HC Deb 18 May 1939 vol 347 cc1781-800

11.28 p.m.

Mr. Lawson

I beg to move, in page 3, line 14, to leave out Sub-section (5).

I pointed out on the Second Reading of the Bill that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be asking more than he had led the House to believe that he would. He told us that the object of this Bill was to abolish a lot of antique methods and to enable the Government to speedup the calling-out of the troops. But this Sub-section which I wish to leave out seeks to set aside two Sub-sections of other Acts, which laid down that whenever the forces are called out and embodied the Government must call the House together within 10 days. That has been the practice in order that Parliament should keep a firm hold upon the forces and on the actions of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman said that the substitute for the abolition of this system was laid down in Sub-section (4) that: Any Order in Council made under this section shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made. That is a certain safeguard, but the terms are very wide indeed; and, in fact, the condition that the regulation shall be laid as soon as may be after it is made may mean anything. What is the need for this sub-section? We on this side of the House agree with the Government that it is necessary to abolish some of the antique methods that have been laid upon the Government in calling the Forces together. In certain circumstances it may be necessary to act speedily and without too much noise. That right is given to the Government, and we cannot understand why, having that right in other parts of the Bill, the Government should want to get rid of the sub-section which gave Parliament its proper place in respect of the Forces by ensuring that it should be called together within 10 days.

I pointed out on Second Reading that it would be possible to have a Government, probably out of touch with the opinion of many hon. Members, that would put the bit between their teeth, and embody the Forces, and, in fact, snap their fingers in the face of Parliament. I do not expect that that will take place, but the old safeguard of calling Parliament together within 10 days was designed to avoid such an eventuality. It was not the Members of a Labour Government that laid down that condition. The safeguard was agreed to by the older Parliamentarians as being a very strong point in constitutional law. We should like to hear what justification the right hon. Gentleman has for the inclusion of the sub-section which we desire to delete. I see that he has an Amendment down which says definitely that the Bill shall expire at the end of three years, but I shall be obliged if the right hon. Gentleman, on this particular point, will tell us what is in the mind of the Government and give the reason for the insertion of this sub-section. Having looked carefully at the Bill, I and my hon. and right hon. Friends cannot see any reason for its inclusion.

11.34 P.m.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I hope that I shall have no difficulty in satisfying the hon. Gentleman on the point which he has raised. He agreed that the Government felt that it was desirable to reform antique methods, as he called them. He agreed that it was desirable that the Government should be in a position to act speedily. Therefore, these are purposes which are common to us both. The case, as I explained to the House on the Second Reading of the Bill, was that before you could call out the Reserves of the Army and the Air Force and before you could call up and embody the Auxiliary Forces, you had to have a Proclamation and a declaration of great emergency, and the informing of Parliament of the occasion. Air these processes put this country at a disadvantage comparable with other countries. In other countries they are in the habit of mobilising their forces either in whole or in part, without any public attention being called to their action. They can proceed simply and, if you will, stealthily, whereas, under the procedure which the hon. Member has described as antique, we have to make great play of our intention, and perhaps cause disquiet at home and retaliation from abroad.

While the hon. Member agrees that we have a common purpose, I hope he will realise that his Amendment would virtually reconstitute the whole procedure which we are desiring to abandon. I am sure that that is not the intention that he has in view. He wants to know why we do not inform Parliament. That is his point. This Bill says in the Preamble, that whereas a situation has arisen, it is necessary that this reformed procedure should be put into operation quickly, etc. The Bill in itself declares the occasion. It is a substitute for the old procedure. It says, in effect, that we are living in such times and are likely to live in such times for three years. [Interruption.] Yes. It is possible that we may be living in such times for three years. We have lived in them for the last three years. It says that we are now living in such times—let us hope they may be temporary—as to make it desirable for the Government of the day to be able quickly to mobilise its Reserves and call up its Auxiliary Forces without a Proclamation, without the announcement of the occasion to Parliament, without any public discussion, in order that we may be quickly put upon an equal footing with the action taken in foreign countries. Those are the whole purposes of the Bill. I do not think there is any difference between the hon. Member and us. I hope that he and those for whom he speaks will recognise that active steps are being taken to achieve our common object, and that no action will be taken that will remove the virtue of the Bill or undermine the object which we have in common.

