§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, the Bill the Second Reading of which I have to-day to submit to your Lordships is designed to adapt the Aliens Restriction Act, 1914, which was passed on the day after the declaration of war, and was therefore essentially a war-time measure, to the altered conditions brought about by the happy conclusion of hostilities. The Bill, as doubtless your Lordships are aware, has undergone considerable modifications since its first introduction in another place in April last. The spirit of the Bill, however, is practically as it was when brought in originally; there is no difference in principle, and the only difference is one of method. The Bill has two main objects. It aims at keeping out the undesirable alien, no matter where he comes from, while for a limited time it provides for the exclusion of the former enemy alien—that is to say, it provides for his exclusion until it has been possible to reconsider the question and see how far it is feasible to allow him to come into this country in future.
I will now briefly review the various provisions of the Bill. The first two clauses are devoted to providing for the continuance and extension of the emergency powers conferred under the Act of 1914. The question might perhaps be raised, indeed it has been mentioned to me, as to why it is necessary, now that the war is over, to provide for the continuance of the powers required in time of war. I will therefore point out to your Lordships that the extension of these powers is for a strictly limited period—namely, for one year only—and that, being in the state of transition that we are, it is a matter of necessity for His Majesty's Government to maintain temporarily the powers which proved essential during the war. In the present state of European unrest and of public anxiety is is clearly desirable that the 436 Government should remain in possession of full powers for dealing with aliens.
Let me take the powers conferred by the Act of 1914 in order as they are set out in a Memorandum on the front page of the Bill. I take first paragraph (a) "for prohibiting aliens from landing in the United Kingdom." Clearly we must have a power to prohibit from landing any and every alien who seeks to come here and may be inspired with hostile designs against this country. The powers under the Aliens Act of 1905 are not adequate for this purpose. We must not be exposed without defence to the danger either of foreign emissaries or of a large flood of pauper emigrants. The second paragraph, (b), deals with the prohibiting of aliens from embarking in the United Kingdom. It is similarly desirable that we should retain control over the embarkation of aliens from this country, at any rate to the extent of having full information as to their movements and destination. Then, with regard to paragraph (c), for the deportation of aliens, the power of deportation is essential to the Government in existing circumstances. It is a power which every other State possesses, and which the Government may be trusted to use with discretion, and only when serious public interests are involved.
Paragraph (d) is for requiring aliens to reside and remain within certain places or districts. The power of requiring an alien to reside in certain districts was found very useful during the war in special cases, and may possibly be valuable in peace time. For example, a case might arise of an undesirable alien—either an agitator or otherwise—who had not been deported to his own country by reason of lack of transport facilities and who therefore must be kept in this country, yet the case might not be one in which it would be proper or possible to detain the man in prison, and it might be better to remove him from the district in which he then resided to some other part of the country. As regards paragraph (e), "for prohibiting aliens from residing or remaining in any areas specified in the Order," the power of prohibiting aliens from residing in any particular district was very largely used during the war, the necessary Regulations being embodied in successive Aliens Restriction Orders and being directed especially to the removal of aliens from any strategic points. In peace time this power will be used much less widely, but there will still be points of vital importance to 437 the national defence from which it may be desirable to exclude aliens.
Then as to paragraph (f), "for requiring aliens residing in the United Kingdom to comply with such provisions as to registration, change of abode, travelling," etc., "as may be made by Order." Provisions for the registration of aliens have been in force during the war, and it is proposed to continue them in a modified form in peace time, but in a manner designed to inflict the minimum of inconvenience upon foreign travellers. I do not think I need labour the last four paragraphs in the Memorandum—(g), (h), (i), and (k)—as they are but subsidiary powers for appointing officers, imposing penalties, giving power of arrest, etc.; but speaking generally we feel that in the present condition of the world public opinion demands, not unreasonably, that the authorities should be in full possession of information as to all aliens in the United Kingdom, and should be armed with effective powers for dealing with any aliens whom it is not desirable to admit to this country or whom it is desirable to remove from it because they have shown that they are not worthy of its hospitality; but no respectable or peaceable foreigner travelling in this country is likely to suffer any real inconvenience of any kind.
If your Lordships will now turn to subsection (2) of Clause 1 you will see that it is there provided that if Orders in Council are made which are to operate at any time when there is no war or special emergency, these will be laid on the Table of both Houses, and there will be a right to petition for their annulment in whole or in part. I have already referred your Lordships to the Memorandum on the front page of the Bill and drawn attention to the powers therein conferred. As you will observe, there are ten powers, set out in paragraphs (a) to (k); and in Clause 2 it is proposed to add two more powers, (l) and (m). With regard to (l) it is frequently found difficult to ascertain with certainty the real nationality of an alien, and therefore power has been taken to set up machinery by which a decision can be given in such cases. With regard to the second part of (l)—disregarding any subsequent change of nationality—I would say that it was occasionally found in the case of undesirable alien women who had been deported that they reappeared in this country after having become British subjects by marriage. Another new subject on which an Order 438 in Council may be issued has regard to the prolongation of the internment of any persons after the termination of a war. I may say, however, that this will not be operative in regard to the recent war because all the interned aliens have been dealt with. Lastly as regards Orders in Council, subsection (2) of Clause 2 provides for the issue of Orders in Council for the regulation of property, liabilities, and interests of former enemy aliens. This provision is designed, of course, to safeguard those who have claims against former enemy subjects and follows the lines of the Peace Treaty.
I come now to the clauses in the Bill which provide for further restrictions on all aliens, and before going into any detail I would point out that these restrictions are not to be imposed by Orders in Council but are provided for by direct legislation. The first of these restrictions is contained in Clause 3, and it is designed to prevent aliens from fomenting sedition either in His Majesty's Forces or the Forces of our Allies or amongst the civilian population, and also for preventing such aliens from promoting industrial unrest in any industry. This last provision is limited in such a manner as not to prevent an alien who is bona fide employed in any industry from taking part in a labour dispute in that industry; it is designed only to prevent aliens who have no interest or concern in our industrial affairs fomenting industrial unrest and disturbance.
Clauses 4, 5, and 6 deal with the holding of pilotage certificates by aliens, employment of aliens in ships of the mercantile marine, and the appointment of aliens to the Civil Service. With regard to Clause 4, I may perhaps explain that under the existing law no alien may hold a pilot's licence, but in certain circumstances it is lawful for the foreign master of a ship to pilot his own vessel into a British port. By this clause this will not be permitted in the future, except—the exception is a very important one—that masters or mates of French nationality will not be prevented from being allowed to navigate their ships into the ports of Newhaven or Grimsby. Clause 5 regulates the employment of aliens in the mercantile marine. The main provisions of this clause are plain, I think; but I may perhaps be allowed to draw your Lordships' attention to the proviso that aliens who have performed good and faithful service during the war may be employed in capacities prohibited under the clause to 439 other aliens. I would also draw attention to the second paragraph of subsection (2) which has been inserted to provide for the case of native labour employed in British ships; it is designed to secure that the rates of pay for aliens who are natives and for natives who are British subjects shall be the same. Clause 6 gives expression to the principle already laid down in the Act of Settlement, and forbids the appointment of aliens to posts in His Majesty's Civil Service. I may, perhaps, be allowed to add that there are none such at present in the Service.
Clause 7 deals with the restriction of change of name by aliens. This clause is perfectly clear, I think. Briefly, it provides that no alien shall change his name or trade under any name different from that used by him on August 4, 1914, unless permission shall have been granted to him by the Secretary of State. Provision is also made in this clause whereby proper publicity is to be given to such change of name. Clause 8 provides that no alien shall sit upon a jury if challenged by any party to the proceedings. I may remark that a certain section of opinion was at one time desirous of excluding aliens altogether from jury service. I hope that your Lordships will not disagree with the principle that an alien settled in this country should not be excused from the duties of citizenship so far as they can be properly and safely carried out by him. Jury service is one of the duties of citizenship which an alien can properly perform, but it is only right that opportunity should be given to parties to object to submit their case for decision by an alien should they wish to do so. The next five clauses deal with special provisions as to former enemy aliens. In Clause 7, subsection (1), your Lordships will see that every former enemy alien shall be deported or submit his case to a Committee, with the exception of those who were exempted from internment or repatriation on the recommendation of any Advisory Committee appointed after January 1, 1918.
Perhaps, in order to make this quite clear if I can to your Lordships, I may be allowed briefly to trace the history of the various Committees which have dealt with the enemy alien question during the war. On the announcement by Mr. Asquith in May, 1915, of the general policy of the internment or repatriation of enemy aliens, a Committee was appointed to 440 advise as to the grant or refusal of applications made by alien enemies for exemption from internment or repatriation. This Committee was divided into two bodies, under the Chairmanship respectively of Mr. Justice Sankey and Mr. (now Lord) Justice Younger. All enemy aliens then at liberty were served with a notice that they may apply for exemption from internment or repatriation, as the case may be. The applications were considered by these Committees and action was taken in accordance with their recommendations.
On September 29, 1915, the Home Secretary wrote to Mr. Justice Younger to the following effect—I learn that the work of the Internment Committee, so far as ordinary cases of internment are concerned, is, in effect, finished, though every now and then a case or two which has escaped attention or which needs to be reconsidered, is bound to present itself. … I think the Home Office might take the responsibility now of deciding in further cases of ordinary internment without troubling the Committee.The process of reviewing cases was accordingly carried on from time to time and repatriation cases were dealt with on the same line. The Committee continued in existence for the purpose of Defence of the Realm Regulation 14B, and internment orders were made thereunder against persons of hostile origin or association, and from time to time the Committee considered, at the request of the Home Office, cases of internment of alien enemies, and in particular advised in the course of the year 1917 on the application of the policy then adopted of repatriating compulsorily such of the interned persons as could properly be sent back to their own country.
