Orders of the Day — "workers' Weekly." – in the House of Commons on 8th October 1924.
I beg to move,
That the conduct of His Majesty's Government in relation to the institution and subsequent withdrawal of criminal proceedings against the editor of the 'Workers' Weekly' is deserving of the censure of this House.
I cannot conceal from the House the sense of responsibility which I feel in moving the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper. It is a serious Motion, not because of its immediate consequences to the position of parties, but because of the effect which what we do today will have on the administration of the law in this country. I am very conscious that many matters of controversy will be raised in the course of this Debate, and that there will be certain differences of opinion, but I will venture some propositions which, I think, will gain the assent both of the Prime Minister and of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General. These propositions are as follow: If the administration of the law were to become subject to any considerations of political expediency then justice as we have known it in this country—[Interruption].
I think it will be just as well if I make it quite clear at the beginning of this Debate that I intend that all who take part in it shall have a proper hearing. I do not intend to allow interruptions. I intend that each side in turn shall put their case properly and quietly before the House.
I was saying that if the administration of the law should become subject to any considerations of political expediency then justice, as we have known it in this country for centuries, would disappear. Civilised communities can only enjoy full liberty if the political executive is excluded from interference with the mechanism of the administration of justice. It is for that reason that the very salutary rule has been observed in this country that the Attorney-General, in forming his opinion on matters of prosecution, is entirely free from any political influence whatsoever.
He acts in a judicial capacity, and no Minister and no political party is entitled to interfere with him. If crimes were not to be punished or prosecuted because the delinquents belonged to a particular party, then the law would be mocked and retaliation by the other party, when it came into power, would bring about a condition of things in which justice would be destroyed. If there be any gift more than another which the British nation has given to the world in which it can take pride, it is that dispensation of even-handed justice which has characterised our race in all parts of the world and has gained for us the confidence of all peoples in our administration of the law. No greater blow, no more grievous blow, could be struck at our civilisation than that our Courts should be in any measure manipulated for party purposes. As I say, I expect the assent both of the Prime Minister and of the Attorney-General to these propositions. And yet the allegation which John Ross Campbell and his friends have made against this Government is that they have done these very things. They say that the excuse which was presented for Mr. Campbell before the Courts was untrue. They say that the explanation is one which they would never have offered and never would adopt. They say that their plea was not to mitigate the offence of what had been said, but to justify every word that had been used; and they say that the withdrawal of the prosecution was brought about by political pressure upon the Government and upon the Attorney-General. That is what they say. It is only fair, in a matter of so much importance, that I should not paraphrase or summarise the remarks and the statements which have been made by various people, but that I should give accurately the words in which these statements have been expressed. I should like to take, first of all, what Mr. Campbell says. He says:
It was no good will on the part of the Labour bureaucrats that caused the prosecution to be dropped, but simply the pressure of the rank and file.
Then there appeared a statement from the offices of the "Workers' Weekly" on the 13th August by a certain Mr. Albert
Inkpin, who represents the political bureau of the Communist party. He makes a very grave accusation against the Government He says:
In view of the statement made by the Counsel for the prosecution, the Political Bureau of the Communist party desires to make it clear that no effort was made by Comrade Campbell to provide a defence such as that outlined by the prosecution as a reason for withdrawing the charge. Campbell's defence was justification, and he with the assistance of other comrades was fully concerned in arranging evidence to make this good.
I do not go into the personal references which he then makes to certain distinguished Ministers on the Government Bench. I pass that by. But he goes on:
We wish to state that the withdrawal of the charge was made on the sole responsibility of the Labour Government under severe pressure from such well-known Labour Members of Parliament as Mr. George Lansbury, Mr. James Maxton, Mr. A. A. Purcell, Mr. John Scurr, and many others.
That is a very definite and circumstantial statement, and made by a man who, so far as I can gather, is not opposed or hostile to these particular Members of Parliament whom he mentions. He commends Mr. Lansbury in another part of his article for being willing to put up bail for this Mr. Campbell who was being tried. But I think, after all that has been said, the House is entitled to know whether, in fact, any of these gentlemen who have been named did make any representations to any Minister of the Crown, and, if so, in what way and with what effect? In particular, I should like to ask—because the matter has been dealt with in many references in the Press—whether the hon. Member for Poplar did see any Minister or any official of any Minister on this matter. I beg the hon. Member's pardon: I mean the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). He has been so much associated with Poplar, that notorious community, that one naturally identifies him with it.
I should like to say that I am perfectly willing to preserve order, but I think the right hon. Gentleman has no right to insult a borough that is no more notorious than that of the right hon. Gentleman himself.
It does appear that Members can say what they like about Poplar in a humorous way, but when anyone else makes a slip it is taken seriously. We are not allowed to take it seriously. But we are not going to allow these things to be said. I represent South Poplar—
The question of the importance of Poplar does not really arise in this Debate. I think we might pass it by.
I intended no offence at all, and I am perfectly willing to substitute the word "notable" for the word "notorious." In fact, I should desire, so far as it is in my power, to use, in a matter of this kind, language of moderation in every respect, and to use no adjectives either of colour or of heat. But, pursuing the point which I had reached in my speech, I think the House is entitled to know whether the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley or any of the others whom I have named did make any approach to any Minister or to any person representing any Minister with regard to this matter, and we should be told what the representations were that were so made, and to whom they were made. In the course of this Debate, I hope the House will have an opportunity of being informed by these gentlemen themselves, if the Attorney-General is not in a position to give us this information. It is of prime importance that we should know in a matter of this kind what representations were actually made and what influences were brought to bear in having this prosecution withdrawn. But this sort of comment is brought to a climax in the "Workers Weekly" of the 23rd August. This is what is said in that journal:
Perhaps for the first time in England's fair island history has the course of justice in the Law Courts been changed by outside political forces into a triumph for the working classes over the capitalist classes, not by scoring a legal success, but by a plain revolutionary victory.
That is a challenge which on behalf of the proper administration of the law in this country we are bound to take up, all the more so because from the 23rd August to the 30th September, although this kind of statement was being repeated in other forms, not a single protest was made by any Member of the Government, nor by the Attorney-General, whose official honour was affected by the state-
ments. We know now from the Prime Minister that on a date, which I imagine was the 6th August, Ministers had a report from the Attorney-General as to the proceedings. I shall have something to say at a later stage of my speech as to what that particular episode imported. But at any rate they had been made aware of the course of proceedings, and yet during the whole of that time while the public of this country was in a state of anxiety—[Laughter]—Hon. Members opposite will find, perhaps to their surprise, that the great body of people in this country desire to see the law properly administered, and that any suggestion of perversion of the law is a thing which does fill their minds with anxiety. During all that period the Ministers of the Crown, who confessedly knew the facts, took no opportunity to let the public know that these statements in any way divagated from the truth. The Attorney-General the other day made the somewhat startling statement that until he read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway late in September he never knew the grounds upon which this prosecution had been withdrawn.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to misquote me. What I said, and what I have said in a written answer to an hon. Member to-day, was that to the best of my belief the first time I knew that Mr. Travers Humphreys had ever said the things which have been represented was when I read a report of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in a copy of the "Times" which I bought at Brussels.
I do not know that the Attorney-General is differing at all from my statement, and I am even amazed at the statement which he makes now. I myself should like to find the secluded retreat in which I should be entirely free from the sounds of the world, and from the letters which private secretaries send to their chiefs with regard to matters which are going on in their office. It does affect one with amazement that for a period of weeks the Attorney-General, whose conduct in the administration of justice was being canvassed throughout the Press of this country, was entirely unaware that a defence had been put up, supposedly on his authority and in his name—because after all he is responsible—which had been entirely disavowed by the people who had been charged and who stated loudly and blatantly that their defence was entirely different and was one of justification of the words which were used. In these circumstances it is not at all surprising if the Government have had judgment passed upon them by default in this matter. Even now, when we get the explanation of the Attorney-General, I am not sure that their minds will be very much relieved.
It is obvious, as I shall show later, that the Attorney-General has not disclosed everything to the House of Commons. It is perfectly plain that there are lacunæ in the statement which he has made. There are contradictions, mutual contradictions between the various explanations which he has given to the House, for he states to us in one breath that this man was not prosecuted because he did not want to make a martyr of him, o and in another breath that he was not prosecuted because the Attorney-General was afraid that the prosecution would be a failure. He stated to the house on 30th September that he did not prosecute Campbell because he was not in a position of responsibility, and he stated to the House on 6th August, when he was replying defiantly to Members sitting on the, back benches, that a breach of the law had been committed, and that the editor who had been arrested had accepted responsibility. He proceeded further to give us a series of statements, several of which were in direct contradiction of what is disclosed, and apparently disclosed with truth, by the "Workers' Weekly." He says, for instance, that the article upon which this man had linen accused had been copied from sonic other paper. The "Workers' Weekly" reveals the fact that not only was it not a copy but that it was an article which had been directly instructed by Campbell himself.
I would like to put this question to the Attorney-General. In his investigation did he discover that the handwriting of Campbell is upon a copy of the document which was seized? He says that one of the reasons why he did not prosecute Campbell was because he did not belong
to the Political Bureau, which evidently is the active force in the Communistic movement. But the "Workers' Weekly" discloses the fact that Campbell for some time has been a member of this very Political Bureau. I wonder whether this examination, which the Attorney-General made, was not really a very perfunctory one when, in fact, you find that there is so much disconcerting discrepancy between the facts and what he has represented. But the more closely you study the Attorney-General's statement the more you find that, so far from relieving one's doubts, it tends to increase them. If the House will forgive me I would like to read what the Attorney-General said on the 30th September in the House of Commons He said:
I was seriously concerned as to the degree of responsibility of Campbell, as in my opinion an unsuccessful prosecution upon such a charge would have been meet unfortunate. I therefore caused the fullest inquiry to be made, both as to the extent of his responsibility, and also as to his character antecedents, the latter being in my view of the greatest importance in a case of this kind. As a result of those inquiries the following facts were brought to my notice by the Director of Public Prosecutions, as being all the information which the police at that time possessed. Campbell was a young man believed to be of excellent character. He was not in the regular employment of the newspaper in question, but had been merely engaged for a short time to take the place of the editor who was away ill.
I may stop at this point to say that Campbell was regarded by the "Workers' Weekly" as the editor. Whether, temporary or otherwise, he was certainly the editor in charge.
Although it might be urged by the prosecution that Campbell as acting, editor was technically responsible for all that occurred in the paper his responsibility appeared to be very limited. He had not himself written nor composed the article, but had merely inserted what was apparently an extract cut from some other publication. He could in no way be proved to be responsible for the policy of the paper which was controlled by a body called the Political Bureau of which, as far as was known, he was not a member, and with which he was not connected. His military record was exceptionally good. He had voluntarily enlisted for service at the beginning of the War. He had been severely wounded and thereby incapacitated for life, and had been decorated with the Military Medal for gallantry in the field." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th September, 1924; col. 9, Vol. 177.]
I think that the Attorney-General will agree with me that that last reference to the military record is entirely irrelevant to the question whether a charge should be presented or not. It is a very telling circumstance when you come to sentence. Every lawyer knows that these matters are not relevant to the actual charge, and no matter how good a character you have, if you commit a crime you are responsible for it. I would like to ask the Attorney-General had he not discovered that this Mr. Campbell, instead of being, as the Attorney General seemed to think, a somewhat raw and inexperienced person, was in fact an experienced journalist in this very kind of literature? Did nobody inform him that he had previously been the editor of the "Worker" in Glasgow? Some of us, who come from that district, are personally well aware of Mr. Campbell's career and character, and the kind of writing in which he frequently indulges. Was nothing brought to the notice of the Attorney-General of his connection with the Red Internationale?
I am not saying that. I am only talking of the elements which the learned Attorney-General said influenced his mind in withdrawing the prosecution. Did he learn that at a conference in Moscow last year the Court of the Red Internationale insisted that the Political Bureau should be re-organised in this country, and that Campbell was appointed a member, and that he was elected a member of the Central Committee of the Executive of the Bed Internationale this year? Were all these facts known? Did he find that Campbell was affiliated to the Moscow Internationale, Article 4 of which says that a persistent systematic propaganda is necessary in the army, where Communist groups should be formed in every military unit? And is not that a circumstance very relevant to the crime with which the Attorney-General was charging him? I want to know, did he obtain any of that information, part of which was known to some very ordinary people with no exceptional means of information at all? Or was the inquiry of such a perfunctory character that nothing of that was disclosed? Here is the "Workers' Weekly" upon a
statement made by the Attorney-General in the House of Commons in explanation of his action. They say:
Now for the facts. The article on which the charge was based was not cut out of another publication. It was an article written on the specification of the editor for a special anti-war number of our paper. It was not a wild and irresponsible statement inserted in the paper by a young and inexperienced editor. It was a cold, deliberate statement of the party position, inserted by the editor, James Ross Campbell, who is a responsible member of the Political Bureau of the party. In the subsequent issue of the paper a similar article appeared. In the party manifesto a fortnight ago on war, the Political Bureau reaffirmed the policy contained in the open letter.
I am afraid that neither the House nor the country is in a position to congratulate the Attorney-General on the efficiency or the success of the inquiry which he made into the facts of the matter. But I think that probably the time which was available to the learned Attorney-General was not quite sufficient for the inquiries which he attempted. Let me recall the course of events. On 5th August the office of the "Workers' Weekly" was raided, and Campbell was arrested. On 6th August he was brought before the Court. In the afternoon of the 6th August certain Members of this House put a series of rather angry questions to the learned Attorney-General on the subject, obviously hostile to the action which he had taken. These various people included, amongst others, the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who suggested that many Ministers were just as bad or as good as this man; by the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Dickson), who said that if people were put in prison for charges like this the Labour party would lose half its members—
On a point of Order. Lanark is a big place. We want to know whom you mean.
I am sorry if the hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Northern) (Mr. Sullivan) thought he was reflected upon. There was also a question by my hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division (Mr. Maxton), who, with his usual cleverness, suggested the line of retreat which was ultimately adopted and upon which the learned Attorney-General founded his answer to questions the other day. Then the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) also took part in the questioning, and, being dissatisfied with the answer which he obtained, he said he would raise the matter on the Appropriation Bill, which was to be debated the same evening. Between the time of that question and some hour of the evening—according to the letter which the hon. Member for Mile End sent to the "Times"—before the Adjournment he received an assurance from the Attorney-General that the prosecution was to be withdrawn. That does not give very long for those full inquiries which the Attorney-General said he made and which induced him to withdraw the prosecution. At four o'clock he was determined to stand to his guns; a breach of the law had been committed and as the responsible Law Officer he was bound to see the law vindicated; but in the short space of time which I have described his view was changed. What had taken place in the interval? One thing, we know, did take place in the interval. There was a hurried summoning either of a Cabinet or of a conference of Ministers.
I had returned from Ireland, having interviewed President Cosgrave, and the Prime Minister summoned his colleagues to hear the report of Mr. Henderson and myself on that day.
I wish the Prime Minister had been here, because he showed some reticence in telling us what had really happened. At any rate, whether a special conference was called to consider this matter or not, at least there was a conference of Ministers at which this matter was brought up. The Attorney-General will deny that statement if I am wrong. My information is that in the meantime there was on that afternoon of the 6th August—I do not know precisely at what hour, but my information is that it was 6 o'clock—a meeting at which this matter was brought before Ministers. I cannot tell whether the Cabinet took a decision on the point or not. The Prime Minister has not afforded us any enlightenment on the actual proceedings, but he did afford some light to a distinguished journalist only two days ago in an interview. He was complaining of the suggestion of having an inquiry, which he stated was as bad as a vote of censure.
I think he said "worse." He stated:
But is it fair to ask us to accept a sort of roving commission, with power to examine every letter and minute, to take evidence on this suggestion or that winch may have been made, whether or not any of them influenced our decision? Who can say what did or did not influence us?
The next sentence is:
I am only speaking theoretically.
I am in the judgment of the House as to whether I have not read the matter perfectly fairly. I could have understood him saying what did or did not influence the opinion of the Attorney-General—what did or did not influence the Attorney-General's decision, but he said:
What did or did not influence us—
I do not know whether the Cabinet did arrive at a decision or not, but these remarks suggest that they did, and, if that is so, you have just that improper interference on the part of the political executive with the decision of the Attorney-General which at the beginning I deprecated in the interests of the proper administration of the law. But let me suppose for a moment that the Cabinet arrived at no decision. I would like to know, was the matter discussed? Was any point of view put before the Attorney-General by various Ministers? Did they refer him to the trouble which had been created in the House in the afternoon, and indicate the embarrassments of carrying on a prosecution of this kind? The Prime Minister has admitted that he had something to say about the prosecution, although he had nothing to say about its withdrawal. I would like very much to hear what he had to say about the prosecution. I think the House, in these grave circumstances, is entitled to know what the deliberations of the Cabinet upon this matter amounted to, and to what extent they used their influence to affect the judgment of the Attorney-General. I read in an answer given by the Attorney-
General on 30th September that he simply intimated his decision; he was not talking about that meeting of Ministers at that time because we did not know about it. But if the Attorney-General arrived at that Cabinet meeting, or meeting of Ministers, simply to intimate a decision, then the time during which these elaborate inquiries were made becomes still more exiguous, and is limited to the period between four o'clock in the afternoon and six o'clock.
These are matters which require explanation and some elucidation before our feelings of disquiet as to the administration of justice can be removed. But there is an even graver matter, as it seems to me, to which I wish to direct attention. The Attorney-General exhibited a singular lack of candour upon 30th September in informing the House of what he was doing and what, he had done. There was a question put to him by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley, and I would say that this casts a very serious light upon the way in which the whole matter was treated. I ask the House to observe in particular, the form of the question and the form of the answer. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley asked this question:
May I ask the Attorney-General whether it was with his knowledge that the statement was made by Counsel for the Crown that the prosecution was withdrawn because representations had been made since it was instituted as to the meaning and character of the article?
Quite obviously, when right hon. and learned Gentleman asked whether it was with his knowledge that these representations had been made, that covered both the period before the statement was made by the prosecuting Counsel—it covered his instructions—and the period afterwards. It was difficult to notice at the time, but reading the answer now you will see, if you scrutinise it, that the answer given was perfectly accurate, but it deals entirely with the time after the prosecution had been withdrawn. The Attorney-General's reply was:
The first time I knew that Counsel for the prosecution had made that statement when a speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who asked the last question, was sent to me a few days ago. I, to-day, requested the distinguished Counsel who conducted the prosecution to tell me what he had in his mind in making the statement to which the right hon.
and learned Gentleman refers, and he tells me that no representation of any kind was made to him, except that he understood it had been publicly stated in this House that that was the meaning of the article. I, therefore, sent for the copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 6th August, and I find that a member of this House said that the article contained mainly a call to the troops not to allow themselves to be used in industrial disputes. The learned Counsel who conducted the prosecution tells me he had no other information, except that he was told that that had been stated in the House.
Then he goes on further in answer to, another question:
The right hon. and learned Gentleman may take my answer as strictly accurate. Until one of those gentlemen who have interested themselves in this matter sent me a cutting from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech … I had no notice of any kind that Mr. Travers Humphreys had made that statement, and the first time I had an explanation of it was this morning at a quarter past eleven when I asked him to come and tell me what he had said."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th September, 1924; col. 11, Vol. 177.]
Now I am within the judgment of the, House as to whether, upon a question such as was put by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that answer is not an indication to the House that the only thing the Attorney-General knew about the statement which had been made by the prosecuting counsel, or had any opportunity of knowing, was at this subsequent period when he looked back. I certainly understood it, and I think everybody understood it as indicating that he had given no instructions at all to prosecuting counsel; yet the fact is that he had discussed with the prosecuting counsel on the 12th August, the day before the charge was withdrawn, the terms in which it was to be withdrawn. What happened was this? The right hon. and learned Gentleman will correct me on any detail in which I am wrong. I put it to him quite definitely, is it not the fact that upon 12th August he had a discussion with Mr. Travers Humphreys with regard to the plea upon which the prosecution was to be withdrawn? Is it not the fact that he put before Mr. Travers Humphreys the very explanations which he gave in the House upon 30th September as to the reason for withdrawing; that Mr. Travers Humphreys said those explanations were not good enough and did not justify a withdrawal of the charge; that the learned Attorney-General then said, with respect to the military service of
Campbell and the plea which had been put up for him by some Members on the back benches in the House to the effect that the article did not mean quite what it said and only involved an injunction to the soldiers not to help in industrial disputes—that upon those grounds the man was likely to get off, and that thereupon Mr. Travers Humphreys agreed with the learned Attorney-General that he should make the statement, which he actually did make, in the Court as to the reason for the withdrawal of the charge? The learned Attorney-General will be able to answer all the questions which I have put. If the facts, as I have stated them, are accurate, then I prefer to leave the matter before the House without any comment whatever. In fact, this ground of withdrawal is really nor a reasonable one or one which can stand the light of examination for a single moment. One has only to look at the literature which actually was published to see that the matter which is always mentioned first is not the refusal of troops to take part in industrial disputes but refusal to go to war—refusal to shoot down their comrades in other countries who are workmen like themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That cheer shows that that ground also appeals to some hon. Members of this House. Whatever be the proper view of that matter, I am not discussing the merits of the question at the moment. All I am discussing is this: That the charge which was made, the charge which the learned Attorney-General told his colleagues in the House was a grave charge and one which he was compelled to take up, embraced both of these things. It was withdrawn because it only meant one of them, or professed only to mean one of them, when, in fact, every part of the document has showing upon its face encouragement for the soldier to break his oath of allegiance and desert his duty in any question of war against an enemy. I have only to point to Campbell's own attitude upon this matter to make that fact irresistibly clear. Giving an interview on the day after he was acquitted, he said:
Neither with the knowledge nor on behalf of myself or the Communist party has any such representation been made to the authorities. On the contrary we were preparing a defence along the lines of
justification. It came as a great surprise to us to find that the prosecution was withdrawn.
I do not intend to delay the House any longer. There are certain Members of the House who think that the proper way to deal with this matter would be by an inquiry. The Prime Minister has said he regards an inquiry as a Vote of Censure even worse than that which is promulgated from this side of the House. So far as I am concerned, personally, I am perfectly indifferent upon which ground censure takes place, so long as this matter is sufficiently exposed and an example is given which will prevent its repetition. I and my friends think that enough is now disclosed to justify the Motion. Without straining the facts or putting undue inferences upon them, enough has been elicited already to show that this charge was withdrawn without any proper investigation and with indecent haste. There was a whole week between the day upon which this decision was hurriedly taken and the time when the matter was to come up again, in which to make inquiries, and yet what was done was this—after sonic evidences of dissent on the back benches in this House and after a meeting at which we know this matter was before either a Council of Ministers or the Cabinet, the hurried information was given that the charge was to be withdrawn. Not only was there an inadequate examination of the facts, but, putting the best face upon it, statements were taken as facts which the very slightest investigation would have shown to be groundless. So far as the reason was concerned upon which the withdrawal took place, it was not only made apparent by a perfunctory examination of the documents that that reason could not stand, but it was disowned by the man himself who was let off, and it was never mentioned as a proper reason by the Attorney-General when he came to give his answer to the question On 30th September in this House. I say by the act of the Government, whose duty it was to support the law, the law has been abased and people who broke it have, ever since, been boasting constantly that the Government dare not enforce it against them. In that state of things there is sufficient for us. Without ascribing motives, without even making up one's mind upon the perplexing and
conflicting explanations which have been given of the devious course followed by His Majesty's Government, it is perfectly apparent to us that the House of Commons cannot contemplate in silence such a dereliction of a fundamental duty, and cannot pass over without censure an act which, if it were repeated, would strike a most deadly blow at our respect for law and justice in this country.
