HL Deb 11 March 1954 vol 186 cc297-354

4.36 p.m.

VISCOUNT STANSGATE rose to move to resolve, That in The opinion of this House the imposition of political and religious tests by the Boy Scout Movement is foreign to its Charter and purpose and repugnant to our national tradition of liberty of conscience. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in the first place, I should like to thank the noble Marquess the Leader of the House for making this debate possible in the programme of the House. I should like also to thank the Chief Scout for being present to answer anything I may have to say, and also, very much from the heart, I should like to thank the Chief Scout's office, because I have bothered them with many queries in the last few days, and although they knew perfectly well that I was a critic they never failed to show the kindness and helpfulness that we associate with the Scout Movement. I have no feeling that I am speaking on this occasion for a majority. I am not dismayed by that, for two reasons: first of all, I am quite aware that whatever your Lordships' opinion may be, you will give me a fair hearing; and secondly, although I do not say that a minority is always right, I will say that I know of no great cause which has began with a majority support. The cause that I am pleading to-day is a great cause; it is the cause of political and religious toleration. In a word, the proposition which I am going to put before the House is that the way to correct error is by justice and toleration. That is the text of my few remarks.

The burden of my complaint is that I believe that something has been done which is turning what was a non-political world-wide movement into a political propaganda movement—namely, that the movement has been enrolled in what I may call the anti-Communist front. I believe that that policy cannot be made effective without inquisition into the private opinion and conscience of the members of the movement. Further, if you accept the policy of excluding youths, for reasons of belief, from a movement with which it is the highest ambition of many boys to stand well, and make them a sort of second-class citizen, then I believe you must go further, because you have entered upon a road which means that you must examine the schools, you must examine the teachers, you must examine the reading matter, and so on. I shall deal with that point a little later. The general theme is, that in fact you are taking a step which is creating a class of undependable citizens with no full rights—people with whose opinions your Lordships, I am sure, disagree, as, indeed, I do myself.

Now just a word about the beginning of this movement. When the movement was founded by the first Chief Scout many years ago, everybody was interested, because we were all hoping for and vaguely feeling our way to a worldwide movement of some kind—somethiig that would unite all classes, all races, and all creeds. We were very much afraid of militaristic movements—heavens ! in 1910 and 1911 we thought that somehow we could save the world from war. When the late Lord Baden-Powell was asked about this movement by a leading member of the Trades Union Congress who is still alive, although an old man, this is what he wrote: The aim of our training is citizenship, and it runs in four main channels: character, health, handicraft and service for others. We make no distinction in class, creed or country. These were the words of the Charter granted by the late King George V: The Boy Scouts are an incorporated organisation for the purpose of instructing boys of all classes in the principles of discipline, loyalty and good citizenship. That platform made a very wide appeal. Your Lordships will observe that there is no allegiance, there is no political test, but on it was based a declaration of fealty—a very proper declaration of fealty. It is a similar one to that which you and I, my Lords, make in this House at the beginning of every Parliament when we swear: to be faithful and to bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law. The Scout declaration, in my judgment, amounts to the same thing: On my honour I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God, and the Queen….

I read that as a declaration of fealty. I consider that that declaration, accompanied by obedience to the Scout Law, which says that there should be no propaganda and no discussion of politics within the movement, is the perfect pattern to which we should work. And, indeed, that has happened. No one ever heard of discrimination in the Scouts. No one ever heard of anyone being driven out of the Scouts for his opinions or his religion. It is a movement in which we all believe. Speaking for my own family, I can say that we entered into it with enthusiasm. It seemed to us that it was exactly what we wanted—the beginning of the dawn, as we hoped.

Then there was an alteration. I am obliged to the Chief Scout for kindly answering the many questions which I put to him, and in the course of his replies he stated that in 1951 a pamphlet was issued. I recommend those of your Lordships who have the judicial mind to obtain it and read it. It is the most remarkable mixture of callow argument, prejudice and failure to foresee that I have ever seen. The publication of that pamphlet in 1951 is the cause of all the trouble. You can see the kind of contents from some of the headings—" Challenge to Guiding," "Challenge to Scouting," and "The Menace of Communism." You may think this is right or you may think it is wrong, but this decision was a decision to take the Scout Movement and put it into the Cold War. That was one thing which we all hoped would never happen. I contend that it is not their job. Their job is scouting, which has, in fact, been done with magnificent results for boys of all countries. But it is not their job to carry out this other thing. I will deal with some of the so-called arguments in this pamphlet a little later. But I say it is absolutely outside the province of the Scout Movement, it is ultra vires—indeed it is more than ultra vires; it has nothing whatever to do with it. In order to make it effective, to bring the Scouts into line in the war against Communism, it is necessary to set up some dictum which everyone can understand.

The first is the Promise. In fact it all turns on the Promise. The Scout says he will do his best to do his duty to God and the Queen. I take first the meaning of the word "Queen," because I think it has the widest appeal in this political campaign. What do we mean by "fealty to the Queen"? We mean exactly what the words say. It is true that in all our hearts, or at any rate in the hearts of most people in this country, the oath of fealty is enriched by a deep feeling of gratitude for a life of devotion. But that is not part of the oath. I could take the oath of fealty to King George IV as easily and as faithfully as I could take the oath to Queen Elizabeth. The argument that no citizen who is not in his heart a monarchist can be a good citizen has been dropped. That argument has faded out now. If it were true that a person who is not a monarchist is not a good citizen, then numbers of people would be ruled out—people in all classes, we do not know how many. They are not very numerous now, but there were many Republicans when I was a boy, and very distinguished Republicans, too. I think Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was once a Republican, and, certainly. Sir Charles Dilke called himself a Republican. But all that has disappeared. It has disappeared, for one reason, because that movement was never persecuted; because people said, with perfectly good sense: "The oath of fealty is an oath of fealty: that is all we ask, and we go no further." The second argument which is necessary in the interpretation of the Scout Promise, in order to make it a really effective weapon of political warfare, is based on God. How, it is said, can a Scout who is a Communist promise to do his duty to God and the Queen? That is a question which troubles a great many people.


Hear, hear!


But the difficulties are not all on one side. I can tell your Lordships exactly what my answer would be. Many Communists consider themselves Christians. That really is so. They may be quite wrong. The case we are discussing—or rather a case I shall be discussing—relates to people who are actually working in Churches and are Christians. I am not aware that the authorities of the Church would turn away a man because they knew, or thought, or had heard, that he was a Communist. The fact is that it is a limited class. I know very little about the Communist organisation, but. I know something about Communism, for I have travelled extensively in Russia and China, passing twice across Russia. It is true that a member of the Communist Party in China must be an avowed atheist. But does this answer the case of people who say I am in doubt," or the case which we shall have before us, that of Paul Garland, who says, in effect:" I consider that in these ideals there is something of the nature of my religious belief, therefore I am prepared to make the Scout Promise." That is his answer, and I think you can do no more than accept it. If you do not accept it you must inquire, and if you inquire you are going to get into very deep water indeed.

The second point, which is very interesting, because this is a most telling argument for the new scout propaganda, is the definition of God. I feel terribly troubled here; I am so incompetent to deal with this. So, I turn, and I am going to turn again, to the great Parliamentary speech made in 1883 by Mr. Gladstone, on the Oaths Bill. He dealt with this because people said of Bradlaugh, a man who was detested: "How can a man who is an atheist come into this place?" And they said further, "If he would only say that he believes in some God then it would be easy. But not at all. He says, I do not believe in any God' so we must exclude him." I could not summarise what Mr. Gladstone said, but I wish your Lordships would read it. It is not merely a matter of a Christian God; Jehovah must be brought in. And it is not merely a matter of a Christian God and Jehovah, Mahomet also must be included. And it does not end there. What about the Buddhists? There are thousands of Buddhist scouts, and I am told that they do not believe in a personal God. And what are you going to do about the Shinto scouts who have been reorganised since the war? How are you going to get them to say that they believe in God? And how about the Animists? There are Animist scouts, as well as Christian scouts. I have recently had a letter from a gentleman who has been a scout commissioner in Assam and he spoke of the Animists in the movement.

You may say that if you have this solemn affirmation, this solemn promise, made by a young boy to do his duty, and if you leave it there, you have gained something. But if you are going to start on a theological definition you are in a most awkward position. I must refer again to the pamphlet because before they come to this question of the promise, the people, whoever they are, who wrote the pamphlet name a number of people who are excluded front the Scout Movement. The chapter heading is" By Whom are We Challenged?" and the writers say this: There are several forces in the world which challenge our Scout faith. … The first are the atheists. … They may describe themselves as Materialists, Secularists, Humanists and the rest "— I do not know what "and the rest" means— It is clear that they cannot truthfully take the Scout Promise…. The pamphlet goes on to speak of agnostics and indifferentists. Is there not an element of humbug in permitting this to be turned into an anti-Communist front on this basis? We all know perfectly well that there are Members of this House, and distinguished men in this country, whose form of service to humanity has not been theological at all. The case is that the people referred to in the pamphlet must go, but that the movement will accept anyone who says, "I believe in a supernatural power." You cannot be a materialist; and to prove that you are not, you must say that you believe in something supernatural, something transcendental. That leads us into a position of absurdity. I do not want to make a joke, because I think it would be out of place at this moment, but this formula would admit "General China" and exclude Professor Gilbert Murray. I would not have anyone think that what I am saying is an attack upon religion in the Scout Movement. Not only is it far from it; it is very much the reverse. My conception of the Scout Movement is a broad human brotherhood in which those of common faith get together. I know from my own happy family experience that for a young boy to believe he can be the centre of real influence is far better than anything which can be imposed from the top.

The decision is that we must put the Scout Movement into the front line to meet the menace of Communism. I should like to say something about the byproducts of this decision. The argument itself is certainly scanty. I do not disagree with it, but I disagree with the inferred conclusions. The pamphlet says that the Communists suppress liberty, suppress justice and suppress opinion—therefore, we must suppress opinion. There never was a stronger case for the Communist theory than A Challenge to Scouting. Then the pamphlet says that the Scouts must read books. Of course, this is not done on purpose, but the worthy ladies or gentlemen who composed this document have fallen into some awful traps. They give the names of four or five books. I have tried to get them all; some of them are short and definite, some are excellent. They give a list of the Student Christian Movement books. which is quite excellent and should be at the disposal of all dealing with Christian students gathered together within the Scout Movement.

Two of the books named, one by a Mr. Sheed and one by a Mr. Douglas Hyde, are powerful anti-Communist books. Mr. Sheed is a distinguished Roman Catholic and Mr. Hyde is a Communist who became a Roman Catholic, and both of them treat the Communist theory mercilessly. But these books are not written primarily against Communists: they are written for recruitment to the Roman Catholic faith. I do not complain about that. But I do say that to push this is not the Scout's job. In one book, which is well documented, against which nothing can be said, there appears without comment the Papal Edict of July, 1949, excommunicating children in this country who belong to the Communist Party or who show friendship towards it. I wish that we could have a debate about that some time. How some foreign Power can threaten the children in this land I do not know. This is not relevant to this debate, but I do say that it is no part of a scout's job to go around recommending for reading this horrible invasion of our religious liberties. Therefore, on the basis of this pamphlet, I say: Leave politics alone. The Scout Movement is not a political movement. Far better give it out to contract to Mr. Morgan Phillips. It is our job to wage war against Communism. We consider that it is almost as great a danger as the Conservative Party itself. We think that we should fight it, and we do fight it. But I say: Give the job to people qualified to fight, and do not put it into amateur hands, with these disastrous results.