In July, 1918, the Home Secretary, Sir George Cave, reappointed the Committee with the addition of certain names and requested them to examine the cases of enemy aliens who had hitherto been exempted from internment or repatriation and to report in each case whether they recommended that the exemption should be withdrawn with a view to re-internment or repatriation of the persons concerned, or whether they recommended that the exemption should be continued, and if so, on what ground. Now this second Committee was in the middle of its work when the Armistice was signed, and shortly afterwards it ceased to operate. Not long after this, as there was now no reason for retaining alien enemies in this country who were 441 willing to return to their own countries, the repatriation was undertaken as quickly as possible of all those interned who were willing to go, with the result that between the date of the Armistice and the month of May, 1919, the numbers of the interned had been reduced from about 25,000 to fewer than 5,000, and it was to be presumed that nearly all these 5,000 were unwilling to leave this country.
To deal with this situation a promise was given by the Government in your Lordships' House on April 3 last that those of the interned who were unwilling to be repatriated should not be sent away until their claim to be allowed to stay here had been heard by another Advisory Committee. The Home Secretary accordingly appointed a Committee to consider applications for exemption from repatriation in the case of interned enemy aliens, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice Younger. This Committee examined all claims from the interned men to be allowed to remain in this country and they recommended permission to remain here in some 3,800 cases. The remainder have been, or will be, repatriated. I hope from what I have said that your Lordships will see that all cases of interned enemy aliens have been dealt with by the Committee subsequent to the Armistice, and all persons exempted from internment or repatriation by the Committee appointed by Lord Cave in 1918 are exempted from the provisions of this clause. Thus the only aliens whose eases will be reviewed under the provisions of this clause are those who were dealt with by the Committees presided over by Mr. Justice Sankey and Mr. Justice Younger, which were appointed in 1915.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I am coining to that. I am well aware that criticism has been levelled on this distinction between the Committee of 1915 and the Committee of 1918, but I would venture to point out to your Lordships that the Committee of 1918 was appointed for the very purpose of reviewing the cases of enemy aliens previously exempted from internment or repatriation, and its labours were not finished at the conclusion of the Armistice. Thus, the Committee set up under this measure will merely complete the labours 442 of the Committee of 1918 in reviewing the decisions of the Committee of 1915.
It may be argued that now that the war is over this minute review is unnecessary and the decisions of the 1915 Committee could be allowed to stand. But I would urge upon your Lordships that there is, rightly or wrongly, very grave public anxiety in regard to the activities of Germans settled in this country; and I may say that public anxiety as to the activities of Germans in our midst before the war was by no means ill-founded. Therefore, this demand for a complete review of the exemptions of the 1915 Committee can scarcely be said to be unreasonable. I now come to subsections (2) and (3) of this clause.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I am coming to that in one moment. I now come to subsections (2) and (3) of this clause. The Advisory Committee will be set up by the Secretary of State under subsection (10) and for the guidance of this Committee your Lordships will see that certain definite specifications are laid down as to the categories whom the Committee may exempt from deportation. I think the criticism that your Lordships may level at these categories is that there are many cases, which do not quite square with the definitions laid down, which nevertheless will be equally deserving of exemption. In answer to such an observation I would venture to point out that it is impossible by generalisation to cover every single case, or possible case, and if your Lordships will turn to subsection (4) of this Clause you will see that the Committee is granted powers of discretion to recommend practically any case for exemption if they are of opinion that it is a deserving one. The rest of the subsections of this clause are of a formal nature and I do not think require any further remarks.
I will, therefore, turn to Clause 10, which is a very simple one and provides that no former enemy alien will be allowed to land in this country for three years after the passing of the Bill, without special permission from the Secretary of State, which permission will have to be renewed quarterly. Clause 11, perhaps, requires a few words of explanation. It provides for a temporary prohibition of the ac- 443 quisition of certain kinds of property by former enemy aliens. The property is, briefly, land, interest in a key industry, or shares in a British ship. The reason for this clause is that the present is a time of transition and it has been thought desirable that no former enemies should be allowed, during this time of transition, to obtain interests in British land, British key industries, or British ships.
Clause 12 is quite plain and forbids the employment of a former enemy alien in a British ship. Clause 13 gives power to the Secretary of State to make the provisions of this Bill which apply to former enemy aliens, apply also to other aliens, if necessary, in particular cases. The last four clauses of the Bill are general. Clause 14 makes the necessary definition of offences and lays down the penalties which the Courts can inflict. Clause 15 safeguards foreign diplomatists accredited to this country. Clause 16 will, I hope, commend itself to your Lordships as a very convenient clause, since it gives legal definition to the words "former enemy alien" and thereby exempts those who were subjects in 1914 of any of the four States allied against us, who now have become subjects of the new and friendly States created under the Peace Treaty. Clause 17 gives the Short Title of the Act, and subsection (2) of the clause gives power to repeal the Act of 1905 by degrees as required.
Before I conclude it may, perhaps, interest your Lordships if I give a short summary of the number of aliens who are at present in this country and who may therefore be affected by this Bill if it becomes an Act of Parliament. The total number of aliens of all kinds in the United Kingdom is about 269,000. Of these 22,000—the figures are approximate—are former enemy aliens, and 247,000 are aliens of other races.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I am afraid I cannot, but I will endeavour to get the figures. Of the 22,000 former enemy aliens about 5,000 have been exempted from deportation, after examination before a Committee appointed subsequent to January 1, 1918, and there therefore remain about 17,000 who, if they wish to 444 stay in this country, will be required to appear before the Committee set up by this Bill. Of these some 8,400 are males and 8,600 females.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Onslow.)
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, I believe this is the first occasion upon which my noble friend has appeared here in an official capacity, and may I be permitted to congratulate him on the lucidity of his statement. With regard to the principle of the Bill itself, I have no fault whatever to find with it. I have always felt that the theory of hospitality was carried much too far in this country, and that some amendment was obviously necessary. I remember vigorously denouncing in this House the administration of the Aliens Act by Mr. Herbert Gladstone, and I welcomed particularly the clause which inflicts special penalties upon aliens who come to this country and stir up sedition here.
Unfortunately the Bill is disfigured by what I can only term a perfectly needless and rather vindictive action contemplated against ex-enemy aliens, and when the noble Lord in the course of his speech assured us that the procedure proposed is only a continuation of the proceedings started by the Committee of 1918, I cannot help being reminded of the fact that when any abnormal proceedings took place during recent years it used to be asked, "Are you aware there is a War on?" I feel inclined to ask my noble friend, "Is he aware there is a Peace on?" The fact of setting up a Committee to examine all enemy aliens, suspicious or otherwise, in this country is perfectly justified and natural during the course of a war. At the time when this Committee was set up we were at an extreme period of the war; but we are not at war now, and it does not follow that what was necessary in July, 1918, is necessary now.
I am afraid I may shock some noble Lords present but I confess that, having had some inside experience of this question, I hold the opinion that if we erred at all with respect to the treatment of enemy aliens we erred on the side of severity rather than laxity. What we did was this. At the outbreak of the war, owing to the extreme efficiency of the police of this country, all the dangerous enemy aliens 445 were locked up, and their numbers amounted to something like 4,000. When the "Lusitania" outrage was committed there was a great clamour on the part of the public, which was very intelligible, that additional steps should be taken, and large numbers of additional enemy aliens were interned. Everybody knows that a large number of these people were interned not because they had committed any crime or were suspected of any crime, but to a great extent for the purpose of protection.
It is perfectly obvious that amongst this large number of men, between 30,000 and 40,000, there must have been many cases of hardship. I was much struck with the fact that a member of this House, who was a member of one of these Committees, expressed the opinion that they had come to the conclusion that not 5 per cent. of the innumerable cases they examined showed that there was any suspicion attaching to the individual of spying. The action of the Government, which they were obliged to take, I admit, in consequence of the pressure of public opinion, not only involved considerable hardship upon innocent people but considerable hardship upon our own British subjects.
Has it ever occurred to the advocates of the "Intern them all" policy that one of the results of that policy was that so many enemy aliens were interned in this country that the military and naval authorities objected to the exchange of civilians because of the large preponderance of numbers on this side. It amounts to this, that in Germany at all events a large number of British subjects passed four weary years at Ruhleben owing to the zeal of the advocates of the "Intern them all" policy in this country. Of the men who were interned no less than 84 per cent. have been deported and sent back to their respective countries. That in itself is a justification, so to speak, of the statement made by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack last year, that nine-tenths of these men were hostile in feeling to this country. At least nine-tenths of the men who were interned, and to whom he referred, have actually gone back.
The fact of deporting 84 per cent. of these men, many of whom have not committed any crime at all, is a fairly severe measure, because many of these men have English wives and English families. At this moment you will find in Germany, 446 especially in Berlin, English women and boys and girls who cannot speak a word of German, and not only that but in many cases they have lost their German nationality and have therefore at the present moment no nationality at all. None of these men are allowed to come back, whatever their interests may be in this country, except for a very short period, and then only under extremely exceptional circumstances. I am not going to find any particular fault with that. I cannot help thinking that later on probably there will be some sort of revulsion of feeling, and in all probability these regulations will be relaxed. Then, the 84 per cent. having been disposed of, there remain the 16 per cent. who were examined by Lord Justice Younger's Committee, and, as everybody knows, it was so difficult to discover anything against these interned prisoners that there was no excuse for deporting them and they remained here.
But now I come to the really important section, and that is the section which relates to the uninterned enemy civilians. These uninterned enemy civilians were all examined, like everybody else, and they were left alone because no charge of any sort could be brought against them; and the curious part of this Bill, and the unsatisfactory part of it, is that under the clause in question (Clause 9) these people are actually going to be in a much worse position in time of peace than they were in time of war. An Advisory Committee is going to be set up—to my mind a totally unnecessary proceeding—and at the present moment, when we are all talking about the necessity for economy, I should like to point out that this Advisory Committee is going to be a very expensive luxury, because I gather from an answer made by the Home Secretary a short time ago that the Committee itself, even if composed of unpaid members and if it only sits for a comparatively short time, will cost £15,000, and no provision is made for lodging, and expenses of that kind, and for expenses in connection with the police and other departments. Therefore if this Committee is set up, and if it goes exhaustively through the 17,000 ex-enemy aliens who still remain here, it will cost a very considerable sum of money.
