(1) Subject and without prejudice to any treaty obligations no person or firm or company established or carrying on any trade, business, or undertaking in the United Kingdom shall be entitled to employ, or shall employ, in any establishment belonging to or carried on by such person, firm, or company in connection with such trade, business, or undertaking in the United Kingdom without the licence of the Secretary of State to be granted for special reasons any aliens to a greater number than twenty-five per cent. of the total number of the persons employed by him or them in the United Kingdom:
Provided however that if the total number of the persons so employed by any such person, firm, or company is less than five this Section shall not apply.
(2) Every person and firm and every such company as aforesaid who employs any aliens in the United Kingdom shall make a return to the Home Office on or before the first day of July in every year stating the full name and address of every such alien and the capacity in which he or she is employed and the total number of persons employed by him or them in the United Kingdom, and any further particulars which may be required by the Secretary of State.—[Sir Ernest Wild.]
Brought up, and read the first time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
It is a Clause which was considered by the Standing Committee for the greater part of three days out of the eight days which the Committee devoted to this Bill. The history of the Clause in Committee is interesting. On the 10th July we obtained a Second Reading for it by fifteen votes to twelve. On the 15th July a number of hon. Members appeared in the Committee who had taken very little interest in the proceedings earlier, and, unfortunately, several of our supporters were unavoidably absent, and so the Clause was rejected by sixteen votes to thirteen. It was carried on the one occasion by three votes and on the second occasion was rejected by three votes. I desire to point out to the House, however, that the Clause as proposed in Committee was a much more drastic Clause than that which now appears on the Paper. As it was proposed in Committee it restricted the number of aliens who might take part in any particular employment, to 10 per cent. Now we have adopted the figure of 25 per cent. I
desire very shortly to summarise the arguments put before the Committee in favour of the Clause. If I were asked to state in a sentence or two the object of this Clause I should prefer to employ words which are not my own, but are better than any words of mine:
We must preserve our assets, not merely underground, such as coal, but the living assets that are above the ground. You have to teach all the people all the time that this country is theirs, in peace as well as in war.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear !"] I am glad that that sentence was received with cheers, because it was received with cheers when addressed to the Sheffield Cutlers by the Prime Minister last week. The Prime Minister went on to state the problem that lies before this country. He stated that there were 200,000 more men and women engaged in industry than there were during the War; that there were 400,000 women for whom employment had not yet been found; and that there were 400,000 or 500,000 men yet to be demobilised, for whom employment will have to be found. Summing up the problem in one of those picturesque sentences which some people regard merely as perorations, but which I prefer to regard as practical politics, he said:
Heavier burdens than ever, shorter hours, higher wages, a better standard of living for millions more men and women—that is the problem. Can we solve it?
Those who support this Clause respectfully answer that conundrum in this way. We say that you can solve the problem by giving employment to your own people rather than to aliens, and, in words that I might quote from Holy Writ, "Let the children first be filled." It is quite unnecessary at this time of day to detain the House more than a minute or two on the question of the alien peril. Anybody who wants to realise what that peril really is has only to take a walk down the Mile End Road or the Whitechapel Road, or in the East End of London generally. They will find those places literally infested by aliens, and that practically all the names on the shops are the names of people who are alien to this country.
I am afraid there is not much employment in Park Lane. If my hon. and gallant colleague, as I am proud to call him, will support us, as I am sure he will, on later Clauses and Amendments
to this Bill, he will find that Park Lane as well as Whitechapel will be dealt with. Another point that was argued in Committee at some length was the question of waiters in hotels. One of the objects of the promoters of this Clause is that we should not revert to the very undesirable practice, which obtained before the War, of having the great majority of the waiters in hotels of alien origin. That that was a fact hon. Members know for themselves. I troubled the Committee, and I will trouble the House, with just one short extract from a. letter received by me from a British waiter. He said:
Can you not reduce it to 5 per cent.? For years I hare worked in the best West End and City restaurants. Sometimes I was the only Britisher in an establishment of fifty or more. Some years ago at a certain hotel there were between eighty and ninety waiters, and we could not muster ten Englishmen.
He went on to give other illustrations of a number of hotels, mentioning them by name, in which before the War the great majority of the employes were aliens. I venture to think, and I venture respectfully to press upon the House, that that is a state of things which is altogether inimical to the interests of this country. Everybody knows that the foreign waiters, and particularly those of enemy origin, were the very centres of the spy system that obtained during the War. They were interned or repatriated, and I do not think it is necessary to urge upon the House that it is undesirable that aliens should again have a large percentage of employment in our great hotels. Then there is the question of unemployment. The Prime Minister pointed out at Sheffield, though it was, perhaps, unnecessary to do so, because we know it. ourselves, that unemployment will be, and is, a great problem that we have to face. I venture to suggest to the House -that one of the ways of preventing unemployment is to see that our own people have the first option of what employment there is to be given. Then there is the argument, and it is a cogent one and one with which I have some personal acquaintance. regarding the extent to which vice and crime are fostered by aliens; and in speaking of aliens in this connection I by no means limit myself to our late enemies, because there is no doubt that a great deal of the vice and crime that come before our criminal Courts is fostered and originated by so-called neutral aliens, and more particularly by Russians.
This new Clause, as the House will observe, does not deal merely with the question of enemy aliens, but with all aliens. It I may examine it for a moment, it lays down and seeks to make law the proposition that in any employment where there are more than five employed—and I may say that the number "five" was adopted because we did not want to interfere with small businesses or with the Italian ice-cream vendor and his wife or anything of that kind—in any employment where there are more than five, subject and without prejudice to any treaty obligations, the employer shall not employ more than 25 per cent. of aliens in his trade or business. It makes, however, the proviso that there may be a licence granted by the Home Secretary of State for special reasons. It was pointed out, I think by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary in Committee, that there might, for instance, be some alien trade here using a secret process, and it might conceivably be even in the interests of the State that only aliens should be employed in it. I do not agree with that, but I am trying to meet even that objection. If that were the case my right hon. Friend would be able to grant a special licence, and that trade could be carried on by aliens.
The only hostile criticism that can be made about this Clause is that it errs in moderation. I think the figure of 25 per cent. is entirely too large a proportion. At the same time one does desire that no legitimate grievance shall survive. If one errs at all, I think that probably the House would rather err on the side of generosity, although this country ought to know by now how much it has been made to suffer by erring on the side of generosity during the last decade. In seeking for arguments that may be adduced against the Clause, I have read and re-read the proceedings of the Standing Committee, and I find that five arguments were put forward. With the permission of the House I will say just a word upon each of them. The first was an argument brought forward by the hon. Baronet (Sir H. Greenwood), who was then the Under-Secretary for the Home Department and has now been temporarily translated to the Oversea Trade Department on the way to higher office. He said that any Clause like this would be a violation of commercial treaties. The Committee was inquisitive enough to say that if there were such treaties they would like to see them, and after some beating about the bush they were produced. At the next meeting we had a summary GI those treaties, and we found that a number of them did exist. Upon examining those treaties it was apparent that they did not bear out the contention of the hon. Baronet, and that this Clause would in no way violate any of them. The hon. Baronet was asked whether those treaties were going to be denounced, and lie said he did not know; but we were anxious that there should be no loophole for saying that we were not carrying out our treaties or were not treating them with respect, and so we accepted an Amendment, which comes at the very beginning of this Clause, to add the words "Subject and without prejudice to any treaty obligations." There were treaties with Italy and Japan. It is interesting to note that at the moment there is no treaty with China; apparently the Government is not pledged to the importation of Chinese labour. The Foreign Office or the Home Office cannot argue that there is any attack on treaty obligations, because if there were such an attack—and I do not accept that contention—those obligations are safeguarded by the very words of the Clause as it will be submitted to the House. I may also say that those words would enable any proper arrangement to be made with the United States of America. I for one have been impressed with the arguments that we have had in private with certain hon. Friends, some of whom support the Clause and some of whom do not, while some of them are doubtful at the moment. Some people say with regard to the United States that it would be right that different considerations should obtain in regard to them. It is perfectly easy to make an arrangement with the United States under this Clause as it stands, as long as the people coming from the United States are not of German origin or hyphenated-Germans, or are not people who have been naturalised and have become American subjects merely because of the War. All that can be done by the Home Office under this Clause as it stands.