Now I come to the question: How are you going to enforce this? It is no good printing all this sort of stuff, if you cannot enforce it. I know of four cases of atheists or communists being expelled or forced to leave the Scout Movement. I wrote to the Chief Scout about this and he replied to me very courteously. The first case was in 1925, when the founder of the Movement, the late Lord Baden-Powell, asked that someone who was a convinced and sincere atheist should consider his position, pointing out the difference between that and the Christian view; and that man left. My own feeling about that is that the convinced atheist who left might have been better than many of the Christians who remained—but that is entirely a by-comment. The second case was of a Mrs. Holt, who was strongly advised to leave the Girl Guide Movement. She had been a Communist for sixteen years and had been working for a long time in the Guide Movement. Then there was the case of a boy named Etheridge, of Halesowen, who was not only a Communist himself but whose father was a prominent member of the Communist Party at his works.

Finally, there is the case of Paul Garland. I know nothing about the Holt case, but I have seen something about the Etheridge case in the newspapers. I thought I saw a gleam of hope there. I wrote to the Chief Scout to ask him about this case and I am sure he will not have any objection if I give his reply. This pamphlet. A Challenge to Scouting is a document to prove that no Communist can conscientiously be a Scout. Etheridge is a Communist and the case has been settled—in my opinion with admirable good sense. In my letter to the Chief Scout, I said: Finally and most important would it not be possible for you to say simply that if a boy abstains from political propaganda and keeps the rest of the Scout rules and declares himself conscientiously able to make tie promise, the mere fact that he is, or is said to he, a Communist would not exclude him from the Scout Movement? The local scoutmaster said: We have found no suggestion that Etheridge has ever attempted to impart his Communist views to other members of the troop. The Chief Scout wrote to me this morning and said: The answer to the question is ' Yes'. If I could leave it there, I should be very satisfied, because we should have removed a great danger to the Scout Movement. I hope, my Lords, that the result of this debate is that we may leave it there.

Unfortunately, there is still one outstanding case and there are two other points I want to make. Looking at the international aspect of this matter—and I say this deeply and sincerely—if you introduce this complication about Communism, you assail the international solidarity of the Scout Movement. For instance, take the South African scouts. In South Africa it is an offence to be a Communist, and Communists are excluded; that is to say, the Scout Movement in South Africa is identified with the Malan policy. I cannot go into the Malan policy now, but that has nothing to do with the Scout Movement.


May I interrupt here? What is Government policy is not necessarily the policy of members of the Scout Movement; and because the South African Government bans Communists, it does not mean that the Scout Movement is also banning Communists, as I hope to show to your Lordships later on. The two are entirely separate cases.


I am glad to hear that. That brings South Africa into line with Halesowen. But it seemed to me that the denouncing of Communism in this broad way and the publishing of such a pamphlet did identify the Scout: Movement in South Africa with the Malan policy. What the Chief Scout has said is extremely important, because it means that we do not identify the Scout Movement in South Africa with the Malan policy. I accept that most gratefully: it goes with the Halesowen decision as a partial solution of the problem. But, generally speaking, this is what I feel about the Scout Movement. I do not know how many of your Lordships would sympathise with me in this, but I believe there is in the world a great craving for a united world, and people are feeling out for common points of understanding. We thought that the Scout Movement was moving in the same direction and would help us if, as we hoped, the clouds rolled by. We hoped that it would help the world to begin the task of understanding. What has troubled me so much about this matter is that the decisions—not so much now, after what the Chief Scout has said—were putting the Scout Movement on the side of division of the world, instead of on the side of brotherhood of the world.

I have one further point, and then I have almost concluded. There is this case of Garland. He is a convinced Communist, a member of the Communist Party, and a secretary of a local branch. His secretaryship is recent, but his membership of the Communist League has been known for two years, I think—at least for some time. At any rate, it is not disguised; he says he is a Communist. He had been told that he must get out of the Scout Movement for reasons which must be apparent under the rules. That was the, first notice he received. I wrote to the Chief Scout and asked him: "In the case of Garland, how are you going to find out; or what is the charge?" The Chief Scout replied: The charge is a failure to keep his Promise as a scout, a fact of which his scouters are convinced, and that his influence is a danger to the other scouts in the troop. I am sure many of your Lordships will agree with that. But how are you going to ascertain it? If you are going to start on sorting out the sheep from the goats, how are you going to do it? I said:" When is this matter to be decided?" They said:" It will be decided tomorrow"—that was the 12th. I said:" Who will be the court?" They answered that the court would be the local committee. I asked how many members that would consist of, and they said it would be about forty or fifty—I think it was 36 members of the committee. I asked:" Who will this boy have in the way of a friend in court?" They replied:" Well, he can bring another scout, whose name he must submit. "

I do not challenge all that; I dare say it is in accordance with the rules of Scout Law. But I ask your Lordships to look closely at this. The meeting is to be held in private; no member of the Press is to be there, and no member of the public. And the subject of the inquiry is whether this boy's behaviour is such, because he is a Communist, as to make him a person who cannot be retained in the Scout Movement. That is an extremely important question to discuss. It is one thing to say that he is too old—that is nothing. But it is another thing to say that the boy's opinions are themselves sufficient to disqualify him from this important honour of being in the scouts, and that he must be forced out. It is a long time since we have had private inquiry into opinion in this country, and I would beg the Chief Scout to look carefully at this. He says that the inquiry, the inquisition, or whatever you call it, will be private. How can you have an inquisition that is private, when the whole world is waiting to hear the result, and with thirty-six or forty members on the court? I do not know what the result of that will be, but it seems to me to be a dangerous precedent.

If you think it necessary to root out Communism from the scouts by all these methods (I will say what I would recommend in a moment) how can you stop at the scouts? You may get the Communists out of the scouts, but what about the schools? Are you going to make a boy safe in his scout troop and then allow him to go to school to be affected by some Communist teacher? What about the books he reads? What about the universities? What about the church he attends? Some of these parsons are terrible fellows—we know that perfectly well from what we hear from the other side of the Atlantic. What about the parents? Take, for example, the boy Etheridge, who has been restored. His father is a Communist. How are we to protect that boy? We may protect Etheridge in his troop, because we have rooted Communism out of the Scout Movement, but then he goes home every night and meets his father. Would it not be a good idea to ask him who goes to his father's house?—because Communists are notorious liars; their morality is something quite different. Inasmuch as you cannot trust them as witnesses, you would do better to have someone to tell you the truth; and if you are going to have someone to tell you the truth, then you have invented, as a necessary corollary of this, a whole series of inquiries and searchings which utterly destroy the liberty which we consider our British heritage.

People ask whether there is an alternative. I am an old-fashioned Liberal. and I am going to ask your Lordships to forgive me for reading a rather lengthy passage from Mr. Gladstone's speech on the Oaths Bill because, albeit it comes from unworthy lips, it expresses completely my faith in this matter. Mr. Gladstone dealt with the case of the naturalisation of the Jews in the eighteenth century; he dealt with the enfranchisement of the Catholics at a dangerous time, just after the Napoleonic wars. We ourselves think of the days of the Chartists as very dangerous times, and I sometimes wonder what the Party line would have been in the case of the Tolpuddle labourers. We think particularly of the Catholics. Mr. Gladstone did not deny the gravity of any of those things. There may have been a good deal to be said for Titus Oates; there may have been something to be said for trying to unify the church in the land, by putting the screw on us dissenters and bringing us up in the villages as little sub-citizens, as the children certainly were. I have no fear of atheism in this House. Truth is the expression of the Divine mind; and however little our feeble vision may be able to discern the means by which God will provide for its preservation, we may leave the matter in His hands, and we may be quite sure that a firm and courageous application of every principle of justice and of equity is the best method we can adopt for the preservation and influence of truth …." Great mischief has been done in many minds through the resistance offered to the man elected by the constituency of Northampton. That was Mr. Bradlaugh. Mr. Gladstone was being attacked, and they said to him:" Inscribe on your banners Bradlaugh and Blasphemy ' ". That was the public feeling of the day, and he said: Great mischief has been done in many minds through the resistance offered to the man elected by the constituency of Northampton, which a portion of the community believe to be unjust. When they see the profession of religion and the interests of religion ostensibly associated with what they are deeply convinced is injustice, they are led to questions about religion itself, which they see to be associated with injustice. Unbelief attracts a sympathy which it would not otherwise enjoy; and the upshot is to impair those convictions and that religious faith, the loss of which believe to be the most inexpressible calamity which can fall either upon a man or upon a nation.

I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That in the opinion of this House the imposition of political and religious tests by the Boy Scout Movement is foreign to its Charter and purpose and repugnant to our national tradition of liberty of conscience.— (Viscount Stansgate.)

5.12 p.m.


My Lords, first of all I must apologise for my long sojourn in the backwoods, from which am at present snaking a sortie, but I am sure that your Lordships will agree with me that it is of the utmost importance for one who holds the office that I hold to prevent himself from being embroiled in any political argument or controversy. I am most grateful to the noble Viscount who has moved this Motion for giving me an opportunity of defending the movement which I am privileged to lead from a lot of muddle-headed thinking and misunderstanding which has been going on for far too long.

If your Lordships will bear with me. I feel that, in order to make our position perfectly plain, it is necessary that I should give you as briefly as I can the background of this particular accusation. This is not a new problem; it has been going on since 1922, when, in accordance with instructions from the Soviet Government, it was decided that attempts should be made to destroy youth movements from within by infiltration from outside. In 1922 attempts were made, and the founder of oar movement, without any protest from your Lordships' House or front anywhere else, dismissed three young Rover Scouts for failing to keep the promise which they had solemnly made. From that time on there have been a number of instances where we have had to take action. In most cases, I am glad to say, no controversy has arisen, because the persons involved have honestly said that, in view of their own opinions, they could not keep the Scout Promise and have resigned from the movement.

During the last few years we have seen the disastrous effects on the Continent of Europe of tolerance to a compromise with the fundamentals of scouting, which from the beginning have been the Promise and the Law. Since this controversy started I have received a letter from an Estonian scoutmaster who, after six months of being harried and hunted in the forests of his own country, for no other reason titan that he had been connected with scouting, managed at last to escape to this country, where he found freedom. He wrote to me begging me not to give way but to stand firm, so that we might not be submitted to the same treatment that he had received. I received only last night a letter from a Czechoslovak leader of scouting who managed to escape, and to lead some twenty-five others to escape, after the coup took place in that country. I have also heard—although I did not meet him—of a Hungarian who said to one of our people in our headquarters that he had been astounded to see how closely this story of Paul Garland corresponded, word by word and line for line, with what took place in the Scout Movement in Hungary before the Communist Government and the Communist coup arrived in that country.

This is no new story. We have had only too tragic experiences of compromise in fundamentals, and we are determined that we will not compromise on these points but will hold firm by the principles which have stood us in good stead for nearly fifty years, not only in this country but all over the free world; for since that first statement by the Soviet Government we have been given the privilege of being No. 1 on the list of public enemies of totalitarianism of all kinds—not only of Communism, but of Fascism and Nazism, too. That has not been merely a theoretical position: we have been in every case the first of the free institutions to be suppressed—I will not say destroyed, because they have never succeeded in destroying the spirit of freedom and liberty which lives in the heart of man—by every totalitarian Government, from Mussolini to Mao Tse-Tung.

That is, the background. How have we reacted? What has been our policy? Let me say straight away that our founder laid it down as a principle, to which we still adhere, that no boy shall be excluded from scouting—provided, of course, that there is room for him in the group, and that leaders are available to deal with him—because he comes from a Communist home or because, in his adolescent development, he feels the idealism of Communism. We have many boys who come from Communist homes. No doubt we have many boys who have idealistic leanings towards Communism. Perhaps I can tell your Lordships a little more about this boy Etheridge to whom the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has referred. He is the son of a Communist father who is an ardent and militant atheist. His mother, on the other hand, is, I understand, an equally ardent anti-Communist and equally ardent and regular church worker. In order to" keep the party clean" he joined the young Communist League for weekdays and goes to church with his mother every Sunday, without fail. That is surely an example of muddle-headedness. This is a boy who needs our help, and to whom we are extending our help to keep him in the movement in the hope that we can help him to settle his problems and resolve the conflict of loyalties which is affecting him at the present time.

