I understand that the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) is to speak following me, and I know that Members on both sides of the House will desire to hear him. I propose, therefore, to be as brief as I possibly can. At the same time, I would ask the courtesy of both sides of the House to enable me to deal with that part of the present Bill which affects the interests which I am charged to protect, that is to say, the position of the Civil Service unions, and I will confine my remarks to that subject. The effect of Section 5 of the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927, which the present Bill seeks to repeal, was twofold. First, its effect was to confine civil servants to membership of unions that were limited to servants of the Crown; secondly, its effect was to prevent those unions from affiliating with outside industrial and political bodies, which meant especially the Labour party. Upon the first of those two provisions I need not dwell, because the exclusiveness of civil servants prevents them from coming into general unions. With regard to the second provision, three arguments have been used in favour of Clause 5, and against thee repeal of that Section. The arguments are, first, that Clause 5 is necessary to prevent the spoils system creeping into the Civil Service; secondly, that it is necessary to prevent the Civil Service from becoming political; and, thirdly, that it is necessary to save civil servants from being subjected to a divided loyalty.
I propose to show that the first two of those arguments are beside the point, and that the third is impossible. The spoils system may be defined as a system under which appointments or promotions in the public service are in the gift of political parties. We have not got the spoils system in this country, and I hope as devoutly as any man in this House that we never shall have it. But the question we have to ask ourselves is, Is there any connection whatever between the spoils system and affiliation of Civil Service unions and outside bodies? For 50 years in this country prior to 1927, Civil Service unions were free to affiliate with outside bodies, but that fact did not result in the spoils system in this country. If we turn to other countries, and look at their experience, we find that the three countries in which the spoils system is most pronounced are countries in which the rights of affiliation between Civil Service bodies and outside bodies is denied—the United States, Italy and Spain; but in no fewer than a dozen countries in Europe where affiliation is permitted between Civil Service unions and outside bodies, there is no spoils system in existence. Those countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Holland—
Provided that the hon. Member is in order, I really cannot stop him. If I were to stop every hon. Member who repeated himself, my task would be a difficult one.
I hope that the House will be indulgent with me. I am really beginning at the point left off last night, and if I have repeated the names of those countries, it is really in order to present the argument for the Civil Service case. The truth is that the existence or nonexistence of a spoils system has no connection with affiliation to outside bodies or the denial of affiliation, and the spoils system springs, not from that, but from the absence of a permanent and pensionable Civil Service appointed by an independent body. In this country appointments are made by independent Civil Service Commissioners. Persons appointed are appointed for life, and where you get permanence and pensionability, you cannot have the spoils system creep- ing in. I hope, therefore, the House will dismiss that argument as irrelevant to the question we are discussing.
The second argument is that Section 5 is necessary to prevent the Civil Service from becoming political. On this, I would like to say that there is great confusion in this House on the subject of civil servants in politics, and I think that before the House addresses itself to the question of the repeal of Section 5, it must distinguish between two totally different things. The first is what are known as the civil rights regulations existing in the Service, which prescribe limits upon the individual freedom of civil servants, and Section 5, which deals not with the individual political activities of civil servants but with their collective activities through their trade unions. Regulations vary from Department to Department, but the general sense is the same. They impose limits upon the freedom of the individual civil servant in politics. As regards the justification for those regulations, my own position may be stated very shortly. There are some civil servants who stand in the relation of advisers to Ministers, and who cannot, in the nature of things, exercise full civil rights. It might be disastrous, for example, if the Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty were free to say publicly what he thought of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping as a naval strategist. It might also be very awkward if the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury were free to express his private view about the debt settlement with America. Where you are dealing with highly placed civil servants, obviously there must be limits to their political freedom. But such limits do not apply to the humble postman or the ordinary clerk.
But the thing I would like to stress is that Section 5 does not touch that issue at all. What Section 5 touches is the collective political activity of civil servants through their trade unions. Civil servants' unions must always be to a certain extent political. In the last resort civil servans are the servants of this House, and as our servants they have a right to come to us in regard to their grievances; and, clearly, whenever a Civil Service union comes to this House it is taking political action; but would anybody suggest on that account that the civil servants were wrong in coming to us? I do not think they would. Section 5, which we seek to repeal, deals only with one political activity on the part of Civil Service unions, and the one political activity is their freedom to associate with outside industrial and political bodies.
That brings me to the third argument, the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, which is that if Civil Service unions are allowed to affiliate to outside bodies their members are subjected to a divided loyalty. The argument appears to be something like this: The Trade Union Congress may declare another general strike; if it does, and Civil Service unions are affiliated to it, there is a danger that the civil servant may be involved in that strike, and in any case he will be subjected to the claims of a divided loyalty. I wish to look into that argument, in order to show how unsound it is. In the first place, whatever may be said about the Trade Union Congress, the Labour party have no power to call a strike of any kind. If that is the argument, clearly there is no need to tell us we must not be affiliated to the Labour party. Does the right hon. Gentleman who will speak after me admit that we ought, therefore, to be free to affiliate to the Labour party? If he does not, then his argument goes by the board; and if he does, then clearly affiliation to the Labour party ought to be removed from the scope of his objections to this Bill. But just as the Labour party have no power to call a general strike—or any strike, for that matter—so the Trade Union Congress have no such power. In 1926 it was necessary for the executive committees of the affiliated unions to pass a special resolution to give the Congress its power on that occasion. Still further than that, whether the executives of the affiliated unions ever desired to pass such a resolution again or not, since 1926 we have passed a law to make a general strike illegal, and we have heard from the Attorney-General that this Bill does not make a general strike legal. [HON. MEMERS: "Oh!"] I imagine that some of my hon. Friends opposite must be confusing the Attorney-General with somebody else, and in view of the contradictions the lawyers have displayed amongst themselves I am not surprised.
The argument thus becomes this: That the Opposition propose to deny to my union the right to be affiliated to the Trade Union Congress, because if it were affiliated it might be involved in a general strike, which we have passed a law to prevent. That reduces the argument to sheer absurdity.
If those three arguments be dismissed, we are then left with the merits of the case. Nobody in this House will deny, nobody can deny, that civil servants have trade union interests to protect. We are not only civil servants, we are also wage earners, and in matters of wages, hours and conditions of service we have the same broad purposes to serve as our comrades outside in the industrial field. Not only have we a general common interest, we have a special and direct common interest, arising out of the regulations laid down by the very people who passed the Act we are seeking to repeal. It has been laid down by the Treasury that the wages and conditions of civil servants must not be out of scale with those existing in outside industries. I will give one or two quotations from documents to prove that. A year or two ago Post Office workers appealed to the Industrial Court—their arbitration board—for more money. The representative of the Postmaster-General, giving evidence on behalf of the Department, said this on behalf of the Government:
While it is the desire of the Government that the wages paid in the Post Office should be adequate, regard should be had to their due relation to those paid in outside industries for duties carrying equivalent responsibility.
The Industrial Court, in its award, said:
In their consideration of the claims and counter-claims the Court have taken the view that the broad principle which should be followed in determining the rates of wages of Post Office servants is that of the maintenance of a fair relativity as between their wages and those in outside industry as a whole.
Recently Sir Russell Scott, the Director of Establishments at the Treasury, gave evidence before the Royal Commission on the Civil Service set up under the present Government. In the course of that evidence, he said:
It would not be right to prescribe for civil servants rates of remuneration and other conditions of service which were out of scale with the standards normally obtain-
ing amongst good employers outside the public service.
If those quotations mean anything at all, they mean that the position of the civil servant in matters of wages and so on is largely governed by the level of conditions outside the Civil Service. It means that if we are to get any substantial improvements in our conditions there has to be a corresponding improvement outside. The argument goes even further. Within the last two months, Sir Warren Fisher, the permanent head of the Civil Service, made this statement to the Royal Commission:
If a general reduction in wages is adopted as the cure, or part of the cure, for our economic ills the Civil Service cannot claim exemption.
That means not only that we have to wait until other people go up before we go up, but that if they go down we have to go down too; and in these circumstances what right has any party in the House to deny to us the right of association with our fellows in outside industry for the purpose of improving our conditions?
I come to the argument of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to divided loyalties. I hear it suggested from time to time that the Civil Service should be reduced; I have heard it humorously suggested that the Civil Service ought to be abolished; but I have never before heard it suggested that the Civil Service ought to be assassinated; and before you can deliver any man from divided loyalties you have got to kill him first. We are all subject to divided loyalties. The right hon. Gentleman opposite himself is not exempt. If one pursues his career in politics one sees how at every stage he has been torn between divided loyalties, loyalty to his perception of truth on the one hand and the requirements of his party leadership on the other. It might be said of him, in the words of the old Roman, that throughout his political career his eyes have seen and approved the higher path but his feet have taken the lower. When we are told that we, as civil servants, are to be exempt from a divided loyalty I say, with great respect, that the right hon. Gentleman is talking absolute nonsense.
Finally, I would like to make one general observation to the Liberal party and one to the Conservative party. [Interruption.] They have addressed a good many to me in their time. I cannot help feeling that the whole approach of the House to the problem of this Bill is an approach which has little relation to reality. When I listened to the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) yesterday I thought it was one of the cleverest speeches I have ever heard. I thought it scored every point—and lost the Debate. It was a lawyer's argument from beginning to end, and one expects from a party like the Liberal party, when faced with this kind of issue, something more than a lawyer's argument. The Liberal party has in its day been associated again and again with causes which have postulated a higher loyalty than loyalty to the State.
Well, I am very glad to hear that, and I hope that the Liberal party will realise that there is a higher loyalty than loyalty to the State, both in respect of civil servants and of other people. With regard to the Tory party I wish to say this: The whole approach of the Tory party to this Bill, in its Civil Service clauses and its other clauses, is an approach of fear, and my own experience teaches me that fear and guilty consciences go together. There is really no need for them to fear, because whether a general strike ever comes again in this country or not, and whether civil servants participate in it or not—and I can conceive circumstances in which they would—will not depend upon the phraseology of this Bill. It is my conviction that tremendous changes have got to come in the social system of this country. They can come as the result of conscious ordered progress through politics—if hon. Members opposite permit it; but if the attitude of Toryism in this country prevents that, then it will come through other channels.
I hope hon. Members do not imagine that what I have just said, or what I am about to say, is a threat. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is it then?"] It is not intended to be a threat, but it is a statement of what I believe will inevitably happen in this country given certain conditions. Unless the attitude of Conservatism to this Bill, and to the social problems that lie behind it is an attitude other than one of fear then, without question, there will develop in this country extra constitutional movements directed to securing social justice through other than Parliamentary channels.
If there is one lesson which the Russian revolution teaches us it is, first of all, that we should not have repressive legislation of the kind which we are now seeking to repeal. In Russia many forms of agitation were illegal which are legal here. These things did not stop 1905, and they were followed by the events of 1917. Just as 1905 had its sequel in Russia so 1926 will have its sequel in this country if the attitude of the Conservative party towards these problems remains unchanged. In these matters history is on my side. [Interruption.] It does not matter whether you cheer me or not. I am aware that there are hon. Members on the Labour benches who do not share my views about what happened in 1926. I can only express my own view, and it is that, unless the attitude of the Conservative party is changed, nothing will stop the development of the extra constitutional methods which I have indicated. I hope the House will allow me to say, in my concluding sentence, that in my opinion the House, and especially the Conservative party, would be very much better occupied in directing its attention to the social evils of this country, from which subversive movements spring, than in attempting to resist the legitimate operations of trade union activities in this country, which we propose to promote by the Bill before the House.
The hon. Member for West Wolverhamption (Mr. W. J. Brown) always has about his speeches the merit of endeavouring to pursue a more or less connected argument, but that is the only compliment which I can bestow upon him this afternoon, because, in regard to the Measure which he is seeking to support, nothing could be more unfortunate than the speech which he has just delivered. In regard to the particular question with which the hon. Member was mainly concerned, namely, the participation of civil servants in general strikes, or their participation in party politics, we could not have had a better living example of what ought not to be the spirit of the Civil Service of any civilised country than the case which the hon. Member has so clearly and so fully laid before us to-day.
I propose this afternoon, if the House will permit me, to approach the discussion of this important question by taking one of those retrospects into the past which are often useful in judging and in facing the issues of the moment. [An HON. MEMBER: "1906!"] As time passes the relative values and proportion's of all things change, and, when trade unions were solely concerned with industrial matters and with the interests of their members, when they were faced with many powerful political and economic forces, they seemed to have great claims for special consideration and for the favour of Parliament. No page in the history of the Conservative party is more honourable than that on which Mr. Disraeli inscribed the Act of 1875. Then in later years a series of judicial decisions seemed to alter by judge-made law the purpose which Parliament had pursued, and there was a general feeling, not by any means confined to one side, that trade unions should still be helped and should be maintained in all that was necessary to enable them effectively to conduct strikes and collective bargaining, and to do this without their funds being endangered. I well remember those days, and I expected that I should have been reminded of them. I remember how we pored over cases like Lyons v. Wilkins, Quinn v. Leatham, the Mogul Shipping Company, and finally the Taff Vale case. In those days it seemed not only wise but chivalrous to secure for the then weaker side what may be said to be reasonable and effective facilities for presenting their special points of view even in the teeth of the most powerful opposition.
It is quite true that the legislative steps which were taken by pre-War Par- liaments introduced several extremely questionable and invidious principles into our law, and conferred upon British trade unionists privileges under the law which are unique. Those invidious features, vicious though they may be accused of being by purists and extreme logicians, were tolerated, because Parliament, in which organised Labour was scarcely represented at all, felt that the trade unions must have a fair chance and a square deal, and that errors, if any, within certain limits, might well be on the side of generosity. I think that is wise and right, because, in those days, trade union funds were the sole provision against unemployment. The vacancy books of the trade unions were the only apparatus for finding jobs for men out of work, and the trade unions also discharged the function of friendly and benefit societies in respect to sickness and other calamities which, apart from voluntary agencies, were at that time entirely neglected by the State.
That is quite true, but they are now on a national scale. Trade unionism in its day discharged all those functions. But the situation now is very different from the situation in 1926 and 1927 when the legislation which it is now proposed to repeal was passed. By legislation the whole scene was transformed and the State has largely relieved trade unions of a very large part of their responsibilities for unemployment and sickness benefit and has provided for these matters by national insurance. Trade unionism which before the War still seemed to be in a position of what we call the underdog, has grown into a vast and enormously powerful national organism on a scale and with a strength not equalled in the social structure of any large civilised country. Meanwhile, our industries began to flag under many heavy burdens, and our industrial supremacy which we relied upon with such overweening confidence has already passed away. I submit that these were rather important alterations in values and proportions, and Parliament in any case, whatever else had happened, would have been bound in time to have taken into consideration all those changes.
A far greater change than any of those has also taken place. The trade unions have become political organisations of the highest consequence, and they have formed the basis of a great new political party which has been erected upon them, which develops its own views on every aspect of public affairs, which formulates its own foreign and Imperial policy, and which embraces in its scope every subject of interest to the country. Finally, in devouring the Liberal party this new party founded upon trade unionism—[An HON. MEMBER: "You had the first bits!"]—in devouring the Liberal party this new party became the only foundation for alternative government. This bringing of trade unions directly into politics is one of the most remarkable evolutions we have seen in our social and domestic life in our own time. It is not for me to say that it is wholly bad. This is still a free country, and everyone is entitled to do what he chooses under our justly framed laws.
The introduction of trade unionism into the very centre of party politics has certainly produced a very great change in the relations between our Parliamentary institutions taken as a whole and trade unionism. So far as trade unionism is concerned, the results, I think, have been, very largely, unfortunate. So far as the State is concerned, it obviously requires a complete review of the position of trade unions and of the privileges—not the rights, but the privileges—accorded to them. Their privileged position under the law, which was accorded to them for the sake of the industrial functions which they discharged, obviously required to be re-examined in the light of their immense political activity. It was gravely injurious to the State and to the nation that party politics—not general politics, but party politics, and the special partisanship and prejudice which they necessarily entail—should be intermingled with industrial matters. It was had for politics, it was worse for industry. That was the change which had taken place, and of which we were bound to take notice.
Privileges in this country are always liable to be called in question—[Interruption.] Perhaps, if they are used with discretion, they may long be allowed to survive, but when privileges indulgently accorded to the weak are violently and overbearingly exploited by the strong—[Interruption]—and when those privileges come into collision, not only with the rights of the individual, but with the interests of the State—[Interruption]—then it becomes necessary that Parliament should recur to the rights, and not to the privileges, of individuals and make laws which define the relationship of one class to another. [Interruption.] I am not in the least perturbed by this uneasy clamour by which hon. Gentlemen opposite seek to conceal the fact that they are accorded privileges under the law—[Interruption]—which have no parallel in the Constitution of this or of scarcely any other country. By all means let them give their loud cheers, because they will have every need to derive what encouragement they can during the progress of this Debate.
All these matters were brought to a head by the General Strike of 1926. A trade dispute was in progress—[An HON. MEMBER: "Which you provoked!"]. I am going to follow out my argument, and, like the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton, to pursue the methods of connected argument. With regard to the General Strike, which arose out of a trade dispute in the coal industry, and was espoused by the whole trade union organisation throughout the land, a document was published, to which reference was made by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), under the authority of the Trade Union Congress, stating, in effect, that, unless the Government came to terms with the miners, a general strike would be declared in, I think, 48 hours. Every industry, every form of communication, nearly every public service and convenience, including the supply and distribution of food, was to be paralysed.
Enormous injury and suffering was threatened to the whole population. London was to be made to walk. The light was to be cut off. The docks, shipping, and even the newspapers, were to be laid under the ban of what was called the General Staff of Labour. Infected by a militarism which I cannot too greatly deplore, they explained in their document how the different waves of workers in the various industries were to be mobilised and flung in calculated succession, in well-considered sequence, against the fabric of the Government and the State. First, the larger and heavier unions were to come forward, and afterwards, when, as it were, everything was rocking and shaking, a whole host of complicated secondary trades were to be thrown in. All this was laid down with carefully calculated efficiency and fore-thought, and presented to the public as an ultimatum, as a challenge to the Government of the day, but also to much more than the Government of the day—to the Constitution of this country. Either the Government would be forced by this process to surrender or to give place to another Administration which could claim that it alone could supply the necessary services and food to the people and carry on the existence of the nation, or else the demands that were pressed forward on behalf of the miners would have to be conceded.
This extraordinary event was only the culmination of nearly 10 years of threats of a general strike, or a strike of a similar character, which had overhung the nation ever since the Great War. Of course, if such a challenge had been successful, it would have altered completely the constitutional Parliamentary system of this country. I admit, naturally, that many of the leaders of the trade unions, and also many of the leaders of the Parliamentary party, were deeply alarmed and distressed at the formidable and even disgraceful character of the enterprise on which they saw themselves embarked. They would gladly have accepted a modified surrender of the Government of the day which would have left them with the tremendous weapon of a general strike unused, intact, mysterious, hanging always over us as the supreme threat in the background. It was obvious, to me at any rate, and I make no secret of it, that from the moment when that document was issued there ought to be no further negotiations of any kind until it was unconditionally withdrawn. [Interruption.] I argued consistently in that sense. What followed is still so fresh in the memory of the House that I do not think I need hurt the feelings of hon. Gentlemen opposite by further dwelling upon it.
It was upon the morrow of this cataclysm that the Government of the day began to consider the necessary curtailment of trade union privileges— not rights—which bitter experience had shown to be imperative. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in moving the rejection of this Bill last week in a speech of characteristic moderation and sagacity, explained how careful he had been not to act in haste or resentment, and how he had waited for nearly a whole year so that opinion should cool down and the Measure presented to Parliament should bear no element or traces of the fierce contention through which all parties in this country had passed. It was not until 1927 that our Bill was introduced. The House is familiar with all its provisions, but they cannot be too often repeated in their simplicity. I hope they are going to be repeated on every platform in the country. We thought that a general strike such as that of 1926 should be proclaimed an illegal conspiracy. Intimidation, particularly in the home, was not only declared to be a departure from the existing law, but, as has been well said, was for general information declared to be specifically illegal; thirdly, it was declared that Conservative and Liberal trade unionists would not be compelled to pay for Socialist Cabinets in Parliament, and would be freed from the invidious position of having to contract out of the so-called political levy. Lastly, on the point which was dealt with by the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton in his speech, civil servants were enjoined to give undivided allegiance to the State. These important principles which were then proclaimed in that Measure carried with them at the time, and, I believe, carry with them to this moment, the overwhelming allegiance of the mass of the nation. [Interruption.] It is those principles that this Bill, which the Attorney-General has introduced, seeks to subvert.
No one can pretend—let me make this point clear at the outset of this passage in my remarks—no one can pretend that the Labour party have any grievance under the Constitution. On the contrary, they are the pampered pets, the spoiled darlings of the Constitution. The representatives of the most extreme opinions come into this Parliament with fewer votes behind them than any other class of Members who sit in this House. The Liberals might have a griev- ante, but the Labour party has no grievance under the Constitution. When they come into Parliament, they are treated with an indulgence and a consideration that no other party receives. They are enabled to form Governments one after another although they are in a minority. They are enabled to retain power in spite of mismanagement and incapacity — [Interruption] — which would have shattered half-a-dozen Administrations of the Liberal or the Conservative parties. What, I should like to know, would happen to a Conservative or Liberal Government if we had seen unemployment rise by 1,500,000 in a year—[Interruption]—while the Government of the day sat helpless without bringing forward one single illuminating or constructive idea?