The second argument was our old friend the reprisals argument. We were told that if this great country ventured to put into an Act of Parliament dealing with the alien question this Clause or any Clause like it there would be the danger of reprisals by foreign countries. That as an old argument. It is an argument which was adduced again and again on the question of Tariff Reform, when it was suggested that we might do something to protect our own interests against Germany and other competitors. It is not an argument which will frighten the House, particularly because we have inserted the provision that any employer may have 25 per cent. of aliens in his employment. I suggest to the House with very great respect and with all the power at my command that any British employer going to a foreign country and setting up a factory there could not complain if the law of that country said: "You can bring only one-quarter of your staff from your own country. If you come into our country seeking its hospitality, you must employ 75 per cent. of our people." That is what we say. I do not think British employers could complain of such a regulation, therefore I do not see how an alien can possibly complain of it. Then there was the argument which was seriously put forward that it would mean a charge upon the public purse if you denied employment to aliens who came here. The answer to that, in the first place, is that you do not deny employment; you give them employment up to 25 per cent. of the number employed in any particular employment. The second answer to that argument is that if this Clause proved to be an inducement to a number of aliens to leave this country it would be all to the good. I think it was the hon. Member for Limehouse (Sir W. Pearce) who said that this Clause would mean the re-arrangement and repatriation of whole districts.
I made that observation before the 25 per cent. was put into the Clause. The Clause as originally drafted contained no limitations as to the percentage. It is obvious that that would have made many small businesses in the East-end of London impossible. The 25 per cent. has made all the difference in the world.
I am very glad to hear my hon. Friend say that, and I will not pursue that matter. The next argument put forward was the obsolete economic text-book argument. When I read a short extract from a speech made by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), it will be unnecessary to tell the House it is a paradoxical argument. He said:
The more people who work, the more demand there is for labour. The more aliens who work, the more demand there will be for British labour.
I am surprised that any hon. Member here can be found to endorse that sentiment. Consider where it leads to. It leads to this: that, supposing you have the whole of the jobs in the East-end of London being done by aliens, that would make very much more work for British labour. That is a reductio ad absurdum. This is a practical question not to be dealt with by economic quibbles. It is a question for all Members of this House. We all know it. If one goes to a constituency which has this menace before it he gets the working men coming along and asking, "When are you going to deal with this matter? "What is the good of talking and perorating to Sheffield cutlers and other people and refusing employment to your own people when you refuse to pass legislation dealing with these aliens? Then came the last argument, which was the cloven hoof which showed through the Departmental opposition to our efforts—that was the argument about Orders in Council. In Committee the hon. Baronet (Sir H. Greenwood) said:
We are going to introduce into the draft Order to be made under this Bill a Clause similar to Article 22 B of the existing Aliens Restriction Order.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) asked:
Is it in the draft submitted to us?
And the hon. Baronet said it was not. He proceeded
I will give you the basis of what it will be.
This is the basis of the regulation that the Home Office proposes to put in the draft Order:
A person shall not take steps to obtain the services for work, other than munitions work, in the United Kingdom, of aliens or any alien not in the United Kingdom, except with the permission in writing of the Ministry of Labour and subject to such special and general conditions as the Ministry of Labour may impose.
That is the Clause to be inserted for the moment into the Order which my right hon. Friend proposes to make under the Bill when he gets it. The answer to that is that it entirely disposes of the question of treaty obligations. I see the difference. Our case is much too good for me to endeavour to overstate or mis-state it. Whether for good or ill, I have never consciously mis-stated anything. I quite
agree that the difference between us is, first, that our Clause deals with all aliens who are in the country or who come into the country, while the proposed Regulation will deal only with aliens who are proposing to come into the country. The whole fight between us—it is a fight we had on this Clause and on every Clause—is whether legislation shall be by Order in Council or by Act of Parliament. I venture to affirm, and I believe the proposition will carry the assent of many of my hon. Friends and many of my right hon. Friends as well, that D.O.R.A. and all her satellites are loathed by the constituencies and are utterly subversive of constitutional government. Parliament wants to resume its right to make the law, and the man in the street is entitled to know what the law is. At the present time you say that every man knows the law, whereas the position is that hardly any lawyer knows the law. You cannot know the law now. That ought not to be possible at this stage of our constitutional development. This is the first opportunity of coining to a fight on the question, if the Government mean to fight—I hope that wiser counsels will prevail—upon the great constitutional Parliamentary issue, Are you going to make your law and put it down in black and white so that we all know what it is, or are you going to legislate by Order in Council, which may be cancelled to-morrow and which may vary with the individual idiocyncrasies of each individual Secretary of State. I hope it will not come to a fight. I can hardly believe, now that the Government has had an opportunity collectively to consider this question, that they can oppose some such Clause as this.
Those who support this Clause are not enamoured of its particular wording, so long as we get the principle established that we shall give only a certain percentage of employment to aliens and the first chance to our own people. May I remind the House and the country that one of the great planks in the Coalition victory was the cry of "Britain for the British." Hon. Members who did not join in that cry are entitled to ridicule the proposition. I am not concerned to quote the pledges of Cabinet Ministers, although I could quote them in abundance, and no doubt they will be quoted in the course of the Debate on this Bill. I am only concerned to say that I, and I believe all the supporters of the
Government, when we went to the electorate, largely won our seats by saying that we would do something to give employment to our own people and restore the balance so that this country would no longer be the dustheap for any aliens who chose to come here. I cannot understand the opposition which comes from certain hon. Members opposite. I suppose that they have made up their minds, for very proper reasons, and upon arguments which appeal to their consciences. I hope they will give us the same credit for believing in the arguments we put forward. As a young Member having taken a particular interest in this subject, I say, and my hon. Friends who take the same platform will say, that it will be our duty to press upon the Government that by adopting some such Clause as this they can redeem their pledge on a domestic subject. This is a matter peculiarly within their own province. It is not a question like the hanging of the Kaiser, in regard to which you depend upon the consent of other people; it is a domestic problem. It is only consistent with the honour of the Government and the pledges they and their supporters gave at the poll that some such Clause as this should be incorporated in the Bill, so that we should be able to say, in the words of the Prime Minister:
You have to teach all the people all the time that this country is theirs in peace as well as in war.
