Clause 1. — (Restriction on building, etc., vessels of war.)

Orders of the Day — TREATIES OF WASHINGTON BILL [Lords.] – in the House of Commons on 10th July 1922.

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(1) No person shall without a licence from the Admiralty—

  1. (a) within any part of His Majesty's Dominions to which this Act applies build any vessel of war, or alter, arm or equip "any ship so as to adapt her for use as a vessel of war; or
  2. (b) despatch or deliver, or allow to be despatched or delivered, from any place within any part of His Majesty's Dominions to which this Act applies any ship which has been so built, altered, armed, or equipped as aforesaid either entirely or partly within His Majesty's Dominions:

Provided that a licence for any such purpose shall not be refused by the Admiralty unless it appears to the Admiralty necessary to do so for the purpose of securing the observance of the obligations imposed by the first-mentioned Treaty, and where a licence is granted subject to conditions, the conditions shall be such only as may appear necessary to the Admiralty for the purpose aforesaid.

(2) An application for a licence under this Section shall be accompanied by such designs and particulars as the Admiralty may require.

(3) The Admiralty may, by warrant, empower any person to enter any dockyard, shipyard, or other place, and to make inquiries respecting any ship being built, altered, armed, or equipped therein, with a view to ascertaining whether any ship is being built, altered, armed, or equipped contrary to this Act, and to search any such ship.

(4) If any question arises as to whether a ship is a vessel of war, or whether any alteration, arming, or equipment of a ship is such as to adapt her for use as a vessel of war, the question shall be referred to and determined by the Admiralty whose decision shall be final.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy)—at the end of Sub-section (1, a) to insert (b) manufacture any equipment suitable only for use in a vessel of war"— is without the scope of the Bill, as it seeks to include a Provision not embraced within the Treaty.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I do not want to argue your ruling, but I would like to point out that in Clause (1, a) reference is made to equipping any ship. I suggest that the word "equip" will cover equipment, and that we shall be in order, without in any way emasculating the Bill, to increase the control over equipment. It is no use our controlling the manufacture and building of ships of war if we allow the unrestricted manufacture of shells, torpedoes, submarine mines or any other equipment.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

That might be an argument as to the adequacy or inadequacy of the Treaty. It might be used in Debate on Second Reading, but as an Amendment it seems to me to be clearly beyond the scope of the Bill, as seeking to include something which is not contained in the Treaty.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Then are all the Amendments out of order? Can we not amend any part of the Bill or the Schedules? Can we only-pass or reject the Bill?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

It would be in order to diminish the effect of the Treaty, although, of course, it would be open to the objection, on merits, that thereby the whole Treaty might perish. Certainly it would not be in order to add to the Treaty.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I do not know whether I shall be in order in protesting against the Bill being taken at this hour. It is doing scant justice to the importance of the Bill, and the great success of the Conference which produced it. The Second Reading was taken last Friday, and we are taking the Committee stage as the Second Order after a long and rather dreary Debate on a very dreary Bill—a little, unimportant, twopenny-halfpenny Bill which, if it saves any money, will save one-thousandth part of what this Bill will save; and yet we are asked to take this most important Bill at after half-past Eleven. I do not think it fair to the House. Much more important is that it is not treating properly the great policies embodied in this Bill. However, the Government are determined to steam-roll all the Measures, big and little, through the House. I do not propose under the guise of discussing Section (1) to transgress your ruling, but I regret very much that we have not taken opportunity in this Bill to control the whole manufacture of weapons of war. This Section gives the Admiralty power to control the building of warships, but there is no control over great armament firms which manufacture artillery and poison gas, and we are simply limiting control to the building of war vessels under by incomplete supervision. We leave out of control the manufacture of weapons to be used for armies and the Air Service. I believe that the entire traffic in and manufacture of armaments, in industry, should be prohibited. I believe that one of the great causes contributing to all wars in recent years has been that the great financiers with large holdings in armament firms have exercised tremendous influence on policy in all countries. This Clause gives us power to control the makers of ship armour, of warships, of marine engines, but does not give us control of the manufacture of the weapons that are used for the sister Services.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The Bill is dependent on two Treaties which are set forth in the First and Second Schedules The first is naval armaments, and the second is to protect neutrals and non-combatants at sea in war. It is impossible to found on these Treaties any arguments as to land armaments.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I am very sorry, but I am afraid that that is the case.

Clause 2 (Legal proceedings) ordered to stand part of the Bill.