§ Again considered in Committee.
§ [Colonel CLIFTON BROWN in the Chair.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ Mrs. Hardie
I was making the point that camp life is unsuitable for women. It is rather significant that, as the Minister showed yesterday, the men in the Forces generally have been emphatic that they would not allow their wives to go into the Services, although they were ready to allow them to go into industry. These are the men who know the conditions of camp life. The Minister gave that objection of theirs as a reason why he does hot include young married women. These men must have some reason for their objection. Nobody takes much notice of the speeches I make, but since I made my last speech on this subject I have been flattered by receiving quite a fan mail, although the speech was not very widely reported. I have had about 90 letters supporting me and only one letter abusing me. The writer of that letter suggested that the women should turn out and do war work, and leave the other jobs for men of over military age. The men in the Services, admittedly, became so threatening that the Minister dare not put their wives into the Forces. Now we learn that women can be forced to go abroad. The Minister said there would not be any difficulty about that, because more women have volunteered for service abroad than were needed. If that is so, why apply compulsion at all?
It seems to me that this will go on and on, until the women will be in the 1566 trenches. Personally, I do not think it is any worse for a woman to be killed than for a man. In fact, when the blitz started, I thought it rather a good thing that the civilians had to be in the danger zone, as well as the soldiers, because I remember the complacency of civilians who were doing well in the last war, as a result of which the war dragged on and on, while the soldiers suffered. But I do not see any necessity for putting women into the fighting line, and I think military life quite unsuitable for them. Why put women under military discipline? If you want clerks and cooks for the Army, why not engage them in those capacities, and leave them free from military discipline? Usually, it is the older women who are cooks. The younger women in domestic service are usually kitchen-maids, or something of that sort: it is not until later that they are promoted cooks. Why do you not engage women to do that necessary work without forcing them into the Armed Services if you do not want them to take part in the war? The other day I saw a rather strong looking woman with three stripes on her arm marching little white-faced shop girls along the street. I thought, What foolery, if women are not to go into the battle. We understand the need for discipline in the Army, because you have to train men, so that when they are told to charge, they will charge or do whatever they are told. There is need for discipline there, but what need is there for discipline for the girl who is to do typing and that sort of thing?
I am not approaching this question, as far as it can be avoided, from any antiwar attitude. I realise that once you are in a war you cannot afford to lose it. Some of us would like to see some effort made to stop it, but we do not suggest that we ought to adopt methods to be defeated in a war. Therefore, I am not trying to make any unnecessary difficulties, but asking only that women should be left in the position in which they are today to take up necessary work that they feel capable of doing, and that they shall not be forced into the Armed Forces and put under military discipline. In supporting the Amendment, I hope that it will either be carried, or accepted in some degree at least by the present Minister.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
The two speeches to which we have 1567 listened seem to me to justify and do credit to the democratic system under which we are working. They were speeches made by hon. Members who regard this question as a matter of conscience, and they have expressed their views with great courage and frankness. They are to be congratulated upon the strength of the case they have put to the Committee, especially so sitting as they are on the Opposition benches addressing one of their colleagues opposite. I notice that the hon. Member for West Houghton (Mr. Rhys Davies) takes rather a different line from that of the hon. Lady. He apparently objects to all manner of conscripted service, whereas the hon. Lady confines her objection to service in the Armed Forces. The difficulty they are perhaps in is that they do not quite appreciate, first of all, the immensity of the need for additional manpower—and by that I include woman-power—and secondly, that it is not after all our fault that this claim upon women has been made. All of us would agree that it is the last thing we would desire to oblige women to serve in the Armed Forces, but if you are compelled by a gentleman like Hitler to fight to the last ditch, then there is no alternative but to call up every available hand in the country to serve its needs.
Therefore, holding that view, I cannot associate myself with their general aim, but it would be wrong if this Committee were to reject this Amendment without appreciating that there is in the country a very general and very strong objection to the calling-up of women at this time in this compulsory fashion. What accounts for that objection? I think there are two reasons. One of these has been expressed to me in a letter, typical of many I have received, from the father of a girl who is due to be called up. He says:It is to my mind a scandalous thing that women should be compelled to do soldiers' work while there are thousands of men hiding in sheltered jobs in factories, in the Police Force, in county council offices, in town council offices and in Whitehall itself. Apart from this there are thousands who have offered to serve, men who have never been called up and who are still anxious to serve.There is no doubt that that view is very generally held. They say, "Why do you go to the considerable step of compelling women to join the Armed Forces when there are thousands of young men in the 1568 country who are to our own knowledge deliberately, many of them, dodging the column?" The Minister of Labour has made it plain in his speeches that men previously sheltering under block reservations are now to be regarded each one of them separately, but I think he would assist the country and the Committee in considering this new Measure if he would develop a little further exactly what is intended there. Does he really mean business? Is he really going to bring up these men—and they are many—who are dodging their duty? Does he intend to ensure that all of us will be called upon to do his or her full share of service to the State? Given that assurance, the nation would look much more favourably on this Measure.
There are other reasons. The Prime Minister has said that the call to the armed Services for women would be a call mostly to the A.T.S. Something in the region of 150,000 girls are said to be wanted. I am glad that the Joint Undersecretary of State for War is present because he really ought to take some part in this Debate. There is no doubt at all that the A.T.S. has a bad reputation in the country at the present time. I am sorry for that, and I am going to show in a moment that it is not my own personal experience; but it is nevertheless a fact. The hon. Lady the Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) referred to it in her speech, and it has been referred to many times. The conditions in A.T.S. camps are in many cases exceedingly bad. The physical condition of the girls themselves, in a great many cases, is bad, the whole Service has got a bad name, and there is no good in this Committee pretending to close its ears to the stories that are going round. It is infinitely better to face the music now, recognise the facts and get something done.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for War (Sir Edward Grigg)
My hon. Friend talks about the stories that are going about, and apparently gives credence to them. I can only tell him that any story that has been brought to me with any possibility of investigating the truth of it —that is, with sufficient detail as to time and place—has been investigated. None has been substantiated and the great majority have proved to be absolutely false. If he will give an example of the 1569 stories of which he is now relying upon, I will have it investigated at once.
I am glad the hon. Gentleman has intervened. I hope sincerely that he will develop this point. I want to say that my own experience of the Army was not in line with the general stories that go about. It is right that I should tell the Committee of that experience. In the Aldershot Command, where I served for some months, a large number of girls were employed in the A.T.S. They were doing very good work. They lived in good surroundings. Their morale was very good, and they had a high reputation throughout that Command. In the Army, as elsewhere, one often sees into a man or a woman's heart more directly in the social atmosphere that follows the day's work. There were dances and socials in the evening, and the A.T.S. girls were there. Officers and men of the Army and officers and girls of the A.T.S. mingled together under the best possible conditions, and I never saw a case of bad behaviour on the part of any of these girls. While that is my experience—and I pay tribute to the high morale of these girls—it is no good the Under-Secretary saying that these rumours are without foundation. We hear in this House and in the Lobbies the reports of medical officers about the conditions in the camps. There is not a constituency of which I have ever heard that has not this general but very definite impression that the A.T.S. is not the sort of Service to which a nice girl goes.
My right hon. Friend has apparently had the same experience. The fact is that nice girls in all grades of society have come to us and said, "We are anxious to do our bit, but you know what one hears about the A.T.S." The War Office must do something drastic about this. It is not good enough for the Under-Secretary to say that individual complaints put to him had no substance. These complaints have substance, and my right hon. and gallant Friend must take drastic measures to remove in actual practice these unfortunate conditions and persuade the public by his own action that these conditions do not, in fact, exist.
§ Miss Eleanor Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
Would not my hon. 1570 Friend agree that there is also a very great responsibility on every individual who hears these stories, which may or may not be true, to get evidence of the time and place and all the rest of it? Otherwise, it may be a case of "Give a dog a bad name and hang it," which may be doing great injustice to the Service.
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I do not know from my own experience of any single case— [Interruption]—but I assert, and I have the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris), that throughout the country there is a wide feeling of distrust. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is it based on?"] I cannot say on what it is based, but I do say that it is something real, something that the War Office cannot ignore. They must face it.
Personally, I am all in favour of the compulsory method as applied to women. I have always been in favour of it, and I will tell the Committee why. It is because it takes from women a responsibility for a choice that should never have been placed upon their shoulders. I have always felt it unfair, for instance, that when constant appeals were made to girls month after month to serve in some capacity, some have responded and others have not. Some have done so because their conscience has urged them on to do something that others need not do. Often a girl has come to me and asked what step she ought to take. The miners too have said, "If the Government want us to go back to the pits, we will go back, but tell us what to do." The Minister of Labour, as lately as October, said that in handling women you must proceed gently and that if he introduced mobilisation and made them go to an Employment Exchange, where they were given cards and treated in a hard official way, "the whole scheme would be a complete breakdown." Now he says he realises that women want to be told what to do and where to go and that he is sure they will respond. He is quite right. He is right now, but he was wrong before.
The people have come to the stage when they realise that this war effort has assumed proportions so vast that no one of us alone is able to make a decision as to where his or her duty lies. We have come to the 1571 conclusion that in this immense, unprecedented effort—about which only the Government know all—it is for the Government to direct us into occupations which are likely to be most useful. Therefore, I support my right hon. Friend in proposing compulsion on men and women alike. But I ask the Minister to give us an assurance that all able-bodied men liable for military service shall in fact be called for military service and that the military service to which women will be called will in future be well run, will secure for its girls the best possible conditions, and that the War Office, in particular, will take measures to restore to the A.T.S.—which is a fine organisation— that high tradition with which it started the war and without which it cannot possibly secure the loyalty of the girls of this country.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Davies), who moved the Amendment, laid it down quite plainly that he wanted to remove the obligation on women both for industry and military service. I suggest that that speech ought to have been made in June last year, because I am introducing no new powers at all so far as concerns industry. My hon. Friend's speech—he is a pacifist—ought to have been made under the shadow of Dunkirk, but he did not rise then to make it. At this stage, if I may say so, we are aware of the shadow of the cloud which has moved further but is still dark. There are still greater problems to face. The speeches we have listened to have been largely Second Reading speeches, and most of the points made I have already dealt with. Therefore, I have to ask for a rejection of this Amendment. I still take the view that I am putting women coming into the various Services into a position which is far more rational and on a juster basis than hitherto. When this Bill emerges from Committee, I think that the public, especially mothers and fathers, will be far more satisfied than they are at the present moment.
It was suggested by the Mover of the Amendment that the Government arranged for the Press of the country to carry on a campaign so that we could say that public opinion was behind us. 1572 Well, I do not think anybody can say that the Press is a particular friend of mine. Even the Press I helped to create and build has not given me a lift since I came into office. They have dug me under the ribs in their leading articles every morning, but I do not complain. It keeps my democratic blood flowing warm, but if anybody calls it friendship, then I have misunderstood exactly what form friendship ought to take. With regard to the speech to which we have just listened, I think it is regrettable that these references should be made to the A.T.S. In the course of his speech, the hon. Member said, in effect, "I have heard all these statements, but I have not got a single case myself." Why is there, concerning the A.T.S., the assumption that because women are drafted somewhere, immorality is bound to ensue? That is a lot of unutterable nonsense. Throughout history war has produced very difficult sexual conditions, but as one who has watched these things with great care and had great experience in the last war, I say that the conduct of our young people during this war has been cleaner than in the whole history of our country. Some very ridiculous things have been said.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
May I explain that I was not for one moment thinking of morals? I was thinking about the physical conditions in which they live. I think the morals are excellent.
§ Mr. Bevin
The physical conditions are capable of improvement. In the general Debate, I announced that, in conjunction with my right hon. Friends the Service Ministers, consultations are going on for the purpose of trying to arrive at a proper standard such as we have on the munitions side. But it must always be remembered that, in dealing with the development of a great man-power problem, there is bound to be a great deal of improvisation. I wish that hon. Members would think about present problems of social conditions in some relation to peace time conditions. Some hon. Members have made speeches which seemed to suggest that I ought to have remedied everything in 12 months. Before I was a Member of the House, I tried to get many things done, but I was not listened to. The slums of England were not created by this war. One of our great troubles in this problem has been the 1573 question of accommodation, which has had to be provided at a time when the demands on the building industry have been colossal, as regards materials and all other things. I know something about trying to arrange for priorities for this thing and that thing, and I assure hon. Members that in trying to work out how to do the best thing for the war effort in regard to accommodation, it has been a question of trying to settle a whole range of things in which there have been short supplies. The position is now getting easier on the building side, and we hope to make considerable improvements.
