§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I beg to move—
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
On a point of Order. I should like to ask for guidance on your procedure, Mr. Speaker, on this matter, and to ask which 464 Amendments you propose to call and in what order. My hon. Friends and I are particularly interested in the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). May I ask you, Sir, when you propose to call that Amendment, and whether there will be an opportunity for us to cast votes on the Amendments?
§ Mr. Speaker
I propose to call the Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith).
§ Mr. Maxton
That Amendment only?
§ Mr. Speaker
§ Mr. Maxton
Surely that rather leaves the House no opportunity of deciding on the big issues involved, and certainly leaves an hon. Member of this House who is most keenly concerned and most directly concerned no opportunity of staing his case and moving a Motion or Amendment in expression of his case and casting a vote upon it. Surely it has always been the practice of this House to give the maximum opportunity to any section of the House which is particularly concerned to voice its points of view adequately?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that has been the case and I hope that will be the case to-day. I propose to give those who are interested adequate opportunity of expressing their opinions before the House.
§ Mr. Maxton
Will the hon. Member also have an adequate opportunity of casting a vote in support of the view he has put on the Order Paper?
§ Mr. Speaker
Certainly, he will be allowed to cast a vote against the Amendment on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Maxton
Frankly I cannot see any reason why your Ruling should be greeted with ribald laughter. According to your Ruling, Sir, the only opportunity that the hon. Member would have of casting his vote would be by voting against the main Question.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member can vote against the Amendment and the main Question if he likes.
§ Mr. Maxton
But he cannot vote for his Amendment on the Order Paper?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not propose to call that Amendment.
§ Mr. Bevan
I beg to move,That this House expresses its detestation of the propaganda of the 'Daily Worker' in relation to the war, as it is convinced that the future of democratic institutions and the expanding welfare of the people everywhere depend on the successful prosecution of the war till Fascism is finally defeated; but is of the opinion that the confidence of considerable numbers of people can be undermined if it can be shown to them that any newspaper can be suppressed in a manner which leaves that newspaper no chance of stating its case; and therefore regrets that the Home Secretary has not proceeded against the 'Daily Worker' and the 'Week' under the powers given to him for this purpose, but has taken action under Regulations which were justified to the House by the Government on the sole ground that they might be needed in circumstances of direst peril arising out of physical invasion.Last Tuesday, I understood from information which has been brought to me, the Home Secretary met the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, and informed that Association that he proposed to suppress the "Daily Worker" and the "Week." At two o'clock on the same day, the Home Secretary met editors of the national newspapers, and that evening these two newspapers were suppressed. Members of the House of Commons had no knowledge of the intentions of the Home Secretary until the following day, and it was clear from the newspapers on the Wednesday morning that with one or two exceptions the newspapers were agreed with the Home Secretary to suppress one of their members; and now we have an opportunity, one week later, of discussing this unprecedented action of the Home Secretary on a Motion by a private Member. I submit that that story by itself shows an extraordinary deterioration in democratic standards in Great Britain. It does not seem to me to have been necessary, if the Home Secretary intended to take action of the kind he did, to secure the connivance of the other newspapers in order to do so. My hon. Friends and myself have made it quite clear in our Motion that we do not share the views of the "Daily Worker." [An HON. MEMBER: Where is the Home Secretary?] I am very reluctant to make any statement at all without the presence of the Home Secretary. However, I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has now entered the Chamber.
I think it is unnecessary to repeat what I have said, because it will be communicated to him. It is unnecessary, I am 466 sure, to convince hon. Members in all parts of the House that my hon. Friends and I do not share the opinions of the "Daily Worker"; we have made that clear in our Motion. Therefore, it would be irrelevant to quote against us articles in the "Daily Worker" with which we ourselves profoundly disagree, although they may be quoted in justification of the action of the Home Secretary. They cannot be quoted against us because we do not accept them. In the second place, we are firmly of the opinion that the war should be prosecuted to final victory, and it is because we believe that that we have put the Motion upon the Order Paper. It is quite clear to everyone—
§ Mr. Hammersley (Willesden, East)
Do I understand from the hon. Member that anything in the "Daily Worker" is irrevelant?
§ Mr. Bevan
No, Sir, I did not make any such statement. I think I made myself quite clear, that to quote articles from the newspaper called the "Daily Worker" against us would be irrelevant, because I do not agree with those articles, though of course it is obvious that hon. Members may quote in justification of the Home Secretary's action. It is perfectly clear to everyone who has thought about the matter for a moment that in any community, whether in peace or war, the amount of liberty to be accorded to any minority or any individual must necessarily be under some restraint. Therefore, there is an element of expediency in all liberty, although that society is the best which can make the most progress with the least restraint.
I accept also that in time of war restrictions upon liberty must be greater than they are in times of peace. It is expedient to give less liberty because society is in greater jeopardy. I am, therefore, not concerned to argue the abstract principle that anyone has a right to absolute liberty. That would be a foolish position to take up. What I am contending is that it was not expedient to suppress the "Daily Worker" because we could still afford the amount of liberty which the newspaper was enjoying. It is, therefore, my first contention that there has been an unnecessary deprivation of the liberty of the subject by the suppressing of the "Daily Worker." What influence did the "Daily Worker" exercise? It would have had to exercise such 467 influence as to be undermining the war effort, before the right hon. Gentleman would have been justified in taking away its liberty. What evidence is there that the war effort of the country and the morale of the population were being affected? We have stood up against the worst bombardment that any civil population has ever had, and we have been called upon to bear trials which no other population has been called upon to bear. We have sustained them to the admiration of the world. In fact so negligible, so unimportant, so uninfluential was the circulation of the "Daily Worker" that it was unable to undermine the morale of the country when it was exposed to the greatest bombardment in its history. It seems to me quite unnecessary, in circumstances of that description, to take away a liberty which can be shown not to have affected the national war effort.
In the next place, it is because we permitted liberty to the "Daily Worker," and because we allowed assemblies like the People's Convention to be held, that the great democratic institutions of Great Britain evoked admiration in America. Newspapers there pointed to the fact that this beleaguered island could carry the indulgence of liberty so far as to include People's Conventions and the "Daily Worker." No higher tribute could have been paid to the morale of the country and our determination to fight the war to victory. The Home Secretary by his action has now deprived us of that precious asset. He has made a present to our enemies of the fact that we feel so insecure that we can no longer permit the liberty that this newspaper was enjoying. It was, therefore, unnecessary for the Home Secretary to take this action. Furthermore, all the by-elections which have been held since the war began have shown that it commands the overwhelming allegiance of the British people. Deposit after deposit has been forfeited whenever the issue has been put to the test. So that this newspaper, opposed to the war, and the organisation which it stimulates, or feeds, or fosters, have been unable to convince any large number of citizens. The public interest was not, on that account, jeopardised in the least.
468 Why did the right hon. Gentleman think it necessary to silence this voice? He and his Government enjoy more Press support than any Government ever had in our history. Indeed, so large is the measure of support, that the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) pointed out on 31st July that the main trouble was that the Press was in too few hands, some of those hands being in the Government. Nevertheless, enjoying this unprecedented support, enjoying the support of newspapers whose proprietors are associated directly or indirectly with the Government, the right hon. Gentleman suppresses this one small voice. His position is far stronger than was the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in the last war. There was then a far greater minority Press in the country, supported by many influential people and by many in this House. The right hon. Gentleman is there, and some of us are here, because during those years we fought against the war. The right hon. Gentleman's voice would not have been heard from 1914–18 if, to use an Irishism, he had been Home Secretary then, and this House would have been denied the use of his unrivalled powers.
§ Mr. Woodburn (Stirling and Clackmannan Eastern)
There was nothing corrupt about the Home Secretary's opposition to the war.
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. Member must not anticipate my arguments. His interruption is evidence that this is the sort of subject which the House of Commons is not fit to discuss judicially. The fact is that the Government enjoys in these circumstances far greater support than the last war Government did, and yet in that war there was no suppression of any daily paper. [Interruption.] My information is that "Forward" was not suppressed. There was interference with the Press but there was no suppression of a newspaper.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
It was suppressed for three weeks.
§ Mr. Bevan
I wish hon Members would pay attention to what I say. I said there was no suppression of a newspaper. Closing down for a day or two is not suppression. In the last war there were no suppressions of newspapers, although 469 there were newspapers of great influence supported by prominent members of the House. The Home Secretary has taken action in circumstances which are far stronger than his predecessor enjoyed. If there is any case at all against the "Daily Worker," the best thing to do is to state it—to argue it. When the "Daily Worker" was coming out, morning by morning, and its articles could be discussed, as they were discussed, the answer to it arose spontaneously in the minds of its readers, and it was by the atmosphere of public discussion, by the full utilisation of democratic institutions, that its power was kept within bounds. Now that it has been suppressed its views will be disseminated in places where they cannot be replied to. That is the vicious part of suppression. It is not merely that, but in taking away the voice from subversive opinion you take away the opportunity for effective answer to that voice and the people will be denied the opportunity of hearing in public the case that they will hear whispered to them in private. It seems to me that, on those grounds alone, the action of the Home Secretary was extremely unwise.
Take the second ground. A minority has not the right in any society, especially in time of war, to withhold from the Government, from the majority, the instruments of executive action. It is entitled to conduct its propaganda, but is not entitled to take its propaganda to the point where it performs, acts or persuades other people to perform acts which frastrate the will of the majority. That is an abuse of minority rights. In other words, if the "Daily Worker" in an article called upon engineers to ref use to make shells or incited people directly to sabotage the war effort, action could be taken against it for that act alone, because it would be an attempt on the part of the minority to deny to the majority the effective instrument for carrying out the people's will. Can the right hon. Gentleman say that the "Daily Worker" has been guilty of that? If so, the Home Secretary has his remedy in the courts. He has his powers. He has been given power since the beginning of the war to take action in the courts on specific charges against individuals or collections of individuals for acts of that kind, but he has not done so.
470 May I say to some of my hon. Friends, particularly on the opposite side of the House, that they really must try and look upon the industrial population of this country with some degree of consistency? On the one hand, they regard the working class as heroes, and, on the other, they regard them as deluded simpletons and fools. They suggest that because there is a dispute in a workship, a quarrel with a foreman, a strike here and there, these are the result of the vicious propaganda of some evilly disposed person who goes to those poor simpletons the workers, exacerbates their grievances, rouses their blood and persuades them to go on strike. That is a complete distortion of the facts.
§ Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that what he has described actually takes place in the workshops and that this agitation by the Communist party is carried on in the workshops?
§ Mr. Bevan
I admitted in the first part of my case that the Communist party is conducting an agitation which, if it succeeded, would largely undermine the war effort. But we are not alienists, we are not concerned with people's intentions. We are concerned with what they are able to do, and it is my case that the Communist party and the "Daily Worker" have failed, are failing and will fail in an atmosphere of free discussion. There is no evidence to show, as far as I know, that the workers in the factories have been brought out on strike by any maliciously disposed person. If a worker strikes, he strikes because he has a grievance. There is only one of two ways of dealing with it—either redress it if you can, or, if you cannot, explain clearly why you cannot. Hon. Members will have realised that the workers do not cat, drink and sleep war. They have other interests that claim their attention, such as insufficient rations, low wages and bad housing.
Those are the things that affect the workers. They feel bitter about them and sometimes strike about them and quarrel about them, although they may be 100 per cent. supporters of the war. Why should action upon their part be regarded as sabotage and as subversive? The financial columns of the newspapers re- 471 port every day that many firms are going slow because the Excess Profits Tax destroys their incentive to production. Is that described as sabotage? If the matter is considered idealistically the one is as much sabotage as the other; but we must consider human beings in the round and not as logical abstractions. Those who went to the People's Convention would be the first to take up rifles if any German set foot in Great Britain. Idealistically, there would be contradiction between the two actions, but individuals are contradictory beings and often pursue two courses at the same time. Any of us may sit down to a big fat meal, as some of us do, and not consider that we are undermining the war effort. Hon. Members must try to maintain some sense of proportion in this matter.
There is nothing which will provoke a greater sense of dissatisfaction among the industrial population than the belief, which will now be distributed among them independent of the merits of the "Daily Worker," that a newspaper has been suppressed by a police act of the Home Secretary because it was expressing an unpopular point of view. The other day I had an argument with some prominent Communists about the People's Convention. I was opposing it. One of the objects of the Convention was the promotion and defence of democratic and trade union rights in Great Britain. I pointed out that there were no greater evidences of the vitality of democratic rights in this country than the publication of the "Daily Worker" and the holding of the People's Convention. I cannot say that to-day. The right hon. Gentleman has taken that reply away from me; he has taken the defence from me and given the case to our opponents quite unnecessarily. When a meeting is held in Great Britain to-day in support of democratic rights one name will spring to the lips of every person, namely, the "Daily Worker," and people will say, "Your democracy is so weak you could not afford the voice of opposition." The right hon. Gentleman has done a real disservice to the cause of democracy by the action he has taken.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
Did these thoughts occur to the hon. Gentleman when "Action" was banned?
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
May I make a friendly interruption to my hon. Friend? I am not influenced by the opinions of the House on one side or the other. I would like to ask him whether he is not aware, whether or not "Action" was technically suppressed, that in fact the Fascist party was brought to an end without a murmur of disapproval by anybody? The whole Fascist party was closed down, including "Action."
§ Mr. Bevan
I agree that that was the case, but I was answering the charge that "Action" was suppressed. It was not.
§ Mr. Baxter
That is a technical point.
§ Mr. Bevan
Wait a minute. The answer about "Action" is a simple one. The organisers of the Fascist party were direct allies of our enemies, and they were suppressed because of that fact.