So far from having a grievance, this new party, founded on the trade unions, have, under the Constitution of this country, been treated with exceptional indulgence and consideration. Do they bear their advantages with modesty? Listen to the Secretary of State for War, speaking in the debate last week. His attitude was an example, if I may say so, of very unseemly arrogance. [Interruption.]
he said, and I thoroughly agree with him here—
Our party has got beyond the point when it is to be patronised.
Then why are they claiming these privileges?
It has got to the point where it demands—not asks, but demands—the right to work through its organisation in the way it wishes.
Their wish is to be our law.
If you want to prevent revolution"—
language so suited to the position he occupies as the head of a great disciplined force—[Interruption.] That again is language which I do not think ought to be used on his behalf in this or in any other connection.
If you desire to have discontent, if you desire that the country should be upset, then try to stop us from doing our own work in our own way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 498, Vol. 247.]
That is the whole claim that we who oppose this Measure make. You are asking to set up a power within a power, a separate force within the State claim-
ing to be immune from the ordinary restraints of law which the Constitution imposes on all other citizens. It has been said,
It is an assured sign of a noble and worthy spirit whom power amends.
I do not think there is a very general feeling in the House that power has greatly amended the Secretary of State for War. The quotation which seems much more accurately to apply to him is taken from the Bible
But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.
Of the many points in this Bill, I propose to touch upon two only. The first is the political levy. It was quite inevitable, as those who have followed the historical retrospect that I have imposed on the House will see, that the change in the character of trade unions should bring about a change in the law affecting the political levy. As long as trade unions were non-party, looking after the interests of their members, absorbed in what they called bread and butter politics, no member of a trade union was seriously injured by subscribing as a matter of course to the so-called political levy. But from the moment when trade unions became an active weapon of party warfare, directly identified with one particular set of political opinions, identified with one party competing in the ordinary business of our elections, it became intolerable that Conservative or Liberal working men should be forced by undue pressure, if there was undue pressure, to pay for the expenses of candidates against whom they were going to vote. It is an insult to the whole status of the manual labourer and to the whole conception of equal citizenship that Liberals should be forced to pay for Socialism, or that patriotic Conservative workmen should be forced to pay for the election—[Interruption.] Allow me to make my point. If you obstruct my making it, they will only think you are afraid of it. An hon. Member opposite said fear was the sign of a guilty conscience. To make a patriotic Conservative pay for the expenses of a cosmopolitan pacifist, to make a Roman Catholic, or a devout Anglican, or a Nonconformist pay a political levy in order that a secularist or an atheist should be returned to Parliament, to compel all these things upon the members of a trade union, I do not care how few they may be—[Interruption.] I am in favour of toleration, and toleration itself is invaded when even a farthing is taken from a deeply religious working man and used to support candidates of a different belief.
I have not the slightest intention of offending hon. Members. I am putting this abstract point. I will put it in a way which perhaps will not irritate. For instance, the subscription of a Roman Catholic working man ought not to be taken, not even a farthing, to support the kind of Bill which was so violently opposed by Roman Catholics, among others, brought into the House last week. If hon. Members do not like these comparatively mild and conciliatory remarks, I do not know how they will feel before I have finished. It is altogether a wrong point of view to assume that the moral and political feelings of working men can be treated with a spirit of rough and ready indifference and that you can say, "Oh well, it does not matter. Let them subscribe to the union. That is the most important thing they have to do." It is not true. They feel intensely on these matters, and they have an absolute right to be protected, even meticulously, against being enlisted against their consciences in any way.
We have repeatedly heard the argument that there never was any compulsion, that all a man had to do was to sign a paper saying he did not wish to subscribe, and that this perfectly simple easy action on his part was not the slightest burden and enabled him to contract out of the political levy. Then we are told that there is this inertia, that trade unions will be unfairly depleted in their funds if the fact that people have to take the positive step of saying they will contract in is imposed upon them. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Birkett) that the figures quoted by the Attorney-General on this subject completely sweep away this inertia argument. He showed quite plainly that, in trade unions where there is at present an ardent desire to contribute, or a general desire to contribute, the fact that they have to contract in has been no impediment, not only to the maintenance, but to a large increase of membership, and he quoted in particular the Durham miners. Those men wished to contribute to the union and the union, after our Bill was passed in 1927, largely increased its membership. Why? Because these men have done what they choose. That is just what they ought to be allowed to do. But there are other unions in the figures he quoted where there has been a very large decline in membership, and that, I think, is equally justified, and shows that these again individuals are not so united in one party. There are more Conservative or Liberal trade unionists in these other unions, and they do not wish to be involved in the funds or the party business of the Socialist party. There, again, they have been allowed to exercise a perfectly natural, healthy and honest decision.
The inertia argument has been completely disposed of by the figures of the Durham miners given by the Attorney-General, and the allegation that there was no grievance is overwhelmingly contradicted by the large decline that has taken place in the membership of many unions and in the political levies of many unions since this new liberty has been accorded to the working-class. I do not wish to be unfair. I quite admit that there are many important unions where a man would have contracted out of the political levy under the old system and would have never heard a word about it again, but there are also a number of unions where you would have heard about it. After all, to make a man write a letter, or fill in a form, contracting out is to require from him an act of exceptional initiative, an overt act which many men are reluctant to take. They do not wish to come into prominence, to put themselves against the general scheme of opinion among their mates. Why should they not be free even from the slightest sign of an invidious pressure?
Compare the act of contracting out of a trade union with the important act of voting at a Parliamentary election. Voting at a Parliamentary election nowadays, when the universal character of the suffrage has so greatly diminished the consequence of each individual voter's vote, I should have thought was a far easier test of civic virility, or courage, than contracting out of a trade union, and yet observe with what care Parliament has surrounded this act of putting a cross on a piece of paper against the name of one of two or three gentlemen none of whom is particularly attractive to the voter, guarding the secrecy of the ballot so effectively that the voter, when he enters the booth, is absolutely alone with himself and his maker. If it were sought to make the slightest intrusion upon the secrecy of the ballot, all parties in the House would be up in arms, and none more than the party opposite.
Just because in this far more invidious case of contracting in or contracting out of the trade union levy they have an interest which is not a trade union interest, which is not an industrial interest, which is a party political interest, just because of their party political interest they are determined to exact from the individual that he shall take the positive, overt act unless his money is to be taken for a policy which he detests. I was very glad to hear from the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Nottingham that this feature of the Measure would, at any rate, receive careful attention from the Liberal party in what I am afraid I shall have to call another place. After all, this political levy question is not the most important, and it is the one on which there is a general agreement that the Government's proposals cannot be accepted.
The main feature of the Bill is the legislation legalising the General Strike. I must ask the House for great indulgence if I trench at all upon the legal aspects, but I am only a layman, and I can rely upon the many distinguished lawyers who are present to assist me if I should trip in any particular phrase. I thought that the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) made matters so plain that even as a layman I could quite easily comprehend them. As far as I can make out, what has happened is this. The Attorney-General received instructions from the Trade Union Congress to legalise what happened in 1926. The Attorney-General, having to win his footing and work his passage, addressed himself to his task with praiseworthy diligence. The question raised by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley, which is of great interest and of great complexity, is this: Has he succeeded in his purpose or not? Let me remind the House of the question of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. "If," he said, "the circumstances of 1926 recurred, and this Bill were law, does the Attorney-General hold that the strike of 1926 would be legal, or not?" That is the question.
I am sure that the Attorney-General has the matter at his fingers' ends, and, as our greatest authority at the moment on this question, I am sure he will not leave the House in any doubt on the matter, and I will gladly give place to him if he will answer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"] Is the Attorney-General going to leave a point of pure technical legality which concerns him in his professional capacity to be dealt with by the breezy eloquence of the Dominions Secretary when the House wants the opinion of the Attorney-General. I want to know the opinion of the Attorney-General. There is really no need for the hon. and learned Gentleman to have such a scared outlook on affairs. The House is very generous. It is quite prepared to let bygones be bygones. Let him get up like a man and give us the answer. I have dune all I can do to compel the hon. and learned Gentleman. I am left to draw my own conclusion, which is, that he has tried his best, and is not absolutely sure that he has succeeded. But here is where the trade unions, I think, owe the hon. and learned Gentleman a tribute of regard and of respect, because he has a second string.
He has not risked the legalising of the event of 1926 merely upon the Amendments to Sub-section (1) of the previous Act. He has reinforced this with a second line of defence. He has a second barrel in the shape of the Amendments to Sub-section (2). This is a most ingenious provision, for which, I am sure, his trade union supporters, or perhaps I should say masters, will be deeply grateful to him. It is a simple provision, a simple, ingenious, dilatory provision, which gives immunity to persons engaged in any strike, whether legal or not legal. whether revolutionary or industrial, whether against the State or against society, or merely against the local employer. It does not matter what the strike is, you need not worry about any of these legal subtleties and trouble about interpretation in Courts of law. The Attorney-General has given an immunity by a dilatory process, which, at any rate, I am assured, will last for three weeks—a fortnight or three weeks at the very least—before the necessary declaration of the High Court can be given. If that be so, I think that the trade unions owe him a great debt of gratitude. If he is called in question, if, being a newcomer in the party, they have any doubts about him, he is entitled to say to them, "I cannot be sure about making the event of 1926 legal if it should recur again, but, whether it is legal or not, it will take three weeks to get a decision from the High Court which will sweep away your immunity for anything you may do mean-while, and that ought to be good enough."
There is great practical weight and reason behind the Attorney-General when he says that. After all, three weeks of a general strike—even a fortnight of making London walk, would wear out their shoe leather—if in three weeks of a general strike you are not able to knock out the nation, do not be too sure the nation will not have knocked you out. The hon. and learned Gentleman discharged his task with great thoroughness, and he fully deserved the loud and prolonged cheers which his lengthy but admirable introductory speech won from his party, and I do not understand that he denies a single one of these points. There never was such a Bill as this, a Bill to give immunity, three weeks "cut and run" at the nation without any chance of being called in question—absolute immunity for everything.
I must say a word about the procedure which we have to adopt. I am a little sorry not to see the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in his place. Looking upon the Liberal party without him is always to be conscious of a very serious gap. I understand from what the Prime Minister said at Question time that this Bill is to be taken away from the House of Commons. After the Division to-night, if the Bill should pass, it is to go upstairs and there, in all probability, it is to be subject to the activities of the Kangaroo Closure, and the Liberal party have decided to support this. It is a Parliamentary outrage of the first order. I have had nearly 30 years experience in this House, and I have never seen a like abuse of the procedure of Grand Committees. This is a Bill not one of meticulous detail, but a Bill which raises at every point very large, broad, simple principles which are particularly suited to discussion on the Floor of the House, and about which the nation has every right to be permitted to hear.
Here are the Liberal party! I do not blame them for doing what they think is right with their votes on these Measures. One sees the great difficulty of their position—I may say, the great and increasing difficulty of their position, but I say that for a minority party, for a party with the traditions of the Liberal party, for a party having the greatest interest—[An HON. MEMBER: "You are one of the traditions!"] I am reminding them of them. The party have great and responsible interests in protecting the rights of minorities. They have a further interest—the greatest interest in safeguarding Parliamentary procedure, and the means by which due public discussion is secured about questions on which there is a great deal of feeling. All those are not merely their traditions but their special care and their direct interest, and that they should, by their decision, take this Bill away from the Floor of the House of Commons and put it upstairs, and deny the great mass of Members of Parliament, with all their constituents the opportunity of taking part in these Debates, is an astounding act.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs told us the other day, on a question of the same kind on another Measure, what were his doctrines on Procedure. They were very remarkable. They were expressed with his usual candour. "It all depends," he said, "on these questions of procedure whether you like the Bill or not." If you like the Bill—I am not quoting him any more—then, of course, away with Parliamentary forms and cumbersome debate, slap it through by the quickest and most expeditious method possible. If you do not like it, then out will come all the constitutional arguments about the rights of Parliament and the interests of minorities, of which the Liberal party have always been the champions. Then will be the time for the peroration about the cause "for which Hampden died in the field and Sidney on the scaffold." Those are the ethics of Parliamentary procedure as expounded by the leader of the Liberal party.
I must ask a further question. How do you decide whether you like it or not? No one can deny that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and the party which he leads take infinite pains in coming to a decision whether they like or dislike any particular Measure. Although we are not permitted to take part in their discussions, we are interested in their decisions, and the House has resounded with the echoes of their conclaves and perturbations. Once they have decided to like a Bill, that is the end of Parliamentary procedure so tar as the minority in the House of Commons is concerned. But, in this case, the Liberal party and their leader seemed to have very great difficulty in deciding whether they like or dislike their Bill, so they came to a compromise by agreeing, as far as I can make out, not to dislike it too much here, but to hate it like poison hereafter. The hon. and learned Member for East Nottingham was deputed to explain what was to be done to the Bill. The execution is to be in private and it is to be ruthless. After I had listened to his account, which is fresh in the minds of those who have followed these Debates, I could not see that anything was left of the Bill, except possibly the Title. That is the procedure they have decided upon.
What are the Government and the Labour party going to do about it, and what is the Prime Minister going to do? I spoke the other day, after he had been defeated in an important Division, about his wonderful skill in falling without hurting himself. He falls, but up he comes again, smiling, a little dishevelled, but still smiling. But this is a juncture, a situation, which will try to the very fullest the peculiar arts in which he excels. I remember, when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum's circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the programme which I most desired to see was the one described as "The Boneless Wonder." My parents judged that that spectacle would be too revolting and demoralising for my youthful eyes, and I have waited 50 years to see the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.
We have made our protest against this Bill. We have made our protest also against a procedure for which the Liberal party bear a keen responsibility, but it seems to me that the real grievance lies with the trade unions. They seem to me, after all has been said and done, the parties who are being deceived in this matter. I was not invited to the conference that took place last week in Downing Street between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Liberal party, but "my hon. friend the Member for Treorchy" gave me a very shrewd account of the interview between the two party leaders. After the usual compliments, the Prime Minister said, "We have never been colleagues, we have never been friends—at least, not what you would call holiday friends—but we have both been Prime Minister, and dog don't eat dog. Just look at the monstrous Bill the trade unions and our wild fellows have foisted on me. Do me a service, and I will never forget it. Take it upstairs and cut its dirty throat."
As a new corner to this House, I should hesitate to take part in so important a Debate, and I should particularly hesitate to do so after such a scintillating description of the Liberal party as has just been given by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) but I feel that I have a duty to perform, a duty to a great number of electors in East Bristol who have so recently and so emphatically expressed the opinion that this Bill is one that should be passed by this House. I would ask the House to bear with me for a short time while I attempt to answer some of the arguments put forward by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), and also put before them two or three considerations which should influence the House in coming to the conclusion that the Act of 1927 did a great deal more than was either necessary or wise in the restriction of the activities of trade unions, and also to the conclusion that the Act of 1927, as amended by this Bill, will provide ample safeguards against any usurpation of power by trade unions, so far as such safeguards can ever be provided by legislation. At the same time, this Bill will remove that sense of unfairness and injustice under which millions of trade unionists in this country now believe themselves to be labouring. It is the latter aspect of the present Bill, the removal of this unfairness and injustice which I believe to be largely felt in this country at the present time, that I regard as of such great importance in the industrial life of the country.
The Mond-Turner Conference demonstrated conclusively, if any such demonstration were necessary, that the organisation of labour into trade unions was an essential of the efficient organisation of business and each of the partners in the organisation of the industries of this country must feel that they are treated justly by this House and by the country, and that they are not unfairly hampered in their negotiations with the other parties. For 60 years or more it has been realised by the people of this country that the sole weapon of the workers in an industrial dispute is the strike, and that weapon must not be taken away from them. This attitude was clearly demonstrated by the easy passage of the Act of 1875 not only through this House but also through another place. Not only has the primary strike been considered and recognised as legal, but the sympathetic strike, the strike in some other industry in order to assist the workers engaged in the primary strike, has for more than 50 years been the industrial weapon used in this country and recognised as a legal industrial weapon.
No one in this House or elsewhere who is anxious to see the fullest development of our industries, as we all are, can do otherwise than deplore the necessity for strikes or lock-outs, but until the workers of this country have some other means of obtaining fair terms and conditions of work, they must be able to negotiate with the employers, knowing that in the last resort the strike weapon is in their hands. So far, I do not imagine that hon. and right hon. Members opposite will join issue with me, for this position was stated to be the policy upon which the Act of 1927 was based. In one other matter, at least, we on this side of the House agree with hon. and right hon. Members opposite, and that is, that any strike or lock-out which is in its substance revolutionary or political is now, always has been and always should be, illegal. All Members of the House are, therefore, I think, agreed as regards the two limiting cases, the purely industrial, whether primary or sympathetic, strike, and the purely political or revolutionary strike. It is the central zone between those two through which the line has to be drawn, and it is as to the position of that line that there is a difference of opinion in this House.
Hon. and right hon. Members opposite, when they were in power, in applying the great principle of "Safety first," which is said to underlie all their policy in their Act of 1927, in order to make certain, as they thought, that no political or revolutionary strike should in future be considered legal, brought within their definition of illegality many classes of strike which never up to that time had been considered illegal, and for which there is no justification for considering them illegal. The principle of "Safety first" applied from the point of view of the employers of labour in this country, is a principle which does little justice to the workers. Before attempting to deal with the differences in principle which affect the position of that dividing line of which I have spoken, may I ask the attention of the House to two important considerations that must be borne in mind? First, there is the essential inter-connection which now exists between political and industrial activities. Secondly, there is the magnitude of modern industrial and trade units which must be recognised and borne in mind. Pealing with the first of those two considerations—a matter of comparatively modern occurrence, for the intensified industrial legislation of this country has largely occurred during the present century—it is a matter of first-class importance to bear this in mind in considering the Trade Disputes Act, 1927.
The Government of this country at the present time is bound to be concerned in almost every trade dispute through one or other of its administrative Departments, and, if not directly concerned, it has since the War been considered a prime duty of the Government to interfere at as early a moment as possible in any trade dispute in order to render assistance to the disputants in settling the questions between them. It is, therefore, no longer possible to draw any hard-and-fast line between industrial and political activities, nor is it possible to divide the activities into categories and exclude all those with which the Government are necessarily concerned. There is, indeed, an essential and growing interconnection between industry and politics. The second consideration, as to the size of the trade units in this country, is too well known and widely recognised to need elaboration from me, but I would remind the House of the importance of this consideration, because under the Act of 1927 the infliction of hardship on the community is put forward as one of the considerations by which the illegality of a strike may be judged.
With the present large industrial units it is inevitable that any strike whatso-ever that extends through a trade or industry must necessarily inflict hardship upon some portion of the community. If the House will follow me in considering the definition in Section 1 of the Act of 1927 in the light of these two considerations, I think they will see that it is obvious, first, that all strikes of any magnitude must be reasonably expected to coerce the Government to intervene and, second, that all strikes of any magnitude must inflict hardship on the community. We are, of course, in these discussions concerned only with strikes of great magnitude. The second limb of the definition in the Act of 1927 of an illegal strike is not therefore a definition at all, as it inevitably applies to every large-scale strike that can take place in this country. We are, therefore, thrown back upon the first limb of that definition. And the first limb of that definition suffers from these two serious defects: it excludes from legality all sympathetic strikes whatever their object, and all primary strikes where there is some object, however small or insignificant, in addition to the furtherance of a trade dispute. That is to say, that a large-scale strike, the main object of which was a dispute with the employers but a subsidiary object of which was to get industrial legislation passed, would, by the Act of 1927, indubitably be illegal. It may be consonant with a policy of "Safety first" to render such strikes illegal, but it is not consonant with the idea of elementary justice to the workers of the country.
Hon. Members below the Gangway stressed this view in the Debates of 1927, and I ask them whether they who have done so much for the workers and for trade unionism in the past, sometimes at sacrifices to themselves, are prepared that the state of affairs created by the Act of 1927 should be perpetuated for ever on the Statute Book of this country? I ask them whether an ample case is not made out for the removal of the unfair and unjustified fetters put upon the strike weapon—a weapon which no one in this House desires to see used, but which is the sole weapon in the armoury of the workers of this country. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley explained at some length yesterday that some such criticism as this weighed with him in the early stages of the discussion of the Clause when it was brought forward in 1927.