I do not wish to dwell too much upon the hardships which will be suffered by the 447 ex-enemy aliens in consequence of this provision, because I am quite sure there are a number of noble Lords who are much better able to point out the hardships which these people will suffer than I am. It really amounts to this, that if the alien, whether male or female, does not fall within certain very narrow categories he or she will be automatically deported, I understand that the great majority of the persons who will be affected in this way are women occupying extremely humble positions, perhaps domestic servants, teachers of music, governesses, and people of that kind, and I should think it extremely probable that many of these people who live in remote parts of the country will never hear of this new regulation at all, and if they do not put their case before the Committee within two months of the passing of this Bill they will be automatically deported. I appeal to the sense of noble Lords whether this may not constitute a case of severe hardship, and I want to know what is the object of harrying these people at all. Why on earth cannot they be left alone? It is not pretended that they are dangerous. I do not think anybody has taken upon himself to assert that these people, who had been left alone because they were harmless, constitute a danger to the country.
I acquit the Government of blame in regard to this matter. I do not believe in the least that they desire to harry these people, but they have been constrained to adopt the policy of those no doubt honest but somewhat mistaken zealots who will persist in looking upon all enemy aliens as vermin. I cannot help thinking there has been rather too much concession to ignorant clamour of this description, especially on the part of the Press. I believe there has been a good deal too much yielding to the threatenings of ignorant writers in the Press. I recollect a ludicrous incident which came within my experience. The House is no doubt familiar with the name of Baron von Bissing. Bissing was—I am not aware that he committed any crime—but he was the brother or half-brother of a very notorious General von Bissing, in Germany. After all, that is a misfortune which might happen to anybody; but Bissing, upon the strength of his being a half-brother of the obnoxious general, was imprisoned here. I happened to visit his prison out of curiosity. Bissing found out who I was, and asked if he might make a request of me. I asked him what he 448 wanted and he said, "I am very anxious to have a bath. I am very fond of swimming, and I should take it as a favour if I might be allowed to go once a month to a swimming bath, accompanied by a policeman, for whom I would pay, or if necessary by several policemen." I said, "I have no authority to grant you this permission, but I will convey your request to the competent authority." I communicated with the competent authority, and they said, "There is no objection in principle to Bissing or anybody else going to a swimming bath, but if a certain section of the Press got to know of it we should never hear the last of it, and therefore the proposal cannot be entertained."
It has been openly admitted that this spirited campaign now waged against decayed governesses and domestic servants, and waiters, and people of that sort is not prompted by any danger to this country but by the necessity of carrying out promises made during the Election and in order to maintain what I may term the policy of hate. With reference to the first of these reasons, I think that on the whole the less we talk about Election promises the better. Two of the most popular promises at the Election were that the Kaiser should be hanged and that Germany should pay the total cost of the war, and we do not seem to be very near the fulfilment of either at the present moment.
As regards the second point, the necessity of cultivating hate, I should like to point out the curious fact that this doctrine is not preached by the people whom you would expect to preach it. It is not preached by the soldier. It is not even preached by prisoners. As far as I can make out, it is almost entirely preached by lawyers and journalists who, to use the delicate language of the poet Kipling, have been "killing Germans with their mouths" during the whole period of the war. I realise that the cultivation of hate during the war was occasionally a very necessary thing to do. It was necessary, and I have in fact taken a small part in doing it myself in order to counteract the activities of the Independent Labour Party, of Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, and of people like my noble and learned friend Lord Parmoor. But surely it is not necessary to do it now. What is the object of going on with it at the present moment? It is not even logical.
449 The policy of hate is preached solely as far as I know, with reference to Germans. If this particular clause was aimed solely at Germans, then I could understand it—it would be logical. But it is not. It is aimed at all ex-enemy aliens. I make this confession, that so far as the treatment of civilians was concerned during the war the treatment of civilians in Austria and more especially in Hungary was certainly more lenient than it was in this country. Therefore if you are to be logical, and if you insist upon putting into effect the gospel of hate, the least you can do is to confine your action to Germany. But again I ask, What is the sense of it?
At the present moment there are I suppose, at a rough computation, a hundred millions of enemy aliens, not even allowing for the subtractions which have been made from their respective numbers. Does any serious person suppose that we can treat a hundred million souls as vermin? Whether we like them or not, we have to put up with them and to live with them. There is no occasion to take them to our bosoms, but we have to recognise their existence, and we shall have to make up our minds to trade with them like everybody else, more especially if Germany is eventually to pay the whole of our war bill. I apologise for having kept the House so long, but in face of these facts I must say that to me it seems inexpressibly petty that we should revenge ourselves upon a lot of obscure and quite humble people, many of them women, for the crimes committed by German soldiers and sailors and officials in different parts of the world. If we can get hold of these criminals—and I sincerely hope that we shall do so—I trust that they will be dealt with as severely as possible. But what can be said in favour of, so to speak, "taking it out of" these people here in order to revenge ourselves for the atrocities committed by Germans during the course of the war? To my mind procedure of that kind is just as sensible and as logical as it would be to turn every Peer out of this House who has Irish blood in his veins on account of the atrocities committed by Sinn Feiners in Ireland.
My natural impulse would have been to move the rejection of this clause, but I have no desire to create a constitutional difficulty. When the Bill is in Committee, however, I certainly shall, if no one else 450 does, move Amendments modifying it. What I suggest would be the fair thing to do is that the alien, instead of being automatically deported because he or she is an ex-enemy alien, should be left alone unless sonic definite allegation is made against him or her by a credible person. It seems to me that that would meet the case and commend itself to almost everybody.
There is one thing I want to add. When this clause was discussed in another place it was not made a Government question. The Whips were taken off. That being so, I hope the same procedure will be followed here, and that we shall have a free vote on the subject. If it comes to a Division, and if the question has to be fought out here, then in view of the sentiments which were expressed during the former debate on this particular question I have little doubt that; the majority of this House will be in favour of doing justice to people even though they may be ex-enemy subjects.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, I certainly do not propose to offer any opposition to the Second Reading of this Bill. I cannot say that I like its provisions, but I can understand that the main subject of the Bill is one which in the opinion of the Government requires severe and drastic treatment, and though I regret that it has been thought necessary to introduce many of the earlier provisions that this Bill contains I do not propose now to criticise or to object to them, because I feel that after all it is a question rather of wisdom than of justice as to whether those measures should be introduced or not. It is a matter of opinion. Some people may well think that it is necessary in the public interest; others may, with equal sincerity, hold an opposite view; but at any rate it does no one a wrong. No alien outside this country can say that he suffers injustice if he is told that he must never enter this country. If there be any harm suffered it is suffered by this country itself. Therefore I do not propose to discuss any part of this Bill that relates to the dealings with people who are not at present under our protection.
But the part of the Bill to which I do earnestly desire for a few moments to direct your Lordships' more particular attention is that part which deals with people who are now resident in this country, and who have throughout the whole period of the war lived among us without causing to any 451 person any offence, or giving any just cause of suspicion that was capable of being appreciated by any of the Committees which were sent up to inquire into their case. I beg your Lordships' attention to this part of the Bill for this reason. If this Bill is passed as it stands, and if I am right in the views that I entertain that it will inflict cruel and unnecessary hardship upon a number of perfectly offenceless and defenceless people, this part of the Bill is irrevocable, and if the wrong be once done it is done for ever. It can never be undone. The noble Lord who has just sat down, and who spoke with great knowledge and experience on this matter, has called your Lordships' attention to the fact that Clause 9 of this Bill deals only with the residue of the people who have escaped the combs of the different Committees which have been passed over the alien population of this kingdom during the period of the war. They are the people against whom even the jealousy of trade rivalry has found no complaint. They are the people against whom the most excited and zealous believer in the existence of spies has been unable to lodge a single definite charge. They are the people whom every single authority in this country that is responsible for our peace and good government has been bound to pass by as harmless even under the strain and exigencies of the war. During the whole period of hostilities those whose duty it was to examine with the utmost care whether these people could, safely to the public interests, be left at large or not, have said they may be left at large, and it is to these people that this clause applies.
What is it that the clause is going to do? I feel very strongly that when this clause is examined it will be found that it has been considered in another place with great carelessness, that the clause itself has been thoughtlessly prepared, and that it is quite unthinkable that any body of Englishmen who realised what this clause did would ever have consented to its passage in an English House of Parliament. That I feel so strongly that I beg of your Lordships to grant me some indulgence whilst I ask you to go step by step through the provisions of this clause as it stands now.
Half of these people at least, we are told, are women. I must say I should have thought that the proportion would have been larger, seeing that all the Committees that have sat from time to time have 452 necessarily taken the men. For example, we know quite well that one of the Committees interned Germans of military age here, not on the ground of suspicion or fear that they would be mischievous if they were left at large, but simply because it was undesirable in the public interests to allow people here, whose sons had to go and fight, to see Germans in this country of military age who were subject to no such liability. It was not because they were doing wrong—not at all; but because their presence might excite a reasonable, although of course a perfectly unjustifiable, feeling of ill will towards the German who was left. And so they took the men, and I am quite surprised to find that the percentage of women is as low as has been suggested. I have not the least doubt that the noble Lord has satisfied himself accurately about the figures, though I admit that from information I had obtained (and I have made anxious inquiry) I was told that the percentage was at least 60 per cent. But at any rate half of them are women.
In what position are those women? Where are they? I can tell you. These women are scattered all over this country, chiefly in perfectly humble situations. They are servants, who, during a time when it has been very difficult to get domestic help, have faithfully continued to discharge their duties to their master or their mistress without let or interference. They are governesses in schools in places where, even under this Bill, it is not wrong to teach the German language and to impart to our children the inestimable benefits of the ancient German literature. They are small governesses, sempstresses, people living in every form of perfectly humble useful life, and, I venture to say, discharging a service in this country which is perfectly impossible to be discharged by anybody else, They are not taking up somebody else's place, they are not filling a vacancy that some labouring person could step into. There is no fear whatever here, believe me, my Lords, that these people are interfering with British workmen. Why, I think every member of the Labour Party in the House of Commons voted against this clause. You are not, therefore, protecting the workmen here, nor are you doing what they desire.