§ Mr. Bevan
Will hon. Members try to restrain themselves? The Communist party has not been suppressed. We are not discussing the Communist party, but discussing the suppression of the "Daily Worker." Now that the right hon. Gentleman has decided to suppress the "Daily Worker" because it is undermining national morale and conducting systematic propaganda against the war effort, where does he propose to stop? Will it be illegal to say at a thousand meetings what the "Daily Worker" was saying every day? This is a serious matter, and the seriousness of it will come home to hon. Members in a few weeks' time. Meetings are arising in this country, all over the place, it may be stimulated by Communists, but supported by large numbers of people who, while they do not agree with the Communist at all, think that the "Daily Worker" ought not to have been suppressed. At those meetings speeches will be made attacking the right hon. Gentleman and the Government for what they have done. Those meetings will be held systematically for weeks and months, and statements will be made there similar to statements which were written in the 473 "Daily Worker." Will that be illegal? Will the right hon. Gentleman stop that? If he does stop it, we shall soon have the whole apparatus of the Gestapo in Great Britain. We shall have espionage, industrial espionage, and agents-provocateur. We shall have the whole apparatus of the "police State." It would have been much simpler to have allowed this propaganda to go on above ground where it could be met. If the right hon. Gentleman does not take action, he will find himself forced by exactly the same quarters as forced him to take action against the "Daily Worker."
I should like to ask next why the right hon. Gentleman did not make specific charges against the paper and take the paper into court? This House is not the place in which to discuss matters of this kind. On issues where feelings run so high and so deep we cannot have a judicial mind, and, further, the Whips are at work, and party loyalties are mobilised—against the welfare of the public. My right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), the spokesman for the Opposition, is moving the Amendment on the Paper. What is the symbolism of that? It is impossible for the House of Commons to discuss judicially a matter of this sort when party allegiance and party loyalties are ruled by the Whips and when the fortunes of the Government are bound up with the position. Why have we a judiciary which is independent of the House? Because that judiciary can, after a decent lapse of time, discuss an issue calmly in the austere rooms of a court of law, as little influenced as possible by political bias and prejudice and declare upon the facts without having any political aim in view. That is why it would be so much more desirable to take this matter to a court than to discuss it here. And the right hon. Gentleman is the very last person to have charge of this matter, because I am afraid that he has been fighting the Communist party for so long that he looks under his bed every night to see whether they are there. He is entirely unfit to discharge his duty judicially in this matter.
I have one other thing to say in support of my case. I have referred before to the powerful support which the Government have in the Press of the country. I shall not make any more 474 specific charge against the Press, but I would point out that during the last few days some newspapers which last Wednesday were fully satisfied that the Government had behaved correctly are much more doubtful to-day. The case of the right hon. Gentleman in respect of the "Daily Worker" is so slight that there is only one explanation of why he took action, and that is that it was intended to serve as an instrument of intimidation against the Press as a whole. I do not say that without some justification. It was only a few months ago that some newspaper proprietors, not after an official meeting of newspaper proprietors but, I imagine, after conversations with members of the Government, approached the proprietors of two very important newspapers in Great Britain with very large circulations. The Government, they were told, were very worried about the line they were taking. The proprietors of those two papers said, "If that be so, we should like to discuss the matter with the Government," and they saw a member of the War Cabinet. That member of the War Cabinet said—mark his words—that in his view the line taken by those newspapers was subversive—[Interruption.] Yes, the "Daily Mirror" and the "Sunday Pictorial"—and the Cabinet Minister was the Lord Privy Seal.
At that time the propaganda of those two newspapers, which were both supporting the war, was a propaganda against the unwisdom of retaining certain members in the Government. So closely do politicians, when they get into office, identify their welfare and reputation with the well-being of the State. When the Cabinet Minister was asked to point out in what respect the newspapers were subversive he failed to do so. He said their general line was subversive. The conversation ended amicably—but what, now, is the position? The law is whatever the Government like to make it, because no newspaper has a defence. If the right hon. Gentleman sends for the editor of a newspaper and says, "I do not like your newspaper, I do not like the way it is behaving, I do not like its general line," the newspaper editor may say, "Well, I am very sorry about that, but what do you object to, because if you object to any particular thing you have your remedy in the courts" "Oh, 475 no," says the right hon. Gentleman, "you will have no court to go to. I will stop you without going to court at all." The right hon. Gentleman may never take action against any other newspaper, but the damnable part of it is that that power hangs over every editorial chair in Fleet Street. So long as the Home Secretary can behave in that dictatorial manner, leaving the newspaper no chance of stating its case, he can do almost as much by intimidation and terrorism as by taking action.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
Surely the hon. Member has not forgotten the control of this House over the Government.
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. Member refers to the control of this House. We see what the control of this House means. It is one of the canons of British law that an accused person shall have a voice in his own defence; not that some other well-disposed persons can, if they so desire, speak up on his behalf. These are not merely democratic forms; behind these forms are five centuries of British history. Magna Charta, Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights are behind the right of every individual to appear in his own defence.
§ Mr. Garro Jones (Aberdeen, North)
Would my hon. Friend illuminate the House on this point: Who, precisely, would be brought before the House to answer for the policy of the "Daily Worker"?
§ Mr. Bevan
The editorial board; and not before this House, but before a court of law. They would have the opportunity of answering the charges. What do right hon. Gentlemen opposite mean by making speeches about the defence of democracy, if they think this position is right? The Prime Minister makes use of unexampled eloquence over the radio and talks about freedom and democracy. What does freedom mean, if not that men may not be yanked off to court by policemen without having a chance of defending themselves, and that a newspaper may not be suppressed without having a chance of being heard in its own defence? These are not idle forms; they are the citadels of our democratic institutions.
It is more important for us to fortify the souls of our people by confidence in 476 our democratic institutions than by this feeble, panic legislation. The right hon. Gentleman and his Government—they are all in this, I understand—have broken faith with the House of Commons. They received these powers from the House of Commons by what now appears a trick. They got them on 31st July last year. There was another Debate in this House at that time, and I shall not go into the details because another hon. Member is to do that. It was a Debate about the Channel Islands being in the hands of the Germans, and we were discussing this matter with imminent invasion over our heads—[HON. MEMBERS: "As it is now."] Do hon. Gentlemen suggest that the situation is desperate? Can it be more desperate than it was then? Even then, the House of Commons tried to prevent the right hon. Gentleman from having these powers, and he got them by saying that they were not intended to be used except in the circumstances then feared.
§ Mr. H. Strauss (Norwich)
For the sake of convenience would the hon. Gentleman point to the passages of the speech on which he relies?
§ Mr. Bevan
Certainly. They are to be found in the OFFICIAL REPORT for 3rst July, 1940. The right hon. Gentleman then said:The whole thing can be put in a nutshell. The reason why it seemed, not merely to the Home Secretary but to the Government, that a Regulation of this kind, admittedly very drastic, was necessary is this: the invasion, the overrunning, in a very short space of time, of Holland, Belgium and part of France brought home to us in a way it had never been brought home to us before that we in this country were exposed to perils of a kind that most of us had never before imagined.The right hon. Gentleman went on:What we have to ask ourselves, and what the Government had to ask themselves, before deciding to make this very drastic Regulation, was whether, if the direst peril we can imagine were to come upon us,…What is the direst peril that we could imagine could come upon us? Invasion.
§ Mr. Woodburn
And treachery inside.
§ Mr. Bevan
My hon. Friend will probably have the opportunity of making his own speech. The right hon. Gentleman went on—and his sentences are almost as long as those of the Prime Minister:it would be tolerable that there should at that moment, when the resolution of some 477 of the weakest among us might be shaken or be in danger of being shaken, be allowed even for a short time the systematic publication of matter calculated to foment opposition to the prosecution of the war to a successful issue." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July, 1940; col. 1320, Vol. 363.]I tell the right hon. Gentleman, in all fairness, that the House understood by that statement that he intended these very unusual powers to be used only in the circumstances then feared by the House, those of invasion. I admit that the higher critics can come along at this stage and, by violating the spirit but considering the letter, argue that some other interpretation is possible. Even conceding that point to the Home Secretary, it is clear that the House was very disquieted on that occasion. Some of my hon. Friends on this side went into the Lobby against the Government, of which their leader was then a Member—60 of them. The Government got a majority of only 38, the smallest of its majorities up to that time.
I submit that there is no situation of such peril, urgency and terror in Great Britain as was envisaged then, and that the Home Secretary has violated a pledge which was given to the House by his predecessor. The right hon. Gentleman is putting us in a very difficult position. Last Tuesday, his colleague the Minister of Labour brought in powers of industrial conscription, without any countervailing powers against property in Great Britain. On the same day, the Home Secretary suppressed the "Daily Worker." Unless he is very careful, and shows a stronger arm than he has done so far, he will be driving even greater inroads into democratic liberty, as a consequence of the action which he has now taken. The juxtaposition of those two events will have a significance which will be realised in every village and town in the country. That significance will be driven home by evilly disposed persons, who will point out that this is a sinister conjunction.
Those are two Labour Ministers. When the war began, I tried to persuade friends of mine, South Wales miners, to support a resolution. Part of the resolution was that we should support the war, and it was carried by a two-thirds majority. Another part of the resolution was that we support the war on two fronts, namely, that we fight against Hitler abroad and against privilege and reaction at home. We believe in winning the war on two fronts, but the right hon. Gentleman does 478 not. The Government are winning the war against us, and are making Labour Ministers the catspaws of reactionary policy. I say to Conservative Members opposite: You are doing a grave disservice to this State by permitting Labour Ministers to indulge the weaknesses of their temperament in their positions. You are doing a great disservice to the spiritual harmony and unity of this country in time of war. To my hon. Friends on this side of the House I say: For heaven's sake, take care where you are going. I few years ago we were accusing hon. Members on the other side of the House of leading us to disaster and to war because of loyalty to their party and to the old school tie. They put loyalty to their party above loyalty to their country. To-day they are asking us to do the same thing, to go into the Lobby, not because we believe the Government have done the right thing, but because our Ministers are involved. It is a great disservice.
It is because I detest the point of view of some of those who write in the "Daily Worker," because I believe that this is the worst possible way to treat them, and because I believe our case is good and can stand the light, that I believe that hon. Members opposite are doing a great disservice in driving these forces underground, in making them subterranean and subversive, where we cannot pursue them and expose them. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not consider that his political future and the future of his Government are involved in clinging to that error. We are living in very unusual circumstances. Ministers have to make difficult decisions in difficult circumstances. This House would not whisper a word of criticism against the Government if they said that the paper had been punished, that they would allow it to be printed again and would prosecute it in the courts where the facts could be known and where concrete charges would be their own propaganda against the paper. I submit that that can be done. If the right hon. Gentleman does not do it, I suggest that he is entering the third phase of the war. The first phase was when the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain ruled over this country disastrously. The second phase was when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) took charge and inspired the country, and the 479 third phase was when Ministers of whom we had a right to expect something greater lost their faith in democracy, lost their confidence in the ordinary people and tried to lead the country to victory by methods which have proven disastrous in other countries in Europe.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Barnstaple)
I beg to second the Motion.
I must begin by apologising to this House, because it must be the experience of many hon. Members that in asking intricate Supplementary Questions on the spur of the moment one is apt to get rattled and to use the wrong words. Last week I asked the Home Secretary whether he would take a course which would enable him to prove his damning indictment in court, but by mistake I used the word "damnable," and I was very properly stopped. I apologise, and I hope the House will excuse me.
I wish to raise a preliminary issue. I understand that this is to be made a vote of confidence. I submit to the House that it is important for us to re-think the whole question of raising issues of confidence in the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves. For the first time we find that, although many of us may criticise this item or that of Government policy, there is only one Member of this House who does not passionately desire the Prime Minister to remain Prime Minister. A vote of confidence means that the Prime Minister says to each Member of the House, "If you vote against me on this issue, you are expressing your desire that I resign." That, of course, is perfectly proper when there is an alternative Government in sight, as there was last May, when the late Prime Minister made the Norway Debate an issue of confidence. But now that everyone knows that there is no alternative Government in sight, I submit that to raise any issue to the status of confidence means nothing less than this, that the Prime Minister is allowing the Government Whips to call upon hon. and right hon. Members not to address their minds to the issue which is actually before them on paper, but to pretend that they must address their minds to another issue altogether, namely, the resignation of the Prime Minister, which everyone in this House in fact knows is not seriously open to discussion. If the House tolerates that, 480 then I say that as long as the present situation continues Parliamentary control over Government policy will be at an end, and therefore I appeal to all hon. Members who feel that our case is justified on its merits to treat this question of raising the issue of confidence as what it is, namely, a great piece of Whips' Office bluff.
My views about the "Daily Worker" are stated with sufficient accuracy in the first sentences of the Motion. If I had drafted it myself, I would have substituted "disapproval" for "detestation." But the point is a minor one. My view is based, first, on my own fairly general reading of the "Daily Worker," but also on the much more carefully considered judgment of another. It is quite easy to stamp on the "Daily Worker," but when a working man or woman finds that one paper is vigorously taking up his grievances, some of which are very real, it is a much harder matter to persuade that man or woman that the attitude of the "Daily Worker" to the war is in fact mistaken. The man who has done more work on those lines and achieved more successes on those lines than anyone else in the country is Mr. Victor Gollancz, and I quote his judgment with confidence:There is no doubt whatever that at every stage in the conflict the 'Daily Worker' has adopted a policy which can have no other intention whatever than to weaken the resistance of the people to the Hitler menace.Moreover—and these are not his words but mine—it has done so with, at times, an inconsistency which did not match the attacks made on the consistency of other papers. For example, in a recent issue, it proved by reference to the range of vision of the very best binoculars that the system of roof spotters could not allow workers enough time to get to their shelters. In a subsequent issue another column described the roof-spotter system under which the "Daily Worker" carried on up to the last moment, and appealed to its friends for a pair of binoculars. Of course, the "Daily Worker" and its friends can point to equal inconsistencies in other organs of the Press, but I would remind them thatexcept your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.Nevertheless, I would not have suppressed the "Daily Worker." Presumably the 481 Home Secretary feels that something is wrong with the national morale, otherwise he would not have acted at all. I rather tend to agree with him, but I do not think the trouble comes from the "Daily Worker." But if I had thought it came from the "Daily Worker," I would have asked the other national newspapers on what terms they would have allowed me to take the whole of their best advertising page every day for a week, I would have invited the editors of the "Daily Worker" and the "Week" to state their case in one half of the space, and I would have replied in the other half. Of course, in order to be quite certain of winning the Debate, it would have been necessary to invigorate a number of the Departments of Government which are dealing with internal affairs. But that is what I would have done; I would have done it because I know that 99 out of 100 people who call themselves Communists do not take this view from any desire that Hitler shall win, but from a belief, which I am convinced that 80 of the 99 can be made to understand is erroneous, that by weakening our war effort they will simultaneously weaken the German war effort and therefore the war will fade out in a victory for neither Government. Therefore, state the ease publicly, and you can recapture 80 out of 99 potential Communists.