I beg to second the Motion. I entirely agree with what my hon. and learned Friend has said in respect to the pledges of the Government and of all the supporters of the Government at the last Election. Not only did the supporters of the Government, so far as I have been able to learn, give categorical pledges throughout their election campaign on this matter, but it was one of the two or three subjects which excited by far the greatest amount of interest in the country and which obtained for the Government the greatest amount of support. We have been very busily engaged during the present Parliament with a very large programme of reconstructive reform, such as housing, health, land acquisition, and so forth. The experience of a large majority of hon. Members at the Election was the same as mine, that all these subjects, although they excited a certain amount of interest, paled altogether in interest at popular meetings before the suggestion that after our experience before the War we were going to keep our own country for our own people. That was really the issue upon which this House was to a very large extent returned, and it would certainly have been a very strange reversal of the proper order of things if the enormous majority returned upon this issue, and the Government which gave them a lead upon this issue, should now, a very few months after that Election, turn round and neglect all the pledges they gave at that time. Surely the proposition as it stands now in this Clause is one which, apart altogether from matters of principle, is an eminently reasonable one. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that it is really too generous to aliens as it now stands. Originally, as we proposed it in Committee, the Clause limited the employment of aliens to 10 per cent. in any one establishment, and I certainly think 10 per cent. a much more reasonable figure than the 25 per cent. at which it now stands. However, the change has at all events conciliated an hon. Member below me, and if it has that effect on many hon. Members it may possibly be worth while to make the sacrifice.
It is not that change, but the change that gives exemption to businesses which employ fewer than five people. That has made all the difference in the world. As originally introduced it applied to every alien, and it could not be worked in principle. Now that small businesses are out it makes all the difference in the world.
At all events, I am very glad to find that the change has had the effect of obtaining support from a larger body of opinion in the House. Is it unreasonable to say that in establishments giving employment in this country not more than a fourth of all the volume of employment should be alien—in other words, that at least three-quarters of the people employed in any business should be our own people? Can anyone really say that is an unreasonable proposition? [An HON. MEMBER: Yes.] I hope my hon. Friend will find himself in a small minority. If we had any doubt before as to the necessity for legislation of this sort I think it was removed to a great extent by an answer I heard the Home Secretary give to a question this very day. I did not exactly follow what was the purpose of the society or association, but I gathered that the right hon. Gentleman admits his knowledge of the existence in this country of a society whose aim and object is to provide employment for aliens coming into this country.
The hon. Member is quite wrong. I know nothing whatever of the sort. I admitted the existence of a society which existed all through the War to give financial assistance to enemy aliens consisting of Germans and Austrians who gave help to this country. It has nothing to do with employment.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I only listened to the question. I have not yet seen it in print, and I evidently mistook the purport of it. There was one argument which was used in Committee which, I think, in some respects was, perhaps, the strongest argument used against this Clause. I think it was used by my Noble Friend (Lord H. Cecil). He said, perfectly truly according to the text-books, that the more people you employ the more employment there will be to give, and some of us at the time said that, although that was perfectly true as au economic proposition, the result, if it was logically carried out, would be recognised as absolutely intolerable in this country, because, of course, it equally applies to any cheap labour which might be brought in—for instance, Chinese labour, about which we used to hear a good deal some years ago. It would be equally true, as my Noble Friend said, that in a certain sense it would increase production and it might also increase employment. But s e have long ago gone away from that old Free Trade argument, as regards labour at all events, and it is quite well recognised, by nobody so strongly as by hon. Members opposite, that we cannot allow our own labour to be subjected to the free play of the labour market of the world, and that we must give protection of some sort to it. Therefore, it is quite in line with what has been not only the policy of the Labour party but the policy of practically all parties in this country for a long time past, to restrict in some sense, at all events, the competition coming from abroad into our own labour market. I think the experience of the War convinced the people of this country that they had been going far too much in an easy-going, thoughtless manner with regard to their own nationality and their own employ- ment, and if we are to have a change in this respect they are resolved for the future to keep employment in this country for our own people to a large extent. Under these circumstances, having regard to the very reasonable proposition in this Clause, allowing a generous proportion of 25 per cent. of alien labour in any establishment, having regard to the safeguards which this Clause provides for hard cases, which may be dealt with for special reasons by the Secretary of State, I can hardly believe that this House, after the pledges which have been given and the knowledge that we have of the feeling on this subject throughout the country, will decline to pass this Clause.
I hope the Government will under no consideration accept this Amendment. I am not unmindful of the fact that it has secured the endorsement of no fewer than four able and learned members of the legal profession to whom, if I wanted their advice on legal matters, I should not hesitate to apply, but when it comes to matters of trade I am sure they will not complain if I say I should prefer to take advice on that matter from a quarter other than that to which I have referred. What would be the position of many traders, especially in the constituency which I represent, in which possibly there are more aliens than in any other constituency in the Kingdom? Incidentally, they are not voters, but they are citizens who have played in the past and are still playing a very important part in the commercial development of this country. The constituency was formerly a very poor district, dependent very largely upon riverside traffic for the maintenance of its residents. We were able to get over a number of aliens who brought skilled knowledge with them, and set up great and important industries, and we have changed that district from a place of poverty to a place of substantial prosperity which has no. alone brought employment. to aliens, but has entirely changed the district and enabled us to found great trades and supply our own people and do an immense export business and to establish businesses which would not have been in existence if we had not been able to' bring over people possessing the necessary skill to establish and found these trades. I recall very vividly the mantle trade. Our Colonial and Overseas buyers. came to London to make their purchases but had to go to Berlin to buy the stocks of mantles which they required. We were able to bring over mantle makers into the East End of London and as the result not a Colonial buyer for the last ten years has ever thought of going to Berlin to obtain mantles. He can obtain all he wants in this country. It has not only created employment for people in the mantle trade, but it has benefited our banks, ships, and railways. The cigarette industry and the cabinet-making industry have been set up in the same way, and above all, there are the advantages that the Government derived during the War in having a great clothing factory are due to this alien labour. We were able to produce by its means no less than £10,000,000 worth of khaki uniforms, and what a godsend it was to the country to have those resources at our hand instead of having to go abroad, as we should otherwise have had to do. That is one of the reasons why I am very reluctant that the Government should undertake to put any restriction upon trade matters without a full inquiry from traders who, at all events, may be presumed to know something about the industry with which they are connected.
The hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Wild) referred to the amount of crime due to these aliens. I quite realise that he knows something about this subject. It has been my privilege, on more than one occasion, sitting on the Quarter Sessions Bench to listen to him when he very ably, eloquently and successfully defended aliens from charges brought against them. But I am anxious that the House should not be led away by any vague statements, and I have therefore taken the trouble to look up the number of convictions and I find, over a period of years, that the proportion of aliens varies from 1.27 to 2.25 of the total number of convictions. That is a totally different statement from that which the hon. and learned Gentleman made in a previous debate, when he asserted that something like half the vice of the country was due to aliens
I can only go upon the definite figures and I have quoted the definite figures which are available. I do not question that there may be some crimes other than those which are recorded, but the fact of the convictions is as I have stated. There is, in a city with which the hon. and learned Gentleman is connected, Norwich, a very important weaving industry and if we had prevented the importation of aliens that very important industry in that very important city would not be in the prosperous condition it is in at present. The effect of this Amendment would have a most serious result on our foreign relations. We have a small number of aliens in Great Britain, compared with other countries. If you take France, Germany, Spain, or any of the great countries you will find they have a far larger percentage of aliens. I have not figures as to the number of British subjects in other countries, but I know that it is very substantial. At the present time, when under the League of Nations Covenant we are trying to bring about a better understanding between nations, the effect of a restriction of this kind would be serious. This restriction does not apply merely to enemy aliens who are very few indeed in this country, and very few in the East End of London, because there the aliens are mostly neutrals or the subjects of Allied States, and they will suffer much more than the enemy aliens under this restriction. I want the House to realise that. When we are considering the workings of the principles of the League of Nations to bring about more friendly relations between the different countries, a restriction of this kind cannot fail to have a very injurious effect. I hope, therefore, the Government will not under any circumstances accept this Clause.