It was for that reason that I said in the form in which it was brought forward then, that he thought an Amendment somewhat in the form of the present Bill might be desirable. When the words of his, Amendment were closely examined in Committee, he said that the result of that examination was shattering. I am sure hon. Members will be moved to sympathy at the thought of the right hon. learned and Shattered Gentleman passing twice through the Lobby in order to support his Amendment. Let me remind the House of the great principles which the right hon. and learned Member then said lay behind his Amendment, when speaking to it in the Committee of the House. These are his words:
You really cannot, as a matter of fact, classify these tremendous movements of human feeling and comradeship and passion, with the calm deliberation of a man, who is making up a list of commodities and putting them on one shelf or another. Therefore you will always find in practice that the real question is whether or not—remembering that the furthering of trade disputes is perfectly lawful but, on the other hand, that the deliberate coercion of Parliaments or Governments is not lawful—you have always
got to remember that really it is the substance of the matter"—
I draw the attention of hon. Members particularly to those words—
which determines on which side of the line it may fall. There is another criticism which I was going to mention and it is a sort of criticism which would very much follow the same lines. It may be said, 'Well, is it not a curious idea that you should propound this test, which does involve balancing one thing against another.' The truth is that that kind of problem, that kind of test, is constantly being considered and applied in these matters of controversy. If you have a smash between two motor cars in a road—get rid of all the penalties: I care nothing about them—the substance of the thing is this. There may be some fault on each side; there may be some excuse on each side; but what is the substance of the thing? Who is it who has really brought about the disaster? That is what the law tries to decide. Take a dispute between husband and wife, in another part of the law, where the question is whether the Court should grant a judicial separation. The problem really is that one has to compare the two contracting sides and see where the substance of the thing lies. I do not think, in practice, that the application of the Clause, as we are suggesting it in this Amendment, will be found to be so difficult, because it can only be in cases of real and palpable abuse of the legitimate rules of combination that the question will arise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1927; col. 668, Vol. 206.]
And the right hon. learned and shattered Gentleman went into the Lobby twice in support of his Amendment! In another place, after the Bill had passed through this House, the party to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman belonged pressed that same Amendment in the Committee stage, still believing, no doubt, in the great principles which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had advanced in its support. Applying my mind as a lawyer to the Clause it is proposed to substitute for Section 1 of the Act of 1927, I am bound to say that the words, in my opinion, do make the substance of the thing the true test. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley compared the action of the Attorney-General in this matter to a game of cards played by children. There are other games of cards with which, perhaps, the right hon. and learned Member is familiar, and may I suggest to him that, having in his hand a perfectly good card with which he could have trumped the trick of the hon. and learned
Member for Rusholme (Sir B. Merriman), he revoked.
Let me turn to the proposed definition of illegality in the present Bill. It lays down a dividing line in this neutral zone between the two extremes, a dividing line which depends upon the substance of the matter, not as in the Act of 1927 on some chance and unimportant subsidiary point. It lays down a line which opens an inquiry into what was the real and main object of the strike, the line which the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley thought should be laid down. If in substance the object of the strike is non-industrial, then it is illegal. If in substance the object of the strike is industrial, then it is legal. That is the criterion that can and will be applied by the courts of this country, more especially, as the right hon. and learned Member remarked, because it can only be in cases of real and palpable abuse of legitimate rules of combination that this question will ever arise.
May I now pass to the right hon. and learned Member's criticism of the proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the Act of 1927 as proposed to be altered by the present Bill? The right hon. and learned Gentleman made great play of the machinery there provided to obtain a declaration from the court. Anyone with the smallest knowledge of the procedure of these courts can criticise such a course from one point or another, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman entirely failed to answer the challenge of the Attorney-General as to whether it was desirable that that abstruse conundrum, which he had stated existed, should be solved, not by a trained judge, but by benches of magistrates up and down the country. The proposed Subsection deals only with offences of a criminal nature, and deals with individuals and not with trade unions, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think. The courts of this country will still retain exactly and precisely the same power as they now have of restraining individuals from taking part in illegal strikes. That power is well illustrated by an action which is this day proceeding in the Chancery Court. If any hon. Member will look at this morning's "Times" he will there find a report of a case in which an in- junction is being claimed against all the officers of a trade union to prevent them from watching and besetting a colliery. Precisely the same form of action will be open to anyone if a strike is illegal under this Bill; the Chancery Courts will still retain absolute powers to restrain individuals if they threaten to do that which is illegal. The only thing that the Bill will alter in that way will be the punishment of individuals for a criminal offence before they know they have committed a crime.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman drew attention to the repeal of Subsection (4) of Section (1) of the Act of 1927, which has made trade union funds liable in certain events in an illegal strike. The object of that was that the whole of the funds of the trade union might be made available for an action in damages by an employer. The right hon. and learned Gentleman cited a case in which certain Lords Justices expressed an opinion, though expressly not deciding the point, that Section 4 of the Act of 1906 covered a case of injunction where it was apprehended that some tortious act might be committed. That case decided nothing that was material to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument. It does not touch the question with which he was then dealing—the question of stopping a strike. An injunction can still be obtained in exactly the same way as it always could be obtained against the loaders in any strike, to stop them from proceeding with that which was illegal.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman asks whether it could be obtained against a trade union. The answer is that if you are dealing with stopping a strike it is no good getting an injunction except against persons. It is no good getting an injunction against a trade union; you have to stop individuals doing something. The way is to stop the individuals by injunction. That is exactly illustrated by the way in which the action that I have mentioned was brought yesterday in the Chancery Division. It was not brought against a trade union, but against 30 people who were in fact the responsible officers.
I am afraid that I cannot, but the information can be ascertained, no doubt, on inquiry. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley has also overlooked another provision which occurs in the Act of 1906, and that is the provision of Sub-section (2) of Section 4; and he has also overlooked Section 7 of the Act of 1927, which it is not proposed to repeal or to alter. The first of these Sections maintains the liability of the trustees of trade union funds in all cases except where the acts complained of are done in furtherance of a trade dispute. If a strike is illegal it is not in furtherance of a trade dispute, so that no protection in that case would be given to the trustees. Section 7 of the Act of 1927 enables an injunction to be obtained in the very cases dealt with by the Act of 1927, in order to restrain the expenditure of trade union funds upon a strike which might be illegal. It is, therefore, not accurate to state that the provisions of the Bill deprive anyone of any rights which they had before against trade unions, and it is not accurate to state that there will be no machinery by which an illegal strike can be stopped if it was anticipated or started. This Amendment is a genuine attempt to get over what is an admitted difficulty—the liability of individuals to be sentenced for a crime of which they may have no knowledge at all: and also to remove from the local and excited and possibly biased benches of magistrates the determination of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has called a difficult conundrum; and it retains at the same time all those powers of the High Court which the High Court has always possessed and which they are able to exercise now just as before.
Before passing from this aspect of the Bill, may I be allowed to refer to a passage in the speech of the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), in which he did me the honour to make a personal reference to me. What he said was:
What the man-in-the-street is asking is this, and it is the only question that he is asking concerning the Bill; whether under these proposals the conditions of 1926 will be legalised. That question was repeatedly put to the Solicitor-General in the by-election at Bristol, and he never gave a
straight answer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 484, Vol. 247.]
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has been sadly misinformed, as I cannot recollect a single question to that effect having been put to me verbally or in writing by any elector or man in the street in East Bristol.
I propose, with the permission of the House, to adopt the latter course, but not because I believe Sir Thomas Inskip to be accurately described as the man in the street. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the electors of East Bristol are practical persons. They are not concerned with academic or abstruse arguments, but they are concerned with the very practical desire, which they have expressed in a very practical way, to have the unfair restrictions of the Act of 1927 removed. The many thousands of electors with whom I came into contact, either personally or at meetings, were unanimous in the expression of that desire. I regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman should in any event have suggested that I do not give straight answers to questions, but as I gather that both he and other right hon. and hon. Members opposite would like an answer to the question which he formulated, I propose to give it.
Prior to the year 1926 the material Sections of the Acts, apart from the common law, were Section 3 of the Act of 1875 and Sections 1 and 5 of the Act of 1906. The criterion of illegality applied by those Sections was whether the act done was an act in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. The question is, therefore, Was the calling of the General Strike of 1926 an act done in furtherance of the miners' lockout? In my opinion it was, because undoubtedly one of the objects was to assist the miners, and the fact that there were other objects was not at that date material, in my view. I appreciate that upon this academic point opinions have differed, and there may be many right hon. and hon. Members opposite who take a different view, but be it noted that though in 1926 a different view was in fact taken by the Law Officers of the Crown, no action under those Acts was ever initiated, and for the very good reason, of course, that they were wise enough to see the folly of such a proceeding.—
I was just attempting to answer a somewhat difficult question in as full a way as I could. May I now proceed to the position under the Act of 1927? There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the General Strike would have been illegal under the Act of 1927. Under the proposed Bill the strike of 1926 would, in my opinion, have been illegal and for this reason, that though it may be said that it was in some degree in furtherance of a trade dispute, yet, looking at the substance of the matter as the Act would demand, I have no doubt that a Court of law would have held, had the present Bill then been the law, that the primary object of the strike was not industrial and that therefore the strike would have been illegal. I give that opinion as the best opinion which I can form upon the law.
The new Clause, therefore, does rather more than leave the pre-1927 legislation where it was. It narrows, or makes more certain, the ambit of legality by making it necessary that the main object of the strike shall be industrial, and, not merely that "an" object of the strike shall be industrial, as I think would have been held under the Act of 1875 and the Act of 1906. May I now say one or two words upon two other subjects only, first the political levy and then intimidation. As to the political levy I merely wish to point out to the House the complete misapprehension under which the Leader of the Opposition is labouring in this matter. When he moved the rejection of this Bill the right hon. Gentleman made this remark as regards the political levy:
Similarly, we on this side of the House feel very strongly that the present regula-
tions should be preserved for the separation of political funds and for the protection of the ordinary funds of a trade union."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 422, Vol. 247.]
May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that this Bill has nothing on earth to do with the question of the separation of political funds? That matter was dealt with by the Act of 1913, was untouched by the Act of 1927 and is untouched by the present Bill. It is unfortunate that red herrings of this sort should be drawn across the trail by the Leader of the Opposition in order to assist his attack upon the Bill, when the Bill contains nothing which has to do with the matter at all. As regards the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's observation as to the protection of the ordinary funds of the trade union, it is gratifying that the right hon. Gentleman and his party are in favour of the protection of the ordinary funds of a union against demands arising out of a strike—an object which is achieved, I may point out, by the Bill before the House but not achieved by the Act of 1927. As regards intimidation I would like to say one word only in order to remove what appears to be a widespread misconception. The Act of 1875, by Section 7, made intimidation illegal. That Act has always been administered so as to prevent intimidation and the definition under that Act given by the Courts to the word "intimidation" is as follows:
Such intimidation as would justify a magistrate in binding over the intimidator to keep the peace towards the person intimidated, in other words such intimidation as implies a threat of personal violence.
It will be observed that the definition in the Bill is exactly on the lines of the definition given to that expression by the courts, with this exception that damage to property is added to personal damage. The words are:
To cause to any person a reasonable apprehension of personal injury to him or to any member of his family or to any of his dependants or of violence or damage to his or their property.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley quoted a passage from an article or letter written by Lord Buckmaster recently in the Press drawing attention, as the House will remember, to a number of unfortunate suggestions as regards the treatment of women and children. May
I remind the House of what the extract says?
The misery that may be inflicted on a man's wife and his children by concerted and continuous insult and abuse is made lawful"—
I ask the House to notice those words:
unless done so as to intimidate in his house or place of work, or unless it can be said to lead to a breach of the peace, a proviso from the benefit of which children would be obviously excluded and probably most women as well.
If the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheered that expression of opinion glanced at the Act of 1927—because it is that Act alone which the present Bill suggests altering as regards intimidation—and if they look at Section 3, Sub-section (2) where the definition of intimidation appears, they will find that the first four lines of that definition are substantially identical with the definition in the Bill. What has been cut out are these words:
'Injury' includes injury to a person in respect of his business, occupation, employment or other source of income, and includes any actionable wrong.
Where is there one word about abuse of women and children? The only alteration that the Bill proposes in the law of intimidation is to remove a purely artificial definition which has nothing on earth to do with women and children, or with abuse or insult or any other moral form of persuasion or intimidation, and the reason why it does so is this, as my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General explained. That artificial definition of intimidation has been and can be interpreted by the courts to include the most inoffensive conversation, if as a result of the conversation a man thinks he may lose his wages. How can anyone justify a statement such as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley made or such as Lord Buckmaster made in his article, when the fact is that there is nothing altered in the Act of 1927 except the lines which I have read to the House.
Everyone admits that there are means of bringing pressure to bear on individuals, which are undesirable. It has been said again and again in the House. Not only does everyone admit it, but every legislator has admitted that it is impossible to provide by legislation for such matters and the Act of 1927 itself admits it, because the Act does not seek to include that in the area of the definition of intimidation. I apologise to the House for having detained it so long but I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to fight this Bill on its merits, and not by introducing a host of matters which are not included either in the Bill or in the Act of 1927 at all. This is a Measure designed to achieve two great objects with fairness and justice to everybody in the country—first, to remove the burning sense of injustice which exists and rightly exists among the trade unionists and organised workers of this country, and, secondly, to maintain proper and adequate safeguards against the usurpation of power by any class. It is for those two reasons that I ask the House to pass this Bill.
Although I understand that the speech to which we have just listened was not the maiden speech of the learned Solicitor-General may I say that I feel sure that that speech has been heard with the greatest satisfaction in all quarters of the House? I take note at once of the most important declaration which the hon. and learned Gentleman has made. Speaking from the Government Benches, and, no doubt, giving expression to the considered opinion of the Government as a whole, he has said that, in his judgment, if the events of 1926 were to be repeated, they would, in the terms of the present Bill, be illegal. Let us see quite what that statement means. It means that, in the opinion of the Solicitor-General, the primary object in the events of 1926 was,
an object other than that of furthering purposes connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of employment
of some persons. What becomes of the protests to the contrary that have, from time to time, been made from the benches opposite? What becomes, for instance, of the quotation to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen. Valley (Sir J. Simon) referred from the speech of the present Prime Minister, made at Ormskirk in March, 1927. The matter is of such importance that I crave the indulgence of the House to read the quotation in full. The Prime Minister referring to the Leader of the Opposition said:
He told us about the General Strike and the assumption he made and is always making is that the strike was entered upon for political and unconstitutional purposes. That is not true of the General Strike—such as it was and it was not a general strike but an extended sympathetic srike. The sole purpose that animated the general council of the Trade Union Congress in entering upon that strike, was to help the miners to win an industrial dispute.
The sole purpose was to help the miners to win an industrial dispute! But, in the opinion of the Solicitor-General, the primary object was an object other than that of furthering an industrial dispute. Then, what happens to the speech of the Foreign Secretary, also quoted by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley, made at Birmingham on Saturday, 14th May, 1927? The Foreign Secretary then said:
What was the Government's justification for the policy which was being pursued? They were told that it was to vindicate the authority of the State and to protect the liberties of the citizen. When had the authority of the State been challenged? Where was the proof that the liberties of the citizen in this respect required to be protected? The stoppage of last year was neither a strike against the community, nor against Parliamentary institutions. It was not even a strike affecting all industries. It was a sympathetic protest of national organisation against the action of the mineowners.
I would ask the attention of the House to the words "sympathetic protest of national organisations against the action of the mineowners." That is the opinion of the Foreign Secretary, but the Solicitor-General says it was an event, the primary object of which was something other than that of furthering a trade dispute. The learned Solicitor-General can be congratulated upon having made by far the most important contribution to the whole Debate. I think it is not unfair to say that the question put by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley was the most important question and that the answer which it has elicited more than justified the putting of the question.
Having said that, let me pass to one other observation that was made by the Solicitor-General. As I understood him, he said this—I wrote down the words at the time: "If a strike is in furtherance of a trade dispute, it is not illegal." Is that seriously put forward as a statement of English law? I beg leave to differ entirely from it. But it is because the Attorney-General and his colleague the hon. Member for Cardiff South (Mr. A. Henderson, Jun.) have both, in referring to the events of 1926, sought to put the matter in this form—that the legality or illegality of those events depended on the answer to a question of fact, namely, Were those matters in furtherance of a trade dispute?—that I think it well to bring this point to the notice of the House. You have not by any means finished the answer when you give an affinmative to that question. The whole question of motive, of intention, of the means that are employed in the furtherance of that strike may render the strike illegal from the start, notwithstanding that it is in reference to a trade dispute.
If this were the Third Reading of the Bill, and if the Bill were in its present unamended form, I do not think there is a single Member on the Opposition side of the House, either above the Gangway or below it, and either on the Front Benches or elsewhere, who would not vote against the Bill. But it is not the Third Reading. We are on the Second Reading, before there has been any opportunity of amending, modifying, altering, or improving the present Bill. If there was one thing which struck me about the speech of the learned Attorney-General in introducing this Bill, it was his conciliatory attitude. I could not find any line on the map which was high tide. It seemed to me that any and every part of the Bill was susceptible of amendment if only a good case was made out on the Floor of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Upstairs!"]—meaning, by the word "House," the whole of the building. As far as I know, the rooms upstairs have a floor; and, after all, on the Report stage, the Bill would come back here. Is the Attorney-General to be denied the opportunity of making amendments in this Bill? He badly needs the opportunity, and I should not have thought we should want that opportunity not to be granted.
This Government can do nothing right. If by chance they desire to do the right thing, they seem to me to do it in the wrong way. Endless numbers of committees have been set up, on dozens of unrelated subjects, but where you have the whole mass of trade union legislation, which is pre-eminently a branch of Statute law which might with advantage be codified by a committee of inquiry, that is one of the matters which the Government think is not worthy of a committee. What is there to prevent being incorporated in this Bill adequate safeguards, adequate explanatory definitions, not only as to what is legal and illegal, but on the whole of the disputed matter that has been discussed in this Debate? What is there to prevent some definite declaratory statement that if an essentially industrial strike or lock-out is in progress, a sympathetic strike or lockout, industrial in character, is now and always has been legal?
If limits are to be set to the sympathetic strike, they must be clear limits, and those must be matters which must be discussed in Committee. It certainly is a maxim of legislation that law ought not to be ambiguous, but I cannot recall a single Debate in which there have been wider divergencies of interpretation, and meaning given to expressions in the proposed Bill than the Debate on this Bill. The widest divergence of all is that between the speech of the Attorney-General, who introduced the Measure, and the Measure itself. Within a few minutes of the Attorney-General resuming his seat, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Birkett) made, in what we consider a masterly manner and in a speech to the charm of which many compliments have been paid during this Debate, a clear analysis of the position, as he conceived it, of the Liberal party in regard to this Measure. There was much in that speech besides the charm of its utterance. We have since had a Debate which has nearly run its course, and we have had the extremely powerful and illuminating analysis given by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley. It seems, therefore, convenient that in the closing stages the attitude of the Liberal party to this Measure should again be defined.
To many of us sitting on these benches, there is nothing particularly novel or abnormal in finding that a Conservative Act of Parliament contains much that is unwelcome to the Liberal point of view, nor is there anything novel or startling or unusual in finding that a Socialist proposal contains much that is unwelcome to the Liberal point of view. That posi- tion has constantly occurred before, and no doubt will occur again. The Conservative point of view is not the Liberal point of view, and the Socialist point of view is not the Liberal point of view. Whatever may be the opinion of journalists and certain persons outside this House as to how many parties there are, there are certainly three definite political points of view on the Floor of this House, and Liberals who do not like Section 1 of the Act of 1927 are willing to assist the trade unions in a perfectly lawful endeavour to amend and modify that Section, but it by no means follows that the Liberal party are necessarily prepared to sponsor or support particular Amendments which are put forward by the Labour party in this Bill. Indeed, I can conceive perfectly well of arguments being brought forward that Section 1 of the Act of 1927 might be preferable to Clause 1 of the Bill now before the House.
That is why, in our view, we think it will be necessary for the Bill to have a Second Reading, and that is the course proposed so far as we are concerned. We wish, in Committee, to offer suggestions from legal, industrial, and political experience, to amend Clause 1 of the present Bill, and to avoid what we think are errors, gross and flagrant, in the Act of 1927, in a way which will satisfy trade union aspirations, but it will not necessarily follow, indeed it certainly will not follow, the proposals that have come forward from the Government benches in their present form.
The vote has not yet been taken. If the case for the 1931 Bill is an objection to the Act of 1927, and the Liberal dislikes both the 1927 Act and the proposed Bill, the duty of the Liberal is to ensure that the proposed Bill will be amended, and in our view it is a delusion to think that equilibrium consists in an equidistant swing to right and left. We do not believe that the best legislation is produced in a swing of that kind. We think that calm, deliberate, and quiet study in Committee—[Laughter]. I do not know whether hon. Members underrate the importance of the Committee proceedings on a Bill. Certain it is, that whatever the interest and entertainment of the Debate which we have been enjoying on this Bill on the Floor of the House, the useful work will be done in Committee. The Committee is a serious legislative assembly where the actual values of words can be debated and where their context can be seen at close quarters.
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley, in that most entertaining, dazzling, and penetrating analysis that he made, put forward certain premises, with which, I imagine, most of us whole-heartedly agreed, but I was not so prepared to accept his conclusions. I remembered that the late Baron Bramwell said frequently to a great lawyer:
I want your advocacy, not your judgment. I prefer that of the Court.
The question is, Can the present Bill be amended in Committee so as adequately to express the trade union point of view and preserve the rights of the community? The hon. Member for Llandaff (Mr. Ellis Lloyd), I think, in a speech earlier in the Debate, said that the Debate on this Bill, the chief subjects of which were trade unionists, seemed to have lost sight of the human side, but is that fair? Is it right, when a section introduce a Bill, and the question to be discussed by the House is whether the interests of that section clash with the interests of the community as a whole, to say that the human side has peen lost sight of? I venture to think not. Surely it is precisely because the human side of the matter affects thousands of men and women, outside the trade union movement as well as within, indeed a far greater number, that it is so necessary that we should examine sectional legislation of this character in the closest possible detail.
