HC Deb 15 May 1939 vol 347 cc1098-131

8.54 p.m.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

I beg to move, in page 15, line 16, after "to," to insert: the names, ages, addresses, occupations, and academic standing of. The words in the Clause give very vague, indefinite powers to the Minister, which have caused some little anxiety in quarters which have reason to be concerned about this matter. It is very undesirable that powers should be given in this Bill which create any suspicion about their use such as would affect the relations existing between school and university authorities and their students. It is perfectly right and proper that the necessary information as to names and ages should be given, and there would be no objection in that case; but if the words in the Clause are to be used to obtain confidential information about the students, that would be a most regrettable thing. You do not want to have a card index secretly kept, either by school or university authorities, with a lot of confidential information which might be used at some date in the future by a Minister holding these powers. I am not suggesting that the present Minister wants to make use of them. The object of the Clause is to get the necessary information for the purpose of the Measure. I hope that the Minister will be able to accept these or some similar words clearly defining the kind of information which is to be obtained from local educational school or university authorities. If the Minister could see his way to accepting the Amendment, he would remove a very real anxiety which now exists.

8.57 p.m.

The Attorney-General

I hope that the hon. Member will see his way not to press this Amendment after I have replied. The power in the Clause is limited at present by the words at the end of the Clause: as the Minister may from time to time require for the purposes of this Act. I can give to the hon. Member the most categorical assurance that there is not the slightest desire or intention of compiling a confidential card index such as he suggested. The main purpose of this provision is the obtaining of addresses, and for that purpose it would be better to leave it, in the words of the Bill, "as the Minister may from time to time require." Some of the items set out in the Amendment would not be required. The age comes, I think, from the Registrar-General.

Mr. Tomlinson

Does not the name come from there?

The Attorney-General

The name would come from there too. Therefore, although I admit that I cannot at the moment give the hon. Gentleman the particulars which might be required outside those he mentioned, I would point out that some of those he has included would clearly not be appropriate.

Mr. E. J. Williams

What is the purpose of the Clause?

The Attorney-General

The main purpose of the Clause is to get addresses and occupations. We should get the age and the name from the Registrar-General. This is in order to assist the getting of what is clearly absolutely necessary information. I suggest to the Committee that it can reasonably and safely be left in the form in which it is drafted, namely restricted to information which may be required for the purposes of the Measure.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I have heard the explanation of the Attorney-General with a good deal of misgiving. It appears that this provision is to be used as one means of finding out the age and address of certain people of whom the authorities are not quite sure. I was proposing to oppose the very wide phrasing of the Amendment, but while I hope that the Committee will not agree with the Amendment, I hope it will also reject the Clause when we come to that point. I do not want to do what I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman did, speak really to the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," but I view with the greatest misgiving that the information sought in the Amendment, which was supposed to be a limiting Amendment, should be obtained in this way.

There are two classes to whom the wording of the Clause can apply. Students actually attending some place of higher education are, of course, the students there at the moment. They may, for the purposes of the Board of Education, be at an ordinary institution. They have to give their age and addresses. If it was thought that the Government were going to use the admission registers at technological colleges and similar places for what are detective purposes, to find out where people are whom they happen to want, there would be very great resentment both by the students and by the institutions. Probably at this stage it would be unwise to say more. When we reach the Question of the Clause standing part of the Bill I shall oppose the whole idea revealed by the Attorney-General.

9.3 p.m.

Mr. Harvey

Although the right hon. and learned Gentleman has gone a good way towards meeting my anxiety, I should be grateful if he would say that he will consider the possibility of making this point clearer when the Bill gets to another place. He has not explained what matter, other than the addresses and occupations of the men concerned, the Minister might wish to know, and the uncertainty is unsatisfactory. All that is needed is the particular information; surely it ought to be possible in some form to make that point clear in the Bill. I hope he will make it clearer. I shall not press the Amendment, in view of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, but I hope he is willing to consider in another place or at another stage the possibility of making the wording clearer.

Amendment negatived.

9.4 p.m.

Mr. Cove

I beg to move, in page 15, line 16, to leave out "or who have received."

I can understand why the Attorney-General could not give any proper answer to the Mover of the last Amendment. With all due respect to him, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not a competent person in these matters. I would remind the Committee that we had experts from the Admiralty here when we were discussing the Naval Reserve, but we have no one representing the Board of Education here while we are discussing matters which affect the educational authorities. I protest vigorously against what I consider to be an insult to this Committee and to those educational authorities upon whom this duty is being imposed. I should have thought that someone from the Board of Education would be here to give a competent answer. The answer of the Attorney-General leaves me puzzled as to what in formation is required under this Clause. I can only conclude from his speech that it is information of a very private nature, relating to the character of these people—

The Attorney-General

That is the exact opposite of what I said.

The Chairman

We must not debate an Amendment which has already been disposed of.

Mr. Cove

I think that what I am saying is germane to the present Amendment. The Clause itself imposes on the local authorities a duty that is entirely extraneous to their functions. From what has been said already, it would seem as though there may be some very odious duties imposed upon the local authorities. This information is desired as regards those who are now in the schools, and as regards those who have left. How is it proposed to get it as regards those who have left school? Is a demand going to be sent from the Minister to the local authorities, and passed on to the school, for information of the precise nature of which we are not yet aware? If that is so, it will impose an intolerable burden on the individual schools. Already education authorities and schools are complaining about the amount of clerical work involved by the returns which they have to send to the Board of Education, and now it appears that each school—because it cannot be done by the education authorities—will have to undertake a search of its registers for some years back, and a large amount of the information thus obtained will be useless. Where will these boys be? The information required under the Clause applies to children who were in the schools six years ago. What service can the local schools render by giving information about many of these lads, when under the Government's transference scheme, and owing to the shift of industry, large numbers of them will have left the locality where they were at school?

If it is general information that is required, it will throw on the schools a good deal of work which ought not to be thrown upon them, and which in the end will be useless. If, on the other hand, there is not to be a general requirement, I take it that it will apply to special cases. How is the Department to know about special cases? I suppose that if in a certain street John Jones has been called up and Tom Evans is left, and if, say, the mother of John Jones gets to know that the other lad is not going to be called up, there is the possibility of an anonymous letter being sent to the Department asking why this lad is not being called up. If the machinery is to be of this kind, I say quite definitely that it is putting on the local authorities a job which ought not to be put on them; it is turning them into a sort of educational Gestapo—an agency of inquisition into individual cases.