Mr. Lawson

When the Forces have been called up and everything is complete, the law at present says that Parliament must be called together within ten days. What is there against calling Parliament together after the troops have been called up? The whole world will know. There can be nothing hidden about it. I could understand taking steps to avoid making a noise about it before or when it was about to be done.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I think I can satisfy the hon. Member on that point. The reason why Parliament had to be informed under the old procedure was because it was contemplated that by mobilising the Forces we were passing from a state of peace to war. In those days it was a slow and deliberate process. Now it is not. The preparations were then made in a more leisurely way. You said that Ruritania was mobilising its army or Arcadia was mobilising its fleet, and therefore that we had to do the same. We do not want to be in that position to-day. We do not want to explain to the public. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite who are actuated by the same motive as ourselves would not take a different course.

Miss Wilkinson

We are a little puzzled. Are we to understand that we are in a state of war now, and that there is no need to adopt this procedure?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I do not quite follow the hon. Lady. The preamble of the Bill says: Whereas a situation has arisen in which it is necessary that His Majesty should be empowered, whenever the service of members of His reserve and auxiliary forces is urgently required for ensuring preparedness for the defence of the realm against any external danger, to call out for service such of them as may be needed. I never said that we are at war, although I have heard it said by hon. Members opposite, and I do not dissent from the view, that we are in a state between war and peace. We are in a state when it is desirous that the executive, whatever its political complexion, should be able to act quickly in the interests of the country.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

Granted the necessity for facilities for mobilisation, does that connote that the country in fact is mobilised without Parliament being called?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

It does not mean that at all. We are taking the necessary precautions for ensuring the defence of the Realm against external dangers. The next war will certainly not be declared by us, but one of the precautions we should have to take would be to call out the anti-aircraft defence, and it would have to be taken quickly. In the old-fashioned method there was an exchange of notes, an ultimatum and a formal declaration of war. I am afraid they are not very fashionable nowadays, but the equivalent of a state of emergency is declared in the Preamble of the Bill. It is a matter of the protection of our country and as our objects are not dissimilar, I hope there will not be any difference about the procedure to be adopted.

11.44 p.m.

Sir Hugh Seely

I agree entirely with the Secretary of State for War that this is the most important part of the Bill. We must give power to mobilise without having to adopt the cumbrous method we had to go through before, and which did undoubtedly cause alarm and was liable to be interpreted in other countries as something which was far stronger than anything they themselves were doing at the time. Everyone agrees that at the present time we must have this power. There is, of course, the question of the House being called together shortly afterwards. I think the whole House wants the Government to have power to summon the reserves in the same way as any other country, with a different form of government, can do, in order to prepare our defences; but nevertheless, there was before the safeguard that no mobilisation could take place without Parliament being called. A great deal of unrest must be caused by the idea that this immense power, which before was in the hands of the King, is now to be given to the executive, and that this can be done when Parliament is not assembled. I think the Government might go a long way towards meeting this point. If this action is to be taken, clearly Parliament ought to be called together. If it could be made clear that Parliament could be called when this action was taken, I think that would go a long way towards meeting the point of the Amendment.

11.47 p.m.

Mr. Garro Jones

I think everybody in the House is prepared to give to the Government in these days the necessary rapidity and secrecy for the mobilisation of our forces, but we do not wish to give more than the rapidity and secrecy which are necessary. As far as the element of rapidity goes, nothing is gained by the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman has put in this Bill, because he is merely substituting an Order in Council for a Proclamation. As far as the element of secrecy goes, that is affected only by the necessity to call Parliament together within ten days, which is being abolished in order to obtain the element of secrecy which the right hon. Gentleman seeks to obtain. If this Bill is allowed to pass in its present form, we are repealing Section 13 of the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, which states that if Parliament is not already sitting when the Proclamation is issued, it shall meet within ten days. We are also repealing the proviso to Sub section (1) and Sub-section (2) of Section 17 of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1907.

Sub-section (2) has a further rather extraordinary provision which the Minister has not yet explained to the House. It says that when the first class of the Army Reserve has been called up on permanent service, the Army Council shall within one month embody the Territorial Force, unless in the meantime both Houses of Parliament have sent an address to His Majesty praying otherwise, and have had an opportunity to do so. We are in this position, that when the Reserve Forces are called out, Parliament must meet within ten days and the Army Council is entitled to call up the Territorial Forces—in fact, must call up the Territorial Forces—within one month, unless Parliament decrees otherwise. That is the actual legislative position. What I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman is, why is it necessary to substitute for that timetable the safeguard that the Order in Council made under this Clause shall merely be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made? Surely, it is not required to give the element of secrecy.