§ Mr. Silverman
May I say that I am in full sympathy with everything that my right hon. Friend has said, and I do not think that any useful purpose is served by giving any credit to a lot of backchat which has no evidence to support it; but at the same time, it remains true that in the public mind a great distinction is drawn between the W.R.N.S. and the W A.A.F.S. on the one side and the A.T.S. on the other, and that my right hon. Friend himself said in his speech that there are waiting lists in the first two Services and a shortage in the third. Does he not agree that this calls for a very searching scrutiny by his Department?
§ Mr. Bevin
I was about to come to that, if my hon. Friend had not interrupted me. That is a point which has been made, but as a matter of fact, I do not think the accommodation for the W.A.A.F.S. is better than that for the A.T.S., and in many respects, it is not as good, especially in the isolated parts. One of my first actions, in association with the Service Ministers, was not in respect of an A.T.S. camp, but a camp run by the Royal Air Force in Wales, which I visited early one Sunday morning. I am not complaining about what they were doing, because they were doing the best they could, but I thought there was room for improvement, and my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) will remember that immediately I went to him and talked over with him that morning the improvements which I thought could be effected. There is one thing which I feel is necessary in the A.T.S., and we are working at it now. The Cabinet have agreed that, as Minister of Labour, I shall act as a kind of agent for the Service Departments and create hostels, with proper accommoda- 1574 tion, near the camps, within a reasonable distance, so that when the women have 24 hours' leave they can go to the towns, to the pictures, and not have to tramp back to the camp at night. I shall graft that on to our general welfare work at the Ministry of Labour. I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) for acknowledging that at least I have tried to do something on the welfare side for men and women since I have been in office.
Another thing about the A.T.S. which must be remembered is that the demand in their case is greater. One cannot deny the difference in attraction. The Navy is our first line of defence, and has always had the first attraction in this country. It appeals naturally to our people. That is a psychological matter. Moreover, the Navy is in a better position than the other two Services in that the Naval women's Service is largely centred on the great ports, and is therefore more static and more convenient. The transfer of work from men to women in the Navy is far easier and better done than is the case with the Air Force, where there are aerodromes and so on in isolated places. The W.R.N.S. are largely in a social environment, and that is a great attraction. In the case of the Air Force, perhaps the answer is that it is fighting. The great attraction there is that there has been tremendous activity in the air from the Battle of Britain onwards. The girls want to be in the Air Force, where there are activities taking place. Since Dunkirk, the Army has been very largely stagnant.
There has been criticism of the organisation of the A.T.S. But why perpetuate that criticism? Why not acknowledge that in the last six or 12 months, since we got to grips with the matter, the A.T.S. has been improved out of all knowledge, in uniform, equipment, and everything else? But there is still room for further improvement; indeed, I hope that improvement will never stop, because it must go on in all walks of life. Let me give hon. Members an illustration of the kind of thing that arises. My Department received a letter—it would be unfair to mention either the district or place— which seemed to come from quite responsible people, telling us that there was a large number of cases of venereal disease, that there were several women 1575 pregnant, and so on. The War Office agreed with me that there should be an independent investigation. That investigation took place. There was not a single case of venereal disease at the camp, and there was one woman pregnant, and she had been married five years. That is the sort of thing that comes to us. I suppose that story may have gone round the Lobbies, casting reflection on the girls. One gets a little tired of this sort of thing, and I hope hon. Members will stop it.
I am then told that the result of this Bill will be that I shall be more ruthless. Nothing of the sort. I will tell the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) that I do not intend to be more ruthless. I want things to be on a better footing than they have been. I want the women to know what their rights are, and under this Bill, they do know that. Instead of acting in any ruthless manner, I want things to be on a better and more organised footing than they have been hitherto. Therefore, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment, because if it were carried, it would strike at the roots of the Bill.
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I listened to the Minister with interest, but I do not think that he made out a case in answer to the Mover of the Amendment. I desire to support the Amendment wholeheartedly, and I hope that the Mover will take it to the Division Lobby. I disagree entirely with the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart). He stated that the Minister was wrong on the previous occasion when he opposed conscription of women. I think that the Minister was right then and that he is wrong now. The Minister told the House on a previous occasion that to mobilise women would be a course which was sure to break down. He took the more gentle view then, but he has now changed his attitude and has given us no reasons for this change. Possibly the forces which have weighed on him have been reactionary forces behind the Government. A campaign was conducted in the Press, to which the Mover of the Amendment referred, for the conscription of women as a step which was absolutely necessary. The hon. Member for East Fife mentioned the case of two young women, one of whom felt that her conscience inspired her 1576 to join the A.T.S. while the other remained at home. Why should the conscience of one young woman be made the general rule for all? The woman who stays at home has a conscience and has acted just as conscientiously as the woman who joins the A.T.S.
There are so many considerations which have to be taken into account, and I am sorry that, when the Government Motion was before the House, there was not an opportunity to present the Amendment for which I and my friends were responsible. We put down a direct negative to the proposal, and, when the right hon. Gentleman said that the time for the pacifists to indicate their dissatisfaction with the principle involved was on a previous occasion, I would reply that the pacifists in this House find it very difficult to get an opportunity to put forward their case. It is very difficult for them to get their Amendments called and to find an opportunity to express their point of view. The question which arises in connection with this proposal to conscript women is whether or not there is any real need for it. It is a tremendous departure from the traditional practices of this country and of other countries, and it is a step which would have been regarded with horror a few years ago. It would have been regarded with horror that any community which considers itself civilised should ask women to go to the battlefield and employ lethal weapons. But the question is whether there is any need for it. The Minister says that the proposal is put forward so that the women can free men for other duties. If the light hon. Gentleman needs man-power, he should first of all go to his Service colleagues and see whether the man-power they already have is being adequately used.
I wonder whether the Minister saw the article in the "New Statesman" last week, in which a private contractor stated a few of his experiences in connection with the Army. In one case it took three Army lorries, 15 soldiers and two N.C.O.s to carry five tons of material from one place to another. The writer of the article stated that a private contractor would have needed only one lorry and one man. Here is a case where 14 men are being uselessly employed by the Army. The article gives a more glaring example than this.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Clifton Brown)
These illustrations are interesting, 1577 but we cannot discuss the utilisation of man-power oh this Amendment.
§ Mr. Stephen
I was giving this illustration only to show that there is no need for the conscription of women. If the Service Departments used the men they already have, there would be no need for this proposal. The Minister complained about the criticisms which have been made in regard to accommodation, and stated that he was doing his best to improve matters. One of the difficulties which face him is to obtain joiners and carpenters. I received a letter to-day from the Joint Under-Secretary of State for War, who tells me that there is a superfluity of carpenters and joiners—it was in reply to a letter that I sent on the question of transferring a man who is a joiner in the Pioneer Corps to the Royal Engineers.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Quite apart from the Royal Engineers, there is need for carpenters and joiners in most of the units in the Army.
§ Mr. Stephen
Perhaps I have not made myself clear. I received the letter from the other Joint Under-Secretary who deals with these questions. I do not say there is no need for joiners and carpenters, but in this case, because there is a superfluity of them in the Royal Engineers, this man cannot be transferred, although he was so promised when he was put into the Pioneer Corps. The Minister says that we cannot obtain suitable materials to provide adequate accommodation for the women in the Services, but, if the powers which have already been taken were properly used, there would be no need for this Bill. Another reason why the Minister finds difficulty in getting women to undertake industrial work is the unjust treatment that they receive in not getting equal pay for the same work as men. The Government will not listen to that.
§ Mr. Stephen
It is surely relevant to point out that there is no need to compel women to undertake National Service when the real difficulty in getting them is that the Government will not see that proper conditions are given, so that they are not put in an unjust position as com- 1578 pared with men. It is a most revolting thing, among other revolting things, that the Government have done. The Minister was much wiser when he made his previous statement, and I am surprised that he has allowed himself to be rushed into this position of industrial conscription for women. I appeal to the Committee to support the Amendment and let the Government understand that they are not prepared to allow women to be compelled to join the A.T.S. or the W.R.N.S. or the W.A.A.F.S., or go into private industry to provide profits for the profiteers.
§ Miss Ward (Wallsend)
I feel that I ought to apologise for intervening after the right hon. Gentleman's statement, but I want to say how glad I am that the Government propose to reject the Amendment. If they, with all the facts and all the knowledge at their disposal, feel that the war effort would be forwarded by including women in National Service, the vast majority of women will be behind them in their verdict. We wish to win the war at the earliest possible opportunity, and we would far rather be told what directly will assist in achieving that object. I can assure him that women are prepared to do their share, however difficult it is. We are grateful that a great many of the difficulties with regard to our problems of woman-power have been considered and looked into since the right hon. Gentleman's Department has been responsible for finding the actual recruits for the Services and for industry.
As the question of the A.T.S. was raised, I should like to say I understand that a definite pledge has been given that the necessary accommodation for. women in the Services and particularly in the A.T.S. will in fact be forthcoming. I should like to pay a tribute to the very fine work that has been done by women of all ranks in the A.T.S. It is most regrettable, from the point of view of those who have served loyally in the Service from the beginning, that this unfortunate controversy has been allowed to develop. I am afraid the War Office has to bear the brunt of the blame, because it is only when the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretary have really become involved in the finding of recruits that the War Office has been in the least responsive outside to the difficulties and problems which have been raised privately from time to time by Members of the 1579 House; and although I rather regret that the hon. Member opposite has raised the question to-day, I think the War Office must accept the responsibility, because it has allowed this to develop and, instead of properly organising the A.T.S. and meeting the difficulties which the women themselves have put forward, it has always said pleasantly that everything was going on perfectly when we knew that there were conditions which required altering. I am grateful to the Minister and to the Under-Secretary for the very firm line that they have taken with the War Office. I regret that it was not taken very much earlier, and then all these accusations, some of them most unjust, which have been hurled at the Service would have been avoided. I hope they will learn a lesson from what has been said and will deal with facts when they come up and not say that everything is quite wonderful when they know that the conditions require investigation.
If there is to be this enormous expansion, some of my friends in the Service want to be satisfied that the pledge which has been given by the Service Departments, particularly the War Office, is capable of implementation, because with the increase in recruiting during the past few months many of the senior officers in the A.T.S. have found themselves in a difficulty when they have been called upon to find increased accommodation even from the trickle of recruits which came in during the voluntary recruiting campaign. If you are suddenly going to put into the Service a very large number of women, the problem of accommodation becomes very acute. I want to know that the Minister is satisfied that the War Office will be able to implement its pledge. I am extremely sorry to say that the War Office is not so good at implementing its pledges as some other Departments. We do not want to feel that the Minister of Labour is just a Department for providing bodies for the War Office. We have a responsibility, and I hope the War Office is satisfied that the necessary accommodation and amenities will be available for these girls. There is a vast amount of good will in the country from responsible, representative women, from parents and from the Service itself. All they want to do is to help. They want to do what they can because a happy and contented A.T.S. will reflect credit on the Army and 1580 on the country and will materially benefit the war effort. I wonder how many conferences were held by the War Office in the days before the new director took over with the responsible A.T.S. officers in the country.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am afraid that the number of conferences held by the War Office cannot be connected with this Amendment.
§ Miss Ward
I apologise for being out of Order, but when one speech has been made I thought it would be helpful to develop the subject, but I will not pursue it. I hope that the conferences that are held about this matter at the War Office will be productive of more good than they were in the past. I do not think that the men or women are opposed to the general idea of a proper organisation of man and woman-power. I think that that is incontestable and that the country welcomes the opportunity of a better organisation with the one ultimate object of victory. I am glad that my right hon. Friend has rejected the Amendment and I hope we shall be able to record our vote against it.
Mr. Sorensea (Leyton, West)
I rise to support the Amendment. When the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) declares that she is sure the majority of people are behind this Bill and that they welcome the extension of conscription to women, it is only her own opinion and judgment and is neither more nor less accurate than the opinion and judgment of the hon. Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie). The truth is that all of us are continually assuming that what we desire is what the public want. We would do well to hold ourselves in reserve in some of these matters. I think that most people in the country at the present time are mentally confused. Undoubtedly they want the war to be won, but, on the other hand, I am certain that many are extremely apprehensive about this method of winning the war, both as to whether it is the best method and if it is the best, whether the price to be paid is not heavier than they at first assumed.