To me the whole principle of the Clause is odious. The information that is necessary for calling these lads up can be obtained from the registrar. One would have thought that the earlier Clause which provides for a penalty of £5 for not registering would have been a sufficient safeguard for getting all the youngsters that the Government require. I oppose the whole Clause, and I think it is iniquitous that, in addition to finding out the information that is wanted about present students, the responsibility should be put upon local education authorities and governors of schools to find out information about the lads that have left. Which of the Ministers now on the Front Bench is competent to answer this question? It is all very well for them to have a brief, but the Government have at their disposal a Minister who is at least supposed to be competent, and who does represent the Board of Education. I want again to utter a protest against the disrespect which has been shown to the Committee in the discussion of this matter, against—I do not think the word is too strong—the flippancy with which the Government have regarded it, and against the insult they have levelled at education authorities by not having a representative of the Board of Education present during the discussion on this Clause.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. Maxton

I would like to associate myself with the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) in his opposition to this Clause, and to support the Amendment which he has moved. I hope that, if he gets no satisfaction, he will divide on the Amendment. I can conceive that perhaps later in the discussion, when the appropriate Minister has arrived to explain the matter to us, there may just possibly be some argument for the Clause as a whole, but I cannot see any argument for the inclusion of this phrase. I do not know why the Attorney-General should be in charge of the Clause, unless it be that the Government know that on previous occasions, when there was some particularly awkward job to be done, all the responsible Ministers were somewhere in the background and the Attorney-General was in the forefront to take all the kicks that were going. He will remember the situation to which I am referring. I did my best to get him out of that situation, and will do my best to get him out of this one.

Imagine what is included in these four words that it is proposed to delete. It means that the education authorities may be asked to produce the record of every child in every school from five years of age to 20 or 21, and presumably to know whether the child's record in the infants' school was such as would make him an efficient soldier in the militia. It is just utter rubbish. If the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who has now come on to the Front Bench, will attend to me instead of trying, with the Attorney-General, to dig out of their united intellects some argument to prove that we are wrong, and devote themselves entirely to the question of this Amendment, that will, be enough for them for the moment. They will have time to send to the Board of Education and get the answer when we come to discuss the question that the Clause stand part of the Bill. The Clause seems to have arrived out of the blue, and to have been shoved into this Bill. If there had been Clauses in other parts of the Bill—

The Chairman

There are not any such Clauses.

Mr. Maxton

No; but if you listen, Sir Dennis, you will find that I am not wandering from the Amendment. If there had been other Clauses in the Bill which asked employers to give lists of their employés, there would have been some justification for this, as a check list; but is it the assumption that young people attending educational institutions are less likely to carry out their duties of citizenship than young men in employment, or is it proposed that young men attending educational institutions at this age shall be excused the ordinary obligations of other citizens, because there will be some special register? We do not know. But whatever reason there may be for doing this in the case of present pupils, there can be absolutely no justification for making this retrospective, or for providing that the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Glasgow, the London Education Committee or the Glasgow Education authority may be called upon by the Ministry of Labour to pass on to him the record of the educational achievements and attainments and so on of all the persons who have gone through their institutions in the past.

Can the Government tell us how many people will be affected by this? Can they tell us whether this applies to the elementary schools? The wording certainly applies it to the elementary schools. Children under five can be involved in this, according to the terms. It is quite obvious that the Attorney-General does not know anything about this, and I shall be very surprised if the Chancellor of the Duchy can produce an argument for it, but I am ready to sit down and hear what he has to say.

9.19 p.m.

Mr. Ede

There are young persons who have previously been attending schools, and who are clearly aimed at by the words we have here. Everybody attending any educational institution in the country is included, except persons educated by nursery governesses and private tutors at home. What is at the back of the Government's mind is this, that they will send to the various schools in the country and say, "Give us a list of the boys who attended your school and are shown by the attendance register to have been born at such a period that their ages would now be between 20 and 21." Even if that is not intended, that is a serious possibility; and that is not a proper use of information which is being obtained by the schools for other purposes. No headmaster would think of disclosing this information which is in his admission register to anyone in any circumstances whatever, unless he was compelled to do so by Act of Parliament. The relations between the parents and the school authorities are such that a great deal of information passes which would not pass if it was thought that tales were going to be told out of school by the education authorities or the administrators.

The register of births contains the information; but, of course, the birth has been registered 14 years before the child leaves an elementary school at present, and 15 years before the child would leave under the conditions as they will be in a few months' time. That brings the information a little nearer to date. The person is easier to trace than he would be if the Government had to rely on the Registrar-General's information. I object very much to this use of the schools with regard to ex-pupils. It will create a great deal of dissension and difficulty. The Government ought to devise some means other than this very clumsy means of finding out who are the people who are brought under the Bill. I cannot think that the results that this will achieve are worth the friction it will cause.

9.23 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

Perhaps I may be permitted to apologise for the lack of high educational qualification on the part of my right hon. and learned Friend and myself, but this is a matter of simplicity which, I think, can be appreciated by the Committee even if one is not a member of the Board of Education. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has correctly appreciated the effect of the Clause and the effect of the Amendment upon it if the Amendment is carried. We have in this country no record of young male persons such as exists in other countries, so, when introducing this measure of compulsory training, we have to rely almost entirely on the sense of patriotism and the law-abiding character of these young men to do what the House asks them to do, namely, to register for training.

I feel that the register will be made very complete by simply relying on young men to do what Parliament wants them to do; but when you lay an obligation of a general character on any group of people you must take steps to see, so far as you can that anyone who attempts to default from what Parliament has laid down is not allowed to escape simply because he does not possess quite the same desire to comply with the law, the same sense of patriotism, as the majority. To fail to do so would be to create in the country a sense of gross injustice among those who do comply with the law, who will be the very large majority. The information that we do possess is of course derived from the returns of the Registrar-General, but for the present purposes that information is 19 or 20 years old, and in the interval there have been all the accidents of mortality—changes, deaths, emigration, and so on—so affecting the information that can be derived from the Registrar-General, compiled from that source alone, as to render it comparatively useless for a purpose which, it must be agreed, is a right one—to prevent evasion of a responsibility that Parliament lays upon these young people.

In that circumstance there is another means whereby information for the register can be checked from a more recent source, and that is from the educational establishments. True, that information will itself be some years out of date, because if a boy left school at 14 it is five years out of date for the purpose for which it is required. But it is quite clear, also, that the amount of change in personnel which can take place in four years is much less than the amount of change that can take place in 19 years; and, though such a register will not be complete, because in four years many changes will have occurred, still it will be more complete than that compiled from the returns of the Registrar-General, and it is only to enable a partial check of the register to be obtainable, when required, that this Clause is inserted. If the Committee were to accept the Amendment it would render this purpose largely nugatory, because it would mean that information could only be obtained from the educational authorities in respect of men who are receiving their education at the time when the Act passes. But what is wanted is, of course, to receive information of that kind, when required, about men who now come under the Act, and that antedates the relevant period of education to four, or it may be five, years before. Information about the people who are actually undergoing education at the present moment—elementary education, for example—would not be of any relevance until the time limit of the Act, namely, three years, had expired.