The other case is a very different one. In this case, that of Paul Garland, it is interesting to follow the steps of his career. He was a good scout. He won the Queen's Scout Badge, a badge which is the sign of the highest achievement in scouting. It is, however, a rather curious coincidence that, entirely without any knowledge of this case at the time, I should have written warning our scouters that the Queen's Scout Badge was not automatic on the passing of tests but that it must be given only to those who, in their psychological and spiritual development, were showing that they were progressing along the road to manhood and God-fearing, honourable, responsible citizenship of their country. This boy, as with so many other boys in other occupations and activities, was picked upon as one who was likely to be of use to the Communist Party. He was taken to the World Federation of Democratic Youth Peace Rally in Berlin in 1952—an occupation which is hardly favourably looked upon by the political Party to which the noble Viscount belongs.


I am not speaking for any political Party; I am speaking for my conscience.


I want to make it clear that we are not alone in banning these activities on the part of members of our movement.


I should not have thought that the noble Lord should use that argument. It shows that he puts himself into the class of political Parties, and his case is that the movement is not a political Party.


I ask leave to withdraw those remarks, my Lords, and to apologise to the noble Viscount. On his return from the Peace Rally, having been taken on visits to a number of other Iron Curtain countries, this boy was appointed a member of the National Committee of the Young Communist League, a fact of which he did not speak at all to any of the people in the Scout Movement. from which he had by that time started to drift away, as he had drifted away also from his church attendance. After fifteen months' probationary period, in accordance with the usual practice as a member of the National Committee, he was appointed Secretary of the South-West of England Branch of the Young Communist League. He was then naturally in the news.

He had absented himself for over a year from all scout activities. Suddenly he appears again in uniform—for which he was no longer eligible, being over age for that particular branch of the movement—at a Group pantomime which, by a curious coincidence, was Little Red Riding Hood. He was followed, after a decent interval, by a number of journalists and a Press photographer—an honour which is not usually accorded to Group pantomimes. The journalists asked if they might interview him, and they were told that there would no doubt be an opportunity at the interval in the programme. They interviewed him and took a photograph of him and, I understand, showed no further interest in the proceedings. That photograph appeared next day in the local Press. Can we really believe that it was a pure coincidence that the Press arrived at that moment? In view of what I shall tell your Lordships in a few moments' time, I think there is at least a suspicion that this was a deliberate plant a deliberate challenge to the fundamental principles for which we stand.

This boy was not only a member of the National Committee of the Young Communist League but a secretary of the local branch. The Young Communist League are shy people; they do not blazon their good works abroad but they accepted, with acclamation, at their annual meeting on March 7, 1940, a pamphlet, a statement issued by the Communist Party of Great Britain, called The Rôle and Character of the Young Communist League. The following is an extract: The Young Communist League of Youth … openly proclaims itself for Communism and Communist policy and supports the Communist Party, It teaches the Marxist-Leninist theory and science to the youth…. The "Marxist-Leninist theory and science," I believe. embraces dialectical materialism— I am not familiar with these matters myself. The extract continues: it pledges its devotion to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Socialist Fatherland. It goes on to deal with the organisation of this League and the function of the branches. It says: Further, the branch organises special work and establishes special groups of youth in such places as the factories and the youth organisations, but these group; are part of the branch and are led by the branch Committee. They are not part of the youth organisation—Oh, no! These groups are" part of the branch and are led by the branch Committee." Not very loyal members of the youth organisation in which they enlist! Then, in the Constitution and Rules of the Young Communist League, it says: The Young Communist League is an affiliated section of the Young Communist International, and works for the establishment of a single youth international organisation of all Socialist youth bodies. We know from experience in Eastern Europe exactly what is their idea of "working for the establishment of a single youth international organisation of all Socialist youth bodies." There is one international organisation, and that is entirely the Young Communist League, or the Komsomol or whatever else they may like to call themselves.

I have here also, if your Lordships care to see it later, a letter sent by this worthy young fellow to his fellow apprentices in the Bristol Aircraft factory on October 22, 1952. It deals of course with the ' Master Race,' who at present have secured, in effect, a military occupation of our country, and seeks to dictate our national economy. It also speaks of the necessity of setting up … a resistance movement, to combat the evils of Toryism and it; stooges in the right wing of the Labour Party…. and to counter the Wall Street warmongers and their counterpart in this country…. Are those the words of a young man who is striving for international understanding of the brotherhood of marl? Have we any right al retain one with those ideas, who is propagating them sedulously, day by day, among his companions, in a movement which has rules and regulations of its own in the Promise and Law of the Scout brotherhood?

The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has spoken about the Scout Movement, by this decision. dividing the world into two. We are not the people who have divided the world into two. We have been the main sufferers. Your Lordships may remember having read some time ago of the trial of eight of the leading members of the Scout Movement in Czecho-slovakia, some of whom I knew well. They were sentenced to from fifteen years' to life imprisonment because they believed in the Promise which they had pledged of duty to God, to their country and to their fellow men, and refused to abandon that Promise. That is the pattern which is taken in uniting the world and forming a single youth movement.

The noble Viscount asked us about the problems of duty to God. We do not expect the cub to have a full appreciation of his duty to God, but we try, during our training of that cub, through the Scout Movement to lead him to an understanding of that duty. But, as has been said, we are not only Christians; we have representatives of all the great creeds in the world, and the leaders of those creeds approve our principles and accept them as leading to the good life. The Buddhist, having no personal God, takes his promise of duty to his religion, just the same as the Animists and the Shintos. They accept that without question. It is not for me to enter into philosophical or theological discussions but we believe that we provide the only common ground in the world on which the youth of the world can meet without compromise to their own conscience and their own way of life. I have attended a" Scouts' Own" in a forest outside Nairobi where we had gathered together Christians of every denomination—Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus. They were asked each to pray in the silence of his own heart and in his own words to his own God for the world brotherhood of Scouts; especially those who were suffering persecution: for the peace of the world, and that each one of them might be able to play some part in bringing that about.

This pamphlet, A Challenge to Scouting, has been criticised. The noble Viscount has tried to make out that we are propagandists for one particular form of religion. It states: Mr. Sheed, the eminent Roman Catholic publisher, sets out to show that the nature of Communism makes it unsuited to the nature of man. That is not a concealment of the provenance of this particular book. Some recognition of the denominational beliefs of Mr. Douglas Hyde is also made. We are not concealing, we are not trying to lead those who are good Nonconformists into propaganda for one particular denomination.

The whole of this argument to which we have listened this afternoon has done nothing to convince me that we have taken the wrong action. We have a duty to the boy himself, to help him, if we can and if he is willing to accept our help, to find a solution to his own problems. But there may come a time when the greater duty lies in protecting the rest of the boys in the group, the whole movement in this country and the world-wide movement, in many of whose countries scouting is less well established than it is here and where there is a greater danger of infiltration and destruction from within, as we have seen has already taken place. Surely, we are not to keep one boy, whom we have lost all hope of helping, and at the same time, risk the danger of harming those others whom we are leading to a belief in God. That is where our major duty in this case lies. There is no reason why, if this boy attends another rally of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, he should go there dressed in scout uniform and with the Queen's Crown on his arm, as a Queen's Scout; and yet, if we gave way to the clamour which has appeared in some quarters to allow him once more to be a scout, there would be nothing to prevent him from so doing.

Some of your Lordships, no doubt, when you were more frivolously minded, used to play a game called" Beaver." Believe me, the appearance of a Queen's Scout in uniform at the World Federation of Democratic Youth would be the equivalent of the appearance of the red beaver on the green bicycle who scored game, set and match, without any further colloquy at all. We have to stand firm; we intend to stand firm, whether or not this Resolution is carried this afternoon. I will conclude by quoting the words at the end of this "infamous document: It is our responsibility as Scouters, through our example, to bring all our Scouts to the realisation that Scouting is indeed an adventure—the greatest of all adventures—the adventure of living under the guidance of God.

5.39 p.m.


My Lords, I hope that I am not wrong in thinking that this Resolution before your Lordships' House this afternoon is one upon which a word can fitly be said from this Bench. Freedom of conscience is a matter which must always be of vital concern to us, as indeed it must be to every member of your Lordships' House. But are we quite sure what we mean by it? I do not think I am, but surely it does not mean that no society can lay down its own conditions of membership. That sounds like the proscription of freedom and regimentation by an unchallenged infallible State is only just round the corner. There seem to be two questions: whether the present policy of the Scout Movement is mistaken or not; and whether the line which it has taken is an infringement of liberty of conscience.

The Chief Scout is well able to fight his own battles and he will need no help from me, but it seems to me that the latter question, on which the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, laid most of his stress, raises extremely far-reaching and fundamental issues, issues extending far beyond the present question. It runs back into a background in which decision is infinitely complicated. Behind the immediate debate this afternoon there is one of the most difficult and most delicate questions with which the whole free world is confronted at the moment, and to which it must try to find the answer—namely, the question of where to draw the line. Are there any limits, and, if so, what are the limits, of toleration in a free society? Can a free society rightly tolerate opinions which are subversive of its continued existence as a free society? And if it can (and I suppose that in our hearts; we all hope that that is the right answer), then how is it to protect itself against the betrayal of its own citadel? There are few more difficult and inflammable questions before the world than this. The United States have to try and face it, and we have to try and face it, and we shall not solve the problem by calling one another names.

The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has been a personal friend of mine for many years, and I have for him such a regard and affection that I would not wish even to appear to disagree with him. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude, and I think everybody holds him in honour for the way in which f e is always ready to support the unpopular opinion, the minority cause and the under-dog. Indeed, all through his public life he has made himself a kind of knight errant of freedom of conscience; wherever he sees the damsel in distress, out comes his sword and to the rescue he rides. He has put his case to-day in an extremely able and sincere speech. But, with all respect, I cannot help feeling that the noble Viscount really is on the wrong trail about this; and although he may be said to have scored a bulls-eye in his speech, it is really on the wrong windmill.

I read a story in one of the papers the other day about a boy who was called up for National Service and who claimed exemption on conscientious grounds—a perfectly right and lawful step to take. His appeal came before the tribunal and, rightly or wrongly (I know nothing about the circumstances), the tribunal disallowed his appeal. He then tried to murder the chairman. That story illustrates a strange fact about human nature which many of your Lordships must have observed as you have watched the human drama—that is, the extraordinary pugnacity which pacifism can generate in support of its argument. Similarly, there can be—and one can often see it—what I might call an intolerance of intolerance which may develop into a kind of persecuting zeal, and which may end by defeating its own object and lead to precisely the opposite conclusion. The professional free-thinker may be absolutely merciless towards; opinions which he himself does not share, and which he regards as illiberal and reactionary.

Every member of your Lordships' House will agree that freedom of opinion and liberty of conscience are the absolute life-blood of a Christian society and a free society and any suggestion of the imposition of a belief or any coerced conformity is abhorrent to our national tradition, as the noble Viscount has so rightly said, though it has taken us quite a number of centuries. with a Civil War and a good many other things, to learn that. Still, it is now part of our tradition. The idea that any citizen should be penalised in his civic rights or his status as a citizen because of his opinions, because he is or is not a Christian, is something which we should all regard as quite intolerable and a violation of one of the elementary human rights. If it over came to that the noble Viscount and I would be found on the same side of the barricade in defence of that principle. But surely that is not to be interpreted as meaning that no association within the State whether religious or political, social or philanthropic ought to organise itself and stand for any particular defined opinion, and to propagate that opinion or to recommend some particular line of policy and, therefore, not to lay down its own conditions as regards membership and office bearing and employment. Surely that is a part of what freedom means: that associations within the State have that right, and ought to be protected in that right. I remember that this point came up in your Lordships' House a few years ago in a debate on a Bill concerned with this very matter. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, if my memory serves me rightly, then accepted some Amendment proposed, I think, from this Bench on that particular aspect of the whole question.

