Strikes (Incitement)

Emergency Powers (Defence) (General Regulations) – in the House of Commons on 28th April 1944.

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Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order in Council dated 17th April, 1944, made under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amending Regulation 1A of, and adding Regulation IAA to, the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, a copy of which Order was presented on 18th April, be annulled. I think I shall be expressing the general view of the House when I say that, from almost every angle, it is mast unfortunate that it should be necessary to hold this Debate to-day. The whole nation almost is in a hush of painful expectancy because of pending military operations. It is, therefore, extremely unfortunate that the House of Commons should find it necessary to discuss so controversial a matter as the one we are bound to discuss to-day. But I think the House would also agree that it would have been even more unfortunate if no Debate of this sort took place. It would have been far better if the Order itself had not been made; then Parliament would not have been called upon to distract the attention of the nation from the great crisis that the war is now reaching, to matters of such painful domestic concern.

I am bound to ask the House to consider, in the beginning, the way in which this Order was made. The House will forgive me if I sound a somewhat personal note. I think Members will agree that, on many occasions, I and some of my hon. Friends have done our utmost to maintain the dignity of Parliament. I have protested, on more than one occasion, about the Government going behind the back of Parliament, and reaching understandings with outside bodies, and then presenting Parliament with a fait accompli. The circumstances in which this Order was made were peculiarly vicious. The Minister of Labour knew quite well before the House rose for the Easter Recess that he intended to make this Order. The House was sitting on 5th April when he made a luncheon speech in which he started the newspaper hue-and-cry after the miners and other workers in the country. According to "The Times" report: The Cabinet meeting in the morning discussed the industrial situation. The Minister made his speach at the luncheon hour, and then he went from there and met the General Council of the Trades Union Congress. At that meeting with the General Council he did not discuss the Regulation, because he had not then made it; but, according to the graphic account of the "Daily Express," which has got peculiar information on these matters: Mr. Bevin, Labour Minister, told leaders of the Trades Union Congress yesterday his plans for the punishment of strike fomenters whose activities are affecting Britain's war effort. His old colleagues were impressed. He sat back easily in the chair he used to Occupy when he was a general councilman of the T.U.C., and for more than half an hour thought aloud. He did not consider it necessary to think aloud to us, but he went to the General Council and told the General Council what the Cabinet had been discussing that morning, on this particular matter. He also informed them that he proposed to make a Regulation, and to take into consultation the Employers' Confederation and a sub-committee of the General Council; which, indeed, he did. When Parliament was in Recess, the subcommittee met the right hon. Gentleman, and—so our information goes—a draft copy of the Regulation was considered by them, and one or two amendments were made on their suggestion. Then the final Order was made, and it came into operation the clay before Parliament resumed after the Easter Recess. I do not want to use too controversial language, but I think that that was an abuse of the Government's position, an affront to Parliament, and quite unnecessary in the circumstances of the case. There was obviously no great hurry. Had there been a great emergency, the right hon. Gentleman could have come to Parliament on the Tuesday or the Wednesday, could have discussed the matter with Parliament, and could have taken the advice of Parliament on the matter; and the Regulation, had it been necessary at all, could have come into operation quite quickly. Parliament has never failed to produce emergency legislation very speedily when it has been necessary. We have done it, over and over again, in this war. Therefore, there was no reason at all why the right hon. Gentleman should have ignored the House of Commons in this way.

I want to ask hon. Members of all parties in this House, how do they expect people outside to respect Parliamentary institutions if the Government set an example of this kind? We have had, in the course of the last few months, a number of instances where the Government have slapped the House of Commons in the face. They did it over the Workmen's Compensation Bill last year. They fixed the whole thing up beforehand and the Home Secretary told the House of Commons that, if we dared to carry an Amendment, the whole Bill would be withdrawn. We had another instance of the same sort a week or so ago. Now we have this. Of course, it is an established practice for the Government to seek to obtain the views of specialists and of outside bodies having particular information and access to facts. That has always been done. I raise no objection to it now. But there was no reason to consult the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, or the Employers' Confederation, on this matter, because they have no knowledge that we have not got: they have no special insight that we have not got.

What were the reasons which impressed them and led them to support the Regulation? First, we are informed, the effect that the strikes have had upon the war effort of the nation. We know more about that than they do. The Government know more about the effect of strikes on war production than the General Council or the Employers' Confederation. They did not need advice on that. Then, they said, because of the great military operations impending, it is absolutely essential that industrial peace should be preserved at this time. Was that a special category of knowledge possessed by the T.U.C.? We know more about that than they do. In fact, there was no reason at all for consultation with the T.U.C. and the Employers' Confederation, in this particular matter. This is especially so, where new crimes are to be made and where the power of the law is to be invoked to put persons in prison. All these are matters for the House of Commons and not for outside bodies. There was, therefore, no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should conspire behind our backs and make laws in our absence—laws of a kind already fomenting difficulties in the country.

Again, those very bodies that he called together are the chief beneficiaries under the Order. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer called the Property Owners' Protection Society and the Ratepayers' Association together, and asked them their advice, because he intended to reduce the Property Tax under Schedule A, what would their answer be? Would they disagree with it? What the right hon. Gentleman did in this case was to go to the Employers' Confederation and the T.U.C. and say to them: "We propose to confer special privileges upon you. We propose to raise you above the law. We propose to enact legislation which puts you in a specially protected and favoured position. What do you think about it"? That is what the right hon Gentleman calls "consulting expert opinion." The fact of the matter is that he is reducing Parliamentary procedure to a farce.