I entirely subscribe to the point of view put forward by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley in saying that you cannot, in a declaratory Clause in a Bill, define the area of illegality without at the same time, by inference, defining what is legal. If, as the learned Solicitor-General has now said, in answering that question which has been put for so long, inside and outside the House, the strike of 1926 was illegal, what is there to prevent a clear declaration being inserted in Clause 1 of this Bill that any attempt to repeat the events of 1926 is quite definitely illegal? [Interruption]. An hon. Member suggests the 1927 Act, but the 1927 Act has words in it which are far too wide and far too vague, and which introduce doubts as to the legality of an essentially industrial, sympathetic strike.
If there are real doubts about the legality of an essentially industrial, sympathetic strike, the matter ought not to be kept in the bosoms of hon. Members, but ought to be debated on the Floor of this House. If hon. Members are really saying that they object to the sympathetic strike because of its size, even though it is industrial in character, it is a most important cleavage of view. I do not subscribe to that. In an essentially industrial strike or lockout, the sympathetic strike which is essentially industrial in character is legal, whatever the size of the sympathetic strike. If that is challenged by hon. Members on the Opposition side above the Gangway, it ought to be challenged in clear terms.
I was rather impressed by an observation that fell from an hon. Member on the Liberal benches, namely, the hon. Member for Mid Bedford (Mr. Gray). He said that he thought, perhaps, that underneath all the Debate that had gone on, there was more agreement than appeared. It may also be that there is more disagreement than has appeared, but it all means that if there is a large body of opinion that is united in thinking that the events of 1926 were illegal and are illegal under the Bill as at present drafted, and that it is the desire of the House that they should continue to be illegal, what is to prevent a clear and simple statement to that effect being incorporated in the Bill? Amendments to make that perfectly clear will be introduced in Committee, provided always that the kangaroo does not jump. The difficulty in all legislation of this kind, as the learned Solicitor-General has clearly said, is to bring the matter down to the realm of definition. When you seek to make a definition of legality and illegality, you do indeed find yourself in troubled waters. The learned Lord Advocate, in an interjection yesterday, asked this question: If the present Bill is passed into law with the terms of Clause 1 left as they are, would the common law crime of conspiracy be affected? That is a very pertinent question. In my view, the answer is in the negative, but, again, we should look for authoritative answers from the learned Solicitor-General. Sowing an action reaps a habit, and I hope that the learned Solicitor-General will answer more questions in the manner in which he has answered those put to him to-day.
Suppose a strike or lock-out in furtherance of a trade dispute has as its object to do injury to somebody else. Suppose the facts of the case of Sorrell against Smith were to be repeated on a large scale. Suppose in these days of rationalisation one limb of industry sought to do actual harm to another limb. It would, of course, be said that it was merely trying to improve the prospect of its own business, but suppose that, in furtherance of a trade dispute, there was a strike or lock-out, industrial in character, which had as its object the causing of injury or harm to either a person or a body of persons, can it be doubted for a moment that that would be an illegal strike? Can it be contended for a moment that it would be legal because it was alleged that it was in furtherance of a trade dispute? I put the question to the learned Solicitor-General, because it covers so much that one would wish to say in answer to the learned Attorney-General. It shows how inaccurate is the suggestion that a strike or lock-out is legal or illegal according to the facts. There is much more than the question as to whether it is in furtherance of a trade dispute. The whole Question of methods, avowed object and common law conspiracy all come in, and have to play their part. Objections have been taken to the words "primary object," but I do not propose, after the answer of the Solicitor-General, to give any more time to that.
May I ask the House to come to grips with one other problem? It was well said in another place during the progress of the 1927 Bill that in a great industrial dispute on a large scale there is no one motive or one purpose, but there are a thousand and one differing views up and down the country as to what is intended and desired. The danger of introducing trade union legislation which has vague and indefinite terms enshrined in a declaratory Clause is that in the trade union movement, as indeed in any other, you are bound to have the widest extremes of views. You will have those who will loyally interpret the words on their face value, those that give them a restricted meaning in accordance with the speech of the Law Officer who introduced the Bill, and those who are prepared to give to them the widest possible meaning which they can read into any construction of them; and if we are going to have legislation in the interests of trade unions passed in this House, we must at least be absolutely frank with one another and ascribe exact meanings to words. It is for that purpose that it seems to us that these matters must be discussed in Committee.
I suggest that the whole of that part of the Bill which deals with the application for a declaratory judgment of the courts and the joining of the Attorney-General to the proceedings, must be recast. I suggest that, among others, the following points must be borne in mind. It must become possible for a member of the general public to obtain an injunction against a trade union. Great play has been made by the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General as to the remedy of an injunction, but some of us are very doubtful whether that remedy is available to the ordinary member of the general public at all against the trade unions. We doubt emphatically whether a trade union can be made a defendant to such proceedings at all, and we say that if that is not so, there ought to be some complete and drastic alteration of that part of the proposed legislation. We must eliminate all risk of any suggested procedure involving delay, and some steps must be taken to see that the judgment is retrospective so far as liability is concerned of a similar character.
It has been said that this is a lawyer's Debate—[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!"] The fact that hon. Members cheer that observation induces me to say that, whatever the driving force behind law may be, it is not logic but experience, and if it is found necessary to have laws dealing with trade disputes—there is not a person in the House or outside who pretends the contrary—it is more than ever essential that those laws should, as far as possible, be couched in terms capable of being under- stood by members of the general public, who will be subject to them and will have to apply them; and as far as possible no such legislation should be introduced except with the general assent of those to whom it is to be applied. That, as we know, was the condition which existed prior to the passing of the Act of 1906, and it is because that condition was absent when the 1927 Act was passed, that some of us think that some of the mistakes have crept into it.
There is only one other observation which I should like to make. The country is being adjured by its economists, bankers and financial leaders to spend wisely and to concentrate upon matters which are vital in the best interests of the country. I have searched this Bill in vain to find a word in it which will be anything of comfort, to any of our depressed industries; there is nothing of comfort to our export trade. Nothing in the Bill will place a man or woman in employment or keep them there; nothing will in the least degree assist this country in any measure of competition for the world markets abroad; nothing will assist empire trade; nothing will assist unemployment; and nothing will assist social reform. On the contrary, if I understand the Bill aright, its purpose, and after this Debate, its avowed purport, is to increase some weapons in the hands of trade unions. Weapons are not stored idly in armouries, but are intended for use. In days when disarmament is the problem of international affairs, it is indeed laconic that the forging of weapons should be the preoccupation of His Majesty's Government.
I join with others who have previously remarked that this so far has been a lawyers' Debate. The last speaker drew attention to that also, and I would like to reply to one of the points which he made, that this Bill would not assist certain things, among which was employment. I suggest that the freedom of trade unions to restrict the unlimited overtime which is often placed upon the workers by their employers to the detriment of their health and of the employment of their fellows, would increase employment. I would seriously ask the House to come from the realms of this forensic argument, one lawyer against another, and examine the thing as it is. After all, it is a human problem, and I suggest to the members of the legal fraternity who grace this House that their dry-as-dust arguments do not always touch the human element of any problem. I have sat here for the best part of two days feeling something like an individual would, I should think, feel on an operating table, unable to speak or to protect himself, but still conscious, and surrounded by medical men poking him and feeling everywhere about his body, and talking about how to dissect him, and looking purposely and wilfully in the wrong places.
I happen to be a member of what, according to what we have heard in this Debate, is the infamous General Council. I was a member of it when this national sympathetic strike was called, and I was, for my sins, one of the five representatives of that Council who negotiated with the Prime Minister and representatives of the Government of that time; and if I can be given credit by hon. Members opposite of speaking of what I know faithfully and truthfully, I would suggest with some humility that it should have as much weight with the deliberations of this Chamber as the arguments of the legal and learned Gentlemen who have so far monopolised the Debate. I am not going to criticise them; I admire them as trade unionists too greatly. I think their organisation is splendid; I have always envied it, and the very awed voice in which the Members address each other and the absence of any criticism of each other of the learned Attorney-General or of the learned Solicitor-General or of the learned Judge and so on, and I only wish that we could get the rest of the trade unions of this country into line with them. The hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Burgin) said that it was necessary that the law should be in a form that the man-in-the-street could understand it. Has he never noticed the rather severe strictures by some of the leaders of his profession who now occupy the bench of some of the law that comes before them, and which is largely made by lawyers in this House? I do not blame them, because if they made the laws so plain that they could be understood by the man-in-the-street, about 40,000 of their profession would be out of work. I admire the legal profession in its splendid organisation. I believe that they are going to bring in a Bill soon for their sectional interests. I should like to be able to examine it from the trade union point of view, and with that detached "don't-care-a-hang" kind of attitude with which they have examined our Bill, but I may not get that opportunity because this may be the last occasion on which I shall have the pleasure and honour of addressing this assembly.
Take Clause 1 and let us get to the facts of the Bill and to what is generally referred to as the General Strike. I should like to speak, first of all, from my inner knowledge of what took place and to deny that it was a general strike. The facts are evident to anyone. It had no political object; we embarked on it for no coercion for any political or revolutionary object; it was a sympathetic strike. I say that because it is safe to admit it now, though it may be against me in years to come when the hanging begins. I was one of the general council of the various executives of British trade unions who decided that their unions should strike, and who placed the conduct of the strike in our hands, and I was one who wanted a general strike. I said capitalism in all its naked brutality would stick at nothing. I say that to-day and events and history have proved it. I said that, if we were going to try our strength with them, we should call a general strike and call out every worker at once and settle it once and for all. My colleagues, with greater wisdom and possibly a little more fear, said no. We did what has been described as coming out in sections, though I could use language about it which would make Mr. Speaker immediately call me to order. Was that a general strike? Every union was not called out. It was a sympathetic strike to bring power to bear on those with whom we were negotiating.
If the Leader of the Opposition were in the House, I would ask him to state specifically whether and how he felt he was being coerced. I believe he is sufficiently straight and honest with this House to tell us that he would have great difficulty in saying that that strike coerced him politically or in any revolutionary manner.
Let the House recollect that we were negotiating with the Government. I do not blame the Government for their attitude on that occasion. Let me digress for a moment and say that I accept what has been said below the Gangway, that, when the Bill comes before the Committee, it may be rendered so innocuous that nothing will be done for trade unions. Then possibly the trade union representatives here may not want it. I see no difference in those who represent the class that have, the class that now control the lives of the men, women and children of the working classes of this country. I do not therefore blame the Government of that time at all, but I say definitely and firmly, because I believe it to be true, that in 1926 they were representing in those negotiations the interests of the mineowners as against the miners. The only coercion which was intended to be brought by the trade unions who gave us that power was to bring pressure to bear so that some, at least, of the interests of the mineowners might be, if not forgotten, at least temporarily placed on one side and so that the interests of nearly a million mineworkers and those dependent upon them and of the community they served might be taken more fully into cognisance during negotiations. Without appearing to be egostical, that is straight from the horse's mouth.
I do not expect every hon. Member opposite to accept my statement, but I assure the House that there was no general strike at the end of it when the last man had come out, and that there was no intention of my colleagues who were in control that there should be a general strike. There was no revolutionary intention in it at all. That time, in my opinion, is not ripe and the leaders of British trade unionism have sufficient commonsense to know it. They do not embark on things before they are ready. [Interruption.] I have no desire to hide from the House the Socialist principles which I hold, or what I would be prepared to do if I got the opportunity. I know quite well, and I have said it in this House before, that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they thought public opinion was ripe and they could get hold of myself and other trade union leaders, would hang us without compunction. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They need not apologise, because I would not have the slightest hesitation in doing the same if I could get hold of some of them.
Let us understand the position. That was not the time for such a movement, and those who argue from wrong premises are likely to do a disservice to themselves. I would suggest, as one who knows the country fairly well and who knows the feelings of trade unionism, that, leaving out the Bristol election, there is a great deal of feeling on this matter not only among the four or five million trades unionists but among their families and friends which may reflect itself in votes, which unfortunately are one of the chief considerations sometimes of Members of this House. We have been accused of rushing that strike at a moment's notice without consideration. That is not only untrue, but it is known to be untrue by many people who say it. Negotiations had been going on for months. For 12 months it had been known that there might be a stoppage at this particular period of the year, but, as for bringing it about at a moment s notice, I say definitely, firmly, and respectfully, but without qualification, that the Government of that day, of which the present leader of the Conservative section of the Opposition was Prime Minister, was responsible. I believe it is unfair to blame the right hon. Gentleman and that the action that precipitated the strike smelled more of Gallipoli and of Antwerp than of Bewdley. However, he was the person responsible.
May I remind the House that this terrible General Council of British trade unions is not seeking trouble. We do not go round kicking sleeping lions. Most of us unfortunately were born too soon, and we have got to that period of life when we do not with that easy jollity of 25 years ago go round kicking these sleeping lions. We had been bringing about a settlement and, looking at these events after this period of four years—and we can always see the past more clearly after the deluge—I am convinced, after that retrospective survey, that in two hours the General Council would have brought about a settlement, and there would have been no deluge of the national sympathetic strike.
What happened? Somewhere some working men, sick and tired of the work of setting up by their hands falsehoods, misrepresentations, and unworthy charges against the people to whom they belonged, by a notorious newspaper, refused to do it. It was just as on one occasion, when I was an engine driver, I refused to take out an engine which I thought was unsafe to run on the public railways and carry passengers. I took a conscientious objection to what I was ordered to do by my employers, and I was threatened very gravely, but, having a few friends in the trade union, it ended there. On this occasion certain compositors on the "Daily Mail" took action. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman, who is not here after delivering his speeches, rushed in in great excitement. In a very short time we, who had been endeavouring and working day and night for several weeks to bring this crisis to an end, were told by a uniformed attendant that we had better go home, that everybody else had gone, that there was nothing doing, and that we could call the strike. If you call that trying to avoid strikes, then I do not quite understand.
It was suggested by the late Solicitor-General in his speech last night that the coercion might have been to coerce the Government to give another subsidy. May I again strike a personal note? I was one who 12 months before voted, in opposition to the majority of my party, against the first subsidy to the miners, because I did not believe you could do justice to any industry by temporarily subsidising it out of the finances of others and by leaving a festering sore beneath the surface to break out again. Therefore, we were not asking for another subsidy. It we were not, if this was not for a political object or a revolutionary object or to coerce another subsidy from the Government, which we knew to be useless, then the last real, honest argument of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who oppose this Measure on this supposed ground, has again disappeared.
May I say a word about intimidation? I have taken part in a great many strikes, and it is quite on the cards that in the next month or two I may take part in another. I do not hope so: it is the inevitability of it which is worrying me very much. In those strikes I have myself done much picketing and much visiting of people. This talk of intimidation. becomes absolutely nauseating when you hear it from people who have in many ways in the past sometimes almost practised it themselves. That is how it appears to me when I hear it from members of the great Tory party of the past, who object to a man going to a house and telling another that he ought to be a man and stand with his fellows. Let me for a moment, deal with my legal Friends. They have no need of it, because they have this House and the law of the country to prevent anyone practising their trade unless they ask them to do so. If we had the same thing on the railways and only those we appointed could work on them, and if we fixed their standard, then we might not have to go to their houses to ask them to be men in times of need.
Hon. Members from the opposite benches speak about intimidation, but some of us know enough of the countryside to recollect the time when the farmer, who differed with the landowner in his politics and happened to be a Radical in the old days when Liberalism stood for something, easily lost his farm and could not get the lease renewed. But, if he was a common labourer who differed from the farmer and squire, what about intimidation then? Not only did he lose his job, but he was turned out of the little tied cottage with his furniture into the middle of the road. To talk about intimidation because of trade unionists asking their fellows to be men after this kind of thing is absolutely farcical.
I will turn to the question of the political levy. The ex-Solicitor-General, who I am sorry to see is not in his place, said the justification for the passing of the 1927 Act, as far as the political levy was concerned, was the reduction in the number of persons paying the levy. Not at all; there is not the slightest proof in that. Unfortunately we have in the trade unions a certain number of working men who are just like those whom hon. Members opposite represent in this House, the Income Tax payers who do not pay until they are compelled. I think the State keeps up a large and expensive organisation to see that those who owe Income Tax pay it, and I often hear it said, even in the Lobbies of this sacred building, how amusing it is to wait until the final note before paying, and how generally practised that is. Is that any proof—if it be so, I am prepared to present hon. Members with the argument—that those people do not believe in running the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the police force, or in keeping up the whole system of society in this country? They shout about it loudly enough in this House, but they do not always pay their Income Tax promptly on the nail—or those they represent do not—and those trade unionists who have not paid so rapidly as the old machinery allowed them to do or hastened them into doing are just about on a par with those energetic Income Tax payers.
May I try to put a little human note to the House on this question. I suggest that the whole of the opposition, whether from above the Gangway opposite or below it, is not based honestly on the arguments put forward in favour of the Act of 1927 and against this amending Bill. I suggest that their opposition to this Measure is not because the strike of 1926 was a political strike, because it was not, and no one can prove that it was: it is not because it was a coercive strike, for any political object—it was a strike to coerce those with whom we were negotiating so that they should drop exclusive representation of the employers and think a little of the workpeople; and it was not a general strike, either, because it never was general, not everyone was called out. Therefore, to what do we come back? What is this terrible affair? On the political side I can dismiss it thus, because those who will agree with me know it is true and those who will profess to disagree with me also know it is true, that a great political party in power at that time, seeing the red light of the political power of the people rising in the future to displace their age-long class advantage, took advantage of a moment of industrial and popular panic to pass a law to cripple the working people financially and prevent them being able to argue across the Floor of this House. Every penny contributed to the political fund through the channel of the levy comes from a more healthy and less contaminated source than, as we have some evidence, some of the old political war chests were derived from.
Therefore, I suggest, we must come back to this reason for their opposition, the old reason of the employers and those who represent them—the attempt to hamstring the ordinary working people, so that they may not have fair bargaining power. Without, I hope, appearing to be threatening, and certainly without desiring to be, may I state what is the inevitable thing—that when there is a feeling among the rank and file of the workers of this country that they ought to "down tools," as we call it, for a political object, no Act of Parliament will stop them. I bring this straight from a meeting of this very General Council; I was asked, if I got an opportunity to speak, to convey this message to the House: Whether our friends of the Liberal party assist in getting this Measure through or not, or whether, as it was expressed by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill)—the wish being father to the thought—they take part in murdering it upstairs, I say to this House, and through them to the country, that should a time arise in the future when a body of honest British workmen are so crushed and beaten by the power of the capitalists, who have the forces of this country behind them, as to require human sympathy, then, whether we leave the 1927 Act on the Statute Book or not, there will be another sympathetic strike. Make no mistake about that.
Everyone who has studied the history of this or any other country knows that you may make laws in time of peace to restrict people in times of peace, but a time does sometimes come when under pressure—and the greater the pressure the greater the rebound of the spring—humanity breaks its bonds. We are not working for that, and I repeat that I am not threatening, but only telling the House, that restrictive and repressive legislation leads nowhere. There was a great howl when the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. J. Brown) mentioned a revolution in another place. It was thought he had entirely destroyed his case by referring to it. There are some of us who do not agree with such things, who do not like them, who realise that in the end force leads nowhere; but all down the ages we have seen instances of the rebound of the over-compressed spring of humanity against the law makers when the law makers have not practised humanity in making their laws. I submit that with all respect to the mem- bers of the legal profession, who are examining this specimen under their microscope, though they do not want to see what is the matter with it, in spite of arguing as though they did. I suggest that their real object is to prevent fair play to organised trade unions.
We have several disputes going to-day, and others which I am afraid will soon start, in which people who have made and are making millions of profits out of their undertakings say that because they are not satisfied the workers will have to suffer, will have to go down willy nilly. A thousand legal arguments can be found to show why they should. Capitalism says: "But we risked our money and we must have a return"; and if the workers are allowed freedom to say it, they will reply: "We have risked our lives and the welfare of our wives and families, and we must demand a fair share of the returns." The aim of those both above and below the Gangway is to support the classes against those who earn the wealth of this country. I am not complaining; I realise the facts. I recognise it frankly, and I do not squeal every time they beat us. I never squealed after 1926, and I shall not squeal three months from now if I lose. I shall not squeal if they put a halter round some of us. But let us frankly realise that that is the battle.
What is the good of all this stage stuff, all these finicking arguments, this legal glossing over of facts? It has always been the same. It was the same in the Tolpuddle case, with Lovelace and the five Dorsetshire labourers. I have been looking at the record. They got 7s. a week for seven days' work, and part of it was paid in bad corn. George Lovelace and his brother and four others took action in 1834—it is not long ago—and when they organised a legal gentleman named Williams, who was a disgrace to Wales—from where some of my ancestors came—sent them for seven years' penal servitude abroad. At the trial he said: "It is not for what you have done, but what you were going to do." I suggest the same aim and object is behind those who are opposing this Measure. It is not a case of what we have done, but what they fear we may at some time have the power to do. When he was in the dock Lovelace said:
We had united together to preserve ourselves, our wives and our children from utter degradation and starvation.