We have already seen that the element of rapidity is not improved, but even the element of secrecy cannot be maintained beyond a short period. If we were to mobilise the Fleet and the Army, surely the whole world would know about it, not in a week or a fortnight, but within, say, three weeks or a month. We want to make provision to ensure that Parliament shall be called together as soon as that calling together does not give away to prospective enemies the steps that have been taken to prepare this Realm against danger. Why is the Minister not willing to make the Sub-section provide that any Order in Council shall be laid before Parliament within a fortnight, or three weeks or one month, after it is made? I have no authority to speak for my hon. Friends, but I am certain that we should not press this Amendment if the Minister would do as we suggest. To leave Subsections (4) and (5) as they stand means that Parliament need not be called together for 12 months. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give us three weeks at any rate. Within that time nothing would be lost.

11.51 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I hope that the House will not allow the Minister to get away with the attitude which he has adopted this evening. We have just voted him an Army that within three years will consist of 800,000 men, in addition to the Regular Army and the Territorial Force. When the three years have elapsed—it is the period for which this Bill runs also—he will be able to call out and have in the field, if his estimate is justified, at least 1,250,000 men. I can think of no previous House of Commons that would have allowed the Executive the power to call out and have mobilised in the country that number of men without stipulating at what time Parliament should be informed that action had been taken. We live in days when parliaments have disappeared very suddenly, and I can well see the Government calling out this Army and not troubling to call Parliament together; and even this Parliament disappearing. We have been told about the haste to make war, but, after all, it is sometimes necessary to remember that people are not very quick to make peace. The hon. Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Sir H. Seely) brought that point before the House, but his constituency is still at war with Russia over the Crimean War which was made on Russia in the name of Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, and Berwick-upon-Tweed. The peace was made in the name of Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland. Berwick-on-Tweed forgot to make peace.

It is highly desirable that in these two matters of peace and war Parliament shall be called together. I cannot imagine that while the right hon. Gentleman is the Secretary of State for War the Army will ever be mobilised without publicity. The illustrated papers will at least have his photograph penning his signature to the Order-in-Council, or ringing up Aldershot to inquire whether things are going all right. I am also sure that any publicity there is will reach foreign countries before it reaches this country, if we are to judge by the standard set by the incident on the "Royal Oak." I sincerely hope that the Minister will realise that it is very important that Parliament should be called. Even he, an ex-Liberal, ought to regard this matter seriously.

11.55 p.m.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

We understood from a conversation on the Front bench that there was to be some statement about a concession, but if that is not so we must insist on our points. I agree with my hon. Friend who has hinted that the retention of this Subsection in the Bill without any guarantees from the Government is something which is really sinister in our democratic institutions, and every Member of the Opposition will be entitled to go to the country and say it. It is deliberate and sinister. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may think that very funny, but let them see what it means. Here we are in a state in which the Government say we are not at war but that we are in such a position of external danger that they must have powers to call up these forces, and they want to deprive Parliament of a specified period in which it shall be notified of their action. It may be that, having called them up, the Government will not call Parliament together at all, and we may be without Parliament for the whole period of three years, with the people of the country being subjected to control in that way. [Interruption.] It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to interrupt, but he ought to have the brains to see that if we pass the Bill in this way we are making a channel for a dictatorship to come in a night.

That is the real position. The Government are taking power to call the forces together permanently and they are simply putting in the Bill a general phrase that they will notify Parliament "as soon as may be." That is no guarantee at all. Does anybody think that the people who passed our legislation in 1882 had no regard for this sort of thing? The suggestion of the Secretary of State that that old machinery was only put into operation if a state of war were declared is wrong. There have been mobilisations before when there was only a danger of trouble arising. That has been done by Proclamation, and Parliament has been notified if it was sitting; if it was not sitting it was called together by a similar Proclamation. This seems to me to be deliberately done by those who are behind the War Minister to enable them to put this Bill into operation and to be able to obtain complete control of the country without any consultation with Parliament whatever. If the Secretary of State meant what he said a moment ago in private conversation he should give us a guarantee now. Otherwise we are entitled to tell the country that the Government are deliberately obtaining statutory powers for purely sinister ends.