I think this is a most important question. Suppose that one of my colleagues on this Bench were to become conscientiously convinced of atheism. He would have every right to hold that opinion, and he would have every right to retain his civic status and to be a Member of Parliament or anything else and to try to persuade other people to agree with him, but surely not as a Bishop of the Church. Would the Church be called illiberal and reactionary if it suggested to him that he should seek some other sphere of usefulness? Very likely the Church would be ill-advised to take that line, but that is a question of expediency, not of principle. Would a Mohammedan College—if there is such a thing in this country—be regarded as illiberal and reactionary if it refused to employ Christians on its teaching staff? I should have thought that this was a fairly close parallel to the particular question which is now before your Lordships House. The Scout Movement welcomes to its membership anyone who shares its ideals and its aims. It asks them to promise to try to do their duty to God and to the Queen. It imposes no definition of what is meant by that. As the noble Viscount pointed out, it does not ask them to sign any formula" on the dotted line." I suppose that a Scout may be a Jew, a Moslem, a Buddhist or a member of any faith. But surely that Promise is incompatible with acceptance of the obligations imposed on a Communist youth leader, of actively conducting anti-God propaganda. To call that doing your duty to God is rather an imaginative use of language. After all, who is it that refuses to tolerate freedom of conscience and independence of mind, trying scientifically to eradicate it every where? I have yet to learn that the Communist Party will accept any member" without distinction of creed." That is why so many disillusioned converts have come back out of it and have chosen freedom.

That leads me to my final point, which in my own mind is far and away the most important and which, I am afraid, may take us into rather deep waters. Surely freedom of conscience depends not only on unlimited toleration. Freedom is bound up with truth. If we do not stand for some ultimate conviction, some belief in absolute values, there will soon be no freedom left anywhere at all. If there is no transcendent standard or criterion outside and beyond the conflicting interests of rival groups; if any opinion is equally viable, and therefore every opinion equally false, then in that nightmare of relativity the only standard or criterion will be that of the majority at a given moment, which is notoriously fallible, prejudiced and intolerant. That is going to lead us all to subjection, to the sterilising and cruel tyranny of the mass mind. Freedom is bound up with truth, and I predict that it will be found more and more that freedom of mind, freedom of conscience, even political and civic freedom, is bound up in the long run with belief in God; and any attempted neutral halfway positions which people are trying to occupy will inevitably at last be overrun by Communism. My Lords, I offer you that point of view, and though I am aware that it takes us rather a long way away from this particular young man and his membership of the Scout Movement, I venture to think that this matter would be ill-considered if not considered in this wider context.

5.54 p.m.


My Lords, if I may say so without impertinence, the right reverend Prelate need have made no apology to your Lordships' House for the eloquent phrases which he used and the complete truth of the contentions he made in the closing portion of his speech. It is almost a work of supererogation to take part in this debate. It is hardly necessary for it to go on, because I would say that in fifty years' experience of public life I have never heard a case so torn to shreds and tatters that it ceased to exist as was the speech of the mover of this Resolution by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan. I have never heard such a devastating reply to a Resolution in the whole of my fifty years' experience in either your Lordships' House or elsewhere. In fact, after Lord Rowallan's speech there is little to answer, though I hope that the noble Viscount who moved this Motion will answer one or two points that Lord Rowallan put to him and that I and others propose to put.

I should like to begin the short speech with which I wish to trouble your Lordships to-day by making this observation, and to take a point which has not been taken by anybody else. I say this with hesitation, having been for such a short time a Member of your Lordships' House and the noble Viscount opposite having been a Member for a comparatively long time, but I should have thought it WAS stretching to its fullest extent even the elastic procedure of your Lordships' House to put such a Resolution as this upon the Order Paper. There is no Minister responsible in this House for the—


The noble Earl is mistaken. The Minister of Education is nominally responsible for the grant made to the movement.


Well, if the noble Viscount will allow me to say so, that is a very technical point; the Minister is nominally responsible. The noble Viscount knows as well as I that if anybody put a Question to the Minister in another place about boy scouts it would be refused at the Table.


No. The noble Earl persists. It is a procedural point. He knows perfectly well that in regard to money which appears on the Votes anyone is entitled, in this House or in another place, to raise a Question as to its disposal. It is not relevant, because everyone is glad that they have the money. It is a procedural matter entirely.


I understand that your Lordships' House, as a result of action taken by the Party opposite in the year 1911, are not concerned with finance. I leave that point aside; it may be quite small point. I come to something much more direct—and I am going to put some very direct questions to the noble Viscount. I should like to begin by saying one thing which I hope he will appreciate is a genuine compliment. I admire his courage in putting the case in the way he did, though I think it was a bad case. It seems to me that you can really reduce this issue to a very small compass. In his Resolution the noble Viscount is asking your Lordships to accept that the imposition of political and religious tests is foreign to the Charter of the Boy Scout Movement. I am going to commence my questions to the noble Viscount—I know that when he comes to reply he will endeavour to answer them—by asking whether he seriously believes that Communism is a political movement.

May I recall to the noble Viscount and your Lordships' House what are the avowed objects of the International Komsomol? The Communist Party of Great Britain is certainly not a Party in the accepted sense of the term, and it is certainly not British. I claim that it is a conspiracy in the actual, though not the legal, sense of the term. Its avowed objects are the abolition of the Monarchy and the Constitution, the abolition of all private property and business, land and houses. As the noble Viscount reminded us in his speech, it is quite true that other individuals, such as Mr. Bradlaugh, and Sir Charles Dilke have advocated some of those objects, but the noble Viscount knows perfectly well (if not, he ought to) what its hidden objects and methods are—namely, to destroy free elections in accord with ifs controllers in Russia; to torture and murder its opponents if it ever obtains control and. power—does the noble Viscount deny that?—to slander all who are in its way and to bear false witness against them; to persecute Christianity wherever it has the power to do so, which one of its principal advocates described as "the opiate of the people "—


No. May I interrupt? That was a description given by Charles Kingsley. Although it is irrelevant, it is always quoted.


I agree with the noble Viscount that his interruption is wholly irrelevant—to help our enemies in the cold war, and to injure our means of combating them. I put those specific questions in the manner in which the noble Viscount and I have done elsewhere down the corridor, and I hope he will answer them. Does he, or does he not, accept what I have described as the avowed and hidden objects of the Communist organisation of Great Britain? How anyone can have the effrontery to come and tell your Lordships that this is a political issue, I cannot understand. it is not a political issue at all. The Communist Party is not a political Party. It is a threat to everything in which we believe and, I may say, a threat not only to the property but to the lives of your Lordships in this House. We should be in a concentration camp all right if the Communists ever got control of this country. If ever Paul Garland, for whose conscience as a boy scout the noble Viscount has shown such concern this afternoon, were Fuehrer of this country I know where we should all be—in a concentration camp. And the noble Viscount would be with us. He would not be saved. He would be described as a representative of the "Bourgeois Socialists."

But one must not treat this matter lightly, and for this reason. I have always charged the leaders of the Communist Party in this country, including the Dean of Canterbury—I have charged him in your Lordships' House—with being associated with murderers and torturers. I said that of the Dean of Canterbury. I would say it of Mr. Pollitt or of any of the other leaders of the Communist Party. I feel that I am entitled to say that—and many of your Lordships also feel strongly in this matter—because I have known of friends of my own who have been murdered and tortured by these people in various foreign countries. I do not think it necessary to take up more of your Lordships' time by pressing that point further. But I cannot conceive that anyone—even the noble Viscount, who has such a charming character in private life, and who is so invariably wrong when he comes to deal with public affairs—can deny the truth of what I have said. I therefore just cannot understand why he puts such a Resolution on the Order Paper, suggesting that this is a political issue and that there is interference with a man's political views, when the Communist Party is concerned.

I regret that the noble Viscount who, I believe—I hope he will not think I am giving away confidences when I say this—has studied this particular issue for quite a time and has read a great deal of literature upon it, did not, in the course of his speech, refer to the matter which has been so ably and eloquently dealt with by Lord Rowallan. He never told us, though I should have thought he must have known, that it was not the Boy Scout Movement of Great Britain or in the world generally that started the struggle with Communism. It is the Communist Party which has persecuted followers of the Scout Movement all over the Communist world. I hope the noble Viscount, when he comes to reply, will admit that. He did not do so in his opening speech. All over the Iron Curtain world these people have been maltreated and imprisoned. The Communists undoubtedly regard the Boy Scout Movement as one of the barriers to their obtaining power in this country. So I very much hope—in fact, I do not hope, I anticipate—that this debate will do good, because I do not believe that the noble Viscount will have a single supporter for his Resolution or for the contention—which I suggest is the only issue in this debate—that here is a question of civil or religious liberty being at stake.

My Lords, I would end on this note. I want to get away from the main subject of the debate. Partly because of the recent activities of Senator McCarthy, a great many people in this country are in the habit of suggesting that the Americans are too much concerned with Communism and with its effects. Responsible American citizens do say, on the contrary, that we are too little concerned about Fuchs, Pontecorvo, Burgess and Maclean. The last mentioned pair were of course the centre of one of the greatest scandals that ever happened in administration in this country. They were two apparently prominent members of the Foreign Office and they have vanished—as we now know they have—behind the Iron Curtain. I hope that the enemies of Communism abroad and our friends in the United States will be encouraged by this debate. I believe the effect of it will be to show that the whole thesis of the noble Viscount in his Resolution is a completely false one that there is no question of political and religious liberty being at stake, and that the Boy Scout Movement is perfectly right in doing what it has already done and what I hope it will do in the future—namely, preventing the movement from being destroyed by Communism and its leaders from being treated in this country as they have been treated elsewhere.

6.7 p.m.


My Lords, we are all in this House interested when the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, addresses us. We have come to regard him as an outstanding champion of liberty of speech and conscience. His speech to-day was no less lively and brilliant than any of the other speeches which he has delivered in this Chamber. The main criticism to be levelled at it is that it had nothing to do with the subject under discussion. The subject under discussion is not the wider question of liberty of conscience and all that sort of thing, but whether or not the Scout Movement—or for that matter any other movement—has the right to refuse to accept into membership someone who it knows will disturb it: someone whose purpose is to cause trouble and in other ways to disrupt all the good work that might be done. The noble Viscount hardly said anything at all about that. But he dealt very widely and largely wish other matters. To a great extent what lie said on those matters has already been answered, and I would not intervene in the debate were it not that I think it would be wrong if some voice was not raised from these Benches to express the opinion of noble Lords here on this matter.