While this Motion is undoubtedly a Motion of Censure against the Government, I cannot conceal from myself that it is also a Vote of Censure upon me. Inasmuch as that it is so, I feel confident I can rely upon the invariable generosity of the House to allow me a fair opportunity of stating What I am anxious to tell the. House, and when I make a statement of fact they will at least give me an opportunity of finishing the sentence I am relying upon, before they question it. I am not going to ask the House to take from me any statement of fact at all in regard to which anyone at any time can say that it is either contradictory or unsatisfactory. I am going to do something which I venture to think no officer in my position ever had to do before, and that is to put before the House the statement of every person who was connected with this matter from beginning to end. The House will have before them the statements of the Public Prosecutor, drawn up by himself, unseen by me; of the assistant Public Prosecutor and of the prosecuting counsel. When the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke challenged me across the Floor of the House as to whether I would deny statements which he made I, personally, am a little sorry that he did not tell the House that the learned counsel who appeared in Court having, in his own house, written out a statement of everything connected with the matter, at my request, and before even showing to me what he had written, sent a copy to the right hon. Gentleman and also to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon)—[Interruption.]—
I should like to say that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite wrong in what he says. He did not send the document to me; I learned of the information he had sent to others, but he sent no copy at all to me.
I accept the interruption. It is quite accurate. A copy was sent to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Marylebone (Sir D. Hogg). I apologise to the House for the inaccuracy. I knew the Mover of the Amendment was to be the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley, and that the Mover of the Motion was the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and I suggested that copies should be sent to both, but, in fact, I am told it was sent to the ex-Attorney-General, and not to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne). I do not think anyone can say that that was a malicious statement or an intentional exaggeration. May I just say this further—and I hope the House will allow me—that if at any time any responsible Member of the House had ever asked me to explain anything, and if before moving this Motion the right lion. Gentleman, whom I have known for 20 years, had said to me, "I cannot understand this; would you tell me what happened?" not only would I have told him but I would have said to him, "Go to Travers Humphreys, whom you and I have known for 20 years, and ask him yourself, and I would have said, "Go to Sir Archibald Bodkin, whom we have known for 20 years and ask for yourself." When one of the hon. Members of this House expressed a desire to see the instructions which were given in writing to Mr. Travers Humphreys, I felt bound to say that it was not in accordance with practice to hand them across the Floor of the House; but if the leaders of the party had wished me to do it, then all I can say is I should have done it at once. But nobody asked for it. I have them here; I am going to read them, and hon. Members in the House will have every word said by every living soul in this matter from beginning to end. If it takes a little longer than I would have wished, I do not think hon. Members will grudge me the time. So much has been said, and so much has been suggested, and unless I had thought fit to conduct a correspondence in the newspapers from day to day dealing With the statements that appeared in the "Workers' Weekly." I do not know how I could have given the statement that I am going to give to the House.
May I say this. I am not standing here apologising. If I had to do tomorrow what I was faced with in this case, there is not a cross of a "t" or a dot of an "i" that I would not have put in exactly the same place as I did put them. I do not believe there is a single lawyer in the country who will say he would not have done exactly what I did, when I have told the House every step and every stage—and I am sure that the House will be anxious to know the facts in order to give a fair decision on them I do not believe that this House is merely concerned with political games. I believe myself that, after the House hears the facts, they will desire to express their own proper opinion.
The first thing I do want to say one word about is the position of the Law Officers. It seems to have been denied that in a case where the public interest may conflict with the strict exercise of his duty, the Attorney-General is not only entitled to, but, if he does his duty must, go to the Executive. Government to know what the public interest is. For instance, does a lawyer anywhere or any lawyer in the House say that an Attorney-General would be acting wrongly if he said this: "This is a case of sedition, in which in point of fact i think there ought to be a prosecution, but I desire the opinion of the Government whether one should be taken or not"? Does any ex-Law Officer say that that would be wrong? I am going to read to the House one letter which was written on the 31st January, 1919, to the Director of Public Prosecutions. I am going to ask the House what possibly might have been said about me if I had written this letter, of which I entirely approve, and of which I believe every lawyer will approve. It is directed to the Director of Public Prosecutions:
I think every Law Officer would agree that Sir Gordon Hewart was right. What happened was that that letter was sent on by the Home Secretary to the Cabinet, and the Public Prosecutor received a communication from the Cabinet. I will read the letter—
I am directed by the Minister of Labour, with regard to your letter of 1st February that was sent by Sir Gordon Hewart to the Cabinet regarding the prosecution of the man"—
whose name is mentioned—
to say this matter was considered yesterday by the Cabinet and the Minister understands that you will receive instructions from the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
It was right, and I am going to show, not only that the Home Secretary, but I think I may say that every Attorney-General from Sir Frederick Smith, has adopted invariably that practice. It is one which I would unhesitatingly follow, if it had been the fact in this case that the Cabinet had said to me as a matter of policy: "We think this prosecution should not be abandoned." I would not have had any hesitation for a moment in telling you. I should have said: "I have only done what all my predecessors have done, and I venture to think almost invariably done." It goes far further. If after a Court has sentenced a prisoner to imprisonment at the instigation of trade unions, and a Home Secretary had said he would ask the Judge to take it off, what would have happened to this Home Secretary? I am not seeking to excuse what has been done in this case by speaking of something which other people have done. I only introduce that before I tell you the facts, so that every Member of the House may, and I am sure they will, exercise their judgment upon them, and may tell me at the end whether there is anything I have done wrong from beginning to end.
The first question I find I am asked by Lord Birkenhead in the current Press, and by Mr. Winston Churchill is this: "What I want to know is, what were the instructions given to the Attorney-General upon which "—as Lord Birken- head, I think, put it—" he decided to brand Campbell as a criminal? "I am going to tell the House all that I knew about this prosecution before I was asked the question in the House, and I am going to read what the Director of Public Prosecutions himself said. All I knew was this. The Director came to me on the 30th July with a newspaper, and I read it. He referred me to an old Statute of George III and an authority upon it. I considered it and I told him that in my opinion it was a question of whether or not this could be said to be merely what the headline described it, a question of troops in trade disputes, or whether it went further and could be said to be an incitement to mutiny. In my opinion, then and now, I think it went further, and was exactly as in Sir Gordon Hewart's case, a proper case for prosecution. I directed him to make inquiries to find out who was responsible for it and, if he could get evidence, to take such proceedings as he thought right. Not only that. It is obviously undesirable to mention the name of a person whom the police had under supervision, but I am not going to abstain from that if the House desires it. I am going to tell the House everything, and if anybody wants to know it I am going to tell it.
The person whom I had in mind was one who had been previously convicted, who was regarded as a danger, and it was present to my mind, as to the mind of every Attorney-General who has had to consider these sedition cases, that far more harm than good is done by prosecuting the wrong man. If you get a proper case and it is clear that that man should be prosecuted, go on with it, but if you have any doubt about it, infinitely more harm than good is clone by giving any sort of advertisement or publicity to them. The name "Campbell" was not even mentioned or thought of. I am going to read to the House what the Director of Public Prosecutions himself said. I may say that in this letter the Director went into one or two other matters, and I do not propose to read that part of the letter. But I will hand the whole document to anyone who, wants to see it, so that he may read it for himself. It is signed by the Director himself, and I should be glad if anyone asks me to show it. It is an account of
what happened at the only interview which I had on the 30th July.
I made an appointment to see the Attorney-General on the morning of the 30th, and I saw him. I showed him the article and the report in the Justice of the Peace.' Both he and I formed the opinion that there was a prima facie breach of the Statute disclosed, and he gave directions that the person or persons shown to be responsible for the article should be prosecuted. Neither the name of Campbell or any individual as being responsible was mentioned at that interview, or at any rate was spoken of. I suggested that the editor was probably a person who might be made responsible for the article. Some name or names"—
the Director has not mentioned the names—
of persons prominent and mischievous in promoting Communist doctrines were mentioned, and I expressed the view that it would be desirable if evidence were obtained to prosecute such persons or person as being responsible for the publication of the article. I told the Attorney-General that I would give directions for police inquiries to be made, so as to obtain evidence to fix responsibility, and the Attorney-General approved, and directed prosecution of such poison or persons as I considered the evidence of such inquiry by the police showed to be responsible.
Can anyone suggest that there is anything wrong up to that point? The next thing that happened was this. On this bench of the House of Commons on the 4th August., five or six days later, the Home Secretary said to me that he had had a letter from some printers about the suggested prosecution of this "Workers' Weekly," and had sent the letter to the Public Prosecutor. I thereupon rang up the Public Prosecutor and asked him to tell me what was being done with regard to this prosecution. The Public Prosecutor was away. His assistant in charge did not know very much about it, and he wrote me a letter on the 5th August, which I am going to read to the House, and which will show that the first time I ever heard the name of Campbell or the charge against Campbell was the 6th August, the day after this letter was written:
Dear Attorney - General, — Re the Workers' Weekly.' Since I saw you this morning, I have looked into the present position of this matter, and find that on Saturday afternoon last a warrant was granted by Mr. Leycester at Bow Street for the arrest of one John Campbell for an offence against Section 1 of the Incitement to Mutiny Act, 1797. He will probably be arrested to-day or to-morrow, when the
magistrate proposes to grant a remand for a week. He has already told a police officer that he takes full responsibility for all that appears in the issue of the Workers 'Weekly' which includes the open letter to the Fighting Forces appearing in the issue of the 25th July, which is the subject of the charge.
There is one more paragraph in the letter, in which he says he has looked into the matter of the printer, and the police do not think there is any evidence against him. I do not think I need read that, as it is of no importance. That is what I knew on the morning of the 6th, and on the 6th I had to answer a question in the House of Commons. As the House knows, those answers are prepared in the Department, and so little did I know about it that, looking at my answer, I find that I said exactly in substance what I have told the House to-day. I said that the editor had accepted the responsibility and had been arrested. It was perfectly obvious—for immediately that question was answered there were questions asked, I think from all parts of the House, but certainly from two parts of the House—that I did not know half as much about this case as a good many other people in this House. What was the right thing to do? What would anybody think was the right thing to do? An hon. Member was going to raise the question on the Appropriation Bill, and I knew absolutely nothing about it. I did not know who Campbell was, I knew absolutely nothing, and I thought at once that there were two things I must do. One was to have my view confirmed that this article was in itself a broach of the law, and, secondly, I must know if there were any other facts that I ought to know about Campbell.
I sent for the Solicitor-General to come to my room, he unhappily being unable to speak in the House, although he is able to listen to what is being said, and I am sure he would not permit me to say anything which is inaccurate. I sent for him, and also I thought I must know whether anybody in the House really had got any information. The first hon. Member who asked a question in the House was the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), and my recollection is that I sent a message, either by my own attendant or somebody else, to ask him to come to my room and see the Solicitor-General and myself. He came. What I wanted to know from him was whether he knew any- thing about this man Campbell. He gave me his and I will ask any lair-minded man in the House what effect it would have had upon his mind. He said he knew Campbell well, and he said: "You are all wrong about saying that he is the editor of this paper 'The Workers' Weekly.' What he really is is a man who is simply there temporarily while the editor is away ill." He told me something of the man's past history, and, mark you, I am accustomed to defending people, and I thought to myself at once what my position would be if I were defending counsel and the Attorney-General had o picked out as the one dangerous Communist whom he wanted to put in the dock a man described as a man who had had both his feet almost blown off in the War, who fought through the War from beginning to end, and who had been decorated for exceptional gallantry. I thought to myself what I would look like, supposing this were true, as the Attorney-General of England, putting in the dock at the Old Bailey, as the only dangerous Communist whom I could find, such a person as that.
I am going to tell the House in a moment what the Director of Public Prosecutions told me, and he will tell you, that they could not get evidence against anybody else, and, therefore, my position was to be that I was to go down and prosecute, with all the weight of the Government, a man who would almost have to hobble into the dock, with his feet blown away—[An HON. MEMBER: "He pleaded guilty."]. Surely no one in the House is going to say that the Government must be censured because one man took one view in which many others have agreed. Anyhow, that is what occurred to me. What would anybody have done? Would not they have said at once that the thing to do was to send for the Public Prosecutor to see whether that was true? I will tell you what I did, but, before doing so, may I read this statement of the next person who comes in, and that is the Solicitor-General? I cannot help it if every statement, from that of the Director downwards, is inaccurate. I can only read what they say, and this is the statement of the Solicitor-General. After all, I suppose, as a Member of the Government, it may be said that he likewise is likely to be open to taint or pre-
judice, but I cannot help that, and I cannot prevent the fact that this is what he wrote:
In the afternoon of 6th August, 1924, I was working in my roman at the House of Commons, when the Attorney-General asked me to go and see him in his room. He told me that he had sent for Mr. Maxton to come and see him and that he wished to have some information about what I now know to be the Campbell case, but of which case, at that time, I had not heard. Mr. Maxton came in and informed the Attorney-General, in answer to his inquiry, that he knew Campbell well, that he was only acting temporarily in the office of the paper, and spoke of his war record. The Attorney-General then said he would at once make inquiries, as these matters seemed very important and might gravely affect the whole question. Mr. Maxton then left, and the Attorney-General asked my view both as to the legal effect of the document and as to the legal degree of responsibility and position of Mr. Campbell
Here is an expression as to the law with which I did not entirely agree.
I expressed a doubt, which I still feel as to whether the incitement in the document was sufficiently directed to soldiery to come within the Incitement to Mutiny Act at all. The Attorney-General was very concerned about Mr. Maxton's statement, as in his opinion, if true, it would very gravely affect the probable result of a trial, and on this point I entirely with him. I also agreed that immediate steps should be taken to ascertain the accuracy of Mr. Maxton's statement and that all material facts about Campbell should be speedily investigated, for I shared the view of the Attorney-General that an unsuccessful prosecution would be disastrous in the public interest. I had then to leave the House of Commons and did not return that night: since that time I have had no further connection with or knowledge of this case.
I at once sent for the Director of Public Prosecutions, as it was, in my opinion, a matter in which the public interest was involved, and I said he must come to the Prime Minister's room so that he could tell us both what he knee about this man and whether what I had been told was true. I went to the Prime Minister's room, and—I am speaking from my own recollection—the Prime Minister was not in. I went in alone, and Sir Guy Stephenson came in afterwards, and I asked him to tell me if what this man had said was true. He confirmed every word of it. There and then, he and I, the Assistant Director and myself, discussed what was to be done. I told him that, in my view, this prosecution ought not to be allowed to go on. We should only be advertising Communism and running a
grave risk of an unsuccessful prosecution, and the Assistant Director himself called my attention to a case in which another Attorney-General had withdrawn a prosecution, and offered no evidence, upon an undertaking or a letter being given. The Director then and there suggested than, this course might be the proper one to adopt in this particular case. All that the Prime Minister, when he came into the room, had to do with it was that he was certainly at least as strong in his view as I was, that he took the view that the prosecution was ill-advised from the beginning, and he put the blame on the Director. I at once stopped that. I said I could not allow any blame to be put on the Director, and I said the responsibility was entirely mine. I propose to read what Sir Guy Stephenson wrote as to what happened at that interview. How could I get up in my place in the House of Commons and discuss what I was going to do in regard to the prosecution and say I was not sure whether I was going to withdraw it or not? This is what Sir Guy wrote about what happened on that occasion:
At five o'clock on the 6th August I went to the Prime Minister's room in the House of Commons in reply to a telephone message from the Attorney-General. The Prime Minister was not there when I arrived, and before he came in the Attorney-General inquired of me what I knew of the Campbell case. I replied that although Campbell had accepted responsibility for the article, he was not the regular editor of the paper, but only acting as a substitute, that there was nothing known against his character, and that he had a very good military record. On the Prime Minister entering the room, he said the Home Secretary had told him he had not authorised the prosecution, and asked me how it came to be done, whereupon the Attorney-General told the Prime Minister that neither Sir Archibald Bodkin nor I were responsible for what had been done, but that the sole responsibility was with him, the Attorney-General. The Prime Minister expressed the view that the prosecution of Campbell would give the Communists just the advertisement they wanted and that the prosecution would do more harm than good. The Attorney-General said lie had come to the conclusion that the prosecution ought to be withdrawn and that he would consider the question whether he should himself appear at Bow Street and state to the Magistrate the reasons for the dismissal.
That was discussed because the Assistant Director told me that he had appeared himself under certain circumstances which were similar.
In discussing the matter with the Attorney-General I had in my mind the case of —, which was afterwards brought to my notice, in which Sir Frederick Smith had himself appeared at Bow Street and withdrawn the prosecution against five defendants, in which the defendants had given an undertaking.
May I say at once to Sir Frederick Smith, now Lord Birkenhead, that I absolutely agree with every single thing that was done on that occasion. But when I tell the House that in that case this had been withdrawn at the instigation of the strikers, and only because the defendants, five minutes before the Magistrate came into the Court, had agreed to sign an undertaking, I shudder to think w hat my position would have been if I had done the same. I am really not wanting to go into controversial matters, because I am not interested in what anybody else may have done, and it is no part of what I am saying to suggest that other people had not acted properly.
I appeal to the leaders of both parties, who, I know, would be above party considerations, to tell me what I have done wrong up to that point. Supposing the House does not agree, supposing individual Members say, as some do, "This man would not have got off even on his character," supposing they say it was not unwise to select that one man as a Communist for prosecution, is that what is the charge against me? I did not see another living soul in the world except those I have mentioned. There is no living soul who has ever tried to speak to me on it, and is it to be said that I have acted in some way disgracefully? saw nobody else at all, and when I left the Prime Minister's room the only question left for discussion between myself and the Public Prosecutor was whether I should appear myself at Bow Street or whether it should be left, in order that there should be less advertisement, to one of the Treasury Counsel.
The next thing that happened was that when I got back I was asked if I would attend a meeting, which, I think, I may properly describe as a Cabinet meeting. I hope I am saying nothing improper. If I had my way, I would welcome the chance of telling the House every word that was said by everyone at that meeting. But I am told I must not do it, and I am not entitled to say what happened in the Cabinet. But if I were entitled to do it, I would tell the House with pleasure. All I can say is that I left that Cabinet meeting with a decision at which I had arrived interfered with by nobody, and at once, having come to that decision, the only other person alive to whom I spoke about this matter was the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr), for this reason: Inasmuch as I should have had to appear on these benches and tell the House publicly that I was going to withdraw the prosecution, I thought it most undesirable to publish abroad the fact that you were going to withdraw a prosecution five days before it came off. Therefore, I told him I was proposing to withdraw the prosecution. There was no other living soul I have spoken to on this matter, except that the next morning I had already told the Assistant-Director that, as he did not know much about this matter, the Director himself must come and see me, and, as he was in the country, he must telegraph there and then to the Director to come up and see me to-morrow morning, and bring the Assistant with him, so that I might know all that they knew.
The morning of the 7th. I saw no one on the 6th. I am going to read to the House what Sir Archibald Bodkin had to say about it. This is Sir Archibald Bodkin's account of what happened on the morning of the 7th, and nobody, I am sure, can say I am giving an unsatisfactory account of this, because I am not giving one at all; I am only reading what Sir Archibald Bodkin said:
I received a telegram on the morning of the 7th August from Sir Guy Stephenson, and in consequence returned to London and saw the Attorney-General and Sir Guy Stephenson at the House of Commons. The Attorney-General said that he had decided not to proceed with the prosecution of Campbell, and f was requested to ascertain whether the magistrate would consent to the case being withdrawn on the remand day (13th August). I accordingly saw the magistrate, and on grounds which had been noted at the Attorney-General's room, ascertained that he would consent to the charge being withdrawn. I returned and told the Attorney-General, and later left London.
He sets out all the grounds, which I got from nobody else in the world except Sir
Archibald Bodkin himself. Here they are. An hon. Member says, "Maxton." It is quite true that hon. Member was the first one to mention it, but he told me nothing which had not been confirmed previously. This is what Sir Archibald told me:
Campbell was temporary editor, and was acting under orders of the Political Bureau of the Communist party. He could not have been shown to have composed the article, although he took an active part in preparing the issue of the 26th July, and had denied having written the article, and could not say who had. He had never been previously charged, had an excellent military record, and been wounded severely in the War. The 'copy' for the article was printed matter, and apparently a cutting from a publication the origin of which was unknown and could not be proved.
That is what Sir Archibald told me himself, and I will tell the House in a moment it was written out in the instructions he gave to Mr. Travers Humphreys himself. I want to deal with all these statements. Even the right hon. Gentleman said my explanations were so unsatisfactory. Is it quite fair to say they are unsatisfactory, at least to this point? May I just say how it arises, because there are many things which I have told the House in the past which I now know are not accurate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It really is not fair to laugh as though it were my fault. What I mean by "inaccurate" is that when I gave the answers to the House, I gave them on the information I had, and not only will Sir Archibald Bodkin's statement show that, but I have got it in the writing of Sir Archibald Bodkin, the information which I gave to the House of Commons myself. I could not see want the result of inquiries was, and I never heard what the Communist said about this matter. All I am tolling the House is what Sir Archibald Bodkin told me.
The first point was the question of Campbell being the temporary editor, acting under the orders of the Political Bureau. It appears from what the Communist himself has said, that he was a member of the Political Bureau. I have made, inquiries to see what is the truth about that. Nobody can doubt Sir Archibald was acting in honest belief. Apparently what happened was there was some evidence that another Communist, who had said he was a substitute member of the Bureau, but this could not be used as evidence against this man himself. All I ever knew nr heard of the Political Bureau was when Sir Archibald told me that this man was acting under orders, and was not responsible for the control of the paper. Another thing which is said to be unsatisfactory is about it being a copy from another paper. The House will remember I said it appeared to be taken from another publication. What the police traced was a piece of cardboard paper, pasted upon which was a print, apparently a column which they thought was cut from another paper, and not only thought it, but Sir Archibald told me the name of the paper from which they thought it was cut.
That was the information I had, and the right hon. Gentleman suggested that my explanation was unsatisfactory because the Communist now says that he had it written. But is it not a fair thing for me to say, that when I am prosecuting the Communists, there is nothing too bad to say against them, but when the House is moving a Vote of Censure against me, anything a Communist says is to be taken as true. I can assure the House I am not seeking to make debating points. This question is far too important to me. I am telling the House what the facts are. There are several Law Officers here at this moment. Can any of them tell me that when they ask the Director of Public Prosecutions what information he has about a certain case, they expect to have to go and look through the police reports themselves? I do not believe that any person who has held the position of a Law Officer in his own mind believes for a moment that there is anything I have done which is wrong. I have not seen a living soul.
From the 7th August, when I saw Sir Archibald Bodkin, I am going to tell the House what my movements were every day until after the withdrawal, and I say that because there seems to be a suggestion somehow or other that between the 7th and 13th something else may have transpired which may have influenced my mind. I do not think the House will want me to give corroborative evidence, but I have my tickets here if necessary. At six o'clock on the morning of the 8th, that is the day after I saw Sir Archibald, I left this country for France. I remained in France until the night of the 11th, and the only reason I came back then was because it was my wife's birthday on the 12th. The reason why my wife was in London—and I have to mention this, because of a word in Sir Guy Stephen-son's statement, where he describes me as being worried. I do not want anyone to think I was worried about the Campbell case. It was because of some domestic trouble which was happening in my household. The reason—it may well have been that I did not pay enough attention to what Mr. Travers Humphreys said on the 13th—was because I was back in France myself, having gone back immediately after the 12th, my wife's birthday.
May I tell the House what happened on the 12th? I asked a very distinguished lawyer, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, as a friend, to tell me what he thought was the worst thing in all the suspicion in this case, and he said: "Simon has picked out the worst, when he says it has been represented,' and that leads the public to think you have got bold of Travers Humphreys and put something into his mind, so that he, in fact, should go and tell the magistrate. I think that is the thing to which you ought to direct your attention." It was not until that was brought to my mind that I even went back to see where I was on the 12th. I am going to tell you how I saw Mr. Travers Humphreys on the 12th. I was not near the Law Courts, and not near the House of Commons. In point of fact, I was passing through. I was having lunch in my club, of which he is a member, and he, having been through the written instructions put before him by Sir Archibald Bodkin, and come to the conclusion that he himself having found out that on the copy of the article, which I have described as printed, there was a pencil note stating that the meaning of the article was the use of troops in trade disputes, and it was believed that that pencil note was in the handwriting of Campbell, he said that that, in his opinion, changed the views he had been instructed to put forward, and he wanted to ask me whether I would agree to the instructions being altered. In the written instructions, which I have here, there is a note at the bottom in writing. I have here Mr. Travers Humphreys' actual instructions, with the actual note.