I have described the class of people so far as the women are concerned. Then, you say, they have all to come and apply. But if they do not, if by any accident 453 whatever they omit to do so, after two months there is no power anywhere to prevent these people being taken and deported. What that means it is hard to say. What I understand it would mean would be this. They would be put on board a British ship and deposited at Hamburg. There is no provision for expense, not a single farthing is to be given even for their journey. They will be taken away, men and women who may in many cases have no friends to go to. And we are to undertake the responsibility of taking these people who have admittedly committed no offence, and subject them to the hardships and the perils that must be involved in such a proceeding as that.
Unless within two months they make their application, that is their inevitable fate. If they make the application, what is the relief they can get? The first thing is that they may be granted exemption on certain grounds. The first one is that the applicant is 70 years of age or upwards. I think your Lordships will find when you look into this clause that the whole of the clause has been framed on the belief that all these people are men. However, the first one is of general effect; it concerns applicants of 70 years or upwards. Take a woman who has been here in domestic service for 50 years, and who is 65 years of age. Of course, she could not get exemption under that. But it will be said, "Oh yes, but this Bill has considered the case of long residence in this country and has provided by another clause that if the applicant has lived 20 years here that will be a sufficient reason." It is not so. The applicant must have lived here 20 years and married a British wife. Now, of course, it is impossible for a German woman to marry a British wife, and therefore this person of 65 years of age who has been in this country 50 years and given simple, honest, valuable service in this country for that time cannot be exempted; there is no power in the world to exempt this person under either of those clauses.
No doubt the noble Lord would point out that they can be exempted under the general condition that it would involve serious hardship to the applicant or his wife or children. This will involve serious hardship to everybody—about that there is no doubt at all. But serious hardship there would be certain to be construed as meaning something far more than that you would do them an inconvenience and put 454 them in a place where they could not earn their living. You having not merely to make out a case of residence, and you have not merely to make out a case of good behaviour—because good behaviour, believe me, does not enter into these considerations at all; for this is all upon the hypothesis that there is good behaviour, and if there is bad behaviour none of these conditions apply, nor should they. Bad behaviour is a reason why they should be removed. This, as I said, is on the hypothesis of good behaviour. No good behaviour can save you, no amount of work, or industry, or association with the interests of this country, no genuine and sincere belief in the honesty of this country's cause, which some of these people did entertain, is of any value. Unless the person can come within these clauses she will certainly be deported. The clause dealing with applicants over seventy years of age is no protection for a person who has been here for fifty years unless that person happens to be a man, and unless the man happens to have married a British wife.
The next ground of exemption is that the applicant is suffering from serious and permanent illness or infirmity. Just think! I suppose a person who had one eye would be considered to be a person suffering from a permanent illness, therefore he would be exempted; but a person suffering from typhoid fever or pneumonia would not be suffering from a serious and permanent infirmity, for however grave the illness might be no one could say that it was permanent. Such a person would not be exempted and would be bound to make the application in two months, and because he might be in hospital all the time he would be deported. I do not want to be meticulous or particular about it; I am pointing it out for the purpose of saying what I believe to be the truth—namely, that this Bill has never been properly considered; and when the Committee comes I trust that your Lordships will, as you always do, consider this matter independently, and not assume that this is the settled, considered, careful policy of His Majesty's Government.
The next ground for exemption is this, that the applicant has one or more sons who voluntarily enlisted and served in His Majesty's Forces. Yes; but if he had had three sons and they were all killed he would not come in under that clause. He must have those sons now. He must enjoy two 455 or more sons who have voluntarily served. Let these men have given their lives and he cannot come in. If they have escaped, then of course he may be considered. The next ground is that the applicant has lived here for twenty years and married a British-born wife. That is a concession, I suppose, to the influence that the British wife might have upon the man. But if it is believed that the woman can influence the man in twenty years, who should not she do so in some shorter time? Is it out of consideration for the British wife? If the real foundation of the Bill is for the protection of this country, none of the considerations I have mentioned should apply at all and none of these clause should apply. The next ground of exemption is (e) that the applicant came to reside here when under the age of 12; or (f) served in His Majesty's Forces during the war, or resided here for not less than 20 years, and has rendered valuable services to this country during the war. So he has to do both these things. In the case I put of the servant, no one can say that she has rendered valuable services to this country; she has rendered them to her master, and you would never get escape for her under those conditions. Finally, that the applicant is a minister of religion. I would merely point out that there are German and Austrian women in convents—in religious places—here; they are not exempted, but the minister of religion is exempted—a very extraordinary exemption I should have thought; because if it is believed that these men may ultimately turn out to be dangerous to this country I should have thought that there was no man who had a better opportunity of disseminating evil opinions than a minister of religion. None the less, the minister of religion is to be stopped, but the woman in a corresponding position is not to be. Then come the conditions about the serious hardship.
Finally, in granting a licence the Secretary of State may include in the licence the wife of the applicant and any child or children of his under the age of eighteen. It seems to me that this is really a refinement of cruelty. Supposing a man over here with a daughter of twenty-five and other children under the age of eighteen. You have exempted the man, and now you say you will exempt his wife and family. Yes; but you cannot exempt the eldest daughter; she has got to go because she is not under the age of eighteen. She may be nineteen or twenty, but there 456 is no exemption for her. It may be said that I am putting forward exceptional and unusual cases. To me that argument does not appeal. I say that—if in these circumstances, without cause, without justification, you take away but one woman from her family and put her alone on the other side of the sea, leaving her people behind—the Bill that does this is a bad Bill and ought not to be passed. That is the effect of this clause. That it was not the Government's original intention is common knowledge; the Government never put that into the Bill when they drafted it. This was introduced in Committee. What did the Government do then? I am not saying this by way of reproach, but only for the purpose of pointing out that this is not the considered policy of His Majesty's Government. When this clause came down from Committee the Government knew what it meant, and they put down an Amendment that it should be cut out. Why was not the Amendment proceeded with? Your Lordships know. It was that the House of Commons, not being properly directed by the responsible Minister, passed a Resolution which would have involved a direct breach of faith between this country and France; and having got that position, the Government, in order that this mistake might be put right, consented to the introduction of this clause. That is the way in which the clause found its way into the Bill.
I agree entirely with one thing that the noble Earl said—I do not mean with one thing only but with one thing in particular. He said that if serious public interests are involved this clause should be passed. I agree with him. If there is any serious public interest involved in this matter I would not object to the clause. If there is any person who can make any charge that has any justification against any one of the people I would say, deport that person at once. All I ask is that you do not deport innocent people; that now, when we have entered peace, you do not attempt by Act of Parliament to revive what some of us feel were some of the most unfortunate incidents connected with the war. In all the long history of this country we have never had to show ourselves great in defeat, but we have often had occasion to show ourselves generous in victory. We have adopted and carried into effect the motto of one of the greatest nations of 457 ancient days when they declared that their policy was to spare the fallen and to crush the proud. Our soldiers and our sailors have shown that they have not forgotten those traditions; I beg your Lordships to show, when this Bill comes on in Committee, that the politicians have not been false to theirs.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I wish in the first place to say a word in answer to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Newton, and to tell him that it is a great satisfaction to me to find that we are on the same side at the present moment as regards what he called the policy of hate; and I welcome him as a convert, I hope, to the policy of international good will and co-operation. May I say one further preliminary word? I do not think that a policy of hate is ever justified; it is very far removed from the heroism and self-sacrifice which all of us regard as a sacred principle in the conduct of our wars.
I come now to the first point—namely, the treatment of foreign aliens. I do not know whether your Lordships have had your attention called to Clause 13 of the Bill. It is a very extraordinary clause in itself, and shows, I think, the spirit in which a large proportion of this Bill seems to me to have been drafted—that is, in a spirit of animosity not only towards enemy aliens but towards all aliens whether enemy or not. I do not find in this Bill a special animosity so much to the foreign alien as what I think is much more unfortunate—a tendency against all alien immigration, all alien hospitality all those conditions which by tradition we have extended to aliens in the past. I may add that no country in the world has been so indebted to the alien element as we have, and for no other country in the world is it so necessary to promote international good will and co-operation in the future. What I think is sometimes forgotten is that if we impose on aliens in this country what I consider to be unfair regulations, there is no guarantee that other countries may not impose, or attempt to impose, the same regulations with regard to British immigrants or British aliens.
Let me now call your Lordships' attention to the provisions of Clause 13. The Secretary of State may if he thinks it necessary in the interests of public safety—those last words are introduced, but they 458 mean nothing more than giving an absolute power to a bureaucratic official—what may he do? He may—direct that any of the provisions of this Act, as to former enemy aliens shall in particular cases be applicable to other aliens, and thereupon such provisions shall apply accordingly.What does that mean? The number of aliens in this country was put, I think, at 269,000. Perhaps I ought to take out one number and say about 240,000.
§ LORD PARMOOR
As regards every one of these 247,000 aliens—friendly aliens I may call them—the Secretary of State is enabled, at his own discretion and without any supervision, to apply all the harsh provisions which have been so lately analysed by my noble and learned friend, Lord Buckmaster, in Clause 9. Is it really the intention of this Bill to keep all aliens, friendly or not, as far away from this country as we possibly can? Just conceive what this means. Assume that a friendly alien has come to this country, is living here with his family, is interested in trade, is earning his livelihood here, and, so far as he may know, he has done nothing inimical to the interests of this country. The Secretary of State, by the stroke of the pen, can put him under all the disabilities which have been referred to in Clause 9, so that he may be deported without any remedy, or without really knowing the reason of his deportation.
What would English people think if they were living in a foreign country as foreign aliens with a sword of Damocles of that kind hanging over their heads? No, my Lords; this Bill has been framed purposely with the idea of keeping every alien you can out of this country. Every provision is as harsh as it can very well be made. If the desire is that we shall be an isolated country, without any international relationships or industrial relationships with foreign countries, I can understand it; but, if not, what possible reason is there for putting every friendly alien, at the mere ipse dixit of a bureaucratic official, under all the harsh conditions of Clause 9, which have been referred to by my noble and learned friend, Lord Buckmaster?