I desire to say a few words against the adoption of this Clause. If I understand it aright, we are to legislate so that no employer of labour in this country shall in future be allowed, under any circumstances, to employ more than 25 per cent. of people who are not of British origin. At any rate, they are not to be employed except with the consent of the Secretary of State. There is nothing said in the Clause about the capacity in which these people may be employed. Therefore, if you take it literally, and I suppose it would have to be taken literally if it is embodied in an Act of Parliament, it would mean in any capacity whatever, and the number of people employed would have to be taken into account in ascertaining the 25 per cent. It is obvious that this would involve in a large number of workshops in this country, where the people are working very hard and are producing things that are valuable, the counting of heads in order to ascertain exactly what proportion of the employés are of this country or of other nationalities. There are many businesses in this country in regard to which, fortunately, we rule the world, and they were introduced into this country by aliens. We ought not to forget that there are several most important businesses of that description in England to-day. If we were to shut out from this country people who were coming to work, then that is altogether a different proposition than shutting out people who are of no particular good to this country and who are otherwise objectionable and ought to be shut out by alien restriction and not by putting impediments in the way of employment on work which would be of advantage to the country, whether done by an Irishman, an Englishman, or a Frenchman.
This Clause proceeds mainly upon the basis of a very narrow view of ordinary economics. The people who have an idea of this kind in their heads—I give them all credit for being sincere—are looking at this country as if it were the whole world, and as if the British people did not go abroad. My main objection to this Clause is the fact that we in England have fewer aliens than any other country, and that there are more British subjects abroad than there are aliens in this country. We have to look at the thing all round, and not merely in the interests of certain people who are supposed to be out of work in the East End of London because aliens are taking their place. We have to look at a very much more important point, and that is, the enterprise of England and of those people who have gone overseas and have established splendid industries there, and are doing work and producing wealth for the whole world and to the advantage of this country. The real truth is that there is no country in the world so dependent on freedom and liberty for its trade and manufacture in every respect as we in this country. All over the world, thank God, we have to-day British enterprise, British trade, and British capital. When you read this Clause it sounds reasonable. There is a reasonable sound about the 25 per cent., and so on, but I believe it is an appeal to low instincts: it is an appeal to prejudice, and I believe it is an appeal to ignorance, which in some respects is rather worse than either prejudice or low instincts. It is not founded upon a rational basis.
I would rather leave a matter of this kind in the hands of the Government. They know the true facts. They have means of knowing about trade, employment and manufacture, and about the number of aliens who are engaged in particular industries in this country and the number of British people who are engaged in these and other businesses abroad. The Clause does not affect the important question as to what aliens are to be admitted into this country. if we were going to tighten up the definition of w hat is a desirable alien to admit into this country, I think we should be upon ground against which it is almost impossible to argue, but when you are limiting a Clause like this to the question of who shall be employed and who shall not be employed, when once they have been admitted into this country, you are in danger of creating very serious difficulties. This question affects myself personally, and it affects others who have their enterprises and their money and their energies abroad. In the concern in which I am particularly interested we have taken on a large number of demobilised officers, and we have been providing them with an honourable and lucrative career, and sending them where they want to go, namely, into a foreign country, to do something for themselves, to get a good living, and to do something for the trade and prosperity of this country. In those foreign countries there are laws which ordinarily impose upon British subjects in those countries any disabilities whatever that are made applicable to their subjects in this country. Remember that when we go to foreign countries we are aliens and we cannot complain—if we did complain it would not matter because it would automatically apply to us—when a law of this kind is immediately made applicable to us in those countries. To raise difficulties in regard to the employment of British subjects in all the foreign countries of the world, which this Clause would automatically do, would be a profound mistake. We are on very dangerous ground in listening to suggestions to embody this Clause in the Bill. because in doing so we should be committing an economic mistake in our own country and we should be seriously embarrassing and prejudicing our own people who are the pioneers of British trade and enterprise in all the other countries of the world.
I congratulate my hon. Friend who has just spoken upon the sentiment which he has just expounded, but I would remind him that nine-tenths of them are elementary truths which did not need to be driven home, and are not applicable to the present situation in which we find ourselves. There is one thing about his speech that does deserve notice, because it was so frank, and that was, that his financial interests depend upon the conditions of things that we deprecate. It was a frank admission, and I accept it as being one of those frank speeches that we do occasionally get in this House on matters of this kind. He has reminded us that when we go abroad we become aliens.
Surely that is almost a nursery truth. I suppose we may take it that most of us understand that, and that we understood it when we put down this Clause. The hon. Member not having been a member of the Standing Committee, does not know that this Clause was carried in Committee, and it was carried on Second Reading, as amended, and it was only when the Motion was put that the Clause stand part of the Bill that the ingenuity of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Shortt) and of his secretaries—who were rather numerous then, because it was a transition period—succeeded in getting three more members into the Division, with the result that the final admission of the Clause to this Bill was defeated by three. A highly commendable business for the British public to know that legislation here may be materially influenced by three votes in Committee ! The point here has to do with the pledges that were given to the electors last December. Have hon. Members taken the trouble to get the verbatim Reports taken in Committee on this Bill? I trust they have, because it would justify the taking of the vote upstairs, and it would also enable them to answer a good many questions in their constituencies when the time comes to deal with them. If hon. Members have read these Reports, they would see that very early in the proceedings upon this Clause, which we carried against the Government, these pledges were very fully and amply discussed. I will turn not merely to the pledges of the Government, which we know had relation to enemy aliens mainly, but I will turn to this particular question of employment.
I quite understand how the hon. Member for Whitechapel would feel if a Clause of this sort were passed. So far as they are still aliens who have no vote they are no doubt able considerably to influence the votes of others. Whitechapel of to-day is considerably different from the Whitechapel of forty years ago. If the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool had been made in 1880, I would have accepted every word of it. Up to that time this country had benefited considerably by the influx of those who fled from persecution abroad and settled, like the weavers in Spitalfields and Norwich, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. I accept that every immigration which took place down to the year 1880 was in the main if not wholly beneficial to this country from the point of view of trade. If the hon. Member for Staffordshire has any evidence of objections raised, when the Edict of Nantes was revoked, to these people coming over here, I should like to have some reference to the meagre reports of the Debates in Parliament of that day to show that there was organised opposition. This country has learned its lesson since 1880. In 1889 it was found necessary to appoint a Royal Commission in inquire into the conditions of aliens entering into this country. That Commission reported that the condition of things was very undesirable and that steps must be taken to control it. I wish sincerely that those steps had been taken, because in connection with proposals for alien legislation the most marvellous thing is that, however enthusiastic we may be about it and however successful in getting an Act through the House of Commons, its administration is sterilised and we get no real benefit from the legislation that is passed.
I may refer to one or two conclusions of the Commission of 1889. Up to 1880 the East End of London was relatively free from anything like organised immigration, but of those who came afterwards it was stated that they are impoverished, in a destitute condition, deficient in cleanliness, practically with no sanitary habits, that they had been subjected to no medical examination on embarkation and arrival, and that they were liable to introduce disease. I agree that the development of sanitation since then has done something to counteract the latter point, but it was also stated that among them are criminals—prostitutes and persons of that character—beyond the ordinary percentage of the native population of the country from which they come. The hon. Member for Whitechapel has taken the trouble to analyse the returns of convictions, whereas if he knows the undesirable alien he should know how unusually adroit and clever he is when he gets into the criminal Courts, and has to deal with open-handed English justice, in escaping the net and not being convicted, and if he had given us, instead of the convictions, the number of prosecutions, then we should have had something to go on.