There is also an extract from the "Times" referring to a question which
was asked by hon. Members behind me, and the impression he was under, as it appears, was that they were pro-Communists. I say that because the attention of Mr. Travers Humphreys was called to this question which was put by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) asking if the Prime Minister was aware that the article merely called attention to the calling out of the troops during trade disputes. Mr. Travers Humphreys took the view that the real case here, which ought to be put before the, House, was that this man on his character would have every chance of getting off, the jury accepting that view. I frankly confess here that between the 8th and the 13th I had never thought of the Campbell case again. I was hundreds of miles away. Everything had been discussed and decided, and the matter was in the most competent hands. If it had not been that Mr. Travers Humphreys—now to my bitter regret—had succeeded in tracing me to my hotel and then to the club of which he and I are members, he would never have seen me at all. I am now going to tell you in his own words what he remembers of this, and what he thought of this man, and how he regarded this matter. Here are the last two lines of a purely private letter which I have in my hand. Anyone may see it. It merely refers to the fact of the domestic matter about which I was worried and about which I have already referred. He goes on to say:
There is nothing which I have said or written, including this letter, which I object to being produced anywhere to anyone, and I am sending copies of my statement to the two ex-Attorney-Generals who are taking an interest in this matter, a course which I know meets with your approval.
He said that before I had ever seen his statement. I suppose there will be no doubt about this statement which Mr. Travers Humphreys had written out. As two hon. Members have it, I do not know that I need read the earlier part. It says:
The instruction states that among the ground upon which it has been decided not to proceed were the following:
With the instructions was an extract from the 'Times' of the 7th of August reporting what had taken place in the House of Commons on the previous day in regard to the prosecution. I had in fact seen in the public Press reports or other speeches to the same effect made outside the House of Commons. On reading the instructions it occurred to me that none of the grounds stated in themselves constituted any reason for withdrawing the prosecution—
Well, now, hon. Members might listen—
though some of them might afford reason for thinking that the accused would be acquitted, which is the best, if not the only ground, for taking such a course. It was also not clear to me how far the statements in the House of Commons and elsewhere had influenced the mind of the Attorney-General. Sir Guy Stephenson attended a conference at my chambers that morning which I learned that the instructions had been drafted by Sir Archibald Bodkin himself. The Director was not available being out of town. I then decided that it was necessary to see die Attorney-General if possible in order that his exact wishes might be ascertained. After considerable difficulty we found that the Attorney-General was passing through town en route for the Continent, and was possibly lunching at a club at which he and I were members. I accordingly took Sir Guy Stephenson with me and found the Attorney-General there at about 2 p.m. The Attorney-General was anxious to leave the matter to my discretion, but at my special request he went through with me each item of the grounds marked (a) to (e)
I gathered from the Attorney-General that he considered it quite possible that the prosecution would fail since he considered that a sympathetic jury, dealing only with a man of the excellent military record of Campbell, might well accept the defence already suggested by his fellow-Communists in the House of Commons and elsewhere—
I must disclaim responsibility for that—
that the real meaning of the article was a protest against the employment of soldiers in trade disputes and acquit the accused.
The Attorney-General was also much impressed by the fact of Campbell not being
the regular editor of the paper or in general control of its policy. With regard to this last matter I pointed out that the evidence seemed to me to show that Campbell had published the article as editor with full knowledge of its contents since his handwriting appeared upon it and that he had accepted full responsibility for it"—
That, I think, I told the House—
and the Attorney-General agreed to my omitting that ground from my statement to the magistrate, though it obviously affected his mind. He also agreed that the statement marked (e) might well be omitted and I accordingly struck out in pencil on my instructions all the grounds except (d).
The statement which I made on 13th August to Mr. Leycester the magistrate was, as I believed, the statement which the Attorney-General desired should be made, although the language used was, of course, my own. The expression which apparently I used, 'it has been represented,' referred to the representations or statements in the House of Commons and elsewhere at public meetings above referred to, and to nothing else.
What else can I do to satisfy the House of Commons? Is there anything? After all, I am on my trial. It is not a question of sympathy. I am not asking for sympathy. I want to know what is the case against me. I have listened to what the right hon. Gentleman has said. I do not complain of a word of his statement. What else does he want me to do? I can assure the House that if anyone had said to me: "Can I see the Director of Public Prosecutions?" I should have said: "Go at once." Not a living soul ever asked me. Mr. Travers Humphreys was open to the world. He might have said: "Ask the Attorney-General first." If I had been asked, I would have said: "Tell them all that you know." What is there still to say? What is there to conceal? What else can I do? Is there anything? Do they think I was not abroad at this time? Do they think I have done wrong in this matter? I am going to ask the House to bear with me a few moments longer. I know of nothing that I can answer; but if any person can suggest to me anything unsatisfactory in the sense that a further explanation should be given, I am only too anxious to give it. Every one of these statements is on the Table for any Member of the House to come and look at it. But do let me ask the House to consider what it is that is really being suggested, because we must face it. Is it really suggested that this matter of the prose-
cution of a Communist is a matter upon which I ought not to have received instructions from the Govern-tent? Is that the complaint? Because if it were true I would frankly say that not only have I done it, but it is right to do it. I am going to show how it has been done over and over again. I have now to say something which I am sorry to have to say, but I have been pilloried myself in the papers, and by no one more than by Lord Birkenhead. I have to say a word or two. I am bound to say one or two things in defence. I am not attacking him for what he has done, because everything has been in the papers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and I know that there are things that are recorded in writing, and he can correct me if I am wrong. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"] I have been shocked personally and deeply hurt by some of the statements that have appeared in two letters from Lord Birkenhead which I am sure all Members and the country have read. I want to read these two statements. These statements seem to suggest that I have been guilty and in some way have departed from the high reputation of the office which I hold, but I can assure the House that nobody can put that too highly to receive my unqualified approval. This is what Lord Birkenhead said, talking of the duties of the Attorney-General in relation to a particular case, and a case only brought to his attention by the Public Prosecutor:
When I was the Attorney-General, the then War Cabinet, of which I was not a member, directed me to prosecute a certain person for sedition, and entered this direction upon the minutes of the Cabinet. The Director of Public Prosecutions brought this minute to me and asked for my directions. I told him that I would not even consider the question of instituting a prosecution upon its merits until the unconstitutional minute had been excised. Nor did I do so.
He went on to say—under circumstances I am bound to tell to the House—that these facts were first brought to his notice by the then Director of Public Prosecutions who informed him that the War Cabinet had passed a resolution directing him to prosecute. He replied that the War Cabinet had no more right to direct the prosecution than the man in the moon, and that he would not even consider the
question until this unconstitutional direction had been withdrawn. May I appeal to the House? Does not that indicate to the world that in this case there was a direction given him to prosecute in a given case by the Cabinet in a matter of which he was completely ignorant, and that the Public Prosecutor had told him that the Cabinet had given him directions. Is that an unfair interpretation? I am bound to give this because I am on my trial. May I tell the House on 23rd May, 1917, there was a case in the police court which was withdrawn for reasons which were given. On the 17th May there was a conference presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs which was attended by the present Home Secretary and by the Director of Public Prosecutions. At that Conference—and the terms can be seen in a publication which is now in the Library of the House—a direction was given to this effect:
That the Attorney-General should examine the list of persons against whom there was sufficient evidence to warrant proceedings under the Defence of the Realm Act, and that eight or ten of those who appeared to be principally concerned should be arrested and tried by jury at the Old Bailey.
Those are the directions to which I am right in assuming Lord Birkenhead is referring. At that Conference the Home Secretary was present, and the Attorney-General (Sir Frederick Smith) was present from beginning to end. Why should he not be present? He was perfectly entitled to be there. I am not contending that he was right in everything he did, but what on earth is the object of pillorying me in the Press every day? I went to my Ministers, as every Attorney-General is bound to do, and has properly the right to do. Here I want to amplify something I have said. I have told the House that I have made an offer to show all these documents, information, and statements, and that I was prepared to let anybody see them at any time, and that also includes Lord Birkenhead. I can assure the House that, as far as I know, Lord Birkenhead has never approached me or asked me, and has never questioned me. Up to yesterday, or the day before, I received no message from him. I had no speech with him, telephonic or otherwise,
nor with anyone connected with him. On the 7th, that is, I think, yesterday, this letter was written to me from the Director of Public Prosecutions:
On the morning of Tuesday, 7th October (yesterday), I was rung up on the telephone by Lord Birkenhead who said he would like to see the papers in Rex v. Dingley, and that he had been in communication with the Attorney-General, and told him that he proposed to look at the papers at the office of the Director which he considered he was entitled to do as an ex-Minister of the Crown. He afterwards called. I showed him the newspaper report.
As I have already said, and I say it again, I am sure there is a mistake somewhere. Nobody has asked me, nobody has ever come to me and said, "Show me the papers?" and here am I absolutely pilloried in every newspaper in the country. The sort of question which I am faced with is Lord Birkenhead's first question:
When the Attorney-General decided publicly to brand Campbell with the grave crime of sedition, what information was before him?
I have never desired to brand him with the crime of sedition at all. I am apparently expected to answer such questions as:
Does the Attorney-General really ask the public to believe that having directed a prosecution of this magnitude; having amazingly decided to recoil from it; he neither took the trouble to inform his subordinate of the grounds which were to be assigned.
It is hardly fair to say that without knowing, but every Member of the House must have been impressed by what Lord Birkenhead said. I am not begging the point, and I am only asking the House, before they come to a decision, whether it is fair that I who for 20 years have been practising in the Courts should be treated in this way. There is not a Judge on the bench or a barrister who would ever dare to say that I had ever done anything dishonourable in my life, and there is no one outside this House who would dare to tell me I had lied to them.
I am being tried, and I ask the House to let me say what is the position. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) will support what I have to say with regard to what was done during the War. There was great unrest. The Government wanted to get an agreement with the trade unions with regard to the production of munitions, and on the 17th of May they directed that eight men who had been inciting strikes should be arrested. Immediately after they were arrested an agreement was made between the Government and the unions that these eight men, who were in the dock, were not bound by it, and five minutes before the case was called on they signed an agreement saying that they would be bound by it. The Attorney-General had told the. Court that these men had been guilty of a felony which would have made them liable to penal servitude for life, that he would send them to the Old Bailey and prosecute them before a jury—there was no suggestion of innocence or a defence outlined—but because five minutes before they had signed an agreement which the Government quite properly—
Is it really suggested that where I went wrong was in not requiring this man to sign an agreement? All I am pointing out to the House is that at that time the Ministers were right. It was essential in the public interests that this should be done, because the very trade unions themselves said that if they did not get off, there would be another strike. It was because the trade unions said that themselves, and because the public interest demanded that they should be let off, that these men were let off, but what would have happened to me if I had let these men off? I can produce a case where this thing was done. I am only suggesting now that it might be worth while considering it. After a man had got three months' hard labour, and the unions said if he did not get that sentence taken off they would strike, thereupon counsel at the Court said the man, having appealed against the sentence, "I am now, with the full sanction of the Ministry of Munitions and the Public Prosecutor, in a position to ask the Court to reduce the sentence of imprisonment to a fine." Those things were actually done. I can give the case of a man who was charged and it was definitely stated that, unless this man was let off, 23,000 men would come out on strike. Counsel for the prisoner saw the Attorney-General, and told him of this fact, and the result was that the Government held an inquiry and the Attorney-General sanctioned the withdrawal of all the proceedings. [An HON. MEMBER: "That was during the War!"] Public interest during the War was more insistent than it is in time of peace.
I do not want to use a War example, but it is the principle of the thing with which I am concerned. Surely the public interest is concerned in a vital question of whether you will give an advertisement to a class of people who are simply waiting for this very sort of advertisement. Up till the 30th July I had never heard of the "Workers' Weekly." Had anybody in this House ever heard of it before? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] When I came along to the House I saw the "Workers' Weekly" being sold outside the House of Commons, a place I can confidently say it had never been seen before this agitation took place. I am only anxious to put forward the facts. I do not believe that this House is going to see me pilloried in the newspapers purely as the newspapers have suggested upon the issue as to whether it is desirable to have an election upon one issue or another. What I am mainly concerned about is myself. I am being charged, and it is no good saying I am not. When I got up and said there was a charge against me hon. Members opposite cheered and they appreciated that it was a charge against me, and now here am I pilloried still.
I can assure hon. Members I do not know what I have done. Was I wrong in sending for the Solicitor-General? Was I wrong in asking the hon. Member tell me the facts, and having got them was I wrong in sending them to Sir Archibald Bodkin? Was I wrong in going with him to the Prime Minister? Was I wrong in coming to the determination I have expressed? What have I done wrong? I see the hon. Member for West. Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) is smiling and takes the matter very lightly, but I can assure him that. I am not speaking bitterly, and if I have said anything that can be so construed, I ask the hon. Member to forgive me and overlook it. It is not an easy thing for anyone to stand up here on a charge of this kind. It is all very well to say that it is part of a game. As I have already told the House, for years and years nobody has ever dreamt of mak- ing such a charge against me. What do they think I wanted to do it for? As far as I know I have never spoken to a Communist in my life. [An HON. MEMBER: "Look behind you!"] I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley and my predecessor say, "What is the good of it?". I do not know what it is I am supposed to have done. Is it that I was wrong in saying that I could not come to the House of Commons on the night of the 6th of August, and get up in my place and say that I was not yet certain whether I was going on with the prosecution or not? I thought it was essential that before there was any discussion about it one way or the other I should make up my mind. Is it necessary to have a Vote of Censure in order to challenge a Minister who makes a mistake? I can only say if that is so, then I am surprised. In conclusion, I wish to say that if there is anything now that any lion. Member will ask me for which is in my possession or that I can get, I will give it to him at any moment he may choose to ask for it.
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words
a Select Committee be appointed to investigate and report upon the circumstances leading up to the withdrawal of the proceedings recently instituted by the Director of Public Prosecutions against Mr. Campbell.
I desire to say, in the first instance, that the hon. and learned Attorney-General—who is an old personal friend of mine, an old professional colleague and opponent with whom I have had a hundred fights—has, I realise, had from the House, as he ought to have, the fullest and fairest attention in the statement that he has made. I cannot help thinking that the hon. and learned Gentleman has, in portions of his speech, rather forgotten what is the really essential question that is involved. That is very excusable, for the position in which he finds himself is undoubtedly one which is likely to make any man rather fail to see what the most important issues are. In his speech from first to last, with a generosity for which his political colleagues ought to be eternally thankful to him, he has spoken as though the question raised here was nothing more than
some departmental issue affecting himself in the discharge of his own office. That, however, is not the serious question at all. The serious question here is the question of responsibility of political Ministers. It is only a week ago that, in answer to questions put in this House, the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General were so unfortunate as to convey to the House and to the country the impression that political Ministers knew nothing of the matter, heard nothing of the matter, and that from first to last it was simply a matter inside the Attorney-General's Department. That is the impression which these two Ministers most unfortunately conveyed. So far from wishing to speak hardly of the Attorney-General, or of the way in which be has endeavoured to bear the brunt of this, I want to make it plain at once that the need for inquiry is the need to discover to what extent his political superiors made any attempt to influence his mind. [Interruption.]
The Attorney-General several times threw out the inquiry whether there was anything upon which he could inform the House which he had not told them. Yes, there is. He could have filled the gap which the Prime Minister insisted on leaving open in the observations which he made just before the beginning of public business. The Prime Minister interposed to tell the House that he had—doubtless accidentally—that he had, as he realised, used language which might well mislead this House and the public as to the extent to which he had anything to do with this matter. He told us—[Interruption.] This is a serious matter, and it is very desirable indeed that hon. Gentlemen who support the Government should attend. The Prime Minister told us to-day that, after this matter was brought to his attention, as he thinks in the Press, but at any rate or that day when these questions were asked—it must have been, of course, before the prosecution was reported, because the prosecution did not begin until eleven or twelve o'clock, and questions were put here at two or three o'clock, out I quite accept that—the Prime Minister said that after this matter was brought to his attention he made inquiry, he saw the Attorney-General, and he expressed a view about the prosecution. I interposed to say, and I think very naturally, that it would, perhaps, be convenient to know at once from the Prime Minister what view he expressed to the Attorney-General. I have attended most carefully to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and the hon. and learned Gentleman has, unfortunately, not given us any clear account of that matter at all.
The position as it now appears to be is this, and it is the matter which calls for inquiry in reference to the political colleagues of the Attorney-General. I altogether dispute that it is to be turned off into a criticism of his professional conduct. The important question, the all-important question, is this: What is it that the political colleagues of the Attorney-General had to do with this matter after it first came to the knowledge of the Prime Minister? ft is loudly asserted by the accused and by the friends of the accused, and it has been widely suspected in many quarters for weeks and months, that political considerations had something to do with it; and now that I have listened to the Attorney-General's speech, able as it was, and satisfactory as it was in many respects as showing his own individual conduct, he has left me, and I think he has left the House of Commons—[An HON. MEMBER: "No!"]—he has left some Members of the House of Commons in a complete fog and confusion as to the part which the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers really played.
Let me just point out this. The Attorney-General informs us that, after the question was put to him on, I think, Wednesday, the 6th August, by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr), he, being perturbed in his mind, telephoned to the Director of Public Prosecutions and did—what? He told him to come to the Prime Minister's room. I am an old Attorney-General, and I know something of the sacredness of the Prime Minister's room, and no one is going to persuade me, and no ex-Attorney-General will ever be persuaded, that, if an Attorney-General telephoned to the Director of Public Prosecutions to come to the Prime Minister's room, it was because the Prime. Minister had said that he was not to see him. I want to know from the Prime Minister whether he had said that he wanted to see the Director of Public Prosecutions, what he wanted to see him for, and what he said to him when he did see him. Until matters of that sort are investigated, it is really idle to pretend that the heart of this matter has been examined.
Taking the most, as we ought to take—[Interruption]—may I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to give me a chance?—taking the most favourable view, as everyone would wish to do in the light of the Attorney-General's statement, the matter stands in this way: Ministers have allowed a great cloud of suspicion to arise, with one section of the community saying that they have surendered under pressure, and the most responsible newspapers of the country demanding what is the meaning of it. [A laugh.] It is no laughing matter. They have allowed that matter to remain in doubt and suspicion for weeks and months, and, even when the House of Commons has reassembled, the combined action of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General cannot reveal to the House of Commons what political Ministers had anything to do with it. In these circumstances, I venture to submit to the House of Commons, or to any fair-minded man, that this is the most obvious case fur inquiry that ever was made.
Let me point out a significance of dates which, perhaps, has not been quite apprehended by every Member of the House. These two dates which come into this story—Tuesday, the 5th August, and Wednesday, the 6th August—are two dates of some little significance in quite another connection. It was on Tuesday, the 5th August, that the Foreign Office, under the instructions of the Prime Minister, issued the official announcement that there was a rupture of negotiations with the Soviet Delegation and that no Treaty with the Russians would be signed. It was on the night of the 5th August, going well on into the small hours of the 6th August, that certain Members of this House, including some who are alleged to have interfered in connection with this Communist prosecution, were engaged in endeavouring to induce the Government none the less to come to terms. The very day, namely, Wednesday, the 6th August, on which this question was put to the Attorney-General, was the day when the Prime Minister was waiting to have the announcement made that the Soviet Treaty would be signed. As the Attorney-General has not told us, and as, when I invited him, the Prime Minister refused to tell me, what was the opinion which he expressed about the prosecution, I will venture a view. Did the Prime Minister say this to the Attorney-General—did he say, "Well done, good and faithful colleague. I satisfied the Communists and agreed to a Treaty with Russia yesterday, after announcing the day before that I would not do it, and I now find that you, at exactly the same moment, are engaged in prosecuting the very people with whom I am trying to arrive at accommodation"? [Interruption.]
It is no small matter for a Prime Minister, with all sorts of enormously important affairs on his hands, to concern himself with a prosecution initiated by the Attorney-General. [An HON. MEMBER: "Assuming he did so!"] All I know is that the Prime Minister has already stated to-day that he did so, and that he expressed a view about it. I gather that that happened immediately after Questions, and before the Attorney-General took the steps of which he told us. I gather, further, that on this most important date, within two hours, the Attorney-General was in a position to report to the Cabinet, and that he was called upon to report to the Cabinet; so that on this day, when the most important public business was being dealt with by the Cabinet—the Secretary for the Colonies says it was the Irish Bill, than which nothing could be more important—the Soviet Government was being discussed in the House, and we are asked to believe that twice over the Prime Minister and his political colleagues concerned themselves in this matter, and yet that no political considerations had anything in the world to do with it There never was a more extraordinary example of a speech which entirely misses the main point to be explained than the speech, able and conciliatory as it was, of my hon. and learned Friend.
Let me point out a significant thing. A week ago there was not a man in this House who did not understand from the Attorney-General that the withdrawal of this prosecution was as deliberate and as fully considered as its institution. As far as the public Press knew, the prosecution was not withdrawn until, I think, the 13th August. It turns out to-day that, instead of that being true, the Attorney-General, after two interviews with the Prime Minister and his political colleagues, was in a position to give the tip to two or three Members sitting behind him that it would be all right, that there would be no reason to raise any question on the Adjournment, and that the whole of that, though known to the Members of the Cabinet, was kept concealed from the House of Commons until to-day. What is the good, in circumstances of that sort, of the Prime Minister saying, as he took the trouble to say again today, that this was merely the Attorney-General's matter? This is not the Attorney-General's matter. It is a matter in which it is essential in the interests of public justice that an inquiry should be made to ascertain to what extent political Ministers interfered, and unless that is done the conduct of Ministers themselves has brought the administration of the law into suspicion and contempt. It is not enough for the Attorney-General to lay his hand on his heart and tell us that we now know all about it. I have known the Attorney-General so long and have had so much to do with him that I should be the very last man to east injurious aspersions. I believe it is his political colleagues who really ought to be brought to book. But it is not enough to say that as a matter of fact he can assure us that this was conducted on the most proper grounds. His colleagues for the best part of six weeks have left this country uncorrected and uninformed while great bodies of opinion have been developing which, on the material which was before them, could only draw the conclusion that these allegations were true. I have no desire to pronounce censure until I know all the facts, but it is no good telling me that the Attorney-General, by reading a number of statements which he has collected from a number of officials, has thereby fulfilled the same function as an impartial inquiry.
The Attorney-General appears to be under the impression that really there is no more in this than criticism as to whether he was wise in initiating a prosecution, or whether he was at liberty to change his mind, or whether it was proper for him to allow his second thoughts to prevail. Let me assure him nothing of the sort is in my mind. I do not myself think he came to a wise decision in the first instance. I am one of those who hold—and I think the House will know this is a fundamental Liberal conviction, and many other people hold it too—that to institute criminal prosecution in respect of statements, even very wild statements which have been made, whether in obscure newspapers or at street corners, is not, as a rule, a very wise use of Ministerial discretion. For my part I should be entirely against it except in the very last resort. But it is one thing to say "I will not institute another prosecution," and it is quite another thing to say, "Having instituted it, I will drop it without conditions." The Attorney-General observed that this obscure sheet was at the present moment selling like hot cakes outside the House of Commons. Whose fault is that? It is due to this fact, that whereas the precedent which the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted was a precedent in which, once the prosecution had been started, the Attorney-General of the day absolutely refused to withdraw unless he got from the accused a written solemn pledge that they would not repeat the offence, in the present case the Attorney-General has seen fit to stop these proceedings, although in the meantime another issue of the paper had appeared with an article equally inflammatory without making the slightest attempt to show that his action was one which was, at any rate, going to restrain future lawbreaking. If it is a different thing on the one hand to withdraw a prosecution in return for a signature of that sort and to withdraw it unconditionally, is it not a still more different thing to withdraw a prosecution after there has been outcry and protest from a section of the House of Commons? Ministers themselves, and no one else, are to blame, whatever be the true explanation of this, because the handling of the matter has left people all over the country gravely disturbed as to whether or not there has not here been a most improper attempt to influence the ordinary course of public justice.