My own objection to this Bill would not be so strong if it had been left in the terms 459 in which the Home Secretary introduced it. I am willing to agree that the Home Secretary has special knowledge of the conditions necessary to insert in a Bill of this kind. I am aware that my opinion will probably be different from his, but that is not the point. He was the responsible officer. All these questions of spies and unfriendly aliens were dealt with in his Department; he had the experience gained during the five years of war, and he introduced the Bill, which I think no one can say failed on the side of leniency. What I want to ask—and I do not know what the attitude of the Government in this House may be—is, Are they going to support provisions which, in the opinion of the Home Secretary himself when he introduced the Bill, were not necessary? That, I think, is a very important matter for your Lordships' consideration.
Let me test this in one or two ways, although I do not want to repeat what has been said already in, such forcible terms by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster. Clause 9, if I recollect aright, was not in the original Bill in any form whatever. I am not talking of the particular form in which we find it now, but it was not there at all. Surely we may assume in view of that fact, that the adviser of His Majesty's Government who is specially cognisant with matters of this kind did not think such a provision was necessary at all. If such a provision is unnecessary in the public interest—which must have been the view of His Majesty's Government on the advice received from their own Home Secretary—what possible answer is there to the criticisms which have been put forward by my noble and learned friend, Lord Buckmaster? I do not want to go again in any detail through the criticism of the Clause itself. I think every word in that Clause is based not on the spirit of good will, not on the spirit of co-operation such as might make the League of Nations policy effective, but in the spirit (as I think Lord Newton said) of prolonging into the period of peace feelings which, at any rate in his opinion, were justified during the period of war.
I should like to draw attention to one of the subsections of Clause 9, because I think it was not mentioned by my noble friend. That is subsection (7). He has pointed out the extreme harshness of deporting these poor women particularly. I may point out from my own experience 460 that I know there are a number of poor women in this country at the present time to whom deportation would mean nothing but misery and starvation. They are women who have done no harm, and against whom no allegation has ever been made. It is a pity surely that a great country like ours should be concerned in passing this harsh measure against women of that character. What is the particular subsection to which I call attention?—Any licence so granted may be at any time revoked by the Secretary of State.That means this as regards the uncertainty of the future. Some poor women has gone through all the difficulties involved in obtaining a license under the terms of this Bill. What is her position? Is it secure? Can she feel that she will not be molested in future? Not at all.
One has to recognise that there are people in this country who are inspired with a very strong animosity against all aliens. It is open to any one of them to approach the Home Secretary and ask for a revocation of her licence. I think it is an additional element in the harshness and crudeness of this Clause 9, not only that it may be put in force in the first instance but that even in cases which claim exemption under it there is absolutely full power as regards revocation of the licence in future. I am glad to see—because at one time it was not in Clause 9 as we all know—I am glad to see that Clause 9 does recognise the recommendations made by the Committee presided over by Lord Justice Younger, then Mr. Justice Younger. But really I am at a loss to understand why the provisions as regards the Committee appointed after the first day of January, 1918, should not also be applied to the preceding Committees.
We were told several times during the course of the War—and again I think I am in agreement with Lord Newton—that these Committees were appointed in order to ensure that all proper means were taken to prevent difficulties arising from our enemy aliens during the course of the war. Now we have come to a time of peace. Surely the tests applied during the period of the war ought to be more than sufficient in a period of peace, and yet you are stirring up all this animosity, difficulty and trouble. While I admired the speech of the noble Earl, not one word did he say to suggest that he was dealing with any 461 question of public difficulty or danger. I have taken perhaps a stronger view than a good many people on this matter. I feel that now the war is over the only way to proceed to cure the evils which beset large districts of the world is on the doctrine of good will and co-operation. Whatever efforts are made towards reconstruction, they will not be successful if you put on one side this simple Christian doctrine.
I want to say a few words upon the other clauses of the Bill. I do not wish to call in question, as a matter of principle, the Bill as originally introduced by the Home Secretary. At the same time I regret that it has been thought necessary, as regards friendly aliens, to extend the precautions against them slow that the war is over—precautions which might have been necessary during the period of the war. I will give an illustration of what I mean. I pass over the old provisions of the war period, but under Clause 2, paragraph (m), you have additional precautions which were not thought necessary in the war period. I think that is so.
§ LORD PARMOOR
No, not under Clause 2. I do not want to deal with the provision for determining nationality—it may be a proper provision. But paragraph (m) runs—for prolonging, for a period not exceeding six months after the determination of any war in which His Majesty is engaged, the internment of any persons who during the war have been interned as alien enemies.The noble Earl told us that there were no such persons at the present time and that the provision would have no operation. What is the meaning of introducing what I may call a provocative provision of this kind which can have no possible operation under existing conditions? If unfortunately a new war broke out—which Heaven forbid!—I presume you would have to have the exceptional legislation we had on the break out of the present war, and yet you put into a Bill of this kind a suggestion that you are going to keep people interned six months after the termination of the war, although there is no single person in this country so interned and the conditions are such that this subsection can have no operation at all. Surely that is a mere provocative action which it is very difficult to justify.
462 As regards subsection (2), which refers to all alien enemies—that is to say, subjects of any State which has been at war with His Majesty during 1918—I want to ask the noble Earl this. I presume he considers that industrial intercommunication will have to be recommenced between ourselves and enemy countries. They have been recommenced. Details were given us of imports from Germany of a small amount, not more than £20,000, and of exports from this country of between £12,000,000 and £13,000,000. It is quite obvious that, for the purpose of reconstruction, industrial communication between this country and our enemies must recommence, if not, it would be to the common detriment of both. What does this provision say? It says—His Majesty may also by Order in Council under the principal Act make regulations requiring information to be given as to the property, liabilities, and interests of the subjects of any State which has been at war with His Majesty at any time during the year 1918, and for preventing (without notice or authority) the transfer of or dealings with the property of such subjects.What does "other dealings" mean? Does it mean that an Order in Council may be made prohibiting trade at any time, although trade has sprung up, between this country and our former enemies? Does it mean that the Executive, after trade has been encouraged, may step in and stop it? The words "other dealings with the property of such subjects" must include trading with them. It is a mere matter of formality whether the sale is effected in that country or in this country; and I should like to know whether it is the intention that His Majesty's Government may, by Order in Council, by some Department, make regulations preventing all dealings as between ourselves and the subjects of countries which were formerly enemies. It is a very serious matter. I do not ask the noble Earl for an answer at the moment. It may be a matter which he has not considered.
I was reading the other day the complaints of the French people against the terms of this Bill as regards friendly aliens. I read them in a document which used to be issued by His Majesty's Government, but is now issued by the same syndicate of gentlemen who have been performing the duties on behalf of the Government, and who are now performing them in their own behalf. It is called the Political and 463 Economic Review, which I for one have always read and carefully considered, because in it you get information as regards the international outlook which you cannot get in any other way. Lord Newton referred to the attitude of the Press on questions of this sort. The illustration in that review was this. A French trader in this country wanted to advertise in a certain organ of the British Press. He was a trader in the ordinary form and trading under ordinary conditions. He sent a sum of about £5 to pay for the advertisement, and the answer he got was, "We do not intend to insert any foreign advertisements for friends or others. We send you back your money and we will not insert your advertisement." If a policy and spirit of that kind is encouraged as between us and foreign countries which have been friendly in the war what possibly can be worse, or more foolish; and what can be more directly detrimental both to their interests and to our own?
There are no other special provisions to which I desire to allude, although when it comes to the Committee stage there are very serious blemishes in the Bill which will require attention. I want to say this in conclusion. I do not wish merely to re-echo the words of Lord Buckmaster, because he can express himself much more eloquently than I can. But what really is the inner meaning of the stirring up of this adverse feeling as regards all aliens, although no doubt in a special manner as regards aliens the subjects of foreign countries? After all—and I recollect that the noble Lord criticised me strongly on one occasion for saying so—from Magna Carta, which was in 1215, down to the present time our law has been that foreign merchants in this country shall be left at liberty and at peace, although their Governments happen to be at war with our King. That was part of the industrial policy of this country and a part of it which has been of enormous advantage in the general outlook of our industrial life. I do not believe in countries living within the isolation of a wall, such as the Chinese in old days attempted to build around an isolated country. I think that that is nothing but a misfortune. You want international intercourse; you want international friendliness; you want international good-will and international cooperation, and unless you encourage that spirit the League of Nations so-called is in my view of no value at all. What is the 464 good on the one hand of speaking as though you believed in a League of Nations, and on the other hand promoting a Bill based on the principle that the policy of hatred should be continued and that the policy of suspicion and animosity should not be allowed to die away?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LINCOLNSHIRE
My Lords, as one who unfortunately during the last five years of the war has been unable quite to see eye to eye with his old friends and colleagues on the alien question, I hope I may be allowed to say with what real pleasure I heard the wise speech which fell from my noble and learned friend Lord Buckmaster. It is difficult to say anything about a man in his presence, but perhaps I may be permitted to say that there are few men in this House who have made the position for themselves which my noble and learned friend has made, and that we look to him—the Party to which I have the honour to belong—as one of our rising and trusted leaders, and as a man whom we should be prepared to back up and follow. Therefore it was with great pleasure that I heard the speech which he made this afternoon; for after all it seems to me that there is not much between us now. Indeed, if I understood him aright, there is hardly any difference at all. He knows that I should be the last to try to make out anything more than he said, but if I understood him aright he said that he was not prepared in any way to raise any objection to the Bill. He said something—I did not quite catch it—about there being more wisdom than justice in it, but that anyhow he agreed that the Bill was a wise one and one that he was not prepared to object to or oppose.