Because the immigrant population has been forced further east by the erection of warehouses and the extension of docks, and things of that sort. In that constituency, while the population has gone down, the rateable value has gone up, and so it is you have this displacement taking place because of the proximity of Whitechapel to the City of London and to that part of the City of London that is rapidly becoming more and more the centre of the highest class of business, because many hon. Members know that it is contemplated that the developments in that part of the City will be in the course of a few years such as to transform it entirely into a place with a princely sort of buildings for shipping and other purposes. You have already this development in connection with shipping and insurance, and you have Lloyd's Avenue cutting its way right through what formerly were warehouses or partly slums. That is the reason why crime is decreasing, because the people are not there to commit it unless they come to rob the warehouses. But they are very close by. They are in Ratcliffe Highway and St. George's-in-the-East, and notoriously in Stepney, and they are transforming Mile End. But this Report emphasised these matters, and went on to say that on arrival, many being unskilled in any industrial trade, and in a state of poverty, work for a rate of wages below the standard at which a native can fairly live. That, again, I admit is improving quite lately under our general legislation. There was an Act passed last year or the year before which gave the Board of Trade a general power to set up Trade Boards. There has been a Trade Board set up for tailoring, but it is quite recent—during the last two years—and you may be perfectly sure that if an alien can evade the provision of the Trade Boards he will do so in order to earn as much as he can.
Then it is pointed out that the unskilled labourers on their arrival set themselves to learn so as to earn better wages in different trades, but during the probationary period they produce work for a very low remuneration, and when by degrees they become skilled workers they are willing to accept a lower rate of wages than that demanded by the native workman, who, from this cause, to some extent is driven out from certain trades. Another reason urged by this Commission is that these immigrants, in so far as they belong to the Jewish faith, do not assimilate or harmonise with the native race, but remain a solid and distinct community whose existence in great numbers in certain areas gravely interferes with the observance of the Christian position. That was emphasised by the Commission which sat fourteen years later. In the interval nothing had been done and the position got so bad that riots had taken place from time to time of persons who had been deprived of employment by the increasing number of aliens employed in the East End, and a Commission sat, which was then moved by the late hon. Member for Stepney, Major Evans Gordon. On that Committee, of which I have here the Report, there sat Lord James of Hereford, Lord Rothschild, the late Mr. Alfred Lyttelton, Sir Kenelm Digby, who was the only bureaucrat, and then Major Evans Gordon, Sir Henry Norman, who happily is still among us, and, lastly, the clerk to the Whitechapel Board of Guardians. This Commission sat for a very long time. The minutes of evidence are voluminous. They are terrifying in extent. But the Report was all but unanimous, and the only person who appended a Minority Report of any length was the one bureaucrat, Sir Kenelm, now Lord Digby, who introduced a number of objections from the purely bureaucratic point of view, which went to the root of most of the substantial findings that were given. Is it not curious that this should really have been the only argumentative Minority Report? Lord Rothschild signed a Minority Report, but it was very brief. It is a very strange and significant fact that the only dissentient who gave reasons for his dissent is the Under-Secretary for the day.
The Commission came to conclusions which were very drastic. They said that every effort should be made to stop these people, and they made recommendations. They defined an undesirable alien, and they also found that the introduction of these people was a serious menace to the employment of English labour. They said, moreover, that it was an interference with trade, not only in the trade in which these people were engaged, but others, because they were so exclusive that they would only deal among themselves, and therefore the ordinary traders of the district were forced out by the introduction of this alien labour. The Report of this Commission is far too long for me to go into without delaying the House unduly, but there were criminal statistics given from the Report of the Prison Commission showing that the number of alien prisoners in the Metropolis rose gradually year by year with one exception from 1,143 in 1889 to 1,915 in 1903. Then they analyse the number and nationality of those prisoners. There is a long paragraph which is certainly fraught with great importance to those who represent the great working-class constituencies where the evil has come. Happily it has not come everywhere. It was at one time confined to the East End of London. It is now to be found in Manchester and Hull, and it is also to be found in Leeds and Sheffield, and in Scotland in the mining districts, but it is rare outside the Metropolis, and I do ask this House seriously to take some step which will prevent an extension of the mischief. Much as I dislike the discretion of the Home Office or putting it into the power of departmental officials to exercise these powers, because they are, after all, those who direct the policy of the Home Office in matters of detail of this sore, yet we have done it in the present Clause in order that they might be able to adapt to circumstances the nature of the Order to be made. The Amendments made in Committee and incorporated in the Clause which is now proposed will be quite sufficient to meet any real case of hardship that can be raised in reference to business or otherwise.
The paragraph to which I refer is a statement upon the industrial and economic effect of alien immigration. It refers to the sub-division of labour in the boot-making and cabinet-making industries, in which trades there had been a great influx of aliens, and while the subdivision of labour had introduced cheaper articles, yet against that must be placed the fact that the manufacture of these cheaper articles produced in the trades referred to a condition of rates of wages for labour far below the standard which is paid to British workmen. It is a most instructive Report. In so far as the Stationery Office can afford copies I hope hon. Members will obtain them and read them for themselves. In 1905 there was a terrible conflict between the two sides in this House over that particular Bill which was very much decimated, but finally passed. Then the whole thing was rendered abortive by an Order made about December of 1905, immediately after the assumption of office by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's Government, when by a. stroke of the pen the then Home Secretary, Lord Gladstone, was able to defeat the whole policy of the measure. I hope the House will accept this Clause. I hope also that the Government will realise that this subject can no longer be played with; it has been played with far too long. When the measure is passed I hope it will work as smoothly as legislation can work, and that even though we may not see our way to deport any of those who are already here, it may act as a deterrent to those who desire to come over, as so many have come in the past, at the invitation of friends here and with the aid of that useful commodity which one sees very rarely now, the £5 note, which used to do duty so often by going out and coming back again for production to the immigration officer as evidence of means. Such notes got so greasy in time that at last they had to be discarded for something else. That is the sort of thing we want to stop. I hope the Government will not oppose the Clause, or at all events that they will not put the Whips on against it.
I hope the House will certainly reject this proposal. May I venture to remind the House of what the Clause is, and the purpose for which it was moved, because the discussion on it, and certainly the speech to which we have just listened, have not been devoted in the slightest degree to the purpose which the Clause has in view, but rather ranged over the general question of the non-admission of undesirable aliens. This Clause is not intended to keep out undesirable aliens; it is intended to provide work for the British subject. That was the purport of the Mover's speech. It is no use reminding us of the pledges about the admission of aliens into this country, and then to accuse us of not carrying out those pledges because we reject a proposal which does not effect that purpose at all. I think the House will come to the conclusion that this Clause does not carry out a single pledge given by any member of the Government or by a single supporter of the Government. The Clause, or some-think like it, was moved in the Committee upstairs. It is quite true that at first that Clause was carried, but it was not due to any kind of intrigue that the Clause was ultimately rejected. It was due to the fact that the Committee realised what the Clause was, and that it was a hopelessly unworkable proposition. When that Clause was being discussed, so little did the proposers know about it that they had to get up one after another, as an idea struck them, to move exceptions to their own Clause. If the Committee had gone on for a week, goodness only knows how many more exceptions they would have discovered. The Clause is made no more workable by giving the Home Secretary the power to licence for special reasons than it was when you had to pass exceptions to it in all sorts of directions. What the special reasons are we do not know. It would not mean that the aliens are undesirable, because the proper thing to do with them is to keep them out. We are dealing in this Clause with aliens who are considered E to be admitted, and who would be admitted. Take Sub-section (2). A man has to give an account on or before 1st July of the aliens he employs and the numbers that he employs. Take the clothing trade or any industry of that description where alien labour is largely employed. Ask them what it would mean and how it would be possible in a return of that sort to say what was 25 per cent. of the labour employed. There are different numbers employed every week and every day of the week. It is idle to suppose that the thing is as simple as it looks.