Many of us on this side of the Committee know that the Minister of Labour has brought forward this Bill with the greatest reluctance, only feeling that it is necessary in the circumstances. I am sure that in ordinary times he would not bring forward wholesale comprehensive con- 1581 scription and that he is recommending the Bill because he believes that, however undesirable it may be in peace time, it is necessary in time of war. I am certain that he is anxious to provide every possible amenity for the women who will be involved. Therefore, I deprecate the allusion made by another Member in the discussion to one of the women's Services. We have all heard stories concerning not merely the A.T.S. but every other organisation in the country, but one could tell stories about boys' schools and girls' schools, and even about this House. It does not do to bring these rumours into the House and so give them greater publicity, although I am sure that the motive of the hon. Gentleman who made the allusion is a good one. A number of parents may be alarmed for the first time by statements made in this discussion without proper clarification. I do not think there is any reason to assume that girls organised in camps are worse than boys organised in camps. They are very much about the same either way. Some may go off the rails, but even if they were not in camp they might do so. It is strange that we hear so little about men in the Fighting Forces who may be involved in irregularities. As soon as we recognise in these days that men and women are much the same and that there are bad sheep in every flock, but that for the most part they are ordinary people, the better it will be for the community as a whole. Therefore, I deprecate any suggestion that because girls are organised in camps it puts a stamp upon them.
I hope that in any organisation that will be evolved to meet the tremendous inflow of woman-power no more severe discipline will be imposed upon them than upon the men. They are as entitled to their measure of freedom as the men, and if they use it unwisely, that applies also to men. In this respect I plead for equality in discipline as well as in other matters.
§ Mr. Sorensen
That illustrates the fact that, although we may believe in equality of sacrifice, it does not mean that the women are similar in all respects. Because of that, I would further urge 1582 that it does not necessarily follow, because there is political equality, the two sexes have to be treated the same. I am glad that the Minister of Labour has made that clear. This Bill, so far as woman-power is concerned, is a logical extension of a principle which has already been accepted. I wonder why we draw the line and say that it shall not apply to married women. Logically it should be pushed further, and in course of time—
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
That question will come under another Amendment later.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I was only trying to prevent the hon. Member anticipating the discussion that will come on a later Amendment so as to safeguard any discussion on that Amendment.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I appreciate your desire to safeguard us in that respect. While I cannot pursue the reflection that this Bill will logically involve other women besides unmarried women, I think I am entitled to say that when we talk about equality, and say that this Bill secures it, as between the girl who is already serving and the girl who is not serving, it falls to the ground on examination. If all the women in the country were conscripted many inevitably would be in a more fortunate position than others, and, therefore, this Bill does nothing to serve the question of equality. It may, I agree, serve the question of war-like efficiency from the national standpoint, but to argue that it supports the principle of equality does not bear a moment's examination.
Let us realise that this Bill, so far as woman-power is concerned, registers what is in fact a revolution. In other words, for the first time in our history, and I think in the world, we are now saying that not only is there this implicit principle of service to the State, but that it shall be rendered in the way that the Government lay down. Whatever we may think about it, it means that this is the beginning of what may be a profound transformation of the whole position of men and women in their relationship to each other and to the State. Some view it with grave apprehension. Others, on the other hand, are glad because they view it as an expression of the feminism 1583 in which they have always believed. Whether we greet it apprehensively or otherwise we must recognise that history is being made. We have registered for all time, and I do not think we shall ever go back on it, the beginning of a new, though not necessarily a better, world. Our task is to make the very best of it both during the war and afterwards. It is a revolution, and in one sense I could perhaps welcome the Bill although I support this Amendment. I welcome it only in the sense that it is pressing home to numbers of citizens in this country, and particularly to the women, the tremendous political and social obligations that are involved in this matter of conscription and war. Those who have been in political activity are aware that a number of women unfortunately drift through life, or, on the other hand, settle down in a purely domestic atmosphere where few considerations arise about life beyond the confines of the home. The Bill will force them to face other issues and obligations. The Bill in that way may be of service ultimately, however much it may temporarily seem to be otherwise. I believe that out of the Bill at least that consolation might be secured and I hope, meanwhile, the Minister of Labour will do his best to see that the women who are conscripted are given the very best treatment. He is in the honoured position of initiating this grave and tremendous revolution, the implications of which are beyond our present ken.
§ Mr. Woodburn (Clackmannan and Stirling, Eastern)
I have been requested on behalf of my hon. Friends the Members for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie) and Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."]
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
I beg to move, in page I, line 6, after "sex," to insert:who have attained the age of eighteen years and are.Hon. Members have been placed in a difficulty in connection with the registration of boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 18 years. I use the term "boys and girls" deliberately. Nothing about 1584 it appears in the Bill, although mention of it is made in the White Paper, and hon. Members are wholly unaware of the procedure to be followed. The Minister of Labour is a very keen student of psychology, and I would ask him why this thing has been mixed up in a National Service Bill. It passes the comprehension of the ordinary man in the street. To create misunderstanding is the simplest thing in the world, while to dissipate misunderstanding, once it has been created, is a most difficult task. Those of us who spend our week-ends in our constituencies know that the impression created among the mothers is that advantage is being taken of the position in which they find themselves to compel them to register their children. That is a wholly wrong impression, but it has been created. It would have been much better if this proposal had been made the subject of a short Bill by itself.
What power has the Minister, after the boys and girls have registered and education authorities have checked up on their activities, to direct any boy or girl to any specific organisation? I may be told that the Minister has no such power. If so, why include this proposal in the Bill? No-one desires to create misunderstanding outside, and I least of all, but, as I read the situation, the age might as readily be 14 years, so far as the Bill is concerned. We could not get an opportunity yesterday to discuss the matter upon the Second Reading, because it was not contained in the Bill, and it seems strange that, under our complicated parliamentary procedure, the ingenuity of some Member can now place an Amendment upon the Order Paper for the Committee stage, to permit us to discuss the matter which is not in the Bill. I intend to take the earliest opportunity of explaining in every village and hamlet in my constituency how simple it is to safeguard the interests of any young lad or young woman, because this proposal is not in the Bill. I was never much of a student of Maskelyne and Devant, but if the Under-Secretary of State for Air were here perhaps he would be able to produce something out of the hat to enlighten us. I wish to get some assurance from the Government that, if they cannot accept an Amendment to insert an age, they will at least state with some clarity that an early opportunity will be given to discuss the matter. I am a member of the Glasgow Education 1585 Authority. I do not know whether that is a thing to boast about nowadays, as it may be unpopular, but I know the difficulties of education authorities—
§ Mr. McKinlay
I must bow to your Ruling, Mr. Williams, but I would point out that I am supposed to be discussing something which is not in the Bill. A White Paper has been published, which apparently deliberately contains this proposal, but which cannot be referred to during the discussions on the Bill. I am looking for the Minister's authority to do something which he says in the White Paper he is going to do.
I have had some experience of your honoured self, Mr. Williams, in your capacity as a Back Bencher, and I believe that the position which faces me would baffle even your ingenuity, and that is saying something. Would I be in Order in asking the Minister of Labour how he proposes to proceed?
§ The Temporary Chairman
The hon. Member is, by moving his Amendment, obviously asking the Minister some questions, and he thereby gives the Minister a chance to answer.
§ Mr. McKinlay
Yes, I will give the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity. It is very strange. I do not speak very often in this House, and if I were to labour every time under the difficulties from which I labour now, my contributions to our discussions might be more fugitive even than they are. May we have a guarantee that, when the young persons of from 16 to 18 years of age are registered, the Minister has power to direct them to an organisation, or to provide accommodation? Can we have a guarantee that, the N.A,A.F.L, with its undoubted influence, will provide canteens for the boys and girls when they get there?
I am speaking now as a man with three sons—two serving and one about to go, and I am saying the same kind of thing that thousands of parents are saying: you are stripping the household, and start- 1586 ing with the babies. They get it into their minds that there is something sinister behind it. I do not believe youth wants to be organised and drilled. Youth wants to be carefree; in other words, it wants to be youth, and unless the Minister can clear up the misunderstanding, unless assurances can be given, it will undermine the morale of mothers from one end of the country to the other. If the Government cannot accept the specific words of the Amendment, could not the Minister at least give us an undertaking that we shall have an early opportunity of discussing the whole question of the registration of these boys.
§ Mr. Bevin
If this Amendment were carried, it would confuse the situation. Under proviso (a) of the Clause liability to National Service is limited to the liability under the National Service Acts, under which the age for military purposes is 18. I have power under those Acts to direct into industry at any age. We obviously do not do it before school age, but the present Act says that the Minister of Labour can direct any person—from one to 100, I suppose, so that in that regard we meet the hon. Member for Holborn (Sir R. Tasker), who referred yesterday to people of 80. The general provisions do not refer to any ages at all so far as service outside military service is concerned, but for military service the age is as defined in the National Service Acts, namely, 18. I hope I have made that clear.
If this Amendment were carried, therefore, the situation would be made more difficult, because under proviso (c) it is laid down that there is nothing in this Bill prejudicial to any powers of direction which we have up to the present moment. That relates to industry. I would like to thank the hon. Member for trying to get this situation cleared up. The point about registration is not in the Bill at all, as the hon. Member has said; it is only dealt with on the Motion that was put before the House the other day. I have power at present to register anybody; it would have to be done by Regulation, and if a Regulation to register people at 16 is made, all that I as Minister of Labour can do is to register them and then hand the results of the registration over to the local education authorities. It will be their duty to encourage the youth of our country to join some voluntary organisation. If 1587 they do not join, there will be no compulsion. I hope I have made that quite clear. Because of the Chairman's Ruling, I cannot now enter upon a defence of that proposal; that must be raised in another way, and perhaps those hon. Members who know the procedure of the House far better than I do and who are far more ingenious than I am will be able to find a suitable moment. After all, the hon. Member who put this point was an official of my union, and if his ingenuity was not greater than that of the general secretary, he ought not to have been in the job. I can rely, I am sure, upon his finding a suitable moment for an elucidation of exactly how the scheme will work. I want to satisfy the parents of the country that there is no intention to apply compulsion between 16 and 18, but there are valid reasons, which must be advanced on another occasion, for our wishing to take this step to help the young people.
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden (Doncaster)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the scheme of organisation is likely to be subject to an Exchequer grant for equipment, etc.?
§ Mr. Martin (Southwark, Central)
I think the right hon. Gentleman has relieved the anxieties of those of us who are concerned in this matter, but I would like to ask whether registration could be postponed until such time as the local education authorities are really ready to take action. People wonder what is behind this, and if a lot of children are registered and then the education authorities do nothing about it because they have not the means of dealing with the situation, parents will be given unnecessary anxiety, which might be avoided. If registration could be postponed until the education authorities are ready, it would be a good idea.
§ Mr. Bevin
Certain obligations were placed upon local authorities in the general Act dealing with youth. Immediately I took office the Board of Education, I think quite appropriately, became as it were the agent for all Departments dealing with youth. It would have been silly to set up 1588 a lot of other Departments. There are probably too many now, and nothing will be done except in consultation with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education. At the present moment we are only indicating our intentions. Obviously there would have to be consultation with the local authorities, although I would like to say that we cannot wait for the most backward of them.
§ Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)
Will the Minister explain whether the registration he has indicated will be taken as registration for military service when the age arises?
§ Mr. Stephen
I have listened with great interest, and it seemed to me that the obvious thing for a Minister wanting to get his Bill would be to accept an Amendment like this. He tells us that it does not mean anything with regard to those under 18, that there is nothing sinister involved, that no further compulsion is contemplated. The Minister suggested that he really had powers to send children under five to work in the workshops if he thought it necessary, and that under other powers he had absolute authority over everybody in the community. But evidently there is some misunderstanding in the minds of hon. Members in connection with this, and I cannot understand why he should not accept the Amendment. Why should he not make it clear by accepting these words, since this Bill is only going to have dealings with people who are over 18 years of age? Why should there be this general liability on every member of the community within this Bill, unless there is in the mind of the Minister and of the Government future contingencies in which they might need them? Frankly, I am very suspicious, because of what has happened with regard to the pledge given to the 18's about their being sent out of the country. The Prime Minister has said that compulsion will not be applied in forming the Churchill Youth. While that may be so to-day, two months hence there might be another little Bill to do that. Many of us 1589 would feel a certain amount of reassurance if the Minister would accept this Amendment. I wish to press him to give some reason why he should not.