The Attorney-General has said something of the relations between himself and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Let me point this out. In England, unlike Scotland, only a. very small proportion of prosecutions are institutes by the Director of Public Prosecutions at all. Nearly all prosecutions are what are called private prosecutions, instituted by municipalities, town clerks, railway companies, whoever it may be. There is a very limited class of case in which the Director of Public Prosecutions is concerned. Even there most of the cases he deals with are crimes against the person, like murder and manslaughter, or other serious offences against person or property, and the Attorney-General has no responsibility except in a technical sense because he is not as a matter of fact personally consulted. But when you come to a ease which raises a serious offence against the State—high treason, sedition, mutiny, corruption—then, and then only, the Director of Public Prosecutions goes to the Attorney-General, submits himself to his direction, examines the matter in every detail and from that time forward acts according to the Attorney-General's own instructions. I have never heard of a ease—and the Attorney-General with all his researches is quite unable to give one—in which an Attorney-General has once authorised a prosecution of that sort where the prosecution has been abandoned in circumstances such as tire admitted to have occurred here to-day.
I think my hon. Friends above the Gangway are making the greatest mistake in the world if they think ordinary men and women do not care about this. A police magistrate is the decent man's friend. The ordinary citizen—a taxi driver—knows perfectly well that though he may get stern justice from a magistrate he will get justice. He knows that if he drinks he will be fined. He knows that if he is careless and hits someone in the street he may possibly go to prison. But he also knows that if a rich man tries to bilk him the magistrate is not going to let the rich man off by any representation which may be made secretly, and for that very reason—I do not think some hon. Members seem to know it—the law will not allow a private prosecutor who has once instituted proceedings for an indictable offence to withdraw such a prosecution, but would insist that the papers must go to the Public Prosecutor in order to see that there has been no underhand dealing, no secret compromise, no blackmail and no threat. The law allows the Attorney-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions, as It ought to do, free choice and judgment to do as they think fit, but it does so upon the plain basis that there shall not be interviews between the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General asking "What is the meaning of this?" or directions telephoned to the Director of Public Prosecutions—"I want to see him in the Prime Minister's Room," a view expressed by the Prime Minister to the Attorney-General which he did not feel able to tell the House when he was asked this afternoon, and a report on all these matters to a Cabinet or a conference of Ministers, although a week ago there was not a soul except the people sitting on that bench who knew that the Members of the Cabinet had ever had anything to do with it. I repudiate altogether the suggestion that this matter is to be disposed of by highly technical arguments between Attorney-Generals and ex-Attorney-Generals. There is not a lawyer in the House, there is not an honest man in the country—[Laughter]—I know some people think lawyers are merely word twisters; is that what you think of your Attorney-General? I think better of him, and I am not prepared to see a professional man, who is obviously endeavouring to take a burden which ought to be borne by his colleagues upon himself, simply thrown to the censure of the House without an investigation. There is no one, lawyer or layman, who would not rejoice from the bottom of his heart if, as the result of an investigation, it could indeed be shown that no such improper political influence or pressure was used. But to pretend that the present situation is one which does not call for inquiry is to say something which no one who looks at the facts impartially could affirm for a minute.
May I say one word as to an inquiry. I heard an hon. Member above the Gangway speak of the inquiry suggested as though it was an unfair one. I did not intend it so. The Prime Minister, I understand, yesterday said that such an inquiry by Members of the House of Commons would be biassed from the start. I do not think he pays a great compliment to his colleagues, but I am the less concerned about it because he went on to say something which no doubt he will develop in his speech. He said he knew for a fact that the report of censure had already been drawn up. Let me say one thing about the character of the inquiry. The only thing I am concerned with is this. The inquiry that the House of Commons ought to insist upon is an inquiry which is public, an inquiry that is prompt, an inquiry that will assemble the documents and the facts and an inquiry that will then be able to present those facts for the House of Commons to consider. I do not in the least care how such a tribunal is composed. I do not make the slightest attempt to put the Government at a disadvantage or in a minority, but I know this, that if, indeed, the proposal for a fair and impartial inquiry in some form or other is resisted by this Government, then it is not because this is an issue which is adequate for a General Election, but it is because the Government, if they were to resist such an inquiry, would be in the position of the man who is asked to produce a document from his desk but prefers to burn down his house rather than produce it. Whether it is a man or a Government that does that, it is equally obvious in either case that they have something to hide.
I have no objection at all to the course of the Debate so far. The right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) opened his speech quite fairly, asking for information about the legal procedure. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, in that extraordinary clear speech of his, made it perfectly plain to everybody who listened to him that whether there had been mistakes or not in what had been done, nobody could accuse him of being influenced improperly. When I was questioned earlier in the afternoon, I quite properly refused to be drawn into what really is imbedded in the middle of this Debate. I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Member who has just sat down seemed to have had his mind preoccupied by other thoughts so that he did not hear what I said in reply to my right hon. Friend opposite, that when the Debate took place I proposed to make a statement. It was not exactly characterised by that honest rectitude to which the right hon. and learned Member referred on various occasions during his speech, when he said that I withheld information from the House and that I was not able to tell the House. I am able to tell the House and, as I said earlier on, I propose to do so.
The case has been twofold. It has been a case against my hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General, and it has been a case against the Government. The case against the Government has been an allegation of this kind, that we are less concerned with legal rectitudes than our predecessors. It is not true. No hon. Member of this House can read the records of political prosecutions—I mean prosecutions such as this—without seeing that in every case the Law Officers reported their intentions to the Executive for the advice of the Executive, or approached the Executive for guidance of some kind or other. Moreover, it is on record that the opinions of the Law Officers have been influenced to the extent of being altered and being reversed by the advice given to them by the Executive. Is that improper? I am not a lawyer, but in my view there is nothing else that is possible. Surely every prosecution, especially of a political character, is undertaken in the interests of the State. It is not merely a question of a formal breach of a Statute or the provisions of a Statute; not at all. That is the foundation; that is the origin. Surely, every Law Officer who is undertaking a prosecution in the interests of the State must possess himself not only of guidance on technical law but must possess himself of guidance on this question, whether if a prosecution is instituted the effect of the prosecution will be harmful or beneficial to the State in whose interests it has been undertaken.
Therefore, so far as that is concerned I have no feeling of sin, no feeling of iniquity in saying that the Executive was interested in this prosecution. There are two improper ways for an Executive to give advice. I am talking as a layman and not as an expert lawyer. There are two ways in which I consider it very improper for the Executive to give advice to the Law Officers. The first is on personal grounds. That has been alleged against me. I hope that has been settled. Does any right hon. Gentleman who sits below the Gangway on this side of the House tell me that when these paragraphs were appearing in the newspapers it was my duty to write to the Press and say that the statements were untrue? I shall never do it. It is not my job. It is not my concern. It is not my interest. Then there is another illegitimate kind of advice, the advice given in the interest of party. That is an allegation made against us now, I understand. It is not an allegation, though it is one of those twining, twisting, sinuous things, and supported by not a particle of evidence. There was not a shadow of justification shown even for that brilliant discovery of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon)—which was regarded by him as such a precious revelation that he had to write it and read it—as to the relation of dates in connection with this prosecution and the Soviet Treaty negotiations.
As far as I am concerned with the allegation against me, on those three days, the 5th, the 6th and the 7th, I was concerned with something very different. I hardly knew what was going on in regard to the Treaty. The House will remember that when I came here to speak about the Treaty I had to inform it that I had had to adjourn a Conference in my room for such time as I came to speak in the House, and then I went back to resume the business. The London Conference was then proceeding. That is neither here nor there. I will give the House this categorical assurance, if it wants it; if it really was in the least impressed by that pretty little, old-maidish discovery; if anybody is in the least impressed, if anybody has got the least cloud of suspicion cast upon his mind by the proximity of those dates, I tell the House this, that all that happened in connection with the Communist prosecution had just as much to do with the decision on the Soviet Treaty as the man in the moon. They were never brought into contact; they were never considered in relation one to the other.
What is the position? His Majesty's Government are determined that, so far as they can help it, the propaganda of Communism is to have no chance in this country. We are not Communists. We are opposed to Communism. I am perfectly certain that if that Resolution which was carried by such an overwhelming majority in I he Labour Party Conference yesterday had been moved in a Tory organisation, the majority against the admission of the Communists could not have been very much greater. There was one thing that concerned me when I saw about this prosecution in the papers, and that was not what my hon. Friends behind me might say, or what hon. Members in front of me might say—I have disagreed with them before, and I shall disagree with them again—that is no concern of mine, and if the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley imagines that when there is any revolt in the party I bend and bow and twist about in order to accommodate myself to the new situation, he is profoundly mistaken. The one thing that I was interested in was this. When I saw that this prosecution had been undertaken, I felt, and I feel now, that it gave such an extraordinary gratuitous advertisement to Communism that the thing, although in itself it was a breach of the law, undoubtedly—and there I take my stand alongside the right hon. Gentleman who laid down a sound principle—nevertheless, it was one of those breaches of the law which must be considered in the effect of the prosecution, and from that point of view I felt that the prosecution was a mistake—not because of hon. Members' questions, because as every hon. Member knows perfectly well when they are handling practically those big problems of social policy you have to handle them with common sense and with a judgment of an all-round character, including consequences as well as breaches and faults. That is one reason why I was interested in the prosecution. What happened at that conversation which followed immediately? The right hon. Gentleman, having listened very carefully to the documents read and the statements made, was still kind enough to insinuate in a statement that at the time that the learned Attorney came to see me in my room—the first time, the earlier afternoon interval—he had not made up his mind then. [An HON. MEMBER: "When was that?"] See his statement which appears in the OFFICTAL REPORT to-morrow morning.
What I am going to read was a. statement read by my hon. and learned Friend written by the Assistant Public Prosecutor giving chat happened at that interview. It is not the first time. This is not a case of something withheld because it could not be disclosed. This is something which was read by my hon. and learned Friend. This is what Sir Guy Stephenson said. The Attorney-General said this at this earlier interview that he—
The point I am interested in is this. The right hon. Gentleman insinuated that whether it was 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, or 5 o'clock—[An HON. MEMBER: "When was it?"] The House has been informed by my hon. and learned Friend that it was at 5 o'clock. It does not matter whether it was 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, or 5 o'clock. The right hon. Gentleman insinuated that when it did take place it was because I said something which changed the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Very well, there is the statement of Sir Guy Stephenson read by my hon. and learned Friend earlier in the day.
May I make it quite plain what I want to know. It is this. Had the Prime Minister taken any part at all in asking that the Director of Public Prosecutions, or his deputy should come to his room, and had he said he was to come to his room? How did it come about on this very important occasion that the Prime Minister should be seeing them, unless he had been speaking to the Attorney-General?
I am coming to that. I am not going to allow the right hon. Gentleman to evade the point. I want to finish this point first and show exactly what the state of the Attorney-General's mind was when he saw me first of all. The Attorney-General said that he had come to the conclusion that the prosecution ought to be withdrawn, and that he would consider the question whether he himself should appear at Bow Street, and so on.
Certainly not. All those small points are raised as though we were trying to conceal something. We are doing nothing of the kind. The Attorney-General by then had seen the Assistant Public Prosecutor. He had gone through the papers and had come to his conclusions. I had been busy all the morning and the afternoon up till then. I wanted to find out what this prosecution had taken place over. I did not know. I say to this House, in the face of this House, that it was my right to know, I wanted to know. I asked that the papers might be sent to me so that I might know precisely how the prosecution had arisen, what it was about and everything else that was germane, so that 1 might exactly understand it. That is why the Attorney-General, with the Assistant Public Prosecutor, came to my room. He wanted to see me, I wanted to see him, and when he came to my room I was out on some business. Then I returned, and the story to that point has been told by my hon. and learned Friend. Then, later on in the day, we had a consultation. Here I find myself in very grave difficulties, and right hon. Gentlemen will understand those difficulties. It is a perfectly well-known rule that Cabinet business must not be referred to and must not be revealed without His Majesty's consent. Even then it is not always advisable that it should be. But with that difficulty in my mind I can say this: we had a meeting previously summoned with no idea of this prosecution in our mind: absolutely none. I have refreshed my memory. It is not on the agenda. It is not indicated in any way at all. The chief business, as was announced in the papers the next morning, was Ireland. My two right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Home Secretary had been over to Ireland. They had arrived that morning. I had spent some time with them that morning and we had talked matters over. The meeting of Ministers was held at 6 o'clock. We did our legitimate business and then we wanted to know about this prosecution.
Yes. We wanted to know about the prosecution, and what it was about. The Attorney-General was asked if he would come and tell us. Now I can go this far, although I am not sure I am doing a wise thing—but one's veracity is challenged and insinuations are made that in some way or another something terrible took place and that perhaps I brought pressure to bear upon the Attorney-General to withdraw the prosecution. My view then, my view now, purely from the political point of view, was expressed, and is expressed, that when a prosecution is undertaken, however bad it might be, however undesirable it might be, it should not be withdrawn except on certain well defined conditions. The view that was expressed by me then was on those lines. But knowing that the responsibility rested with the Law Officers, after that expression of opinion there I left things, and from the 6th August from, say, 7 or 7.30 o'clock that night until—I cannot quite remember, either Saturday, when I was full of the London Conference agreement, or until Sunday morning, when I got up to Scotland; I cannot remember which day it was—but, at any rate, from the dispersal of that Cabinet meeting until I was either leaving London or had left London, I did not know in the least what had taken place with regard to this prosecution. That is our story. That is the story from the political side. If there have been mistakes, I do not know. Was I wrong in asking the Attorney-General, or was the Attorney-General wrong in getting me to have a talk with him about it? I do not think so. It certainly was never intended by me that it should be so. There are two things upon which the House will want an assurance, and I give them the assurance, that whatever opinions were expressed were expressed not by way of giving mandates or instructions; whatever opinions were expressed, did not originate on personal consideration and did not originate on party considerations. One thing I was interested in: one thing I am interested in now, is that such prosecutions as this ought not to give an advertisement to a party in this State, which I consider to be a most subversive party, which I consider to be a party that ought not to be countenanced even by advertisements such as we are giving them now. The one concern I had and I am sure the one concern my colleagues had was that, and that alone.
I do not know what the House is going to do. Somewhere about the middle of January or the latter part of January I sat where my right hon. Friend the Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin) sits, and he stood where I stand. Since then my colleagues and myself have tried to do the work which we believed ought to be done. We are prepared to go on as best we can, but, if we are going on, the House must in all fairness to us give us a satisfactory measure of confidence. The Motion moved from the Front Bench opposite is, as I said yesterday, a perfectly straightforward Motion. It asks the House to declare that it has no confidence in us. Very well, if that is the mind of the House, let it say so. The Amendment is not of that character. I do not know if I am wrong, but I will talk quite plainly. I think that the Amendment is a very unfair Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I am going to use an adjective a little bit more rankling that that, because I feel it. I think that there is such a large amount of meanness about the Amendment, and I will explain why. Did it escape the very critical and penetrating observation of right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway that the Committee which they were setting up was a Committee of seven against us and three for us?
I should like the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) to take counsel with his next neighbour. It is no reflection on the honesty of the House to say that, concerning a Select Committee appointed by party Whips, appointed under the proportional representation principle, from the parties the very night or day after a heated Debate, every member of which is going either to be for or against it, to be sent upstairs and told to give an impartial decision upon a matter which has been shown to be a mere partisan matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—not more eloquently than in the speech which has just preceded mine. Nobody objects to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He spoke before my hon. and learned Friend had spoken, and his return to those small, pettifogging, points is absolute proof of the intention of those who have moved this Amendment. I am not alone in speaking in this way. Let me remind the House of what some of its most respected Members in recent years have said about Select Committees. The right hon. Mr. Chamberlain, in moving
that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the administration of the British South Africa Company in 1896, used these words:
In the first place a Commission would have undoubtedly more of a judicial character. It would be more absolutely free from any political element than any Parliamentary Committee, and in this matter I think we shall all agree that would have been a very considerable advantage.
That is all I say, and in those circumstances the words of the right hon. Gentleman are all the more important. He knew himself that whether it was a Committee or Commission he had a majority that was necessary to see that fair play was done. Now let us come a little nearer home. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), replying to the right hon. Gentleman who now sits on Ids left (Mr. Asquith), when the latter moved for the appointment of a Select Committee on 9th May, 1918, to inquire into the allegations made by Major-General Maurice, said this:
The demand put forward in the Motion which has been read by yon, Mr. Speaker, from the Chair is absolutely without precedent as far as I can see in the history of this House. Statements made by Ministers in this House have beer challenged times without number—I do not mean statements made by Members of the present Ministry, but by Members of all Ministries.
My right hon. Friend's statements during this War have been challenged seriously once or twice. It is customary that the accuracy and correctness of statements made by Ministers are challenged sometimes by their political opponents, sometimes by important persons outside this House, but this is the first time as far as I can discover that it has ever been suggested—even in a period of peace when there is more time—that a Select Committee of the House of Commons should examine the question as to whether a Minister has made a correct statement or not in the course of a speech. … When we had to consider whether it should be Select Committee or a judicial tribunal we felt that a Committee of the House of Commons adapted undoubtedly for certain investigations was not the best tribunal for investigating facts when passions were aroused. It is no use saying that this is bringing a charge against the House of Commons. The House of Commons as a matter of fact came to that conclusion long ago on a question say like election petitions.
Then, he added:
My right hon. Friend Mr. Asquith came to that conclusion himself with regard to the Mesopotamia inquiry. It was suggested at the time and he deprecated it and gave his reasons. I think that he was right."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1918; cols. 2355 and 2358, Vol. 105.]
So do I. Just one more quotation. The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), speaking on the proposal for the appointment of a Select Committee with regard to General Maurice, said as follows:
But the clearer the case—and I am speaking upon the assumption that it is a clear case—that His Majesty's Ministers have for asserting and reasserting, establishing and proving to demonstration the accuracy of the statements which have been impugned the more cogent seems to me the argument that an inquiry should take place under conditions which no one can suspect of partiality or prejudice.
That is quite right. Then there is the interruption to which I was coming.
Mr. BONAR LAW: A Select Committee!
And the tone and the meaning of the interjection are shown by the exclamation which appears in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Report continues:
Mr. ASQUITH: Well, does the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggest that a Select Committee is not an unsuspect tribunal?
Mr. BONAR LAW: I could not name a single Member of this House who is not either friendly or opposed to the Government, and who must therefore start with a certain amount of prejudice.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1918; col. 2354, Vol. 105.]
It is very easy for the two other parties to go into the Lobby and force certain things upon us as a minority Government which I venture to say no Government, for the sole reason that the rights of Government ought to be kept in sacred custody by all Governments, could accept if it were able to reject. When the conduct of a Member of the Government is called in question, and the Government propose an inquiry, as has been done, good and well. But even then I think that a Select Committee is not the right court to send it to. It was my duty, when I sat on this side of the House below the Gangway, to look after a certain Select Committee, of which I was not a Member, which was working from day to day. But I put it straight and square to any hon.
Member who was on that Committee, if there be any here still, that he knows perfectly well that that Committee was run on purely party lines by the three sides. You cannot get away from it. I am referring to the Committee on the Marconi affair. Now there we are. We have told our story. We have claimed certain rights, the right for instance of the Executive to interest itself in political prosecutions. We have done our best. The one concern which we had was whether this prosecution advances the interest of the State or not. But even then we issued no instructions. The views expressed, the many views expressed, for the consideration of the officers with technical knowledge and with the responsibilities of office put the burden of a final decision upon them. As my right hon. Friend has reminded me, and as I have said already, before the consultations took place—they were not even consultations—before the conversations took place the decision had practically been come to and no change took place.
If this House is going to censure us for that, it has got the power. Two and two are always more than two and one, and if when hon. Members are counted in the Lobby we get the combination which we are told we are going to have against us to-night, that is the end of it. I said on a former occasion that we should take advice from this House in the sense of rejection of the proposals which we made, provided that they were not regarded as essential, and provided that the rejection of our proposal or our defeat in the Lobby did not amount to a diminution of that sense of self-respect which every Government must have if it is justified in sitting for five minutes on the Treasury Bench. I repeat that now. If this House passes either the Resolution or the Amendment now, we go. It is the end; it will be the end of what. hon. Members on all sides of the House will agree has been a high adventure—the end of a Government which, I think, has contributed much to the honour of the country, to our social stability, and which, when the country has an opportunity of passing a verdict upon it, will come again.
I do not rise for the purpose of entering into the merits of the controversy which has been carried on during this Debate, nor shall I do more than drop a sympathetic and tributary tear on the funeral oration which the Prime Minister has just pronounced. These obsequial tributes are generally reserved, if not until the corpse has been interred, at any rate until the doctor has pronounced that life is extinct. I confess that it was to me, a man of rather keen susceptibilities, and myself somewhat advanced in life, a melancholy thing to hear the right hon. Gentleman anticipate so comfortably his own early, indeed almost immediate, decease. But I should not have risen, certainly not at this stage, if it were not for two or three observations which the Prime Minister made towards the close of his speech in regard to the Amendment. He used some very derogatory epithets about the Amendment. I must say that his language inside the House, though not all that I desire, is mildness and gentleness itself compared with that which he allows himself to indulge in on the public platform. I read his speech yesterday. I aways admire and try to profit by an example, though sometimes by way of caution. I refer to the right hon. Gentleman's rhetoric in the congenial surroundings of a meeting of the Independent Labour party, or the Labour party, where there seems to have been a musical competition as to which of two more or less revolutionary anthems should take the place of the National Anthem. I observe that there was greater freedom, at any rate, a warmer temperature in the atmosphere in which he found himself yesterday. He spoke then of the Amendment as "crooked"—it is only "mean" to-day—and, I believe, "ungentlemanly." Yes, the phrase was "taint of ungentlemanliness."
Why? Why this sacrosanct super-sensitiveness? It is the convenient invention of the Labour Government. I have never known any other set of public men who were equally thin-skinned. What is the matter with the Amendment? Surely it is strictly in accordance with precedent? The Prime Minister quoted the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, one of the highest authorities. I presume the quotation was from the Debate on the Motion to appoint a Select Committee on the Jameson Raid.
I remember; I was in the House of Commons at the time. He expressed a preference in regard to that particular inquiry for another tribunal of investigation. But a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the whole of the proceedings in connection with the Jameson Raid and the alleged complicity of the Colonial Office, Mr. Rhodes, and even Mr. Chamberlain himself. Nobody then whimpered about torture chambers, it was an ordinary part of our Parliamentary procedure. Some years later, when I was myself head of the Government, we had an inquiry, a very famous inquiry in its day, known as the Marconi Committee. Some of my colleagues were charged with very grave offences, for men in their position—offences which, if they had in fact been commixed, would have left a stain upon their public and personal honour. The Government of the day consented to the appointment of a Committee which, among other things, was commissioned to investigate these charges. It was a Select Committee of the House of Commons. It was appointed in the ordinary way. It sat for weeks and months, and my right hon. Friends and colleagues who were the object of those charges, what did they do? They did not make funeral orations; they did not threaten a Ministerial crisis; they did not propose to go to the country. They went upstairs into the torture chamber, very brave men no doubt, but not braver than the average Member of Parliament. With unblinking eyes and unshaken nerves they faced the boot, the thumb-screw and the rack, and all the rest of the apparatus of mediæval cruelty.
The right hon. Gentleman said the other day that the appointment of this Select Committee would lead to the production of Minutes—or might—and leters and documents and all sorts of things. So did the Marconi Committee. I myself, though I was not personally supposed to be incriminated in these charges, found my own private correspondence laid before the notice of this Committee, confidential communications to colleagues, if I remember aright, containing some uncomplimentary references to the weather. That is something from which Ministers shrink in these days. We are approaching, in some respects, a slightly degenerate and decadent race. The result was that this Marconi Committee, constituted in the ordinary way, reported and unanimously acquitted my colleagues of the grave charges made against them. I have always thought, and I think still, that when it is a question of that kind—a question of fact, a question affecting personal conduct—a Committee of the House of Commons, however appointed and constituted, is one of the fairest tribunals in the world.