11.59 p.m.

The Attorney-General

Reference has been made to a private conversation which took place on the Bench. I think it is right to say that my right hon. Friend did not fully appreciate what the hon. Gentleman opposite said—

Mr. Pritt

What a funny conversation if one side did not understand what the other side said!

The Attorney-General

It is not the first. I only wanted to say that we had no intention of doing what the hon. Gentleman opposite thought we were doing, but my right hon. Friend was not clear that the hon. Gentleman was suggesting that there should be an undertaking that Parliament should be called within a certain period if it was not sitting at that time. My right hon. Friend thought he was referring to the time within which an Order can be laid if Parliament is sitting. If Parliament is sitting it is to be laid as soon as may be. It is clear, if anyone studies the old Acts, that they envisaged a somewhat more leisurely transition from a period of peace to a period of emergency with which our forefathers were familiar. That was before the days of railways and the telegraph.

Mr. Garro Jones

That does not arise at all.

The Attorney-General

My point on this Bill is that the situation envisaged has already happened, and therefore the recital in this Bill recites the state of affairs in which it is necessary to have these powers. The point is where, if an Order in Council is issued under this Act, even though it may be only calling up a comparatively small number of men, the Act should provide that Parliament should forthwith be summoned, if it was not then sitting, with all the publicity that that would involve. Obviously, that would defeat the whole purpose of the Measure. If Parliament was not sitting, instead of having a Proclamation, you would have all the publicity of Parliament being called together for the special purpose of laying the Order in Council before it. The vital question as to the circumstances in which the Government should call Parliament together when an emergency arises, and Parliament is not sitting, is one which goes far beyond the scope of the present Bill and one on which people may hold very different views, but so far as this Bill is concerned, you would defeat its whole purpose if you compelled all the publicity of a re-summoning of Parliament.

Mr. Garro Jones

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman—

The Attorney-General

There may be—

Mr. Garro Jones

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will not listen to our case.

The Attorney-General

I have listened to what has been said, whatever the hon. Gentleman may think—[Interruption]—and I notice that he finds it very difficult himself to listen to what others are saying. I am suggesting to the House that to insist on the summoning of Parliament, supposing Parliament were not then sitting, when any Order in Council was made under this Measure would defeat the whole purpose of the Bill, and—

Mr. Alexander

Absolute nonsense.

The Attorney-General

The right hon. Gentleman thinks it is absolute nonsense, but I think it is the plainest common sense. There may, of course, be occasions when Parliament is in recess—we have had experience of them—when it might be quite right and proper to call Parliament together. That might happen quite independently of anything contemplated in this Bill, but that is a wide question which falls to be considered on broad and general considerations.

Mr. Alexander

Why does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree to consider the point with regard to the calling of Parliament, if it was not in session, that it should be done within 21 days or whatever the period might be fixed at? That would give us what we want.

The Attorney-General

Yes, that would give the right hon. Gentleman what he wants, but in my opinion it would defeat the whole object of the Bill. I will not repeat the argument again, because the House has already had my views on it and it has already had the right hon. Gentleman's views on it.

12.5 a.m.

Mr. Pritt

Throughout the Debates on this Bill and on the Bill that preceded it the Government have, on the whole, shown a desire to meet hon. Members on this side of the House and to understand the points that have been put to them, and they have generally conducted the Debates very much better than has often been the case. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, with the best of motives, of course, has done everything he could completely to ruin that atmosphere, and has talked more nonsense in 10 minutes than it is customary to hear in this House in two hours. He has not apparently understood what we have been saying. I accept his word that he has been listening to what has teen said. We accept entirely the principle that we do not want to defeat the purpose of the Bill. Let us see what it is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggests would defeat the purpose of the Bill. I take the position that Parliament is not sitting at the time, because if it is sitting, the question does not arise. The forces will be summoned fairly rapidly, with such moderate secrecy as can attend such things nowadays. Two days after they have been summoned, the fact will be announced in every newspaper in Europe; four days later there will be discreet mentions of it on the back page of the "Times"; and seven days after that the British Press in general will know.