What distresses me is that our Prime Minister, who has the military guts to strip this country of guns and tanks in order to make an impression on the minds of the Italian people and persuade them to desire to struggle enthusiastically against Fascism, has not got the moral guts to do those things which would persuade thousands of bewildered people in this country to desire to struggle against the danger of Nazism. What I have said so far is, of course, entirely a matter of opinion.
Now I want to come to something which I think is a matter of proof. It does not concern the merits of the "Daily Worker" nor a question of whether it should or should not have been ultimately suppressed. It concerns the method of its suppression. I can quite understand the Government Amendment to our Resolution, which says in effect that the "Daily Worker" was so horrible, anyway, that what does it matter how it was suppressed, so long as it has been suppressed? If hon. Members will 482 forget that they are being addressed by one of the most insignificant Members of the House, who has often raised unpopular issues and done unparliamentary things, and will consider his arguments divorced from his own personality, I think I can show that on the question of method alone turns the authority or subservience of this House and the liberty or bondage of the Press.
The House will remember that we first became aware of the possibility of dealing with publications of this kind in the early Spring of last year, whereupon the last Home Secretary dealt with the matter in a very commendable way. He asked an informal gathering of Members of all parties to meet, and with them he thrashed the matter out. As a result, he put before the House Regulations 2A, 2B, 2C and, most important, 94A, which were agreed. Under that agreed procedure the individuals concerned in a case of this kind were to be warned, then they were to be prosecuted, and then their presses were to be taken away from them. A few weeks later, without re-consulting that same committee of interested Members of all parties—which strikes me as an extreme breach of courtesy to hon. Members of this House—he laid before the House Regulations 2D and 94B, by which the Home Secretary has power, without warning, without prosecution, without hearing, without appeals, without anything, simply on his own personal "because I say so," to suppress any newspaper whatever. Upon this he was challenged, and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) has very correctly recalled the circumstances. The Home Secretary did not say that the powers he already had were inadequate for the circumstances as they were on 31st July, and the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) has given us our points, namely, that at this moment circumstances are not different in anything substantial.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I did not say that.
§ Sir R. Acland
I think if the hon. Member will look up his previous remarks—
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not think I am destroying my hon. Friend's point by pointing out that I did say, in my submission to the hon. Member for Ebbw 483 Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), that the danger of invasion is certainly no more acute than it was then; but, of course, I leave myself complete liberty, and I do not want to take the hon. Member by surprise in the least. If I have the good fortune to catch the eye of the Chair at a later stage in the Debate. I shall certainly point out that at that period aerial bombardment of this country had not started, whereas now we have been experiencing it for some time.
§ Sir R. Acland
I think the position is now perfectly clear. The then Home Secretary did not say that his powers were inadequate then, or in the present, situation. He did not say that if a newspaper were steadily and consistently conducting a course of propaganda for months, he and his advisers might neglect to issue the warning in time, neglect to initiate proceedings in time, and, therefore, might have to have recourse to this more drastic procedure. He said, as has been stated by my hon. Friend, that he wanted these powers in case they were necessary in the event of a physical overrunning of this country, and he got his majority of 98 to 60. I think it is legitimate to say that the present Home Secretary would not have had his present powers at all if his predecessor had not advanced this, the one and only, argument which is to be found in his speech.
Now what happens? When none of the supposed circumstances has arisen, when there is no physical overrunning of the country, when no one will contend that we are in our direst peril, when there is no reason why the Home Secretary should not have initiated proceedings six weeks ago, and when there is no reason on earth why he should not initiate them now and get them through, when none of these things has happened, he uses these powers. Perhaps he will tell us, as we cannot judge for ourselves, what is the number of weeks which the Law Officers advise him would be necessary, under the highest pressure, to get this prosecution concluded. Will he make a point of giving the House this information, because, of course, it must be in his mind?
I now come to the point made by the hon. Member for Norwich. Bombing has developed since 30th July. I quite 484 understand that, but surely the Minister is not going to shelter behind the bombing, which started at least five months ago? The "Daily Worker" developed its line about bombing—some of which was, incidentally, quite correct and better than almost any other newspaper's—about four months ago. The situation has developed progressively. There has been no sudden break; neither the Minister nor his advisers can say they have been taken by surprise. They could have forecast in every month what would be the situation in six weeks' time, and I submit that the Minister really cannot say that because his advisers neglected to pursue the proper agreed procedure in time, he is therefore going to make use of powers that were only given to him by this House for use in an entirely different set of circumstances. I ask the Home Secretary in his reply to address himself to this point. Of course, he has a number of other points to answer; but I hope that the House will be alert to notice whether he contents himself with taking the line of the official Amendment, that it does not matter two hoots how the "Daily Worker" is suppressed, so long as it is suppressed.
He must either say that when the Government are challenged by the House about certain points it is quite proper for the Minister concerned to tell the House any old story for the Government to get their powers in consequence, and for them then to snap their fingers at the House, to treat the House with contempt, and to use those powers just as if those special reasons had never been offered; or else he must raise himself to the height of popular esteem, by admitting that a mistake has been made, and by taking steps, as I am convinced that he can, even now, to deal with this matter by way of prosecution. If he adopts the first alternative, and says that that is the kind of thing that hon. Members have to accustom themselves to from the Government in these days, and that it will be a sign of great disloyalt[...] if any Member votes against him and the Government, he is saying that Parliamentary control over policy is ended until an official Opposition, which intends to oppose, is created on these benches. That is something which I am sure he desires to avoid. I know that the House would not think any the worse of him if he adopted the second alternative. I have 485 been criticising him because he has to take responsibility for everything that happens. That is the constitutional position.
The personal position is quite different. How can any Minister be expected, especially when he changes from one Ministry to another, to remember everything that has happened in this House in the past? But his advisers must know what has happened. If the Minister feels, as he must, that he has been put into a very awkward position in relation to undertakings given in this House by his predecessor, I suggest that he should make an investigation, in order to find out whose was the guiding mind which framed the Defence Regulations which this House unanimously rejected at the beginning of the war; who suggested that Regulations 2D and 94B might usefully be put in; who was responsible for framing the first draft of the Special Courts Act, which it took this House two weeks to bash out of the intolerable shape in which somebody had the impertinence to present it to us; who drafted the brief which was read to this House by the Attorney-General on 31st July; and who suggested that action be taken under Regulation 2D. There exists in the right hon. Gentleman's Department a little gang of misguided gentlemen.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
That is quite unfair; and it is an insult to me. I took this decision. I fully accept responsibility. [Interruption.] The decision was taken by me, in association with my colleagues of the Government, and we are responsible. It is a little off the mark to go behind the Minister, and to make an attack on civil servants.
§ Sir R. Acland
I am sorry if I have done something unparliamentary. I withdraw all I have said. But I am sorry about the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman, because it means that he did what he did having in mind the undertaking which was given.
§ Mr. Morrison
§ Sir R. Acland
I am very sorry to hear that. I have dealt with the way in which this issue will affect the power of Parliament to control a Minister unless a sufficient number—I do not say a majority, because everybody knows that we are not 486 going to get that—have the courage to go into the Lobby against the Government.
If I could address members of the Press Gallery directly I would say, "You are all in it." People say, "No, the Government will never suppress the News-Chronicle'". Of course not, but they may drop the hint that something the "News Chronicle" has said is causing them to consider whether some day they may have to suppress it or not. If it is said that the procedure of 2D and 94B is not to be used other than in the case of a physical overrunning of the country, if the Home Secretary will say that that is the position in relation to all other papers for the future, editors can deal with that Government bluff for what it is worth, remembering that it was newspaper criticism which gave us munitions in the last war. If, on the other hand, the House accepts this procedure, under which there is no chance of stating a case, the editors are powerless. I am talking about. something which has happened already. There has been a case already where prima facie evidence of a first-rate scandal was submitted to an editor, and he replied, "It is no use my investigating that, because we have been warned." Did the Home Secretary take that point? It is nothing new; we have mentioned these cases before. If the House is not going to protest against that, the Liberty of the Press is gone. I am prepared to call my witnesses in support of those statements, provided that I get a cast-iron guarantee from the Government that there will be no victimisation of those witnesses or of any of the papers concerned.
I should leave my argument incomplete if I did not say something which is bound to be unpopular with this House. I do not think that this House is a suitable tribunal to judge these matters. It is not a matter of conjecture, but a matter of proof, that on many of these issues this House does not represent the views of the country. It is quite certain that the views of the country on many fundamental issues have substantially changed since this House was elected. It is equally certain that no hon. Member except myself has changed his views on any substantial issue since this House was elected. If anyone has done so I have been unfortunate in missing the 487 obviously important occasion when he has said that any view which he previously held was wrong, or that circumstances had so altered as to make that view right no longer. I should make an exception in the case of the Prime Minister, who has also admitted error—but only by way of comment. Whatever may be the case on general issues, I say to the House, quite bluntly, that, if the cheers that we heard on Thursday are any indication of the Division we are to get in the Lobby tonight—which Heaven forbid—this House will not represent the views of the country on the matter. Perhaps it will be as well if I read some of this letter received from a private in the Army:As you are seconding the Motion as Member for North Devon, in which I am stationed, I wish to add my protest and that of many other soldiers against this blow against freedom. I can assure you there are many other members of the Ilfracombe detachment who resent the Government's attack. They include friends and opponents of the 'Daily Worker' policy, daily readers and people who rarely if ever see the paper, Socialists, Liberals, and even men who have supported the Conservative party.Look at the courage of this man; there ought to be some cross given for moral courage.My name and number can be used in any way to support your protest.It is Private Wallace, No. 7677785 in the R.A.P.C. I wish we had more people like him:As members of His Majesty's Army we have been told that we are fighting for freedom and democracy, and we are determined that freedom and democracy shall not be sacrificed, at least not without a struggle.I wonder if the Home Secretary would think it worth while to find out upon how much authority from serving soldiers in the detachment that letter was written. I make a more fundamental challenge than that. Last year I defended, against the wishes of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. A. Herbert), the right of the Government to employ the wartime social survey as an accurate means of assessing public opinion in order to found a policy upon it. I ask the Home Secretary whether he will invite the Ministry of Information to make a survey on these points. The Government resented these words when they were used last year. I am sorry that the Minister is 488 now using them with such relish. I am taking a great risk in inviting the Home Secretary to take this course, because everything will depend upon how this Debate is handled to-night by the Press and on the wireless. If they report only the Minister's attack on the "Daily Worker"—it will be very formidable, of course—I have no doubt the majority will be against the view that I am taking, but the result will be distinctly other than the one the House indicated by its cheers last week.
Finally, as the Home Secretary is convinced that everything in the moral garden is not just as lovely as it might be, may I submit that some day we have a Debate on the whole subject, if necessary, in secret? Meanwhile—and I cannot go into the points now—may I ask a few questions, particularly in relation to armament workers and to blitzed towns, which, by an unfortunate coincidence, sometimes happen to be in the same place? Why do the Government now neglect the advice of almost everybody who has looked into this matter that, even in a short time, you do not get maximum output by driving everybody at 100 per cent. pressure for 100 per cent. of the time? Is there anyone who has a real experience of industrial psychology within the confines of the Ministry of Aircraft Production who has a status within the hierarchy of the Ministry which enables him to tell Lord Beaverbrook where he gets off? Because if the answer to that is in the negative, it is absolutely futile to look at the "Daily Worker" for the cause of the present discontent. I reported some months ago a case in which, at a meeting of 1,000 armament workers—I attended the meeting myself, and I swear that not 10 of those who were present were Communists—men were putting forward complaints about the technical inefficiency of their factory. The Minister sent me a very nice letter assuring me that all my complaints were unfounded. Why did he reject my entreaties that something should be done in relation to this matter by going down and meeting the men—I gave him only a small indication of the data—and showing them that the Government appreciated the value of workers who took an interest in the technical efficiency of their factory? I am sure that since then the atmosphere in the factory has steadily deteriorated.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aircraft Production (Colonel Llewellin)
The hon. Member asked for an impartial tribunal. I went very fully into that case myself and had a very careful inquiry made, and I wrote a long explanation to the hon. Member. There was not a prima facie case for the inquiry for which he asked, and he will be as glad as I am when I tell him that the morale in the factory is extremely good at the moment.
§ Sir R. Acland
I appreciate that what I asked for in my letter was a full inquiry, but I hinted again and again that somebody who had some knowledge of industrial psychology should go down and see these men. I would have maintained that point if I had been 100 per cent. certain that a single plant was wrong. What is the status of the welfare workers in any one aircraft factory? Has the welfare committee the right at any time to say to the management, "No, you cannot do this, which seems to you to be the right thing, because, with our knowledge of industrial psychology, we inform you that it is the wrong thing from the point of production"? Is something concrete going to happen which can be presented to the people of this country, with the full weight of Government propaganda behind it, to prove to them that nobody is to be able even to try to pull this country back to 1939?