§ Mr. Bevin
I wish to make it quite plain that if I accepted this Amendment, it would not make for clarity nor afford any additional protection. The Bill imposes nothing other than is clearly implied in the National Service Acts for military service, while it leaves the obligation for industrial service exactly the same as under the Emergency Powers Defence Act and Defence Regulations, 1940. It draws a clear distinction between the Forces and industry, which is what the mover of the Amendment desires. If I accepted this Amendment, it might cause confusion. The Bill as drawn is much clearer.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, after "sex," to insert "being British subjects."
In moving this Amendment, I understand that the discussion on this and a subsequent Amendment that I have put down will be taken together. They really raise two rather different points. The first is as to the meaning of the words,all persons of either sex.That would really mean whether they are British subjects or not. I wish to know whether the Government really have in mind the intention to take compulsory power covering, not only Allied subjects, but Swedes, Swiss, Americans, North and South, who may happen to be in this country. It would appear to be undesirable and wrong to put powers of that kind in the Bill. The Minister said yesterday that it was intended to deal with the question of Allied subjects in this country, as a result of negotiations with the Allied Governments, through the introduction of an Allied Forces Bill. On that point I would say that there has been a very remarkable delay, extending over a period of more than a year, in bringing in a Measure of that kind. We have been told from time to time that negotiations are going on, but they seem to hang fire. I think we want some definite clarification from the Government as to whether they 1590 propose to proceed by means of an Allied Forces Bill or whether they are going to make use of the powers which, under the wording of this Bill, as I understand it, they would be enabled to do.
The second point is this: I propose that the words "for the time being in Great Britain" should be omitted, in order that the Government should possess powers to deal with British subjects who may be in other parts of the world. I have in mind a certain number of British subjects in America at the present time. There has been a good deal of criticism on that point. I have no doubt that many British subjects of military age are doing first-rate service in the United States, and there can be no question of their being asked to return. That cannot be said of all. I am proposing that the words should be omitted so that the Government may have the power to deal with those persons. It may be said that they are outside jurisdiction and that the Government have no power to bring any pressure to bear upon them. I venture to think that is quite a wrong view. There are all sorts of pressure. There are the withdrawal of the British passport, the withdrawal of British nationality, the taking-over of all assets in this country of such an individual by the State, and it could be laid down that if the individual ever comes into jurisdiction, he will be liable to prosecution. I have no doubt at all that if the Government possessed powers of that kind, many British subjects would be induced to come back here to do their duty. It may be said that the position has, to some extent, been altered by reason of the fact that the United States are now at war with Japan. I hope shortly that they will be at war with Germany and Italy too, juridically at war; they have actually been at war with them for a long time. It was the case in the last war that, when America came in, British subjects were brought back. These are points of real importance about which I wish the Government to give a definite answer. Do they really want to take power over all aliens of every nationality according to the wording of the Bill? Will they not take power to deal, at any rate, with British subjects, whether in this country or not?
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Assheton)
I should like to deal first with the ques- 1591 tion of the liability of aliens in general. I quite appreciate the point which the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) has made, but I would remind him that, as far as civilian work is concerned, already there is power, under Defence Regulations, to require persons of alien nationality to undertake it, and therefore we do not desire to have the powers which we already possess limited in this way.
§ Mr. Assheton
That is so. There are certain duties with regard to Civil Defence, for example, which it is desirable that the Government should have power to impose upon aliens, although it is not likely that such powers will be exercised in the case of neutrals. On the question of those young men who are sheltering abroad in various countries, I am sure that every Member of the Committee will sympathise with the object which the hon. Member has in mind, but if we adopt the method which he suggests for bringing it about we shall, in fact, by so doing, give up the very power we already have over aliens resident here. For this reason, it is not possible to accept the Amendment as the hon. Member put it down, but I can assure him that very careful consideration is being given to the matter and to the possibility of achieving in some other way the object he has in mind. Recent circumstances have put a slightly different complexion on the matter, and I would ask the hon. Member to be good enough not to pursue that particular point on this occasion.
I would like to say a word about the liability of aliens for military service. It has been stated in the House on several occasions that it is the intention of the Government to introduce legislation to authorise the conscription of Allied nationals, but the Government have always taken the view that this must be done only after full consultation with the various Allied Governments. The Committee will appreciate that this matter is rather complicated, and that it has required very careful consideration. That has taken a long time, but a communication has now been sent to the Allied Governments outlining the views of His Majesty's Government. A communication from the Allied Governments must now 1592 be awaited. Owing to the necessity of consulting these Governments, it would not be possible to deal with this subject in the present Bill, even if it were appropriate to do so, but a proposal will be laid before the House as soon as the Allied Governments have come to an agreement with us and we are in a position to bring forward such a proposal.
§ Mr. Harvey
What is the position of neutral and technically enemy aliens as regards military and civilian service under this Bill? I am not quite clear about that after what the hon. Member has said.
§ Mr. Assheton
As far as civilian service goes, it is quite clear that the wordsall persons of either sex for the time being in Great Britainmean what they say "all persons of either sex." There is one other point which I should like to make. The words which the hon. Member suggests:being British subjectswould involve us in constitutional difficulties with the Dominions, which the hon. Member appreciates.
§ Wing-Commander James (Wellingborough)
I understand that at a later stage provision is to be made whereby all aliens in this country will be brought into line with those of enemy origin. Will there be discrimination in that respect? Take the cases of a Czech subject and a German subject. Why should compulsion be applied to aliens of Czech origin and not to friendly German subjects?
§ Mr. Assheton
The point is a simple one. We already have power to direct them to industrial work. I do not think the War Office has ever asked for power to conscript enemy subjects.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Barr (Coatbridge)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 20, at the end, to insert:(c) nothing in this Act or any Defence Regulations shall impose any liability to service in the Armed Forces of the Crown on any person registered conditionally or unconditionally in the register of conscientious objectors.1593 The purpose of this Amendment is to prevent any repetition of punishment where punishment has been already undergone. During the last war we heard much about "cat-and-mouse" treatment. Certainly, that has not been so prevalent during this war, although there have been cases that might be so described. We wish that men who have attained the status of being registered as conscientious objectors, either conditionally or unconditionally, shall not be called up under this Bill. Such calling up would, I think, lead to further trouble, and would not be profitable to the State.
Conscientious objectors receive double-edged treatment. They receive, first, a privilege. I may say that, when the statement on the subject was made by the late Prime Minister in the House, I think it was generally accepted as being in its broad outline generous treatment for conscientious objectors. I cannot say that in the courts, or before the tribunals, that statement has been followed in the same broad and generous spirit. But I am not blaming the administration here or—far from it—the Act itself. On the one side, the conscientious objector receives a certain privilege. Secondly, on the other side, he suffers certain penalties, which sometimes prove very severe. As everybody knows, there is a great difference between the attitude of appeals tribunals in different parts of the county. There are men whom I have known all my life who have a conscientious objection if there is such a thing, and yet have not succeeded, but have been put into the Army, and under martial law suffered severe penalties. They undergo, in addition, humiliations of a social kind. We claim that they have gone through the mill, and that they ought not to be put through it again. In language which is common in Scotland, and which is known even on the Front Bench, they have "tholed their assize."
Perhaps I am entitled to speak on this subject because during the last war I preached a sermon on conscientious objection and published it as a pamphlet, and I think I took a broad view of the subject. I maintained that there were conscientious assentors, as well as conscientious objectors. I referred to the recognition of conscience that there has been, even among military men, which sometimes showed itself in an obstinate 1594 and unyielding way. I quoted words from Lord Roberts, himself the leader of the military forces in this country. This was his tribute to conscience, particularly at a time when certain events were taking place in Ireland, and even military men did not always conform to strict military discipline. This is as remarkable a tribute to conscience as you will find anywhere—a tribute even to its obstinacy:If you penetrate deep enough into the depths of human nature, you will unfailingly reach in every one of us a stratum which is impervious to discipline or any other influence from without. The strangest manifestation of this truth lies in what men call conscience— an innate sense of right or wrong, which neither reason nor man-made law can affect.That is itself a very strong reason why man-made law should not seek to interfere with this strange and unyielding faculty in our being. I do not think that there is any greater tribute than the tribute of Butler himself. Butler says of conscience:Had it strength as it has right, had it power as it has manifest authority, it would absolutely govern the world.I know full well that those who are administering this Act from headquarters do respect conscience. I see that the Minister of Health is present. I think he had to do with the framing of some of these regulations. I expressed to him my conviction that as regards what he had done in the matter of the training for the Ministry of the Church and in the treatment of conscientious objectors there was general satisfaction with the line that he had taken. I would like to pay a similar tribute to his successor, the present Minister of Labour. I am not withdrawing anything that I have said about the tribunals or law courts or some of the penalties to which these men have, unfortunately, been subjected, but I regard the Minister of Labour as one who shares in the views I have read and doubtless his Parliamentary Secretaries do also. I have found them willing to receive approaches, and make concessions where such concessions should be made, and so with some confidence I submit this Amendment in the hope that it will be accepted in full and carried out in a generous and just manner.
§ Mr. Assheton
I am much indebted to the hon. Member for what he has said about my present chief and about my past chief, both of whom have very great 1595 regard to conscience in these matters. I do not think that the hon. Member need be under any anxiety at the present time, because men who are registered, either conditionally or unconditionally, and are on the register of conscientious objectors are already protected from being called up for whole-time service in the Armed Forces under the provisions of the National Service Act as it now stands. Possibly the hon. Member has put down the Amendment under some misapprehension and I am very glad now to have the opportunity of clearing it up.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I do not really want to take much part in this Debate, but it seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary has not quite met the position put by my hon. Friend. It may well be—and I certainly would accept it from him—that no one at present on the register either conditionally or unconditionally, will by virtue of this Bill or of the existing Act be called upon to serve with the Armed Forces, but as regards the Clause we are considering to-day the Amendment is declaratory of a much wider issue than the liability to serve in the Armed Forces. It would enable the Minister to direct a man to do some other work, to direct him into industry. That might enable the Minister to vary the conditions which have already been approved by a tribunal under the National Service Act. Can he assure the Committee that that point is covered?
§ Mr. Assheton
The Amendment of the hon. Member refers only to liability to service in the Armed Forces of the Crown.
§ Mr. Harvey
The statement of the Parliamentary Secretary is very reassuring, but the words that my hon. Friend has moved are simply declaratory and there seems to be no reason why they should not be put into the Bill in order to remove misapprehensions which have arisen recently in consequence of legislation. There was a case not long ago when the learned judge presiding over the South-Eastern Tribunal ruled that the tribunal no longer had power to give an unconditional exemption in consequence of recent legislation. That was a mistake and the appellate tribunal corrected the mistake and made the legal position clear. Unless there is a declaratory clause in the Act there is a risk that certain tribunals, misconceiving the position, may cause diffi- 1596 culties which I am sure the Government would wish to avoid. This is purely a declaratory Amendment and I hope that the Committee will see its way to accept it.
§ Mr. Barr
I would appeal, as my hon. Friend has done, for the acceptance of the Amendment. I know that the answer can be given that it might create anomalies and difficulties if put into the Clause. I believe that in its operation it would be harmless, and in fact it would be helpful. Certainly the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary is reassuring, but in view of what my hon. Friend has said, I think it would be a safeguard, and we should be grateful if the Government could give it verbal form.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)
Honestly, I do not think that one should do this. If the Committee will look at the Bill they will see that it says in paragraph (a) thatthe liability of any person to whole-time service in the armed forces of the Crown or in a civil defence force within the meaning of the National Service Act, 1941, shall be such as may be imposed upon him under the National Service Acts.Those Acts deal exhaustively with the position of conscientious objectors. As the National Service Acts are the Acts which are to govern service in the Armed Forces, it really would be inappropriate to put in words which are of no value.
§ Mr. Silverman
Has the learned Attorney-General read paragraph (b)? Paragraph (a) deals with the liability to whole-time service in the Armed Forces of the Crown or in a Civil Defence Force within the meaning of the National Service Act, but paragraph (b) says:the liability of any person to any other form of national service (including part-time, service in the armed forces of the Crown or in such a civil defence force as aforesaid) shall be such as may be imposed upon him under Defence Regulations.That is a different thing from paragraph (a). What is there, unless my hon. Friend's Amendment is accepted, to free a man whose conditions have already been determined by a tribunal from an obligation under paragraph (b)?