The debate has also been more satisfactory, because the tone of it has been very different from the tone which prevailed in days gone by when some very strong language was used. I remember that in the old days those of us who were in favour of action against enemy aliens were called "unchristian" and "unchivalrous," and the Press on both sides, I think, was pretty outspoken, because in one paper I read that the action which we thought it our duty to the nation to take was simply "bestial, sordid, and miserable hate-mongering." Honestly, do your Lordships think that men who think as some of us do really deserve such language as that? We have tried all through these amazing terrible five years 465 to keep on an even keel in regard to this question. We opposed the milk-and-water Aliens Bill of the Government of July 18, 1918—it was universally condemned, without anybody having a word to say for it, by every speaker in this House—and at the same time we also did not quite approve of the somewhat startling change of front of the Prime Minister and of his clearthem-all-out policy six months later in the lightning Armistice Election of Christmas in the same year.
Everything we asked was that all aliens, rich and poor, should be treated alike, so that all suspicion should disappear and all mischievous rumours—and how mischievous those rumours were few people know—should be knocked on the head, and there should be no idea or notion that the Government was in any way influenced by what was called the "Hidden Hand." At the same time we knew that we lived in a free country, and if during these five terrible years of war men thought it consistent with their duty to the country to keep up their old German friendships and acquaintances, if they thought it right to extend favours and hospitality to their German friends—to naturalised friends of enemy birth—and to accept hospitality and favours from them in return, that was no concern of ours. We had nothing to do with it. If others, as has been said this afternoon, insisted on retaining the services of German governesses and ladies' maids, and employing German tailors, and on going to restaurants where German waiters were employed, we had nothing to do with that; and if their sympathisers in the House of Commons openly lamented their failure to obtain sea passages to enable them to confer with German socialists in foreign cafés, that also was no concern of ours. That was their concern and no concern of anybody else.
What we did resent, and rightly resent, was that these dubious gentry should be forced on our society as well—that we should find some of them left as members of our clubs—and we lost no opportunity of pointing out what we considered the scandal, if not the danger, of enemy aliens being allowed to remain in the British Consular and Civil Services, and also being allowed to act as pilots on our ships and in our harbours during time of war. Somewhat late in the day, but at last, these remonstrances have been taken some notice of, and as we know under Sections 466 5 and 6 of this Bill that scandal, as we thought it, has now been done away with for a time. We also thought that it was an outrageous thing that many enemy aliens should hold commissions in His Majesty's fighting forces, and also we were amazed at the Government insisting that these men should be the recipients of the highest honours and rewards that it was possible for this country to bestow—rewards higher than have been paid to our victorious Admirals and Generals—in recognition of mysterious services to the State. We were told by a member of the Government that those services were in important matters of extreme urgency, of which the public knows little, and were connected with their relations to individuals of which the public knows nothing. Not only had we those persons in opposition to our ideas, but we also had some lions in the path in the shape of good and honourable men who would have nothing to do whatever with German aliens, but who said to us, "This policy of yours we regret very much that we cannot support, because it would hamper if not destroy all our hopes of securing a lasting peace under the shadow of universal brotherhood." I ask this question, Is there any man in this House or out of it who will stand up and say that the repatriation of suspected Germans would knock out the League of Nations—that glorious conception which began rather as a fancy and has grown into an ideal? If it had been more dexterously and tactfully managed by the Powers it might possibly have become by now an actual fact. But these men shift their ground and say, "Oh yes, we quite agree as to all the horrors that have been committed by the Germans. We detest them. We are quite of your view in that respect. But do think of this. There would be terrible injustice in certain cases, and therefore we are in honour bound to oppose your policy."
Everybody in public life must know that all measures that have been conceived or carried out for the benefit or the safety or the protection of mankind have been opposed by good, honest, honourable and holy men. So these people in their kindness and simpleness of heart quote all the cases which we have heard repeated this afternoon. They tell us, "Oh, but what are you to do with the Englishmen who have married German wives?" Lots of Englishmen have married German wives. Some Englishmen have married some extra- 467 ordinary people. The Heralds' College told me once of a case in which a sprig of the nobility had married a Hottentot, and I myself have seen in the Western States of America the Sioux in their camp, after having been on the warpath, accompanied by Englishmen—or at any rate they appeared to be English—who were married to squaws of the tribe. You cannot possibly conceive a greater degradation than that. But in all those cases, from the highest to the lowest, according to the law of the land as it is now—I shall be corrected if I am wrong in this—there is a protection. The Aliens Consolidation Act of 1919 which is before your Lordships for Second Reading states in Part 3, Section 12—The wife of a British subject shall be deemed to be a British subject.Some would say, "You could add to that the words of the Code Napoleon in France." Under that, if a woman marries a Frenchman, not only the husband but the whole of the family is responsible for her loyalty and good conduct. Others would say, "Oh, well, perhaps there may be something in that, but do think of the Englishwomen who have married German husbands." If an Englishwoman has married a German scoundrel her lot is a very unhappy one, but it is not more unhappy than if she had married any ruffian of any other nationality, and if an Englishwoman has married a decent German subject she has nothing to fear because Mr. Shortt, the Radical Home Secretary in the present Coalition Government, said recently, "There is nothing in this Bill whatever to prevent any alien coming to this country if, and only if, he is a decent and respectable person." I would ask, Is a suspected German to be allowed to remain in this country to plot, to intrigue, to injure, and to exploit it simply because he happens to have the good fortune to be married to an English wife?
Another argument is brought forward which is a very serious and a very sad one, and that is in relation to the case of those men of German origin who have been mentioned this afternoon as having fought and bled, and in some cases died, for this country. That is a horror that ought never to have been allowed. I believe that had it not been for the lightning declaration of war—if people had had time to think and look round—such a horrible thing would never have been sanctioned. There was a British rally all over the world. From all 468 parts of the Empire Englishmen sprang to the defence of their country. They all came to fight for liberty and honour. In these circumstances, when everybody came to the front, could there really have been any necessity for a small German or Hanoverian legion? Hundreds and thousands of men have paid the supreme sacrifice. The Angel of Death has been in every house in this country from the castle to the cottage, and the agony and anguish have been almost universal. Things have been hard to bear. But would not all this anguish and agony have been increased a thousand-fold and accentuated by the thought that these brave Germans—because there is no doubt some of them fought very bravely and very well—fell fighting against their own country and were killed by their own fellow-countrymen.
I have only one more word to say. It seems to me that the difference between us now, small as it is, has been entirely due to misunderstanding and to misapprehension—perhaps to unintentional misunderstanding. Some people seem to think—it has almost been said this afternoon—that the Bill applies to all foreigners all over the world, that it is going to be used in a most severe and drastic fashion, and that it is going to be administered by prize idiots. What is the truth of the whole thing? The truth is that the responsibility of working this Act rests upon the Civil Service. Anybody who has ever been a Minister, and has had a Department, knows what the work of these men is, for the English Civil Service is perhaps the best in the world. All of us who back up my noble and learned friend in his strictures upon Clause 9 say that if there is anything wrong in Clause 9 let us have it properly discussed, and, above all, let us take out of it any possible suspicion of any cruelty and injustice. We should be all agreed to that.
But this Bill, as I understand it, applies only to suspected Germans, men who have betrayed their trust, who have abused our hospitality, who have acted as spies, and, above all, have ill-treated our prisoners of war. Apart from all the atrocities of the war we know what Germany has done by what is called peaceful penetration before the war. They owned land, they owned shops and interests in our key industries. Well, there is a difficulty put in their way now by this Bill. In Australia, as everybody knows, they had the control of great industries. The 469 Australians stopped that themselves, and the vast majority of the people of this country are, I firmly believe, determined that such a state of things as that shall not occur again. And therefore it is in that hope and in that belief that, as a lifelong Liberal, I find it my duty in every way that I can to support the Bill which is now before your Lordships' House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I should like to say, in the first place, that I think His Majesty's Government are not in any way to be blamed for having introduced legislation upon this subject. There was a strong and a very legitimate feeling in the country that the alien question ought to be further dealt with. It was a sort of testimony of public indignation to the attitude of Germany and to her conduct during the war. That was a perfectly legitimate feeling and it is not at all surprising that His Majesty's Government should have taken account of that feeling and should have proceeded to pass legislation.
Neither is this Bill the altogether objectionable measure that might have been supposed from some of the speeches which have been delivered this evening. I do not speak of the purely temporary provisions involved in Clause 1 of the Bill—I mean the prolongation of the principal Act for one year—they may be open to some exception, especially the additions which are involved in Clause 2. But, at any rate, for the most part, they are a purely temporary affair. I think Clause 2 is not temporary, but the prolongation for a year of the operation of the principal Act is a purely temporary affair, and therefore a matter of minor importance. Then there is another series of clauses in the Bill which deal with the permanent alteration of the law respecting aliens—I mean, all aliens, not merely enemy aliens. There is a great deal that I should desire to support in this Clause, for example, the provision that a resident alien here is not to be allowed to indulge in seditious agitation, that if he is only a temporary resident he is not to be allowed to further industrial unrest. Those appear to me to be very proper provisions of the law, and there are others.
I leave out the exceptional case to which the noble Earl called our attention, but, broadly speaking, I do not want to see alien pilots in this country. I think it reasonable that the Civil Service should not 470 have aliens amongst its number unless in very special cases, and, certainly, if any prisoner standing his trial objects to an alien sitting upon the Jury, it seems to me to be very proper that he should have an absolute right of challenge. All these seem to me to be good and wholesome provisions which deserve the support of your Lordships. There is one temporary provision which it really seems to me might have been transferred to the permanent part of the Bill, namely, the temporary provision which prevents an alien—I think any alien—from holding land in this country during the next three years.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is only an enemy alien. At any rate, so far as that is concerned I have never been able quite to reconcile our practice with the sense of the fitness of things that aliens, especially enemy aliens, should be able to hold real property in this country. As we all of us here know well, the management of real property and the ownership of it require a great deal of tact, a great deal of knowledge of the spirit of British ideas and British institutions; otherwise you get into trouble at once. I have always thought that where you have aliens owning land in this country you often see occasions when that peculiar atmosphere under which we conduct our property is not quite understood and leads to a great deal of mischief. I think it is well worth the consideration of the Government and of your Lordships whether there should not be a permanent provision that at any rate enemy aliens should not hold land and houses in this country.