Until you deal with that matter, it is in vain to suppress the "Daily Worker." A strong Government would have dealt with the matter, and with other matters which I have just raised. It is the sign of a weak Government to deal with it in this way. Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister certain questions. Of course, I do not expect him to be here, but perhaps they may be reported to him. Will he call for the reports on all these matters which I have just been raising, and on many others dealing with the subject of morale which are now in the possession of Mrs. Adams' Department of the Ministry of Information, and which, I believe, are being kept from the Prime Minister on the grounds that they are not really important enough to justify taking up his time? I ask him also, Will he remember his own patriotic sincerity and certainty in the rightness of his own views when he was almost in a minority of one? 490 Will the House seriously deny that if any group of responsible Ministers had listened to his views open-mindedly for one hour in those days, this war might have been avoided? Will he then, please, admit the possibility that there are hon. Members in this House whose gratitude to him for what he has done in the last few months is second to that of nobody, who passionately desire that he should continue to be Prime Minister but who believe, with a sincerity that matches his own, that in the realm of national morale major mistakes are being made now which may cost us the verdict in this struggle and must postpone that verdict unnecessarily for months and perhaps years?
If he will admit that, I will make one further appeal to him. Will he allow some of us one hour in which we may put our case to him personally for him to consider it with an open mind? I must end by appealing to my great friend—my almost boyhood friend—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare. I quite understand his own position. He has to consider the merits of this case, and when he has made up his mind he has to consider whether it is an issue of such importance as to justify his voting, assuming that he is on our side. He may take one view or another, but I warn him that in war and in politics it is by acts of personal courage that we succeed.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith (Keighley)
I beg to move, in line 5, to leave out from "defeated" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:and while anxious that the principle of freedom for the expression of minority opinions shall be maintained so far as possible and that the minimum use shall be made even in time of war of powers of repression, recognises that special and effective measures must he taken against the habitual and persistent publication of matter which is calculated to impede the national war effort and thus to assist the enemy, and approves the action of the Home Secretary in relation to the 'Daily Worker' and the 'Week'.I am sure I am expressing in this Amendment the opinion of the great majority of those in the House, and I am bringing it forward because I feel that when a Minister of any Government has to take an unpopular course of action, with which we agree, we ought to accept the responsibility of unmistakably standing by his side.
§ Mr. Bevan
Does the right hon. Gentleman approve of every vote of the Conservative party during the last five or seven years?
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I think I have listened fairly to the arguments of the two hon. Members who have put forward their case at some length. What they say appears to me to come to this, that even if it is admitted that the "Daily Worker" ought to be dealt with, they contend that the Government should not have suppressed the paper by executive action, but that the proper course would have been to prosecute in a court of law. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) thinks that even now the Government ought to change from one process to the other. That, I think, is a fair statement of the main contention. To that I would reply that I do not think the method which the two hon. Gentlemen suggest is suitable to the particular problem which faced the Home Secretary. This movement does not consist of passionate social reformers who every now and then commit an occasional indiscretion which can be dealt with by an occasional prosecution. It consists of attempting steadily, day by day, with large sums of money to expend, to undermine our national effort on the psychology plane, which in this war is almost as important as the battlefield itself.
I do not propose to quote extracts, as I do not wish to speak at any great length. I need not deal with the early days of the war, but before it began there was no newspaper so ferocious as the "Daily Worker" in attacking the Government for not standing up to Hitler, and, indeed, on the day before war broke out, when, as hon. Members know, there seemed to be doubt as to whether the Government were going forward, the "Daily Worker" issued a manifesto calling the country to action in order to push the Government into war. Three weeks later, when Poland was divided up between Germany and Russia, they suddenly turned in their tracks—they double-crossed those who had followed their lead —and ever since then have developed what, I think, it is necessary really to understand, the thesis laid down by Lenin for Communists in time of war. It is this thesis which is called revolutionary defeatism. Now the thesis of Lenin's doctrine was this, that in a war between two Powers, neither of which is Com- 492 munist, such as Great Britain and Germany, such a war was merely a war between two rival imperial groups, and Communists were equally hostile to both. Therefore, the duty of Communists in each State was to try to defeat its own Government, and even though Communists in the other State were not to succeed in similar efforts, nevertheless, the Communists in each State were to conduct a war for the defeat of his State on his own front. That is the doctrine of revolutionary defeatism with which we have to deal. It is no use saying, "But this is a war for political liberty," because the Communist creed has no place for political liberty. It advocates political liberty in an Amendment on the Order Paper, but only so that it may destroy political liberty when an opportunity comes. The whole Communist creed is that when it can it will deal with its political opponents with a merciless ferocity comparable with that of Nazism itself. So we are dealing not with passionate men who stray over the line, but with a conspiracy, a sixth column, whose endeavour it is to impede our efforts at national survival.
In those circumstances, I say that the Government are entitled to take action against attempts of that sort in the middle of the war. It is not disputed that if the Communists are trying to impede our war effort, the Government are entitled to take action, but what is said by those who are opposed to the Government's action is that that action should not have been under Regulation 2D, but under Regulation 2C, which involves certain judicial processes. Looking at the facts, I would say that if action has to be taken, it is more appropriate to this particular case to take it under a regulation which enables one to close the newspaper, and particularly not to allow it to reappear under another name or another guise, which the other regulation would not prevent. The two hon. Members who have spoken have advocated action under Regulation 2C; let us examine what that Regulation is. It states that the Home Secretary shall first give notice in writing to the newspaper that action will be taken against it unless it corrects its articles. The Home Secretary then has to wait to see whether the newspaper again gets over the line, and if it is foolish enough to do that, the Home Secretary has to 493 prosecute. I suppose that with the amount of time that would have to be allowed for appeals, the whole procedure would take between six weeks and two months. Then, if the prosecution were successful and there were a fine imposed, or even a sentence of imprisonment, the paper would still go on. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes. It could still go on under another name, and then the whole rigmarole would have to be gone through again.
I do not think this procedure would deal with the problem, even if the newspaper were not allowed to go on after a verdict had been obtained, because as I read the situation it would not be necessary for the newspaper ever to publish any one article which by itself would break any regulation. That indeed does not seem to have been the technique which has been adopted. But if a newspaper day after day gives the whole of its space to the inevitable dislocation arising out of the war, the hardships arising out of the blackout, the evacuation of population or the delays on the railways, the hardships arising out of problems of soldiers' leave or even the inevitable mistakes which the Government may make—if a newspaper gives the whole of its news to these things and never criticises Hitler, and if, indeed, when Hitler commits some new act of aggression it tries to explain it away, as the "Daily Worker" did the invasion of Norway, when it said it was a reply to our gross breaches of international law—if a newspaper does these things, then in the end it produces a distortion of views about the war which will impede our war effort without breaking any single regulation, and will do so by the very methods which I think Dr. Goebbels would probably recommend.
These are serious times. We have to counteract such attempts in the most speedy and effective way, and the most speedy and effective way of doing so is under Regulation 2D and not under Regulation 2C. I notice that both hon. Members seemed to suggest that even if the newspaper was conducting an agitation which, if it succeeded, would impede our war effort, nevertheless Ministers should not use their executive powers which the House has given them. I would point out, however, that it is now clear that one of the reasons democracy in Germany 494 perished was that Ministers there were afraid to use the powers which they had on paper. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), in particular, appealed to us on behalf of democracy, and said that this action under Regulation 2D was an abandonment of democracy. I do not agree in the least. I think that when Parliament has given powers to a Minister and that Minister exercises those powers and brings his action for Debate on the Floor of the House, and asks for it to be finally judged by a vote in the House, that is just as democratic as would be shifting the matter on to a judge in a court of law. The vast majority of those with whom I usually associate support the action of the Home Secretary, and they support it particularly, not perhaps on any ground which I have so far stated, but on one simple, instinctive ground, which is that they believe the object of the "Daily Worker" is to slow down our war production and, therefore, they support any action which may be necessary to counter those who are endeavouring to deprive the men in the Forces of the means to defend their lives.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Many of us here took part in the pioneer days of the Socialist movement. I am quite certain that, in those days, any Member would have hotly and indignantly repudiated any such suggestion as that he could foresee such a situation as this arising. I have met, in this House and outside, very many Liberal intellectuals. They have protested to me their devotion to the Press and to the freedom of speech, and time and again they have said that they would defend the freedom of the Press and freedom of speech even on the part of their bitterest enemies, and even if the expressions were of the most obnoxious views. And now the "Daily Worker," one small paper, has been suppressed. Any amount of prejudice can be aroused in time of war, and the speech to which we have just listened is a speech to arouse prejudice and to destroy judgment. Why did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) refer to the Lenin thesis? Why did he not refer to his own thesis, which I will read to him? It is the thesis of Members of this side of the House, it is his own thesis and the thesis of the Secretary of State for the Home Department; 495If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary representatives in the countries involved, supported by the co-ordinating activity of the International Socialist Bureau, to exert every effort in order to prevent the outbreak of war by means they consider most effective, which naturally vary according to the sharpening of the class struggles and the sharpening of the political situation. In case war should break out anyway, it is their duty to intervene in favour of its speedy termination and with all their powers to utilise the economic and political crisis created by the war to arouse the people and thereby hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.… Proclaim your will in every form and in all places; raise your protest in the parliaments with all your force; unite in great mass demonstrations; use every means that the organisations and strength of the proletariat place at your disposal. To the capitalist world of exploitation and mass murder, oppose in this way the proletarian world of peace and fraternity of peoples.That is his own thesis. It is the thesis of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and it is the thesis of the Lord Privy Seal and of the Minister of Labour. It is so easy to make a speech of the kind to which we have just listened, which is approved and supported by the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
What is the date of the thesis?
§ Mr. Gallacher
1912. Why did the right hon. Gentleman not give the date of Lenin's thesis? Lenin's thesis was prepared following and on the basis of that resolution. The issue before us is the question of a small daily paper, the only paper in opposition to the Government. I am sorry that the ex-Communists should try to distract the attention of the Minister while I am speaking. It is very significant that the Minister surrounds himself with ex-Communists—one at his side and one behind—in order to get what inside information he can. But the question is that of the only national daily paper in this country which was definitely opposed to the Government. Every other national daily newspaper in this country is now in the hands of the big millionaire financiers, and this is the only daily newspaper owned by the workers, run by the workers, and maintained by the workers. The Home Secretary is in a position now where he can have his agents in the trade unions, the co-operative societies, the Labour movement, and the Communist movement. He can obtain information of all kinds, and he 496 knows all about the finances of the "Daily Worker." The main thing is that it is the one daily paper opposed to the Government. The millionaire Press brags about its great circulation, and the millionaire financiers have not only that enormous circulation, but they have the monopoly of the B.B.C. Again I say that the one small daily paper belonging to the working classes is suppressed.
As has been pointed out, it is significant that on the same day there are two actions—conscription of labour and suppression of the "Daily Worker." I asked a question at a terrific meeting in St. Andrew's Hall on Saturday night, and I put it to the Home Secretary. I ask the Home Secretary, Is it not the case that this action coincides with and is intended to suppress opposition to conscription of labour introduced by the Minister of Labour? I said to the audience that the Minister of Home Affairs replied that there was no connection between the two actions, and there was a burst of laughter which almost brought down the building. I can quite easily enter into a discussion on all the political matters which have been raised. The reason for this action is not only to arouse political prejudice but to distract attention from one simple issue. The "Daily Worker" has opposed the Government all along. Why take action now? Anyone who goes around the country can feel that a big change is taking place and that there is lack of confidence in the Government. It is recognised that a special attitude has been adopted towards the Prime Minister, but, apart from that, no one can say that the Government have the confidence of great masses of the people—very much the reverse—and because of this growing feeling of opposition this action is taken against the "Daily Worker."
The Mover of the Motion said that, when the attack was made on London by the German bombers, and when the worst effect of it was felt, the "Daily Worker" had not been able to break the morale of the people. It never attempted to break the morale of the people. There is continual talk about the "Daily Worker" exploiting grievances. There is a world of difference between exploiting grievances and proposing remedies—[Interruption] I do not like the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) chipping in. He 497 referred to the "Daily Worker" as indecent, yet he wrote an article in a Sunday paper recently in which he referred to Mussolini as a second-class brain. He debated with me at Manchester University two years ago on the policy of the National Government and presented before the students the late Neville Chamberlain and Mussolini as the two greatest men in Europe. Do not talk about indecency. Think of your own moral, political and journalistic prostitution.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter
I remember very well the debate at Manchester, in which the hon. Member was even more violent and less logical than usual. I described what I had seen at first hand, Mr. Chamberlain's visit to Rome, and I prophesied then that the good that would come out of that would be very great, and I still think that prophecy will come true.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I was dealing with the statement that the "Daily Worker" had killed morale. The "Daily Worker" not only did not try to break morale, but I assert here, before the shelter queen or anyone else, that the "Daily Worker" played a very big part in strengthening the morale of the people of London. It advocated and encouraged the opening of the tubes and tunnels. It was the first to advocate shelter committees in order to unify and maintain the morale of the people. Will the Minister deny that? The actions and campaigns of the "Daily Worker" did an enormous amount to strengthen the unity and the morale of the people of London. The facts are on record. The tubes and tunnels are open, and the committees are in existence. With regard to factories, sabotage has been mentioned. Sabotage is a crime, and we are not criminals. Never in the history of Communism has there been a Communist who has advocated, approved or participated in sabotage. It is utterly inconceivable. We have supported workers in the factories who have grievances. It is said that the Communists are responsible for agitation in the factories and are behind the shop stewards. There was agitation in the factories in the last war, and there were shop stewards, and there was no Communist backing. The Home Secretary and the Minister of Labour were supporters of the shop stewards during the last war.
498 Men and women do not go out on strike because someone asks them to go, or agitates. It is a most serious question for a worker to go out on strike. Would any Member for any constituency say that if I and all the finest agitators in the Communist party went to their area, we could bring pits or factories out on strike? Workers come out on strike only when they have a grievance which they feel cannot be settled in any other way. In any strikes which have taken place since the war started the root cause has been the rotten organisation in the factories. One of the reasons for its suppression is that the "Daily Worker" has exposed day after day the rotten profiteering and the corruption in the ruling class, especially among the employers. It was so bad in some places that it had to be stopped. It was stopped in Rootes' factory, where there was every kind of wasted effort and delay—men doing nothing when they ought to have been employed. In a great aircraft factory in the Midlands during December 26,000 hours were lost through waiting time—men finishing a job and hanging about waiting for another. The "Daily Worker" day after day has exposed the disorganisation of the factories and the fact that it is the employers who are responsible for it and for the failure to get effective production.