The Prime Minister has quoted sonic remarks that were made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) on another famous occasion, when I moved for a Select Committee to inquire into certain allegations made by General Maurice in the course of the War. One of the happy features of political comradeship is that you need not always be of entirely the same mind—at any rate on questions of procedure. I do not speak of matters of principle. My right hon. Friend was then Prime Minister and he took exception to that particular instrument of inquiry at that time and for that purpose. I still think that I was right in my conclusions, and, if my right hon. Friend will allow me to say so without any embitterment of personal relations, I think I was also right in the reasons which I gave for them.
I see no reason whatsoever why what seems to me to emerge plainly from the course of this Debate, the investigation of the serious matters that have been raised on the Floor of the House to-day, without prejudging in any way the ultimate issue, should not be referred to a similar tribunal. The talk about packed juries and so on is almost an insult to the common sense as well as to the common feeling of justice of the House of Commons. I want to make perfectly plain, speaking for myself and my friends, what our position in this matter is. I am not wedded to any particular form or any particular instrument. I think a Select Committee would be a very good one, and I would be perfectly prepared to make this offer. If a Select Committee be appointed, as far as I and my friends are concerned, we will not ask for places upon it. As far as we are concerned, there shall be no suggestion of a packed jury. It has these advantages. It can set to work at once; it has all the necessary powers to take evidence upon oath, to require the productions of documents, and so forth, and it will not occupy a long time—I imagine it will be a very short time, perhaps a day or a couple of days—in arriving at a conclusion.
What is the alternative? There is only one which I have seen suggested. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has not helped us there; he has shut the door, in his speech just now, to any form of inquiry, and I am very sorry he has done so. Take the alternative of a judicial commission for instance. To adopt that you must have an Act of Parliament. Such a body would have no power except by Statute to take evidence upon oath or for the production of documents or even the summoning of witnesses. It would mean endless delay and would be very unsatisfactory from that point of view. I may say I have had an experience, which I do not think anybody else in the House has had, of the working of such a Commission. It was my fate to sit daily for the best part of nine months before the Parnell Commission which was set up, in preference to a Select Committee of this House, to investigate the charges against Mr. Parnell and his colleagues. Looking back on that experience, now nearly 40 years ago, I say that in my opinion it was a very unsatisfactory tribunal. As I say, if any practical alternative is offered to the Select Committee suggested in this Amendment I will not, nor so far as I know will any of my friends, offer any objection to it. I have listened to this Debate as far as I could with an impartial mind. I express no opinion one way or the other on the merits of the case, but in the interests of the Government, in the interests of the House of Commons and in the interests of our public life, such an investigation before such a tribunal should take place at once and there should be a report to the House of Commons for its information.
In speaking upon the Motion for a Vote of Censure upon His Majesty's Government, I had some observations to make upon the absolute necessity of preserving in the mind of the ordinary man his confidence in the absolute impartiality of our administration of justice and some observations upon the necessity in these days of taking all steps to prevent that permeation of the Army by Communist influences which Communists themselves announce is going on and which I, for one, believe to exist in fact. Having listened with the very greatest attention to all the speeches made in the course of this Debate, I have come to the conclusion that the speech I intended to make, however it might have entertained or however it might have bored the House of Commons, must be relegated to the waste paper basket. It seems to me that all parties in this House should carefully reconsider their position after the discussion to which we have listened. It is absolutely necessary that officers of the law, whether Judges or Attorney-Generals, should perform their functions without the slightest regard to any considerations, financial, social or political. It is surely equally important that this House, which is also the High Court of Parliament, in some sense., should show equal impartiality and equal freedom from party bias.
A Vote of Censure, it seems to me, is not merited by any mistake which a law officer of the Crown may make. It is not merited by the fact-that his judgment has been rushed or wrong so long as his judgment was arrived at upon the information at his disposal and so long as he gave to His Majesty's Ministers the advice which he sincerely considered to be the best. Nor do I think a Vote of Censure is merited by any action upon the part of His Majesty's Ministers, however ill-advised such action may have been, in relation to disclosures made to this House or kept back from the House, unless that conduct has been in some sense a departure from the high standard of public morals to which we are accustomed in this country, unless there has been some obliquity, some underhand intrigue, or some yielding to improper pressure. I ant bound to say that I came to the conclusion, as I listened to the speech of the learned Attorney-General, that he had made up his mind very rapidly and very rashly and that he had been too prone to listen to the statements of personal friends without subjecting them to corroboration and investigation in the fullest sense, and I think we shall all agree, Whatever we may think about instituting proceedings of this kind, that once they have been instituted it is ill-advised to withdraw them without giving the reasons most fully on the Floor of the House of Commons.
I think His Majesty's Ministers might have been franker with us at an earlier stage in these proceedings. Knowing how deeply concerned all Members of this House must be in this question—those of us who are engaged in the profession of the law are perhaps more nearly touched than others—they did just the sort of thing which is sometimes made an accusation against lawyers. They kept something up their sleeves. They had an explanation, but they were not prepared to offer it until forced to do so by the Motion for a Vote of Censure. It may be wise in the criminal or in any accused person to say to a Court, "I reserve my defence,' when he knows that whatever he has by way of evidence will be produced more effectively at the time of trial, but this House and the country would have appreciated a greater degree of candour in Ministers of the Crown which might very well have been offered to us on the occasion of the questions raised when the House first met after the Recess.
Nevertheless I have listened to the Prime Minister and to the Attorney-General standing opposite there on the Floor of this House and making certain carefully weighed statements upon their word of honour. They have denied most emphatically, and produced evidence to support their statements, that any improper bargaining went on at all. They have denied that the Attorney-General's judgment was influenced in any way by political pressure. He says it was not. He says he went to see the Prime Minister with his mind made up—made up as I think too rapidly and wrongly. His excuse for that is that he had not much time and had to be prepared with a decision when the House assembled in the evening because the question was to be raised on the Adjournment. That is his statement, but he says he was completely uninfluenced in his judgment and formed his judgment on the information set at his disposal by the Public Prosecutor. The Prime Minister corroborates, again upon his word of honour, speaking to this House and to the nation at large, and says neither at the first interview with the Attorney-General nor at the conference of Cabinet Ministers afterwards, did they do anything but hear from the Attorney-General what his decision was and accept that decision, no doubt with approbation.
The real suspicion in all our minds, due in large degree to the ill-advised reticence of Ministers themselves, was that in some way or another certain Members of this House and certain people outside had influenced the minds of His Majesty's Ministers and that they in turn had brought pressure to bear upon the Law Officers of the Crown. You may have any amount of Committees and any degree of investigation, but can you get anything more satisfactory by those means than the evidence upon the word of honour of His Majesty's Prime Minister and His Majesty's Attorney-General made to this House in full Parliament assembled? It seems to me to support the Vote of Censure would be tantamount to saying that we cannot accept such solemn statements so solemnly made and that we prefer to accept as against them such evidence as appears in the Press or such statements as have been made by a person who certainly on his own confession has broken the law.
In these circumstances, I cannot think that it would he wise to support the Vote of Censure upon His Majesty's Government. Had there been those elements, those sinister elements which, as I have said, caused us such great suspicion, I cannot think of any case which could have been selected either by my friends or my opponents that I would more gladly have supported if fought before my constituents. Had we been able to bring home the charge that undue influences were exercised, and that the administration of justice was deflected for political considerations, it certainly would not have been, as one right hon. Gentleman called it, a "tin-pot prosecution." It would have been a prosecution involving matters of principle as grave as those that were involved in the case of John Hampden and in the case of the Seven Bishops. Had there been no answer, or a hesitating answer, or an unsatisfactory answer, from the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General to the case, I think very properly and gravely opened by my right bon, Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir B. Horne), then I should gladly have joined issue on this subject, thinking that no better case had ever been committed to my hand.
I for one think honestly that it is the duty of a lawyer—not in this case as distinguished either from a sane man, as the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) put it the other day, or from an honest man, as the right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) put it this afternoon, but I do think it is the duty of a lawyer whether he be honest or otherwise—in the course of his profession to listen to the evidence, to weigh the evidence properly, and not, after he has heard the evidence, to say: "Well I do not care about that, I shall act from my own prejudices." I feel very greatly distressed that I should have to dissociate myself from the Motion which my right hon. Friend has proposed. I had ventured to put my name down, or to get my name suggested, to take part in this Debate with the intention of supporting that Motion, and I am aware of the very great responsibility that a humble back bencher assumes when he rises afterwards to take another course, but I do feel that. I could not take this course unless I offered a word of explanation, making it clear to the House that I am bound to consider that the words of the First Minister of the Crown given under such circumstances as these, and that the word of the head of the English Bar again given under such circumstances, is one that I must accept as an explanation.
I rise, not as a lawyer, to offer a few observations upon this case that is before the House of Commons to-day. We have heard from very eminent barristers an admission that what they had been saying in the country was more or less of a mare's nest, and the last hon. Member who addressed the House has been frank enough to say, after the explanation that has been given this afternoon, that he does not propose to vote for the Vote of Censure against the Government. But there are phases of this question that have not been discussed at all to-day. We have the right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), for example, declaring and repeatedly declaring his antagonism to all political interference with the judicial officers of the Crown in the exercise of their duty. No one, I suppose, in this House would disagree with that sentiment. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that he was against this prosecution from the beginning, and heard him make reference to the obscure sheet which has been dragged out into prominence as a result of this prosecution, and when I heard him declare that once a prosecution was started it was the duty of the Law Officers of the Crown to proceed with that prosecution without any interference whatever from politicians or members of the Government, my mind went back to an occasion in March, 1912, and I went to the Library and I turned up the files of the London "Times" to a case almost on all fours with this. It was the case of a prosecution for incitement to mutiny in the Army of a man called Guy Bowman for the publication of an article inciting soldiers of the British Army not to use their weapons against, as I think it was put, their unarmed fellow-countrymen, in the face of a great railway strike which was then breaking out.
This article appeared in a paper called the "Syndicalist" and the printers were two brothers called Buck. The Law Officers at that time were Sir Rufus Isaacs, now Lord Reading, who was Attorney-General, and the Solicitor-General, the present distinguished Member for Spen Valley. That was in March, 1912. They authorised a prosecution under the Incitement to Mutiny Act, 1797. The prosecution took place. The writer of the article who was discovered—it was proved that this man had written the article—got nine months' hard labour by Mr. Justice Horridge at the Old Bailey, while the two printers, quite innocent politically of sympathy with the article in question, got six months' hard labour for printing the article. Immediately this took place and this decision was given in the Old Bailey a Free Speech Defence Committee was formed in the City of London. That committee was officered by distinguished members of the party to which the present Member for Spen Valley belongs, back benchers of his own. Sir Henry Dalziel, now Lord Dalziel, was chairman at a great protest meeting of the committee. Mr. MacCallum Scott, the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Colonel Wedgwood), who was then a member of the Liberal party, and others, including the present Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), were members of this Free Speech Defence Committee. Now observe what happened; observe the political interference by back benchers with the normal course of what was called justice. I am not discussing for a moment whether the prosecution was right or wrong, or whether the sentence was hard or otherwise. I will consider the facts. In East Walthamstow, which was then the constituency represented by the present Member for Spen Valley, the three men who were prosecuted resided, namely, the brothers Buck and Bowman. Great meetings of protest were held in East Walthamstow, mass meetings of railway men. This Free Speech Defence Committee got busy and all three men were released before even the period of the notice of appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal had elapsed, and while the case was still sub Judice.
The Law Officers of the Crown, the then Attorney-General and the then Solicitor-General, the Member for East Waltham-stow, were subject to back bench influence from their own party, and these three men were released. I could tell you how long they were in. But it does not matter. Three weeks, I think. Other men at the same time were released: Tom Mann, stated by the London "Times" to have been "unexpectedly released," also for an incitement to sedition, and for a charge under the same Act. But I cannot read in the London "Times" the slightest reference to any action taken by the then Member for East Walthamstow to demand a Select Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into political influence being brought to bear upon the Law Officers of the Crown. The Member for Bow and Bromley was present at the meeting with the Law Officers of the Crown at which political pressure was brought to bear upon these Law Officers to induce them to release these men. I submit that if it was good that Law Officers of the Crown in 1912 should interfere politically, perhaps in the public interest, but politically, then it takes a considerable amount of hardihood for one of those two Law Officers to get up to-day and point a finger of scorn and demand a special Committee of Inquiry into the activities and the procedure which the present Attorney-General has justified this afternoon.
There are other cases which could be cited of a similar nature from the other side of the House. I do not say that they are wrong. I say that there are occasions when it would be the duty of any politician to attempt to protect the good name of the Government and of the law from undertaking a very foolish prosecution. I have an occasion in my own experience. There was an advertisement once appeared in a paper which I was editing. I did not see the advertisement; it was handed in in the normal course of business. But it was undoubtedly seditious. A prosecution was inaugurated. I was technically liable, but it was stopped by a Conservative Attorney-General when he knew the facts. I submit anyone who cared to go back to the files of these cases, these charges of sedition and so on, for the past 50 or 100 years would find innumerable cases and ample justification for interfering with prosecutions such as I believe this one to have been.
I agree with the previous speaker, who said that this prosecution ought not to have been undertaken at all. I think the widest possible latitude should be given for free speech. If a man indulges in sentiments which are foolish and which are disbelieved in by the vast majority of his fellow countrymen, then no harm is clone, but if the Government start prosecuting opinions, there is no saying where these prosecutions will end. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) once, to his credit, interfered in this House in what was at the time a very popular attack by the Government upon the right of free speech and free printing. He attacked his own leader for it—it affected me—and I submit that it is the business of hon. Members on all sides of this House. Conservative, Liberal, and Labour, or Socialist, to take the utmost precautions that the minimum amount of interference by the judicial machine of this country shall take place with the right of free speech and opinion. I am very grateful indeed to the Attorney-General for having had the courage, when he knew the facts, to stop this very foolish prosecution, and I hope that so long as the Labour Government stays in this House it will never attempt to undertake another prosecution on the same lines.
I am intervening very reluctantly in this Debate, because I shall be in the unfortunate position of having to vote against my own parry. I am one of those who believe that newspapers ought to be allowed to print anything they care to print, and that the readers who take up the newspapers—because we have an intelligent public nowadays—can be trusted to agree with exactly what they think is wise. I am going to vote against my own party, because I believe this whole Debate is a trumpery affair, and because I do not believe there is any genuine desire at all, on the part of either of the parties opposing the Government on this issue, to arrive at any further conclusion than the one they already know must be arrived at if a Select Committee is set up. How much further can a Select Committee carry the matter? It can only do one thing, as far as I can see. It can make the Prime Minister of this mighty Empire of ours repeat on oath what he has already repeated on his honour in this House, and I think it is a frightful humiliation to make the Prime Minister of this country repeat on oath what most of us know he has said truly in this House to-night.
The wisest thing the Government has done has been to withdraw this prosecution. To my knowledge, nobody in this House, or very few, ever saw the "Workers' Weekly," or ever heard of it until it was mentioned in the ordinary popular Press, and I do not believe a single newspaper in this country will support an attack upon the Government upon this issue. The previous speaker, who is a journalist, as I am, will, I am sure, agree with me, that if you search the files of any of the great newspapers of this country, you will find there things which border just as much on sedition as did the article in the "Workers' Weekly." I assure this House, and I particularly assure my own party, that there is a very grave suspicion—and I frankly think there are grounds for the suspicion—that all is not fair in this discussion. We gave General Gough, after the Curragh affair, a K.C.B. and not a trial, as he ought to have had, for sedition. I cannot imagine anybody quoting Lord Birkenhead as an authority upon sedition, although perhaps he is an authority upon sedition, for Lord Birkenhead himself was guilty of a grave breach of faith against the Government of this country at a time when this country had its back to the wall during the War. Lord Birkenhead was responsible for the running of arms into Ireland and for the suggestion that the Army should revolt in certain circumstances, and no kind of prosecution was instituted against him.
I ask my party leaders gravely to consider, before they force this to an issue, that it is not fair of us Liberals, who certainly are not by tradition or instinct sedition hunters, to put the Prime Minister on trial before any Select Committee or any judicial committee. I take it that we on these benches will vote directly against the Motion from the other side, and I take it that there is no question but that that Motion will be defeated, and I appeal to my own party not to press the Prime Minister, because I think the Attorney-General has given a perfect answer to-night to every charge made against him. I appeal to my own party not to press to a vote or to an issue this question of the appointment of a Select Committee. I was very glad, though rather amazed, to see the point of view taken on the opposite Bench, and it is a grave thing for an ordinary back bencher to vote against his party. After the speeches to which I have listened this afternoon, it is a very grave thing for me to vote against my party, and I am only intervening to make it perfectly clear, first of all, and obviously, that I have no sympathy whatever with these Communistic articles or statements, and, as far as I can make out, not one word of sympathy has come from any of the benches in this House with the article which has appeared in this newspaper, though I may say, in parenthesis, that I think our soldiers and sailors have sufficient horse sense and common sense to be allowed to read these articles and make up their minds themselves as to the wisdom or unwisdom of such articles.
I suggest that it is unfair, un-English and certainly illiberal to prosecute an obscure paper like the "Workers' Weekly" when, in years gone by, great daily newspapers have perpetrated very nearly, if not exactly in the same direction, as gravely seditious articles as that published by the "Workers' Weekly." I am not concerned about Mr. Ross Campbell's standing in the Communist party, and I think the right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) was altogether out of order when he compared the signa- ture of the Russian Treaty with this prosecution against Mr. Campbell. I cannot imagine that there was the slightest connection between the two things. To me, it seems rather an absurd argument to advance that for a reason, for I am not certain that I shall be alone, either on these benches or across the way, in my action. I shall emphatically and directly vote in favour of the Government, not because I care for Communism or for the views ordinarily expressed by Labour Members, but because I believe this prosecution is unfair and that the attack on the Government is unfair, and I do not believe a Select Committee will carry if one inch further than we have had it carried to-night. For these reasons, I shall vote for the Government and against my own party.
Sir F. HALL:
I have listened very carefully to all the speeches that have been made on this matter, and I came down quite prepared to hear a different statement from the one I heard this afternoon, but I would say this at once, that I consider the Government took the wrong step in withdrawing the prosecution. I am very glad to see the Secretary of State for War on the Treasury Bench, and I put it to him, what is going to be his position, and the position of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, if statements of a most seditious character are to be published and issued to the men in whom we have confidence, and in whom the people of this country have to place reliance, as has been done in the case of the "Workers' Weekly," and careful consideration is given by the Law Officers of the Crown, who, having weighed up the whole of these points, come to a decision that it is necessary that it a prosecution should take place, and then that decision is reversed? I was responsible for this matter being brought first of all before this House. If hon. Members refer to the OFFICIAL REPORT of the 29th July, they will find that I asked the Home Secretary a question on this subject.
Sir F. HALL:
I consider it the duty of every Member of the House of Commons to bring before the House statements that are likely to be dangerous to the country, and to the electors whom he is supposed to represent. The reply of the Home Secretary to my question, as I expected, was to the effect that they were desirous of considering the matter before giving a reply. I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, if I put the question down in a week's time, he would be able to give me a reply. My question was going down on the 7th August, and on the 6th an hon. Member put down a private notice question, and a reply was given to the effect that the prosecution was to take place. On the following day, in the ordinary course of events, my question having been given in, I asked the Attorney-General, and he referred me to the reply he had given the previous day, which was to the effect that the prosecution was to take place. It was not a reply given in a heated moment, but after careful consideration. As we have heard from the learned Attorney-General this afternoon, he went clearly into the whole of the facts before he gave that reply, and, having given that reply, I say here and now that the Government, having considered the facts, and being under the impression that it was necessary that the prosecution should take place, it was not for the Attorney-General or any member of the Government to be judge and jury in an important case like this. It was necessary that the prosecution should continue, and for the judge and jury to come to the decision.
Are we to have a state of affairs in this House of Commons that some Minister—never mind how able he is—is to decide all these points, and to say, "In this case, although I ordered a prosecution, and although I gave it careful consideration before I came to that decision, nevertheless I am going to decide whether that man is innocent or whether he is guilty"? It has not been a case of deciding whether the man is innocent. It is all very well to say he was a subeditor. I am no lawyer, but I challenge the learned Attorney-General or any Member of His Majesty's Government to deny that if a sub-editor is responsible for the publication of any seditious statement such as the one we have under discussion, he is just as responsible as the editor himself if he is left in charge. That is what has taken place. What is going to be the criterion set up now as to whether a man is guilty or whether he is innocent? If we hear his forebears have not borne the best of characters, and if it is the case that he is not as old, or perhaps has not developed the wisdom of the learned Attorney-General, are they to be the fundamental principles on which you are to say that the man is not guilty, that he was not responsible for his actions, and although you have considered the case very carefully and ordered the prosecution, yet somebody has brought to your notice that he did good service during the War—and I respect him for it. Unfortunately, we have had to see a large number of cases of those who carried out their duties in the War in a perfectly satisfactory, aye, in a brave manner, come under the law, and have to bear the consequences of their wrongdoing. It seems to me a new course of events, a new era altogether, when members and supporters of a specific Government can approach the members of that Government and ask clemency to be extended. I am not going to say that people, perhaps, may have an idea of malpractices. I am not going to suggest it.
Sir F. HALL:
I am perfectly at liberty, until I am called to order by Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to state my opinion in the House of Commons without fear and without favour, and I intend to do it. The Prime Minister said there had been reflections cast upon his character, and upon the characters of some of the Members of his Government. I am not here to say they are right or wrong. What I say is that if reflections have taken place, surely the way to overcome the difficulty is to make use of the recognised practice that has obtained for generations in the House of Commons, and set up a Committee who may bring in a Report, in all probability that may be satisfactory to the Government.
Sir F. HALL:
If the hon. Gentleman asks me whether I am in favour of a Vote of Censure, I say I am not in favour of a Vote of Censure. That is perfectly plain. What I am in favour of is this because I do not think, after the statement that has been made by the learned Attorney-General this afternoon, we ought to do other. It is a recognised custom in this House, and I hope it will always he maintained, that after a Minister, it does not matter to what party he belongs—whether mine or the party to which I am opposed—has made a statement it is my duty to accept the statement that that right hon. Gentleman makes. I hope there is not in the House of Commons any suggestion that the statement made by a right hon. Gentleman opposite, whatever Government he may represent, will ever be doubted. But I say it is necessary after all that has appeared and the statements that have been made that in the interests of members of the Government, and of the great body of electors, that a tribunal such as the one suggested, a Select Committee of the House of Commons, which it is generally recognised is the best medium, should be set up. I agree. I say at once that if the right hon. Gentleman who has brought forward the Motion to that effect presses that Motion to a Division—I make myself perfectly plain on that—I shall certainly support him. It will be in the interests of justice and in order that the people of this country may know that the whole has been sifted, and evidence taken, for in the ordinary course of events, in my opinion, that is the better tribunal when any suggestion has been made against a responsible Minister.
I have been long enough in the House to remember what transpired in 1912. It must not be taken that, because we are opposed politically to various Members, that our sympathies are not extended to them, perhaps quite as generously as those of their own supporters. But we should see a satisfactory conclusion whenever a question of this sort comes up. I repeat that if that is done, if such a Committee is set up, a report will be made. There will be no loss of time, and in a week's time or so we shall have the result of the findings of that Committee. What harm can be done? Is anyone afraid of the information that will come out? Is there any suggestion to that effect? Surely the matter cannot be regarded in that light. It is not forming a precedent. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) stated this afternoon that, so far as he was concerned, speaking on behalf of those whom he represented, he would be perfectly agreeable that no member of his party should sit on that Committee. I think that is going a tremendously long way, because it is a thing I have never heard in this House of Commons before. Under these circumstances we must not overlook the fact that the Prime Minister would be able to nominate the Chairman of that Select Committee. I cannot possibly see what harm there can be accepting the suggestion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley.