I pass from that to the last part of the Bill—namely, the part which deals with enemy aliens, which has been the main subject of debate this evening. Those provisions appear to me to be of an obviously penal character. I say "obviously penal" because I think that they only last, or most of them only last, for three years—I am speaking of the provisions of Clause 9, which provides for all the exclusions of enemy aliens. It is not that there are any words of a temporary character in Clause 9, but, reading it with Clause 10, that seems to me to be the effect—and, if I am wrong, no doubt the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will correct me—because Clause 10 says 471 that no enemy alien may land in this country or reside in it without permission during the next three years. When the three years come to an end I suppose he will be able to land and reside in this country, even without permission, and that appears to put an end to all the operations of Clause 9 at the termination of three years. That may be a wrong reading of the two clauses, but it appears to be how they read.
If that is so, then we are dealing in those clauses with temporary provisions for three years. Consequently, I say they must be of a penal character, and penal only, because the danger from an alien enemy will not be especially during the next three years. Therefore all arguments derived from the consideration that the residence of Germans in our midst is dangerous seems to be eliminated. What is the good of providing for things of that kind during the next three years? No Bulgarian or Turk or Austrian or German is likely to do very much harm in this country during the next three years. That appears to be quite insignificant; therefore we must look upon these clauses as merely penal—that is to say, a proposal by His Majesty's Government that Parliament should pronounce against enemy aliens generally a sort of sentence of exclusion, subject to certain limitations, for three years. As we might say to a prisoner at the bar, "You shall go to prison for three years penal servitude," so we say to enemy aliens, "You shall be excluded from this country (subject to certain limitations) for three years." If that be the interpretation of the proposal, then I must say that we require to study with great care the terms under which this punishment is to be awarded.
No doubt it makes it less important in one sense if it is for three years only; but if it is penal we must take care that we do not punish the wrong people. I am bound to say, after listening to this debate and especially after the extremely powerful speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster, that I am afraid that as Clause 9 stands we shall in a very large number of cases punish the wrong people—that is to say, we shall inflict upon a number of perfectly innocent persons a punishment which they do not deserve, or which they deserve only because they happen to be Germans or Austrians or Turks or Bulgarians. That seems to me to be hard measure when you think of the 472 poor servant girl or the poor governess. Consequently we shall have to take the greatest possible care when in Committee to scrutinise the conditions of Clause 9.
May I refer in this connection to one clause which, if it has been mentioned at all, has not been mentioned very prominently? I allude to Clause 13. This clause seems to me to be one of the most astonishing clauses in the Bill if it is realised that these provisions against enemy aliens are of a punitive character.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What it says is that the Secretary of State may, if he likes, punish not only enemy aliens but all aliens, whether they are friends or enemies. That appears to me to be a most astonishing proposal. So that he may say, "These drastic provisions were passed in order to exhibit to the world our great indignation against the behaviour of Germany, Austria, and so forth; therefore I (the Secretary of State) decree that the same punishment should be awarded to the French and to the Americans." I am certain that I have only to mention this to convince your Lordships and His Majesty's Government that a clause in that form cannot possibly stand.
Those are the sort of criticisms I should make on the Bill. I think, if I may say so with great respect, that this Bill must be very carefully considered in Committee, and, in the light of the criticisms that have been made, it is impossible that the penal clauses of the Bill can emerge in their present form; but that with regard to the permanent clauses of the Bill there is a great deal to be said for them, and a great deal which deserves the consideration and support of your Lordships' House.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Earl who introduced this Bill on behalf of His Majesty's Government on the debate which has taken place after his speech, partly in consequence no doubt of the lucidity with which he explained its provisions. The debate has kept more closely than debates sometimes do to the subject-matter of the Bill, and the nature of the whole discussion has been one for which I personally feel intensely thankful.
We have heard no echo to-night of words which at all events were spoken pretty 473 strongly in the other House—which I do not think were without some murmur in this House, too—a few months ago when it appeared to a good many of us that the distinction was forgotten between what the noble Lord, Lord Newton, called attention to to-night—between war time and peace time as regards the basis and principle on which legislation ought to lie. There were speeches made on former occasions in this House, and much more strongly elsewhere, which could only have been made if the speakers were forgetting—as they certainly appeared to forget—the fundamental and vital distinction between the perils of war time which justify any precaution, any hardship if need be upon individuals for the sake of the public good, and the conditions which arise when war time is over as regards those dangers against which we were guarding before. I was a little surprised to hear the noble Marquess, Lord Lincolnshire, say that this Bill applied only to suspected Germans who had abused British hospitality. I should have thought that the Bill was intended to apply very little to those persons and that it was mainly intended to apply to those who were not capable of being so described; that we were to have the power of looking after the safety of this country even in the case of perils which might be only suspected; and certainly the Bill does not confine itself to those to whom the noble Marquess refers.
At the same time, it rejoiced me to hear the noble Marquess report what had been said by Lord Buckmaster as regards the need of Amendments in that strangely-drawn Clause 9. I am sure that many of your Lordships must have been imagining how that clause could possibly have got into the shape in which it now stands, and passed through a House of Parliament in a condition which makes it practically a ludicrously unworkable measure. I did not try to follow the growth of the clauses in the other place; I can only suppose that they took the shape they did because they were hurriedly tacked on one after the other without a realisation of what they meant. The noble and learned Lord was no doubt right in thinking that those who were supporting those clauses were thinking simply of men, but even if they had been so thinking Clause 9 is to my mind utterly impossible; and when it applies to women it becomes almost ludicrous. Some of the points to which 474 attention was drawn by the noble and learned Lord are so obvious that we must certainly see to them thoroughly when we go into Committee.
I hope that the Committee stage of this Bill will be a very careful one. We are dealing with a dangerous kind of measure; we are handling explosive material which may do infinite harm to, those who are handling it if they are not careful. We may find ourselves quite unnecessarily, under some unsuspected pressure which is being brought to bear upon us, drifting into a mode of action which we should some day deeply regret when we look back upon what has happened. I am an old man; there will not be many years during which I shall watch the outcome of a measure of this kind; but I am sure that there are younger members of this House who in twenty or thirty years time will look back with surprise on their own action if they give votes in favour of this Bill as it stands to-day because it has still about it a sort of aroma of war-time fears, grounds for which fears have now been practically taken away. We must take care, when we go through the clauses one by one in Committee, that we avoid anything which will make us even seem to be trying to apply in peace time rules, absolutely necessary, perfectly right, not only justifiable but obligatory upon us during a time of war, which are not only unnecessary but which will be intensely harmful in days of peace. After what has been said I do not think there can be any doubt that this clause will be thoroughly overhauled in Committee, and though I still feel we are dealing with most dangerous material, I believe we shall render it innocuous, and possibly beneficial, when we take the clause line by line for amendment purposes. I say once more that the debate as a whole has betokened the right spirit for handling a matter of this kind. I rejoice at the tone which has characterised it, and I congratulate the noble Earl who is responsible.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD BIRKENHEAD)
My Lords, your Lordships may be somewhat wearied by the debate which has lasted for a considerable period, but several specific questions have been asked and probably it will be expected that some answer should be attempted. Let me say in the first place that to the general tone of the debate the Government feel not the slightest objection. The Second 475 Reading of this Bill has not been seriously challenged. In fact, I think no speech did challenge it at all, except that of my noble and learned friend Lord Parmoor, who was so convinced that his objections were unanswerable that he has not, I see, remained for such answer as might be attempted.
Lord Newton made one or two observations which dealt a little with the spirit and history of this Bill as a whole, which were not entirely confined to any particular clause. He said that the Press had borne an enormous responsibility in the genesis of the feeling of which this Bill was the outcome. Some measure of truth underlies this statement, but it is extremely easy to exaggerate it. If I know anything at all of that portion of the Press which feeds upon daily sensation, those who succeed most are those who have a keen intuition which enables them to discern what the public is thinking to-day or what the public is going to think to-morrow. I believe the real measure of their influence is to be found in their swift capacity for discerning that which the public is deeply thinking, and I have not the slightest doubt that not only during the period of the war, but even at the present day, there are many who sincerely entertain deep apprehensions calling for drastic legislation as regards the subject-matter of this Bill.
While I do not confine the few observations I make to any specific clause, I say quite plainly that I share none of the general apprehensions to which the most rev. Primate has just given expression. When we are told to remember that the dangers under which we struggled for the last five years are over, and when, in the noble and well-known phrase, Lord Buck-master invites us to remember Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos, some of us are inclined to look round the world to-day and say, Is it so certain that peace has come? We may take notice that to-day the people who alone are exhibiting coherence and enthusiasm in Berlin are not supporters of the present Government. They are those who applaud the reactionary Party. They are to-day with the soldiers and with all those on whom the guilty responsibility of the war depends.
We can recall, too, that, inexplicably, suddenly, indefensibly the German representatives at the Peace Conference have left Paris with every circumstance of equivocation. They have gone to Berlin. They are in default on at least six of the 476 most fundamental of their undertakings in relation to the Peace Conference, and all I say is this, Do not let us be told with this smooth certainty of conviction that the whole period of our crisis has absolutely disappeared. I sincerely hope it may prove to be true, but I think we should be mad if we did not take legislative precautions on the hypothesis that German human nature has not so completely altered as appears to the sanguine and vaguely benevolent mind of Lord Parmoor.
The noble and learned Lord reminded us that we owe much to aliens. It is true we owe much that is good, and we owe much that is bad; and no one who has analysed the causes of industrial unrest in this country in the last ten years, no one who is familiar with the records of Scotland Yard of aliens who in the last five years, not always being enemy aliens, have played a great part in this movement of revolutionary unrest, will be under any delusions as to whether only one scale must record that which this country owes to aliens. The noble and learned Lord said that this Bill was introduced in his judgment to keep every alien out of the country. There is much to be said in relation to one particular clause of the Bill, Clause 13. It is open to criticism. When that criticism is advanced by way of Amendment on the Committee stage, the Government will naturally consider any suggestions and any comments which are made in this House with the respect that is due to this House. I myself assent to the view which was expressed upon that clause by the Home Secretary, when he said that in his judgment it would not keep any friendly alien with a respectable character out of this country and would not result in the exclusion or the expulsion of any friendly alien from this country.