That is the object for which trade unionism exists to-day. Will anyone opposite suggest that capitalism has changed its spots, that there is not just the same underpayment that there was then? In the references to intimidation there have been suggestions about sympathy for women and children—about the terrible things that would happen if a wife knew that somebody had visited her husband to ask him to come out on strike. One could hear the sobs in the voices of our friends opposite when they spoke of the women and children. I would commend some of those who are so sympathetic to go to the Report of the Royal Commission which inquired into the work in coal mines. This took place under capitalism. Here is what one witness said:
Elizabeth Eggley, 16 years of age—I am sister to the last witness. We go to work between four and five in the morning. If we are not there by half-past five we are not allowed to go down at all. We come out at four, five or six at night, as it happens. We stop in generally 12 hours, and sometimes longer.
Here is another:
Ann Mallender, 15 years of age—I am 15 years of age I always dress as you see me to-day, naked down to the waist and with trousers on. I work for James Martin, who is no relation, but he is the getter who employs me.
Charles Bailey, 13 years of age—I have been in the pit five years.
There is enough in this document alone to show how capitalism would treat people.
I am very pleased that the hon. and gallant Member has asked that question. I angled for it, if I may say so. The date was 1842, and it was sometime after that before women and children were removed from the mines.
This thing continued until trade unionism got strong. The hon. and gallant Member asked me how long ago this was, with a view, I expect, to submit that capitalism has changed
its spots. Possibly hon. Members opposite do not know that capitalism to-day takes boys and girls of 14 years into factories and "sacks" them when they become 16—when they come under the Unemployment Insurance Act. That is going on all over the country. It is only because humanity has advanced and because of the pressure of trade unionism that they are not carrying on just as they did then. I would commend to lion. Members opposite the advisability of spending an hour or two reading this little book, which shows the inhumanity of the cases I have cited. There is also the case of Betty Harris, of Little Bolton, who says:
I have a belt round my waist and a chain passing between my legs and I go on my hands and feet. The road is very steep and we have to hold by a rope; and when there is no rope, by anything we can catch hold of.
I would like to mention one or two other things. Members on the Front Oppositin Bench have spoken of things that happened during the last century. Those who know anything of the northern mills, which are now suffering from another lock-out, were described in former days as follows
The atmosphere of the mills was causing consumption and other chest affections. Recruiting officers for the mills reported that in some industrial areas they could hardly get men five feet eight inches in height. They were stunted, maimed and deformed, and premature deaths were frequent. Some of them were fined as much as 6d. for speak-to one another in the mills.
One member of the Factory Commission went to have a look at this state of things for himself. The gentleman I refer to was Mr. Grainger, who reported that:
Children were employed generally and he found them as low as three and four years of age.
I have before me a great deal of matter of that kind which is harrowing to read, but I wish to point out that those conditions were only altered after trade unionism became strong. A Royal Commission inquired into child labour, and it was shown that children of tender ages were working for 2s. or 3s. per week. I remember in my time, since I started work, seeing women making chains when I have been passing from Stourbridge to Birmingham through Cradley and Cradley Heath, and children
whose bones had scarcely become hardened assisting them. They were children of 13 or 14 years of age, and they were working with food in one hand, and holding with the other hand the chain which the mother was making. While doing this work, the women have to turn over the oliver, an instrument 30 lbs. in weight, and they do this work a fortnight before and a fortnight after childbirth. I have seen young girls in the brick and tile works employed under similar conditions, and nothing but trade unionism has altered that.
Hon. Members opposite may get up and deny my contention, but they know it is true. The working classes know it, and hon. Members opposite are aware that the working classes know it. These people get no share of the profits which have been made, even during the years of depression, and yet hon. Members opposite desire to hamstring trade unions, not because there has ever been a general strike or any political side to a strike at all, not because trade unionists aim at coercing the Government or anyone else, but simply because the trade unionists have taken part in an industrial dispute. This has led to the legal gentlemen in this House crossing swords in a kind of sham fight with each other in a way that has no real bearing on the humanities of the question.
I appeal to the House to take up another attitude, although I know our limitations. I could not take one of our main line passenger trains on a long journey with an old shunting engine from the docks. I do not say that the machine we are proposing will do all it should do for the people of this country, but I do ask hon. Members to get away from the old traditions. All they have said about stopping the political advancement of Labour ideals will not have the slightest effect. I prophesy to this House in what may he my last speech here that all the repressive measures against the workers will be of no avail. During the last 25 years, I and others have come here after addressing people from a broken chair or a box at the street corner to tell the same story. Some of us speak more plaintively here than outside, and I ask hon. Members why do they not do the fair and generous thing, and cut out all this nonsense, which very few of them believe, about the revolutionary strike or the political strike. Why not be fair, why not unshackle our hands and fight the battle fairly? Better still, why not share the swag more evenly instead of allowing it to be spent on luxuries, wine, statues, fine pictures and necklaces which are of no use to anyone.
I do not want my earnestness to run away with me, but I would again ask all sections of the House not to harbour this desire to murder politically or industrially the working people. Let us deal with these questions on their merits, and adopt this Measure which will give fair play to the workers and nothing else. The trade unions will see that nothing untoward will happen, and they are sufficiently conservative for that. For the first time since 1926 let hon. Members try to do justice to the people who were fighting under very great difficulties merely for justice. I close with the words of George Lovelace who got seven years for asking for more than 7s. a week. Lovelace wrote:
Justice in England, this free and happy land,
Justice in England I cannot understand;
Justice for the rich and poor,
They tell their different tale;
The rich man always seems to get,
The balance of the scale.
We all know that that is true. Let us, as an honourable House legislating for the people of this country, make that claim untrue.
Nothing which has fallen from the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) will assist in defending this Bill. In my opinion, this Measure would never have been heard of at all but for the condition of the cash box of the Socialist party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I shall not concern myself with the legal conundrums raised by this Measure. We have had a good deal of law during the last few days, but I do not think hon. Members are so much concerned with the law of the Bill as with its main principle. The serious issue to me is that this Measure is designed to weaken the Act of 1927, an Act which in my view after the events of 1926 brought immense relief to the people of this country, and materially contributed to the confidence which spread over the people well into the early life of the present Government. That was a priceless asset which was inherited by the present Government but which they have dissipated more rapidly and more completely than anyone could have imagined.
With regard to the three main principles in the Act of 1927 which this Measure seeks to amend, I will not say very much. In the first place, the Measure emasculates the definition given in the Act of 1927 of an illegal strike or lock-out. It allows greater licence to intimidation in a trade dispute, and it presumes that each member of a trade union must contribute to the political fund unless he contracts out. I am glad that the Solicitor-General has given a definite and fair reply to the question which has been repeatedly put to the Government. After the unity of 1926 great masses of the trade unionists in this country, realising the danger from which the country had been mercifully delivered, willingly surrendered the terrible and uncontrollable weapon of a national strike. The Act of 1927, in spite of the fact that it has been carried through the country as a flaming torch for electioneering purposes, did not withhold any rights from trade unionists, but it has given them confidence, freed them from coercion and from a very real fear, the fear of molestation which is often directed against his own women and children.
The hon. Gentleman has just told the House that such action is very often directed against the workman's women and children. I challenge him to give one authentic case.
I cannot do so now; it is well known, but I could not really produce a particular case at this moment. [Interruption.] In speaking of this Bill, which is so uniformly bad, it is rather difficult to point to one part of it which is worse than another but the amendments of Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Act of 1927, which deals with intimidation, is, in my view, not only violently retrogressive, but displays a complete barrenness of statecraft, and I find it very difficult to believe that the Solicitor-General or the Prime Minister, or, indeed, any but very few of those who sit on the benches opposite and whom I know so well, would, if we could see into their hearts, subscribe to these amendments. I cannot believe it.
The Section as it now stands in the Act, and as it would read when amended by this Bill, is well known now to every Member of the House, and I will not trouble the House with it, but, shortly, the proposed amendments seem to me to open the door to every kind of persecution short of injury to person or to property. Is it not a matter of pride with us in this country that, in securing to our people the ordinary amenities of communal life, in protecting the individual from interference, annoyance and molestation, our laws and the administration of our laws are a pattern to the whole world? Yet here is a Government, of a party who are more loudly than ever at this moment proclaiming their fellowship with Christianity, deliberately encouraging, not their political supporters, but trade union members, to resort to the most vicious form of that contradiction in terms, peaceful picketing, which involves in my belief, and we have plenty of records of it, a great deal that can be done of a very cruel kind, the most cruel being a threat of boycott in respect of a man's occupation, which will break the stoutest heart. I will undertake to say that, if the Solicitor-General or the Attorney-General or any of their colleagues on that bench were suddenly to find themselves faced with these circumstances on opening their comfortable front doors one morning in the year of Our Lord 1931, a howl of execration would go up from them against any Government that was guilty of so retrograde a step. This Bill and these Amendments are just about the measure of the offence that the Act of 1927 has caused to the political racketeers of the Socialist party, and it is at the behest of these people, under the leadership of their, if I may so call him without offence, chief gangster, no less than the Attorney-General, that the country is to be menaced by deliberately lethalising—not legalising—for their political purposes the weapon which by common consent it is in the right of the trade unions to possess and to use.
My experience of trade unionists, and it is considerable, leads me to suppose and believe that a large mass of them welcomed the Act of 1927, and I am re- inforced in that belief by my knowledge of a section of men who are not quite so articulate in this House as other sections. I refer to seamen. Hon. Members will not forget that the only trade union that stood out from and would not take part in the 1926 strike was the Seamen's Union. [Interruption.] I am speaking about the 1926 strike. They did not come out then when you called them out. That was under the leadership of a great patriot, Havelock Wilson, who, lying on a bed of sickness, suffering from the malady which ultimately killed him, stoutly refused to call out his members. He encountered the fiercest opposition from many of his subordinates, but still he would grant them no concession. He held to that attitude, and ultimately flung them out. He applied for injunctions against them, and the result was the Astbury judgment, which laid down that the strike was illegal, and declared that Havelock Wilson was maintaining the constitutional position.
We have heard a great deal about the spirit of trade unions and the spirit of working men and women. I mention that fact to demonstrate the attitude of, at any rate, British seamen, in one of the most dangerous crises that ever threatened our country. They carried the war so far into the enemy's camp as to prove illegality in the Courts. One could go on mentioning other instances of a like nature in which seamen have taken part. It can hardly be said, and here my hon. Friends opposite will agree with me, that seamen have ever enjoyed any specially favoured treatment, or that they have been more reluctant to use the strike weapon than other trade unionists in the past; and it certainly cannot be said, as I know from my own experience, that their intrepid old leader was ever reluctant to lead them into battle when he thought he should fight. An hon. Friend of mine, who is connected with the steel trade, prided himself last night, very justifiably, on the fact that the steel trade union with which he was associated had not had a strike for 30 years. The Seamen's Union has not had a strike for 20 years, including 1926. [Interruption.] Yes, there are plenty who are better off than they are, but they manage to adjust their affairs through the Shipping Federation on the one hand, the Seamen's Union on the other, and the National Maritime Board. No one knows that better than my hon. Friends opposite. For 20 years they have managed to arrange their affairs round the table, and that was their action in 1926. I do not believe that these men will abandon the views to which they held so tenaciously and heroically in the face of the whole fury of trade union opinion at that time, within the space of three and a half years, and jeopardise the whole of that honourable period of sane administration.
The Bill presumes that every trade union member wishes to contribute to the funds of the Socialist party unless he chooses to contract out. My Conservative men and women—and there are so many of them that they send me here with majorities of many thousands over my Socialist opponent at election after election—those Conservative working men and women are to be returned to the condition in which they must perforce contribute to the funds of a party of whose policy they so strongly disapprove. It is really preposterous. Apart from the, shall I say, constitutional indecency of this procedure, I would say that there is not the slightest justification for it. We all know that a political party cannot be run without money, but is it not absurd to claim that the Socialist party to-day is the poor man's party that it was 30, or even 10, years ago? Does the Solicitor-General or the Attorney-General seriously claim that his ministerial life is endangered unless he is able to extort from the poor people their weekly pennies? One has only to look round this House to see reflected the immense change that has taken place in the Socialist party as regards wealth, personnel, and in every other way, in recent years. There are not so many Members sitting on the opposite benches now, but, at 11 o'clock to-night, whom shall we see on those benches?
I do not want to be unfair in referring to anyone who is not here, but let me take, say, the hon. Baronet the Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley). Is it by his good will, or by the good will of his hon. Friend the Noble Lady the Member for Stoke (Lady C. Mosley), that these funds extorted from the people are to be brought to their aid? Then there is my hon. Friend who is at the moment sitting out of his place below the Gangway opposite, the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Major Pole). I am sure he will forgive me for poking a little fun at him. Suppose that, as he sits in his place in this House, having been elevated to the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for War, that grand old Labour leader, Mr. Keir Hardie, were to walk into the House and see him sitting here, always immaculate, flower-bedecked, and a pleasure to the eyes of every one of us. Is it conceivable — can we contemplate him eagerly looking to this automatic penny-grinding machine to assist him in the distinguished career of usefulness which is undoubtedly opening before him? Perish the thought! And so one could go on. Imagine the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas), who is going to wind up this Debate. Is he not shaken when he contemplates the fact that by this Bill he is about to coerce—and the hon. Gentleman opposite knows, probably, as well as he that it is to coerce—30,000 of the union of 50,000 locomotive engineers into contributing to the fund of which they now express disapproval?
So that the hon. and gallant Gentleman shall not get off on a side issue, may I say that in my union the levy was always a voluntary one? No one was asked whether he had paid or not, and the position is exactly the same to-day.
The position is that they are not paying into the fund to-day because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) said this afternoon, they do not choose to do so. The hon. Gentleman is going to make it as difficult as possible for them to do as they wish to do. The figures in that union are most striking. The Attorney-General the other day said, with regard to the figures he gave:
The figures … have been supplied to me by the Registrar of Friendly Societies. The arithmetic is my own."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 410, Vol. 247.]
So also have I got the figures of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, but I have applied none of my stupid arithmetic to them; I take his figures as a cold fact and give them to the House. Is the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite so unattractive, is the confidence of the people whom they claim to represent so lacking, that they must obtain their funds by this method? If that is not so, how is it that these great unions are allowing themselves to be manœuvred by a handful of political extremists into a position in which they may lose millions, as they did in 1926, for, as sure as night follows day, if this Bill becomes law, the trade unions will come into conflict with the Government at an early date, and, if they come into conflict with the Government, the Government must always win, even if it is a Socialist Government. As I have listened to the Debate, my inclination has been to say, What is the use of all this argument and splitting of hairs over legal definitions?
As I look across there, I see hon. Members who, on a certain day in 1925, listened with me to one of the greatest, one of the most understanding speeches that was ever made in this House, many of them my own contemporaries in age and to a certain extent in experience, men who have known in their youth and their boyhood what real hardship meant in the life of the working man, a hardship which I have known probably to a greater extent than most of them. I do not fail to admire their enthusiasm, their conviction of rectitude, their tenacity on behalf of the workers and at the same time, having watched him in action and in speech since those days, I believe that no men better than they can so truly appraise at its real worth the attitude and spirit of the man who made that speech, of which he reminded us the other day that in making it he had opposed a large section of his own party when he refused to fire the first shot in the battle that had been threatened by a certain number of trade unionists ever since 1918. It is that kind of spirit that we want a little more of in these Debates.
When I make my decision as to opposing this Bill, I am not so much moved by my position as a party man, but compare the attitude and the record of the present Government with the attitude and record expressed in the speech to which I am referring. I shall not be challenged by any Member in the House when I assert that the spirit displayed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) has advanced immeasurably, the understanding between masters and men, the appreciation of the value of conference rather than strife, and this Bill will tend completely in the other direction, to the undoing of the good work that has been done. It is not usual to refer to a particular man in this way. It would be more usual to refer to the Government of which he was the head. But I am referring to a peculiarly personal influence, and this is not the time when we can be too sensitive in saying what we think to be right. I hope every Member tonight will apply that kind of test to this Bill, because it is the spirit of the Bill that is all wrong. They would have us believe that they are fighting for an abstract ideal, which they speak of as freedom for the workers. The declared intention of the Bill, and the early result of it, will be to weaken the lockgates against the very flood which its provisions will excite.
There is no doubt that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) will go down to posterity as a disgrace to Englishmen for having spoken on behalf of a particular class against the working-class. It is not only now that he has made this reputation for himself. It was the same man who put our trade union up against it during the War when you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, were the General-Secretary. It was the right hon. and learned Gentleman who invented D.O.R.A. I thank the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) for bringing the realities of the situation into their true perspective. He quoted from a Royal Commission as to the harrowing conditions under which men, women and children worked in the coal mines. The conditions that appertain in the mines now are absolutely hellish.
What is it that all this stir is about? What is causing all the noise and all the trouble? Why is it that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley, even at the expense of divorcing himself from his own party, jumps into the breach to defend the aristocracy and to defend capitalism? He wants to be in the favoured position of judging the working-class. He and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) want to be in a position to say whether the workers shall stop work or not. Imagine anyone saying to either of them when he should start work—I mean actual work. You, Sir, were once General Secretary of our Union. Imagine what thoughts are surging through the minds of our fellow trade unionists at the moment. Think how our trade is right up against it. Think how the engineer to-day is living in dread of another reduction in wages. Think of the miners. Think of the cotton workers. Think of the working-class in general, living in an atmosphere of fear to such an extent as they have never lived before. Here you have men fresh from the Riviera, fresh from Switzerland, who claim the right to stop work whenever they like. How would the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley like to accept a brief that was only going to bring him in £a week? Do you think you, Sir, who know who are associated with them—
With all due respect again, Sir, if you had waited until I had finished you would have seen that there was nothing personal or anything else regarding the matter. You know perfectly well the ideas of, and the lives lived by, men such as the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley and the right hon. Member for Epping. You occupy a unique position, because you also have the thoughts, aspirations and ideals of my class.
Those individuals have never known what it is to do a day's work such as we members of the working class understand it. That is, to work at the dictation of another—he may not be as good a man as you—who shall say how you must do your work and how much you must do. They know nothing about that. They know nothing about going and looking for a job when there is no job to get. They know nothing about being in the position of:
See yonder poor o'erlaboured wight,
Sae abject, mean and vile
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil.
And see his lowly fellow-worm
His poor petition spurn,
Unmindful tho' a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.
They know nothing about those conditions. They have never been through them, and yet these are the individuals who have the brass face to rise in this House before me. I know what it is to be in that position, what it is to lead a strike, and what it is to be bludgeoned by the police while leading a strike. I ask the House: Why do men go on strike? Is it for the fun of the thing? Is it because my class do not love their country as much as your class? Is it because my class do not love to see their women and children comfortable? No, Sir. It is because of the hellish conditions in every case that the working class come out on strike. It is not for the love of the thing. Was it for the love of the strike that the Welsh miners struck when the Tories in this country believed that they would not strike and that the last atom of manhood had been crushed out of the miners? Was it for the love of the thing that the Scottish miners struck work? No, Sir, it was because their spirit was rising against those conditions, and they said:
If I'm designed yon lordling's slave
By nature's law designed,
Why was an independent wish
E'er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject
To his cruelty and scorn
And why has man the will and power
To make his fellow mourn?
These men came out on strike, just as the working class will continue to go on strike and just as I shall use all the influence that I have throughout the length and breadth of the land to instil into the workers the idea of "never surrender the right to strike." These
are great men, or supposed to be, but they are only great because we are on our knees. Our crying call to our class is to rise, because they are not great. Men are only great when they use whatever powers or gifts they may have, mentally or physically, to defend those who cannot defend themselves, and that cannot be said of either of the right hon. Gentlemen to whom I have already referred—the right hon. Member for Epping and the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley. I wish that they had been here.
I should like to ask the following question of the Attorney-General. I wonder if you are aware, Sir, that in 1921 the present Prime Minister of this country said that he would ask the dockers to refuse to load ammunition if such ammunition was intended to be used against the Russians, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping wanted a war with Russia. If the right hon. Member for Epping could not get a foreign war he would have a war with Peter the Painter down in Shoreditch. I want to ask the Attorney-General—I put the same question to him in another form at our party meeting—if, in the event of a like situation arising and the same statement being made, this Act would prevent the Prime Minister from being arrested for advice such as he then gave to the dockers?
I am very glad to get that admission, the reason being that we now know exactly where we are. If we make a threat of a strike against war preparations in this country, under that Act it will be illegal, and on the head of the Attorney-General will be the responsibility for saying so, as a member of a Socialist Government. That is not a very light matter. It is a very serious matter so far as we are concerned. The watch and chain that I wear I received from the engineers for putting up a fight against all comers on their behalf when everybody was against the engineer who was making a fight because the rise in the price of the necessaries of life were not in keeping with the wages that he was receiving. The same thing is going to happen under this Bill. If the Bill is to be left as it is, it will mean that we shall be in the hands of individuals who have absolutely no sympathy with, and do not understand, the working classes. Yet at this moment the Government are passing a Bill which, on the admission of the Attorney-General, will not protect my class. That is the Bill, although I am going to vote for it. [Interruption.] I am going to vote for it because I can get nothing better. I am not afraid to abstain from voting if my conscience so dictates.