The "Daily Worker" has exposed, and is entitled to expose, the financial corruption in this country and the game that financiers are playing. Read the financial papers and see what is going on. Did they come forward when there was an appeal for interest-free loans? Did they came forward in response to Sir Robert Kindersley's appeal for the 2½ per cent. loan? Was any conscription applied to them? Can the Home Secretary show me one instance where the rights and privileges of land and property have been interefered with? The "Daily Worker" has exposed that. It has carried on a consistent campaign for bomb-proof shelters, which was the policy of the Secretary of State before he became a Minister. When he became Secretary of State he took over the job and policy of his predecessor. The "Daily Worker" has carried on a campaign, all the time to unify the effort of the people and strengthen their morale. I will not ask the Tory representatives in 499 the Government, but I will ask any Labour representative, what is the one mighty force that can maintain a stand against the advance of Fascism? It is a powerful, united, independent working-class movement. That is what the "Daily Worker" has always advocated.
Mention has been made of Norway. Before Norway was invaded, the Communist Press was closed down and the Communists were hounded by the Tories. Quisling was not a Communist; he was a friend of the Tory party and a Commander of the British Empire. While the Communists were being hounded and suppressed, Quisling was preparing the Nazi victory over Norway. In regard to France, I would like to quote what is familiar with most Members. Tom Clarke, writing in "Reynolds Newspaper" on 30th June, 1940, said:Before Petain put out the light in France he put out the newspapers, and then, while the people were blind and deaf to what was going on, he signed away their independence.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said on 30th June:I hear rumours that there is a disposition in high quarters to emulate the folly of the French Government in fettering the Press and persecuting the free expression of opinion. It is said that our Government contemplate a more rigid censorship and there are hints that those who indulge in criticism may be roughly handled. A policy of that kind would be sheer madness.In France the suppression took place. I would remind the Home Secretary that at the Labour conference last year a gentleman named Blum justified the suppression of "Humanité" and the gaoling of the Communists, and declared, to the cheers of the assembled delegates, that France was united for victory. He went back to France with the cheers of the Labour delegates ringing in his ears, and walked into a concentration camp. The betrayal of France by the ruling class was being carried out while he was speaking at the Labour party conference.
The "Daily Worker" has fought consistently for a united, independent working-class on the question of shelters, and against conscription. It has fought on the question of wages and the cost of living. It has worked consistently on the lines set out by the hon. Member for 500 Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) when he spoke the other day in the House about the fact that the big monopolies were stepping in everywhere and getting a death-grip on the State and the people of this country. There is not a control of any kind in the country but is in the hands of representatives of the big monopolies. The "Daily Worker" has fought against that. It has fought for a clear policy in relation to food instead of the disorganised food control that is depriving the people of the necessaries of life. It has advocated the taking over of all food stocks and the taking of country houses and big hotels for use as rest homes for soldiers and evacuees. It has advocated the taking over of food stocks and the appointment of a real democratic committee to work out a policy to ensure that the masses of the people have adequate supplies. The "Daily Worker" has drawn attention to the grievances of soldiers and their dependants and put forward proposals on their behalf. On many of them, concessions have had to be made. There is not a grievance of any kind affecting workers, soldiers and their dependants, the aged and the impoverished which the "Daily Worker" has not ventilated and for the remedy of which it has not put forward concrete proposals. Because of this, the influence of the "Daily Worker" has been growing throughout the country. There is nothing subversive about it.
If two Tory Ministers had got up in the House, and one had put forward the conscription of labour and the other had put forward the suppression of the "Daily Worker," they could never have got those proposals through. It has taken two Labour Members, two representatives, presumably, of the working class, to carry through these measures of reaction. It cannot stop there. The policy of appeasement has always been a hopeless failure. The Tories have always been howling for blood and they do not stop howling when a concession is made to them, such as the suppression of the "Daily Worker." They howl the louder. The Minister cannot stop there. It is not just a question of the Communists. The hon. Member who spoke from the Liberal benches said that the Government might go to the "News Chronicle." I wonder whether Members are aware that there are certain strong forces in this country which believe that there should be only a 501 very limited number of national newspapers. The "News Chronicle" is not one of them, nor is the "Daily Herald." Either the Minister goes back on what he has done, or he will be driven more and more by the forces behind him towards the Nazification of this country. There has been talk about our attitude before the war and since. Before the war, when the Labour leaders put forward the policy of collective security, they were accused of being "out for war." They always repudiated this, and the present Secretary of State for Home Affairs said in a pamphlet:Sometimes Members opposite have accused us wrongly and unjustly of desiring war with Germany and Italy. It is untrue, and they know it is untrue.Now the Labour leaders pick up that Tory slander and use it against the Communists. The "Daily Worker" carried on campaign after campaign for a peace front in this country, for a union of the peace forces throughout Europe. It is true that at the outbreak of war we were affected by our intense hatred of Fascism, by our intense hatred of Hitlerism.
§ Mr. Thurtle
Not for long.
§ Mr. Gallacher
It is still true. We hate Hitlerism in whatever form it may manifest itself. On the editorial board of the "Daily Worker" are four lads who were fighting in Spain against Hitler and Mussolini when the Members of this House were supporting Hitler and Mussolini through the treacherous policy of non-intervention. And many more of our lads are lying dead there. Do you think we forget those lads? Do we forget our comrades in the concentration camps in Germany? [Interruption.] No. Do not raise these confusing issues. These are matters for political discussion. The Minister may have one opinion and I may have another. We may have deep differences politically on how a question of this character should be faced. Members here know that I hold strong views on some things and that they hold strong views on others. I have never been averse from discussing them, but what are we coming to if, when we disagree, some Members are in a position where they are able to bring in a policeman and say, "That is finished"?
Many times I have disagreed with the Minister. On many occasions, during the last war especially, I was in very close agreement with him, and at that time the 502 Minister thought I was a nice little fellow. Not the Minister himself, but representatives of the group with which he was associated, came to see me in Glasgow to get the shop stewards together. J. R. MacDonald, who was Prime Minister on two occasions, came to Glasgow—the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) knows this is true—to get me to bring the shop stewards together in order to discuss what we could do in order to strengthen the fight on behalf of the lads who were suffering as conscientious objectors. But that business has died away. That is only another digression. I say that differences in political outlook, and different interpretations of different issues, are subjects for political discussion and not for the policeman. I charge the Minister with having allowed political prejudice and the drive from the big millionaire Press and from big monopoly capitalists to affect his judgment. He has taken a step that can easily lead to disastrous consequences as regards the freedom of the Press in this country.
I always say that I will not allow any digressions to sidetrack me in my speeches, but sooner or later some crop up, and now I want to read a short statement which I have been authorised to read. It is a very short statement on behalf of the editorial board of the "Daily Worker." I am authorised to declare that the "Daily Worker" is prepared to face any trial and to answer any alleged charge of contravening the law. I ask the House to insist upon the removal of the ban upon the "Daily Worker," and express our readiness to discuss any questions of news presentation which it is. alleged has led to the present suppression of the "Daily Worker." Last week I asked the Minister whether he would receive a deputation to discuss the question. I asked him to receive representatives of the "Daily Worker" board to put the cards on the table. Let us face the question whether it is or is not possible to run a small and independent working-class opposition paper. That is the all-important question at the moment.
§ Mr. Erskine Hill (Edinburgh, North)
Some hon. Members seem to think that there is great prejudice here because there is no possibility of an appeal to a court of law. The point was taken up, I think, in the last Debate by the Attorney-General. It goes so far to the root of the 503 matter, that I shall preface my few remarks by asking the House to consider for a moment the effect of Regulation 94B. The House will remember that it gives the Home Secretary power to make an order for taking possession of the printing press under the control of any person and belonging to a newspaper. The Regulation says that when the Home Secretary is satisfied that the newspaper comes under 2D he may make such an order with respect to the printing press or presses, as the case may be, under the control of that person, as is authorised by paragraph (1) of 94A. That takes us back to the procedure under 2C, and gives an appeal to the court. If my hon. and learned Friend opposite will look at the Regulation—
§ Mr. Pritt
I have looked at it several times. Unless the press is owned by the newspaper, the person cannot go to the court.
§ Mr. Erskine Hill
Perhaps my hon. and learned Friend would like to see the passage from the OFFICIAL REPORT in which the Attorney-General, dealing with the matter, said:The right of appeal under 94A to the court, which is a limited right, will exist if action is taken under 94B."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1940; col. 1335, Vol. 363.]If my learned Friend will do me the justice of looking at it for himself, he will see that 94B refers back to 94A, and that there is exactly the same right of appeal.
§ Mr. Pritt
I was making one very small point, which is that the only person who can go to the court is the owner of the press, and that if the newspaper does not own the press the newspaper cannot go to the court.
§ Mr. Erskine Hill
There is the same right of appeal as that which was raised in the last Debate, when the Home Secretary was asked to consider making the two rights the same. They are the same. There is a further point. It is clear that, in that Debate, the Home Secretary was given a discretion, and I cannot see what use it is to give the Home Secretary a discretion unless he is to be entitled to exercise it. I can find nothing in the Debate —and I have read it over several times—which would prevent the Home Secretary from exercising that discretion. What the House may be entitled to ask is, not 504 whether he should have proceeded in that particular way at all, but whether he exercised his discretion properly when he did so. In other words, do the passages complained of make it a proper exercise by the Home Secretary of his discretion? That, I submit, is not a difficult question for the House. It is not only the most appropriate Regulation which specifically deals with the question of newspapers but it is the only one to do so.
There was precedent for it in Scotland in the last war, in the case of the suppression of the paper known as the "Vanguard," and I can give the House that information not because of my legal knowledge but because I was one of the soldiers sent to suppress the paper. I can therefore support the fact that there is nothing new in the action of the Home Secretary. But supposing I was wrong and supposing the Home Secretary had to choose between the slow action of 2C and the much more effective and quick action of 2D, in these times, which hon. Members have been saying are times when anything may happen quickly, surely we must all support the Home Secretary in taking effective action if he is to take action at all. I want to tell the House of the delays that happen. You give notice to a man that you are going to proceed against him under 2C if he persists. That man may mend his ways for a few weeks; he may delay indefinitely, and then at the most critical time of all, when you most want the support of the publication for the national war effort, he commits a crime when it is too late to deal with it. You then have to proceed with the comparatively slow methods of the law, which are meant for times of peace and not for times of war. You must proceed by indictment. It is some time before the case is heard. There may be an appeal from the decision. All these things take time, and when the nation is in danger there is no time for that sort of thing. I want briefly to run over the sort of things which have been said, in this case, in order to indicate how well advised the Home Secretary has been in the action which he has taken. On 24th September the leading article said:The torpedoing of 85 children between the ages of 5 and 15 years last week is a horrible event. All these children and other innocent people are the victims of a bloody struggle which will go on as long as the people permit 505 the rulers of the Empires, in Berlin, London and Washington to continue their desperate conflict for the mastery of the riches of the world at the expense of the working people of the world and even of their children.That would only affect London, because I cannot imagine it being read throughout Germany. On 29th October, when Greece came into the war, this is what was said:British workers are being asked to lay down their lives for poor little Greece. The Greek rulers are no more worth dying for than the rulers of Poland, Finland, Rumania, etc.What could discourage the workers more from working for our cause than that sort of thing? Something has been said about men fighting to save this right of free speech. I wonder who is more the enemy of free speech in this country—Hitler, Stalin, the Communists or my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary?
There are many hon. Members who, like myself, have sons fighting in this war, and we should be appalled at the thought that this sort of talk—and if it were not for the shortage of time I could give innumerable other instances—might cause your children and mine, now in the active line, to have to face the danger of shortage of supplies. Could any action be more calculated to delay and impede the war effort? So, is it possible to think of a more suitable case for the Home Secretary to use every power he has in his hands? I support the Home Secretary in every way in the action he has taken. I would only say that he has acted none too soon, and I am sure he can count on the support of the great majority of this House if he has to take further action arising out of the action already taken—particularly, if, as a result of his action, efforts are made in the works to retaliate for what has been done, I hope he will proceed even further, because I am certain that, throughout the country, the people are counting on the Home Secretary and the Government to take action to see that the young men of this country who are fighting for us are not let down by talk which is subversive and dangerous, and to which in time of war an end must be put.
§ Sir Percy Harris (Bethnal Green, South-West)
Though I have put my name to the Amendment now before the House, I am glad we have had this most interesting Debate. It would be a very bad day for Parliament and democracy if a paper could be closed down without discussion 506 in the House of Commons. The liberty of the Press is the life blood of Parliamentary government. But unlike the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), not even the Mover of the Motion could defend the recent policy of the "Daily Worker." He asked the House of Commons to express its destestation of the propaganda of the "Daily Worker" in relation to the war in words which were really stronger than the Amendment. The reason why hon. Members find fault with the Government, as I understand it, is in regard to the procedure followed. The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down has put up a very strong case for the use of the powers exercised by my right hon. Friend. As far as I am concerned, my prejudice is always in favour of the procedure of a court of law and, in my traditional conservatism, in favour of respect for tradition. If the other machinery had been followed it would have been slower, but there is every reason to believe that in the end the result would have been the same.
It is true that the powers under Regulation 2D were given to the Home Secretary after very considerable discussion, and that there was a Division in the House when those powers were asked for. I do not think anybody in the House likes this kind of procedure. It savours much too much of the Gestapo and puts too much power in the hands of a Minister. Perhaps since the Minister has now exercised those powers, the Regulation might be amended. It would meet a good deal of the criticism, if the accused were brought before a court of law and given the opportunity to prove that they had no desire to foment opposition to the prosecution of the war.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
That is precisely what the accused person could have done if the Home Secretary had proceeded under 2C and 94A instead of under 2D and 94B.