I hope, therefore, that the Committee will agree with me in the various steps of the argument I have attempted to put forward, namely, that it is desirable that this obligation should be shouldered equally by all upon whom it is laid, that reasonable steps should be taken to prevent evasion, and that that can best be achieved, seeing that we have no register of another sort available, by calling, when necessary, upon those in educational establishments to supplement or correct the information. The discussion has gone on to some extent in relation to the Clause itself. I am addressing myself simply to this Amendment, and if the Amendment is accepted its effect will be to destroy the Clause for its present purposes. I hope, with that explanation, the Committee will not insist upon it.

9.29 p.m.

Mr. Tomlinson

After the explanation of the Minister I think the justification for the Clause is less than it was before he spoke. One had read into it something a little more charitable than that which he has divulged. I thought, when he got up, that maybe something had escaped our attention which made the Clause worth while. I think the explanation he has given that the intention of the Clause is to bring the local educational authorities into the service of this Bill is perhaps the most despicable thing in the Bill.

Mr. McCorquodale


Mr. Tomlinson

I am endeavouring to give the answer. It seems to me during the last few months we have all attempted to reconcile ourselves to the coming of conscription. We have gone back on all the arguments that we have been using for years in order to justify it to ourselves. We have felt that in conscription there was something that was not quite in keeping with our British tradition, and as a consequence we were attempting to introduce it in such a way as to make it less despicable than we thought likely. But I should have thought that when bringing in compulsion the last institutions that would have been brought in to assist in doing so would have been the educational institutions. To call upon the local educational authorities to become a kind of military Nosey Parkers for the War Office is about the limit of what you have asked the local educational authorities to do in the last few years. We have been multiplying the duties of those authorities, without meeting the payments to which they were entitled when we increased their duties, and now it is suggested that we should go back to children of five years of age, and even two years of age, the age at which children go into the nursery schools.

The Chairman

I think this is getting a long way from the Amendment.

Mr. Tomlinson

Children who have received instruction at two years of age will be in the category that the Minister is seeking to bring in, and so a little boy in the nursery school at Farnworth who does not like playing with toy soldiers would not be expected when he is 20 years old to make a good soldier. I expect that is the information that the Ministry requires. If that were the justification for the Clause it would, in my opinion, be far more logical than the explanation that was given by the Chancellor of the Duchy. He said that we have not got a register of males in this country, and therefore we are setting up this slipshod method of checking up the boys of 20 years old. If you are going in for conscription, for heaven's sake do the job properly. Set up your register, if you want to, but do not be checking up in this way. What are you doing? By this method you are putting the duty on local educational authorities of finding the young men who may not have responded. That is the job of the policeman, not of the local educational authority. Why do you not get people to do the job whom you are paying for it? You are not paying the local education authorities, or the teachers, to do this kind of work, and I strongly object to their being asked to do it, and particularly to be asked to do it in this way.

You could have argued that there were men of 20, whom you might have lost sight of, who were now going through college; you might have had difficulty in finding out their addresses, and could have got them at college. There might have been a justification for this Clause in order to enable you to find the addresses of those young men. But when they have left the school or the college, it is not the duty of the principal of the college, or the headmaster of the school, to trace them. And when you have traced them, have they to be tabulated? Is the Eton boy to go into the Army at 20 as an Eton boy, and the Borstal boy as a Borstal boy? Is that the purpose for which you want this information, or is it that you think you will be able to get from the Borstal institution the information that is not readily available elsewhere? It seems to me that in introducing the education authorities into this business at all you are making a great mistake.

9.35 p.m.

Mr. Assheton

The hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) represents a county in which I know that there is no desire to evade any form of service that the country wishes to impose. I am certain that when he thinks over the argument he has put forward, he will realise that he has done himself less than justice. Would the local education authority consider it improper to make use of machinery which was not invented for the purpose, for example, to get information from the Registrar-General as to the ages of children whom it compels to come to school? This is really a very small point. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) generally manages to bring some argument of weight to every subject upon which he speaks, but on this occasion I do not think that he had a single solid argument. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) suggested that there might be some breach of confidence, but surely no one can suggest it is a breach of confidence to ask the age of a boy. I hope that the Committee will reject the Amendment.

Mr. Ede

You do not ask a boy his age under this proposal. These words relate to a boy who has left school and whose parents disclosed information in the belief that is would be treated as confidential by the person to whom they gave it.

Mr. Assheton

There is nothing confidential in regard to the age of any man.

9.37 p.m.

Mr. Stephen

I want to ask for a little more information. I would like to know whether the Board of Education were consulted with regard to this Clause, and I should like some information as to the figures that were before the Board of Education, when, I presume, they were consulted. How many educational institutions and schools do the Government think can be tapped in this connection? I also presume that they would have some estimate of the number of educational institutions who have kept lists of their former pupils and tried to bring the process up to date. If the Minister could give the Committee some information in that respect, it would be helpful. To try to secure a list of those who have received education at institutions as a check on the registration by individuals will prove a very costly business, out of all proportion to any value it may have. One of the difficulties is the lack of specific figures with regard to the educational institutions. I do not know whether it is due to the fact that we have no representatives of the Board of Education on the Government Front Bench and nobody who can speak with any responsibility as to how many of these lists there may be. The Committee are surely justified in insisting upon getting more specific information than we have yet received in this connection.

The Minister said that there would be an advantage in taking the lists of those who have received education at educational institutions where such lists could be obtained, but, on the other hand, there are so many people in this country who have not passed through an educational institution at all. There is a section of the community who do not even go into a public school, and there will be no record of such people. The Minister is telling us about the importance of obtaining information of those who have passed through the elementary schools, but has he any suggestion to make as to how they are going to check up those who have never passed through public educational institutions? Many children have governesses and tutors, and they do not pass through any educational institution, and it is very probable that these are the people upon whom it is most necessary to keep a check.