I am sorry it has been necessary to have a discussion of this character. I agree at once with the Prime Minister that in his opinion the prosecution, having been started, it should have been continued and carried to a conclusion. Unfortunately, that was not the course adopted. I am sorry it has been necessary to have a discussion, but having had these seditious statements published by this Communist paper, I hope it will have one effect. I do not think from any part of the House that that paper will receive any support. There has been nothing in any of the speeches made hacking up the suggestion that the soldiers, the sailors, or the airmen should not carry out the responsibilities for which they were engaged. There has been no suggestion that they should forswear the obligations in which they have entered. It would be a great pity—never mind how small the minority—for Members of the House of Commons to come down here and state that the serious obligation, which devolve upon those who take upon themselves the responsibility of protecting the people of this country should not be carried nut without fear or favour. I finish as I started, by saying that I sincerely hope that on reconsideration the Members of the Government will, in their own interests, agree to the Amendment that has been moved. I hone it will not be necessary to go to a Division. I hope on reconsideration the Prime Minister will come down and say that after the speeches which have been delivered and, if I may say so, after the olive branch which has been extended—[Laughter]—I say the olive branch which has been extended from various parts of the House—that the Prime Minister and Members of the Government will see their way to accept the Amendment.
Did I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that he brought seine political pressure to bear upon the Government to initiate this sort of thing?
Sir F. HALL:
I cannot understand the hon. Gentleman possibly understanding that. Did he understand the statement of the Prime Minister? I spoke perfectly plainly. If my hon. Friend had anything to do with approaching Members of the Government I know nothing about it. He may have done. But we have not been asked to explain that.
I was referring to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's statement that he had asked a question of the Attorney-General.
Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman did bring political pressure upon the Attorney-General to initiate this prosecution?
I do not know how far the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken speaks for the Opposition, but it was stated yesterday that there were indications that the Conservative party was going to run away from its own Motion. So far as the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dulwich (Sir F. Hall) is concerned, it is clearly his intention to run away from the Motion put forward by his own party, and to form an alliance with hon. Members below the Gangway. The Parliamentary situation is such that one never knows what is going to happen until it happens, and we shall not know what is going to happen until eleven o clock to-night.
The hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich did not expect the Attorney-General to make the speech he did make. None of us could observe the facial phenomena of hon. Members opposite towards the end of the Attorney-General's speech without realising that they had not heard the speech they expected and hoped for, and it is perfectly clear that the Conservative party is seriously disconcerted at the way the Debate has gone, and they all realise that the explanation given by the Attorney-General is full and complete, and really leaves nothing else to be said, unless it is assumed that the Attorney-General has been consciously and deliberately misleading the House of Commons. It has been admitted that there is no foundation for that belief, and I think hon. Members will agree that the speech of the Attorney-General was an honest, straightforward, complete, and full statement, and no Committee or judicial inquiry could secure further information than has already been given. I think the proper course would be for the House to accept the very full statement of the Attorney-General, supplemented as it was by the speech of the Prime Minister, which dealt with the question very fully and frankly, and there does not seem to be any case for censure or further inquiry.
I find the demand for a Select Committee rather difficult to understand if it is contended, as has been asserted, that the office of Attorney-General is essentially a judicial office, which should be separate from politicians, and never in contact with them or influenced by them. If it is true that the office of Attorney-General is so judicial and high above political considerations, I cannot see why a Select Committee of politicians should sit in judgment upon this high judicial officer. It seems to me inappropriate that Attorneys-General in the future, in discharging the duties of their office, should have to keep in mind not only their judicial functions, but contemplate the possibility that if they do not administer justice in a way which will please the Members of this House, that Members of this House will appoint a political Committee to sit in judgment upon the Attorney-General. The proposal of hon. Members below the Gangway is at variance with the fundamental theory with which they launched this attack to-day. This doctrine comes from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), who has been an Attorney General, and there are indications that the hon. Gentlemen opposite are going to support that particular view.
I appeal to the House to take a sense of proportion about the whole business. In the first place was it likely that the article in the newspaper itself would be likely to influence the British Army? Those who know anything about the newspaper, and the political party behind it, know that they have neither the influence nor the capacity to get such a newspaper into the hands of the British Army to any extent. I do not believe that that particular article was written to spread sedition among the Army. It probably had the political purpose of embarrassing the Labour party and the Labour Government, just as the Conservative party is now using it for a precisely similar purpose. One is perfectly entitled, in considering the whole of the circumstances, not only to take into account the actual legal or technical offence itself, but to take into account the motives of the publication and the object at which it was aimed. We have to take into account the consequences to the State if the prosecution went on whether it succeeded or failed. Certainly we should take these considerations into account, because it is a prosecution on a subject of importance to the State and upon a political issue.
You cannot have a political or a State prosecution without taking into consideration questions of public policy in connection with it. Frequently the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich and the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) have put questions in this House drawing the attention of the Government to newspaper articles or speeches, and urging the Government to engage in prosecutions. That is conclusive evidence that hon. Members opposite are continually bringing political and party pressure upon the Government, in regard to questions which are now held to be essentially judicial in their character. Therefore their position is far from logical and rational on this particular point.
We have witnessed a rather extraordinary state of affairs during the last few weeks. It appears to me that in regard to these prosecutions the Conservative party and the Communist party outside have been vieing with each other as to how far they could injure the Government upon this matter. The fact is they have been helping each other, and if there was an alliance between the Communist and the Conservative parties, if there was a coalition between them, it could not have worked out with greater perfection than it has done during the last few days since this prosecution was dropped. The acting editor of the paper concerned says not only was he surprised that the prosecution was dropped, but annoyed because apparently it was a "good stunt gone west." The same disappointment is shared by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I cannot but feel that the Communist party-has reason to say "Thank God for the Tory party." and certainly the Tory party has reason to say "Thank God for the Communist party!" I feel this is a business quite unworthy of all the trouble which has been taken in regard to it, and unworthy of all the bother caused in the country. Precedents have been put forward by the Attorney-General, not only in the case of one Attorney-General but many Attorneys-General over a long period. The eases quoted by the hen. Member for Stirling (Mr. T. Johnston) clearly shows that not dissimilar things have happened before.
After all, the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley might have told the House something about some of the circumstances connected with political influence in certain crises that happened in connection with Ireland immediately before the War. No one can examine the history of Ireland and its political struggles without being convinced that repeatedly the carrying out of political prosecutions and the question of the release of prisoners condemned by Courts of Justice have been influenced by political pressure and by discussions and negotiations between political parties. All of us are agreed that we want to keep the law above political influences. Those of us who sit on these benches probably have as much admiration for British justice as hon. Members opposite. There are hon. Members on these benches who have been tried in the Courts. Some of them were not satisfied with their trials, but there are others who will admit that there were cases in which the Courts of Justice did their work well. I remember the case in which my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) was concerned—the case of the Poplar £4 minimum, in which the decision was quite against a good deal of popular prejudice which was shared by hon. Members opposite. We have a great admiration for the traditions of British law, and we do not wish it to he interfered with or changed in its working by the politicians. Do let us remember, however, that the office of Attorney-General is an office which is related to public policy, and that State and political prosecutions are bound up with public policy. The Attorney-General is a member of the Government, and he can be urged, and is urged, by hon. Members opposite, in this House, to engage in prosecutions; and he is repeatedly questioned and cross examined by Members of all parties when prosecutions are started. He is in all Governments a politician, and, surely, this doctrine of legal exclusiveness as far as the Attorney-General is concerned is a new doctrine which seems to have been specially saved up for the Labour Government. I think that the speech of the Attorney-General was a very full, honest, frank and straightforward utterance, which must have commanded admiration in all parts of the House, whether hon. Members agreed with it or not, while the very full and frank statement of the Prime Minister completely knocked the bottom out of this trumped-up agitation; and I am confident that, if the House votes upon the merits of the question, both the Motion of the Conservative party—unless they run away from it—and the rather ridiculous Amendment of hon. Members below the Gangway, will be decisively defeated by the House to-night.
The Debate, except for the last few minutes, has been largely in the hands of lawyers, who have had a great advantage in putting before us the legal point of view, but I think it is just as well to have a plain business view of the question as it presents itself to an ordinary man of business. The difficulty in which one finds oneself is that, while undoubtedly the speeches of the Prime Minister and of the Attorney-General have done a great deal to clear up the mystery that surrounded this question, the unfortunate thing, as has been suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks), is that there was not a little more frankness earlier, before there was an opportunity for all this suspicion to arise. I would also put it to the House in this way: Does any Member of the House suggest that, if this House comes to a decision by its vote to-night, it will thereby satisfy the country? I am not proposing to argue the merits of the case
at all. Whether or not the decision to prosecute was right, or whether or not the decision to abandon the prosecution was right, is not the question. The real trouble in the country began with the supplementary questions which were put in this House on the 6th August. Hon. Members will recollect that they included one question like this:
If, during the Parliamentary recess, we say in the country what this man has said, shall we all be prosecuted?
I hear an hon. Member say, "Hear, hear," but that aroused in the country a suspicion that there was a certain volume of opinion in this House which feared that, if that prosecution were proceeded with, the effect would be that others would be drawn in. I suggest that if at that time there had been placed before the House a statement as full and as frank as the statements which the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister have made to-night, the present position would not have arisen. But now comes the point, and this is the point that I want to put to the House—how can it be said that any decision come to in this House to-night is going to satisfy the country?
I could not vote for a Vote of Censure, for the very obvious reason that that would be a censure on the Government. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment deliberately laid down what I have always understood to be the position, namely, that the office of Attorney-General is an administrative office, which should be free from political interference; and he laid down among his general political principles this very important one, that, if justice is ever to be properly administered in this country, it is absolutely necessary that that should continue to be the case. It, therefore, appears to me very illogical to move a Vote of Censure upon the Government in respect of the action of a Law Officer who theoretically is independent. When the case developed we heard that, notwithstanding the independence of the Attorney-General, there had been certain political pressure. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was a really wonderful oration, but, in spite of all the points which he made, they were not in themselves proof. I venture to submit that this question will never be settled fairly, and the country will never be satisfied, until the matter has been in- vestigated by a Select Committee and that Select Committee has issued its Report. As far as I understand the objection of the Prime Minister, it is twofold. He has stated in this House his objection that the party and the Government he represents, which are presumably being tried, if you like to put it in that way, would be in a minority of three against seven. I venture to suggest that the offer made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) has put aside that objection completely, and there can be no objection on that score. The other objection, I understand, was that the inquiry would take a very long time, and that during the whole of that time the activities of the Government would be paralysed, and it would be impossible for them to carry on. I suggest that, if the case is as clear as has been suggested by the speeches this evening, there can be no possible objection to going before a Committee, there can be no possible objection to going before a Select Committee with the offer that has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, and there can be no objection on the ground of time, because the Committee can be set up at once, and bring in its Report quickly. I trust, therefore, that it will be possible to come to an arrangement by which the Committee shall be set up, and that a serious attempt will be made to satisfy public opinion outside, which I am certain will not be satisfied by a vote this evening either for or against a Vote of Censure. The only way in which I believe it can possibly be satisfied is by a Select Committee being set up, and issuing its Report, and I sincerely trust that that will be the issue of to-night's Debate.
The hon. Member who spoke from the Socialist benches expressed himself as entirely satisfied with the speech of the Attorney-General. He was probably equally satisfied with the explanation which the Attorney-General had erroneously given to the House on a previous occasion. It has crossed my mind that in science two lights can make a darkness, but it only takes one legal luminary to make a darkness and to produce an absolutely puzzled state of mind. That may be my own stupidity, but what emerges? The
Attorney-General inadvertently misled the House on practically every single point except that the man had a very excellent military career, and he also stated that he had an excellent character. That is the only point on which he had not misled the House. It also emerges that, the Prime Minister had misled the House, and he had to make a personal explanation before the debate took place. I can hardly remember a single occasion on which a Prime Minister has been put in a similar position. It also emerges that the day after the man was arrested political pressure was brought to bear. It was brought to bear in this House. It was brought to bear by the Prime Minister, and there was an interview with the Cabinet. All these things have to be investigated. We were under the impression that the decision not to proceed with the prosecution took place on the 13th. It row emerges that it took place on a day when Parliament was sitting, and it was never thought worth while to inform Parliament that the proceedings were then to be abandoned. That is also a point that requires investigation. But what strikes me most in the whole situation—and it is a suspicion which has to be cleared up—is, that we have practically got to a position in which the law echoes back the hidden voice of political pressure. It reminds me of a saying of Dickens, that "the law knows no necessity but she has her lawyers." The distress signals of the politicians were hung out in full view of the House on 5th August, and on that very same day, within an hour or two of the questions in Parliament, the Attorney-General had surrendered. So we get to this position, which is the worst possible position into which the law can get, the old sequence of order, counter-order and disorder-first the order to prosecute, then the counter-order to abandon the prosecution, and then the disorder with a General Election to follow on this issue. It is evident to me that the Attorney-General and those who were associated with him in the Government of the country have never seen Churchill's lines—
Consider well, weigh strictly right and wrong,
Resolve not quick hut, once resolved, he strong.
The rule on which he appears to have gone is the instructions which were given
by Dogberry to the Watch in "Much Ado About Nothing." It is so exact a parallel that I will read it.
DOGBERRY: This is your charge; you shall comprehend all vagrom men. You are to bid any man stand in the King's name.
WATCHMAN: How if he will not stand?
DOGBERRY: Why, take no note of him but let him go, and then presently call the Watch together and thank God you are rid of a knave.
The only difference is that the Attorney-General calls the Watch together and says, "Thank God we are rid of a martyr." He cited the case which was dealt with by the present Lord Birkenhead, but Lord Birkenhead got the prosecuted men entirely to abandon their position and to give a pledge, and he went into Court and he gave the sternest possible warning that there would be no subsequent eases of the abandonment of a prosecution, no acceptance of apologies, no acceptance of regret, but that the men would be prosecuted and sent to penal servitude if they were guilty of breaches of the law, and of course it has a most salutary effect. But what have the Government done? They have created a precedent which will make it more difficult than ever to prosecute any man in the future on these charges. It would be far better, even on the assumption that the case would collapse, which I do not believe for a moment, to prosecute, and if the case had collapsed it would have shown the necessity fur strengthening the law. After all he was a Communist. He knows perfectly well what would happen in the case of any man who went against the Government in Russia. For infinitely more trivial things men were prosecuted and shot in Russia.
The Attorney-General made a strong point of the fact that Campbell was a young man, deemed to be of excellent character, and that his military career was exceptionally good. I have not been able to understand the argument that that would get him off, because it seems to me an aggravation of the offence that he had had a good military career, that his training had been excellent and that he was a well-educated man. After all, if he had been brought up in a Communist Sunday school and had imbibed these things there I could forgive him. His early training would account for it. If a young soldier, sailor, or airman had, as a result of this incitement, mutinied he would have gone to penal servitude, whereas this man has
got off scot free. I believe representations were made by. generals and admirals of the extreme danger of this case. If the House does not agree to the Vote of Censure, and we subsequently divide on the question of inquiry, that alone is a question on which the inquiry would be able to settle matters. The two worst revolutions, accompanied by immense loss of life, in the history of modern times, the French Revolution and Reign of Terror and the Russian Reign of Terror, began by mutinies in the Army. That is what this man was trying to bring about. May I also remind the House of what Sir Henry Maine said in 1885—and no greater authority in legal matters could possibly be cited:
If any Government should be tempted, even for a moment, to forego its function of compelling obedience to the law it would ho guilty of a crime which hardly any other virtue could redeem, and which century after century might fail to repair.
The Government have foregone that function in this case. When it was known that a Socialist Government was going to come into power I wrote to the "Times" and offered a word of advice to the Prime Minister. It was very presumptuous on my part, but it was a question in which I had taken an active interest for many years past. I asked him, with the new precedent of a Government by a minority, to take his courage in both hands and rule the country with a small Cabinet. I apply my criticism to all Governments. If you have a Cabinet of 20 men, however wise they may be, collective folly will result. You cannot rule this country with so large a Cabinet. There is this disadvantage in regard to the present position, of which the electors will also have to take note. We are not only ruled by a large Cabinet, but the Prime Minister is amenable to his party in a way that no other Prime Minister has ever been amenable. You set up a Parliamentary Committee to watch over his actions, to which the Cabinet have to offer explanations before ever they come to this House. So you get this result, that political pressure interfering with the course of justice is much greater than it has ever been before. I ask the House to remember that we have endeavoured to prevent any interference with the course of justice ever since the impeachment of Lord Verulam, better, but erroneously, know as Lord Bacon, who
admitted the justice of the punishment which was given. In order to prevent interference with the course of justice, we have removed the judges from this House. This particular case, the Attorney-General being set up to whom the Public Prosecutor is responsible—I think it was set up in 1879—is almost the only case where political pressure can be brought to bear.
I think hon. Members opposite must acknowledge that there is some reason for the suspicion held by two parties in this House that political pressure was brought to bear—[HON. MEMBERS "No !"]—and that the Attorney-General was amenable to that pressure. If they acknowledge that we have reason for that suspicion, they ought not to object to inquiry. The whole of the details are obscure. It is a mystery. The Attorney-General is almost as respectable a mystery as the mystery of St. Patrick himself. There is the strongest reason for inquiry. I think there are about 30 different interpretations of the parable of the unjust steward, but every one of the interpretations agrees that the party was guilty. If hon. Members opposite resist inquiry. I am quite certain that the country will come to the conclusion that they dare not face inquiry.
I am glad to have en opportunity before this Debate closes of saying what I think about this agitation which has been going on in the country during the last month or two. How anybody can possibly think, after listening to the statements made by the Attorney-General to-day, that there is a case for inquiry absolutely passes my comprehension. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks) quite frankly said that he came down to the House to-day with the intention of speaking and voting against the Government, but after what he had heard here to-day from the Attorney-General he got up and spoke for the Government, and I understand that he intends to vote with the Government. Here is a man, a trained lawyer, who comes to that conclusion, and yet we have layman after layman getting up and asking us—it is a very curious theory—what harm will an inquiry do? What I want to know is, what good will an inquiry do? Why on earth when the Prime Minister has made a statement and the Attorney-General has made a statement is an inquiry necessary, and what good purpose could any Committee serve?
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has said that he wants inquiry. Apparently he wants documents. What documents? You are not entitled in a Committee to have roving inquiries as to what documents exist. What documents does he think exist beyond those that have been quoted here to-day? I knew nothing about the matter before to-day. When I was asked about it a week or so ago, I said I had no doubt the Attorney-General would have a perfectly good answer. He does not happen to be a friend of mine, but I had not the least doubt about his competence to deal with a matter of that sort. He had an absolutely complete answer, and he produced documents to show that he is supported in his views by men whom no one could suspect of having Labour views; just the professional advisers that he would have, who are in this matter entirely above party. He is frankness itself, and tells us exactly what the position is.
What is it that we want to find out? I wonder how long tins Debate would have lasted if there had been a majority behind the Government. Is it not merely this, that because we happen to be governing this country with a minority Government there have been efforts made, sometimes, I regret to say, from the benches on my right, to put upon this Government humiliation that will eventually bring about their fall. It seems to me that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has been particularly active in that. On more than one occasion Motions have been moved in this House with a view to, more or less, censuring the Government, the object of which has been not to drive the Government out of office but to put upon the Government. humiliation after humiliation, the cumulative effect of which will be to discredit the Government in the country. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Keens) said the, country will never be satisfied without some sort of inquiry. Apparently his view is that this House collectively cannot satisfy the country, but a Select Committee of the House can. I wonder how many people in the country read the Report of Select Committees.
I do not believe that many of my hon. Friends or many of our opponents who have been about the country during the last few months have found that the country is really agitated about this question. Is either of the two great parties who are criticising the Government on this question burning to have an election upon the question as to whether the Attorney-General did or did not do what he says he did? Has there ever been such a mare's nest as has been exposed here this afternoon? The newspapers have been very busy. I will take the "Chronicle," for instance, which published in two columns the other day a full account of what they said happened at a Cabinet meeting, telling actually what happened at the Cabinet meeting, as though they had been there—a Cabinet which never took place. Certainly it never took place as they suggest for the purpose of considering this question.
Now we find that the Attorney-General says that, before he met the Prime Minister, and certainly before it went to the Cabinet at all, he had made up his mind. Sir Guy Stephenson said so. Are we to disbelieve the Attorney-General? Are we to disbelieve Sir Guy Stephenson? Are we to disbelieve the Prime Minister? Are we to believe merely the newspapers which invent fictitious accounts of Cabinet meetings? Is that to be the new form of carrying on politics? Is that what four ex-Law Officers of the Crown tell us is bringing the law into contempt? You cannot govern a country merely by reading the rubbish that is printed in the newspapers. For the last two months the whole public atmosphere has been vitiated with this sort of thing, which no sane person believes and of which everybody is sick.
To-day we find a Vote of Censure being moved against the Government because the Attorney-General has done what he was perfectly right in doing. We are told by Lord Birkenhead, a well-known authority on sedition, and others, that this practice of. the Attorney-General considering political questions is something quite new and subversive of all decent government in this country. It was only the other day that the Attorney-General was a Member of the Cabinet. If the Attorney-General was a Member of the Cabinet, would he be guilty of some sort of offence if, with his colleagues he discussed the question as to whether a prosecution was desirable or not desirable? Where do we get all this advice from? I have never heard of it before. It is merely brought up because of a new situation—a minority Government doing unexpectedly well. I am dealing with a question that is relevant, the question whether there is any reason for censuring the Government, and I say not only do I believe there is no reason for censuring the Government, but I do not believe anybody would listen to the Attorney-General's speech and believe that. Where is the Vote of Censure going? Member after Member rises and says he is going to vote for a Committee, not for censure at all. It was what we were told; that the Constrvatives would be running away from the Vote of Censure and trying to get a Committee to embarrass the Government.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) tells us—in a most amusing speech, to which it was a perfect delight to listen—what an excellent tribunal a Select Committee is, and he tells us how there was a Select Committee to deal with the Jameson Raid and another to deal with the Marconi case. Is there any suggestion that this twopenny-halfpenny matter has any sort of resemblance to the grave constitutional issues raised by the Jameson Raid, or the great moral and personal matters raised in the Marconi case? Those were serious matters. I caught my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley pointing out how it could never do any harm to the Government to have an inquiry of this sort. What good is it going to do? When is it going to end? How many humiliations of this sort are going to be put upon the Government? Every time they want to deal with some side issue, they will invent some idea that some Minister has gone wrong. They will work up a newspaper agitation, and they can do it admirably because the newspapers in this country are all on the one side—not, the side of the Government—and demand another Committee. "Oh, well," they say, "if you refuse a demand for a Committee, it shows you have something to hide." Why cannot they suggest to us to-day, any one of them, what it is we want to hide? From the moment the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister finished, all of them left the House and left the Debate to go on in a desultory way. While one of their Members says he is going to vote with us, another says that he is not going to vote for the Vote of Censure but a Committee. They do not attempt to tear the arguments of the Attorney-General to pieces. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley had nothing to say to the House of that. A man of the greatest and ripest experience in the House listens to the Attorney-General's speech and has not a word of guidance to give to the House. All he has to say is he is going to support the Amendment of his learned colleague. We got no reason from him why we were to disbelieve the Attorney-General. I wonder what he would have thought when he was Attorney-General and had got up in this House and given an honest account of the matter that there should be a Committee to inquire into his truthfulness. That is what it comes to.
I hope the Government will stand firm. Hon. Members have been attacking the honour of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. They are attacking the honour of the party. It is a Vote of Censure upon the Government. The Government is supposed to have done something wrong because it is not only to say that the prosecution has been improperly withdrawn, it has been a sort of impropriety that is dishonest. They have to show that the Government have not only acted foolishly but have practically acted corruptly in this matter. There is not a rag of evidence to show it.