§ Sir P. Harris
I appreciate that; but I am not prepared, at what is probably the most critical period of the war, to fall foul of the Government on a question of procedure. No doubt, the Home Secretary will show why he found it necessary to use this more autocratic but quicker procedure. It is a very poor consolation to the hon. Member for West Fife, 507 but surely we can assume that the other machinery might have been put into operation many weeks ago, and that the results by this time might have been the same. The nation is fighting for its existence, and for everything that makes life worth living. I have had to swallow during the last 18 months many unpleasant truths. I have had to swallow Regulation 18B, which is an attack on rights far more ancient even than the liberty of the Press. Those rights go back to Magna Charta and the principle of Habeas Corpus. There are few people who doubt that something of the kind is necessary in this war. We have had to swallow conscription, which was against the principles of most of us—certainly, against my principles—but nobody doubts that in the peculiar circumstances of this war it was necessary to mobilise all the man-power of the nation. Every soldier called up under the Military Service Act has to forfeit all his liberties and all his rights. It does not seem much in those circumstances to submit to the use of this machinery, provided that the Home Secretary can make his case. He has already stated a case, when he was challenged the other day at Question-time. I looked to him now to explain why he has thought fit to use these quicker, but more autocratic, powers.
I think that the Debate has been a warning to the Home Secretary that the House is keeping a watchful eye upon him, and that he must be sparing in the use of these powers. The Government must expect to receive much Press criticism. It was criticism which brought down the last Government. Criticism is good for all Governments. After a time Governments without criticism begin to feel that they cannot do wrong. I think that the House is entitled to a specific guarantee from the Government that all these infringements of the liberties of the subject will be swept away with the armistice. After the last war D.O.R.A. lingered on for many years, although the need for it had expired. If the House is now to give a vote of confidence to the Home Secretary we have a right to ask, first, that these autocratic powers shall be used with discretion, and, secondly, that when the war is over, and the need for such powers is at an end, they shall be completely swept away.
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
I will not follow the right hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) into an investigation of how much anti-Liberal stuff a Liberal can swallow. There seems to be no limit to what a Liberal can swallow nowadays. This is a Debate about the "Daily Worker" and the "Week." Nobody has said anything about the "Week." I do not want to take up much time with it; I want only to point out that it is a publication which has been suppressed, which has told the country a great many things from time to time which the country would not otherwise have known, and that the suppression is something which ought not to be wholly ignored. I want to say that. Naturally I am speaking mostly about the production of the "Daily Worker." I suppose it is really commonplace to say—and I hope that it is not an injustice—that at least 90 per cent. of the people who will go into the Government Lobby this evening have not seen a copy of the "Daily Worker" for months.
§ Mr. Liddall (Lincoln)
And do not want to.
§ Mr. Pritt
And do not want to, so long as they can vote in complete and utter ignorance of anything that is involved. I will tell you a little about the "Daily Worker," and I will tell the truth, although it will no doubt lead to many laughs when I say that it has a circulation several times that of the membership of the Communist party.
§ Mr. Liddall
Who pays for them?
§ Mr. Pritt
You will hear the facts one by one if you will keep your silly mouths shut. The actual number of people normally reading it is very much larger than its normal sale. I have had to investigate this very closely myself in circumstances which, while not political, are litigious, and it is very important for accuracy. It is financed entirely, as far as it is not financed by the sales of its copies, and the very modest amount of advertisement revenue, by bona fide subscriptions from innumerable members of the British public, who, incidentally, do not include myself. I have never given it a penny except what I have paid for my daily copy, nor the "Week." There is no doubt that for many years, indeed, 509 I think, during the whole course of its career, it has not been subsidised by anybody or even had large subscriptions from anybody, except possibly that hysterical person Mr. Victor Gollancz, who for some strange reason the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir. R. Acland) thought could reinforce his views. I do not agree with everything in either the "Daily Worker" or the "Week," but I support the newspaper in general, and I certainly could not vote for a Motion which started by saying —[Interruption]. I do not want to take up time by making more than half the speech that I have prepared. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not know whether any reasoning can appeal to the chatterboxes opposite, but I will try the one most likely to appeal to them, that if they do not keep quiet, I will make the whole of the speech. But for the moment I will proceed to my half.
The "Daily Worker" has very often been right, and very often it has been the only newspaper that has been right. Let me take one very remarkable illustration. Last summer there was an appeal to the workers of the country to work overtime for long hours for seven days every week, and to forgo holidays and so on. The whole Press supported it, and the Government stuck to it. The "Daily Worker," and the "Daily Worker" alone—never mind its motives, personally, I think they were good—said that if people were compelled to do so, it would reduce output. Every industrial psychologist in the world, and every factory manager in the world, knew perfectly well that the "Daily Worker" was right; and in due course all Ministers, as they always do, began saying, not that the "Daily Worker" was right, but that it would be wrong to ask the factory workers to do all that.
The hon. and learned Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine Hill) asserted that the "Daily Worker" by saying that the Greeks were indulging in an Imperialist war was leading to a diminution of the output of ammunition. The output of ammunition has been diminished ten times as much by the stupid mismanagement of the factories as it could ever be diminished by anything the "Daily Worker" says. That really is the picture of a very great deal of what is said in defence of the "Daily Worker" by 510 people who agree, and by those who do not, that if you do not have criticism you will continue to have stupidity, waste and inefficiency in factories, thus actually diminishing output.
I want to say one other thing about the "Daily Worker." Professor Haldane is the chairman of the editorial board of the "Daily Worker." Some papers say that is by some strange chance and, of course, like to explain it away. But it is not by strange chance; it is by deliberate choice. Who is Professor Haldane? He is one of the two or three greatest scientists in the world and one of the most intelligent people in England. [Interruption.] You will get the whole speech if you are not careful. Professor Haldane, for many months during the war and before it, has almost daily risked his life in dangerous experiments for the benefit of this country, and when the Home Secretary sent somebody to serve a notice on him I should not have been a bit surprised to have been told that he had been taken out of some appallingly dangerous poisonous tank to have the notice served upon him. If Professor Haldane is a traitor, let us have a few more traitors. Not a single article by the "Daily Worker" has been picked out for condemnation. One of the strongest speakers against it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), who said, I think, that there was no article which could be picked out—
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I did not say that.
§ Mr. Pritt
Well, it does not matter what the right hon. Gentleman said anyhow. [Interruption.] I want to deal with this, because it is a significant fact—
§ Mr. Logan
Deal with it as the House wants it to be dealt with, not as if you were in a court of law.
§ Mr. Pritt
It is a very significant thing that no article can be picked out. The hon. and learned Member for North Edinburgh quoted articles in September and October, and one other Member quoted an article from an issue of September, 1939, and another on some date in the summer of 1940. The Home Secretary will be the first person to tell us that he did not act on those in January, 1941; and the significance of no particular article being quoted is this, and here, if I may, I would like to speak as a lawyer for a 511 moment. If you make any particular charge against a person or paper or anybody else, and you have to confess that you cannot adduce a single instance and merely say that there is a general tendency, you are regarded by lawyers as not having much of a case. If a statement of claim were made on those lines, it would be struck out on the ground that there was no case at all. That is a very significant condemnation of the Government's case.
I want now to say a few words about the various allegations that are in terms made against the "Daily Worker." It is said to be pro-Hitler. I have read it for a very long time, but I have never been able to find a single passage that could possibly be said to be pro-Hitler.
§ Mr. Thurtle
Those who are not for us are against us.
§ Mr. Pritt
The doctrine of the hon. Member who interrupted seems to be that the Government should suppress any newspaper unless it shouts jingoism all the time. Then, it is said that the "Daily Worker" advocates the immediate stoppage of the war. It does not, although there is a strong body of opinion in this country which does advocate the immedate stoppage of the war. It is to be found in the upper classes, and the main guarantee against that body is the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, although I do not want to give him any bouquets any more than he wants any from me. But I would not trust that body for one moment unless there was somebody to look after it. It is then said that the "Daily Worker" advocates sabotage in the factories. A simple answer to that allegation is that it does not. Another answer is this: Do you not suppose that if it could be suggested at all plausibly that something in the "Daily Worker" advocated the deadly offence of sabotage, even this Government, which shuns the courts like the devil holy water, would immediately have to prosecute the "Daily Worker"? I suggest that to tell the public—I do not think the Home Secretary does so, but many people do —that this newspaper does these things is very foolish. It is calculated very much to impede the war effort if you tell the whole world, and incidentally tell the Ger- 512 mans, that a newspaper is following those serious lines when at the same time everybody knows that newspaper has a circulation very little smaller than that of the "Times," larger than the "Manchester Guardian," larger than the "Yorkshire Post" some time ago, although it may have gone up. To tell the world untruly at one and the same time that the newspaper is advocating sabotage and that it is having a large and increased sale is to impede the war effort. It was noticeable that the Press did much the same thing about the People's Convention. The Press started by saying that it was a wretched stop-the-war agitation, and then when it saw the very large support which the People's Convention was obtaining in the country, the Press told the truth and said quite plainly that the People's Convention was not advocating the immediate stopping of the war but the obtaining of a majority in the country to put a People's Government, by legitimate means, in the place of the present Government.
I am anxious not to say anything that has been sufficiently said already. For that reason I can probably pass over some of the things I might have said about the "Daily Worker" exploiting the grievances of the public. If every newspaper in the country were exploiting grievances, the "Daily Worker," while not worthy of suppression because it was also doing so, would be a far less important newspaper. But when you have rallied the whole Press of the country on one side and left the "Daily Worker" alone on the other, the "Daily Worker" would be neglecting its duty if it did not give a legitimate voice to grievances. I think the Home Secretary said that the "Daily Worker" exaggerated those grievances. I do not know how he judges that, because it is not he who is suffering the grievances, but other people. The grievances should be voiced and public opinion should be left to work out whether they are fair and honest or not, and certainly a newspaper should not be suppressed because it is thought that the way in which it deals with the grievances is an exaggeration.
That brings me to a cardinal point. There are grievances in this country, but I do not want to discuss them at great length. The cardinal point, and the thing of the greatest importance to the 513 House and country, and the thing in regard to which the suppression of the "Daily Worker," however carried out, has a very ill effect, is the question of how you are to deal with grievances. There are two ways and both of them are pretty old. The older and simpler one is to ignore the grievances and suppress statements on them, and, if you can manage it, ill-treat the people voicing them. It is the easiest way to win a quarrel and the easiest way to lose the world. If you can only suppress grievances you can carry on for a time, but we know some of the results from what has been done in France and in Germany. The other way to deal with grievances is to ventilate them, and, of course, remedy them. It is very nice to think that you might be able to remedy them without ventilating them, but unfortunately life does not work that way.
The moment you suppress criticism of any Government, whether it be because it is weak, or because it is an enemy of the working classes, or a friend, you diminish efficiency and diminish the chance of getting grievances remedied. In effect, you are doing exactly what has been often described as putting a plaster over a boil and pretending it has been cured. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is what they are doing in Russia."] If you get me on Russia goodness knows how long I shall take. I will keep off Russia and if possible off interruptions. The Home Secretary tells us as one of the reasons why the "Daily Worker" ought to be suppressed that it is because it was pretending that our hardships and sufferings are unnecessary and that our Government are callous and selfish. But people who most fully and absolutely accept the war in all its implications still think there are unnecessary hardships and sufferings which might be diminished or spread over the rich classes, that there ought to be greater efficiency, and that, for instance, shipping might be put to better use. Unless there is a right of criticism, you destroy your own efficiency and your own war effort. That, bluntly, is the position. The Home Secretary by suppressing the "Daily Worker" is to all intents and purposes wiping out the whole public expression of criticism in this country. I do not say that every newspaper will not offer criticism from time to time, but they can 514 be cajoled, warned and knighted. There are a million ways of securing that a newspaper will not attack the Government, when everyone knows perfectly well that by allowing people to attack the Government immense improvements would be made in national efficiency and not the reverse.
There are many simple-minded people who take an almost Sunday-school view of the functions of the working classes in this war. They want the working classes to give up their wages, to give up their conditions, very often to give up their homes and abandon the whole of their rights, to submit patiently to industrial conscription, to suffer all the evils of inefficient air-raid protection, to see their shop stewards who might have protected them removed one by one from their work. They want the working classes to put up with profiteering and rising food prices, and the inefficiency, jobbery and waste that they see going on all round them in the factories, and to watch their employers carefully building up their own positions, carefully withholding their processes from their competitors so that their position after the war will be perfectly strong. They want the workers, simply and quietly, to submit to the whole of that in the name of patriotism, and the more widely we can persuade the workers to do that, the happier will Colonel Blimp he, and the more you can suppress the "Daily Worker" the easier it will be to cajole some of the working classes. To do that greatly diminishes the war effort, in which hon. Members opposite profess to be so interested. It leads to inefficiency and not efficiency. It leads to loss of spirit and not to courage.
People talk, rightly, about the vital necessity of building up and maintaining the spirit of the country. You cannot build up the spirit of the workers by getting them to submit to what I have described. You have to tell them what is to happen to them. They hate Hitler all right. They hated Hitler while people opposite were slobbering over him and building up his strength. But they also hate the oppression of themselves by the ruling class of this country. Many of then want to know what is to happen now and they all want to know what is to happen afterwards. They do not think it is a choice between submitting to Hitler and submitting to their own ruling class. 515 Unless you give them something to fight for you will not have their spirit behind you. The Home Secretary once said that everything depends on victory. They say the "Daily Worker" is weakening the will to victory, but they are weakening the will to victory if they do not tell the country what is to come out of it. What is to come out of victory? They would like to know what their future is to be.
The last time they were told it was a war to end war. They are suspicious of these phrases. What does Lord Halifax tell them now? He says that at the end of the war we are to co-operate with others to reconstruct the world so as not to have another war. It is the same thing seven times as long. If you want the working classes behind you, you have to let them see that they can have a decent world, and you will not let them see that if you will not allow propaganda for Socialism and Communism to be carried on side by side with propaganda for everything else. There are many people inside the House, and among the Government's backers and supporters, who would rather have Hitler than Socialism. If you go on like that, you will destroy the moral of the country.