Mr. Remer


Mr. Stephen

I will tell the hon. Member quite easily. These people have the most for which to fight. They are among the wealthiest members of the community. There is to be no check as to whether they are registered or not, but there will be the harassing of those who have been to elementary schools and other educational institutions. I hope that I have made plain to the hon. Gentleman the difference in this respect. These children are in a specially favoured position like the heirs to the Woolworth millions, and people like that. They do not pass through educational institutions, and yet they have so much more to defend in the event of war. The Committee are in a great difficulty in going on with this discussion because of the absence of anyone who can speak with responsibility from that bench with regard to this particular information. There is no one from the Department who can say that they have this matter before them, and that there are so many elementary, secondary, public and private schools. There are so many kindergarten schools, that I do not know that there can be any record at all. It appears that this is to cost a fearful lot of money without achieving any adequate information. The Government would be wise to accept the Amendment, or to drop the Clause altogether.

9.44 p.m.

Mr. Messer

I want to add my voice to the protests which have been made at the absence of the representative of the Board of Education. I do not think there is any question as to the qualification to deal with this particular question, but there are those who are members of educational authorities who have a right to hear from the representative of the Board of Education just how this Clause is to be worked. Take a county educational authority which is responsible for part of a county so far as elementary education is concerned. If this Amendment is not accepted, and these words are not deleted, that authority has to give to the Minister particulars of all those who have passed through the elementary schools. Many of the children will have gone into the secondary schools or the technical schools, and these schools will be asked for particulars in regard to the children who have been educated, and there will be overlapping and duplication and a great deal of confusion unless some special machinery is set up to deal with the matter. My view of the whole situation is that this suggestion has been hurriedly arrived at. I can understand those who are responsible for the Bill wanting to get their register, but I cannot understand the Board of Education lending themselves to this means by which that register can be got. I think we ought to adjourn the Debate until we can have a representative of the Board of Education present.

There are the county authorities, the Part III authorities, and all the different bodies that deal with education. As the Clause stands, all of them will have not merely to send in a register of those who are attending their educational establishments and, for a period which is not stated, a register of those who have attended the establishment. I have heard it said that all the information required is the name and address. That is not stated in the Clause. What is stated in the Clause is very significant. It does not just say the name and address and the age but it says "such information." Unless these words are interpreted widely, why are we not told what they actually convey? The Bill with these words in it will not give us any opportunity of dealing with any specific questions that may be directed to an education authority. If I am to be a party to passing this Bill into law in one capacity as a Member of Parliament, I may as a county councillor in another capacity not be desirous of giving the very information that may be asked by the Minister. That is not a position in which we ought to be placed. If the Minister now in charge of the Bill will not or cannot give us more information and give us an assurance that the interests of the people will be safeguarded, I hope the House will divide.

9.47 p.m.

Captain Arthur Evans

It is somewhat difficult to appreciate the anxiety on this question of hon. Members above the Gangway. It is difficult to know whether they are seeking information from my right hon. Friend or whether they are anxious to know the exact meaning of the Clause. The meaning is clear. It is designed by the Government to facilitate the authorities in obtaining as complete a list as possible of those young men who are subject to six months' training under the Bill. Parliament has already approved of the principle, and I cannot believe that it is the desire of hon. Members above the Gangway that a certain section of people through lack of efficient machinery should escape the obligation which the House desires to place upon them. Listening to some of the speeches, one would assume that it is a crime to ask the educational authorities to furnish this information. What information is it that they are asked to furnish?

Mr. Messer

The Clause does not say.

Captain Evans

From the Clause as it is drafted it is obvious that the Minister is anxious to seek from the local authorities the names of those young men who are liable to be called up on a certain day. It is obvious from the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy that that is the desire of the Government.

Mr. Messer

He is not the responsible Minister.

Captain Evans

It is obvious that it does not require a Minister of Education to explain the purpose of the Clause. Why is it suggested that it is a crime to ask the education authorities to supply this information? One hon. Member above the Gangway asked why the police were not asked to supply this information. It is the duty of every citizen to do what is necessary to facilitate the authorities in giving effect to the law, and I cannot understand why it is right for one civil servant, be he a War Office official or an official of the police force to furnish information, and why it is wrong for the school authorities to do so. Having approved of the principle, I am sure that it is the desire of hon. Members above the Gangway and the desire of the whole Committee that as few exceptions as possible should be made from the principle we have approved, and that the machinery should be so designed that no leakage occurs.

9.51 p.m.

Major Milner

I do not think the hon. and gallant Member for Cardiff, South (Captain A. Evans) has really appreciated the full meaning of the Clause. It appears to me that the words with respect to which an Amendment has been moved would enable the local education authorities to look even into the antecedents of the father, the elder brother, or any male relative of a person liable to be called up. The hon. and gallant Member, say, has a very presentable son, possibly about the age of 20, and under this Clause the local authorities would not only be able to inquire into the hon. and gallant Member's antecedents but also into his conduct when he was at school. They would also be able to inquire into medical matters. Those of us who have children at school know that there are frequent medical examinations. It will be possible for the authorities to obtain the most personal confidential information from medical reports kept at school, not only in regard to the individual liable to be called up but also into that individual's elder brother, father or uncle.

It is perfectly absurd to have in the Clause the words "or who have received." It would be possible in the event of its being desired to prosecute any individual, or in the case of a conscientious objector, to make inquiries from the school or the university at which that person had been educated, as to his previous proclivities—had he been a member of a Left-wing organisation at the university or the school, had he been in an officers' training corps, or a Boy Scout. A hundred and one other questions might be asked. One hon. Member behind me suggests that it might be asked whether he had been a member of the Oxford Group. Neither the local education authority nor any Government Department has the right to inquire into the antecedents of those now at school or university or those who have been there in the last 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. There is no limit to the inquiry which could be made by the authorities in these schools. The Clause is far too wide. It would involve obvious overlapping and mean a great deal of work for education authorities, many of whom are not financially too well off. Moreover, they are short of staff, and this provision would be an imposition upon them even in relation to those at present at school or at the university. It is far too great a task to impose on local authorities, and I hope the Committee will pass the Amendment.

Captain Evans

The hon. and gallant Member says that the Clause enables a local authority to seek any information on any subject which they thing desirable. I can only assume that he has not read the Clause, because the last words are that local education authorities shall provide any information as the Minister may from time to time require for the purposes of this Act to obtain. And the purpose of this Bill is to call up young men of 20 and 21.

Major Milner

If I may reply to the hon. and gallant Member, the Bill does much more than that. It enables proceedings to be brought against them, tribunals to be set up, penalties to be inflicted and prosecutions for false statements to be brought. It is the hon. and gallant Member who has not read the Bill.

9.56 p.m.