A second reason why I intervene is that I have had a long lifetime of experience of work similar to that which is done by the Boy Scout Movement. I have a considerable knowledge of boys' clubs and so forth, and I am aware of the great amount of mischief that has been clone by this Communist Youth Movement in gaining admission to many similar organisations. They have caused untold mischief and disaster. We have to remember that we cannot apply the same rules or laws of moral conduct to these people as can be applied to other people. To show your Lordships what I mean, let me quote from their own book, Young Bolshevik. There it is stated: If a Komsomol "— that is a young Communist— believes in God and goes to church he fails to fulfil his duties…. The task of the Komsomol is to inculcate a conscious attitude towards religion and to convince the youth of the worthlessness of the religious world outlook. The book goes on to say: Komsomol members must not only be convinced atheists and opponents of all superstitions, but must actively combat the spread of superstitions … I do not see how anyone can criticise for a moment the position that a lad holding those views who enters the Scout organisation should not be allowed to remain in it. Recently I have known a case where two or three Communist, youths gained admission to a youth club which was doing fine work. They got into the discussion class and managed to get a number of the young people to go to a Communist meeting. The instruction these young people received before was evidently sufficiently sound, because when they heard the lecture -the only result was that the youngsters went into roars of laughter, got up and left. That disposed of that attempt; but the matter created a certain amount of unrest and uneasiness, and a good deal of it is to be found everywhere else.

My noble friend Lord Stansgate said he was going to make a plea for tolerance, but he made a plea for exactly the opposite. Whether he intended it or not, to a certain extent he has been defending the rights of an organisation like this to infiltrate into other movements. As I have said before in a previous debate, I do riot condemn a man for holding Communist views, but I have every right to take care that he does not injure members of my family or get anywhere where he can do a great mischief. In their Promise, scouts are called on to serve God and the Queen. Can they do that while holding the principles I have just read out to your Lordships, principles which they bold very strongly? One of the mischiefs of this debate is that it will give that young man an exalted sense of his own importance, and it will be taken as a great advertisement for the movement in which he believes. These people are trained not to believe and not to trouble about whether they tell lies, so long as they gain their ends. If that is so, surely there cannot be any criticism of anyone who attempts to cast them out of the Scout. Movement.

I have known my noble friend Lord Stansgate all his life, and we have been good friends. I expect that we shall still be good friends after this, but I am more sorry than I can express that he has put down this Motion. I think he put it down under a total misapprehension. He is so keen in watching for any invasion of the rights of liberty of conscience and speech that he is liable to charge at any windmill, and lead himself and us into difficulties. I want to bear my testimony in this matter. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Scout Movement. I know that it is often said of children that if we get hold of them young, they can be deeply influenced. We have to see that these people do not get hold of our children and young people. I hope that when he comes to reply, Lord Stansgate will put his position on this a little more clearly. Nobody challenges the right of any man to any religious or political beliefs—that is a matter for a man himself, between him and his Maker. But everyone has a right to take every possible legitimate step to see that the work we are doing and for which we are striving is not undermined, because I believe it is only this work which will solve the international difficulties. That will not be done by Acts of Parliament, but by a congress of the spirit to find the solutions to larger and wider issues than any we have contemplated at the moment. I think that will proceed from movements like the Scout Movement. I add my testimony of the work the Scout Movement have done, and I hope they will continue on the line they are following at the present time. I am as keen and as strong in the defence of liberty of speech and conscience as my noble friend. At the same time, I am going to prevent anyone sapping and undermining the foundations of all those things that are worth while—the defence of a man's faith in God and the defence of his country.

6.17 p.m.


My Lords. most of what I had intended to say has been said by noble Lords who have spoken before me, but there are a few points that I should like to emphasise. When I saw the noble Viscount's Motion on the Order Paper I felt he had chosen unfortunate words—unfortunate for himself, that is. For instance, he refers to "political and religious tests." But in the Scout Movement there exists no such thing. A boy is not asked what Church he belongs to, and he is not asked what political Party he belongs to. All he is asked to do is to give his oath of allegiance to God and to the Queen, and to obey the Scout Law. The point is, can a scout do that and be a Communist at the same time? It is quite evident that he cannot. For one thing, as the noble Earl, Lord Winter-ton, has already said, Communism is not merely a political Party: it is a code of ethics; and it is one that is spreading throughout the world and has resulted in the massacre and destruction of hundreds of thousands of people. It is the danger to the liberty of the individual the world over to-day. Our Scout Movement stands for exactly the opposite—for the liberty of the individual. But it also stands for Christian principles and loyalty to the Throne.

So far as religion is concerned, we know very well that an active Communist is definitely taught that there is no God. No doubt the Soviet Government have permitted religion, since they feel it is tactically necessary to do so: but they still continue with their teaching, and we see it among Young Communist Leagues everywhere. We find it still taught that this belief in God is solely a myth which is believed by a few who have been deceived by older and decadent generations. Surely we are not going to take our oath of duty to God and believe that at the same time. Duty to God does not mean merely allowing the fact that possibly he may exist: it means an active worship of Him. The Bible says: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might…. That is our duty to God. We may interpret it as we will, according to our various sects. Communism does not teach that; in fact, it teaches very much against it.

To go on, we have the Scout Promise. We have already seen that that cannot be reconciled with Communism. Then there is the liberty of the individual—the "liberty of conscience," as I see the noble Viscount has put it in his Motion. I feel that we have seen enough of Communism throughout the world to-day to know that the last thing in the world that it stands for is liberty of conscience. Wherever Communism comes in, liberty of conscience goes out. I believe we should do well to remember that more often.


May I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? I am trying to follow his argument, and I agree with him most cordially that in Communist countries liberty of conscience is suppressed. What I am asking now is: Should we go near adopting the same policy? That is my` whole argument.


Personally, I cannot see the difference between Communist teaching in other countries and Communist teaching in this country.


I am afraid that I have not made myself clear—it is very courteous of the noble Lord to give way. My whole point is this. I am bitterly opposed to the Communist suppression of liberty. Are we ourselves, for that reason, to suppress liberty here?


I should like to point out that there is a difference between liberty and licence. We all know perfectly well that if we gave every individual complete liberty, there would be no need for any law whatever, and our debates here would be purposeless. Naturally, the young, who do not know how to behave and what the correct standards are, have to be educated. Those who have anti-moral tendencies have to be controlled. That is why we must have the law. But surely that does not mean that one is speaking against the liberty of the individual. As I say, liberty must not be interpreted as licence. The case has been raised about the distinction between Garland and Etheridge, in Worcestershire, but I think that matter has already been dealt with sufficiently by the noble Lord the Chief Scout.

I feel that we must recognise that the Scout Movement is not just an opportunity to have a good time. It is definitely a movement to train us to be worthy and God-fearing citizens, It may, at first, attract the young by the prospect of its various activities—and rightly so; but they should have that element of moral and spiritual education as well. Therefore, it seems to me that, if we are going to allow in the movement those who are definitely teaching against those points, then we are undermining our movement, and we may just as well give up our purpose altogether. Are we not really still rather wearing blinkers over the question of Communism? We allow it into our trade: we allow it into our Armed Forces we allow it to take control of our trade unions, and we do nothing whatever about it. I very much fear that if it goes much further, we may be sorry for it. I feel that, although America has been accused of rather, as it were, rattling the sabre too much against the Communists, possibly we have been a little indifferent to it. Indifference is something that works just as much evil as wrong intention. Apathy will get us nowhere; we must push forward and stand fast for what we know to be right and true.

6.26 p.m.


My Lords, no one doubts the sincerity of the noble Viscount who moved this Motion, but I thought that his noble friend Lord Ammon went rather far in his tribute when he described the noble Viscount as an outstanding champion of liberty and right. I do not think there is any monopoly of that nor is there any need for, as it were, comparative marks of merit for those who support: liberty. I believe that all noble Lords of ill Parties in this House can claim. an equal standard in that respect. Therefore. I feel that at the beginning we ought to debunk any idea that the noble Viscount is doing something meritorious, beyond the rest of us, in trying to preserve a liberty which we are unwilling to defend. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, said that he was speaking for his conscience. I very much respect his conscience, but nevertheless, if I may say so without offence., it seemed to me as he was speaking a very confused and muddled-thinking process which was going on as an expression of his conscience. I regret that, unwittingly—I am sure that is so—he has to-day been serving the Communist purpose by supporting the challenge to the fundamentals of life which is the challenge the Communists are putting forward in every direction, and will neglect no opportunity of doing so; and they will no doubt exploit to the full the incident of this stupid young man which the noble Viscount has blown up far beyond its individual importance. The noble Viscount said to-day that the cause of political and religious toleration was at stake. What nonsense! It is the conduct of a very stupid boy, and the quite rightful treatment of that boy by a movement which has every right to exclude him, should they so wish.

I rather wondered why the noble Viscount put down this Motion. I could not settle in my mind whether it was a passionate confusion in his mind over what liberty really is, or whether it was in some degree a tenderness which some feel for any checking of Left-wing movements, and particularly when they are extreme. This dislike of any check to the extreme Left is a peculiar expression which we see in many directions. I want to clear up this point, because it worries me—and I am sure the noble Viscount will help me to clear it up. I should like to put this to him. Would the noble Viscount have protested and put down a Motion if this boy Garland had wished to become a member of a powerful, vicious British Union of Fascists, if such an organisation existed to-day; if the boy had been told by the scout authorities that membership of such an organisation was inconsistent with scout ideals; that such an organisation suppressed liberty, spurned democracy and disliked our British way of life: and that therefore the Scout organisation felt that membership with the British Union of Fascists, and all it stood for, which is alien to the noble Viscount and to myself in our ideas of the way of life, was alien to the spirit of the movement? Would the noble Viscount have put down such a Motion and defended the Fascist right to take over this lad's opinions and views and allow him to become a victim of their pernicious doctrines?


I have been waiting rather anxiously for the note of interrogation. The question was tersely put by the noble Lord, and I will try and answer it. The answer is that I do not consider that the Scout Movement has anything to do with any of these things. I have seen in the official paper a reply given to a boy who wrote on this question of the British Union. He was told, quite rightly, of course, that he could be a member of the British Union, because these matters have nothing to do with scouting. I consider that the basis of scouting is service, citizenship and loyalty.


As I understand it, if there were some such extreme Fascist Movement of the Right, suppressing everything we stand for, the noble Viscount would have no objection to that boy being allowed, as it were, to be indoctrinated and, at the same time, to remain a scout. There the noble Viscount and I part, because I personally feel that the Scout Organisation, in its handling of this situation on the extreme Left and in what would be its handling of the situation on the extreme Right, is absolutely correct. Let me ask the noble Viscount a further question, quite tersely. He is a passionate believer in liberty, right and freedom. Why does he choose to raise a question on a boy scout when there is grave intolerance in other directions? I did not see him putting down Motions when a worker was driven to suicide because he refused to take part in the one-day token strike of the engineers. I did not see the noble Viscount putting down a Motion condemning the fellow workmen for their intolerance and beastly behaviour to this man.


The noble Lord is somewhat discursive, and he is a most impressive speaker. I do not consider that matter arises. if he wishes to frame a Motion about that question, we will put one down together. I was dealing with a body which is a semi-public body. The scouts are not like trade unions; the scouts are a semi-public body, and that is why I put my Motion down.


May I intervene for one moment? I have no knowledge whatever of the scouts being a semipublic body. We are incorporated under Royal Charter as a voluntary movement with rules of our own, not controlled by the public or any Government in this country. I admit that we may appear to be public we may be privileged to carry out certain public duties, for instance, at the Coronation; but I deny that we are a semi-public body—we are not nearly so public, I should have said, as many other organisations in this country. The noble Viscount referred to the fact that a Fascist rang up Imperial Headquarters and received the reply that there was nothing to prevent a member of the Union of Fascists being a scout. We have entirely failed to trace any record whatever of that conversation having taken place. It is quite obvious that those who hold racial opinions of anti-Semitism are not entitled to be scouts, any more than those who refuse a duty to God.


Order, Order!


I should like to make that, perfectly clear.


It is becoming almost like Congress, where everybody stands up and speaks at once. But I will answer the noble Lord. I was not referring to a telephone conversation, but to an extract—I will send it to him—which referred to the British Union, and of that I am quite—


Order, Order!


If you cannot speak and have an opinion, do not call me to order.