I have taken up a good deal of time—(Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear")—and there seems to be some division of opinion in the House as to whether I should go on or not. I will, therefore, say only this one thing more. It is not a peroration and it is not very important, but it is something which I should have said earlier, and in cutting down my speech I missed it. Among the evils which will be caused by this suppression is the driving of this movement underground. I will not mention the place or the date, although no doubt the Home Secretary knows it, of an incident that has come to my direct personal knowledge in the reaction of the working-class to the suppression of the "Daily Worker." There is a factory somewhere, making something—unless the employers are too inefficient—which normally buys 501 copies of the "Daily Worker." On the morning after the suppression it bought 2,000 copies. To be frank, no doubt much of the purchase was due to curiosity, but the fact remains that 2,000 pence were paid for 2,000 copies. A meeting of protest was held and the 516 workers protested, by 2,000 votes to one, against the suppression of the "Daily Worker." By its own decision the meeting added half-an-hour to the normal dinner-hour stoppage in order to make its protest. I hear somebody say "sabotage," but all the working-class in the world could not do as much sabotage in 12 months, as the profit system does in five minutes.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
It is perfectly proper that this discussion should have taken place. I, as Home Secretary, am responsible for the suppression of a newspaper, and I never thought that I should "get away with it" without challenge or criticism in the House of Commons. I was glad that the Prime Minister agreed, although he knew that only a small minority of the House was making the challenge, to give facilities for the discussion. The Debate has been, with the exception of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), one of speeches of democrats to democrats. The hon. and learned Member made no particular claim that way and did not argue that point. Apart from that, those who have supported the Motion have rather argued the case as democrats for democrats. I am bound to say, from what I know of them, that some of them are rather exceptional and peculiar democrats. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was very strong on the point of democracy. He and I, with great friendship, have often differed in the Labour party, and he and I enjoy an argument. At one Labour party conference he kept me arguing until 4 o'clock in the morning. My hon. Friend and I have had great experience of Labour party democracy. If I wanted to find one distinguished member of the party who, more often than any other, has set aside the democratic decisions of the majority of his colleagues, I think I should choose my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale. Therefore, his democracy is rather skin-deep. He speaks of democracy for himself and not so much for the other fellow.
Then I come to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). He and I belong to different political parties, but he is quite right in saying that we have never hated each other, although we have disagreed about many matters. My hon. 517 Friend was eloquent in the cause of democracy, the cause of the liberty of the Press, and the liberty of the subject, and was very condemnatory of any action by the Home Secretary which invaded those principles—principles to which I certainly subscribe as heartily as he does. But I have looked up the records of this House, and I find that far away in the days of peace, on 5th November, 1936, the hon. Member for West Fife was not too much concerned about the liberty of the subject, or taking people or papers to the courts of law, or giving them the right to argue their case. This was not in a critical emergency; it was in the relatively palmy days of peace. On the date mentioned the hon. Member put this Question to the then Prime Minister:whether he will allot a day of Parliamentary time to discuss the refusal of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to ban the recent attempted march of the British Union of Fascists in the East End of London, which ultimately had to be prohibited by the Commissioner of Police after the assembly of blackshirts in the area had already led to disturbances; and whether, in view of the fact that this organisation is of a semi-military character, the Government will order its immediate disbanding?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1936; col. 235, Vol. 317.]
§ Mr. Gallacher
§ Mr. Morrison
I would readily give way were not my time very limited, and if my hon. Friend will take it from me, as from one debater to another, he will do no good whatever by intervening in view of what is there in black and white. Then I come to the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith. I was very watchful, as he no doubt expected I should be, because he knew I was taking this point and I had warned him that I should refer to him in this Debate. He wanted to know what my reference would be; I kindly told him. I did not much like doing so, but I thought I had better. He did not plead the democratic case, nor plead that this matter ought to have gone to the courts of law, nor did he argue that it was wrong for Ministers to have these powers of administrative law which were very strongly—and I do not complain about it—condemned by the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) and referred to with some apprehension by my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris).
518 The hon. and learned Member for Hammersmith, whatever else he can claim, cannot claim to be a reasonable opponent of Ministers acting by administrative law: he cannot reasonably complain that we have not gone to the courts of law; nor can he reasonably stand as an upholder of the purity and the fairness and the complete divorcement of the Executive and the British judicial system. The basis of the argument behind this Motion has been the view that the judicial machine is independent of the Executive, and that when the Executive wishes to fetter the rights of the individual or the rights of a newspaper it should go to the courts, which are independent of the Executive. That is a perfectly fair argument, which I well understand, but I was very pleased indeed to find that that argument was not used by the hon. and learned Gentleman. Remember, he speaks not only as a distinguished lawyer, but as, at any rate, a very close associate of the Communist party, on the whole a very warm supporter of its policy, on the whole a very warm supporter of its newspaper. Of course, he has been a close associate and a warm supporter of the Communist party for some time. The Communists argue that we ought to have gone to the court. They have written to hon. Members of this House to the effect that I ought to have taken the case to the court, but the hon. and learned Member does not argue that case. I will tell the House why: because he knew that I knew what he had written in 1933—a very significant year. This is what he wrote, on page 173 of a book published, by the way, by Mr. Gollancz, who has been referred to.
§ Mr. Morrison
He has been referred to in rather scathing terms by the hon. and learned Member. This is what the hon. and learned Member wrote:The experience of Russia should, of course, be neither ignored nor slavishly followed"—this was in his more moderate days—but, in certain respects, it is of great value and on consideration of the whole available material, the following recommendations are made"—These are made for British application—(1) Judges, under the new régime, should be appointed from year to year by the Executive.519 Note, "from year to year."They should not necessarily be practising advocates but should possess a knowledge of law, sociology, criminology, and political economy, tested by examination. They should be civil servants, under a Ministry of Justice.Then follow (2), (3) and (4) which are not particularly relevant. Then it goes on:(5) They—that is to say, the judges—should be responsible like any other civil servants for any breach of their duties.What is that but a glorified Home Office? Why should the Home Office be condemned in time of war—
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not.
§ Mr. Morrison
It happens to be legitimate and relevant, perfectly relevant. The hon. and learned Member advocated in time of peace, policies and principles of judicial administration which are abhorrent to me, and which I would not accept. When we apply a kind of administrative law, under critical conditions, in times of war—not exactly what the hon. and learned Member advocated in that book, but nevertheless, somewhat resembling it—why should he and his friends, or at any rate his friends, grumble about it? I am sure that the hon. and learned Member would he perfectly willing, if he has not already done so, to give good constitutional and legal advice on these matters. I suggest that he start by giving it to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher).
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. Member for West Fife is quite able to look after himself.
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not need to make quotations from this newspaper although I have them here. Its line is well-known to the House. It would take too long to do so—and we have all been in the same difficulty this afternoon. My right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), who made an admirable speech, was also in that difficulty. It is unnecessary to give extracts. Everybodys knows, even the promoters of the Motion—with the exception of the hon. 520 Member for West Fife and the hon. and learned Member the Member for North Hammersmith—
§ Mr. Morrison
I quite agree. I am sorry. The supporters of the Motion have not argued that the "Daily Worker" is innocent, nor have they admitted that it was a fit subject for suppression. They argued neither one way nor the other; but they condemned the action in stern language. Therefore, I will not make those quotations which it would be relevant and important that I should otherwise do. An hon. Member mentions the "Week." It was much less important and was circulated by a gentleman who has one name in the "Daily Worker" and another name in the "Week." The policy is the same. The whole thing is more or less identical. Let me put this as one of the most contemptible and dangerous things which the Communist party has done. After almost every air raid on the great cities of our land, air raids to which the working people of this country have stood up with magnificent courage which has evoked the eternal praise and admiration of everybody, when homes have been destroyed, when families have been killed—or part of them killed, when disaster and suffering has descended on the humble households of our cities—[HON. MEMBERS: "And others."].
§ Earl Winterton
It has happened to everybody, the whole country.
§ Mr. Morrison
The Noble Lord is a bit fidgety to-day. I am dealing with a particular matter and I am dealing with it in my own way. This is a paper which is arguing to a particular class of the country, and that is the relevance of my observations. Humble homes have gone and have been smashed up. What does this newspaper do? What do the soulless and cynical politicians behind it do? They go to these brave people who are suffering domestic disaster and family misery, and they say: "All of it was utterly unnecessary and need not be. It is because a cruel capitalist Government want to make profit for the profiteers and to further Imperialistic ends. All your suffering is without necessity and without purpose." Could there be anything more cruel and more cynical than deliberately to say that to the people at that time? 521 And yet it has been done. The Communist party is the last party on earth to claim the privileges of democratic rights. They do not believe in democracy. The hon. Member for West Fife, as a Communist, cannot believe in democracy. For him and his political friends it is an outworn bourgeois creed of the nineteenth century.
§ Mr. Gallacher
That is a misrepresentation.
§ Mr. Morrison
It really is sheer nonsense and snivelling hypocrisy for the Communist party to talk of the rights of democracy and of judicial process. Heaven knows we have been patient, and a great many hon. Members, including the hon. Member for West Kensington (Sir W. Davison), have thought we have been too patient. This has been going on since September, 1939. They were warned by my right hon. Friend the Lord President when he was at the Home Office in July, 1940. No one could say that we were impatient. Indeed, the hon. Member for Barnstaple says that I did not act as soon as I might. He asked, why did I not act earlier under 2C? With that I will shortly deal. But we came to the conclusion, not out of political prejudice as my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale suggested—
§ Mr. Morrison
I am sorry, but that was the clear implication from my hon. Friend's words. He will be able to see it in the record.
§ Mr. Bevan
Indeed, my right hon. Friend and I are too much on terms of personal friendship for me to say that. I said that it was unfortunate that he did this because he has long been engaged in a vendetta against the Communist party.
§ Mr. Morrison
I ask the House to accept my assurance that, when I deal with these matters involving political parties, whether Communists or Fascists, I forget that I am a politician. I handle these matters judicially, and as impartially as I can. Anyhow, we came to the conclusion that we must suppress. It was carried out with perfect courtesy. The police report says that there was great courtesy both on the side of the paper and on the side of the police. No 522 animosity was shown, and everything went off smoothly.
There was, however, one incident. Hon. Members have been talking about what the workers think about this. I know as much about the workers as does the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down. Indeed, I flatter myself I know much more about them. But let me quote a real son of the proletariat, a real working-class man who was on the inside of this job, working in the machine room for the production of the "Daily Worker." He was there when the police arrived and suppressed it, and he had a friendly word with one of the police representatives who went on my behalf to stop the paper. This is what he said. There is a big bad word in it, but I am advised that if I quote it, it is all right. I would not have thought of using the word in the House otherwise. But it would be a pity to leave it out, because it is a real proletarian expression. This man said to the police—and this is the working class speaking:I have been expecting you police for some time. I am just here to earn a living and do not agree with the politics of those bastards upstairs. Twice we went on strike down here to get them to alter something in the 'Daily Worker' we would not stand for, and we had the heads down here to settle the matter. They took out what we did not want.That beats the Home Office hollow.
§ Mr. Isaacs (Southwark, North)
Will the right hon. Gentleman permit me to say that as general secretary of the union to which these people belong I can endorse that? They have stopped publicatior many times.
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Member for West Fife has often advocated the dictatorship of the proletariat. I hope he will not complain when the dictatorship of the proletariat arrives.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is it not clear that there is a measure of toleration at the "Daily Worker" that you would not find anywhere else?
§ Mr. Morrison
I belong to this union too, and I can assure the hon. Member that if the "Daily Worker" tried to pick and choose their machine-room staff according to their political opinions, my hon. Friend the general secretary of the union would be called in; therefore, it is not virtue, but necessity. There was a 523 perfectly fair point put to me by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, namely, Why did I act at this moment and why did I not wait? My answer is this: I thought it highly probable that, sooner or later, there would be trouble with this newspaper. Is it, in those circumstances, wise to wait until the damage is done? They were trying to do the damage—proceeding to undermine morale. Is it wise to wait until they are partially successful —to wait until the horse is gone before you lock the stable door? Is it not best to act, subject to proper consideration, before that takes place? [Interruption.] My own restraint has been considerable, and so was that of my predecessor.
§ Mr. Silverman
You might have had the restraint of a court.
§ Mr. Morrison
I came to the conclusion that it was not fair to wait until actual damage to morale had been done, and that it was far better to anticipate the possibility of damage. I suggest that that was a wise course. The other argument is that this is following in the footsteps of France. It is the exact opposite. I wonder that aspect has not been seen. France at the beginning of the war struck at the Left—if it is the Left, for I never admit that the Communist party is a party of the Left: I think it is a party of the Right, a party of reaction. In France they did not strike at the Right. If I may say so, with respect, I think that they ought to have done so.
In this country we struck neither way for months. It was not until May, 1940, that the Government struck at the Right. We were in a position of great danger. The Government struck at the Right, with the almost unanimous consent of the louse of Commons, and of the country. Not until now has there been interference with what is pleased to call itself the Left. That interference takes the form of action against a newspaper. Therefore, the story of Great Britain is the opposite of the story of France. I do not say that by way of apology; I say it because I am proud of it. I believe our country to have been right in the way that it has handled these matters.
There is another point, namely, the speech of my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council on 31st July. 524 He based his defence of Regulation 2D, in part, on considerations of invasion. I think his argument has been mistaken. I think it was this—that Regulation 2C was passed in quieter times, and that in the new circumstances, when invasion was an imminent possibility, and a great danger, we must have a new Regulation. It was the new circumstances which justified the new Regulation. He was not arguing that new circumstances would have to arise before the Regulation was used. My right hon. Friend has written this to me:What I did was to emphasise the difference between conditions at the time of enactment of 2C, when the risk of invasion had not begun to materialise in people's minds, and the situation at the time of 2D. I emphasised the possibility of the more dilatory procedure of 2C under invasion conditions; and these conditions have certainly not passed away. Who can say with confidence that if we were now to embark on the long train of action contemplated in 2C the gravest emergency might not be upon us before the necessary action had been completed? And to use 2D after action under 2C had been started would obviously be open to great objection.I think that that is a fair interpretation of what my right hon. Friend said, in a Debate of which he had only about an hour's notice. And I think that it is the justification of the action which has been taken. The warning that he gave has been mistaken in some quarters which have thought that it was a warning under 2C. It was not; indeed the warning specifically mentioned 2D, and not 2C.