Mr. McCorquodale

There is one point I want to put before the Committee. The Minister of Labour has in his possession, through the list of insured persons, all those who would be eligible to be registered under this Bill and, therefore, the Section of the community which hon. Members above the Gangway think that they represent so largely in this House will, without any further review, come under the control of the Minister of Labour. It is those people who do not come under that scale, those who are outside the provisions of the Insurance Acts because they are above the money standards, who will not come under the Bill, and I want to ask hon. Members above the Gangway whether they are prepared, knowing that all insured persons can be got immediately by the Minister of Labour, to let off those who because of their higher financial standards are not in that list? It is a serious point. As to persons who are in the list of insured, the Minister of Labour has all the details about them, their names, their ages—

An Hon. Member

Why do you want this Clause?

Mr. McCorquodale

We want this Clause to catch those who are above the stan- dard, but hon. Members want to let off the rich man and catch the poor.

9.58 p.m.

Mr. E. J. Williams

If the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. McCorquodale) had heard the statement made by the Attorney-General or the Chancellor of the Duchy he could not have put the interpretation on this Clause that he has. The Minister clearly indicated in his reply that, owing to the migration which has taken place, a large number of persons who had attended elementary schools could not now be traced and that there was no check as to their actual age. This is purely a working class imposition, as it is to be applied to children who have gone through elementary schools. Another feature of the Measure which is quite original is that the Minister under the Bill is the Minister of Labour. He can get all this information by asking the authorities to send him the registers for so many years back and work out the information for himself. He has a staff which can go through the register and ascertain all the information he requires. Instead of that, he is imposing on local authorities work which will interfere with their proper function of educating the children of this country. They have no clerical assistance.

Taking a register of the children is a job which is normally done by the teacher of the class or form, and, as to secondary schools, only a fortnight ago a secondary school with which I have some connection was obliged to appoint a clerk to the headmistress for the first time owing to the onerous clerical duties which were falling on her and the staff of the school. These school authorities, where they have no clerical assistance, will be expected to provide the information required not of certain individual cases, but probably of a large number of cases over a large number of years. I assume that I am correct, although I have no right to make that assumption because the Committee has not had the advantage of hearing from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education precisely what is expected of local authorities. In addition, there is a difficulty mentioned by an hon. Member. Take my own county of Glamorgan. The county authority within its own administrative area is responsible for elementary and secondary education, but there are certain urban areas, like the Rhondda Valley, where you have an authority re- sponsible for elementary education but not for secondary education. You have separate registers probably of the same individual kept by different authorities, with consequent duplication of administration.

This is a duty which should not be placed on local education authorities. The Clause is in the Bill purely for the purpose of finding the individual whom the Minister thinks would not be sufficiently honest, after having given his name, to say accurately what his age was! There are a number of people in this country who have not gone to an educational institution and there is nothing in the Clause which will enable the Minister of Labour to obtain any information about people who have had private tuition outside any educational institution. The Clause is aimed at working people and not at people who are sufficiently rich to be able to educate their children privately. People who have escaped the register which is normally kept by the Minister of Labour for occupational purposes can now be caught by this means, but there is no means by which children belonging to the upper middle classes or the very wealthy classes can be traced. There is nothing in the Clause that would enable them to be traced, and certainly nothing could be done retrospectively to find out exactly what educational institutions these children might have been in over a period of years if the interpretation of the Clause is the one placed upon it by the Minister. I am certain that my hon. Friends will not only vote for the Amendment but vote against the Clause standing part of the Bill.

10.6 p.m.

Captain Heilgers

I cannot agree with the narrow suspicions that have been expressed by hon. Members opposite. As far as I can see, there is no ground whatever for the point of view stated by the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) and other hon. Members that there is a distinction in this Clause between the working classes and other classes. Hon. Members have only to read the Clause to see that it includes universities and schools of all kinds. It seems to me that in one direction it would be of very great benefit if all possible information were given; I refer to the medical side. For a long time, I was the chairman of the medical inspection committee of my county council. We kept most complete records of the whole history of the children on the medical side. If these records were made available, they would be of very great benefit to the militiamen when they join the Army.

10.7 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

The finest argument for this Amendment was that supplied by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he said that if the Amendment were carried, it would make the Clause inoperative. For that reason, every hon. Member ought to support the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman said the Clause would apply only to very few, because the large mass of the youth of this country is loyal. I maintain that the great mass of the youth is loyal for freedom and democracy, and if it were a question of an army of freedom, and not a conscript army, we should get a response that would stagger any Fascist army in any part of Europe. I want to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that, while the youth are loyal to freedom and democracy, they have no loyalty to the Government or the Prime Minister. Therefore, this Clause will apply not to a very small minority, but to a very large proportion of the young men of this country, young men who would be quite ready to defend freedom and democracy, but who can never in any circumstances trust the Prime Minister or the National Government. It is because the Chancellor of the Duchy and those associated with him believe that this applies to a very large number—and not to a small number—that they want to bring the schools under the control of the military.

It is a scandal that we should even contemplate allowing the military to get an entry into the schools of this country. If that happens, in a short time we shall have the children doing the goosestep. One hon. Member opposite said that the Ministry of Labour have a working-class register, and that this provision will apply only to the sons of the wealthy; and when the hon. Member said that, my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) said it was a matter for the policeman. Yes, get the policeman in for that. It is those people who need to have the policemen after them. Will the Minister tell us what will be the position if an education authority has a con- scientious objection to giving information to the military? I hope that every education authority in the country will understand its responsibility to the children of this nation and refuse to give information to the military. If, instead of bringing the schools under the military, the Government were prepared to take into account the real interest of the nation, and abolish itself and make way for a government that would make a real peace pact in Europe, we could get a response from the young men of this country that would make this Bill unnecessary.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is getting a long way from the Amendment.

10.12 p.m.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

I do not feel that we have had any clear explanation from the Minister as to the nature of the information that would be required under this Clause. It seems to me that the information in possession of the education authorities concerning those who have passed through their hands falls under two heads. First, there is what I would call statistical information; matters of the date of birth, Christian names and so on, which in a great majority of cases would not be confidential information. It may be very objectionable indeed that education authorities should be asked to supply even that information, but it is not of a confidential nature. Secondly, there is a great deal of other information in the hands of all education authorities concerning their pupils or students and ex-pupils or ex-students. There are matters concerning their antecedents, matters affecting their conducts and character, and youthful peccadillos which they have perpetrated; there is also very confidential medical information which is in the hands of the school medical authorities; and finally, there is, of course—especially in the case of universities—information concerning their political and religious opinions. All those categories of information seem to me to be highly confidential.