The noble Viscount accused me a moment ago of being discursive. Perhaps I may ask the noble Viscount whether I may now speak in this debate. The noble Viscount said the Scout Movement was a semipublic body. Let me say that the members of the Municipal and General Workers' Union are far more members of a semi-public body than the Boy Scouts. I regret that the noble Viscount should be so selective in his choice of what he puts down as a Motion defending liberty, that he ignored the terrible conduct of a man's fellow workers which drove that man to his death. That passed unnoticed, or apparently passed unnoticed, so far as the noble Viscount's conscience was concerned. In conclusion, I would say that I have no doubt of the depth of the noble Viscount's sincerity, but I have some grave doubts as to the balance of his intellect.

6.35 p.m.


My Lords, as one who, perhaps rather obviously, has had life-long association with the Boy Scout Movement, I feel in duty hound to add a few words. We have listened this afternoon to a most interesting, informative and, indeed, powerful speech by my noble friend Lord Rowallan, Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth and Empire. The noble Lord has acquainted the House with all the facts of the unfortunate happenings of the past few months, and we are, I am sure, all grateful to him for clearing up a number of points which seem to have caused a certain amount of confusion in the public mind.

I, for one, certainly support the noble Lord entirely in all that he has said. In his capable handling of these incidents he has adhered to the firm policy of the Boy Scout Movement as originally devised by my late father so many years ago. We in scouting are concerned. primarily with helping boys of all. nationalities to become decent citizens. We encourage them in their religious beliefs and must guard them against evil influences of all sorts. If they are led. astray, then we naturally wish to help them back on to the straight and narrow path. Admittedly, we do not always succeed in this, but we do our best. Any member of the Movement who has quite irrevocably" kicked over the traces," so to speak, cannot expect to be welcomed back into scouting, because of the bad influence he may have over the other members of his group. If he has turned into a fully-fledged Communist, for instance, then clearly he cannot be a scout at the same time. Either he is a bogus scout or a bogus Communist, and we have no time for humbug of this sort in the Movement. However, it is well known that the Communists endeavour to infiltrate their agents into scouting and other youth organisations for their own insidious ends. They have no love for a Movement which enjoys such high. moral and spiritual ideals. In parenthesis, I remember, many years ago, my father receiving by post a small black: cardboard coffin from the Communists.. the crude idea of it being the burial of the Scout Movement. Suffice it to say that scouting, far from dying, has prospered and increased to an amazing degree, both nationally and internationally.

The true scout spirit of mutual confidence and trust remains undiminished. Scouting everywhere maintains an excellent reputation, and its good intentions are beyond question. Its good name is. I feel, partly borne out by the fact that so many members of this House are themselves, if not former scouts at any rate county or district patrons or presidents,. or even active commissioners. I have in my possession a record of two speeches made by my father as far back as 1920. when the Scout Movement was only twelve years old. In these speeches he reiterated our policy, which was then just as it stands to-day. I therefore beg to suggest that this Motion is in the nature of a slight upon the great service rendered by my father to the youth of the world. I am convinced that the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who initiated this debate, is quite incorrect in his views on this matter. I understand that his own sons have been boy scouts, so he must surely have some knowledge of the Movement. We are well able to look after our own domestic affairs and, with respect, I feel that this Motion is entirely unwarranted.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, it seemed to me that perhaps the most revealing remark in the noble Viscount's as usual most entertaining speech was a brief passage towards the end, in which he referred to himself as "an old-fashioned Liberal." "Ah," I thought, "this really explains a certain miasma of unreality which seemed to overhang those otherwise entertaining and eloquent periods, and derives no doubt from his antiquated, his all but antiquarian outlook." Socialism is old-fashioned enough. but the noble Viscount is even more old-fashioned. Like many of the intellectuals who joined the Labour movement shortly after the First World War, the noble Viscount is a nineteenth-century Liberal, a spiritual descendant of William Cobbett, Sir Francis Burdett, and all those ardent but ill-balanced spirits who generated a certain amount of light and a very great deal more heat in nineteenth-century politics.

These nineteenth-century Liberals entertained a number of curious delusions. They mostly believed that almost all British diplomats and almost all British Colonial administrators were deluded obscurantists. They mostly believed that the most salutary benefit which could possibly be conferred on any remote enclave of witch-doctors and cannibals would be to introduce them as speedily as possible to Cabinet government and universal suffrage. Above all, they were always "agin the Government"—even when the Government was the Government of their own Party. The view of the nineteenth-century Liberal was. and that of the noble Viscount is, that the man in authority is always wrong; and when he hears of a young man in conflict with authority he immediately sees red—in every sense of the word. The young man in question may be muddle-headed, and disingenuous: he may have betrayed his duty to his fellows; the Association which is very properly seeking to dispense with his services may be totally unamenable to your Lordships' jurisdiction. Never mind: here is an individual in conflict with authority: and instantly the noble Viscount, panting a little, is by his side and spoiling for another fight: and your Lordships are in for this entertaining but surely otherwise wholly unjustifiable debate.

The nineteenth-century Liberal was a very large-hearted man and we have experienced in several debates the largeness of the noble Viscount's heart. The nineteenth-century Liberal needed a large heart to accommodate all the crooks, the lunatics, the under-dogs and the genuine victims of injustice for whom he was constantly battling; and, having a large heart, he usually managed to retain the affections of his political opponents and, rather more surprisingly, of his political colleagues. And although hard words have been said this afternoon, I do not suppose that any of us has lost his respect for the noble Viscount. But he really ought to have thought twice before he flung his battle-scarred mantle over Communism, the deadliest enemy of the principles which he so pugnaciously supports.

I know that much of the language which I have been using may seem somewhat high-flown in relation to what is, after all, the altogether insignificant case which we are considering this evening. One has to remember that most— certainly, I think, a substantial proportion—of the Oxford and Cambridge Communists who were so thick on the ground at the universities shortly before the war, when they revisited their colleges ten years later had become, almost without exception. Conservatives and churchwardens. It is very likely that some such sombre metamorphosis awaits the noble Viscount. Lord Stansgate, in the comparatively near future. But by raising this issue, so unnecessarily, on the floor of your Lordships' House, the noble Viscount has inevitably associated it with much wider issues. We cannot help remembering, as we discuss this insignificant youth, all those unfortunate Liberals on the Continent behind the Iron Curtain, and how they were busily defen- ding the liberty of Communism to plan the destruction of liberty right up to the moment when the Iron Curtain descended upon them. I have no doubt that if it comes to a Division, which I do not suppose it will, your Lordships will record your sense that in this tedious and insignificant matter the Boy Scouts' Association has once more displayed its usual sagacity.

6.46 p.m.


My Lords, no matter, I think, can be tedious in which my noble friend Lord Elton entertains us in the way he has this evening. I have no desire to impart into this debate any atmosphere of hostility. We all feel strongly in this matter—certainly I do myself, and I am weighing my words carefully. I am sure the noble Viscount will not take it amiss if I say that, having had the good fortune to have known him for forty years, and not being unmindful of his gallant record in the First World War, it distresses me to see him, not in fact but apparently, on the side of those who denounce our Queen, deny the Church and are out to destroy everything which forms part and parcel of the civilisation to which we belong.

I am personally satisfied that the noble Viscount feels and sincerely believes that he is fighting for liberty of conscience. I think he feels that he is fighting for the right of people to believe and say what they wish and to hold political principles without any penalty, social or otherwise. But we already have a very high degree of liberty. We have in this country the existence of the Young Communist Youth Movement—not very strong, mercifully, but free to exist; and that is part of liberty. It is pledged to oppose us in everything we are doing in Korea aid Malaya. It is a very high degree of liberty in a country such as this, to allow an organisation of that kind to exist. Any further liberty could be granted only by peril to the State. In fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said, there could be no liberty without some measure of control. If your Lord-ships will allow me, for the only time in my life I should like to give a German quotation. It is from the great philosopher Goethe, who said: Das Gesetz nur Kann uns Freheit geben"— " It is only through the law that we ever can be free." We have to have control; we must be free in our organisation to accept or reject whom we please. The trade unionist knows that that is the fundamental basis of our civilisation; and if we destroy that we should be destroying the very liberty which the noble Viscount is seeking to establish.

I wonder whether the noble Viscount has really applied himself to the consequences of that which he seeks to do. Does he suggest that the trade unions should throw their ranks open to everyone, or does he think that a conscientious objector should he encouraged to join the Cavalry Club? What is it, in fact, that the noble Viscount is seeking? This right of free people En a free country, to form Associations and to frame their own conditions is one which.. I suggest to your Lordships, cannot be denied. The conditions of membership are normally simple and normally easy, but if there is to be an oath, then the case for preserving the oath is even stronger still. In the case of the Scout Movement, as the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, has said, there an oath to God, but it is the God in whom the Scout believes. In that sense there is no religious test. But it is also true that one who believes in no God cannot, in any circumstances, be a scout. The decision in each case, I think I am right in saying, is left to the scoutmaster on the spot. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, will not think I am. encroaching on what is his province when. I say that I hope that neither in the Scouts nor in any other organisation will Communists be admitted in the expectation or the hope that they can be converted. Anyone who has read the book I Believed by the late editor of the Daily Worker can see that no such thing is possible. A Communist within the ranks of any other society is merely the parasite feeding on the body of its host which it will ultimately and certainly destroy.

What is it that the noble Viscount is asking the Scouts to do? He is asking them to admit people who are sworn to destroy us. Let me quote to him—the noble Viscount does not want many quotations, nor do your Lordships t I will spare you—from the Communist newspaper Mlada Fronta, where it discusses how the final blow can be dealt to what remains of the "harmful ideology of the scouting movement." The noble Viscount has not forgotten how the Scout leaders were tried. I think some were executed and others got fifteen years' penal servitude at Prague and were deprived of their civil rights. The Communist newspaper Molodoi Kommunist, in its first issue for the present year, dealing with the Communist Youth Movement says that its activity is of enormous importance in the work of overcoming religion. As regards these words "overcoming religion," it is on religion in one way or another that the whole movement of scouting is based. I will remind the noble Viscount that the Communists regard the Scout Movement as the training school for spies, and it is laid down that the duty of all young Communists is actively to stimulate and encourage subversive activities in the Armed Forces. No one is better placed to do this than the Communist who has been through the Scout Movement. He may cloak his identity by using the Scout Movement as a cover or, by declaring it, he may try to bring contempt on, the Armed Forces and the Scout Movement alike, which he is supposed to serve. Any connection between the Scout Oath and allegiance to Communism does not exist. Such a thing is physically impossible. The noble Viscount will have seen in The Observer last Sunday a letter by a young Communist who stated plainly that these things could not exist together, side by side. Does the noble Viscount know more about Communism than those who belong to the movement? Does he pose as an authority on the subject? I do not think he does, and I hope he does not.

May I strike now a slightly less forceful note and make my last quotation? Your Lordships may have seen in Punch an apt description of the meaning of the Scout Oath to a Communist. Punch says that the Communist's understanding of the Scout Oath is: I promise upon my honour to do my best. To do my duty to God and the Queen and the rest,— And should this conflict with promises made elsewhere, To give the word 'honour' whatever new meaning I care. The Scout code is a code of plain and simple loyalties to which every one of your Lordships must in his heart subscribe. Nothing that we say should weaken them or deprive them of their right to exclude from their ranks those who they know can take no part in their great work. Above all, they should be free to exclude those to whom truth has too slight a meaning, and in whose vocabulary sin can find no place.

6.56 p.m.