I hope that my colleagues will go into the country and let it be known that we have done our very best here, and appeal to them to come into the trade union movement. Let the lesson that has been given in this House go out to the working classes, because, undoubtedly, there are many of my colleagues, may I say my comrades, who try to camouflage the class antagonism that has been exhibited throughout this Debate. It is true that it is not exposed in rugged grandeur, but it is there in all its subtlety and its savagery. We saw it when the Tories did not oppose the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley at the last election.
I have been in my place since four o'clock without breaking my fast. It is not my fault that the hon. Members to whom I am referring are not present. I should have been delighted had they been present, and I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Lieut.-Colonel Moore) would have enjoyed it. Those hon. Members ought to be here. They talk about men shirking and striking. Those hon. Members receive £400 a year, which is more than the engineers get for working eight hours a day, and they are frightened all the time of a reduction in wages.
I would have preferred that this Bill had dealt with the causes that lead to strikes, rather than the effects. This House was crowded in order to hear the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley, proving how it was im- possible to have a general strike in this country again. I am in favour of a general strike, and a political strike, at that. I will do all that I possibly can to try to keep alive the spirit of the love of freedom, of liberty and of manhood in this country, and to let the working classes know that they have never got anything in this country unless they have been prepared to fight for it. We have never got anything from the ruling classes unless we were able to demand it from the ruling classes. I hope we shall never be afraid of lawyers, highly trained, who have all the good things of life showered upon them and who when they feel a little tired and jaded can hide themselves away to the sunny south of France and recuperate.
At the moment anxiety is looking out of the eyes of the majority of the mothers of the children of this country, not knowing what a day is going to bring forth. It is not simply the horny handed son of toil who is in that position to-day, it is also the salaried classes, to an extent not known before. The evidence of it you can see in all our big industrial centres where there is a savings bank, which pays only 2½ per cent. In Glasgow, for instance, never so much money came in as was the case last year, and Belfast, which is scheduled as a poverty stricken area, is in exactly the same position as far as the savings bank is concerned. What is the reason? Is it because people have become more thrifty or, as some Tories suggest, because there is money among the working classes to-day? Nothing of the kind. It is due to fear. Instead of spending money which they should spend on the absolute necessaries of life they fear to spend it lest the day may arise in the immediate future when they will have no income. That is the reason. I would rather that the Bill had dealt with this side of human life; poverty in the midst of super-abundance, and this House doing nothing to change it, a world dazzled with inventions to eliminate space and time, every market of the world glutted with all the good things of life, and every country in the world wanting to send their good to us, and we, metaphorically speaking, saying "For God's sake do not send any more goods or you will smother us." That is the situation with which we are faced to-day—under a Labour Government. I do not say that it is because a Labour Government sits on those benches. It is a fact. These conditions exist and the unemployment figures are mounting, and will mount still more.
Taking everything into consideration I hope that my colleagues of the Independent Labour Party, for whom I can speak, will support the Government on this Bill. It is the best we can get, but at the same time we must do all we possibly can to keep alive the spirit of rebellion against the conditions which prevail. There will be no coming cap in hand to one section of the community or another. We speak for the working classes. Hon. Members opposite have introduced the word "community." Who is the community? Is it those individuals who "toil not neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these"? [An HON. MEMBER: "Where are they?"] If the hon. Member wants to be told I am prepared to tell him, and then you will say:
Tell it not in Grath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon.
Who is the community? We represent the community, the working-classes. There are two classes, those who work and those who do not, and when I speak of the working-classes I mean everyone who renders useful service to society. [Interruption.] I do not add, what is usually added, whether he works by hand or brain, because those who work with their hands are working with their brains as well.
The community for whom we on these benches speak represent 12,000,000 insured workers, 80 per cent. of the population of this country, and surely we have a right to say what is going to take place in this country. The miners are the community, the engineers, the cotton operatives, the woollen operatives, the transport workers, the agricultural workers—and think of the conditions of the agricultural workers. You have no idea of those conditions; you in the white shirt.
My hon. Friends here wish me to say something rude in reply to that remark, but I refrain. That is the community—the great working-class of this country. But up to the advent of Labour the small section of the community has dominated what the Attorney-General well termed the great giant, the great working-class. That great giant is watching this House, watching the part that is being played by the Parliamentary Labour party. The great working-class outside is groaning under the conditions that prevail and it is expecting us to do something to alleviate those conditions. It will be a tragedy if by any chance it should go out to the country that we have failed. If I had to be nice and suave you would have to make me over again. But we have brought into our party suave men, men with suave manners. I welcome them. They are in responsible positions. Great honour has been conferred on them by this great party of ours. With those honours come great responsibilities. I hope that they will stand up against all the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that the Tory party, or the supposed all-wise individual from Spen Valley, may care to put out.
I hope that our men who are now on the Front Bench will stand to their guns like men and be worthy of the great honour that we have conferred on them. If they do so they will merit all the honour, but if they do not they will certainly go down to posterity, just as the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley and the right hon. Member for Epping undoubtedly will, as individuals who have done all that they possibly could to crush the finest body of men and women, who have assisted to crush one of the finest races on earth, the British race, and have assisted to keep them in poverty and starvation, when if they had used their great and outstanding abilities along with us who are of commoner clay, we could have lifted our country and in our time could have given every man, woman and child a happy, contented and comfortable life. I hope, therefore, taking everything into account, that we will go into the Lobby and give the Government, all the support we can, united against our enemies on the other side of the House.
This Bill has at any rate had one piece of good fortune. It has had the good fortune to find as its chief sponsor the learned Attorney-General. Those of us here who have known him outside the House for many years have watched his work with admiration have long since realised that one of his chief assets has been the power he possesses in the Courts of clothing with his own virtues the deficiencies of his client, however worthless that client might be. It was interesting for us to see how in this House, upon the introduction of this Bill, he clothed, or appeared to clothe, with his own respectability, a shivering and suspect Bill. It is to the Bill that I desire to turn for a few moments only. The learned Attorney-General, and indeed many other supporters of the Bill, have sought to justify the introduction of a new Bill at all by pointing, first, to the circumstances in which the Act of 1927 was passed, and, secondly, to the alleged defects of that Act. I do not deal with the circumstances. The charge that the Act was introduced and carried through the House in a spirit of resentment, I am sure will not be accepted by any thinking Member of the House.
I was not here, but I read the Debates, I know the date of the General Strike, and I know the long interval that intervened between the date of the strike and the introduction of the 1927 Bill into this House. I have read the long Debates that took place at all stages of the passage of that Act. The other statement made in justification of the introduction of this Bill is that the Act of 1927 deprived trade unionists of some of their legitimate rights, and, in support of that statement, there seems to be a general feeling on the benches opposite that under the 1927 Act all sympathetic strikes were illegal. It was an astounding thing to hear the Secretary of State for War, from his place in the House, representing, as one is entitled to assume, the view of the Cabinet of which he is a member, stating that the Act of 1927 would render all sympathetic strikes illegal. The right hon. Gentleman is not here but I quote his words:
If it is said that the 1927 Act was simply intended to make a political general strike impossible, why make it impossible as indeed the Act did, for any one trade to help another in case of emergency?"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 490, Vol. 247.]
Then he cited the instance of the cotton trade and of the refusal of transport workers to carry beams from one workshop to another. Evidently the right hon. Gentleman is under the impression that one of the objects with which the present Bill is introduced is the removal of injustices created by the 1927 Act, under which all sympathetic strikes would be illegal. Of course we all know, or we ought to know by this time, after three days' debate, that there is nothing of the kind and that the sympathetic strike is as legal under the 1927 Act as the primary strike, and that the only element of illegality that can be incorporated into the secondary strike is the attempt to coerce the Government, either directly or by causing injury and suffering to the community. So that it has been introduced on lines, which have only to be investigated to show that there is not a shadow of foundation for the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War.
There is another matter. Having been called upon at this late late stage in the Debate I do not propose to detain the House very long. So much has been said against the Bill that I desire, as far as possible, to confine my observations to matters which arise directly, and this is one of them. When the Attorney-General moved the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill, after dealing with the extra-ordinary procedure provided by the Bill, under which, before any proceedings could be taken in the case of a strike, legal or illegal, a declaration of the Court had to be obtained, the hon. and learned Gentleman sought to give comfort to the House by pointing out that, although the procedure provided for in the Bill might be cumbrous, might be long, might occupy more time than would be desirable, still, concurrently with that remedy of going to the Court of Chancery and asking for a declaration, there was always the right to go to the Courts and obtain an injunction, if the case warranted it, against the trade union, its officials and its servants. As this is an important matter, and a matter which the learned Solicitor-General dealt with to-day—in a speech which we were all delighted to hear and which we all listened to with admiration for the clarity of his argument, and the delightful, effective and trenchant delivery of that
argument—I would like to quote the Attorney-General accurately. He said:
A man will still be able to go to the Courts and to say 'I am threatened by an illegal strike. If it takes place it will do me serious injury. I want you to grant an injunction.' And the court will then be able to grant an injunction restraining, of course, the trade union its servants or agents, and anyone of those persons who thereupon or thereafter takes part in the strike will, of course, be punishable for contempt of Court.
Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said:
May I just ask the hon. and learned Gentleman: Is it his view that the trade union could be made defendant in such an action?
The Attorney-General replied:
Yes, that is my view."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 394, Vol. 247.]
The learned Attorney-General will remember that, in the course of his speech in the House yesterday, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley drew the attention of the House to the judgment of Lord Justice Scratton and Lord Justice Atkin. That was followed by a letter which apeared in the "Times" newspaper this morning, over the name of the right hon. and learned Gentleman setting out in convenient form the argument in support of the case which he put forward that a trade union, in view of the decision in Ware and de Freville versus Motor Trade Association, could no longer be sued in the Courts either for damages or for any other relief and that all claims to injunction would be barred under this Bill if it should become law. The learned Solicitor-General in his reply contested that view, and called attention to the fact that, at present, in the Court of Chancery an action is being taken by members of a trade union against certain officials. I desire to point out to the learned Solicitor-General that if that action lies—it may or it may not lie, and that issue is only in course of being tried—it is not against the trade union, but against the officials, as individuals, and not in any way as representing the trade union.
The argument put forward by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley yesterday, and the one that I endeavour to support now, is that if this Bill becames law, although you may be able to bring an action and obtain an injunction against an individual, there is no way of obtaining an injunction against a union itself, which, if granted, will be binding upon every officer and servant of that union, and is the only effective kind of injunction you can get. What is the good of getting an injunction against the secretary of a union? Assume that the secretary of a union has an injunction obtained against him, he can resign his post and be succeeded by another secretary, and so on with every official of each trade union. The only possible remedy that is any good to anybody is an injunction, if the circumstances demand it, under which the union and every servant and agent, present or future, of that union will be bound. The answer put forward to the case presented by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley is, I suggest, not one that can be maintained.
It is interesting to see how this view is shared by other responsible Members of the Government, because if hon. Members will look at the speech yesterday of the learned Lord Advocate, they will find exactly the same thing. I do not want to complain of that. When any Bill of this complexity and difficulty, a Bill of what I venture to call these revolutionary principles, is introduced, the House looks to the Law Officers to expound the law, and the leading Law Officer for England and the leading Law Officer for Scotland have each informed this House that remedies against a trade union by way of injunction will continue if this Bill is passed.
The learned Attorney-General has had several questions put to him by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley. He has not answered them, though the learned Solicitor-General has, and I totally and entirely disagree with the latter's answer. Every lawyer is entitled to his own opinion. I should still like to hear the Attorney-General answer that question. The fact that the Solicitor-General has answered it shows that there can be no objection in principle or in policy to a Law Officer answering such a question. Why does not the Law Officer who is asked the question answer it? If he does not answer it, the only conclusion that this House can draw is that he thinks one thing and the Solicitor- General thinks another, and if that be so, the Solicitor-General cannot quarrel with me for taking a view different from his, if in fact the view of the Attorney-General coincides with mine. I am quite sure that before the Debate ends the House will be delighted if the Attorney-General will take the opportunity of answering the question.
But a further question that I should like to have answered is this: Does the learned Attorney-General still maintain that under this Bill the unions can be restrained from committing illegal acts at the suit either of their members or of any party injured by those illegal acts?
I have answered the previous question several times, and I think that this is not the first time that I have answered the other question. In my view—though this is not the time to debate it—the answer is Yes, but I have already made it plain—and if there is any doubt about it, I am perfectly willing to make it plain—that a union would be liable to an injunction under the Bill just as it is under the law now.
At any rate, there is a doubt, and I am grateful to the Attorney-General for his answer that all doubt in the matter shall be removed. As to the other question, the old, primary question, the Attorney-General says he has answered it. Will he forgive me for saying that the only answer which he has given to it is this: "I am unable to answer it, because each case depends upon its facts." That is the answer which we have had returned again and again, as if the whole of the facts of the 1926 strike were not fully known to every member, not only of this House, but of the public! I venture to submit that the question is a plain one, which is capable of a plain answer, but it seems that we must despair of getting that plain answer.
The learned Attorney-General again, in dealing with the question of contracting-out, sought to comfort us by saying, "You know, there is very little in the nature of intimidation. There are very few instances of members of unions being compelled against their will to subscribe to funds raised for political purposes with which they are out of sympathy. Why, look at the years 1926 and 1927. I think there were only 10 complaints in each year and in the previous year, six." Be it so. Is it to be supposed that every member of a union who is aggrieved lodges his complaint and makes public his grievance? It may be better policy to put up with and to swallow what is imposed upon him. Human nature is pretty well the same all the world over, among employers and employed alike.
I cannot forget this: In 1910, I think it was, if I may be allowed a personal reminiscence, I was concerned in the Osborne case. All Members of this House remember what the ease was about and what the result was. Osborne, a railway porter, succeeded in getting a declaration that this levy for political purposes was illegal. "There is no intimidation," says the Attorney-General. But what happened in the Osborne case? Hon. Members will remember that no sooner had he won his case in the House of Lords than his union passed a resolution expelling him, and that he brought an action in respect of that expulsion. Hon. Members and those who have been associated with the unions for many years know, and I, from my association with the question from a different point of view know, perfectly well, that for years after the Osborne case the courts at intervals were occupied in trying cases where members of unions who had been expelled those unions brought actions against the unions claiming declarations that the resolutions of expulsion were illegal and contrary to the provisions of the law.
Why were they expelled? We cannot disguise these facts; we all saw them for ourselves. They were expelled because they objected to the political levy. In case after case it was proved to the satisfaction of the court that the pretext under which they were expelled had no existence, and that it was a mere excuse. The real facts leading to their expulsion were facts in connection with the political levy which had rendered them unpopular among their fellows. I do not suppose that human nature in 1931 is any better than it was in 1912 and 1914, and if things like that happened then, they may well happen now. The House has been good enough to give me leave to deal with matters arising out of my own personal knowledge, and I hope that the recollection of those unhappy times will show what possibly may happen—though one hopes that it will not—in the future. Surely it is an additional argument for giving complete freedom of action, and imposing no obligations on those who are not prepared of their own accord to subscribe to political funds.
This Bill legalises the general strike. I say that with the responsibility of a lawyer expressing an opinion, notwithstanding the fact that the learned Solicitor-General has expressed a different one. The Bill is directed to raising funds which will be available for the purposes of another general strike. It is directed to rendering a general strike a far more formidable weapon than any general strike could have been in the past. The weapon is to be made more formidable because the Bill provides facilities for bringing in civil servants and influencing municipal employés. I am speaking not as a lawyer, but as a citizen when I say that, so soon as the country realises that the Government are doing these things, there will be such a reaction against the Government that everybody on that side of the House will bitterly regret that pressure was ever brought on the Government to introduce a Bill, the fate of which is already decided, short of a vote. It is gasping for breath, and will never emerge from the room upstairs.
For three days the House of Commons has turned itself into a jury to hear a cause célèbre, while leading counsel on one side and the other have given their interpretations of the various Clauses of the Bill. I must say, as a lay Member and as a very baffled juryman, that the law, far from being categorical and clear, is far more complicated, and I know far less about the legal position than I did three days ago. The several speeches which I have heard from eminent counsel confirm me in the impression that the best thing that can happen to this Bill is that it should be discussed in Committee. The issues that are being raised are vital. It is a vital question whether Clause 1 legalises or does not legalise a general strike. We have the hon. and learned Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Birkett) and the hon. and learned Member for Holborn (Mr. S. Bevan), two very eminent authorities, saying that in their view the general strike, if it occurred again, would be legal under this Bill. On the other hand, we have the Solicitor-General saying very definitely that in his view it would be illegal—a rather unkind comment on the action of many of his colleagues.
Take the simple question of injunction. It is vitally important for the jurymen to be able to tell whether an injunction can lie against a trade union that is taking a certain course of action which threatens the safety of the State. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) takes one very definite view, and he is supported by the hon. and learned Member for Holborn. The Attorney-General takes the completely contrary view that the injunction will lie against a trade union. What are we to think? It is very deplorable that these issues have been raised, but now that they are raised, the country, being interested in these questions, is entitled to have them thrashed out; and no one who has heard this Debate for three days as I have, would say that the House of Commons is a fit place in which these legal arguments can be maintained. It would be much better done in a cool sequestered room upstairs, with fewer Members, and more confined perhaps to members of the legal profession; then these very difficult points could he settled. The country does not want all these legal subtleties; it wants to know that there shall never be a repetition of the events of 1926. That wants to be made plain beyond a peradventure.
I have the advantage of speaking as a trade unionist who was actually engaged in the General Strike of 1926. My union was called out on the first day, but as I was a journalist, it did not matter what I wrote, because nobody printed it, and we were allowed to stand by by the kind permission of the Trade Union Congress. I am interpreting the minds of those with whom I came in contact in the unions associated with the produc- tion of a paper, when I say that it is vitally important from their point of view that the 1926 position, be it legal or illegal, shall never be allowed to return. That is my sole interest in Clause 1. Surely it is possible in Committee, if this Bill passes this House, to frame some Clause whereby an authoritative pronouncement shall be made instead of a decision being left to some magistrate as in the 1927 Act. A man who is promoted for his ability in some partisan direction—[Interruption.] Surely magistrates are promoted for some service to their party. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Do not let us argue that, but hon. Members will admit that on a question that affects the action of tens of thousands if not millions of people, they would rather have an authoritative pronouncement of a good legal tribunal than the opinion of a magistrate. If he admits that, then surely there is a case for Section 1 of the 1927 Act to be amended. Even the right hon. Member for Spen Valley, supported by the whole Liberal party of that time, thought that a better way of carrying out the obvious wishes of the country might be found in a simple Clause which, while it did not prevent sympathetic strikes, gave a clear interpretation of the will of the people that the 1926 position should never occur again.
May I say a word about the Civil Service position? Here I want to cross swords with the Attorney-General. I understood his argument to be that one law may apply to a messenger in the Civil Service but another law must apply to the head of the department. That is fundamentally unsound. It is a case of one law for the rich and another for the poor, but terribly reversed. I wonder if the Secretary of State would adopt that rule for the Army, and say that the colonel must be loyal, but the private, being of a lower grade, may use his discretion. Perhaps we would have a scale of loyalties, so that the sergeant might be loyal one day and disloyal the next. Perhaps the same principle might be applied to the Government, so that only the Members of the Cabinet should be loyal to the Government, while the rank and file and the Members below the Gangway could exercise their discretion. I believe that you are far safer if you take your stand on a fundamental principle and say, if you put a man, whether a messenger or head of a department, in an occupation in which he serves the State in a way that gives him certain privileges of security and pension, that he should give his unswerving loyalty to the State.
Finally, as a trade unionist who has had some experience of trade unionism, though not nearly as much as hon. Gentlemen opposite, I want to say a few words on the political levy. I think it was the hon. Member for South Cardiff (Mr. A. Henderson, Jun.) who asked last night whether the Act of 1913 was inherently wrong, or whether abuses had grown up in the system? I should say that the 1913 Act gives every theoretical safeguard that it is possible for any Act to give except one. I need not go into them. There are several safeguards, such as the ballot, the secret ballot, the majority, exemption, notice, no disability for a man who contracts out, right of appeal, and so forth. The Act of 1913 never gave one safeguard. It never assumed that a trade union or the members of a trade union would ever change their opinion. It assumed that for the rest of time and space—what they now call a continuum—the 10 per cent. of the trade union who had voted in 1913 should for all time bind all subsequent members of that trade union to contribute to a political levy. It is an elementary rule, even as regards property, that there shall he a valuation of property at least every five years.
Of course the matter can always be raised at a meeting, but it would be a very courageous man who would do so. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that, if he has property, it has to be valued every five years. That is the law irrespective of his action.