This information is either given to the education authorities in confidence, or comes into their possesson in circumstances which render it confidential. As I read the Clause, the Minister has power to call upon those authorities for all confidential information of that nature. No doubt the present Minister of Labour would be the first to assert that he will call only for information of a statistical nature to assist him in his duties. I am sure he will disclaim any intention of using these powers to obtain confidential information of the kind to which I have referred. But may I remind him that even Ministers of Labour come and go—not quite as frequently, I agree, as other Ministers. The right hon. Gentleman does not make such lightning and kaleidoscopic changes as, for instance, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. But Ministers come and go and Governments come and go, and I can see circumstances arising in which a Government of a certain political complexion might avail itself of these powers, for purposes quite different from those for which, I have no doubt, the Minister of Labour intends to use them. Unless we can have an assurance on that point, and some further information on the exact nature of the particulars which it is proposed to obtain under this Clause, and the purposes for which it is to be used, I feel bound to resist the passing of the Clause in its present form.

10.17 p.m.

Mr. Beechman rose

Hon. Members


Mr. Beechman

Hon. Members opposite appear reluctant to hear anybody on this side of the Committee, even one who intends to speak in support of their own view. I am greatly shocked by the way in which this Clause is drawn. It is true that the power of the Minister to require information is limited to some extent by the words, "for the purposes of this Act." But when one considers what this Measure does, one realises that he may draw his net very widely. The Bill contains provisions as to conscience and medical fitness. Therefore, the Minister would have it in his power to demand information in regard to the conscience of an individual who had been educated at a particular school. He would be entitled to ask what the political and religious views of a student had been and what attitude a student had adopted in his work on questions of conscience. Similarly, he would be empowered to ask questions concerning the medical history of a student. I cannot see why those matters to which the Minister says he will confine himself, such as age, address, and occupation, should not be specified in the Clause. If those are the only matters on which the Minister intends to seek information, why on earth cannot they be put into the Bill? The fact that the Minister refuses to specify these matters in the Bill, must raise some suspicions, however unjustifiable, that there is an intention to ask for information of the wider character to which I have referred. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will see his way at some appropriate stage to put limiting words into this very wide Clause.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I think there is a misapprehension as to the extent of the powers for obtaining information contained in this Clause, and it is right that the Committee should be disabused of any exaggerated view which may be held of the effect of the Clause. The information which the Minister is empowered to obtain is limited by two very important qualifications, namely, that it must be information which he may require for the purposes of this Act, and I cannot for myself—

The Deputy-Chairman

I understand that we are still on an Amendment. The discussion seems to have gone rather over the Clause as a whole, but we had better have an understanding that we are discussing only the Amendment if it is desired to discuss the Clause later.

Mr. Shinwell

We shall not debate the Clause itself.

The Deputy-Chairman

Then that will be quite satisfactory.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I understood that the Committee had adopted the course of discussing the Clause with your consent.

Mr. Maxton

On a point of Order. I did not quite get the nature of the intervention of the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), but we have discussed this Amendment for about on hour on the assumption that we were discussing the Amendment only, and the majority of speakers have endeavoured to limit themselves to the Amendment on the assumption that there would be an adequate debate on the Clause itself. I think it is very wrong, at this late date in the discussion, when, as I understand, we were just going to a Division, to say that we are now discussing the Clause as a whole.

The Deputy-Chairman

All that I can point out is that if we go on discussing the Clause after the Amendment is disposed of, we shall not go very much further before the Guillotine falls.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

The only thing I wish to say with regard to the Amendment is that it is desired only to get the information that is necessary for the purposes of the Act. As some apprehensions have been expressed that all sorts of entirely irrelevant requests for information may be made, and in order to make clear the intention of the Government, I will undertake to have a look between now and the Report stage to see whether some words can be used which will make the matter clearer. My present opinion is that the words as they stand bear the interpretation which I have put on them and that a local authority could resist giving any information that was not for the purposes of the Act. It is our desire to make this Clause as agreeable as possible to the wishes of hon. Members.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Will it be permissible on the part of a local authority to refuse to give any information which it considers it would be disloyal to any person who may have attended a particular school to give?

Mr. Morrison

I would not go so far as to say that this is a matter of opinion for the local authority, who might hold an opinion which would not be right, but the truth is that the Minister is only empowered to demand information that is necessary for the purposes of the Act, and where he demanded such information as was not necessary, he would have no power to enforce the demand.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

May I put this to the Minister? He has just assured the Committee that the only information which will be required under this Measure will be information for the purposes of the Act. Is it not the case that that will apply to the Clauses of the Bill which refer to the appearance of conscientious objectors before a tribunal? That is one of the purposes of the Act, and one can easily imagine that in certain cases a tribunal might find it hard to decide as to the bona fides of the application of a conscientious objector. In that case would it be open to the Minister to go, for instance, to the university authorities and ask for confidential information as to whether an undergraduate had ever given expression to any views concerning conscientious objection during his time at the university?

Mr. Morrison

I should say, generally, no; at any rate, that is not the intention. The question about conscience is one to be decided at the time a man appears before the tribunal. What sort of opinions a man held some years previously at the university will be largely irrelevant. Similarly, with regard to questions of health. As I have said, I desire to meet the wishes of the Committee and to make this Clause express what is the intention of the Government, and I have undertaken that we will look into it to see whether we can improve it. We will examine it in the light of the discussion.

Mr. Stephen

Can the Minister tell us how many educational institutions he estimates will come under the purview of

this Clause and the number which have kept a register?

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid it would not be possible to say how many educational institutions have kept registers. The Clause says only such information as they have or can reasonably obtain, and if they have no register they are under no liability.

Mr. McCorquodale

Would it not cover all the points raised if instead of the words "require for the purposes of this Act," there were the words "require for the purpose of compiling a register"?

Mr. Morrison

I will consider that.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 249; Noes, 146.