What will be the position of Parliament at that time? If it is not a discourteous thing to say, Parliament will be on a string. It will have been adjourned in such a way that it can be called together by Mr. Speaker, if the Government desire it to be so called. No one supposes that in the next two or three years it will ever be safe to send Parliament away with a definite adjournment to some future date without some provision for calling it together again, and there will often be reasons for calling it together again. It is suggested that it would defeat the whole purpose of the Bill, which is to get the forces together and ready for an emergency without too much delay and without too much publicity, if, many days after the whole of Europe knows what we have done, Parliament is then called together. I suggest to a House that is supposed to consist of intelligent persons. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] I might agree to that about some hon. Members. To suggest that, is really to deny to whomsoever says it and to his listeners any claim to ordinary common sense.

12.9 a.m.

Mr. Spens

What the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) has just said would apply if only large forces were to be called up, but it does not apply to the calling up of small forces. This procedure enables a slow, gradual mobilisation to take place, and in the first instance only a small group may be called up, which may not become known, either to the Press or to the world in general, but it would have to be done by Order in Council, and if the Amendment were carried, Parliament would have to come together in 21 days or whatever the term might be, and the whole thing be made public, whereas the mobilisation might not go forward except by very gradual steps. Therefore, this procedure does enable a slow mobilisation to be undertaken, without any publicity, and does enable us to do something which a democratic country might require to do in a way that could easily be done in a dictator country. The moment there is any large-scale mobilisation it becomes public property, and nobody imagines for a moment that if Parliament were in recess at the time that it would not be called together.

Mr. Alexander rose

Mr. Spens

No, I cannot give way. There is not much time. I say that this procedure is really in our interest. There is nothing undemocratic in it in the long run. It does enable us to call up one small group or class without having to make it public to the whole world that we have taken that precautionary step. That is the whole point, and therefore I suggest that the action of the Government is not so stupid as the hon. and learned Member opposite supposes.

Mr. Alexander

The hon. and learned Member has talked about a time when Parliament is not sitting. Does he contemplate that if the gradual calling up by Orders in Council goes on that Parliament will not be informed?

Mr. Spens

The procedure requires it to be.

Mr. Alexander

Then what is the possible objection to calling Parliament together within 21 days and telling them what has been done?

Mr. Spens

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot see my point I cannot help it.

Mr. Benn

On a point of Order. Would you tell us for our information exactly at what time this House is to be gagged? This is a novel form of pro- cedure. We are under the guillotine but no one knows at what hour the knife is to fall.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Clifton Brown)

At 12.28.

12.12 a.m.

Mr. Foot

It seems to me that the hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) has failed entirely to meet the arguments which have been put forward. Even if there were only a gradual mobilisation, even if only a few men were called up, that fact would be well known. The notices would go out to every district; the news would spread and become known to the local press; it would be broadcast throughout the country; and, as the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) said, it would be known all over Europe in a day or two. It is not a question of informing Parliament but of giving to Parliament an explanation of why that step had been taken. If this Amendment goes to a division my friends and I will certainly vote for it, for this reason: Throughout our history our great constitutional safeguard has been Parliamentary control of the Army and the Executive. We pass an Army Annual Act each year in order to keep constant Parliamentary control over the Army. To-night it is proposed to abolish that particular safeguard. Under the plea of emergency legislation a great many of our ancient safeguards are being done away with.

12.14 a.m.

Mr. Benn

One aspect of this matter has not yet been dealt with. I understand that the Bill is required because the Government think that the present state of affairs is such as to necessitate them possessing this power. With that we all agree. But the moment this Bill is passed the power under it will reside in them and what is to prevent them from using the power they will have under this Measure to call up the Army in order to break a strike? In a few years' time there will have come under training 800,000 boys. By calling up one class, or perhaps more than one, it will be quite possible to break any industrial action that is contemplated. Perhaps some Minister will explain how we are to be protected against the use of this power in the same way as it was used by M. Briand in France during a rail- way strike, and as it has been used on the Continent on many occasions for the same purpose. I know it will be said that the Government have taken this power for use in case of external danger, but it is only the Government who have to be satisfied that it is external danger, and I am sure the Government would easily satisfy themselves on that point if they saw that by calling up the reserves they could paralyse any industrial action taken by the trade unions.

12.15 a.m.

Mr. Lawson

I purposely moved this Amendment—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has spoken once.