That is so, and, if the hon. and learned Gentleman will look up the law, he will find that is so. The only way of getting it altered is to get it reversed at a general meeting of members. Any man who takes that course must be a very courageous man. Apart from that, the theoretical safeguards in the 1913 Act were very full indeed. My point is that the best theoretical safeguards in the world have never acted, and cannot act when you get a condition in which the minority cannot, in the nature of things, be safeguarded. I have spoken to dozens of trade unionists in my constituency, for there are thousands of trade unionists in Norwich, the representation of which I share with the hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench. I have spoken to trade unionists, who have held every office they could in. their trade union, and I have spoken to the rank and file. As a result, starting with a prejudice for trade unions and against changing the system of contracting-out, I am convinced that the present method of contracting-in alone gives us the safeguards necessary. I do not suppose for a moment that, if a trade unionist went to the secretary of his union and asked for a contracting-out form, he would not have got it, but, instance after instance was given to me in which obstacles were put in his way, because the collector could not find the form or—
Certainly. I have had three cases brought to my notice. I would not dream of disclosing the name of the union or the names of the men who gave them to me. On other occasions, trade unionists, who held official positions in a union, as soon as they contracted out were never re-elected again. In other words, a man gave up his status in a trade union if it was known he was either a Liberal or a Conservative. Obviously, such a man is under a disability and has become a marked man. Only a man of exceptional courage could face the tyranny of opinion, which is the greatest tyranny. In 1913 and 1914, and during the War, the condition was not acute, because the trade unions for the most part were represented on industrial lines, but after the War, as the extremists tried to capture the unions and, indeed, as Communists, did, in fact, capture many unions and represented unions, as no one knows better than hon. Members on the Government Front Bench—for I have attended Labour conferences held with the sole purpose of expelling the Communists from the unions—it became acute. When more extreme men got control of the unions, then the question of the Liberal or Conservative, who was prepared to contribute for industrial purposes, but was not prepared to contribute one halfpenny to promote policies which he greatly detested, became an acute one. It is no use telling me that this is a democratic way of doing it. It is not a democratic method to compel people to contribute to funds for objects in which they do not believe. As far as I am concerned, starting with a prejudice in favour of the old system of contracting-out, I have completely changed my views, and, after close examination, I have not found one man who has not begged me to keep the contracting-in position maintained. Therefore, I would be untrue to the trust imposed upon me, and would be committing a breach of faith if I did not speak up in the House and say that, if that part of the Bill passes, it must retain the system of contracting-in.
I have had experience of the law for a great many years, sometimes in gaol, sometimes in Court, sometimes being tried for no end of offences I never committed. Not that I am a perfectly innocent person! I am no more innocent than the lawyers who are making a saturnalia out of this business. "The Devil's Own" has given us a hell's broth of legal titbits, and but for the seriousness of the position I should have been quite amused by the quips and the wanton effrontery of untruth from the other side. I went right through the 1926 dispute, and when we talk of intimidation I recall for how much the mineowners capitalised their form of intimidation, making £20,000,000 out of it; and how, when the Government had to withdraw support, they intimidated the Cabinet and in a ruthless manner, in a debauch of class hatred, vented their spleen upon the miner and his people by threatening the lock-out and threatening a reduction of wages. That lock-out came about and for months we were expecting possible trouble; but I want to say, in the presence of men who took an important part in that dispute, that we did our level best as peace makers. Even when the last moment came and the General Council called together the executives of all the unions, and the executives of all the unions, without dissent, pledged their faith, their will and their support to the miners, even then we continued to act as peace makers.
As has been said, we were in close touch with the Cabinet. I have no feeling of malignity against any member of that Cabinet. I honestly believe that if the late Lord Birkenhead had had his way there would have been no dispute. I believe that if the advice of the late Lord Melchett had been taken by the Cabinet there would have been no dispute, and that if, when the dispute came into being, his advice had been followed, it might have ended it much sooner. I am not vindicating myself. All I am doing is to protest against the calumny spread against us. I have not charged the Cabinet with irresponsibility. There is no man in the House whom I more respect than the ex-Premier. I look upon him as one of the sanest of typical Britishers, and one of whom this House ought to be proud; but the hand of intimidation was over that Cabinet. I believe that that Cabinet, if it had been left to its own resources would not on that night—[Interruption.] When the dispute in the "Daily Mail" took place we knew nothing of it, we were no party to it. It was committed against our will, as it was committed against our knowledge and without consulting us. That was a flagrant act of indiscretion. It contravened some of the amenities of social good will. Just before the end came we found the Cabinet had dispersed.
I have listened to speeches calling us practically murderers and revolutionaries. Let me say that if that General Council had used its power wantonly it could have called out millions more. There were millions of operatives actually wanting to come out—the great utility services, the public services. We were abused in the street; we had no end of resolutions protesting against our so-called supineness; but to all that we turned a deaf ear; and when one of our partners was not inclined to maintain discipline the General Council had to take its fate in its hands and it acted with great courage. I remember the wanton sneering, and [...] men were saying, "You are afraid," You never said that of our class when hell was in front of you and I protest against it now. The leaders of that council were men who loved their country and served their country as well as any of us ever did and that time they represented millions of us. Having had some experience of war councils I say there never was a council which showed more courage, exercised more power, were more humane or had more obedience from their followers. There were 3,000,000–4,000,000–5,000,000 workers involved—but the edicts and the instructions of this council were obeyed.
I was hoping to end my days with the knowledge that the classes, whatever might be their economic division, would have some love for their own country. I find you are making a hell pit at a period when our industries are in the throes of bankruptcy and ruin. This is not the time to sow the class war. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, that is only the echo of 100 years of your same class and type of mind! With the great revolutions going on in trade, in production, in organisation and in transport it is possible for those who create and invent—those with the magic of their genius in their fingers, and the others, for I make no distinction—to give to the world great value and substance, and I have no quarrel with them; but I do not want a set of lawyers, jangling their labryrinthine nonsense, to be masters of a country worthy of great men and of great people.
We are now coming to the end of our long three days' Debate upon this most important Bill. I do not think that anybody who has been present, as I have, during nearly the whole of the Debate, feels that the time allotted to it has been one hour too long. Each day has been marked by speeches of outstanding brilliance and wit, and the third day of the Debate has witnessed a speech which, for sparkling frankness and scintillating wit, has hardly has its match for many a long day. I confess that I have only one regret in reviewing the course of the Debate, and it is that it has been largely a discussion among lawyers. I do not complain of that. This is a very technical Bill, many Clauses of which are not very clear to the lay mind upon the first reading of it, and it is necessary
that we should have the opinion of those who are learned in the law to give us the weight of their authority, and the proper manner in which those Clauses should be interpreted. My regret is rather that we have not had a larger number of speeches from Members who are not lawyers, but who have a personal knowledge of industrial conditions. After all, the average man and woman in the country are not very much concerned with legal points, but they are deeply anxious that the liberties of the individual and the rights of the community shall be conserved. This Bill was introduced by the learned Attorney-General as the Government's contribution towards industrial peace. I do not know whether the Attorney-General has been encouraged by the course of the Debate to believe that that object has been achieved, or whether the speeches which have been made have led to a confirmation of his view. One observation made by the hon. Member for North Salford (Mr. Tillett) was that:
This was no time to sow a class war.
The hon. Member, in his time, has done something to sow class warfare, but he has also done something to bring about peace in industrial affairs, and that he should be one of those who recalls the bitterness of 1926 is only one of the inevitable effects of the introduction of Measures of this kind. Whatever may be the view of hon. Members of this House, I am bound to say that I do not think they have succeeded in arousing any response in the country in favour of this Bill. As far as I have been able to gather, what is uttermost in the minds of the majority of the people of this country is feeling of astonishment, and even of indignation, that, at a time like this, when the whole mind of the country is concentrated on the terrible conditions of industry and is filled with anxiety lest there should be worse to come, we should be occupied day after day, and probably for many days to come, discussing a Measure which cannot possibly put one person into employment, which apparently embitters the feelings of hon. Members opposite, and which holds out the prospect of the possibility of a repetition of the unhappy affairs of May, 1926. This feeling is only tempered in the country by the justifiable conviction that so long as this Government holds office, any discussions in this Parliament are not likely to hold out any hope or comfort to the unemployed.
We all know that the fate of this Bill which is to be decided in a little more than an hour from now, does not depend on hon. Members opposite. It does not even depend on the Members who sit on the benches behind me, but its fate is in the hands of hon. Members below the Gangway. The official organ of the Government, which always seems to be particularly well-informed of the intentions and purposes of the Liberal party, has declared in a statement which had all the appearance of inspiration that the Bill was safe. The Attorney-General, in the course of his opening speech, repeated a quotation from one of Shakespeare's plays, "Measure for Measure." Could there be a more appropriate source from which to draw inspiration for a description of the present political situation, "Measure for Measure," a Trade Disputes Bill for a Representation of the People (No. 2) Bill? I wondered as I listened to what followed which of the two parties was going to act the part of the Merchant of Venice, because it appears that the transaction is interpreted by the party below the Gangway as having been fulfilled if they pass the Second Reading without having regard to what happens to the body when it has been carried upstairs. I have often heard speeches critical of a new Measure upon its introduction, but I do not ever remember in my experience to have been present on another occasion when nearly every Clause in the Bill was officially taken by a representative of a party and the intention announced of tearing it to pieces.
Take the principal subjects of the Bill. There is the illegal strike, there is prevention of intimidation, there is the political levy, there is the regulation of Civil Service associations, and there are provisions that affect the employés of local authorities. Let us consider how those various subjects were treated by the hon. and learned Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Birkett). On the Section dealing with local authorities' employés, he said:
We shall do what we can in Committee to see that it is reinstated."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 439, Vol. 247.]
There is no compromise about that. On the question of the Civil Service, he said that the Civil Service ought to be aloof from politics, and that he and his friends
would restore the Section if the Bill went to Committee. On the political levy he said:
We shall insist with all the power we have that Section 4 of the 1927 Act, which it is sought here to repeal, shall be reinstated in this Bill before it goes to the Statute Book."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1931; col. 437, Vol. 247.]
On the subject of intimidation he was careful not to express approval, but confined himself to a simple declaration that the matter was one which deserved close examination. Finally, on the Clause dealing with the illegal strike, he said that the Liberal party desired to see substituted, for this Clause words which would have the effect of satisfying the country. I may now point out that, by the time three speeches had been made in this Debate, three-fifths of the Bill was dead, and the remaining two-fifths was under sentence of vivisection. This recalls to my mind another Shakespearean quotation:
Call you that backing of your friends?
A plague upon such backing.
I wonder whether the Attorney-General and his colleagues still think it worth while to bring forward a Measure to change our electoral system and convert it into a gamble with the odds against his own party, in order to prolong for a short time a precarious existence at the cost of such humiliation.
I do not intend to take up many more minutes of the time of the House, because I want to give the right hon. Gentleman opposite a sufficient space in which to reply, and I think it would really be a waste of time if I were now to discuss what has already been very adequately discussed in the course of the Debate, namely, those provisions of the Bill which have already been condemned in advance by the Liberal party. We may consider them to have been wiped out of the Bill already. But I make no apology for devoting the rest of my observations to the first part of the Bill because that really is the heart and the vital part of the Bill itself. That is the part by which the Bill will be judged in this House and by the country at large.
The first part of the Bill is obscure, and the meaning of it has not been made plain by the evasions of the Attorney-General on behalf of the Government. It is very noticeable that all the official speakers on the Government side have devoted nearly the whole of their speeches to an examination of the provisions of our Act of 1927, instead of to the task of elucidating their own Bill. I remember that a week or so ago, in answer to some question raised by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister, speaking of our Act of 1927, said that it was the beginning of a revolution. I confess that I did not know what he meant at the time, and I am not sure that I know now, but I am quite certain that what he said was incorrect. The Act of 1927 was not the beginning of a revolution; it was the end of an attempt at a revolution, whether conscious and deliberate or not—an attempt which failed, and which the country is determined shall not be made again. It is possible that it was in order to give colour to the description given by the Prime Minister that both the Attorney-General and the Lord Advocate put what I must call a forced and strained interpretation upon the first Clause of the 1927 Act. They declared that under that Clause a primary strike, that is to say, a strike which is confined to a single industry, might be illegal. I call that a forced and a strained interpretation. It is one which is strenuously denied by other lawyers who are equally eminent, but who have not the same partizan bias in this matter. [Interruption.] After all, however, this is not, perhaps, a point of very great importance, because no one has brought forward a single instance in which a primary strike has been interfered with in any way by the Act of 1927, although we know that over 1,000 strikes have taken place since that Act was passed. Even supposing, which I do not admit, that the interpretation placed upon the Act by the Attorney-General was correct, still I say that that was not the intention of the Government in 1927, and that over and over again in the course of the Debate the then Attorney-General declared specifically and deliberately that the primary strike was in no circumstances made illegal by that Measure. As that is so, I submit to the House that we require more evidence that a change is necessary than has yet been supplied by the mere ipse dixit of one or two Members of the Government, even though they be lawyers, and distinguished lawyers—
And Lord Cave, although Lord Cave afterwards qualified, to some extent at any rate, the particular observation referred to by the Attorney-General. I want to consider, not merely the primary strike, but also the sympathetic strike, because the case of the sympathetic strike under the Act of 1927 is rather different from that of the primary strike. I have stated already that in our view and in the view of our legal advisers no primary strike would be made illegal by the Act of 1927. In the case of the sympathetic strike one cannot give the same unqualified assurance, and here I believe there is a real and genuine difference of opinion upon what is right and proper between Members on this side of the House and Members on the other side. We are of opinion that there may be cases where the sympathetic strike so trenches upon the rights of the community that it ought to be made illegal. I understand that many hon. Members opposite would not accept that view, and that their view is that the right of the men engaged in one industry to support by striking men engaged in another industry who are already out on strike is so fundamental that it ought to transcend all rights of the community, even to the extent of depriving them of vital and essential services. I believe they take the view that, if the Act of 1927 puts difficulties in the way of a sympathetic strike, those difficulties ought to be removed. If that be the view of hon. Members opposite, then a witty observation of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot), that this is a Bill to enable us to have bigger and better strikes, is an exact description of the desires of hon. Members opposite. But I would ask hon. Members whether, if that be their view, they are taking the orthodox view, whether in taking that view they are in accord with the views of those who have, or ought to have, authority among them. I would ask them to listen to these words by one of their leaders. This is what was said in 1912:
There is one kind of strike that is utterly valueless and I would beg my
friends of the trade union movement not to place any reliance upon it at all. The sympathetic strike, as a Labour protective device, does little but pander to the dramatic imagination of that section that calls itself the extremist section. As a matter of fact, it is extreme only on the side of capital. It plays the capitalist game."
I ask the attention of the House to these closing words, because they are very important:
I shall never be a party to devising Labour legislation with the idea of making it of such a character as to render the sympathetic strike legal.
The Prime Minister has recognised his own words. I take it from his assent that those are still his views, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman who is going to reply if he shares the views of his leader, how then does he reconcile that pledge of the right hon. Gentleman with the provisions of this Bill.
I leave the question of the sympathetic strike and come to the question of the general strike. I thought the opening speech of the Attorney-General was a masterpiece of adroit advocacy. I have nothing but admiration for the skill with which he evaded the most vulnerable points of the Bill. But he is not here only as an advocate. He is here as the senior Law Officer of the Crown. It is part of his duty to advise this House, and I must say that, in refusing to advise the House upon the question which has been so repeatedly put to him in the course of this Debate, he has been wanting in the respect that is due to the House as a whole. We do not want to be fogged by these fine distinctions between political and revolutionary strikes, on the one hand, and sympathetic strikes on the other. We do not want to be told whether the strike of 1926 was legal or illegal at that time. What we want to know is what the Attorney-General has steadily refused to tell us, whether, if the strike of 1926 were repeated after this Bill becomes law in the form in which it now stands, it would be legal.
After the obstinate silence of the Attorney-General we had a speech which I think all who heard it welcomed from the learned Solicitor-General. It was, indeed, recognised by all of us who listened to it that his presence here is a great addition to our company. We shall hope to hear him again on many
more occasions. In his inexperience he went a little further than his chief and he gave us a pronouncement in answer to this question which is really of the first importance, and, as I believe there are many Members present now who were not present when that statement was made, I should like to read it, because it was taken down at the time by my hon. and learned Friend the late Solicitor-General. This is what, I am informed, the Solicitor-General said, and he will, no doubt, correct me if there is any inaccuracy.
I will answer the question now. The criterion of legality or illegality"—
That was in 1926—
was whether the strike was in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. The General Strike of 1926 was in furtherance of the miners' lock-out and, therefore, was legal, in my opinion, under the existing law. Under the 1927 Act there is no doubt that the General Strike of 1926 would have been illegal. Under the Bill my opinion is that the General Strike of 1926 would have been illegal. Looking at the substance of the matter, I have no doubt that any Court would have held that the primary object was not an industrial object and, therefore, the strike would have been illegal.
That is a statement which, it if be a statement not merely of the private personal opinion of the Solicitor-General but of the collective opinion of the Cabinet, is one of the very first importance. The only thing we want to know is why on earth it was delayed till today? Why could we not have had the answer on the first day? If it be the correct interpretation, if it be the correct view of what the Government's intentions are, all those who are going into the Lobby in support of the Bill to-night are going to support a Bill for the purpose of making a general strike illegal. But are we sure that the Solicitor-General does represent the Government? He said, "I give this as my opinion." After all, he has only lately come into the House. He was not a member of the Government at the time when this Bill was drafted. He has not been a member of the Cabinet. I doubt very much whether he is in a position to tell us what is the view of the Cabinet. I think it is most important that, before the Division is taken, the House should not be left in any shadow of doubt, not about what the Solicitor-General's opinion is but of what the Government's
intention is. That is the answer to the rather paltry excuse that the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shakespeare) was putting up in supporting the proposal that the Bill should go upstairs. It is not by the discussions of the Committee upstairs that this question will be decided. It will be by what the right hon. Gentleman tells us when he speaks.
I want to examine further the Attorney-General's speech. He said the question whether the strike was legal or illegal in 1926 depended upon whether it was in furtherance of a trade dispute. Is there anyone in the House who would hesitate to give a definite answer to that question? Every single Member knows that the strike of 1926 was in furtherance of a trade dispute in the mining industry.
The Attorney-General must not try to confuse the issue. It was he who laid it down that legality or illegality depended upon whether it was in furtherance of a trade dispute, and if you accept his hypothesis, it follows that the strike was legal. Therefore, I say that in his opinion the strike was legal, and I say, further, that if it was legal then, it is legal now under this Bill. I believe that the Solicitor-General would be alone in this House in holding that the primary object of the dispute of 1926 was other than in furtherance of a trade dispute. The whole gist of the speeches which hon. Members opposite have been delivering, the speech of the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) and the speeches of other hon. Members to which we have listened, have all been to the effect that it was not a political or a revolutionary strike, but a strike in furtherance of the miners' case. In my view that that was the Attorney-General's view, I am confirmed by the argument with which he went on. He said that the political genius of our people had evolved a system in which we did not seek to make strikes illegal, but, on the contrary, we only sought to control them when they had taken place, and quoted with approval the action of the 1920 Government which asked for emergency powers, and said that the Americans had tried the other plan and were now going back to ours.
That is the position, I believe, which the Attorney-General takes up. He believes that the strike would be legal, but he says that the way to deal with the strike is not to call it illegal, but to deal with it by way of control. We are not prepared to wait until a strike comes—we think it is better to prevent it occurring at all—nor are we satisfied that it is safe to depend upon our having a Government which will take power to control it when it comes. How can we be sure that there may not be members of the Government who will be in the battle? Some right hon. Gentlemen have very curious views of the duties of a leader. On 20th June, 1927, the right hon. Gentleman who is now Home Secretary said in this House:
I reject the view that it is the business of trade union leaders who dissent from a decision of the rank and file to put themselves into a state of revolt against that decision and acclaim themselves hostile to whatever policy their men may decide. There is such a thing as loyalty, and leaders accept the decision of the rank and file, leaving them to take the consequences of their action."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th June, 1927; col. 1534, Vol. 207.]
If that should be the view of the Members of the Government in the event of a general strike made legal by this Bill, then, indeed, the security of the country would be in jeopardy. It could have no security against a repetition of what occurred before.
I must not take up the further time of the House, but I want to remind hon. Members that at the end of his speech the Attorney-General made an eloquent pronouncement with which, I believe, every Member of this House would agree, when he said that every section of the community had a deep-rooted belief that it would always obtain from this House justice and equity. I ask the House, before it gives its decision, to answer a few questions. What justice does this Bill offer to the man who is threatened with loss of employment by reason of his refusal to take part in a strike? What justice does it offer the Conservative and Liberal trade unionists who do not desire to become marked men by refusing to contribute to the funds of their political opponents? What justice does it offer to persons whose health and well being may be dependent upon the continuance of essential public services carried on by local authorities? What justice does it offer to the member of a trade union who does not desire to see the funds of the union dissipated by revolutionary strikes? What justice does it offer the vast majority of the nation who claim that they shall be protected by Parliament from a repetition of the terrors, hardships and disastrous losses of May, 1926?
Probably on no Bill introduced during this Session of Parliament have we found the House listening to more diverse views or to more brilliant speeches than they have listened to during the last two days, but, like the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I am glad that the concluding speeches on both sides did not rest with the lawyers. I heard the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) earlier to-day deliver one of those witty speeches to which the House has become accustomed. We have heard him speak on India, we have heard him speak on Egypt, and we have heard him speak on trade unionism. If Timbuctoo was discussed to-morrow, he would deliver just as effective a speech. This afternoon when he was talking about class privileges and a great pampered class, what he really meant was that trade unionists were all right as a pampered class provided they were always Liberal or Tory. His only objection even to a political levy was when the workers decided that it should be in support of another party. The right hon. Gentleman has made speeches on many subjects, and most of them cancel each other out. For that reason, I do not propose to take a serious view of the speech that he delivered to-day.