The question of reprisals has been ridiculed, but it is not a matter for ridicule; it is a serious matter. According to the information given to me, for one alien that we could replace in this country by British labour there are in foreign countries at least three Britishers who by way of reprisal could be replaced by natives of those countries, and no doubt in many cases they would be so replaced. That is a serious matter. In these days of flux, when the relations of one country to another are in a very unstable condition, it is not wise to perpetrate any pin-pricks or to invite any reprisals which can possibly be avoided. But there is something more than that. I wonder if the House has realised what could be done under this Section if it was passed. We have in this country millions of workers; soldiers and sailors have returned and been absorbed in labour, and there are the demobilised munition workers in very large numbers. I wonder if the House recollects how many aliens there are in this country altogether, allied, neutral, and enemy. If you eliminate the Belgian refugees, most of whom have now returned, there were something over 300,000 aliens in 1918. I quote from the Report of the Aliens Committee. Of these about 100,000 were in the Metropolitan area. What is that among the whole population? Take this proposal. It does not deal with anyone who employs fewer than five people. How many will that take out of the 300,000? It will take an enormous number out of the 100,000 in the Metropolis. There are all those shops with foreign names upon them, to which reference has been made. They would continue. It would not put a single British tradesman in their places. What would the result be, supposing you had 200,000 aliens employed in various industries up and down the country. Suppose you turn a number of these out of their employment, say 50,000 or 100,000. What are you going to do with them? Are you going to allow them to starve, to put them on the rates? [HON. MEMBERS: "Deport them."] They have been allowed into this country. On what ground are you going to deport them? You cannot deport them merely because you turn them out of their employment. This really will not help the labour situation one iota. Those that you do succeed in turning out of their employment will get employment elsewhere and will probably cause some other Britisher to lose his work. The whole thing is misconceived; it is not workable. To describe this as any attempt to carry out a pledge about the non-admission of undesirable aliens is really playing with the intelligence of the House.
One has listened, as one always does, with profound respect and a great deal of mental curiosity to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. But I have been asking myself this simple question—what is the Government's objection to this Clause? The right hon. Gentleman will, perhaps, correct me if I wrongly state his views. I gather first of all that in his view the Clause is unworkable. One can dismiss that in a moment by saying that if the combined ingenuity of this House and of the officials of the Home Office cannot find simple machinery to work the Clause then indeed our intelligence has fallen to a low level. The next argument appeared to be this. There are so very few of these aliens only 300,000 altogether in 1918. The right hon. Gentleman made deductions from this total and left a balance of 200,000. If, under the operation of the Clause these 200,000 were thrown out of employment what, he asked, are we going to do with them? "Are they to starve," asked the Home Secretary, "Are they to be hungry and without clothing." The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to apprehend the feeling that exists on this subject in this country. Whatever hardships arise under the operations of this Clause have to be adjusted in the best way possible, but I have not the remotest solicitude as to what happens to those people who have brought a low standard of living into this country and who have handicapped the British workman more than any other cause, and I think everything should be done to expedite their return to their own country. "But," says the Home Secretary, they have been allowed to come here." So were the Germans allowed to come here, the Germans who are here today and who have been deported daily rider the orders of the right hon. Gentleman. They were allowed to come here, You may say that from the political point of view these are desirable people, but we say from the economic point of view and the social point of view they are undesirable. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who employs them?"] I can only say for myself I do not. Another observation of the right lion Gentleman which has been rather overworked and which was trotted out by the Member for Liverpool and which the Home secretary gave us with a good deal of forensic power and dramatic gesture was that if we passed this Clause or a Clause of this kind we must expect reprisals to the extent of three to one against our own nationals in other countries. Ministers of the Crown should weigh their words when they speak. I want to know what justification the Home Secretary has for that statement. I want to know where you find ill-conditioned and ill-affected Britishers working to the extent of 50 per cent. as waiters in a foreign country or as hairdressers in a foreign country, and so I could go through, the whole gamut of the aliens with whom we are dealing here. There are no British men worth counting Ns ho arc in the position of the men against whom this Bill is directed.
Where are they—name? I do not accept the figure. I venture to say there are not 600 British men working abroad whom the countries in which they work wish to get rid of. That is the test. They improve the standard of living there and have never been alienated from the people amongst whom they live. The hon. Member for Whitechapel has a right to speak on this subjet because in the proper Parliamentary sense he is not disinterested, because, although aliens have no votes they are a very busy and troublesome people. At a later stage of this Bill we are going to take steps to see that they never shall vote. That hon. Member rather jeered at the Clause because of its authorship, but there is a legal maxim that hard cases make bad laws. It may be that in Whitechapel there are many desirable industries which would be injured indirectly if there were not a large proportion of alien labour. That is why we have been rash and reckless enough to give the Home Secretary discretion to grant certificates in special cases. There is not a single danger within the purview of this Clause which cannot be remedied by a stroke of the pen of the Home Secretary. That being so, what is the objection. De minimus is a legel phrase known to the Home Secretary and we are told that this is a small thing, but behind it all there lurks this old-fashioned idea that you must not lay a finger on the sacrosanct shoulders of any alien who cares to come here. The country expects at least this contribution towards the settlement of this subject. One would not be foolish enough to ask the Government to redeem its election pledges. That is out of date and the Archbishops in another place have given us Absolution from our election pledges. But do let us make some pretence at it, and let us by passing this tell the British workmen that you are not going to handicap him by having more than one in four aliens in the workshops except when it is in his own interest. We have been told of what happened in Committee, and we know what occurs on the Question "That the Clause stand part." I respond to the Appeal of the Home Secretary, and I for one can face even the aliens in my own Constituency, and say that I have done something to give reality to the pledges which were made.
Far be it from me to interfere in the more or less domestic differences of the Conservative party. At all periods in our history some people have been opposed to aliens, and have evinced the same spirit that we have been listening to to-night. Generally speaking, aliens are always hated by people of this country. Usually speaking, there has been a mob which has been opposed to them, but that mob has always had leaders in high places. The Flemings were persecuted and hunted and the Lombards were also hunted down by the London mob. Then it was the turn of the French Protestants. I think that the same feeling holds good on this subject to-day. You always have a mob of entirely uneducated people who will hunt down foreigners, and you always have in this House or in the other House, like Lord George Gordon, people who make use of the passions of the mob in order to get their own ends politically. But there is behind this Amendment a real party movement and a desire to show on the hustings and platforms what has been done. Members will come forward and will tell the people, "I voted against these—foreigners, and I voted to keep them out." How men who are English gentlemen can accept a view of politics that they are to take advantage of the lowest and meanest ideas of the mob in this country in order to cadge their votes by such a Clause as this, I cannot understand. We have heard hon. Members appealing to Members of the Labour party and saying, "Do you not want more work for Englishmen, and can we not kick out the foreigners and find work for the men at home "We heard the same sort of thing in connection with the Tariff Reform movement and the same sort of people made the appeal. Although I only speak for a small section of the Labour party myself, we believe that the interest of the working classes everywhere are the same, and these gentlemen will find it difficult to spread a spirit of animosity and racial hatred amongst those people who realise that the brotherhood of man and the international spirit of the worker is not merely a phrase, but a reality. We know that the whole of this Bill is devised in order to satisfy the meanest political spirit of the age. if this Amendment were included in the Bill it would show what legislation would provide if it were left in the hands of "John Bull" and the hon. Member for Ealing, and would let people see that our proud old British traditions had been scrapped and thrown overboard, and that we had invented a new type of English gentleman, modelled on the London mob of 200 years ago.
