My hon. friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) suggested that it was a matter for the Navy to tell us, but whether the direction of the Navy at the present time is too heavily burdened to be represented here in a matter which affects the Navy in. such a material degree, I do not know. I really think that in a discussion on a Bill like this it was the responsibility and the duty of the First Lord of the Admiralty to be here to give the Committee the information that the Committee should have. I hope we are going to get that information before this Amendment is withdrawn.
§ 1.39 a.m.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
I desire to ask a question. As I understand it, this Subsection is to stop any actions that might lie by an injured party against a captain of one of His Majesty's warships in the execution of his duties. I ask whether any such incidents such as this Subsection was drawn to cover have arisen since 23rd November? Is it within the right hon. Gentleman's knowledge that 1220 any claims have been made, or are likely to arise, as a result of incidents?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I know of one such incident. I do not want to give actual details. I know of one case where a ship was stopped and searched. There may be others.
§ 1.42 a.m.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I did not mean to speak on this Amendment, but I think that one of the things the Attorney-General has said perhaps leaves the matter a little unclear. I wish for only one assurance. The Attorney-General referred to this Clause as removing the possibility that damages might be claimed against officers of His Majesty's Forces in the execution of their duties. He said that under this Clause no penalties would operate against such people who committed an offence under the Act. He specifically mentioned criminal penalties. He made no mention of civil liability. Can he assure us that no civil liability can arise as a result of this Sub-section?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 (Short title, construction, interpretation, extent, and duration) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Dr. BURGIN
I beg to move, in line 3, after "ships," to insert:to prohibit the carriage in such ships of such articles consigned to or destined for Spanish territory.This is a consequential Amendment.
§ 1.94 a.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Does the Amendment sufficiently cover the new Amendment which I understand makes it an offence to take such goods on board, quite apart from carrying? The taking on board would be an offence and, as I understand it, that offence is not covered by the new Title. The carriage has been included beside the discharge and transhipment.
§ Dr. BURGIN
I am obliged. The point Bill reported, with Amendments is covered by the words "for purposes amended]; as amended, considered. connected therewith. "I am advised that Motion made, and Carriage.
§ Amendment agreed to.
|Division No. 31]||AYES.||[1.45 a.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut-Comdr. P. G.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Entwistle, C. F.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Assheton, R.||Erskine Hill, A. G.||Petherick, M.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Everard, W. L.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Flides, Sir H.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Porritt, R. W.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Furness, S. N.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Bornays, R. H.||Goldie, N. B.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Grimston, R. V.||Rowlands, G.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Guy, J. C. M.||Runciman. Rt. Hon. W.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Harbord, A.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Salt, E. W.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Heneage, Lieut Colonel A. P.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Hepworth, J.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Butler, R. A.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Holdsworth, H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Cary, R. A.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hulbert, N.J.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hunter, T.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Channon, H.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Christie. J. A.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Leckle, J. A.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Liewellin, Lleut.-Col. J. J.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S||Loftus, P. C.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Lumley, Capt. L. R.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Titchfieid, Marquess of|
|Crooke. J. S.||M'Connell, Sir J.||Train, Sir J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Tufnell, Lleut.-Com. R. L.|
|Cross, R. H.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Turton, R. H.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||McKle, J. H.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Slr J. C. C.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wardlaw-Mllne, Sir J. S.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Maxwell, S. A.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Dodd, J S.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Doland, G. F.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Drewe, C.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Mitchell. H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Wise, A. R.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Moreing, A, C.||Wragg, H.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Muirhead, LL-Col. A. J.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Munro, P.|
|Dunne, P. R. R.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Sir George Penny and Sir James|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Blindell.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Benson, G.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Broad, F. A.||Day, H.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Buchanan, G.||Dobble, W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Burke, W. A.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Cassells, T.||Ede, J. C.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Daggar, G.||Edwards, Sir, C. (Bedwellty)|
|Barnes, A. J||Dalton, H.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.|
|Bellenger, F.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Foot, D. M.|
§ Bill reported with Amendments [Title amended]; as amended, considered.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 182; Noes, 88.
|Frankel, D.||Kelly, W. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Gallacher, W.||Kirby, B. V.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Logan, D. G.||Simpson, F. B.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Lunn, W.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Gibbins, J.||McEntee, V. La T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Stephen, C.|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Mander, G. le M.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Marshall, F.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Maxton, J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Milner, Major J.||Thurtle, E.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Muff, G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Paling, W.||Westwood, J.|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||White, H. Graham|
|Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Potts, J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Jagger, J.||Pritt, D. N.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Ritson, J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|John, W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Rawson, G.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Seely, Sir H. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Mathers and Mr. Charleton.|
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.