There has been a newspaper campaign—rather a base Press campaign—on the question. When the hon. and learned Member for Swindon said there was a good deal to make people suspicious, I do not agree. I do not know what there was to make people suspicious. This question of starting a prosecution and withdrawing it is always bound to happen. There is nothing more dishonest, when you have started a prosecution and come to the conclusion that it is wrong, than to go on with it. I have known that done by big men. The wise thing to do if you think a mistake has been made, is to decide quickly. The Attorney-General did that and settled it within a few hours. It seems to me that his statement, supported all the way through by docu- ments to an extent I had no idea he would be able to do, absolutely destroys the whole basis upon which this attack has been built. I hope the Government will not attempt to accept any form of judicial committee or any form of compromise. Upon this issue that attacks the honour of our leaders, let them drive us out and send us to the country as soon as they like. Upon that issue I will fight, and we all will fight, as hard as if our personal honour was involved. I particularly appeal to some of my old friends on the Liberal benches not to have anything to do with mere political manœuvres of this sort, to remember the great causes now in our hands. If they bring down the Government to-day it will be upon their heads in the country. We have on these benches a great instrument for good that might last us a year or two or three years more if we do not go and fall over minor points. I appeal to them to-night not to have anything to do with these petty manœuvres, with these man hunts, because that is what the attack on the Attorney-General has been. We once and for all challenge the Opposition to throw us out if they dare and we will come back here and show them what the country thinks of discreditable manœuvres.
A good many hon. Members who have spoken have referred to the speech of the Attorney-General as a speech which disposes of the case made against the Government That view, in my submission, is entirely mistaken and unfounded, and I want to put before the House the reason why I say that. There have been in this Debate two quite separate issues involved, a major issue and a minor issue. The minor issue has been the fitness of the Attorney-General for his office and the question as to whether he has carried out his duties properly or not—an important issue, but nothing like as important as the other. The other issue is whether the executive Government have, for political reasons, interfered with the course of justice. That is the major issue and an issue of vast importance to this country. The Attorney-General's speech was almost entirely devoted to hat he did before the executive Government came upon the field and intervened in the matter and what happened afterwards. The intervention of the executive Government was, so far as we can gather, chiefly at the interview at 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the 6th August. Up to then the Attorney-General was concerned by himself with the conduct of the case, in answering certain questions that were put in the House that afternoon, and the interview with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and so on. After that interview the fatal decision had been taken and nothing that happened afterwards was any longer of major importance. The Attorney-General appealed—though he did not say so—to the sympathy of the House, and I am sure that the House felt considerable sympathy towards him in his account of what had been done, and particularly in his own claim to a fair hearing. As he put it, he was on his trial. But that is not the big question which the House has before it. The big question is the question that has agitated the whole Press of the country ever since the strange withdrawal of the prosecution, and the strange announcement by Mr. Travers Humphreys that it was withdrawn because representations had been made that the article was innocent and that no crime had been committed. It was that statement that made the country uneasy, and which made all of us who are concerned with the independent administration of justice uneasy, and it is to that issue that the Debate has really been addressed. On that issue I submit that the explanations which we have had up to now are insufficient. We do not know why the Director of Public Prosecutions was told to go to the Prime Minister's room.
We know that the Prime Minister discussed the matter with the Home Secretary before the interview at five o'clock. We know that the Home Secretary, of all Members of the Cabinet, has been particularly concerned in what we may call purely party politics, the consideration of the party position. We know that that interview was a short one, and that during the interview the advice, to use a mild word, was given by the Prime Minister to the Attorney-General. We know that after that interview the Attorney-General told one of the Members who had asked a question that afternoon that it would be unnecessary to raise the matter on the Adjournment because the prosecution was going to be withdrawn.
It is not irrelevant to consider what the character of the offence was in respect of which the charge was brought. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said that in his view it was a case in which, perhaps, it might have been better not to prosecute originally. With great respect I do not agree with that view. My view is that the article was a very serious breach of the Incitement to Mutiny Act and that if ever a prosecution is to take place under that Act that was an appropriate case for the prosecution to take place.
I have compared the language of this article with the language in the case of the King v. Bowman, which was referred to by the Counsel for the Treasury when the case was withdrawn. That was a prosecution in 1912 for a very similar article in a newspaper called "The Syndicalist." In that case there had been no attempt to bring the article directly to the notice of the soldiers, but, in spite of that, and although the Judge directed the jury that if they thought that it was only comment on the use of arms in industrial disputes, they were to acquit, the jury convicted, and the publisher was sentenced to nine months' hard labour and the printers to six months' hard labour each. Campbell's was a more serious case because of the language used. The language used is a direct appeal to soldiers, sailors and airmen not to turn their rifles when called upon in the direction which they were ordered to turn them, but to turn them against capitalism and the bosses, and to form committees in the Army in order that they might be ready for the social revolution.
If any language is capable of inciting to mutiny, that is, and in this case the evidence is—it was stated in the "Workers' Weekly"—that both Aldershot and Farnborough were plastered all over with copies of this appeal calling on the soldiers and inciting them to mutiny. No wonder that the Attorney-General formed the opinion that this was a case-of a serious offence in which a prosecution was right. No wonder that it was so described by counsel for the prosecution and that it was so described by the magistrate on the first hearing. No wonder that Mr. Campbell, when he was arrested, said to the police officer who arrested him, "I was expecting this." That being so, we have got
this position, that on that morning of the 6th August, when the prosecution took place, nothing had arisen to change the Attorney-General's mind in the matter. Let me read to the House a passage from the statement by Sir Guy Stephenson, for which I am indebted to the courtesy of the Attorney-General:
At 5 p.m. on the 6th August I went to the Prime Minister's room in the House of Commons in response to a telephone message from the Attorney-General. The Prime Minister was not there when I arrived and before he came in the Attorney-General inquired of me what I knew of Campbell in connection with the Workers'Weekly' and generally as to his character. I replied that although Campbell had accepted responsibility for the article he was not the regular editor of the paper, but was only acting as such, and that nothing was known against his character. On the Prime Minister entering the room he said that the Home Secretary had told him that he never authorised the prosecution and he asked me how it came to be instituted
a very pointed query from the Prime Minister
whereupon the Attorney-General intervened and said that he was solely responsible. The Prime Minister expressed the view
I ask the House to note this—
that the prosecution of Campbell would give the Communists just the advertisement which they wanted and generally that the prosecution would do more harm than good.
I note the political views of hon. Members opposite on this prosecution. Then, and not until then, the Attorney-General said that he had come to the conclusion that the prosecution ought to be withdrawn. Of that statement of the facts, coming from an absolutely impartial source, from a man who is used to being very careful in his records, I ask the House to say that it is clear that influence was brought to bear by the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Home Secretary, on the Attorney-General for the purpose of seeing that the prosecution was not continued. Judged by the tenor of the language used that is a fair comment. In my view on that alone the Vote of Censure would be justified, but I want to say quite candidly for my part that, in the circumstances of this case, I think that it would be more satisfactory to have a further investigation.
[Laughter.] Hon. Members are pleased to laugh, but that is the view which I have held from the start, and I have followed the matter very closely. There is no answer to the demand for investigation. I leave it at that, having regard to the time and the necessity for allowing opportunity for further speeches.
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
May I, as an old Member of the House, and to a certain extent as a detached and independent observer of its movements, attempt to state to the House what I regard as the Parliamentary situation. Some of my hon. Friends on the opposite side of the House think that this issue is important and momentous enough to make a demand upon the country (which wants to attend to business) for all the dislocation and the turmoil of a General Election. If the question could be put from the Chair in this way, ''Shall we or shall we not have an immediate General Election on this issue? "I doubt whether there would be ten men in the Lobby in favour of it. We have got into a position that appears impossible and too absurd. The indictment of my hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken —he wound up in a more conciliatory tone than his previous observations would have suggested—was that undae pressure was put on the Attorney-General to abandon a State prosecution. I put it to him that if there be anything in the world on which a Government has a right, to intervene in the proceedings of its Law Officers it is upon the question of a State trial. Who will deny that? Will my hon. and learned Friend deny that when lie was under a Prime Minister the Prime Minister had not the right to say to him, "This State prosecution will not be in the interests of the State, but against the State."
Is there a Member on the Liberal benches who is prepared to subscribe to the doctrine of heresy-hunting with regard to opinions? The pioneers of the Liberal creed, John Stuart Mill and Lord Macaulay, over and over again insisted that the very worst W ay to deal with a violent and insane minority in the country was to put it in a position of martyrdom, with all the publicity that that involved. I know that some of my hon. Friends opposite are unable to make a distinction between Communism and the doctrines of the Government. Do hon. Members know that the party which broke down the Communist section in Glasgow was made up of the men who sit on the Labour benches? In the old days an Irishman had only to get into prison and he got a seat in Parliament. The party of this man, the writer of this eloquent and insane article, whose dangerous influence is said to be so great over the working people of this country, brought in a Communistic motion at a great meeting of the Labour party, and there was a majority of 16 to one against it. That is the harm that this gentleman has done to the party. If I were a member of the party opposite the thing I would deprecate most would be an attempt to put down the preaching even of an insane and evil gospel by prosecution in Police Courts or elsewhere. I think it would be wrong to vote against the Government on the point.
Now I turn to the House generally. Does anyone want a General Election to-day? If this House wants a General Election it is putting itself up against the unanimous opinion of the people of the nation. There is not to-day a section of our population, with all the difficulties in trade and the rest—I do not care whether they are Labour supporters or Conservative supporters or Liberal supporters—who would be in favour of an Election; at any rate they would be an infinitesimal minority. If an Election took place on the Russian Treaty that would be a serious issue, but on this miserable tempest in the tiniest little teapot ever introduced into political life, to ask the country to have a General Election is madness. I do not say that my hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench have not some responsibility for accepting the situation as meaning an Election. I leave that between them and their God and their consciences. But, speaking for the man in the street, I am convinced that the worst thing we can do for any party is to have a General Election on this miserable tinpot issue. Then what do I suggest? I am not sure that the Leader of the Opposition violently desires to bring this to a General Election by a vote tonight. Judging by his benign and serene character, he world regard it as a very stupid thing for his party to do. I think it would be a stupid thing for the Liberals to do. They are a bit bucked-up by the great meetings they have recently held. If they had seen as many tempestuous and uproarious and enthusiastic meetings as I have seen—meetings which ended in nothingness—they might think differently. My old father said once, "What is a gentleman to do if he is insulted? "The answer was, "A gentleman never insults, and if he insults he is not a gentleman." The talk of some of my hon. Friends of the Labour party is a little like that of my countrymen at Donnybrook Fair, who used to trail their coats. Let us not trail our coats. We have something higher here than the interests of our party. I am going to do a daring thing, but in order that we might get cool and consider the situation and see whether some means can be found which would not appeal to the extremists of any party in the House, I beg to move, "That the Debate be now a adjourned."
I did not mean to take part in this Debate, but circumstances have arisen which, I think, render my intervention for five minutes necessary. I am rather surprised at my right hon. Friend opposite pouring scorn on our Debate to-day as being a teapot discussion. He cannot have forgotten that teapots have played a very great part in history. The upsetting of a small amount of tea on Boston Harbour changed the history of the world. Then there is a celebrated oilfield in America called Teapot Dome. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh I "] I see the allusion is understood. Its fame to-day is so great that those gentlemen who feel there was an irregular procedure in connection with that oilfield parade the streets of New York wearing silver teapots to remind their opponents of what they consider to be the slip they made. I cannot support what was said by my right hon. Friend about the need for any adjournment. The issue is far too simple for that. I have listened with the greatest. care to the most important part of this Debate, and I admit that to some extent my opinions have been modified by what I have heard. But the very admissions of the Government are quite sufficient in my mind to show that those very political considerations deprecated so much and so earnestly by the Prime Minister have played their part in this affair that we have been debating, and the reasons that lead us to that conclusion will be urged before the end of this Debate by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Marylebone (Sir D. Hogg).
It is perfectly obvious to us what the tactics of the Government are in this matter. They are hoping to defeat us by Liberal votes and they are hoping to defeat the Liberals by our votes and to ride off in triumph from the considered judgment of the House by splitting the largest body of opinion in this House which is in complete agreement as to the necessity for an investigation into this matter. I only rise to say that we on this side of the House, at any rate, are not going to be the dupes of any procedure of that kind. We accept on this side the statements that have been made; we make no reflection on the honour of the Attorney-General and we consider that the right way of meeting this case, after having listened to the evidence which has been put forward, is to give the whole of our support to the Amendment which seeks for a committee of investigation. My right hon. Friend who spoke last said something with which we all sympathise about the possibility of a General Election. Whether there be one or not rests entirely with the Government. If the Government are afraid of an investigation, or if they prefer to ride off on this issue, and discuss at length in the calm temperature of this House the advantages of the Russian Treaty, that is their business. But for ourselves, our course is clear, and we give our support to the Amendment.
I must point out that there is a Motion before the House "That the Debate be now ad- 10.0 P.M. journed." It is necessary to dispose of that Motion before we proceed with the discussion.
I proposed that Motion as I thought it in the interests of the House generally, but as I have received no support, I beg leave to withdraw.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), in moving the Motion which has been debated, stated quite clearly the issue which we asked the House of Commons to determine, but in view of some of the speeches which have been made since, I think it only right to the house and fair to the learned Attorney-General that. I should re-formulate the charge which we make and into which an investigation is now sought. The charge is not a charge aganst the Attorney-General of making an administrative blunder in the course of the discharge of his duties. That is not the complaint which we bring before the House of Commons. The charge which we make, and which we understand those below the Gangway think should be investigated, is a charge that the Government of this country used their political influence in party interests, in order to interfere with the even administration of justice in this country. That charge is not made for the first time by us. It is a charge which, as my right hon. Friend reminded the House, made in terms, and in boastful terms, nearly two months ago by the editor of the very paper whose prosecution is being discussed. [An HON. MEMBER.: "That is not evidence!"] I hear someone opposite say that that is not evidence, and I agree. That is perhaps a reason why investigation rather than condemnation should Follow, but I want it to be clearly understood that this charge which we seek to have investigated, and which the Government refuse to have investigated, is a charge which has been made broadcast in the public Press of this country for many weeks past, and a charge which they have been unable to meet until they attempted to meet it to-day in a way which I hope I shall satisfy the House was eminently unsatisfactory.
The Attorney-General in a long and full statement of his connection with this prosecution—a statement made with all the ability of a very skilled advocate and with great detail—developed exactly what had happened from the 25th July when the article was published, down to the date in September when the action of the Government was challenged in this House, and he fortified his account with a full
statement from a number of public officials, including Sir Guy Stephenson and Sir Archibald Bodkin, as to the part which they played in the prosecution. But the relevant period for this House to investigate is not a period of two months, and the relevant persons from whom we desire information are not the public officials who acted in the matter. The relevant period is a period of just over one hour on the 6th August, 1924, and the relevant information is not the information of public officials who loyally discharged the duties they were called upon to perform but is information from Members of the Government and Members of this House who were concerned in the doings of that hour. On the 6th August, at four o'clock, the Attorney-General told the House of Commons that in his opinion the article in the "Workers' Weekly" constituted a breach of the law—and I do not think anybody who read it could doubt the correctness of that legal opinion—and he went on to say: "The editor has accepted responsibility and has been arrested." At five o'clock on the 6th August, as we know now, the Attorney-General had decided that the prosecution should be withdrawn. What had induced him to make that sudden alteration of opinion? The 30th September was the first opportunity which we had of asking that question. At that time, as the House will remember, we were all under the impression that the prosecution had not been withdrawn on the 6th August, but on the 13th August, a week later, and the Attorney-General on that date informed the House that, having become uneasy as to the exact position of Campbell, he caused the fullest inquiries to be made as to the extent of his responsibility. These are the words, and I should like the House to have them in mind:
I therefore caused the fullest inquiries to be made both as to the extent of his responsibility and also as to his character antecedents… As a result of these inquiries the following facts were brought to my notice by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
First, that Campbell was not in the regular employment of the newspaper, but had been merely engaged for a short time; secondly, that his responsibility appeared to be very limited; thirdly, that what he had published had not been written or composed by him, and had merely been a cutting from some other
publication; fourthly, that he was not a member of the Political Bureau, and was pot in any way responsible for the policy of the paper; and, finally, that his military record was a good one. We know now that, although he was only temporarily editor of the "Workers' Weekly," he had long been editor of the sister publication carrying on in the same interest, known as the "Worker" We know now that this publication, so far from being a cutting from a newspaper, was, in fact, composed by Campbell's express direction for this paper, and was noted in his own handwriting in the copy which was found by the police. We know now that, so far from his not being responsible for the control of the paper, he was actually a member of the Political Bureau, which controls its policy, and that he had been made such a member by direct instructions of the Communist central body at Moscow. We know now that, although his military record was excellent, his political record was vile. He was a member of the Central Executive of the Communist party of this country. He had been, and I think still was, General Secretary of the lied International of Labour Unions, and he was by direct orders of Moscow put in a leading position on the political bureau of the Communists here.
Those facts, I assume, were not known to the Attorney-General when he made up his mind that this prosecution should be withdrawn. But if the fullest inquiry, which he assured the House he had made, had taken the form of proper inquiries instead of a. conversation with some political sympathisers of Mr. Campbell on his own back benches, he would have ascertained those facts. They throw a very different light upon Mr. Campbell's antecedents and character. It does not quite stop there, because although these were the reasons which were given to the House of Commons the House will remember that counsel for the prosecution, on the 13th August, gave quite different reasons to the Magistrate why the prosecution was being withdrawn. I still cannot help regretting that the Attorney-General last week, when he was asked about this matter, gave an answer, which my right hon. Friend in moving this Motion read, and which I think undoubtedly conveyed to every Member of the House who heard it, that the Attorney was entirely ignorant of what Mr. Travers Humphreys had said or intended to say to the Magistrate and that he had only found out the morning before he gave his answer on Tuesday last. Whereas the truth is that we know now from Mr. Travers Humphreys' statement that Mr. Travers Humphreys, when he was given the grounds which the Attorney-General put forward as being grounds for the withdrawal of the prosecution, was so concerned at, their inadequacy and at the impossibility of putting them seriously before the magistrate, that he went and hunted up the Attorney-General at his own club and went through those grounds one by one with the Attorney-General, and with the Attorney-General's own assent struck out the whole of them execpt the reference to the war record. We know further that the statement which Mr. Travers Humphreys made on the following day to the magistrate was a statement which he had made after a discussion with the Attorney-General, and was, as he himself said, a statement which he understood from the Attorney-General, the latter desired should be made to the Court.
I cannot help regretting that those facts were not stated to the House of Commons when the question was raised last week However, what was the explanation that Mr. Travers Humphreys made? The explanation he gave was not the "irresponsible temporary editor" which obviously would not wash, the explanation he gave was "representations which had been made," which as he himself explains referred to the statements which were made in the House of Commons on the 6th August. What were those statements? They were statements first of all by the hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division (Mr. Maxton), that the point of view advocated in the article was shared by a large number of those sitting on those benches, and made by the hon. Member for the Gorbals Division (Mr. Buchanan) that the article expressed largely the views and findings of Labour Party Conferences, and also the views of some of the men who are at present sitting on the Front Bench. There was the statement made, I think, by the hon. Member for North Lanark (Mr. Dickson) that if this prosecution and such prosecutions went on, the Govern- ment would probably lose half their party. If those were the grounds on which the Attorney-General directed the prosecution to be dropped, does anybody in this House say that those were proper grounds? But it does not rest entirely, or indeed mainly, with the Attorney-General, although he has most loyally and most chivalrously, as I should have expected, sought to take the blame on his own shoulders. We know now that, after those points had been raised and those threats uttered in this House by Members on the opposite benches, at five o'clock there was a meeting in the Prime Minister's room, and I noticed, the Prime Minister will allow me to remind him, that he never told us, although he was specifically asked, how it was that the Attorney-General rang up the Director, not to come and see him in his room, but to come and meet him in the Prime Minister's room
I do not know. I did not ring up, but my information was that the Assistant Director was in the Attorney's room, and came to my room.
The Prime Minister, I am sure, knows that I am not doubting the good faith of any statement he makes, but will he allow me to remind him that it does not quite fit in with what the Attorney has told us and what Sir Guy Stephenson's written statement said, which is that Sir Guy was rung up, from the Attorney-General's room, at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and instructed to come and meet him at the Prime minister room. So that for some reason—and I can only guess what the reason was—because the Prime Minister had so directed, the Attorney-General instructs the Assistant Director to come urgently down to the Prime Minister's room at the House of Commons, arid to meet him there, and to meet him, obviously, about this prosecution. What happens when they get there I think, when the House remembers what we have been told, it will see whether there is not a case for inquiry. The Prime Minister comes in a moment or two after the Attorney, and, on his entering the room, the Prime Minister says that the Home Secretary had told him that he never authorised the prosecution.
It is a remarkable fact that we have never heard from anybody yet how it was that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister, after sending for the Attorney, had been in consultation as to who authorised this prosecution. We have had no statement from the Home Secretary. We understood he had come back from Geneva especially about this matter, but we have not heard him this evening, and we do not know who approached him or what pressure was put upon him. We do not know what passed between him and the Prime Minister; we only know that the Prime Minister comes into the room protesting that the Home Secretary had never authorised the prosecution, and demanding to know how it came to be instituted. We know, further, that the Prime Minister expressed the view that the prosecution would do more harm than good, and that after that statement from the Prime Minister the next thing that happens is that the Attorney-General says: "I have come to the conclusion that the prosecution ought to be withdrawn." Is it unfair for us on these benches to say that that raises a case for inquiry? Is it unfair for us to say, at least, that when we find Counsel, on the instructions of the Attorney-General, treating what happened in the House of Commons as the explanation of the withdrawal of the prosecution, when we find that what did happen in the House of Commons was a series of threats of loss of votes if the Labour party carried out the prosecution, and if we find that before the Attorney-General arrives at any conclusion, or states any conclusion as to the withdrawal of the prosecution, he is first told by the Prime Minister he ought not to have instituted it, is it to be wondered at if we on this side of the House say that the interests of justice demand that we should have a clear finding after a seaching investigation as to what it really was that caused this prosecution to be withdrawn?
I know my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies naturally wants a reasonable opportunity for answering, and I do not want to take up too much time, but I have been dealing with matters all of which are matters of record, and come from admissions from the Government themselves, and I say on those admitted facts there is an ample case at least for an inquiry into the motives and the circumstances which underlay the withdrawal of this prosecution. It is not a question of whether or not it was wise in the first instance to institute a prosecution of Communists. 1 probably should find myself not entirely in agreement with some of the views expressed on opposite benches as to that. But when the prosecution has been instituted, when it has been brought before the Courts of this country, when there is a competent magistrate whose duty it is to decide whether there is a proper case to go before a jury, then for the Government to intervene with the Attorney-General, and the Attorney-General, after that intervention and after these threats from his own side, suddenly to come to the conclusion that that prosecution is to be withdrawn from the purview of the magistrate, that is, I say, a matter which urgently demands an inquiry, and an impartial inquiry, at the earliest possible moment
It has been said by the Prime Minister that it is the right of the Executive to advise the Attorney-General upon matters of policy. I am not quite sure that I should entirely accept the position as set out by the Prime Minister. When I was Attorney-General, at any rate, when once a prosecution was instituted, 1 never took advice or counsel, or brooked interference from any Minister or anybody else in the question whether it should be withdrawn. That was a matter which, rightly or wrongly, I regarded as my duty, and a duty which I ought to exercise judicially and uninfluenced by any outside person. But be that as it may, our complaint here is not merely that the Government interfered, but that the reason why the Government interfered was manifestly, when one reads what happened on the 6th August, the pressure brought to bear upon them by their own back benches. Speaking for myself quite frankly, in my own opinion, the facts which I have outlined seem to me to make such a case as would have justified a direct Vote of Censure. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why are you ratting then?"]The one thing I am anxious about is that this conduct shall not go uninvestigated and unchallenged. If I find, as I do find in this House of Commons, a considerable body of opinion, which, while disturbed in its mind over what has happened, is not satisfied that the case is proved, I am quite content that the question should be fully and exhaustively investigated by a body which can ascertain the facts. Then he says if there is any better defence than that which has been put up so far, by all means let it be produced. But the one thing I am concerned about is, if I were to press for the Vote of Censure to the exclusion of any other means of redress it might involve that the Government would get off without either inquiry or censure. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] The jubilant shouts from the Socialist Benches are the best proof that we have correctly divined their tactics, and the vote which my friends and I are going to give in half-an-hour's time will be the best answer to the tactics that can be given.