I desire to enter a protest against the line of argument which the Home Secretary used in his attempt to upset the real basic value of this Clause. I do not think he was at all justified in telling the House that we should have action taken by foreign Governments. Can anybody suppose for a moment that in France or any other country legislation which precluded more than 25 per cent. of Englishmen being employed in any one factory would have any effect whatever on British workmen. The matter is absurd. I know something by travel in foreign countries, and to think that there are any factories in any country where 50 per cent. of the employés are un-naturalised Englishmen in that country is, to my mind, absolutely absurd. The whole idea of retaliation by other countries if we pass this Clause is to my mind absurd. I would like to say one other thing, and that is that we must not forget that after this great war the upheaval in foreign countries, in Europe particularly, is so great that many of the people there may be wanting to come over here. We do not want them coming over here, and we want the employers in our factories to know that they cannot have more than 25 per cent. of aliens in their employment. The very moment an employer has got his 25 per cent. he will not be encouraging his friends from the centre of Europe to come over here and find employment in his factory, and there will go forth a kind of knowledge that this percentage is the limit. I hope this House will pass this new Clause, because it will have the effect of preventing both desirable and undesirable aliens from coming into the country at all.
If I may say so, I think that every Member who got the coupon at the last election is pledged to support this Amendment, and for this reason. The Prime Minister, in practically every public address, inferred that we wanted Britain for Britons. He said we wanted to make this country more fit for heroes to live in, and in many passionate addresses he gave us to understand that he wanted this country for the benefit of British workers and Britons generally. All that this Amendment means is that we shall not encourage alien labour in this country. I would like to have put it even stronger, because I am afraid that even this Amendment will allow through the net a great number of the most undesirable aliens, those who are gradually stamping out the one-man businesses in this country. The one-man businesses in this country have bred a fine class of small traders, and anything that will stamp that kind of man out is not beneficial to our national character generally, just as the introduction of aliens, and particularly the undesirable aliens, is not beneficial to our national character. The address that the Home Secretary gave us is so typical of that kind of mind that nearly brought this country to its knees that I should like personally to pay for a pamphlet to be published—at least, I will pay for a hundred thousand—containing a verbatim report of his speech for the benefit of the electors of this country. It is just that type of mind. As the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) suggested, there was not only loose thinking, but loose speaking, and there were generalities which we do not expect from Members of the Front Bench, however much we might expect them from Members on other benches. I have been accused of it myself.
When we hear Members representing Labour in this country standing up and appealing to the Government to bring more aliens in, or to do nothing to prevent it, I really do not think they are speaking for the genuine British labourer. There is not enough work to go round at the present minute. There is plenty of work, but there is lack of organisation, and until we are thoroughly organised, particularly for that period, let us keep out that foreign labour, which is much more crafty and much more ingenious in its methods of getting work than the ordinary simpleminded British working-man. If you compare the mentality of the Asiatic with that of an Islander, you will find that one works much more slowly than the other and that is why they have got to windward of us so many times and why we watch them emigrate from the slums of Whitechapel to the sacred precincts of Park Lane so frequently—[An HON. MEMBER: "And Westminster!"]—and why there are Members here representing them now, it may be. I think I should not be fulfilling my duty in this House if I did not enter a protest now against the further importation of aliens into the labour market of England, especially in the small businesses in every town. They have practically ruined the small baker and closed up the British barber and a hundred and one other small businesses, not only in London but in every town. Personally, I am proud of being a Britisher. I prefer my country. I know it is an offence in the eyes of some Members on the Labour benches, but I prefer my country to any other, and I want to see it preserved, and I want to see it saved from the Asiatic. I have seen labour in other countries than my own, and there is no need for hon. Members speaking from the Labour benches to abuse all those who have seen fit to support this Clause. It is not an election catch, but even assuming that it is, we are presumably at election times making those promises which we think are likely to be most popular; and if they are most popular, they are most general; and if it is the sort of thing that you will dare to support from your own platform, you know it is because it is the will of the people, and if so, it is our duty to carry it out.
After the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, I feel compelled to vote against this new Clause, as the hon. Member has just delivered a speech which is simply naked anti-Semitism, and I have the greatest contempt for what I regard as the most cowardly thing—namely, Jew-baiting and anti-Semitism. The hon. Member for South Hackney asked why these people do not go to their own country. Remember that these people have been driven out of the ghettoes in Russia and Poland as the result of religious persecution, and that the sole effect of this Clause in operation will be religious persecution, because it will not hit your big factory at all. That can easily be accommodated. But it is the small Jewish man in the East End, who employs a few Jews, who will in future have to bring in so many Christians to work with the Jews, and they will not work well together. I am certain that, having once admitted these people—there is something to be said for keeping them out, perhaps—but when they are admitted are you now going to say to these Jews in the East End: "You shall not employ more than one-fourth Jews. You have got to employ three Britishers to every Jew you employ"? It is clear from the speeches we have listened to that this Clause is not directed against the Germans or the enemy aliens, but simply and solely against the wandering tribes who have been driven from country to country and persecuted for the last 1800 years.
Supporters of this Clause have issued the challenge that the Labour Members are supporting the introduction of undesirable aliens. I represent an East London constituency, and I am very pleased to find that some of those who are supporting this proposition have suddenly become converted to the necessity of keeping the aliens out. I have had some experience of disputes in the East End of London, when boat-loads of Polish Jews have been brought over to work in factories in my Constituency, and they have been brought over by some of the supporters of the proposition now before the House. Any stick is good enough to beat a Labour man with, and any stunt is good enough to win an election with. Whether it is considered good form or not, I will express the opinion of the ordinary worker in regard to this problem as it appeals to him. It says, in effect, that 25 per cent. of those employed in any industry can be aliens. Why limit it to 25 per cent.? Take a sugar factory, or a chemical factory, or any of those industrial establishments on the Thames-side, and what will you find? You will find that the aliens mainly were that class of labour which was the lowest paid and the hardest worked, and that they were continually being recruited by the employers in that particular line of business for the purpose of reducing the standard of wages. I am not blaming the employer for buying his labour in the cheapest market. He has a perfect right to do so as a business man, but we as trade unionists object to him pretending to be virtuous for political purposes and being a criminal for economic purposes. We have heard arguments advanced here by some Gentlemen who have been denouncing the aliens who ought to have been more careful in choosing their wives. If it is not good enough for a British working man to work side by side with a foreign workman, it is not good enough for an English statesman to sleep side by side with a foreign woman.