Division No. 126.] AYES. [10.28 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Critchley, A. Hammersley, S. S.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hannah, I. C.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Hannon, Sir P. J. H.
Albery, Sir Irving Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Harbord, A.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Cross, R. H. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Crossley, A. C. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Crowder, J. F. E. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Apsley, Lord Cruddas, Col. B. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.
Aske, Sir R. W. Culverwell, C. T. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-
Assheton, R. De Chair, S. S. Hepworth, J.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. De la Bère, R. Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Denman, Hon. R. D. Holdsworth, H.
Balniel, Lord Danville, Alfred Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Dodd, J. S Hewitt, Dr. A. B.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Donner, P. W. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Beechman, N. A. Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G. Hume, Sir G. H.
Bernays, R. H. Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Hunter, T.
Boothby, R. J. G. Dugdale, Captain T. L. Hutchinson, G. C.
Bossom, A. C. Duncan, J. A. L. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.
Boulton, W. W. Dunglass, Lord Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Eastwood, J. F. Keeling, E. H.
Boyce, H. Leslie Eckersley, P. T. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)
Brass, Sir W. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Ellis, Sir G. Kimball, L.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Elliston, Capt. G. S. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Emery, J. F. Lamb, Sir J. O.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Emmott, C. E. G. C. Latham, Sir P.
Bull, B. B. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)
Burghley, Lord Errington, E. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Erskine-Hill, A. G. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Burton, Col. H. W. Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Levy, T.
Butcher, H. W. Everard, Sir William Lindsay Lewis, O.
Cartland, J. R. H. Fildes, Sir H. Liddall, W. S.
Carver, Major W. H. Findlay, Sir E. Lipson, D. L.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Fleming, E. L. Llewellin, Colonel J. J.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Premantle, Sir F. E. Locker-Lampion, Comdr. O. S.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Fyfe, D. P. M. Loftus, P. C.
Channon, H. Goldie, N. B. Lyons, A. M.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Gower, Sir R. V. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Colman, N. C. D. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) McCorquodale, M. S.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Gridley, Sir A. B. MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Grimston, R. V. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Gritten, W. G. Howard McKie, J. H.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Magnay, T.
Cox, H. B. Trevor Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Maitland, Sir Adam
Craven-Ellis, W. Hambro, A. V. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Markham, S. F. Rayner, Major R. H. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Marsden, Commander A. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Sutcliffe, H.
Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Medlicott, F. Renter, J. R. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Ropner, Colonel L. Touche, G. C.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Tree, A. R. L. F.
Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C. Rowlands, G. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Moreing, A. C. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Turton, R. H.
Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Russell, Sir Alexander Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Salmon, Sir I. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Munro, P. Salt, E. W. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Sandeman, Sir N. S. Warrender, Sir V.
O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Sanderson, Sir F. B. Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Sandys, E. D. Wells, Sir Sydney
Orr-Ewing, I. L. Schuster, Sir G. E. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Peake, O. Selley, H. R. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Peat, C. U. Shakespeare, G. H. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Perkins, W. R. D. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Peters, Dr. S. J. Shepperson, Sir E. W. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Petherick, M. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Wise, A. R.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Pilkington, R. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Wragg, H.
Procter, Major H. A. Snadden, W. McN. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Radford, E. A. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald York, C.
Raikes, H. V. A. M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Ramsbotham, H. Storey, S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Rankin, Sir R. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Captain Waterhouse and Mr Furness.
Adams, D. (Consett) Gibson, R. (Greenock) Mathers, G.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Maxton, J.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Green, W. H. (Deptford) Messer, F.
Adamson, W. M. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Milner, Major J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Grenfell, D. R. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Ammon, C. G. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Muff, G.
Banfield, J. W. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Nathan, Colonel H. L.
Barnes, A. J. Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Naylor, T. E.
Barr, J. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Batey, J. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Oliver, G. H.
Beaumont, H. (Batley) Hardie, Agnes Owen, Major G.
Bellenger, F. J. Harris, Sir P. A. Paling, W.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Parker, J.
Bevan, A. Hayday, A. Parkinson, J. A.
Broad, F. A. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Pearson, A.
Bromfield, W. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Price, M. P.
Buchanan, G. Hicks, E. G. Pritt, D. N.
Burke, W. A. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Quibell, D. J. K.
Cape, T. Hopkin, D. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Charleton, H. C. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Riley, B.
Chater, D. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Ritson, J.
Cluse, W. S. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Rothschild, J. A. de
Cocks, F. S. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Sealy, Sir H. M.
Collindridge, F. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Sexton, T. M.
Cove, W. G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Shinwell, E.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Kirby, B. V. Silverman, S. S.
Daggar, G. Kirkwood, D. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Dalton, H. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lathan, G. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Lawson, J. J. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leach, W. Sorensen, R. W.
Dobbie, W. Lee, F. Stephen, C.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Leslie, J. R. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Ede, J. C. Logan, D. G. Stokes, R. R.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Lunn, W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) McEntee, V. La T. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. McGhee, H. G. Thurtle, E.
Foot, D. M. McGovern, J Tinker, J. J.
Frankel, D. MacLaren, A. Tomlinson, G.
Gallacher, W. Maclean, N. Viant, S. P.
Gardner, B. W. Mainwaring, W. H. Walkden, A. G.
Garro Jones, G. M. Mander, G. le M. Watson, W. McL.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Marshall, F. Welsh, J. C.
White, H. Graham Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Wilkinson, Ellen Windsor, W. (Hull, C.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Williams, E. J. (Ogmore) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury) Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.
Williams, T. (Don Valley) Young, Sir R. (Newton)

Amendment made: In page 15, line 20, leave out "to obtain."—[The Attorney-General.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

10.38 p.m.

Mr. Maxton

I raise my voice briefly in opposition to the Clause. I hope the Minister will say something to justify the Clause; everything he has said has made it less justified. As I think over the possibilities of the Clause I see that it is not only unjustifiable but absolutely unworkable. If it is to track, as the Minister says, the young men who are now 20–21 years of age through the elementary schools—although the Minister says that it applies only to a minority and to those who have failed to register voluntarily—it means that the Government have to go to every education authority in England, Scotland and Wales and ask for the production of the registers for six years back. The registers have to be produced out of the archives which, in the ordinary elementary school is the stokehold, which is the only archive they have. Every elementary school has to produce its registers. In Scotland, where co-education is the general rule, registers of boys and girls are to be produced, to catch perhaps one per cent. of the total number of young fellows of 20–21 years of age. The elementary schools have to get out their registers for six or seven years past and out of them to pick all the young males as distinct from the females and then to make a search to find those who have removed, those who have died and those who have vanished from the district. I think it is the silliest and most preposterous proposition that has been put before the House in connection with this silly and preposterous Bill, and I will vote against it.

10.40 p.m.

Mr. Garro Jones

Anything which savours of back-door inquiries is profoundly distasteful to the people of this country. I do not mind whether it is a Gestapo or an Ogpu; I do not mind what the intentions of the Minister may be; what we are concerned with is what is said in the Clause. We are giving great privileges, and rightly so, to conscientious objectors, but the Minister has now the opportunity of allowing the consciences of his own side to operate, and I am certain that, if every hon. Member who has listened to the Debate were given a free vote on this Clause, it would not be allowed to stand part of the Bill. It is all very well to say that only the names of these ex-pupils will be asked for, but that is not what the Clause says. Under the Clause, the Minister will be entitled to ask for what has been the nightmare of most of us ever since we left school, namely, school reports. When the ex-pupil is appearing before the conscientious objectors' tribunal, the question of how far he has a conscience at all will become relevant. His school reports may be put in front of them saying that he was a little liar, that he was lazy, or something of that sort, and it will be said that a man with a school record of that kind cannot have a conscience.