§ Mr. Bevan
Does the Home Secretary realise that his argument means that, in all circumstances, he is bound to use the summary powers, because at any moment an invasion might take place after he had started proceedings?
§ Mr. Morrison
It must always depend upon the circumstances of the case, the nature of the publication, the person concerned, the outlook for a particular procedure, and so on. The Home Secretary must be free to take either procedure, and I ask from the House full authority to use either procedure according to what I consider expedient and in the national interest.
Let me summarise the procedure under 2C and consider how long it would take. I must first watch the paper for a systematic offence. That was done, and there is no doubt about that in anybody's mind. Secondly, I must issue a warning. Thirdly, I must watch again, because they might wish to put themselves 525 right, and I must give three or four weeks to observe the behaviour. If the offences continue, I ask the Attorney-General for consent, and for him to institute proceedings. You go into court if you prosecute the individual or individuals but not the newspaper. There is legal argument. There is the case in the court of summary jurisdiction, very brief; then you go to the court of assize, or, in London, the Central Criminal Court. There could be, I understand, an appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal and, with the consent of the Attorney-General, an appeal on a point of law of public importance to the House of Lords. Somebody asked me to give the courts a time limit. I have no power to bring pressure on any court at all. The procedure might take two months, three months or four months.
§ Mr. Silverman
You have had 18.
§ Mr. Morrison
I know, but it is a curious argument for the hon. Member, of all people, to say that I ought to have started 18 months ago.
§ Mr. Silverman
§ Mr. Morrison
That is not government in time of war. It is playing the fool with government in time of war. It might apply to the unfortunate German Republic under the Weimar Constitution, where decision in government was lacking and weak, and where, as a consequence there were unconstitutional bodies and revolutionary parties and disturbers of the peace. After all, people should learn from the lesson of Republican Germany. [An HON. MEMBER: "You should have learnt it!"] I have learnt it, and I am applying in this office, the lessons I have learnt. The fact has to be faced that in conditions of war or of crisis, there may have to be some check on the ordinary safeguards of liberty in time of peace, or liberty itself will be entirely destroyed. When all that is done, and if a conviction has been secured, what has been accomplished? Some person or persons may have got no more than seven years' penal servitude, or a £500 fine, or both; I want the evil to be got out of the way; mere imprisonment or fining does not do it. The Secretary of State has powers to stop the press, subject to appeal to the High Court. He can stop that press. But there is nothing to prevent the proprietors of a 526 newspaper getting hold of another press next day, starting the thing all over again and leaving the Home Secretary to start all over again. That procedure, in these conditions, is childish. It really is inoperative in the sense of being an effective instrument for the purpose.
It is not that I have dodged a tribunal. I am on trial to-day; the House of Commons is hearing arguments. I quite agree that it is not a judicial authority and that if this was a point of law instead of what it really is—a point of public policy—I would prefer to go to a court of law. But nobody can say that I have dodged a tribunal. For reasons which I have indicated we have thought it right to act under 2D.
The paper has had its chance to state its case for months past. It has stated its case since its suppression with vigour. It has circularised Members of the House of Commons, written to me and has sent telegrams. Nevertheless, here we are, and in the light of its knowledge I suggest that the House of Commons will come to a conclusion. I want to assure the House that action was taken neither by me nor by His Majesty's Government with any alacrity. I do not like suppressing newspapers, but this publication had become a public scandal. It really was a disgrace to print it in time of war. We acted with amazing patience until we though it had to go. I can assure the House that I have no wish to suppress newspapers for the sake of doing so. This action was taken with great regret. We do not wish to stop the Press criticising the Government. Plenty of papers criticise the Government, and I want to say that I have been annoyed sometimes. People are sometimes annoyed when they are criticised, but we would never dream of using our powers to stop criticism. But I do say this: In the case of a newspaper —to take an extreme case even though it was supporting the war—if that paper was steadily and systematically engaged in such a policy that it was perfectly clear that it was trying to sabotage the war effort, or that all its activities were calculated to have that effect, I must retain the right to deal with such a case on its merits. Moreover, this imperfect procedure of 2C applies not only to papers but to leaflets, and I hope the House will permit me to consider whether these powers are reasonable and sufficient for 527 the circumstances we are facing at the present time. I can, with all earnestness and conscientiousness, add this: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air said, in a broadcast which was reported in the "Listener" on 29th August—and this is my position, the position of the Prime Minister and His Majesty's Government:It should be our common concern to ensure that our civic liberties are not put in jeopardy and the Prime Minister has authorised me to give you this message. It is the intention of His Majesty's Government to preserve in all essentials a free Parliament and a free Press, and that all these emergency measures which restrict the liberty of the subject shall disappear with the passing of the emergency and that the new offences created by the Regulations under the Emergency Powers Act and extraordinary powers entrusted to the executive will vanish with the advent of victory and peace.That is the spirit of this administration. We have faced very critical times and invading bombers day after day and night after night. The only time we have really gone far in the exercise of these
|Division No. 3.]||AYES.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Silverman, S. S.||Mr. Aneurin Bevan and Mr.|
|Pritt, D. N.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Horabin.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Denville, Alfred|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Doland, G. F.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Brooke, H.||Drewe, C.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Bullock, Capt. M.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Burke, W. A.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Butcher, H. W.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.)||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Elliston, Captain G. S.|
|Assheton, R.||Cadogan, Sir E.||Emery, J. F.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Cape, T.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Carver, Major W. H.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Cary, R. A.||Errington, E.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Erskine-Hill, A. G.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Cazalet, Major V. A. (Chippenham)||Etherton, Ralph|
|Batey, J.||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Charleton, H. C.||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Churchill, Rt. Hn. Winston S. (Ep'ing)||Everard, Sir W. Lindsay|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Cluse, W. S.||Fleming, E. L.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Collindridge, F.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Colman, N. C. D.||Foot, D. M.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Conant, Capt. R. J. E.||Frankel, D.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'rS.G'gs.)||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Bennett, P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Cooper, Rt. Hon. T. M. (Edin., W.)||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Benson, G.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Garro Jones, G. M.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Gibbins, J.|
|Bevin, E.||Crowder, J. F. E.||Gluckstein, L. H.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Culverwell, C. T.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Gower, Sir R. V.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Davison, Sir W. H.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Brass, Sir W.||De la Bère, R.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Broad, F. A.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
§ powers is in the case of the Fascists on the one hand and this newspaper on the other. I wonder whether there is another country in the world, whether there is any totalitarian country in the world, that could stand up and have a record like that in time of war. Therefore, I give the House all assurances. The duties arising from the great powers with which I am entrusted, from the great office which I am proud to fill; I will discharge with care and with restraint, but with circumspection. However, having given thought, having discharged my duties with care and restraint, when I come to the conclusion that I must act, believe me I shall act with decision and with speed, believing that the House of Commons desires that to be the spirit of this administration.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 6; Noes, 323.
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Maclay, Hon. John S. (Montrose)||Silkin, L.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mainwaring, W. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.|
|Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Maitland, Sir A.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Martin, J. H.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Mathers, G.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Somerset, T.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Medlicott, Captain Frank||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Harbord, Sir A.||Milner, Major J.||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)|
|Harland, H. P.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Montague, F.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Stewart, W. J. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Headlam, Lt. Col. Sir C. M.||Moore-Bra[...]azon, Lt.-Ct. R. Hn. J. T. C.||Storey S.|
|Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Morgan, H. B. W. (Rochdale).||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Strickland, Capt. W. F.|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Stuart, Rt. Hn. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Heneage, Lt. Col. A. P.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Summers, G. S.|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan||Mort, D. L.||Sutclifle, H.|
|Hepworth, J.||Nall, Sir J.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Naylor, T. E.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hewlett, T. H.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Hicks, E. G.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)||Thomas, W. S. Russell|
|Hill, Dr. A. V. (Cambridge U.)||Nield, B. E.||Thorne, W.|
|Holdsworth, H.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Thurtle, E.|
|Hollins, A. (Hanley)||Nunn, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Oliver, G. H.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Holmes, J. S.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Owen, Major G.||Touche, G. C.|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Paling, W.||Train, Sir J.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (H'ckn'y, N.)||Parker, J.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Peaks, O.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Pearson, A.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Peat, C. U.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Walker, J.|
|Jackson, W. F.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Jagger, J.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Power, Sir J. C.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|John, w.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Johnstone, H.||Procter, Major H. A.||Waterhouse, Capt. C.|
|Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Purbrick, R.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Pym, L. R.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Key, C. W.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Weslon, W. Garfield|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Rankin, Sir R.||Westwood, J.|
|Lathan, G.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Law, R. K.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Lawson, J. J.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Leech, Dr. Sir J. W.||Rickards, G. W.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Riley, B.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Ritson, J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Levy, T.||Robertson, D.||Willink, H. V.|
|Liddall, W. S.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (M'ham)||Wilmot, John|
|Lindsay, K. M.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Windsor, W.|
|Lipson, D. L.||Rowlands, G.||Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lloyd, Major E. G. R.||Ruggles-Brise, Col. Sir E. A.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Loftus, P. C.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)||Woodburn, A.|
|Logan, D. G.||Salmon, Sir I.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Salt, E. W.||Woolley, W. E.|
|Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard||Samuel, M. R. A.||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Lyttelton, Capt. Rt. Hon. O.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Wragg, H.|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Schuster, Sir G. E.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Scott, R. D. (Wansbeck)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Scott, Lord William|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Selley, H. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)||Mr. Munro and Mr. Boulton.|
|McKie, J. H.||Shute, Col. Sir J. J.|
§ Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Assheton, R.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.)||Baillie, Sir A. W. M.|
§ The House divided: Ayes, 297; Noes, 11.
|Barnes, A. J.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Batey, J.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Grimston, R. V.||Nield, B. E.|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Nunn, W.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Hammersley, S. S.||Owen, Major G.|
|Bennett, P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Hannah, I. C.||Paling, W.|
|Benson, G.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Parker, J.|
|Bevin, E.||Harland, H. P.||Peake, O.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Pearson, A.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Peat, C. U.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hayday, A.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Heneage, Lt.-Col. A. P.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Brooke, H.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Hepworth, J.||Purbrick, R.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Raikes, H. V. A. M|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hewlett, T. H.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hicks, E. G.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hill, Dr. A. V. (Cambridge U.)||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Holdsworth, H.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Cadogan, Sir E.||Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Holmes, J. S.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Cape, T.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rickards, G. W.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Riley, B.|
|Cary, R. A.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (H'ckn'y, N.)||Ritson, J.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Robertson, D.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Isaacs, G. A.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (M'ham)|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Jagger, J.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Rowlands, G.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hn. Winston S. (Ep'ing)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Collindridge, F.||John, W.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Johnstone, H.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Conant, Capt. R. J. E.||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Salt, E. W.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'rS.G'gs.)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hon. T. M. (Edin., W.)||Keeling, E. H.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Key, C. W.||Scott, R. D. (Wansbeck)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Scott, Lord William|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Lathan, G.||Selley, H. R.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Law, R. K.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)|
|Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Lawson, J. J.||Shute, Col. Sir J. J.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Leach, W.||Silkin, L.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Denville, Alfred||Liddall, W. S.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Doland, G. F.||Lindsay, K. M.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Drewe, C.||Lipson, D. L.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Somerville, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)||Lloyd, Major E. G. R.||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Loftus, P. C.||Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Logan, D. G.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Stewart, W. J. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lyttelton, Capt. Rt. Hon. O.||Storey S.|
|Elliston, Captain G. S.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Emery, J. F.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Strickland, Capt. W. F.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Stuart, Rt. Hn. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McEntee, V. La T.||Summers, G. S.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Errington, E.||McKie, J. H.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Etherton, Ralph||Maitland, Sir A.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.||Thomas, W. S. Russell|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Martin, J. H.||Thorne, W.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Mathers, G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Medlicott, Captain Frank||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Milner, Major J.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Foot, D. M.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Touche, G. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Montague, F.||Train, Sir J.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Morgan, H. B. W. (Rochdale)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Gibbins, J.||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Walker, J.|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Morrison, R. [...]. (Tottenham, N.)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Mort, D. L.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Nail, Sir J.|
|Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Wilkinson, Ellen||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.||Williams, C. (Torquay)||Woodburn, A.|
|Warrender, Sir V.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Watkins, F. C.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)||Woolley, W. E.|
|Watson, W. McL.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Wayland, Sir W. A.||Willink, H. V.||Wragg, H.|
|Western, W. Garfield||Wilmot, John||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Westwood, J.||Windsor, W.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)||Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.||Winterlon, Rt. Hon. Earl||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Munro and Mr. Boulton.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||McGovern, J.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Bevan, A.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Buchanan, G.||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Silverman, S. S.||Mr. Maxton and Mr. Gallacher.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Stephen, C.|
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That this House expresses its destestation of the propaganda of the 'Daily Worker' in relation to the war, as it is convinced that the future of democratic institutions and the expanding welfare of the people everywhere depend on the successful prosecution of the war till Fascism is finally defeated; and while anxious that the principle of freedom for the expression of minority opinions shall be maintained so far as possible and that the minimum use shall be made even in time of war of powers of repression, recognises that special and effective measures must be taken against
the habitual and persistent publication of matter which is calculated to impede the national war effort and thus to assist the enemy, and approves the action of the Home Secretary in relation to the 'Daily Worker' and the 'Week'.
§ The Orders of the Day were read, and postponed.
§ It being the hour appointed for the Adjournment of the House, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put.