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) delivered a great legal argument. He introduced all manner of phrases, and talked about two birds, and the primary bird. I am not going to answer him. All I know is that the trade unions of this country know perfectly well that when they are dealing with lawyers they are always the plucked bird. Then the right hon. and learned Member with his Nonconformist traditions and connections brought into a serious subject like this some remarks about card playing and nap hands, a subject which I know very little about, and I thought he knew less. May I remind him that it is dangerous for him to talk about nap hands? [HON. MEMBERS: "Snap."] That only shows my ignorance of the difference between nap and snap, but whether it is snap or nap let me remind the right hon. and learned Member that on this subject the Tory party, so far as they are concerned, look upon him as the Joker. I refuse to be influenced by the legal argument. Whatever this House may say or do, so far as the people with whom we are dealing are concerned, the great mass of the workers of the country—whether we agree or disagree, mere legal arguments from either side will not determine their action. I go further and say that I defy any lawyers in this House to name any industrial dispute that has been prevented by Act of Parliament.
My recollection, and the recollection of the right hon. Member for Epping, of first discussing in this House trade union legislation was on what was called the Taff Vale decision. What was the issue in that dispute? It was a very simple one. The lawyers, the greatest authorities on the legal side in this country, told my union that they were not an entity at law, and they could neither sue nor be sued. That was the short accepted legal position laid down by all lawyers. When that was tested the Judges said, "You cannot sue, but you can be sued," and we had to pay damages. That was the first experience of the trade union movement arising out of that decision, and this House was called upon to deal with it. What was the second? Again the right hon. Member for Epping and the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley took part. It was the famous Osborne Judgment against my own union. Osborne was a humble shunter getting 24s. a week. I want the House to observe that it was this humble shunter, encouraged by other people, who took his case to the House of Lords. What did the House of Lords do in that case and what are the facts?
There is a lot of talk about unions not being careful and of their being in- different. What are the facts in this case? In order to be sure of our facts and in order to get the best advice, we consulted Sir Robert Reid, who was the Attorney-General of a Liberal Government and afterwards became Lord Chancellor, but in order to get a view without political bias we said that we would get another opinion, and Sir Edward Clarke, Solicitor-General in a Tory Government, was brought in, was paid the usual trade union fee and gave us his opinion. I want the House to observe this. On that joint opinion was drafted the rule that was put into the book without an alteration. That was on the advice of both these eminent counsel. Sir Robert Reid afterwards became Lord Loreburn, and Lord Chancellor. The case was taken to the House of Lords, and the House of Lords said that what Sir Robert Reid had told us was altogether wrong.
Therefore, I put it to the House that I was justified in saying at the outset that I would ignore all the legal gentlemen regarding this Bill. I say that with assurance, because I am quite sure that I could give a better legal view than any of them. The first practical proposition I put to the House is this: Are we entitled to safeguard the community against any threat to the constitution by anybody? I answer that by saying, "Yes." But in saying it let me add that I mean a threat to the constitution, not by a worker only or by a trade union, but I include Ulster in it. The first observation I would here make to the right hon. Member for Epping and the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley is, what were they doing when the constitution was threatened, as we know it was threatened, by Ulster?
That being the first point, I will put the second. Make no mistake. I said it on the last Bill and I say it now, and exactly what in practice it, means I will show. We are talking a lot of theory and not coming down to the actual points in working-class practice. I repeat that any threat to the constitution by anyone, politician or labour, is a challenge that the Government must accept; the Government must defend itself, whether it be Liberal, Labour or Tory. But if that position be accepted, is there any hon. Member opposite who will dispute the claim which I now make, that the right to withhold our labour, the right to sell our labour to the highest bidder, the right to refuse to sell our labour, is a right that must be maintained? I assume that proposition to be accepted and I shall proceed to show that, if that simple proposition be accepted, then, in some way or other, the 1927 Act must be amended. That is the claim which I am going to make.
I take as an illustration the dispute now opening in Lancashire. My object is not to express any views on the merits of the dispute for the moment. Here is a lock-out. There are workers in Lancashire—dockers, engineers, workers belonging to all manner of trades—who are suffering every day while that lock-out continues. If, to-morrow night, the engineers, the boilermakers or the dockers in Manchester, were to decide by meeting, by resolution, quite constitutionally, that they believed that the Lancashire cotton operatives ought to be helped, and that the means of helping them would be by a strike, that would be legal under the 1927 Act. [HON. MEMBERS: "Illegal!"] I want the House to follow me. I want to make it perfectly clear. I say that supposing the engineers were to strike to-morrow night in support of the cotton operatives that, in my judgment, would be a legal strike. I do not think that that statement is challenged. We are agreed that that would be a legal strike. If that would be a legal strike, on the part of one section of workers, in support of another—and I think there is common agreement on that—then, is it right or wrong that for another section to do precisely the same thing for the same object, should be illegal? Supposing that the railwaymen to-morrow night decided to support the cotton operatives. The right hon. Gentleman opposite knows, because we argued it out on the last Bill, that their action is illegal because it is construed as being against the community. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] There is the simple issue.
Let me give another illustration. On the railways every year a large number of men are killed in what is called the plate laying gang. Our object is to have a lookout man to warn them of the approach of trains, and there are differences of opinion as to the legality of it, but, because so many were killed, our union went to the law courts and asked for a judgment, the object being to hold some one responsible for protecting these mens' lives. We carried the case to the House of Lords in a perfectly legitimate and legal manner. It went against us. Now the only people—not the railway companies—who could alter that would be this House of Commons by what we call railway regulations. Though my union, following its legitimate function, could strike on its own for a shorter working day or for an increase in wages, a legitimate trade dispute, and call it legal, immediately it says, "We will withhold our labour to save human lives," that, under the 1927 Act, is illegal, because it is not a trade dispute. I am trying to deal with simple, practical issues.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition gave a history of his connection with the Trade Disputes Bill, and it was a true history. He gave an accurate account of what he did when what was called the Macquisten Bill was being brought in. I accept that description, but the right hon. Gentleman did not give the complete history. He said, "I have done my best not to provoke industrial trouble. I persuaded my own friends not to go on with their Bill, and that therefore indicates that I at least did not want to aggravate the situation." That is a fair summary, I think, of what the right hon. Gentleman said, and I accept that as being a true statement of his position, but I make this qualification. What he forgot to tell the House was this, that when the strike was over he met the leaders, he made a speech in this House, and he broadcast a speech, and several of us, or at least I, on behalf of the Labour side, also broadcast a speech, by mutual agreement, our joint object being to appeal to the country to forget the difficulties. I will quote the right hon. Gentleman's own words. He said:
The peace that I believe has come—the victory that has been won, is a victory of the common sense, not of any one part of the country, but the common sense of the best part of the whole of the United Kingdom.… We should resume our work in a spirit of co-operation, putting behind us all malice and all vindictiveness."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1926; col. 878, Vol. 195.]
That was on the 12th May, following the strike. The next day, in answer to an
appeal by my right hon. Friend, who said, "I want to see that spirit carried out, and I do not want any vindictiveness," the right hon. Gentleman uttered these words:
The Leader of the Opposition"—
That is, my right hon. Friend—
devoted a portion of his speech to saying that he hoped there would be no attack on trade unions as such. I cannot imagine that there will be such an attack. I should not countenance it.… At a time like this there are some who like fishing in troubled waters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th May, 1926; cols. 1050–1, Vol. 195.]
If that was the attitude three days after the General Strike—forget the strike, do not let us fish in troubled waters—the right hon. Gentleman waits 12 months to introduce the 1927 Bill, and, if any evidence were needed to show that there was malice, it was this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Humbug!"] If that is a description that hon. Members like to apply to it, I accept it, because it is a word, I am quite sure, that they understand. There has been hard hitting. The right hon. Gentleman has not minced matters, and I am not going to mince matters. I say that the justification for my statement as to vindictiveness is this: If that Act had been intended to deal only with the events of 1926, what was the justification for introducing the political levy question? We have heard long arguments about the legality of the General Strike. I have consulted the notes made at the time, and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman or any Member on that side who took part in the negotiations, to refer me to any occasion—remember the negotiations took six weeks, and the last negotiations were on the Sunday night after the ultimatum had been made—on which I or any other leader was told that the action was illegal. The question of the legality of the strike, although the Law Officers of the Crown were there, and although the Leader of the Opposition was there, was not raised; and the first intimation that the action was illegal was the famous speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley.
Therefore, I submit that another test should be applied. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech a few days ago, supported by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley, said that the thing to be guarded against was the suddenness of a general strike. Both these questions were put during the 1927 Debate. Lord Hailsham, who took a prominent part in the Debate, being in charge of the Bill, and the late Solicitor-General, whose championship of the Bill, I am sure, is the cause of his unhappily not being among us now, both, curiously enough, emphasised that the one thing that could not happen in the case of a strike of this description was suddenness.
The next proposition I want to submit is this. In introducing the political levy into a Bill which was meant to deal with the events of 1926, the late Government showed plainly that there was prejudice, and that men could not and did not have their rights on this particular question. What are the facts? The late Lord Younger who, I suppose was not looked upon as an insignificant Member of the Tory party, was in charge of the machine, and from across the way he published millions of this pamphlet which I have in my hand. It was issued from the Tory organisation and sent out in book form, each book containing 50 forms, and they were to be had from Conservative agents all over the country. Having given that free opportunity for exemption, this is the Conservative statement:
The registrar has power to enforce his decision upon the union and his protection should prove adequate.
That is the Tory organisation leaflet issued prior to 1927. I honestly tell the House that I do not understand this talk about intimidation. Will anyone deny that, if there is any body of workers which must benefit from representation in this House, it is the railwaymen, and incidentally the railway directors? That being accepted, the opportunity being given them first to vote in a secret ballot in which the majority decision is taken and then the right being given to contract-out, the point I have to answer is whether they are intimidated. In my own union, prior to this Act, the last figure of those claiming exemption was 60,000. Who is going to say there is intimidation? One of my own members fought as the Tory candidate in Yorkshire against one of my own colleagues here, a railwayman financed by the Tory party against a member of my own party. Therefore, I say to the right hon. Gentleman that he must have been in error
when, in his opening speech, he made an appeal saying: "What we want to preserve is separate balance-sheets and separate funds so that each union's funds are kept separate." Is there anything in this Act that interferes with that?
The second point is this. He ought to have been aware that the Registrar-General of Friendly Societies, not since the 1927 Act but prior to the Act, made it a condition that the political funds should be separate. Here is the original Form. It is a condition of the Registrar which that Act neither alters nor was intended to alter. Therefore, I want to submit, as we have to vote upon this in the next few minutes, first, that you are not legalising a, general strike. A general strike cannot be a strike, as I have already laid down, where men sympathetically, as the right hon. Gentleman says, offer support to another. That is not a general strike. You are not asked to legalise a general strike; you are merely—
I have endeavoured quite fairly to deal with the circumstances of 1926 and have followed his own procedure—never challenged at the time—by showing that every union that struck in 1926 struck in sympathy with the miners' organisations. I have already said, and I repeat it, that in my judgment it was legal. I have already said so. I have said so quite clearly. We are protecting and preserving the right of the majority as well as protecting the interests of minorities. We are giving the same right to elected representatives to do in their capacity as employers what any private employer does to-day, and we are conferring upon the members of the Civil Service the right of association with their fellow men. That is not a lawyer's summary of the situation, it is a layman's summary; and I conclude by saying that when the right hon. Member for Epping ceases to have a party that will welcome his talents, when the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley finds his spiritual home on the benches opposite above the Gangway, and when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition finds peace in another place, that the workers will still claim the right to act as free men.
I—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] A question I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman is this: [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] Whether, if this Bill had been law in 1926, the
|Division No. 95.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife. West)||Dukes, C.||Kinley, J.|
|Adamson, W. M. (staff., Cannock)||Duncan, Charles||Kirkwood, D.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Ede, James Chuter||Knight, Holford|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Edge, Sir William||Lang, Gordon|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Edmunds, J. E.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Alpass, J. H.||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Amman, Charles George||Egan, W. H.||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Lawrence, Susan|
|Arnott, John||Freeman, Peter||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lawson, John James|
|Ayles, Walter||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Gibbins, Joseph||Leach, W.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Gill, T. H.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Barr, James||Gillett, George M.||Lees, J.|
|Batey, Joseph||Gossling, A. G.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Packham)||Gould, F.||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Longden, F.|
|Benson, G.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Groves, Thomas E.||Lunn, William|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Grundy, Thomas W.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||McElwee, A.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hall, Capt. W. p. (Portsmouth, C.)||McEntee, V. L.|
|Bromfield, William||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)|
|Bromley, J.||Hardie, George D.||McKinlay, A.|
|Brooke, W.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Brothers, M||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Haycock, A. W.||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Hayday, Arthur||McShane, John James|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Hayes, John Henry||Malone, C. L Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Mansfield, W.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||March. S.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Marcus, M.|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Markham, S. F.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Herriotts, J.||Marley, J.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Marshall, Fred|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Mathers, George|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hoffman, P. C.||Matters, L. W.|
|Chater, Daniel||Hollins, A.||Maxton, James|
|Church, Major A. G.||Hopkin, Daniel||Melville, Sir James|
|Clarke, J. S.||Horrabin, J. F.||Messer, Fred|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Middleton, G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Isaacs, George||Mills, J. E.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour.||Jenkins, Sir William||Milner, Major J.|
|Compton, Joseph||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Montague, Frederick|
|Cove, William G.||Johnston, Thomas||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Morley, Ralph|
|Dagger, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Dallas, George||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Mort, D. L.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughten)||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kelly, W. T.||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Muff, G.|
|Dickson, T.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Murnin, Hugh||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Naylor, T. E.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Toole, Joseph|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sherwood, G. H.||Tout, W. J.|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Shield, George William||Townend, A. E.|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Shillaker, J. F.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Shinwell, E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Palin. John Henry||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Paling, Wilfrid||Simmons, C. J.||Walker, J.|
|Palmer, E. T.||Sinkinson, George||Wallace, H. W.|
|Perry, S. F.||Sitch, Charles H.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Phillips, Dr. Marion||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Watson, W. M. (Duntermilne)|
|Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Potts, John S.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Smith. W. R. (Norwich)||West, F. R.|
|Raynes, W. R.||Snell, Harry||Westwood, Joseph|
|Richards, R.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Sorensen, R||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Stamford, Thomas W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Ritson, J.||Stephen, Campbell||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Romeril, H. G.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Rowson, Guy||Strauss, G. R.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Sullivan. J.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Samuel, H. w. (Swansea, West)||Sutton, J. E.||Wise, E. F.|
|Sanders. W. S.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Sandham, E.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sawyer, G. F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Charles Edwards.|
|Scurr, John||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Sexton, Sir James||Tillett, Ben|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Fermoy, Lord|
|Albery, Irving James||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fielden, E. B.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow,Cent'l)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.)||Fison, F. G. Clavering|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Allen, w. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Ashley. Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Chapman, Sir S.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Christie, J. A.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)|
|Alter, Viscountess||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Grace, John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Colman, N. C. D.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colville, Major D. J.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H, (I. of Thanet)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Balniel, Lord||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cranborne, Viscount||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Hanbury, C.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Honnon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. K.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Boyce, Leslie||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Bracken, B.||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Heneage, Lieut-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Dawson, Sir Philip||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Dixey, A. C||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Hope. Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Buchan, John||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Butler, R. A.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||England, Colonel A.||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s-M.)||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Campbell, E. T.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Ferguson, Sir John||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Lamb, Sir J. O.||Peake, Captain Osbert||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Penny, Sir George||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Steel Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Sueter Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Little, Sir Ernest Graham||Purbrick, R.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Ramsbotham, H.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Remer, John R.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Long, Major Hon. Erie||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Lymington, Viscount||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Train, J.|
|McConnell, Sir Joseph||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chte'y)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenvon|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Ross, Major Ronald D.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Marjoribanks, Edward||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Wardlaw-Milne. J. S.|
|Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Meller, R. J.||Salmon, Major I.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wayland, Sir William A|
|Millar, J. D.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Savery, S. S.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Moore, Lieut-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Simms, Major-General J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Withers, Sir John James|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Muirhead, A. J.||Skelton, A. N||Womersley, W. J.|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Halfam)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Klnc'dine, C.)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wright, Brig.-Gen. w. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Nicholson. Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrtf'ld)||Smithers, Waldron||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Somerset, Thomas|
|O'Connor, T. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Sir B. Eyres Monsell and Major|
|O'Neill, Sir H.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Sir George Hennessy.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
Bill read a Second time.
|Division No. 96.]||AYES.||[11.13 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Albery, Irving James||Buchan, John||Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Butler, R. A.||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Butt, Sir Alfred||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Campbell, E. T.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Carver, Major W. H.||Dixey, A. C.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Castle Stewart, Earl of||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Duckworth, G. A. V.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I.of Thanet)||Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm., W.)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-S.-M.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Chapman, Sir S.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Beaumont. M. W.||Christie, J. A.||Ferguson, Sir John|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Fermoy, Lord|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Fielden, E. B.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fison, F. G. Clavering|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Colman, N. C. D.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Colville, Major D. J.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Boyce, Leslie||Cranborne, Viscount||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)|
|Bracken, B.||Crichton Stuart, Lord C.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Glyn. Major R. G. C.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Grace, John|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Meller, R. J.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kine'dine, C.)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Millar, J. D.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Somerset, Thomas|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hall, Lieut. Col. sir F. (Dulwich)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hanbury, C.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Muirhead, A. J.||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Hartington, Marquise of||Nelson, Sir Frank||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Healey)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||O'Connor, T. J.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||O'Neill, Sir H.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Train, J.|
|Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Penny, Sir George||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Purbrick, R.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Ramsbotham, H.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Lamb, Sir J. O.||Remer, John R.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (S[...]r'y, Ch'ts'y)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Little, Sir Ernest Graham||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Withers, Sir John James|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Ross, Major Ronald D.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Salmon. Major I.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Long, Major Hon. Eric||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wright, Brig-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Lymington, Viscount||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|McConnell, Sir Joseph||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Savory, S. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Favereham)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Margesson.|
|Marjoribanks, Edward||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Egan, W. H.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Buchanan, G.||England, Colonel A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hen. A. V. (Hillsbrey)||Burgess, F. G.||Foot, Isaac.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Forgan, Dr, Robert|
|Ammon, Charles George||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Freeman, Peter|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Caine, Derwent Hall||Gardner, B. W. (West H[...] Upton)|
|Arnott, John||Cameron, A. G.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cape, Thomas||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Ayles, Walter||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Charleton, H. C.||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Chater, Daniel||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Church, Major A. G.||Gill, T. H.|
|Barr, James||Clarke, J. S.||Gillett, George M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Cluse, W. S.||Glassey, A. E.|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Gossling, A. G.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Gould, F.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Compton, Joseph||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Cove. William G.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Granville, E.|
|Benson, G.||Daggar, George||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Dallas, George||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Blindell, James||Dalton, Hugh||Griffith, F. Kinnsley (Middlesbro' W.)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Devlin, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Dickson, T.||Hall F. (York, W.R., Normanton)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Dukes, C.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bromfield, William||Duncan, Charles||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Bromley, J.||Ede, James Chuter||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Brooke, W.||Edge, Sir William||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)|
|Brothers, M.||Edmunds, J. E.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Hardie, George D.||Mansfield, W.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Harris, Percy A.||March, S.||Shield, George William|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Marcus, M.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Markham, S. F.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Marshall, F.||Shinwell, E.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Mathers, George||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Matters, L. W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Maxton, James||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Melville, Sir James||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Messer, Fred||Sinkinson, George|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Middleton, G.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Herriotts, J.||Mills, J. E.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. B. Wentworth)||Milner, Major J.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Montague, Frederick||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Hollins, A.||Morley, Ralph||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Morris-Jones, Dr. J, H. (Denbigh)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sneil, Harry|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Mort, D. L.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Isaacs, George||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Mosley, sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Sorensen, R.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Muff, G.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Johnston, Thomas||Muggeridge, H. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Murnin, Hugh||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Naylor, T. E.||Strachey. E. J. St. Loe|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Strauss, G. R.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Noel Baker, p. J.||Sullivan, J.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Oldfield, J. R.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Patin, John Henry||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Kinley, J.||Paling, Wilfrid||Tillett, Ben|
|Kirkwood, D.||Palmer, E. T.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Knight, Holford||Perry, S. F.||Toole, Joseph|
|Lang, Gordon||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Tout, W. J.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Pole, Major D. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Potts, John S.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Lawson, John James||Price, M. P.||Walker, J.|
|Lawther, W, (Barnard Castle)||Pybus, Percy John||Wallace, H. W.|
|Leach, W.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Watkins, F. C.|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Raynes, W. R.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Lees, J.||Richards, R.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Rlley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Ritson, J.||West, F. R.|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Romeril, H. G.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Longden, F.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||White, H. G.|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Rothschild, J. de||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Lunn, William||Rowson, Guy||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|McElwee, A.||Sanders, W. S.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Sandham, E.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Sawyer, G. F.||Wilson. R. J. (Jarrow)|
|McKinlay, A.||Scott, James||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Scrymgeour, E.||Wise, E. F.|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Scurr, John||Wood, Major McKenzle (Banff)|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Sexton, Sir James||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|McShane, John James||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Charles Edwards.|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.