My Lords, I greatly admired the eloquence, sincerity and fervour with which the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, presented his case, but I cannot agree that the case was a good one. The terms of the Resolution seem to imply that your Lordships' House is being asked simply to assert that the imposition of political or religious tests is a bad thing. That would be a statement to which no one could possibly take exception. But the noble Viscount's Resolution goes further than that. If your Lordships examine carefully the terms of the Resolution, you will note that it says: That in the opinion of this House the imposition of political and religious tests by the Boy Scouts' Movement is foreign to its Charter and purpose and repugnant to our national tradition of liberty of conscience. If the noble Viscount had said not "is foreign" but "would be foreign," then I think the Chief Scout and everyone else would have endorsed it. No one would disagree that the imposition of tests would be foreign to its purpose—indeed, I can imagine the Chief Scout putting down a Motion in those terms. But that would be purely platitudinous: it would be an expression of opinion with which everyone would agree.

The noble Viscount's Resolution is more than that, because he says that the imposition of such tests by the Boy Scout Movement "is foreign." By using the word "is," he implies that that is what they have done. Clearly, the purpose of this Resolution is to pass a censure on the Boy Scout Movement for a particular action in the case of Paul Garland. Your Lordships' House is to be invited to say here that in the case of Etheridge the Boy Scout Movement was quite right, but that in the case of Paul Garland it was quite wrong. I think your Lordships' House would, in any case, be very slow to intervene in the day-by-day administration of one of our great voluntary organisations. Those organisations are an outstanding feature, and indeed a glory, of what we are proud to call the British way of life; and to intervene in a single case like this, without having examined the facts before a committee, or without having had the fullest information, merely on the strength of certain speeches, would, I think, be foreign to the practice and, indeed, to the right and proper conduct of your Lordships' House.

I agree that we could imagine that cases would arise in which some voluntary organisation, perhaps holding a Charter from the Crown, had done something which was outrageous and which was universally condemned by public opinion. In that case—it would be difficult to imagine such a thing happening but if it did happen—I should imagine it would be the duty of your Lordships' House, as an exponent of the opinion of the nation, to take up the matter, to expose it and to denounce what had been done. But this is not a case of that kind. The noble Viscount has, I think, misunderstood to some extent the argument which is used against his Resolution.

I do not say that we ought to bar Communism and suppress it, because that is what the Communists do to democracy. 'The noble Viscount suggested in his original speech, and in one or two interruptions, that in being asked now to reject the Motion, we are being asked to take the same sort of action as the Russians take in their country. That is not so. I do not use that argument in the least. I do not say that we ought to imitate what we so strongly condemn in others. That is not the sort of thing that is done in this country. To be a member of the Communist Party is not illegal. Communists here are free to expound their creed as they like. They are able to vote at elections for their own candidates. None of these things could happen in Communist countries. In addition, they are free to be members of the Boy Scout Movement, which certainly would not be possible there, because all such movements are ruthlessly suppressed. I myself, after the Daily Worker had been suppressed during the war, and the suppression was continued in peace time, was one of those who felt very strongly that it ought to be allowed to reappear. I would vehemently oppose any attempt to make the Communist Party illegal here in the same way as every other Party but the Communist Party is illegal in the countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The noble Lord, Lord Elton (I am sorry that he is not now in his place) gave a travesty of the opinion of the old-fashioned Liberals. He pointed to the fact—which is a fact—that there was within that Party a pacifist group, and that there was also a group of Little Englanders. But neither of those creeds was the creed of the Liberal Party. When I consider the opinions of Mr. Gladstone and his Cabinets, and heard the views of Lord Elton. I wondered how it was that the noble Lord had been misled in his youth in taking those as a fact of history. I would say, incidentally, that if it had not been for the "old-fashioned Liberals of the nineteenth century, this country would not have had to-day the democracy and the Commonwealth that it has.

The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, seems to me to be faring into the error of the pacifist. The pacifist says," I hate war so much, I dislike compulsory military service so much. that in no circumstances will I take up arms, and I will: not imitate those military nations on the Continent who attach importance to war and to aggression." The consequence, if the whole people said that, would be that this country would no longer be free; it would long since have submitted to being trampled upon by aggressive military countries from abroad. The Liberal does hate war; he does resent the waste of the economic resources of the country upon armaments. But at the same time he values his liberties, and is willing to sacrifice his liberties to conscription, if that is the price of maintaining his personal liberty, his political. liberty and his national liberty.

It is very much the same in this case. The Communists set out, where they cannot conquer by force, to undermine by infiltration; and in countries like France and Italy at this moment we see how precarious is the position of democracy because of the vast number of people who vote Communist. Here, our people are too sensible to do that. But undoubtedly this process of infiltration is the main weapon of the Communists in all countries which they do not control by force. Are we to ignore them? The noble Viscount makes his plea in the name of liberty of conscience and political liberty. Liberty, by all means, but liberty only so far as there is no interference with the equal liberty of other people; and not liberty to destroy liberty itself. That is the point which the noble Viscount does not appear to realise. This is a case of infiltration, a typical example of the kind of policy that was adopted in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and elsewhere; a policy of getting inside the trade unions, inside the peasants' parties, and, above all, inside the youth movements. Having got inside on account of the slackness or indecision of those in control, then the infiltrators suddenly reveal themselves, and take command, and impose the rule of a minority against the liberties of the majority. It is a kind of new form of bacteriological warfare. They plant their cells inside the body they want to destroy, and those cancerous cells grow and kill the body in which they have been implanted.


I will not interrupt the noble Viscount. I am enjoying his speech, but I think I can make some answer to it.


It is quite clear that the methods of Communism of this kind are quite ruthless, and that they justify themselves by the greatness of the cause, the nobility of the cause, they are designed to serve. Its humanitarian purpose is held to justify any methods.

Those of us who have read the book The God that Failed, by Arthur Koestler and others (a composite book), and a book by Douglas Hyde, I Believed, realise exactly what the methods are. This young man, Paul Garland, is an example of the application of those methods. He is not one of the rank and file. If he had been an ordinary Communist lad, well and good; membership of the Scout Movement would have done him good; it would have been a great advantage to him and would have had no effect upon other people. But he is one of trained agents who have been taken abroad to have inculcated in him all the methods of the Communists; and he comes back, after having neglected the Scout Movement for a year or so, and suddenly applies to reappear in the uniform of a Queen's Scout and to undertake a position of leadership. I think the Boy Scout Movement must be on its guard, so that it shall not be undermined by infiltration in this way, as other youth movements abroad have been. The Scout Movement should take the necessary steps to prevent that. What will the families of other lads in the town think if they know that an avowed Communist has been placed in a position of leadership, to direct and to guide all their sons? Similarly, if their daughters are in the Girl Guides and a case of this kind arose, of an avowed active Communist agent becoming a leader, what would they think? For my part it seems to me that the Chief Scout and his colleagues have acted rightly in this particular case, and that there is no ground on which your Lordships' House should pass a vote of censure.

7.8 p.m.


My Lords, this is, I suppose, in the fullest sense of the word, a non-Party debate, and in the few words which I propose to address to the House this evening I shall speak, not as a member of the Government. but rather as a Member of your Lordships' House. Indeed, I considered very carefully and with considerable doubts whether I should intervene in this debate at all. Although I did not feel justified in hampering in any way the holding of this discussion on this Motion—I think it would have been wrong to have tried to do so—yet, in my view, the subject does not really concern this House at all. It is a misuse of our time, if the noble Viscount will allow me to say so.

The broad function of Parliament, as I see it, is to concern itself with those aspects of our national life that come within the sphere where the community. as a whole, could properly interfere. I am open to correction, but I should have thought that this matter came within that sphere. After all, the Boy Scout Movement is a great movement, but it is a private organisation formed for certain purposes, and it has carried out those purposes, so far as I know, to the entire satisfaction of its members. Nor has it done anything hostile to the interests of the community as a whale. On the contrary, I should have imagined that it was almost universally recognised—I do not think that the noble Viscount himself would dispute this—that it has made a contribution wholly beneficial to the training of the young; indeed, a contribution which has been almost unrivalled in our own time.


That is perfectly true.


On what grounds, therefore, does the noble Viscount, or, for that matter, should any of us, call for the intervention of Parliament in its internal affairs? I understood the noble Viscount, to whose speech I listened, as I am sure did all your Lordships, with the greatest interest, to suggest that the British Scout Movement had, in effect, outraged the fundamental principles of liberty because it decided that one member of this great world-wide organisation, in the opinion of those who direct its affairs, held views which conflicted fundamentally with his obligations as a scout, and that he could therefore no longer properly continue his membership of that organisation. But in reality, how artificial that so laboured and elaborately constructed argument to which vie listened seemed to he. What a fantastic charge it was that the noble Viscount tried to level at this great movement, and how completely was it exploded afterwards by the facts exposed and the forthright speech of the Chief Scout. Lord Rowallan.

What are the facts? For upwards of half a century during which this movement has been in existence, millions of boys have passed through that movement without, so far as I know, any test being imposed or any questions being asked with regard to their personal political opinions or the political opinions of their parents. The suggestion which has been made or implied by the noble Viscount, that this movement is politically biased or even politically minded, is, to my mind, patently absurd. It is true, of course, that the movement enjoins its members to do their duty to God and the Queen; but surely the noble Viscount would not call that political bias, because if it were he would be sharing the Communist view, which I am quite certain is the very last thing he intends to do. What, in practice, is the Communist attitude towards this movement, and what is the result of it? It is not that broad, humane brotherhood of which the noble Viscount spoke with such moving eloquence this afternoon; on the contrary, it is the fact, I think, that in every country where Communism has come to power the Boy Scout Movement has been killed. That is the hard fact, which, if I may say so, the noble Viscount eluded throughout his speech.


No, that is not fair. What the noble Marquess has said is true: that the Communist way of dealing with things is to destroy them.


Of' course, I accept what the noble Viscount says, but I think it is only right that we in this House should realise what has happened in every country where complete and absolute Communism has been: shown. 'The noble Lord, Lord Rowallan referred briefly to what had happened in. Czechoslovakia and to the trial for alleged espionage of eight firmer leading members of the Czech Scout Movement. But the noble Lord did not quote what was said at that trial, and I think there are some words which it is only right that the House should consider. To give one instance, I will quote what the prosecutor said: As a result of boy scout training the accused became enemies of our working class, and turned traitors in the service of Western Imperialists. Only in this year the organ of the Czech Communist Youth Movement reviewed a book called Scouting in the Service of the Warmongers by a gentleman called Alois Polednak, which contained the statement that a scout is the English name for a spy. Finally, in the closing speech of the trial to which I have referred, the public prosecutor said: Boy scout training officially teaches class conciliation "— which is apparently a crime in that part of the world— The bourgeoisie thus uses the Boy Scout Movement to deaden class warfare and to break up working-class unity. What bunkum it is in those circumstances to talk airily about "brotherhood "! Brotherhood does not exist in the atmosphere in which those unhappy people have to live. In the light of those facts, how is it possible to maintain that the action taken by the Boy Scout Movement was politically biased? I should have thought, and I think probably most other people in this House would think, that the facts were exactly the opposite, and that the motive of those who decided, reluctantly, to exclude this young man, was to maintain the non-political character of the organisation by keeping out such a violently political personality as the Secretary of the Young Communist League.

My Lords, I would entirely agree with the noble Viscount if he says that it is not for us to complain that the young man in question should have embraced the Communist doctrine. That is his affair, not ours, so long as his faith does not take so active a form as to threaten the welfare of his fellow citizens. But, equally, I submit that it is not for the noble Viscount to complain if those who are responsible for the Boy Scout Movement think that the obligations which fall upon a Secretary of the Young Communist League are not compatible with the obligations that fall upon a member of the Boy Scout Movement. I would remind Lord Stansgate, as I think the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, did just now, that those who are responsible for the management of the Boy Scout Movement are in the position of trustees for many hundreds of thousands of young boys and children. They are responsible not only to the children themselves, but to the parents who entrust their children to them. Therefore, I do not think it possible, in the circumstances which were outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, for the Boy Scout Movement entirely to neglect the activities of this young man. In any case, having said that, really it is a matter for the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, and those who assist him, rather than for the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, or for us.