§ The Attorney-General
I did not understand that the mover of the Amendment was concerned with anything except whole-time service in the Armed Forces.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sorry if I misunderstood. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment referred to people who had already been conditionally or unconditionally exempted from full service. The said words in this Bill might mean that they had to come up again, and he referred to a Scottish phrase which I have forgotten that a man who has been dealt with for one matter should not be dealt with over again. If the hon. Member's point is with regard to full-time service in the Armed Forces of the Crown, I did not quite appreciate the fact. It is a matter which can be dealt with by Defence Regulations. The question there raised would be whether, if there is a Defence Regulation providing for compulsion to be applied to service in the Home Guard, there should be the machinery for conscientious objection. That is a matter which must be dealt with and discussed when the Defence Regulation is brought before the House. There has been an undertaking that there will be a full discussion of the Regulation, before it becomes operative, with regard to the application of this matter to the Home Guard. I do not think it would be appropriate to put these words into this Bill now.
§ The Attorney-General
I can give an assurance on behalf of the Government that it is their intention, if compulsion is applied to the Home Guard, that there should be conditions similar to those which exist in the National Defence Forces. That would be the appropriate time to deal with it.
§ Mr. Silverman
Whether that satisfies my hon. Friends or not I do not know, but it does not seem to me to meet the whole point. With the best will in the world I cannot see why the Government should not accept the Amendment. If they say it is their intention to give effect to a Defence Regulation, it is difficult to see why they should not accept the Amendment now and be done with it. The Attorney-General's assurance is that a Defence Regulation under paragraph 1598 (b) will provide for similar exemptions as before, but, as I understand it, that is what people want to avoid. They want to avoid the necessity of making men go again to a tribunal to make out their case a second time in order to obtain part-time service in the Armed Forces when they have already made out their case and obtained a judicial determination of what they are bound to do under the old Bill.
The assurance given is only an assurance that they will have the opportunity of doing it again and that they will be bound to do it again. I think the simplest way of dealing with this problem is to say that, if a man has already availed himself of the machinery already existing with regard to exemption on conscientious grounds for military service, and has the determination of a tribunal, under the Act, of what his liability, conditional or unconditional, may be, that shall decide the matter for all time, and that nothing under this Act or nothing under the Regulation to be made under paragraph (b) shall impose upon him the liability of having to do it all again. That is in his own interest, the interest of the tribunal and in the interest of the smooth working of the machinery.
§ Mr. Assheton
The hon. Member has made a certain suggestion, but that is not what the Amendment says. I would point out that if the Amendment were accepted, the form in which we have it here would not cover, for instance, those who may be recruited to the Home Guard under the age of 18. That would not be a satisfactory solution of the hon. Member's problem. I think that by far the best way to handle this matter is to leave it until it comes to be discussed in the House. Before the Defence Regulation is introduced there will be a discussion on the question of the Home Guard, and we are quite prepared to undertake now that this question of conscientious objection will be carefully considered when that time arrives.
§ Mr. Barr
I thank the Government for having gone so far and for giving us that assurance. Perhaps between now and the Report stage they might consider a different form of words—we are not tied to these words—which will give some assurance to those in this condition and others interested that the exemption they would obtain would hold good either for 1599 full-time or pan-time service. In the hope that what I have suggested will be borne in mind, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Stephen
On a point of Order. I have on the Order Paper two Amendments to line 23 before the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn), which you have called. I know that the Chair has power to select Amendments, but it is also open to an hon. Member to ask the Chair to call Amendments which are on the Order Paper. I should like to submit to you that there are two important issues arising from this extension of compulsion to so many millions of people. There is, first, the danger that in the case of an industrial dispute those taking part in the dispute may be put into uniform, or declared to be on National Service, and made soldiers as a result of this liability. Secondly, there are the rates of pay and general conditions for people who are put into industry. For example, many millions of women may be commandeered compulsorily for industry. I think it is only fair that those of us who are interested in this matter should seek to insert in the Bill statutory protection with regard to the conditions and wages which these people should have if they are conscripted into the service of a profit-making industry.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member has clearly explained the Amendments which he has on the Order Paper, but these matters were given very careful consideration and the arguments which he has now adduced were borne in mind when the Chair considered whether or not to select Amendments. Neither of the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member has been selected, and that is the Ruling of the Chair.
§ Mr. Stephen
I have to accept the decision of the Chair in this matter for the time being, but in view of that Ruling, I shall have seriously to consider any possible steps open to me.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I beg to move, in page 1, line 23, at the end, to add:(d) nothing in this Section will require any female to accept a form of service which 1600 compulsorily involves her leaving and residing outside the home of her parent, where such parent is a widower or widow, who is infirm or over sixty years of age and where such female is the sole member of the family residing with such parent.My purpose in moving this Amendment is to ask the Government and the Minister to give serious consideration to the great problems of hardship that will arise as a result of this Bill. So far, when only men have been called up, there have not been raised the domestic issues that will be raised by the calling up of women, and if the Bill is to be welcomed in the country, something must be done to see that the hardship involved will net reach the stage of being insufferable and causing considerable discontent and resentment. I understand that at the present time the Minister's powers give him authority only to defer calling up for 12 months in cases of hardship. I suggest to the Minister that in this Bill power be taken for him to go beyond that 12 months in exceptional circumstances, and to continue deferring as long as the conditions make it practically impossible for a given person to serve. In my Amendment, I raise only one aspect of this matter. I do not move the Amendment with the idea that only these words would be acceptable; indeed, I would prefer that the Minister took this matter into consideration and put in a form of words which would give him power to extend such deferments beyond 12 months.
I have in mind, for example, one case of a young woman who came to see me concerning this Bill. She did not object to being called up. She and a sister are wondering what will happen, when they are called up, to their aged parents. In this case the older girl is willing to join up if the younger girl stays at home. As things are, however, the younger girl will be called up first, and the older girl will not have an opportunity to state the position until some months later. This is an example of many types of hardship which will arise under this Bill, and the power to give a deferment for 12 months is quite inadequate. In such cases the Minister ought to allow girls to remain in their districts, because, if they are sent away from their homes, considerable trouble will arise. In as many cases as possible the Minister ought to remain the services of these young women in their own districts. With this Measure we are getting very near to breaking up the home. It is a 1601 delicate matter, and I hope that the Minister will give an assurance, if he is not prepared to accept this Amendment, that words will be put in the Bill, giving tribunals the power of exemption in cases where tremendous hardship will arise if a girl is sent away from her district to another part of the country.
§ Mr. Assheton
My right hon. Friend made it very clear in his opening speech yesterday that hardship was a question to which he paid particular regard and attention, and, therefore, the Amendment which has been put forward has been most carefully considered. I wonder whether on reflection the hon. Member thinks it wise to press this Amendment. It suggests that certain particular hardships should be dealt with, whereas, under present circumstances, a hardship tribunal is in a position to take account of any exceptional hardship. It would be unwise, I think, for us to put in the Bill one or two particular types of hardship and make no reference to others. The Committee ought to be clear on the question of a 12-months' exemption. Under the present Regulation, hardship tribunals are in a position to give an exemption for any length of time, except in one particular set of circumstances, and that is business hardship. My right hon. Friend was going to announce to the Committee at a later stage in the Debate, in reference to a new Clause to be moved by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), that it is his intention to consider this question of a 12-months exemption in cases of business hardship. I think the Committee will be very glad to hear that. It does not require any Amendment of the Bill, because it is a matter which the Minister can and will deal with by Regulation. I suggest, therefore, that the Amendment might perhaps be withdrawn.
§ Mr. Stephen
I should like to be able to accept the hon. Gentleman's assurance, but my difficulty is not so much with the people at this end as with those on the hardship committees, and that is why I think it is necessary to try and put into statutory form some of the exemptions which we think ought to be given. My experience of hardship committees has been disappointing. I have had to go to the Ministry about it, and they have told 1602 me that the committee's decision is final if it is unanimous and that they cannot do anything. Possibly the Minister had seen the force of what I was saying with regard to hardship and had decided that there were some new circumstances that had arisen which allowed it to be reconsidered, though there were not really any new circumstances at all. I have one case particularly in mind with regard to fire watching where the mother was bedridden and the father was blind and severely ruptured, and yet the son was refused exemption. It was only on some additional medical plea that the decision was altered. Our experience has been that, if you take even the Service Ministers, there is nothing to complain about in their administration, but somehow or other with the best will in the world they do not seem to choose the most suitable people. They often get the round peg in the square hole or the square peg in the round hole on these committees. I wish the Minister would consider the setting forth of some general causes of exemption in statutory form or give the committees much more definite instructions and illustrations of cases where exemption ought most certainly to be given. I hope we shall get more than simply an assurance, because I do not trust a lot of the committees that we get working on these things.
§ Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)
My experience of the rulings of hardship tribunals has not been so unfavourable as that of the hon. Member, but I think there is a desirability for an even further assurance than that which has been given by the Parliamentary Secretary, because for an old person to be under the possibility of doubt for a considerable time about having a daughter, the sole other member of the household, taken away seems to be one which would have a very detrimental effect. If it could be made surer that in certain circumstances an exception would be made and a reservation given so that a girl would not be called up because her mother was infirm or was of a certain age, it would give comfort and satisfaction to the old lady who was being cared for. It seems to me that if that could be done by a firmer statement being made here, it would be a guidance to the hardship tribunal and would be an indication of the ministerial view of a situation of that kind.
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden
I am concerned with the words used in the Amendmentwhich compulsorily involves her leaving home and residing outside the home of her parent.I am not concerned with persons who actually appeal before the hardship tribunal or who know the machinery of the tribunal because my experience is that the vast number of complicated cases that Members receive are those of people who do not know the machinery and what their privileges and rights are. While Members of the House attend here and discuss the Amendments and the drafting of the Bill, I am not sure that even we know exactly what is meant when a particular set of words appears in the final draft and receives the Royal Assent. Certainly our constituents do not. There are many cases where girls have received their calling-up notices and been ordered away from their homes, and then somebody suddenly says, "Why didn't you appeal?" The girls cannot find anyone to help them and they have to go. The family is really an economic unit, and if it is split up because of the ignorance of the person concerned, it would be far more beneficial to her if she had a safeguard that even though she may have been ordered away because of her ignorance of the law and her privileges, she had the protection of the Minister or the law on the one hand or some assurance that she can re-appeal.
§ Mr. Bevin
I cannot give an assurance of the kind asked for. I do not want to mislead anybody in the country, and it would reduce the liability of people to satisfy the war effort. These factories and services must be filled. It is better to be frank with the Committee and the country, and it is no use giving a pledge of an administrative act which we cannot carry out. I believe that the hardship tribunals have done their job well, and I want them to continue. If I followed the line suggested and tried to schedule exemptions, every Schedule would have a limiting effect, because anything that was left out would be ruled out. The hardship tribunal is flexible, and it has a wide power. It can take all kinds of circumstances into account. Then there is the appeal to the umpire, who gives guidance. It is true that the appeal board under the Defence Regulations can only make recommendations, but in nearly all cases they are accepted. Whether people 1604 go to the tribunal or the hardship committee under the Military Service Act, I am certain that they get better protection than they would get if I tried to pick out and anticipate every kind of difficulty and put them down in a schedule which would give even my legal friends a headache. I therefore propose to leave the system as it is.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am grateful for the assurance that the tribunals will be flexible, and that there will be a limit of 12 months. That will deal with a common misapprehension throughout the country. I am pleased also to hear that in the case of very grave hardship for little businesses, the men concerned will have a similar kind of protection. I recognise the justice of the statement that, if one thing is specified you tend to exclude other difficulties. I had no intention of making this a limiting Amendment in that sense. I suggest the Minister give instructions to his Department that the labour requirements of a particular area should be calculated before people are removed from that area, say, from Scotland to England, perhaps only to be brought back at a later stage. There will thus be a possibility, in practice, of guaranteeing what the Amendment suggests that women will be directed to industries in their own localities rather than to industries hundreds of miles away, with all the consequent difficulties. In view of the assurances, and the difficulties of framing an Amendment of this kind, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence (Edinburgh, East)
I wish to refer to two points, but if they are not in Order, I should like to raise them at the appropriate time. One concerns the important question mentioned by the Prime Minister, in moving a Motion the other day, about sending young men abroad. I recognise the difficulties of the Government in all respects, but I would only ask that they will go to great lengths to avoid going back on the promise they made, not only to this House, but to the country. I hope it will be possible at the appropriate time, now or whenever it may be, for the Government to make a further statement on that matter.
1605 The other point is in regard to the conscientious objections of women. I raised the matter when the Minister was speaking the other day, but I do not think he grasped the rather intricate point that I was trying to make. When a man has been conscripted for the Armed Forces and is a conscientious objector, he registers himself as such, goes before the tribunal and puts his case, and the tribunal allots to him work which it considers compatible with his degree of conscientious objection. The man may say not only, "I am not prepared to fight in the Army," but, "I am not prepared to make shells which another man will use in the Army." That is a perfectly logical position, and the tribunal may decide in his favour in that respect, in which case he will not be compelled to make shells any more than he would be compelled to fight in the Forces. The right hon. Gentleman has said that in introducing conscription for women he is not imposing on women anything different from what he is imposing on men, which, of course, is a principle that we in this House would entirely support.