Further, I do not think the Minister realises that under the Bill it would be perfectly proper and permissible for a man to have conscientious objections against compulsory military service on the ground that he would prefer to serve voluntarily and disbelieves in compulsory military service. Under Clause 3, he is entitled to have a conscientious objection merely to being compulsorily registered, and a man of 20 or 21 could very well go before a tribunal and say he has a conscientious objection to compulsory military service but is quite prepared to serve voluntarily; and if he made out that case he would be entitled to be placed on the register of conscientious objectors. If an attempt were made to make out such a case, the Minister would be entitled to call for any information relevant to refute the case before the tribunal.

I see that there is a later Amendment to apply the ordinary rules of evidence to the procedure before these tribunals, that is to say, in certain cases some of these applicants or objectors might be examined as to credit, to see what sort of character they possessed, and in such a case every kind of information relative to their school record would be obtainable by the Minister on demand. I am going to appeal to the Minister to allow the Clause to go to a free vote of the Committee. He will lose very little if he loses the Clause. It is a convenient method of finding the names, and I believe that that may really be the honest intention of the Minister, but he may have successors—indeed, he is bound to have successors, perhaps sooner than he thinks, in these days of rapid changes—who will have different opinions, and in such a case there is potential harm in the Clause. I

appeal to him on this one occasion, the only occasion during these Guillotine Debates, to allow the Clause to go to a free vote of the Committee, and allow the conscientious scruples of Members of every party to assert themselves by rejecting it.

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 253; Noes, 148.

Division No. 127.] AYES. [10.45 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Duncan, J. A. L. Liddall, W. S.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Dunglass, Lord Lipson, D. L.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Eastwood, J. F. Llewellin, Colonel J. J.
Albery, Sir Irvine Eckersley, P. T. Loftus, P. C.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Lyons, A. M.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Ellis, Sir G. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Apsley, Lord Elliston, Capt. G. S. McCorquodale, M. S.
Aske, Sir R. W. Emery, J. F. MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Assheton, R. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Emrys-Evans, P. V. McKie, J. H.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Entwistle, Sir C. F. Magnay, T.
Balniel, Lord Errington, E. Maitland, Sir Adam
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Erskine-Hill, A. G. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Beechman, N. A. Everard, Sir William Lindsay Markham, S. F.
Bernays, R. H. Fildes, Sir H. Marsden, Commander A.
Boothby, R. J. G. Findlay, Sir E. Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Bossom, A. C. Fleming, E. L. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Boulton, W. W. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Medlicott, F.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Furness, S. N. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Brass, Sir W. Fyfe, D. P. M. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Goldie, N. B. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Gower, Sir R. V. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R. Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Moreing, A. C.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Gridley, Sir A. B. Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)
Bull, B. B. Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Burghley, Lord Gritten, W. G. Howard Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Burton, Col. H. W. Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Munro, P.
Butcher, H. W. Hambro, A. V. Nall, Sir J.
Cartland, J. P. H. Hammersley, S. S. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Carver, Major W. H. Hannah, I. C. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Harbord, A. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Channon, H. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Palmer, G. E. H.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Peake, O.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Peat, C. U.
Colman, N. C. D. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Perkins, W. R. D.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Hepworth, J. Peters, Dr. S. J.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Hogg, Hon. Q. McG. Petherick, M.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Holdsworth, H. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Pilkington, R.
Cox, H. B. Trevor Howitt, Dr. A. B. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Craven-Ellis, W. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Critchley, A. Hume, Sir G. H. Procter, Major H. A.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hunter, T. Radford, E. A.
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Hutchinson, G. C. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Cross, R. H. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Ramsbotham, H.
Crossley, A. C. Keeling, E. H. Rankin, Sir R.
Crowder, J. F. E. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Cruddas, Col. B. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Rayner, Major R. H.
Culverwell, C. T. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
De Chair, S. S. Kimball, L. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
De la Bère, R. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Remer, J. R.
Denville, Alfred Latham, Sir P. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Dodd, J. S. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Donner, P. W. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Ropner, Colonel L.
Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Levy, T. Rowlands, G.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Lewis, O. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd) Warrender, Sir V.
Russell, Sir Alexander Storey, S. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Strickland, Captain W. F. Wells, Sir Sydney
Salmon, Sir I. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Salt, E. W. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Sandeman, Sir N. S. Sutcliffe, H. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Sanderson, Sir F. B. Tasker, Sir R. I. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Sandys, E. D. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Schuster, Sir G. E. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Wise, A. R.
Selley, H. R. Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Shakespeare, G. H. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Wragg, H.
Shepperson, Sir E. W. Touche, G. C. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Tree, A. R. L. F. York, C.
Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Snadden, W. McN. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Mr. Grimston and Captain McEwen.
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Naylor, T. E.
Adams, D. (Consett) Grenfell, D. R. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Oliver, G. H.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Owen, Major G.
Adamson, W. M. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Paling, W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Parker, J.
Amnion, C. G. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Parkinson, J. A.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Pearson, A.
Banfield, J. W. Hardie, Agnes Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Barnes, A. J. Harris, Sir P. A. Price, M. P.
Barr, J. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Pritt, D. N.
Batey, J. Hayday, A. Quibell, D. J. K.
Beaumont, H. (Batley) Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Bellenger, F. J. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Riley, B.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Ritson, J.
Broad, F. A. Hicks, E. G. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bromfield, W. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Rothschild, J. A. de
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hopkin, D. Seely, Sir H. M.
Buchanan, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Sexton, T. M.
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Shinwell, E.
Cape, T. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Silverman, S. S.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Chater, D. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Cocks, F. S. Kirby, B. V. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Collindridge, F. Kirkwood, D. Sorensen, R. W.
Cove, W. G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Stephen, C.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lathan, G. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Daggar, G. Lawson, J. J. Stokes, R. R.
Dalton, H. Leach, W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lee, F. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Leslie, J. R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Logan, D. G. Thurtle, E.
Dobbie, W. Lunn, W. Tinker, J. J.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Tomlinson, G.
Ede, J. C. McEntee, V. La T. Viant, S. P.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) McGhee, H. G. Walkden, A. G.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) McGovern, J. Watson, W. McL.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) MacLaren, A. Welsh, J. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Maclean, N. White, H. Graham
Foot, D. M. Mainwaring, W. H. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Frankel, D. Mander, G. le M. Wilkinson, Ellen
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Gardner, B. W. Maxton, J. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Garro Jones, G. M. Messer, F. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Milner, Major J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Muff, G.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Nathan, Colonel H. L. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Mathers and Mr. Groves.