I understood the noble Viscount to say that there should be practically no limitation of individual liberty. I should have thought, as did the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. that certain limitations of individual liberty are inevitable in any organised community. That is what I have always understood to be the meaning of the phrase "ordered liberty," which is the essence of civilised life as we know it. Every member of the community surrenders voluntarily some portion of his individual liberty, and to that extent subordinates himself to the rules of the community in which he lives. I should have thought that that was an axiom of civilised life. Indeed, if we felt ourselves unable to do that we should in fact become anarchists and subject to no rule but our own; and that, frankly, if I may say so without offence, is what is wrong with the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. He ought not to be sitting where he is, on the Socialist Front Bench. That is not the place for him. When he does deviate at all from the normal he becomes a good, old-fashioned anarchist, and he ought really to have in this House a Bench to himself—what I may describe as a very Cross Bench indeed. It is as an anarchist that he has appeared before us this afternoon—agreeable as always, individualistic if you like, but purely negative and purely destructive, prepared to enfeeble and possibly to sacrifice the whole Boy Scout Movement, with its splendid record, for the sake of one Communist boy scout who, if he is an active agent of Communism—and we have been told this afternoon that he certainly is—must be opposed to all those principles on which ordered freedom rests.

What the noble Viscount says, of course will not hurt us here. We know him well: we all like him: but we took his measure a long time ago. Outside the House, however, what he said might do harm, and I think it is right, therefore. that this House should have expressed, in no uncertain fashion, their opinion on the views which he has voiced on this particular occasion. If, indeed, the noble Viscount wished to divide the House—and I hope that he will not—I should, for reasons which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has already expounded, have had to suggest some Amendment to the present wording of the Resolution. But I take it that the noble Viscount will not divide the House. He has expressed quite sincerely the views which he holds. and having done that I hope he will withdraw the Motion. In that case. I shall feel that this debate—though I still think it has gone beyond the proper sphere which should govern the activities of your Lordships' House—will have done more good than harm.

7.21 p.m.


My Lords, I had no idea at the beginning of to-day's proceedings that we should have the great privilege of listening during this debate to first-class speeches on this issue, both from the respected and revered Leader of the Liberal Party and from the noble Marquess who leads the House. I had not, therefore, intended to intervene in this debate. But in view of what has now transpired I should like to say this. Our discussions in this House are usually distinguished by a sense of good fellowship and regard for the general public interest, and if the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, had come to me beforehand and said: "Shall I put this Motion down?" I should have advised him not to raise it in this form. But having listened to the debate, I am bound to say that I think a great deal of good has been done.

We have heard a magnificent case put forward in support of his views by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. He made it clear that he has great knowledge of his subject, and that he has gone to a great deal of trouble to carry out researches into particular cases. It was also clear that he had been very straightforward and honest in his dealings with the noble Lord, the Chief Scout. Viscount Stansgate said plainly that he had been in very close touch with Lord Rowallan. With regard to some of the arguments which have been put forward this afternoon, I would say that if some of us did not have pretty deep-rooted convictions about certain aspects of the matter, those arguments might move us to troop into the Lobby behind the noble Viscount in the event of a Division. Certainly, no one could have put his case better than he did. One thing which occurred to my mind as I listened to the speeches of my noble friend and the noble Lord the Chief Scout was that as an individual my noble friend—and he has been my friend for thirty-four years—is a justification of the dictum of Ralph Waldo Emerson that: Character is the conscience of the nation. And the same may be said of the noble Lord the Chief Scout and the great organisation which he leads.

The case which was put by my noble friend Lord Stansgate fell down, from my point of view, because it did not take sufficient note of the real purpose of the infiltration policy of the Soviet organisations in the various countries where they have been at work, and of the results which the activities of those organisations have achieved, On the other hand, as I say, I think the debate has done a great deal of good. It is a fact, whether we like it or not, that in the whole of this country to-day there is a feeling of deep emotion about the dangers to political and civil freedom as a whole of the activities of a certain kind of inquiry (the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has referred to it). the sort of inquiry which is sometimes called "McCarthyism." If a debate in Parliament should lead people outside to believe that we are getting at least somewhere near the fringe of that sort of thing, I think it would be fatal. We have listened to-day to the noble Lord, the Chief Scout, and we have heard what he had to say about the Etheridge case. And be it remembered that, when Lord Rowallan was speaking, the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, said—if I may paraphrase his words—" That is getting very close to my point of view." I certainly felt then that we had very firm ground on which to stand in meeting the arguments of those who have been saying that this was the beginning of the adoption of some form of McCarthyism in this country.

I would however say this to the noble Lord, the Chief Scout—and I hope that be will not take it amiss. We know his excellent record and we admire him for it. But he did deliver judgment at times this afternoon as though he were really a great dictator of a great organisation.


No, No.


I am not speaking only about the matter of the noble Lord's speech, but about the manner. I am entitled to my view. I felt a great deal of sympathy with the actual arguments used by Lord Rowallan, but I have heard one or two noble Lords suggest that they felt much more inclined to vote against the noble Lord, the Chief Scout, after he had made his speech than they did before he spoke. I am entitled to express my opinion.


The noble Lord is speaking in his personal capacity, I take it, and not on behalf of his Party.




There is no reflection on the Boy Scout Movement, I hope. That should be made clear on the record.


I would point out to the noble Viscount that I should not be speaking at all in this debate but for the fact that several Front Bench speakers have spoken on this Resolution. Surely noble Lords opposite will have the courtesy to listen to an opinion expressed from this side. I am sure the noble Lord the Chief Scout will not misunderstand me, because I am accepting his argument. J am making the comment that his manner made him sound to me like a dictator of what is undoubtedly a great organisation. I appeal to him in the way Lord Swinton has appealed to me about the Scout organisation. I have already said that the organisation illustrates the truth of Emerson's saying about character being the conscience of the nation. I believe that is the real purpose of the Scout Movement.

Some of the things that have been said have reminded me of a story that I read years ago of a famous Scottish divine, Dr. Rowland Hill, who was taking home a lay preacher one Sunday night after evening service. Dr. Hill said to the lay preacher, Have you had a good service? "The lay preacher replied:" Aye, mon. we have had a grand time. I have been preaching from the text: ' And the wicked shall be turned into Hell.' "Dr. Rowland Hill turned to the lay preacher and said," I hope you preached it with tenderness." I think that if the matter had been viewed more in that spirit at some points in the debate we should not have thought it necessary to say what I am saying now. On the basis of the argument so ably put by the noble Viscount. Lord Samuel, I would appeal to my noble friend—and he will appreciate it, coming from a very old friend and Acting Leader of his Party at the present moment—to realise that it would be wisest at this stage not to ask the House to divide upon this Motion. I shall go away from this debate appreciating that there is in the Scout Movement a real intention, as well as an existing practice, in dealing with these matters, to judge every case entirely upon its merits; to decide whether the continued inclusion of a scout in the movement is or is not likely to be detrimental to the object of the movement and to the continuous welfare of other scouts. As I believe that that is the real basis and intention of the Scout Movement, and as a personal friend, appreciating my noble friend's argument, I would ask him not to take this Motion to a Division.

7.30 p.m.


My Lords, if any noble Lord wishes to go home, I say at once I am not going to divide the House. I have another preliminary remark, for the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition. I wish he would abandon the argument, when he is rather short of matter, that." We know the noble Viscount," and "We have taken his measure." That is an argument he constantly uses. I believe people of learning, describe that as an argumentum ad hominem. I wish he would abandon that argument and devote the time he could then spare, and his great eloquence and ability, to dealing with any argument I put forward. That is by the way, but I hope it will be borne in mind in future.

At some stages in the debate I felt that it had been a mistake to put down the Motion: at other stages I was glad I had done so, because a certain amount of common ground has been established. It is established that the fact that a boy is a Communist does not exclude him from the Scout Movement. That, I consider, is extremely satisfactory. It is an established fact that if a boy is using the Scout Movement for propaganda, and especially for Communist propaganda, which we have in mind to-day, that is to be stopped. That we are agreed upon. I wish that the Chief Scout could have devoted more time to the question of whether this particular case was going to be dealt with on its merits, and whether it was to be proved that the boy had conducted himself in this way inside the movement. I should have had no objection whatever to that. I should consider it a perfectly proper case. In passing, I would say that I admired the enormous punch with which the Chief Scout spoke. I wished that I was a scout myself when I saw him "hitting out."

But I do not think this boy has had fair play. It may be that he is a "stooge," and has been "planted." But what happened? First of all, the Chief Scout went to a large meeting and referred to the matter; then the B.B.C assembled material for a reply, and somebody—I do not say the Chief Scout—told the B.B.C. not to permit Garland to go on the air. Most people thought that was extremely unfair, and I think the case was rather damaged. The question of whether this boy did abuse his position to make Communist propaganda in the movement is to be examined to-morrow. and in private. I think that sort of examination or inquisition is a very dangerous way of carrying on affairs.

The reason why I put down the Motion was that I do riot wish us to go the way of the United States, and at first I was afraid the debate would show to the Americans that we were sympathising with their point of view. Interest has been taken in this debate in America. The other day the New York Herald-Tribune had a centre page item on this question. I regard the speech of my noble friend Lord Samuel—and I am proud to feel that I was in the old Liberal family along with him—and the declaration of the Chief Scout, and what my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough said, as establishing the fact that we are not making Communism a test. With that, I am satisfied. Unfortunately. when I listened. to all the speeches, and especially to those of the noble Earl. Lord Winterton, and the noble Lord. Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I thought, "My Aunt ! If ever a chance comes. what a pack there is ready to spring out!" They said that these people want to infiltrate everywhere, and to get influence everywhere; that in their own country they have massacred and murdered. That is all true, absolutely true. The point is, how do we meet it? In the case of the scout, we meet it with an inquiry, which I am sorry is to be private. If we really get stirred by these speeches about the wickedness of the communists and their determined infiltration, what are we going to do? Supposing it is stamped out of the scouts and some parent comes along and says, "My child has gone to school, and in the junior school there is an absolute ' Red ' teaching," will somebody tell me what we do? Will the noble Earl, Lord Winterton. tell me?


No, because I have already asked the noble Viscount a question which he has not yet answered. I hope he will. Does he, or does he not, regard the Communists as an ordinary political Party, and does he include the Fascists in that?


The noble Earl describes it as a conspiracy and does not regard it as an ordinary Party. What are we going to do in the schools, the libraries and the churches? We must face the fact that this social infiltration is going on. We see it everywhere to-day. How are we going to face it? I hope the noble Marquess has taken the measure of this argument. I am sure the noble Lord is right in saying that he will not have Communist agitation in his troop, but I have not seen any evidence of that. I presume that that will be. proved.

What we have not had this afternoon is any proposal about how we are to stop the Communist tide. We have been told that they are wicked and terrible, but we have not been told how we are going to stop them. I ventured, very doubtfully, to put forward the old-fashioned Liberal tradition. I did not suggest licence and all that; I suggested that the only way to meet an attack on liberty is by ordered liberty. I have always thought it was established that in this country we met infiltration, and everything else, with the libertarian approach. I think this debate has done good and not harm, but that point must be established. I am glad that it has been established on the high authority of the noble Marquess and my noble friend. and I hope that they and together have made a sufficient answer to the blind anti-Communist hatred which has come from the other side, which we all believe is a bind, blunt and useless instrument to defend our land. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at twenty minutes before eight o'clock.