HL Deb 19 December 1906 vol 167 cc1465-7

Commons' Amendments to Lords' Amendments, and reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Lords' Amendments considered (according to order).


said he would not occupy the House for more than a few minutes; but, as he was responsible for moving the first two Amendments which had been disagreed to, he thought it due to himself, and only courteous to the House, to say a word or two in respect of the Commons' disagreement to their Lordships' Amendments. On neither of those Amendments was there any division in another place; and therefore, on that ground, even if it stood alone, he should not ask their Lordships to persevere with their Amendments. Under other circumstances, he would have been inclined to ask that the first of the two Amendments, in an amended form—the one in which they had inserted the words "peaceably and in a reasonable manner," should be retained in a modified form, retaining the word "peaceably." He was notable to understand why that word was objected to; it was in every Bill presented to Parliament before the General Election, and it seemed to him in itself to be a reasonable thing. But the most striking thing in connection with these two Amendments was the reason given by the House of Commons for their disagreement. With regard to the first Amendment—and perhaps it was worth while having the words definitely on record—the Commons disagreed— Because the peaceable exercise of the right conferred by the clause is sufficiently safeguarded by the words as they stood in the clause as it left the Commons. He only wished he could think so. In his opinion, at any rate, it was more than doubtful. But he took note of the fact that those who were foremost in leading the agitation for this Bill, and who would have an important part to play in its working, had, by agreeing to this reason, in his opinion, given an undertaking, not that they would remain peaceable if violent measures were adopted in the course of picketing, but that they would, as in duty bound, do all they could to see that nothing was allowed to be done contrary to peacefulness. The reason for disagreeing to the second Amendment was at least as striking. This was an Amendment which he had moved on the Report stage of the Bill, and which the noble Lord on the Woolsack accepted with the generous remark that it was more scientific in its wording than the provision which it sought to displace. He told them quite frankly, however, that he was not sure that the experts in another place would accept it. As a matter of fact, they had not accepted it, and they had given as their reason:— Because the object of the Amendment is sufficiently met by the words of the original clause. Some day or other that would have to be construed judicially in their Lordships' House, and he could only trust that the beliefs and hopes, which he had no doubt were honestly entertained in another place, would prove to be well-founded, and that the clauses in this Bill, which would shortly become an Act, would be found sufficient to meet the intention which they were supposed to carry out.


said that in regard to the first Amendment he really thought it was unnecessary. The law stood sentinel alongside all that was done under this Act, and would see that peace was preserved. He entertained no doubt whatever that the addition of those words would make no difference to the Bill. In regard to the second Amendment, it was quite true, as Lord Balfour had said, that his own view had been that the words which the noble Lord proposed were more scientific and better; but he was persuaded that it was neither the wish nor the intention of the men to break the law with violence, nor was it their wish to withdraw their property from the ordinary rules of litigation attaching to property. The men thought, and the House of Commons (which was full of experts on this subject) also thought, that the words standing in the Bill were effective for that purpose; and he had not the least doubt they were right, although, as he had said, he himself would have preferred the language proposed by Lord Balfour. He believed their Lordships would find that these men wished to use, as he believed they had proposed, this Bill in good faith for the purpose of carrying it out honestly.


desired to say with regard to the third Amendment, which he had had the honor of moving, that he had only done so because he and those who thought with him honestly believed that employers did not, under this Bill, receive the protection which they believed the Government intended they should have. Words had now been inserted in the Bill by the law officers of the Crown which were intended to protect employers, and he of course accepted those words wholeheartedly, believing that the Government intended to give them protection under the Bill, and believing also that they had an earnest in these words that if they were found not to be so protected in the future, they would have the Government on their side in guaranteeing them the protection which they were intended to have.

On Question, Commons' Amendments to Lords' Amendments agreed to, and the Lords' Amendments to which the Commons have disagreed not insisted on.