Mr. Lawson

With the leave of the House I would say that in moving the Amendment I explained that we did not want to vote against the Bill or hinder the Government, and I was very moderate in the statement which I made. I expected that that spirit would have been responded to. The right hon. Gentleman is bound to know that the Bill embodies the Forces permanently. Section 12 of the Reserve Forces Act is very definite that when they are called up they are called up permanently. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has really seen what are the implications of suspending the operation of Section 13. I expected, particularly in the light of the discussion, that we would be answered in like spirit as we had been on this side in respect of the other Bill. Is it impossible now for the right hon. Gentleman to give us a satisfactory answer on this point? The section says: As soon as may be. Why not limit that to 21 days? That would satisfy us, I am sure. It would put a limit to the time the Forces could be called up without ignoring Parliament. I cannot imagine anyone on either side of the House not seeing the danger of this thing. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman find some words to meet this point so that we can be quite sure that, in rough and ready words, we are not being done down, while being asked to perform an act necessitated by the nation's position at the present time. Subsection (4) says: Any Order in Council made under this section shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made. Why not make it "laid before Parliament within 21 days"? Surely the Government can do all they want with speed and secrecy without hampering themselves, and give a guarantee at the same time.

Mr. Magnay

I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that Subsection (4) is governed by the Clause which, in Subsection (1) says: During the continuance in force of this Act, His Majesty may by Order in Council authorise the Admiralty and the Secretaries of State respectively to call out for service all or any of the members of His reserve and auxiliary forces, if satisfied that their service is urgently required for ensuring preparedness for the defence of the realm against any external danger. There is no provision, as has been suggested in this discussion, for breaking strikes. The Forces cannot be called out for that purpose.

12.19 a.m.

Mr. Davidson

The hon. Member who has just intervened has not listened to much of the Debate or otherwise he would understand that our principal point is that of the Secretary of State retaining complete power, under the Clause, to call up Reserves and Auxiliaries when Parliament is not sitting and without definite intimation as to when the representatives of the constituencies shall be informed. I want to ask the Secretary of State: What is a man called up under these Orders in Council to say to his employer? Is he to say: "Look here, I'm going to leave you for some time. I don't know how long for, and I can't tell you anything about it. It's a State secret but—I am just leaving"? I want to know definitely from the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Secretary of State for War whether such a man will have issued to him a special statement about what he is to say in those circumstances. Speeches have been made from this side because my hon. Friends regard this as one of the greatest breaches ever made in our Parliamentary life and one of the greatest attacks on our constitutional rights. I trust that all Members of the Opposition will back up those speeches by going to the constituencies and saying that they voted against those breaches taking place.

12.22 a.m.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I do not want to take a course which would deceive the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson). If we were to say that Parliament must be called together within 21 days of the issue of the Order in Council, that would be an indication that the kind of emergency with which Parliament is giving us power to deal under the Bill could always be confined within 21 days and that it would be safe within 21 days to come to Parliament and give reasons why we had mobilised in whole or in part. You do not necessarily, under the Bill, mobilise the whole of your Forces. You may have to mobilise some small fraction. I hope, as has been stated, that the purpose of hon. Members on the other side is at one with ours, and that they understand it is necessary for a Government in these days, even a democratic Government, to have powers with which to defend themselves.

I will give the hon. Gentleman another reason. One might be operating under the Bill by Order in Council issued before Parliament was dissolved. Therefore to accept his statement about calling Parliament together within 21 days would be to deceive him because it would not be necessary to call Parliament together. I prefer to be candid with the hon. Gentleman and with the House, despite the fear which is being kept up by hon. Members on the other side that the purpose of the Bill is not merely to enable the Government of this country, during the continuation of this state of affairs, to take prompt and effective action to defend the country against external danger.

12.25 a.m.

Mr. Benn

The War Secretary has told us that this Order in Council might be

made while Parliament is still sitting. Then why should it not be made "as soon as may be"? The Minister intends to make the Order while Parliament is sitting and not reveal it to Parliament at all. That is what he said.

12.26 a.m.

Mr. Pritt

If the anxiety be, as I understand it is, that it would be detrimental to have to call Parliament together within 21 days of the beginning of an emergency, which might last some time, does not that consort very ill with the fact that if an Order in Council were made in June, the Order would have to be announced to Parliament "as soon as may be," and thus the results which the Minister has said might follow the summoning of Parliament within 21 days would be almost as terrible—I say "almost" because of the effect that calling Parliament would have—if Parliament were told within seven days?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

It is not the emergency which would be communicated to Parliament, but the Order in Council. In that case, if you have only to lay the Order in Council before Parliament and not tell Parliament the reasons for it, the same thing would apply if Parliament were sitting.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 204; Noes, 69.