I would, however, put to him this point, which I would like to have cleared up, because I have had much correspondence about it, and I want to be quite sure what is the position. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the conscription he is imposing on women is in itself somewhat different from the conscription he is imposing on men. A woman will go before whatever is the proper authority and may be directed either into the Army or into some industry, in particular into a munitions factory. What I want to be quite clear about is this: Will a woman who is directed into a munitions factory—making lethal weapons, that is to say—have the right to say that she is a conscientious objector, to register herself as such and go before a conscientious objectors' tribunal? It is perfectly clear, on the analogy with men, that if she were directed into the Army, she would be entitled to register herself as a conscientious objector, but I want to have it made perfectly clear that the intention of the conscientious objection provisions will not be got round by putting her into a munitions factory when she may have conscientious objections to such employment.
§ Major Haden Guest (Islington, North)
There are one or two points to which I would like to invite the Minister's attention before the Committee is asked to decide on this Clause. By this Bill the House is creating a very great increase in the Armed Forces, a very great increase in the Civil Defence Forces, and is calling into production a very large number of people of new classes, and the Minister himself recognises an aspect of that problem which does not enter directly into this Bill, because he said, when introducing the Bill, that the administrative side is of vital importance in the building-up of a tremendous organisation. Unfortunately, this Bill does not deal with the administrative side, and it seems to me a pity that we have no opportunity of discussing it in detail. There are, however, one or two matters in connection with the administrative side to which, with the permission of the Committee, I would like to ask the Minister's attention.
The Fighting Services, the Civil Defence Services and the production services must be properly led and must be fighting fit. I do not propose to refer to the Fighting Services and the Civil Defence Services, because their administration is provided for, but there is no provision at all up to the present for the services dealing with the vast new production army which we are about to recruit, and I should like to know whether the Minister will tell the Committee what is in his mind in that direction. I do not want to go into the questions of detail and of control of production which were raised in the form of an Amendment to the Maximum War Effort Resolution of last week, but the Minister is calling into existence a vast industrial army of men and boys, young girls and older women, and—this is the point of view from which I particularly wish to approach it—of part-time employed married women. A most careful provision of services will be needed for these people if production is to be fighting fit. It is a detailed provision of services that is required, and I say again that I regret we are not having an opportunity of discussing those details. I wish to draw attention especially to one aspect which I think was in the Minister's mind when he said,… there was such a wide area of industrial plants in this country which had no provision at all for the employment of women. Owing to the lack of rest-room and 1607 lavatory accommodation, it was very inconvenient to employ women in them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th December, 1941, col. 1435, Vol. 376.]He went on to refer to the long distances which they had to travel. Then he said—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I fail to see the relevance of these remarks. These matters were discussed at length on the first Amendment, and I do not think we ought to go back to them now.
With due respect, I wish to ask the Minister whether he can give us any indication of what provision he is going to make for the very necessary and rather detailed hygienic and medical supervision in the new factories which he is providing, because there is no suggestion of that at the present time, and there is no machinery existing at the present time. None of these factories is equipped, and there is a shortage of medical man-power. You will not get what you want unless you have the whole medical services of the country pooled. If you do that, you have enough medical men and women, but not otherwise.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)
I have listened to practically the whole of this Debate. Before I can vote that this Clause stand part, I must express my disappointment with both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary because I have not had any kind of reply, and this is the Clause on which a reply can be given, to the appeal I made yesterday. Apart from this Clause there is nothing that matters much, but before I am in a position to vote that the Minister shall take over the hundreds of thousands of people who, he asks in this Clause, shall be handed over to the tender mercies of his own Ministry, I must get answers to certain questions. If I cannot put these questions on the first Clause I cannot put them on the Bill at all. I think I am entitled to ask the Minister again whether, if the House grants him the powers he is asking for in the very first sentence of Clause I, he can satisfy the Committee that he has the machinery and the organisation to implement those powers. Speaking for myself I feel that a Member would be in an extremely foolish position if he handed over to the Government, or to any Ministry connected with the Government, 1608 powers about which he has no guarantee, no assurance that they will either be administered sensibly and intelligently, and not abused to the disadvantage of the country.
We are entitled to ask the Minister to tell us how he proposes to use those powers. We have not been told yet, and I hope that a Member is entitled to get the necessary satisfaction before he associates himself with any steps the Government may take, perhaps to his own personal regret, and to the disadvantage of our own people. We have not been told how, if the Committee passes this Clause, the Minister proposes to mobilise, to control, to direct, to make the best use of these vast powers of life and death that will be placed in his hands, and in the hands of his Ministry. I must express my disappointment that, in the speech made yesterday by the Minister, apart from a sentence we were left in the dark. I am rather upset at that. I am horrified that a great Department, with its great power, with its long tradition, and with a Minister whose standing and prestige in the trade union movement are something of which he ought to be proud cannot tell us how it is proposed to organise, plan and mobilise those powers to the best advantage of the country. Since conscription was first imposed, with the Minister of Labour taking the principal part in conscripting people, I have had no reason to believe that such extended powers as he is asking for will be used as well as they should be. I very much regret that the Government have asked for the powers contained in Clause I without being able to tell the Committee that, in anticipation of these powers being granted, they have replanned the whole business of mobilising men and women, and that they will show far greater appreciation of the powers vested in them than they have done up to now. I must express my extreme disappointment with either the short-sightedness of the Minister or his complete inability to take advantage of the great powers which it is contemplated granting to him.
§ Mr. Stephen
I am in complete opposition to the whole Bill, and I think I have an opportunity on this Clause of stating my opposition to the provision which it makes for imposing a general obligation of National Service upon everybody. I 1609 am very sorry that when the first Amendment was taken, and the Question was put from the Chair, I rather slipped up, but I propose to divide the Committee on this Clause. We have not pressed other Amendments to a Division because we recognise that our numbers are few and we do not wish to put the Committee to unnecessary inconvenience, but I hope that in future the Minister will not say, "The pacifists did not go into the Lobby on this matter." I want that to be clearly understood, because I have noticed that on many occasions Ministers have used that argument. This Clause empowers the Minister to send any individual in the country to work in a workshop which is under private ownership, for whatever wages the employer may be willing to pay. It will give complete power to put an individual to work, anyway. Many millions of the people of this country will be working, under direct, statutory compulsion, piling up profits for the profiteering community. That will be one of the worst forms of slavery that could be imposed.
Dr. Russell Thomas
Will the hon. Member describe how they will be piling up profits, in view of the Excess Profits Tax and other restrictions? I want that to be made quite clear.
§ Mr. Stephen
I have not the slightest doubt that, while the hon. Member is making a debating point, he is just as well aware as I am that there was never greater racketeering going on in this country than there is at the present time.
§ Mr. Stephen
The racketeering that I have in mind is not a black market or anything like it, but the way in which people in possession of great industrial and financial power in the community are using the present opportunity to add greatly to their industrial and financial resources. They are doing it and it is well known to everybody.
§ Mr. Stephen
The object of this Clause is to make it seem easy for. racketeering on the part of the financial and industrial 1610 magnates of the country and, to my mind, whatever the motive of the Minister of Labour may be, the statutory effect of it will be to give to these financial magnates the opportunity of adding tremendously to their fortunes through the industrial conscription imposed upon the workers of this country.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
That is a matter I could not rule as having relevance in any way to this Clause.
§ Mr. Stephen
I have gone so far with it that I am willing now to accept for the time being your decision with regard to this matter. I gave notice that I was certainly going to consider the further steps that lay within my power. I have pursued it as far as possible until called to order by the Chair, and I have to accept that ruling for the time being.
I want to go on to another point and deal with the position in which this Committee finds itself. No provision is being made in this Clause with regard to the conditions and wages that will rule in the industries into which these people are to be compelled to go. It is a terrible thing for a Minister of Labour to have to push through this House a Statute that has no protection for his fellow workers in this respect. There have been a great many changes since this war started. There is a new Prime Minister. A great many people who hail him to-day had very little use for him just before he became Prime Minister. The Minister of Labour commented on the fact that he sometimes did not get a good Press, but my own impression is that it is much better than he deserves.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The question of the Press and the Minister of Labour has nothing to do with this Clause. We must discuss what is in the Clause and not so much what we would like to see in it.
§ Mr. Stephen
Surely it is possible for a Member to be in Order in making reference to a statement made by the Minister. In the course of the Debate he referred to the Press that he had built up and the way in which he was being treated by the Press.
§ The Deputy-Chairman:
I was in the Chair when he made that statement and I heard it. It was on an Amendment which was negatived; it is out of the Clause which is under discussion and, therefore, out of Order.
§ Mr. Stephen
The Amendment, if I remember rightly, was not negatived but was withdrawn. It is quite true that it is not in the Clause, but it has always been the practice, within limits, to refer to matters not in a Clause and to statements made on Amendments which have been rejected. Again I must accept your ruling. Evidently we are making great progress with the carrying on of the war. This country has become totalitarian and this Clause puts people in a worse position than they are in Germany. If this Committee uses machinery to put the country in that position I must do all I can to prevent it. I am sure that when this Clause becomes operative and women are being dragged off by Bevin's press gangs, there will be a tremendous uprising in the country. [Interruption.] There are many Members on the Labour Benches who owe all they have politically to the I.L.P.
§ Mr. Stephen
If the hon. Lady will look at the poll at Lancaster, which was our most recent by-election, she will see that it was 20 per cent. As I was saying, if this Clause becomes operative I am certain there will be a tremendous uprising among the people of the country at the conditions being imposed upon them. When the young women are dragged off to the Army and the sweat shops, there will be a great upturn among the people, and I have no doubt that then many hon. Members who are now acquiescent in the policy of the Government will claim that they helped us when we were putting up this fight on behalf of the workers of this country.
§ Mr. Martin
Without trespassing on the Ruling which you made, Colonel Clifton Brown, in the case of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Islington (Major Haden Guest), I should like to ask the Minister whether he can give any account of the measures he intends to take to look after the health of the people who are called up under this Clause. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as 1612 anyone how much distress and inconvenience have been caused to individuals and families by improper and unfortunate medical examinations in the case of soldiers called up for the Army. Many men who have been called up have had to be invalided out as unlit for the duties they had to perform, and have not had any pension or remuneration to sustain them. The women are now to be con-scribed, and the point arises whether, if they find themselves in an unfit state of health, they can leave their employment on a medical certificate of their own doctor, or whether they will have to get a certificate from some medical board or other that may be set up by the right hon. Gentleman to deal with such cases.
Realising the immense physical, mental and nervous strain, and the psychological strain, that will in many cases be put on these women and girls, I ask the Minister whether he can give us an assurance that there will be an organisation adequate to deal with this aspect of the matter, and whether he can relieve us of the very real anxiety which besets us at the present time. There is another matter to which I want to refer. I have here the cases of 15 or 16 men, instructors having very high technical qualifications, who were employed at one of the Government's training schools. A month ago they were given notice and told that their services were redundant. They were given an assurance by the staff manager of the training school that before the month expired fresh employment of a suitable character would be found for them. To-day, those men were dismissed without any such employment—
§ Mr. Martin
With great respect, I was giving that only as a preparatory explanation of the point I want to make. If it is the case that at the present time such a large number of people can be dispensed with from a single school, can we be given an assurance that all necessary preparations have been made for the calling up of these large numbers of men and women so as to obviate that most unfortunate dilemma in which people may find themselves a short time after they have been called up and left important and valuable work which they were doing in the past? 1613 Will the right hon. Gentleman give an answer to that?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Heneage (Louth)
I want to put one or two questions to the Minister. According to paragraph (b) of the Clause, men can be taken either for military training or for a Civil Defence force. I do not think that provision is quite clear. In the country districts, there are many people in the Civil Defence forces whom we should be glad to have in the Home Guard. At present the position with regard to them is doubtful. In the provision as it now stands, it seems to me that a man can either become a Home Guard and get some military training, or go into Civil Defence. I hope that the Regulations made under this Clause will permit men in suitable places, perhaps in the danger areas, to receive military training, so that, if and when invasion comes, they will be of use in repelling the invader.
§ Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
The point I wish to raise concerns the position of Members of Parliament under this Clause. Yesterday the Minister rejected this matter in a jocular manner. I do not think we can leave it at that.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Of course, they are. I think that with my right hon. Friend giving so many directions to all sorts of people, he might give a few directions to Members of this House and Members of the other House. Firstly, there are the young men of this House, who are very few in number. I should have thought their duty was very clear, and if I had been a young man, I should not have waited to be told. I would point out to hon. Members that the country wants to see how they interpret these provisions in their own case. I feel that it would be a good example for the country if the Minister said something by way of direction to Members of Parliament in regard to their duties under this Bill. Secondly, there are the elderly Members. In their case I feel that it might be entirely useless to put them to static work in the Forces. I suggest that the Minister might say a few words on this matter and state what Members of Parliament should do under this Clause. Perhaps he may also say at the-same time what facilities would be given, so that Members could, in a limited way, deal with their Parliamentary duties. 1614 This is a serious matter, and it is a matter of serious import to the country.
Mr. McNeil (Greenock)
Naturally I feel a little diffident about interjecting in this Debate after the speech of my "elderly" friend. I must crave the indulgence of the Minister, because I was absent when he gave his assurance to the hon. Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn). I wish to refer to the constitution of the hardship tribunals. The tribunals were competent to deal only with circumstances which were temporary. Clearly, in a case where there is an aged or infirm parent hardship can be considered.—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am afraid we cannot repeat the Debate on that Amendment. We must keep to the Clause and not deal with the Amendment. which has been disposed of.
Will the Minister tell me ii he now proposes to alter the procedure of the hardship tribunals so that such circumstances as these will be taken into consideration?
§ Mr. G, Strauss (Lambeth, North)
I support the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) and should like the right hon. Gentleman to give an assurance on the matter. We all want to do what we can in support of the war effort, but many feel that the first duty that we have to fulfil is to our constituents, and what other duties we can fulfil apart from that we are only too pleased to do. I understand that the position is this: Members of Parliament who are in the Army are able to get leave, if necessary permanent leave, in order to carry on their duties in the House if they deem it their duty to do so, but, as far as I am aware, there is no Regulation or assurance or provision in being in regard to Members who might be conscripted for industrial purposes. I am certain that members of the public, the electors, want to see that their Members are putting forward their grievances and voicing their views. If we believe in democracy, it is essential that Members should be free to do so and that the electors should not be disfranchised. Therefore, I should like to have an assurance that nothing in the Bill will prevent a Member from discharging his Parliamentary duties and that whatever arrange- 1615 ments may be made, a Member of Parliament will be free to do so according as he thinks fit.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke)
Before we part with the Clause I think those of us who represent industrial centres ought to have some assurance with regard to the way in which it is to be administered. It is from the National Service Acts, 1939 and 1941, that the Minister derives his power to issue Regulations, and he and the Prime Minister said last week that it was their desire that those Acts should be administered as sympathetically and as fairly as possible. If we are going to do that, it is necessary that the machinery should function in such a way as to command the confidence of the people of the country and that the people who are to be called up should have confidence in the machinery and its administration. Up to now we have had very little cause for complaint on the score of influence. In the last war, although I was very young, I remember how it crept into the administration of the Derby scheme, and later into the Conscription Acts. I want us to be on our guard that there shall be no danger of influence when the Bill becomes an Act. I know how easy it is for favouritism to creep into the administration of an Act of this kind. Then, when our men and women take a stand for what is right, there is a danger all the time of intimidation and victimisation. We want an assurance that, when instructions are sent out, the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear to his staff, and to employers, that in no circumstances must there be favouritism, intimidation or victimisation as the result of our agreeing to this Clause.
§ Mr. Bevin
As to the point put by my hon. Friend opposite with regard to the 18's and 19's, the difficulty that faced the Services was the borderline case of the men who after training were nearly 20 and the probable breaking-up of the units to Which they had been drafted. It was the desire of the Government to adhere as far as possible to their pledge, but there was the difficulty caused by that gap and, therefore, the Government ask to be released from the pledge. The change, however, will be administered with great care. With regard to the conscientious objectors, I thought I made it clear on Second Read- 1616 ing and in the Debate last week that the position of women is exactly the same as that of men. The woman will be called for the Services, not for the factory. If she is called for the Services she is given the right to opt for the factory. That is a secondary stage within her own volition, so that her right to register as a conscientious objector is as an objector against the Service. If she registers as a conscientious objector she does not opt for the factory at all. She is dealt with in the same category as men called for military service. If she establishes her case as an absolutist she is in the same position as a man; if her registration is made conditional, she is in the same position as the man. That keeps the law on strictly parallel lines with the law in regard to men.
I was asked by two hon. Members whether there was sufficient organisation to cope with this call-up. The call-up is small compared with the numbers we have called up hitherto. The Services are constantly in a state of expansion. I cannot very well deal with the nationalisation of the medical services under this Bill.
§ Mr. Bevin
It is common practice now to avoid the old terms. The Services are constantly being expanded on the health side. I made early provision for a great innovation in British industry by the compulsory medical service in industry. As is well known, that innovation has expanded to a degree which now includes nursing. The widespread employment of nursing services in industry is far beyond what any Member ever dreamed possible in the short time that it has been in practice. I think we can take care of that side of the matter. An hon. Member raised the question of the dismissal of inspectors. I do not believe this matter comes within the Bill, but I would remind the hon. Member that those men are not called up, but are employed in the ordinary way in their profession. When their use in that profession comes to an end the contract is ended, and their services may be transferred elsewhere.
A further point was whether we had made appropriate provisions in regard to wages. We were charged with herding girls into sweated employment. I can 1617 only say that the Fair Wages Clause, under Arbitration Order 1305, is more widely applied now, and compulsorily, than ever, and that standard rates of wages are paid over a more widespread area of British industry, under collective agreements, which are more widely and more accurately applied, than ever has been the case in the history of the country.
§ Mr. Bevin
No, that is compulsion. That was a little anticipation. We imposed that on the employers before we brought in this Bill. One thing has struck me. Everyone seems to have referred to my great traditions and my honourable past. I wish they had written to me in that strain while the past was still the present; but I do not remember anything like that, in the course of that period. With regard to the question of Civil Defence Forces and the Home Guard, if a person is in a Civil Defence Force now, he is held in Civil Defence. It is essential not to have men hopping about from one Force to another so that you do not know where they are when trouble comes. When the Home Guard comes to be discussed will be the time to settle such problems. A further point put to me is with regard to the power under which the Regulations are made. It is not under the National Service Acts of 1939–41, but the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act. There the sources of the power exist.
I was asked about victimisation and favouritism. You cannot make a perfect machine, however much you try. You make it as perfect as possible in its administration. I am told that the reserved occupation list is so well understood, and so capable of being applied in various ways, that a good many people who ought to be in the Services are escaping. Individual deferment is intended to get over that side of the trouble. I have tried, under the machine which has been set up, to afford the best provision I can think of. When a man is called up, he has to inform his employer that he is called up. If his employer does not apply for him, the man can apply himself or through his organisation, so that if at any time this Measure is used for the purposes of getting rid of somebody who is not liked, or for any purpose of victimisation such as was 1618 alleged in the last war, I cannot think of any other means of protection than allowing the man himself or his trade union to apply as well as his employer. I want to impress on my hon. Friends the words bearing on this Clause which I used earlier in the Debate, that women will want to be satisfied that the machinery for dealing with men in reserved occupations is just, and that they are not being called to the colours before the men who are available. That is the great problem for which I have had to try and find a solution. The two proposals, together with the arrangements I have made, have covered it as effectively as possible, subject to hon. Members of this House and the country's organisations acting as watchdogs—which it is their duty to do— with a view to seeing that any case of abuse is brought to the attention of the Department.
The last point put to me was concerning the position of Members of Parliament. I cannot be expected to act as a father to Members of Parliament. I am just beginning to learn about them, but I cannot be expected to know very much. All I can say is that Members of Parliament are liable under this Bill. What Parliament does, or what Members of Parliament do, in the discharge of that liability is not my affair; I cannot be their confessor or the keeper of their consciences. Parliament itself must decide what duties, obligations or places Members must fill. I do not really think it is fair to ask that they should be dealt with under a Bill of this kind, because it would apply only to this Bill, whereas it ought to apply to a whole wide range of public obligations in a war of this kind.
§ Mr. Bernays (Bristol, North)
My right hon. Friend has said that it is Parliament which will decide what hon. Members will do. Surely that is not so. If this Clause is passed, it will not be Parliament which will decide but the hardship tribunal, and will that not make it possible for an organisation outside Parliament to decide whether Members of Parliament should give their undivided attention to their constituents?
§ Mr. Bevin
They will also have the third alternative of applying for deferment on the grounds of hardship. I understood that in the Acts dealing with Civil Defence, and in every other Act dealing with National Service that has been passed since I have been in this House, no exception has been made for Members of Parliament. I am following exactly the same lines. As I understand it, I am introducing no new principle. Members of Parliament must use the machinery provided in the Bill in exactly the same way as other persons. That, as I understand it, has applied all through the legislation in this war.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. He has not introduced a new principle into the Bill, and it is perfectly correct that he is adhering, in respect of this, to the same way as other Ministers have done in respect of other obligations imposed on the public. Nevertheless, it is an issue which Parliament will have to face, the issue which arises now in this Clause. The position, as I understand it, is that Members of Parliament are placing themselves at the disposal of a Minister of the Crown, because if the right hon. Gentleman, in the exercise of the powers which Parliament is now giving him, directs a Member of Parliament to do certain work, that Member will either have to do that work or make an appeal to another body against the direction of the Minister. That raises a principle of first-class Constitutional importance. In the first instance, should Members of Parliament put themselves under the disability of being directed by any Minister whatever? It is perfectly true it has been done in the National Service Acts. I understand there is a Member of His Majesty's Forces who would have been here to-day except that it had been mentioned to him that, if he were here, it would have an unfortunate effect upon certain duties which he has to perform. Here, at once, is a conflict arising. Surely, there is only one principle on which this House can take a stand. It does not refer to our own personal wishes at all. We have no right frivolously to dispose of the confidence which thousands of people have reposed in us. My constituents have sent me here to represent them. I have no right to waive that representation by 1620 satisfying any emotion of personal indulgence. I could join the Army, because I looked nice in a uniform and because I could parade myself up and down as major. I could enjoy also a very important financial advantage from it without very much work. I could add to my salary and my emoluments, and at the same time appear to be having a very honourable career.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Is the hon. Member suggesting that he would have a commission without passing through the ranks, and without qualifying?
§ Mr. Bevan
I answer at once by saying that I would suffer from disabilities others have not got. I did not go to Harrow or Rugby, but I believe that I could get over even that difficulty quite easily. But the important point is this: At the moment Members of Parliament are exempted from their obligations, in so far as they are exempted under the National Service Acts, not by Parliament but by the Army Council. In other words, Members have put themselves at the disposal of the Army Council.
§ Mr. Bevan
They have put themselves at the disposal of the Executive. This surely, is a matter of considerable importance. My own position, like that of many hon. Members, is quite clear. If the Minister of Labour directed me to do a job which I considered would interfere with my Parliamentary duties— because I would be of age under this Bill—I would take no notice of his direction. It may be embarrassing for him to learn this, but I would consider that the direction given to me by my constituents was more important than his direction, and that I should be, in tact, betraying the confidence imposed in me by my constituents if I took any notice of his direction. That would raise a constitutional issue of first-class importance. Not merely that, but I do not consider that Members of Parliament should ever have present in their minds, when they are speaking in this House, the fact that Ministers are able to impose upon them penalties, punishments or embarrassments which may stand in the way of their speaking their minds freely.
1621 We are putting very important powers into the hands of the Executive. The nonsensical argument has been advanced in this House more than once that Members of Parliament must not ask for more-privileges than their constituents possess, but if Members of Parliament do not defend their privileges their constituents will have none left. There is only one way in which the people of this country can have the authority of the Executive mitigated or modified, and that is by having a free House of Commons. I am not saying to my right hon. Friend that he has been more guilty than other Ministers, but he has been as guilty as they, and he seeks to impose upon the House obligations which are grievous and, in my opinion, undignified. If we cannot get from the Government better assurances than we have had, it will be necessary for us to consider putting down an Amendment, to bring about the exemption which the Government will not grant.