I disagree entirely with what Lord Parmoor said, that it put it in the power of any bureaucratic official to take steps which would place all aliens in the same position as enemy aliens. I assure my noble and learned friend (who has never, I think, presided over a great public Department) that decisions on matters so grave are not taken by subordinate officials. If such a decision be taken at all it will be taken by the Home Secretary himself, and your Lordships in deciding—and it is for you to decide—whether or not Clause 13 must be modified will, if I may venture to say so, be at least well advised to approach any 477 proposal to modify it with the certainty that any decision upon it will be taken by the Home Secretary and not by a subordinate official.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, also asked me a question with regard to Clause 2, subsection (2). As that was also commented upon by others, it will be perhaps convenient that I shall say a word about it. That is the subsection which puzzled my noble and learned friend by providing that—His Majesty may also by Order in Council under the principal Act make regulations requiring information to be given as to the property, liabilities, and interests of the subjects of any State which has been at war with His Majesty at any time during the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, and for preventing (without notice or authority) the transfer of or other dealings with the property of such subjects.Whether the object with which that subsection has been drafted is very happily or lucidly carried out may be a subject of discussion when we approach it more closely in the Committee stage, but the object of the subsection I should have thought was patent. It is to provide for the regulation of the property and of the liabilities of former enemy aliens in order to safeguard the interests of those who have claims in this country against such aliens. A similar provision was inserted in the Peace Treaty which has been, in its turn, the parent of such. Regulations, whether by Order in Council or the equivalent, or by legislation, in the Allied countries. The language of this subsection may be explored more closely when we reach it.
I come to the very powerful speech which was made by my noble and learned friend Lord Buckmaster, and I am now in a position to give him the information which he desired. He asked that the 22,440 enemy aliens, belonging to the category so much discussed, might be distinguished according to sex. The information asked for is as follows—Austro-Hungarians, belonging to the class under discussion, males 4,721, females 3,557—total 8,278; Germans, males 8,446, females 5,320—total 13,766; Bulgarians, males 29, females 34—total 63; Turks, males 204, females 129—total 333. The noble and learned Lord was right in his anticipation that the number of males was considerably greater than that of females. The grand total is 22,440, made up as follows: males, 13,400; females, 9,040.
478 Now I approach —and I will deal with it shortly, because the Second Reading stage is not the occasion in which one can most conveniently discuss the merits or demerits of a particular clause—Clause 9, which has occupied a prominent place in the debate. I think that Lord Salisbury is not right in assuming that the three years provision in Clause 10 is to be read side by side with Clause 9, or throws any light upon it. As I read the Bill, Clause 10 deals with the case of an enemy alien who wishes to come to this country, not with the intention of a permanent stay but for temporary purposes, either business or pleasure. Whether it be a wise proposal or not, the object of Clause 9 is to deal only with the case of those enemy aliens who, at this moment, as survivors of the war, find themselves in this country.
I am in entire agreement with those who, in this debate, have said that the House of Lords is entitled to take cognisance of the fact that this Bill as presented is not the Bill which originally received the assent and imprimatur of the Government. It is a commonplace thing to say that any Second Chamber is entitled most carefully to consider the genesis of a Bill and its gradual development until it assumes its complete form. Having taken note of that circumstance, there may be other considerations as to the relative force of which different persons will form very different conclusions. I will not anticipate the discussion which may be necessary upon Clause 9; I announce no prematurely formed conclusion or decision of the Government. There is much to be said for the suggestion that when the vote takes place it might be left to the unrestricted decision of your Lordships without the intrusion of the Party Whips. But when we are told that the history, the Parliamentary history, of this measure is such that it ought almost of itself to induce this House to restore the Bill to the condition in which it left the hands of the Government draftsman, I say it may be a proper conclusion or not, but the changes that took place may suggest quite different reflections. What was their cause? This is certain, that the cause of these changes was the powerful and effective desire of the great majority of the House of Commons, so powerful that the Government surrendered their original intention and gave way to an expression of opinion so strong that in their judgment it was irresistible.
479 It may and probably will be said that the opinions of those who insisted upon a modification and strengthening of this part of the Bill were the result of ignorance and prejudice. It may be so. They are debatable matters. I am not saying that the whole of Clause 9 as it stands is not a debatable matter. My noble and learned friend pointed out some errors and oversights. He called attention to what, I think, is an undoubted fact—that the clause has been drafted in an exclusive and surprising reference to the case of males alone; and he pointed out that an appreciation of that fact would undoubtedly necessitate some modification. I am not attempting to make any convert in this House at this stage, but I am asking that the minds of noble Lords shall be kept open until the specified Amendments on that clause are put on the Paper.
The noble and learned Lord made an interesting suggestion on that point, in relation to which I, for one, should decline to reach a conclusion until I have heard the matter debated in Committee. He suggested that instead of making it necessary for every one of these hitherto unsuspected aliens to present themselves and obtain immunity, it would be possible, by means of a very simple Amendment, to provide that only those persons against whom some complaint was forthcoming should be made liable to the provisions of the clause. I prejudge nothing upon that, and I hope the noble and learned Lord will put an Amendment down so that it may be the subject of discussion and decision in this House. I hope myself to learn something by such a debate, as I think all those who listen to it would certainly do.
I have only this to add. This is a most difficult and thorny subject. It would be difficult to deal with it even in times of peace. More than one Government has found that no legislation presents greater complexity and difficulty than legislation dealing with the admission of aliens into this country. We had the task, in the first place, of formulating our policy while we were still almost in the throes of the greatest war in history. We have had to present our complete and final proposals in a period in which peace in the real sense is not even now restored to the world. We believe—and the reception given to the Motion for the Second Reading encourages us in the belief—that we have 480 dealt in the main with the formidable difficulties in a spirit of reasonable compromise, and yet in the spirit of men who are determined that this country and this Empire shall no longer be exposed to the unnecessary dangers which, as we think, we have endured in the past.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
My Lords, I think it is desirable, before we go into Committee, that something should be said to show that there is a feeling in some parts of your Lordships' House that it is not only Clause 9 and Clause 13—as to which I think no defence can be offered—which are objectionable. Clause 10 is also objectionable. To me Clauses 9 and 10 stand together as an attempt to perpetuate a system of hate, a condition of war, in time of peace. This country has been through many great wars in her history, many wars of great danger, and she has not always come out as successfully as on this occasion. She has even had to sit under defeat; but never has she made such proposals and carried such laws as those which are contained in these clauses. Never before has she ceased to treat former enemies as practically friends as soon as peace has been declared; and, my Lords; in these days of international commerce, international union and international marriage the hardship and cruelty as well as the injustice of these clauses becomes much more prominent than in former days.
I bear in mind cases which have been brought to my notice—cases of poor humble people—where English women have married German men and now find their German husbands isolated from them in Germany, unable to come back, hardiy venturing to ask their English wives and children to share the hardships and the odium—and one might almost say the just odium, if such a Bill is passed—to which English people will be subjected in Germany. Those are the people of whom I am thinking—people who perhaps have been deported; people who perhaps have on the whole found it better to leave this country than to be interned, and who under Clause 10 are not to be allowed to come back for three years to their wives and children—as well as those people who under Clause 9 may be deported and torn from their wives and children. I will not add, though I could, to the riddling to which Clause 9 has been subjected by my noble and learned friend, Lord Buckmaster. There arc even further shots to be 481 fired at that clause, but I will not trouble your Lordships with them.
I will confine myself to Clause 10, and turn away from the claims of humanity and justice to the claims of commerce and business. Are we not going to do trade with Germany? Are we not going to do trade with Austria? Are we going to let the Americans and the Russians have it all? Are we going to give Germany an opportunity of paying some of her debts? If we are we must do trade with Germany, and are we going to do that without the familiar common bagman? Are there to be no commercial travellers sent from one country to the other? Is there to be no interchange of literary tastes? Are there to be no conferences of astronomers and other scientific people, or conferences between the much-abused lawyers, to which Germans may come in this country? Are all those international conferences to be held in the future in Holland or in Switzerland, because we erect a kind of Chinese wall against people who at one time were our enemies but who ex hypothesi are no longer hostile to us?
This clause is so drawn that it would even apply to Ambassadors. I know there was a clause in Standing Committee of the House of Commons exempting diplomatic people, but for some reason it has ceased to appear here, though I will assume that under International Law Ambassadors would be admitted. But what about Consuls? Are there to be no German or Austrian Consuls here?
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I would refer the noble and learned. Lord to Clause 15, Which says:—"Nothing in this Act contained shall be construed as imposing any restriction or disability on any duly accredited head of a foreign diplomatic mission or any member of his official staff or household."
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
I am much obliged to the noble Earl. I bad seen that clause and forgotten it, but it does not touch the Consul, who is the one whom I am really thinking of. Are there to be no German, Austrian, or Turkish Consuls in this country unless that most undesirable thing happens—namely, that the Austrians or Germans employ Englishmen as their Consuls? How are we to expect the Germans to admit our Consuls and our travellers and merchants and people who 482 want to show off their goods into their country if we have such a clause as Clause 10? Lord Newton tells me that it may be provided for in the Treaty. If that is so, this clause is in contravention of the Treaty. But how are we ever to expect to do business with countries with which we have been at war with Clause 10 staring us in the face? We are practically giving a licence to our competitors—Holland and America and Russia, and I dare say Italy—to trade with Germany and Austria instead of ourselves. I hope that when the Bill comes into Committee Clauses 9 and 10 will disappear, and that if they do not they will be so changed that their authors will not know them. I owe, perhaps, some apology to the Government and to the Lord Chancellor, who probably intended to conclude the debate, for not having risen before. I had intended to do so but I refrained as I saw him leave the Woolsack, but I have been obliged to say a few words in order to indicate the line which I hope your Lordships will adopt when the Bill comes into Committee.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
We propose to put it down pro forma for Thursday, and we can then discuss on Tuesday as to the effective date.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.