The hon. Member for South Hackney is prepared to face the aliens in his own constituency on this question. I am prepared to face the aliens or any other people in any constituency on the principle on which we have fought the War. I ask right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to repeat to-night the sentiments which they have expressed during the five years that the War was in progress. What did we stand for? What did I go on to platforms for? I went on to platforms to unite the democracies of Europe against autocracy, to beat Prussianism, to destroy this kind of legislation, which simply means turning the peoples of every country against each other. That is what I fought for and that is what every Labour man believed he was doing when he took up the cudgels in connection with the late War. Now we are being told that if we are not careful our jobs are going to be taken from us by the aliens. [An HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear !"] Your job will never be sacrificed, because under present conditions you do not do anything!I want to realise what a terrible enemy we have got to face in the possible 300,000 Polish or Russian Jews who may be waiting for embarkation at some foreign port for the purpose of sweeping down upon us to get our jobs. We and the boys of the bull dog breed who stood between Germanism in the highest moment of its pride—the 14,000,000 of them, workers and soldiers, who kept Germany at bay—are going to be defeated in the industrial market by 200,000 or 300,000 German or Polish Jews. What patriots we have got! Why, they are hardly strong enough to throw themselves on the parish. I want to say that labour in this country is not afraid of the competition. Let us have the legislation we desire. Let us see that hours of labour are regulated by Statute, and that no employer is allowed to take advantage of workers struggling for employment, and then it will be open to the employer to show that his patriotism is deeper and broader than his breeches pocket. I thank hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen for their desire to see labour well protected. How long have they been so anxious? If any strike in which we have taken part in the East End of London, where men were working 72, 82, and 84 hours a week, for wages less than 25s. a week, previous to 1914, did we ever see these hon. and right hon. Gentlemen amongst us to organise workers to secure better conditions of labour? It is different when it comes to a political question, and there is a chance of saying to the men in the East End, "Your low wages are due to the foreigner." It is not true. In the principal trade in which foreigners are engaged, the Jewish tailors introduced the trade, and the trade is a protection.
I venture to suggest that, so far as we are concerned, there is, in my opinion, an attempt to create a feeling in one or two parts of the United Kingdom which the great body of organised workers in this country will not accept. The real enemy of the working man is not the alien workman, and not the British employer as such,
but the real enemies we have to fight are those who want to take advantage of the necessities of the workers to get the cheapest possible labour at the lowest possible price. Therefore, we are against this kind of legislation. We want the workers to realise, and the House to realise, that Clauses of this character are not really intended to solve the problem. If you are going to allow 25 per cent. in a factory where 1,000 men are employed, you are going to have 250 aliens. There are not 250 aliens in the whole district from which I come, so that one particular employer, if he likes, will be allowed to employ 250 extra aliens. If we are to begin with aliens, I hope we shall begin at the top, and have an inquiry into the nationality of a large number of Members of this House, and if they go back far enough, probably they will find that their fathers had no reason to be proud of the country from which they came. Anyhow, so far as Labour is concerned, we are against this kind of legislation, and we protest against this Clause because it is playing to the gallery politically. Consequently, in so far as the Trade Union Congress is concerned, and the Labour Party Congress is concerned, we are against this kind of legislation. We want to see a new world for democracy, and all the nations of the world linked together, without any differentiation of the people of different nationalities.
|Division No. 109.]||AYES.||[6.19 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. F. W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dockrell, Sir M.||Johnson, L. S.|
|Sanbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Bell, Lt.-Col. W C. H. (Devizes)||Foxcroft, Captain C.||King, Commander Douglas|
|Bigland, Alfred||Glyn, Major R.||Knights, Captain H.|
|Billing, Noel Pemberton||Goff, Sir R. Park||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)|
|Bird, Alfred||Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Greene, Lt.-Col. w. (Hackney, N.)||Lorden, John William|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Grew, Harry||Lort-Willlams, J.|
|Brackenbury, Captain H. L.||Gretton, Colonel John||Lowe, Sir F. W.|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, N.)||Griggs, Sir Peter||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford!|
|Bruton, Sir J.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Macmaster, Donald|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Guinness, Capt. Hon. (Southend)||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Gwynne, R. S.||Maddocks, Henry|
|campbell, J. G. D.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred. (Dulwich)||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S)|
|Campion, Colonel W. R.||Hall, R.-Adml. Sir W. R. (Lpl, W. Dby)||Manville, Edward|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hanna, G. B.||Matthews, David|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Mitchell, William Lane-|
|Casey, T. W.||Hickman, Brig-General Thomas E.||Moore, Ma).-Gen. Sir Newton J.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hilder, Lieut-Colonel F.||Morden, Colonel H Grant|
|Cobh, Sir Cyril||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General G. K.||Hood, Joseph||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General R. B.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Murchison, C. K|
|Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)|
|Cowan, sir H. (Aberdeen and Kine.)||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Newman, Major J. (Finchley, M'ddx.)||Remer, J. B.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Nichell, Com. Sir Edward||Remnant, Colonel Sir James||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Rogers, Sir Hallowell||White, Colonel G. D. (Southport)|
|Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Roundell, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|Norton-Griffiths, Lt.-Col. Sir J.||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)||Williams, Lt.-Col. C. (Tavistock)|
|Oman, C. W. C.||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Pearce, Sir William||Scott. Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Stanton, Charles Butt||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Stewart, Gershom||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Perring, William George||Sugden, Lieut. W. H.||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Pickering, Cal. Emil W.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts)|
|Preston, W. R.||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir|
|Pulley, Charles Thornton||Tickler, Thomas George||E. Wild and Mr. Bottomley,|
|Ramsden, G. T.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Ormsoy-Gore, Hon. William|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Gloos, Colonel George Abraham||Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow)|
|Ashley, Col. Wilfred W.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Palmer, Brig.-General G. (Westbury)|
|Bagley, Captain E. A.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Parker, James|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gould, J. C.||Parkinson, Alpert L. (Blackpool)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Partick)||Greig, Colonel James William||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Pratt, John William|
|Barnston, Major H.||Grundy, T. W.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Barrand, A. R.||Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic., Loughbord)||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Betneil, Sir John Henry||Hacking, Colonel D. H.||Rankin, Capt. James S.|
|Blades, Sir George R.||Hail, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Hallas, E.||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)||Roes, Captain J. Tudor.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, V.||Reid, D. D.|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Hayward, Major Evan||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Briant, F.||Henderson. Arthur.||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Briggs, Harold||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall).|
|Britton, G. B.||Hinds, John||Robertson, J|
|Bull, Rt. Han. Sir William James||Hirst, G. H.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hogge, J. M.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Cairns, John||Hopkinson, Austin (Moseley)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Cape, Tom||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Rowlands, James|
|Carr, W. T.||Hurst, Major G. B.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Illingworth, Ht. Hon. Albert H.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Irving, Dan||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Jodrell, N. P.||Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scott, A. M. (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Seeger, Sir William|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Kidd, James||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.).|
|Colfax, Major W. P.||Kiley, James Daniel||Simm, Colonel M. T.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Sltch, C. H.|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Spencer, George A.|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Spoor, B. G|
|Craik, Rt Hon. Sir Henry||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Ashton)|
|Dalziel, Sir Davison (Brixton)||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Stanley. Col. Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H.||Lister, Sir R Ashton||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lonsdale, James R.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lunn, William||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Dawes, J. H.||Lynn, R. J.||Surtees, Brig.-Gen. H. C.|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Stirling)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Edge, Captain William||M'Lean, Lt.-Col. C. W. W. (Brigg)||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Sykes, Sir C. (Huddersfield)|
|Elliot, Captain W. E. (Lanark)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Eyres-Mansell. Com.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Melialieu. Frederick William||Thorne, G R. (Wolverhampton, E)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Mason, Robert||Thorne, Colonel W. (Plaistow)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Malson, Major John Elsdale||Thorpe, J. H.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Waddington, R.|
|Finney, Samuel||Morison, T. B. (Inverness)||Wallace, J.|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Morris, Richard||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Forrest, W.||Mosley, Oswald||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Fraser. Major Sir Keith||Neal, Arthur||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Newbould, A. E.||Whitle, Sir William|
|Wignall, James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)||Young, Lt.-Cam. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)||Winfrey, Sir Richard||Young, William (Perth and Kinross)|
|Williams, J. (Gower, Glam.)||Wood, Maj. Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)||Younger, Sir George|
|Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)||Worsfold, T. Cate||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E.|
|Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William||Talbot and Captain Guest.|