Division No. 143.] AYES. [12.28 a.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. C. J. Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Crowder, J. F. E.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Cruddas, Col. B.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Bull, B. B. Doland, G. F.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Donner, P. W.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Butcher, H. W. Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Campbell, Sir E. T. Duncan, J. A. L.
Apsley, Lord Cartland, J. R. H. Dunglass, Lord
Aske, Sir R. W. Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Eckersley, P. T.
Astor, Viscountess Plymouth, Sutton) Channon, H. Edmondson, Major Sir J.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Balniel, Lord Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Ellis, Sir G.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Elliston, Capt. G. S.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Emery, J. F.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Pertsm'h) Colman, N. C. D. Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Beechman, N. A. Conant, Captain R. J. E. Entwistle, Sir C. F.
Bossom, A. C. Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Errington, E.
Boulton, W. W. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Erskine-Hill, A. G.
Boyce, H. Leslie Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Craven-Ellis, W. Everard, Sir William Lindsay
Brass, Sir W. Critchley, A. Fleming, E. L.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Fremantle, Sir F. E.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Furness, S. N.
Fyfe, D. P. M. Magnay, T. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Gledhill, G. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Markham, S. F. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Spens, W. P.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Grimston, R. V. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Mitcheson, Sir G. G. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hammersley, S. S. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Hannah, I. C. Morris-Jonas, Sir Henry Sutcliffe, H.
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Harbord, A. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Nall, Sir J. Thomas, J. P. L.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Hepworth, J. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Higgs, W. F. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Titchfield, Marquess of
Holdsworth, H. Palmer, G. E. H. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Holmes, J. S. Patrick, C. M. Turton, R. H.
Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Peake, O. Wakefield, W. W.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Peters, Dr. S. J. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Hulbert, Squadron-Leadar N. J. Patherick, M. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Hutchinson, G. C. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Procter, Major H. A. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Jarvis, Sir J. J. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Jennings, R. Ramsbotham, H. Warrender, Sir V.
Kimball, L. Rankin, Sir R. Waterhouse. Captain C.
Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Rayner, Major R. H. Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Wells, Sir Sydney
Lancaster, Captain C. G. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Latham, Sir P. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Remer, J. R. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Ropner, Colonel L. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Levy, T. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Liddall, W. S. Rowlands, G. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Lipson, D. L. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Salmon, Sir I. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Loftus, P. C. Salt, E. W. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Lyons, A. M. Samuel, M. R. A. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Sanderson, Sir F. B. Wragg, H.
MeCorquodale, M. S. Sandys, E. D. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Scott, Lord William York, C.
McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Selley, H. R. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
McKie, J. H. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J. Smithers, Sir W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Macquisten, F. A. Snadden, W. McN. Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Captain Dugdale.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Jagger, J. Ritson, J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Ammon, C. G. John, W. Seely, Sir H. M.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Sexton, T. M.
Buchanan, G. Kennedy, RL Hon. T. Silverman, S. S.
Burke, W. A. Lawson, J. J. Simpson, F. B.
Cellindridge, F. Leach, W. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Daggar, G. Leonard, W. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Dalton, H. Lunn, W. Sorensen, R. W.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Stephen, C.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) McEntee, V. La T. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dobbie, W. Mainwaring, W. H. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Mander, G. le M. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Ede, J. C. Maxton, J. Tinker, J. J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Milner, Major J. Tomlinson, G.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Watkins, F. C.
Foot, D. M. Nathan, Colonel H. L. Wilkinson, Ellen
Garro Jones, G. M. Noel-Baker, P. J. Williams E. J. (Ogmore)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Paling, W. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Parkinson, J. A. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Hayday, A. Pearson, A. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pritt, D. N.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Quibell, D. J. K. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Ridley, G. Mr. Mathers and Mr. Adamson.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

It being more than one hour after the conclusion of proceedings on the Military Training Bill, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 10th May, successively to put forthwith the Questions on Amendments moved by the Government of which Notice had bee given, and the Question necessary to bring to a conclusion the proceedings on the Bill.