§ Sir Percy Harris (Bethnal Green, South West)
This is an important issue. Hon. Members will agree that we are on the horns of a dilemma. I believe that the public outside would resent a Clause in this Bill definitely exempting Members of Parliament. They would say that the Bill should impose an obligation for National Service on the whole nation. It would be a mistake to go out of our way to say deliberately that Members may be absolved from that obligation. On the other hand, I think equally, although it is a contradiction, that the public desire their Members to be in the House. It sounds absurd, but people say, on the one hand, "Why should Members of Parliament be exempt?" and, in the very next breath, they say that a Member's duty is to be in the House. I think it would be a tragedy if the younger generation were excluded from our deliberations, and if this House became an assembly of old men, of men over military age. That would weaken its authority and force, and would raise the issue of elderly gentlemen sending young men and women into the Services, while they stayed comfortably at home. It is a humorous position, but a serious one. The Government have a responsibility to solve this riddle. I think we could best exercise our ingenuity by not being completely logical. It is a peculiarity of most of our legislation that in 1622 it we do not attempt absolute logic. But that is a question which will have to be faced, and, sooner or later, solved, in the interests of the younger generation.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
I am afraid that I do not agree with the attitude of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). I would like first to draw attention to the fact that the Clause itself has been presented, and rightly so, as expressing a very considerable measure of national unity. If it were in Order, I would draw attention to the fact that you would not get such an expression of national unity if it were property and profits that were at issue, but in view of the fact that that is not in Order, I will not deal with it.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I was unfortunately called away to a very important meeting, for which I could not get a deputy, or I would have participated in support of that Amendment. It would be one of the most disastrous things that could happen if a decision were taken in connection with this Measure, which is bringing in men and women, some of them very young, from all over the country, to insert into it that Members of Parliament would be exempted from the Bill.
§ Mr. Gallacher
On Christmas Day I shall be 60 years of age. It is obvious that the Executive must take responsibility for ensuring the carrying on of the work of Parliament.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to make myself plain. I know all that is said about the right of Parliament to decide the work of the Executive and so on. Naturally, if the Executive takes steps which will interfere with the carrying on of Parliament, then Parliament will deal with the Executive. We are told continually that the Executive is responsible for this, that or the other, and if the Executive does wrong, then Parliament must act. Is anybody going to suggest or say to the country that if this is passed, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour and one 1623 or two others will decide to call up every Member of Parliament and close Parliament altogether? If the Minister of Labour calls up the Member for Ebbw Vale, then Parliament will want to know what he is playing at. He would have to give a most effective answer to Parliament why the Member for Ebbw Vale or the Member for West Fife had been called up for a particular service. But if it went out to the country that you were going to deal with everybody and yet provide in the Bill for Members of Parliament to be exempt, you would destroy Parliament. I suggest that very serious consideration should be given as to the best use to be made of Members of Parliament. There is all this talk about representing the constituencies. I am concerned to represent my constituency, but a whole lot of my constituents would be very happy if the Minister of Labour would decide that I should spend a few months or a year with the Forces right in the front line, where so many of them have fathers, sons and brothers.
Although I am 60 years of age, I lead a fairly active life, under occasionally rough conditions, and I think I could stand up to such a task. I do not want to see any of the picnic parties that took place in the last war, where delegations went to look at the boys in the rear. But some of us saw the fighting of the International Brigade in Spain. We went right up to the front line trenches, and there alongside the lads we were able to play a quite useful part in strengthening, encouraging and helping them along. If it was a question of going to some of our lads now, not looking on from afar, but getting alongside them, it could be of the greatest advantage to them. We should bring back to the House our impressions of how the lads were feeling and be able to carry to them the expressions of feeling of their parents and friends. I am concerned as much as anybody about representing my constituency; I try to represent it to the utmost of my power, but I would not consider I was deserting my constituency if it was proposed that I should take on for a period, work of that kind. Members talk about representing their constituencies, but most of their constituents will be in some form of service or in the Armed Forces. It is the same 1624 with clergymen. Most of their parishioners will be in the Services too. They should be included.
It would be an offence to the people of this country to put in this Bill the exemption of Members of Parliament. Parliament must carry on its work; that is true. Members themselves have the responsibility of controlling the Executive in such a way as to ensure that the Executive uses Members of Parliament to their best advantage, not only to the country as a whole, but to the House of Commons itself. If, for instance, there was a particular job in an engineering shop where there was a particular difficulty which my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) or myself were capable of overcoming do you think we should object to going into a factory and doing that job? Not for a moment. It is all nonsense to suggest that if Members of Parliament are included, something sinister will happen and that all young and old will be called up to be shoved into a job somewhere, whether they are fit for doing that particular job or not. I am certain that every concern will be shown for Members of Parliament by the Government and for the carrying on of Parliamentary work. I hope every effort will be made to ensure that Members of Parliament, like everybody else, will be working all the time and be doing something that is useful, like others are being ordered to do. I want it to be clear that I am as fit as many young people who are to be called up and that I am ready at any time to take up any work that is being imposed on others.
§ Mr. Bevin
I want to make an appeal to the Committee to get this Clause through. We have spent a long time upon it, and the question that has now been raised is one which I cannot, without consultation with my colleagues, solve. In this Bill there is no Amendment to the existing position of any previous Bill. I do not touch Members of Parliament under this Bill more than any other Bill. Therefore, having regard to the fact that the work of the Department has to be carried on as well while we are trying to get this business through, I would ask the Committee to give me this Clause.
§ Mr. Bevin
No, Sir. I do not think I could be a party to raising the whole Parliamentary issue and the question of the rights of Members on this Bill. I think that if hon. Members feel that the legislation now going through does not meet the position, then representations ought to be made to the Prime Minister through the usual channels.
§ Mr. Harvey
Will the Minister consider the possibility of making a pronouncement, on the occasion of a new Clause, not to exempt Members of Parliament, but to declare that any duty placed upon them by this Bill would not interfere with their Parliamentary duties?
§ Mr. Bevan
Surely, that is a reasonable request. I do not intend to argue against some of the demagogy we have heard on this matter, because what hon. Members are really saying is that they hope that by some backstairs method they will be exempted from obligations under the Bill. They do not like the onus of saying that, but it is present in their minds. It is a most cowardly position which leaves the constitutional relationship between the House and the Executive in a state of complete chaos. You cannot solve the problem by running away from it or by becoming demagogic. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) indulged in muddled demagogy. Is it unreasonable to ask the Minister to accede to the request made by the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) and make a declaration that no duties under this Bill will be permitted in any way to interfere with the rights of Members to attend to their Parliamentary duties? That is a reasonable request. It would mean that a Member's conception of his Parliamentary rights and his duties to his constituents would override anything else.
§ Mr. Bevan
Certainly—by the Minister himself. I do not expect the Minister to give me a reply now, but is it unreasonable 1626 to ask him, before the Bill is passed, to consult with his colleagues as to the possibility of doing what the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities has suggested, or finding some other device to meet the point, which is an important one?
§ Mr. Bevin
I suppose that this issue is being pressed upon me at this moment because of the difficulty of dealing with it at this stage. [Interruption.] Please be quiet. [Interruption.] It is well to be emphatic sometimes. I have listened with great patience to the speeches that have been made. When dealing with a vital question of this kind, mere dialectics do not help one out of the difficulty, and they are unimpressive, too. Certainly we will consider any matter which is raised by any Member. Perhaps I might put a point of view to my hon. Friend who asked this question. In my personal view this question ought not to be raised on this Bill, which is an amending Bill to a series of Acts. I will repeat what I said earlier. So far as I understand it, nothing in this Bill interferes with any of the rights which Members have exercised ever since war broke out.
§ Mr. Bevin
I want to answer my hon. Friend's question. If I am interrupted, I do not complete the sentence, and I do not give the correct answer which I have in my mind. This Bill does not interfere, as I understand it, with any of the rights, privileges or practices which hon. Members of this House have exercised under all the legislation since war broke out. As I am making no change in the law, I should regret the matter being forced to an issue on this Bill. It is, however, perfectly proper to make representations to the Government on the general question of whether the legislation ought to be modified.
§ Mr. Bernays
Is not the difference between this and other Measures, that under this Bill, according to a paragraph I read in the "Sunday Times," 140 Members are affected? Supposing the age is raised to 60, 250 Members might be involved. Surely this is making nonsense of the House of Commons. None of us want to shirk our military duties; it is a question between a Member and his constituents, because, if the Member is slack 1627 in the war effort, they can find a remedy at the next election. We wish to ask whether, in the course of our military duties, we shall, under this Bill, come to this House by grace or by right. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister complimented the House on the large attendance on Monday, when he particularly wanted to take us into consultation. I do not think that I am putting an absurd point when I ask: If, in the course of our military duties, we become involved in some disciplinary offence, are given three days' confinement to barracks, and are stopped by the sentry officer at the gate and prevented from coming to this House, is that a breach of Privilege? Should we not be put in a position to claim that we have been prevented from coming to this House? That is a very important point.
§ Mr. Bernays
I will repeat my question. I do not ask for an answer now, but will the Government consider, before this Bill becomes law, the very difficult
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Charleton, H. C.||Garro Jones, G. M.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Chater, D.||Gates, Major E. E.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Cobb, Captain E. C.||Gibson, Sir C. G.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Colegate, W. A.||Gledhill, G.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Colman, N. C. D.||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.|
|Assheton, R.||Colville, Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Conant, Capt. R. J. E.||Granville, E. L.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Craven-Ellis, W.||Groves, T. E.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Critchley, A.||Guest, Lt.-Col. H. (Drake)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Guest, Maj. L. Haden (Islington, N.)|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Culverwell, C. T.||Hambro, A. V.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Denville, Alfred||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N. E.)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Dobbie, W.||Hewlett, T. H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Doland, G. F.||Hill, Prof. A. V.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Donner, Squadron Leader P. W.||Holdsworth, H.|
|Bower, N. A. H. (Harrow)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)||Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Dunn, E.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (H'ckn'y, N.)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Hughes, R. M.|
|Brass, Capt. Sir W.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Brooke, H.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Isaacs, G. A.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Erskine Hill, A. G.||James, Wing-Comdr. A. W. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Jarvis, Sir J. J.|
|Butcher, Lieut. H. W.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Jeffreys, Gen. Sir G. D.|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Fildes, Sir H.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Findlay, Sir B.||Jennings, R.|
|Cape, T.||Frankel, D.||Jewson, P. W.|
|Carver, Colonel W. H.||Gallacher, W.||John, W.|
|Cazalet, Tkelma (Islington, E.)||Gammans, L. D.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
§ position of Members of Parliament in relation to their military duties?
§ Mr. Maxton
I have been attending from an early part of the discussion in order to vote against the Clause standing part of the Bill, and I propose to maintain that position, but I want it clearly understood that I am not casting my vote against the Clause on the issue that is raised now, which I think merits a statement from the Government, though I agree that it is quite unfair to put it up to the Minister of Labour to make a statement off-hand on this Measure. I think he is very wise to refuse to do anything of the sort. [Interruption.] Even he, I hope, would have enough wisdom to refuse to be drawn on a thing of this description. If we are to have a statement, it should be a considered, responsible statement, made on behalf of the whole Government. I propose, as soon as I am given the opportunity, to divide the Committee on the Question ''That the Clause stand part."
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 223; Noes, 0.
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Pearson, A.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Peto, Major B. A. J.||Storey, S.|
|Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Power, Sir J. C.||Strickland, Capt. W. F.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Price, M. P.||Stuart, Rt. Hn. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Law, R. K.||Pritt, D. N.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Leslie, J. R.||Radford, E. A.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Lipson, D. L.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Little, Dr. J. (Down)||Rankin, Sir R.||Taylor, Capt. C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Loftus, P. C.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)|
|Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Tomlinson, G.|
|Mabane, W.||Rickards, G. W.||Train, Sir J.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Riley, B.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Ritson, J.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|McKie, J. H.||Roberts, W.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|McNeil, H.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)|
|Maitland, Sir A.||Rothschild, J. A. de||Walkden, E. (Doncaster)|
|Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Mander, G. le M.||Salt, E. W.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Schuster, Sir G. E.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)||Wabbe, Sir W. Harold|
|Mills, Colonel J. D. (New Forest)||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Milner, Major J.||Sexton, T. M.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Moore, Lieut. Col. Sir T. C. R.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Silkin, L.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Woodburn, A.|
|Mort, D. L.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Munro, P.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Wright, Wing Commander J. A. C.|
|Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)||Snadden, W. McN.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Somerset, T.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Owen, Major G.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Palmer, G. E. H.||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Patrick, Capt. C. M.||Southby, Comd. Sir A. R. J.||Mr. Grimston and Mr. J. P. L.|
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Stephen and Mr. Maxton.|