I hope that this, as the Attorney-General quite rightly said, is not to be treated merely as an attack on a Minister or merely as a party move. I seriously do say to the House of Commons that, in my judgment at least, the facts which I have outlined do constitute a grave case at least for inquiry, as to whether or not the Government have departed from what to my mind is the most essential bulwark of our liberty, that is, the freedom of the judiciary from any executive interference. It is a thing which we fought for hundreds of years to obtain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I do not mean by one particular party; it is the common birthright of all of us who are Englishmen, all of us who are Britons. Anything that tends to undermine that bulwark of liberty, anything which tends to shake the confidence of the public in the independence of the judiciary, is a thing which ought to he unsparingly condemned and unhesitatingly exposed.
On the last occasion when my right hon. and learned Friend and myself were engaged in consultation and debate upon the question of Communism, he gave me some advice that I am going to follow to-night. Communists have never expressed a keen love for myself; that is why I am defending them to-night. They had gone to the length of taking steps that would have done what my right hon. and learned Friend has just said. They had gone to the length of bringing about, not by a sham fight, but by steps that only I and those in my position could stop—a revolution! I took the risk of trying to give expression in a practical way to the aims of the party that sits here to-night. I engaged my right hon. and learned Friend to go to the Law Courts, and defend me. We knew then, as he knew, the tactics that they would employ would be to throw as much mud as possible in the hope that it would stick—some of it. He said to me, "Now, Mr. Thomas, you will have against you a very brilliant counsel, and counsel are very clever people." He said, "They can make black look white, but do not you be drawn by them, and ignore all that they say, because there is very little in it." The advice was worth the price I paid for it, and I have been remembering it for the last half hour. I am going to do precisely the same, and I am going to ignore the very brilliant legal effort which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just made. I am going to ignore it, because if, after 25 years' work in the trade union movement in this country, I am to he defeated because I am a Communist, I will let the responsibility and the consequences rest with the lawyers.
But we have had another exposition of the real meaning of the. Leader of the Opposition in an explanation in a short innocent four minutes. I hope it has been duly noted by try hon. Friends below the Gangway. What is the real explanation of this change of front? Let us examine it for a moment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain) said two nights ago, "I cannot trust the Liberal party." Since when they have had consultation, and they have come to the conclusion that they may run away and in order to stop it they have now changed their tactics. I ask the House to observe this party manœuvre. Look at what they have been doing for the last month throughout the country, saying, "Our ease requires an investigation, and no half measures will answer. We know our case, we are prepared to come to the House of Commons and declare our case, and move a Vote of Censure." They come here, move their Vote of Censure, and now they have run away from it. You may deceive yourselves here, but you will not deceive the country. I want to ask what is the real crime we are said to have committed? The Vote of Censure was moved deliberately, and the Mover said that, not only in his opinion but on the evidence at his disposal, it was clear that we had interfered with the course of justice for political and party reasons. That was what the Mover said. Why then does he want an investigation to prove it? Then he proceeded to say that he was satisfied that this was all brought about because of the pressure of what is called our "Back-benchers."
I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and all his friends who were in the House some years ago to picture the same proceeding to-day as happened then. I was sitting there, and watching my right hon. Friend on his defence in this House. I pictured it this afternoon, and I said to myself, whatever he our party views, and our party titles, was there ever a statement made that impressed people more, at least people honestly desiring to be impressed, that here was an honest man trying to tell the truth? [An HON. MEMBER: "Rubbish!"] I am sorry for the individual who said "rubbish." There was a. man whose professional career was at stake, who had been maligned and abused for the last month, and he frankly comes to the. House of Commons, not only tells his own tale, but produces all the documents, and goes beyond that and says, "If there is anything else you want, ask for it and I will give it." That was the Attorney-General's statement. [An HON.MEMBER: "A lawyer!"] I see. That is your answer to the last speech. Then he was followed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister told everything that took place. I repeat it, because I am involved in it, and I am as jealous of my honour as any other Member of the House. I was present at the Cabinet, at the discussion, and I challenge contradiction of the statement I am now going to make. First, it is no secret that, so far as my views are concerned, the Communists would get no quarter from me. But I go beyond that, and say that, so far from political interference of any sort or kind being concerned, there was net a member of the Cabinet who attempted in any way to interfere with the Attorney-General in this case.
I rather gather that the ground has been changed, because now the charge is that, so far as the Cabinet itself is concerned, so far as the Prime Minister is concerned,—and the last speaker made it perfectly Clear—he said he would brook no interference from any Minister, and it was applauded on that bench. How many on the Front Opposition Bench and on the Front Liberal Bench dare repeat it? We are going to the country, and we may as well get some facts right now. I deliberately charge in the House any Cabinet Minister who has been a Minister during the last 10 years to dare contradict the fact that on political prosecutions of the "Times," the "Morning Post," the "Evening News" and the munition workers, not only was the Attorney-General consulted, but in some cases he not only consulted the Government but the Government stopped him going on. Have an investigation into it, to prove it. You wore talking about investigations. Have one to prove it. It is these people who have been going all over the country saying: "Here is this Labour Government actually interfering with the course of justice." They not only know it is humbug. But the real explanation is to be found, not in the legal arguments of Lord Birkenhead's letter this morning, but in the tail of his letter. After dealing with the legal arguments he added, "I hope the moral of this will not be lost and we foolish Liberals and Tories will not be voting against each other." Does no one on these benches know anything about it? How do my Friends on those, benches view the prospect of that kindly invitation, which was not without responsible backing?
We are not complaining, but do not be such hypocrites as to pretend that it is for something else. That is the only complaint. I ask the late Attorney-General's attention to this, because he did not happen to be in the House. Certain Members will remember that when this question first reached a serious stage—it is not within the last few months but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) will remember it; he was Prime Minister—he was standing here defending himself on the famous Curragh incident when the late, Mr. Bonar Law got up, and made the astounding statement that in his judgment the officers in the Curragh were justified in following the dictates of their own conscience rather than obeying the law.
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) may be correct in many things, but I have refreshed my memory within the last few hours. Mr. Bonar Law not only defended the officers in the Curragh, but he said they were justified under the circumstances. Law and order were in my mind then. I pictured an industrial dispute, and the fact of private soldiers following the same advice. I jumped up and asked, "Does that apply to privates as well?" The OFFICIAL REPORT will show that he said "Yes." Then I asked, "What is going to happen in the future?" That was in 1914. I was quite sound on law and order then. In 1916, when the right hon. Gentleman was Prime Minister and Mr. McKenna was Home Secretary, a poor old engine driver, 62 years of age, on a frosty morning, when his signal was stuck, ran by it on his way to Carlisle and 14 people were killed. He was immediately arrested. He had an unblemished record for 40 years. The trial took place and he was sentenced. Every railway man felt that it was a cruel and monstrous sentence. They passed a resolution and said, "We will stop work at 12 o'clock to-morrow night unless he is released." [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the relevancy?"] I will tell the hon. Member the relevancy. I had to convey the desire to my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, and to Mr. McKenna, but I said to my people: "Before I go and ask for his release, you have to withdraw that resolution, because no Government can capitulate-to force." These are the people who are now handing over law and order in this country to the rebels. [Interruption.] Since when have these people become the champions and guardians of law and order?
We believe that this Motion, as has been proved by the Debate to-day, is a mean and contemptible party manœuvre. I should regret if I were driven into the hands of the Communists. You will pay a heavy price if you drive the constitutional trade union movement of this country into the hands of the rebels. It will not be snap party Divisions that you will gain. It will not be merely the emoluments of office that will be your reward. You will pay dearly and suffer dearly for it. I ask you carefully to refrain before you allow yourselves merely to play the party game, as you are doing to-day. You ask us, why can we not accept a Vote of Censure? That is what it means. I will tell you why. Because, first of all, you said to us, "We are going to take the straightforward course, and turn you out." We said, "Right. Be honourable, and do that." You have now said, "No, we cannot trust the other fellows, and, therefore, we are not going to lose a chance."
My hon. Friends below the Gangway on this side say, "Why not have a Committee of Inquiry?" I reply that the Prime Minister is engaged at this moment in delicate negotiations. I am engaged in negotiations in Iraq. I am not going to meet people and plead for this country, or defend this country, and allow it to be said to me, "You may be nominally representing the Government, but you have already not only had notice to quit, but you are suspect by the Members of your own House of Commons." We are suspect because the Attorney-General has told his case. His legal friends say, "It is a very good legal case but we do not believe you." The Prime Minister stated his case. You have said to him by your speeches, and you will show by your vote, "You may be a very decent fellow, but you are a stranger to the truth." You are not going to cover it up in fine phrases; that is what your vote will indicate.
Therefore, for these reasons, we refuse to accept the Motion before the House. We are fully alive to the consequences. When it is carried, the necessary steps will be taken to accept it as the verdict of this house—but only the verdict of this House. It will then be necessary to ask other people's verdict, and it will be necessary, in doing that, to tell them the facts. We shall say to them that, although we are fewer than 200 and have held office for eight months, you have been unable to show an administrative blunder yet. We shall he able to say to them that abroad, at least, our credit is as high as when we took office; and, above all, we shall be able to tell them that you have arrived at the conclusion that, if we stopped here till next April, things would be much worse for you. My light hon. Friend would be propounding proposals to which you would give lip service, but which you would hate in. your hearts. It would be a bad time then to move a Vote of Censure, and, in order to avert that, you have seized this opportunity. We await the verdict with absolute confidence. We shall be as happy as any other party. We congratulate you on your clever manœuvre, because you did not trust your friends below the Gangway. We congratulate them on having had an opportunity of judging what they think about you; and we congratulate ourselves on going into the Lobby in order to show that we refuse an inquiry to those who want it to escape a straight issue, and we equally refuse it to those who find it the most convenient way of escape.
As only two hon. Members who are not Privy Councillors have so far addressed the House, I claim the right of a, Member to take part in this debate if you, Mr. Speaker, call upon me. I wish first to refer to the modern idea which has run through this Debate, and through the Press controversies of the last month, that a private Member of Parliament on one side or the other has not the right to approach Ministers and to represent opinion which he considers should be represented in the interests of his constituents. I believe that I am right in saying that a Member of Parliament has the right of access to the Sovereign. In practice that means that he has the right of access to His Majesty's Ministers. This matter has not been challenged until now, and if we are going to accept the position that it is wrong for Members of Parliament to approach Ministers to represent what they consider are the interests of their constituents we may as well do away with Parliament altogether. There has been another occasion within the last few troubled weeks when the same charges were made against the Government that they had listened to private Members
I have been one of the private Members who have been mentioned in that connection I do not shirk the charge. As long as I am a private Member of this House I claim the right to approach the Minister, and if the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) had not approached the Government in this matter I would have done so. The Attorney-General made, I thought, an excellent case except in one respect. He asked at the end of his defence, "What am I accused of?" I will tell him. His error was the initiation of the prosecution at all. It should not have been started. It should not have been approved. Furthermore, I thought that he made that worse by his reference to this man John Ross Campbell as "this Communist." The Attorney-General was not challenged as 1 should have wished on this point from below the Gangway. The fact that a man holds Communist opinions does not make him en outcast. If I were the only Liberal in Parliament I would not allow that doctrine to go undisputed. That is the accusation that fairly lies against the Attorney-General, but it is not a sufficiently grave matter—
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question he now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
|Division No. 200.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Buchanan, G.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Banton, G.||Buckle, J.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Barnes, A.||Cape, Thomas|
|Alden, Percy||Batey, Joseph||Charleton, H. C.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Clarke, A.|
|Alstead, R.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles w.||Climie, R.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Broad, F. A.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Bromfield, William||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Compton, Joseph|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Crittall, V. G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Scurr, John|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, T. I. Mardy(Pontypridd)||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Davies, G.M. Lloyd (Welsh Univ.)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Sexton, James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kennedy, T.||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com, Hon. Joseph M.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Dickson, T.||Kirkwood, D.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Dukes, C.||Lansbury, George||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Duncan, C.||Law, A.||Smillie, Robert|
|Dunnico, H.||Lawrence, Susan(East Ham, North)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lawson, John James||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Leach, W.||Smith, W.R. (Norwich)|
|Egan, W. H||Lee, F.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lindley, F. W.||Spence, H.|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Lowth, T.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Lunn, William||Stamford, T. w.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Gillett, George M.||McEntee, V. L.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Gosling, Harry||Mackinder, W.||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Sullivan, J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maden, H.||Sutton, J.E.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||March, S.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Darby)|
|Greenall, T.||Marley, James||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Thurtie, E.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Groves, T.||Middleton, G.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Grundy, T. W.||Mills. J. E.||Toole, J.|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Montague, Frederick||Tout, W. J.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Morel, E. D.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R.,Normanton)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Turner, Ben|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Harbison, Thomas James S.||Mosley, Oswald||Varley, Frank B.|
|Hardle, George D.||Muir, John W.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Murray, Robert||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Naylor, T.E.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Nichol, Robert||Warne, G. H.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Nixon, H.||Watson, w. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hayes, John Henry||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda,|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||O'Grady, Captain James||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Oliver, George Harold||Westwood. Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||O'Neill, John Joseph||Weir, L. M.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Paling, W.||Westwood, J.|
|Hillary, A. E.||Palmer, E. T.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Perry, S. F.||Whiteley, W.|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Colonel J. P. (Preston)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wignall, James.|
|Hodges, Frank||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, David(Swansea, E.)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Potts, John S.||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B. (Kennington)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Purcell, A. A.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hudson, J. H.||Raynes, W. R.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Rendall, A.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Richards, R.||Windsor, Walter|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wright, W.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Ritson. J.||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Jewson, Dorothea||Roberts. Rt. Hon. F. O. (W.Bromwich)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Johnson, Sir L. (Warthamstow, E.)||Romeril, H.G.||Mr. Spoor and Mr. Parkinson.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Beckett, Sir Gervase||Buckingham. Sir H.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bullock, Captain M.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Burman, J B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Berry, Sir George||Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)|
|Apsley, Lord||Betterton, Henry B.||Butler, Sir Geoffrey|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Birkett, W. N.||Caine, Gordon Hall|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Black, J. W.||Cassels, J. D|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent,Dover)||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Blundell, F. N.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bonwick, A.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Bourne, Robert Croft||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn(Aston)|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood.||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Chamberlain, Rt Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Briant, Frank||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Chilcott, Sir Warden|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Brittain, Sir Harry||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Clayton, G. C|
|Becker, Harry||Brunner, Sir J.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Cohen, Major J, Brunel||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Norton-Griffiths, Sir John|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Hindle, F.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. C.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hobhouse, A. L.||Owen, Major G.|
|Cope, Major William||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Penny, Frederick George|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington,N.)||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hopklnson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hore-Bellsha, Major Leslie||Perring, William George|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hllihead)||Phillpson, Mabel|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland,Northrn)||Pielou, D. p.|
|Cunllffe, Joseph Herbert||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Pliditch, Sir Philip|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Pilkington, R. R.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Huntingfield, Lord||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Illffe, Sir Edward M.||Raffan, P. W.|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Raffety, F. w.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Raine, W.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||damage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Rankin, James S.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jephcott, A. R.||Rathbone, Hugh H.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Johnstons, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Rawlinson- Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Deans, Richard Storry||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Dickle, Captain J. P.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Dixey, A. C.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne)||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Dixon, Herbert||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Dodds, S. R.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Remer, J. R.|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Remnant, Sir James|
|Duckworth, John||Kedward, R. M.||Rentoul. G. S.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Keens. T.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lamb, J. Q.||Robertson, T. A.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lane-Fox, George R.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Laverack, F. J.||Robinson, Sir T, (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Elliot, Walter E.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Lessing, E.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Livingstone, A. M.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|England, Colonel A.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Phillp||Royle, C.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Rudkin, Lleut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Falconer, J.||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lorlmer, H. D.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Ferguson, H.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Savery, S. S.|
|Finney, V. H.||Lumley, L. R.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Llverp'l, Exchange)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Lyle, Sir Leonard||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Lynn Sir R. J.||Seely, Rt. Hn. Maj. Gen. J.E.B. (I. of W.)|
|Foot, Isaac||McCrae, Sir George||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Forestler-Walker, L.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Franklin, L. B.||MacDonald, R.||Simms, Dr, John M. (Co. Down)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Macfadyen, E.||Simon, E. D. (Manchester,Withington)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||McLean, Major A.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macnaghten. Hon. Sir Malcolm||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Gates, Percy||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unlv.,Belfst)|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Smith-Carlngton, Neville W.|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-ln-Furness)|
|George, Major B. L. (Pembroke)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Spero, Dr. G. E,|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Stanley, Lord|
|Glimour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Gorman, William||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Gould, James C. (Cardiff, Central)||Meller, R. J.||Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Meyler, Lleut.-Colonel H. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Greenwood. William (Stockport)||Millar, J. D.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Mitchell, R. M. (Perth & Kinross,Perth)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sunlight, J.|
|Guest, Capt. Hn. F. E. (Gloucstr., Stroud)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mond, H.||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Harland, A.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Morris, R. H.||Terrington, Lady|
|Harney, E. A.||Morrison. Bell. Major Sir A.C. (Honiton)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Morse, W. E.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Moulton, Major Fletcher||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Murrell, Frank||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Harvey, C. M. B (Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro.W.)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewtbury)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thomson,Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon,S.)|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Thornton, Maxwell. R.||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquees of||White, H. G (Birkenhead, E.)||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Turton, Edmund Russborough||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent,Sevenoaks)||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Vivian, H.||Willison, H.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Waddington, R.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Ward, Lt.-Col.A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Wilson, Colonel M. J. (Richmond)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —|
|Wells, S. R.||Wintringham, Margaret||Mr. Vivian Phillipps and Mr.|
|Weston, John Wakefield||Wise, Sir Fredric||Walter Rea|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
|Division No. 201.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Alnsworth, Captain Charles||Chapman, Sir S.||Gates, Percy|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen.Sir W. (Glas. C.)||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Clarry, Reginald George||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)|
|Amery, Rt. Hen. Leopold C. M. S.||Clayton, G. C.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Apsley, Lord||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Gorman, William|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gould, James C. (Cardiff, Central)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent,Dover)||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Astor, Viscountess||Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Cope, Major William||Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cory, Sir Clifford||Guest, Capt. Hn.F.E. (Gloucstr.,Stroud)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Costello, L. W. J.||Hall, Lieut-Colonel Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Harbord, Arthur|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Harland, A.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Harney, E. A.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Harris, John (Hackney, North)|
|Becker, Harry||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Harvey, C. M. B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leigh)||Darbishire, C. W.||Hennessy, Major J. R G|
|Berry, Sir George||Davies, David (Montgomery)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)|
|Birchall, Major J Dearman||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)||Hill-Wood. Major Sir Samuel|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hindie, F.|
|Birkett, W. N.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hoare, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Black, J. W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hobhouse, A. L.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hogbin, Henry Cairns|
|Blundell, F. N.||Deans, Richard Storry||Hogg, Rt. Hon Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Blunwick, A.||Dickie, Captain J. P.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Dixcy, A. C.||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vanslttart||Dixon, Herbert||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Dodds, S. R.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Duckworth, John||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Briant, Frank||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Howard, Hn. D (Cumberland,Northrn.)|
|Bridgman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Dunn, J. Freeman||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Eden, Captain Anthony||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Briltain, Sir Harry||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Ednam, Viscount||Huntingfield. Lord|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Edwards, John H. (Accrlngton)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Elliot, Walter E.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Elveden, Viscount||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Emlyn-jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||James, Lieut-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Burman, J. B.||England, Colonel A.||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M||Johnson, Sir L. (Waltbamstow, E.)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Falconer, J.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool,W.Derby)|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Ferguson, H.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Finney, V. H.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Kay, Sir R. Newbald|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Foot, Isaac||Kedward, R. M.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Keens, T.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Franklin, L. B.||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Frece, Sir Walter de||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Owen, Major G.||Stewart, Maj. R. S.(Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Lane-Fox, George R.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Laverack, F. J.||Pease, William Edwin||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Pennefather, Sir John||Sturrock, J. Long|
|Lessing, E.||Penny, Frederick George||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sunlight, J.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Perring, William George||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Philipson, Mabel||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Pietou, D. P.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Lord, Walter Greaves||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Terrell, Captain R (Oxford, Henley)|
|Lorimer, H. D.||Pilkington, R. R.||Terrington, Lady|
|Loverseed, J. F.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Pringie, w. M. R.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Raffan, P. W.||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Lyle, Sir Leonard||Raffety, F. W.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdean, South)|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Raine, W||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|McCrae, Sir George||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Rankin, James S.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|MacDonald, R.||Rathbone, Hugh R.||Thornton, Maxwell, R.|
|Macladyen, E.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk, Peel||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|McLean, Major A.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Vivian, H.|
|Micpharson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Remer, J. R.||Waddington, R,|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Remnant, Sir James||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Rentoul, G. S.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Macks, Sir George Croydon||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Robertson, T. A.||Wells, S. R.|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Meller, R. J.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lane., Stretford)||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)||Williams, A. (York, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Millar, J. D.||Ropner, Major L.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Williams, Maj. A. S.(Kent, Sovenoaks)|
|Mitchell R. M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Royle, C.||Willison, H.|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wilson, Colonel M. J. (Richmond)|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Mond, H||Savery, S. S.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Morris, R. H.||Seely, Rt.Hn.Maj.-Gen. J.E.B.(I. of W.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Morse, W. E.||Shepperson, E. W.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Moulton, Major Fletcher||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Murrell, Frank||Simon, E. D.(Manchester, Withington)||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Simpson, J. Hope||Wragg, Herbert|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-In-Furness)|
|Nield, Rt. Hon Sir Herbert||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Norton-Griffiths, Sir John||Stanley, Lord||Mr. Vivian Phillips and Mr. Walter Rea.|
|Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Clarke, A.||Gosling, Harry|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Climie, R.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Cluse, W. S.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Alstead, R.||Compton, Joseph||Greenall, T.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Cove, W. G.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Crittall, V. G.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Groves, T.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Davies, G. M. Lloyd (Welsh Univ.)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Banton, G.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillary)||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)|
|Barnes, A.||Dickson, T.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Batey, Joseph||Dukes, C.||Harbison, Thomas James S.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Duncan, C.||Hardie, George D.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W,||Dunnico, H.||Harris, Percy A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Bromfield, William||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Hastings, Sir Patrick|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Egan, W. H.||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Buckle, J.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Hayes, John Henry|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Cape, Thomas||Gibbins, Joseph||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Gillett, George M.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Morel, E. D.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Hillary, A. E.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Colonel J. P. (Preston)||Mosley, Oswald||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hodges, Frank||Muir, John W.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Murray, Robert||Sullivan, J|
|Hogge, James Myles||Naylor, T. E.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hudson, J. H.||Nichol, Robert||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Nixon, H.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Isaacs, G. A.||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Thurtle, E.|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||O'Grady, Captain James||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Oliver, George Harold||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Jewson, Dorothea||O'Neill, John Joseph||Toole, J.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Paling, W.||Tout, W. J|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Palmer, E. T.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Turner, Ben|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Perry, S. F.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Viant, S. P.|
|Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Potts, John S.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Kennedy, T.||Purcell, A. A.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Raynes, W. R.||Warne, G. H.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Rendall, A.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Lansbury, George||Richards, R.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Law, A.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Ritson, J.||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Joslah C|
|Lawson, John James||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Weir, L. M.|
|Leach, W.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Westwood, J.|
|Lee, F.||Romeril, H. G.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Lindley, F. W.||Rose, Frank H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Lowth, T.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Wignall, James|
|Lunn, William||Scrymgeour, E.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Scurr, John||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B. (Kennington)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Sexton, James||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Mackinder, W.||Sherwood, George Henry||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Shinwell, Emanuel||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Maden, H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Windsor, Walter|
|March, S.||Sitch, Charles H.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Marley, James||Smillie, Robert||Wright, W.|
|Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Maxton, James||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Middleton, G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mills, J. E.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Mr. Spoor and Mr. Frederick Hall.|
|Montague, Frederick||Spence, R.|
Question put, and agreed to.
In view of what has happened, I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."