I cannot leave this aspect of the matter without calling the attention of the House to another fact. The right hon. Gentleman knew quite well that he would not be able to get his Regulation unless he first created an appropriate public atmosphere. Indeed, Mr. Garvin said: The Government had to resolve on immediate and drastic action, but, first, they had to awaken public opinion, because this method had to be such as to carry with them the responsible bulk of the trade union movement. So what did the right hon. Gentleman start to do? He started a campaign of calumny against the miners. He made a speech in which he said that the stoppage in the Yorkshire coalfield was far worse than if Sheffield had been bombed, and was as bad as if Germany had cut our communications. He went on further to attack the miners in the course of a speech, which I will read if hon. Members challenge me. In fact, I have gone through all these newspaper cuttings and I find that they all show a carefully-prepared campaign by the Government, and by the Government agencies in the Press, to inflame public opinion so as to get an appropriate atmosphere for their conduct. My hon. Friends from the coalfields—I am sure, whether they are going to support my Motion or not, they will agree with this—found that cartoons in the public Press, and articles written by highly-paid propagandists in the millionaire newspapers, made our task almost impossible when we went to address meetings in the coalfields. The "Daily Mail" had a team of investigators going up and down the country trying to find evidence of a sinister conspiracy against the nation's war effort during this crisis—special investigators, whom the Minister might have directed to more useful employment.

One cartoon in the "Daily Mail" was so bad that, when I went to address a mass meeting in the South Wales coalfields, some miners told me that they would not go back to work until we had insisted on its withdrawal and an apology. Of course, that is absurd, but I think the Government must realise that, in circumstances like these, it is an exceedingly bad thing for newspapers to be encouraged to create an atmosphere of that sort. I want to give a word of advice to my friends of the Press, because with many of them I am on good terms. I want to say that they are exceeding all bounds of decency. Nobody in this country, outside the mining areas, knows why the Yorkshire miners came out on strike. These 130,000 patriotic Yorkshire miners, at a critical stage of the war, came out on strike, and the nation lost over 1,000,000 tons of coal in consequence. These miners have got sons, brothers, fathers, daughters and sisters in the Fighting Forces. Are we seriously asked to believe that those stolid Yorkshire miners came out on strike because of a number of evilly-disposed Trotskyists? This is the suggestion made by the Minister of Labour in his speech. Otherwise, why did they strike? Why did not the newspapers discharge their proper function to the public and make the public aware of the grievances of the Yorkshire miners?

The fact of the matter is that these Yorkshire miners came out on strike, and the South Wales miners also struck, because of the incompetence of the Ministry of Fuel and Power, and of the Ministry of Labour. Most of these strikes which have occurred in recent months have been about grievances which were subsequently remedied. Investigation by the Ministry of Labour showed that even the agreements which had been made, had been made over the heads of the men by trade union officials, who had not properly consulted the men before they made the agreements. The men had sought the normal trade union procedure to get their grievances remedied. No attention was paid to them, and, when attention was drawn to the matter by the extreme act of the strike, investigations showed that the men had been justified and their grievances were remedied. It happened in Jarrow, it happened in Yorkshire and it happened in South Wales. It happened all over the coalfields. When the Porter award was made, some of my hon. Friends and I went to a South Wales conference and recommended the men to accept it, but, in doing so, we said: "There are certain consequences bound to follow upon this award, and certain readjustments are bound to be made." The coalowners agreed that necessary adjustments were needed to put industry into an efficient labour condition. Everybody agreed, but the anomalies were not rectified. It was necessary for the South Wales miners and the Yorkshire miners to strike—at least, if it was not necessary, they were so incensed that they struck, and, subsequently, the Ministry of Fuel and Power and the Ministry of Labour agreed to the adjustment of anomalies, which should have been done at once.

I say that this nation ought not to be put under these disabilities because the Government wish to hide their own incompetence and failures. One would have thought that this trouble in the mining industry was wholly unexpected. Have we, on this side of the House, not warned the House of Commons many-times in the last three years that a serious situation was arising in the mining industry, and that steps would have to be taken to put things right, or there might be stoppages at a serious point in the war? But the Press did not report our protests. Public opinion was not educated about it, and, at last, when the miners came out on strike, they were the victims of scurrilous abuse.

I therefore say that this carefully organised campaign against the miners and other workers of this country, has done very great damage indeed to industrial relations. Already, the South Wales miners, meeting in conference this week, have unanimously demanded the annulment of the Order. I shall probably be told by some hon. Members in the course of the Debate that, after all, the Minister of Labour had all these powers already before he made this Order. If that be the case, then hon. Members should vote for my Motion. If the argument is to be advanced by some of the pundits, that the law is there already, why unnecessarily provoke people and have all this fuss in order to repeat and re-emphasise powers already possessed? If any hon. Member is impressed by that argument, I shall expect him to go into the Lobby and support me. I shall be told by some other hon. Members, no doubt, "After all, this sounds awfully bad, but it will not be carried out." That is a ridiculous argument. It is not only a ridiculous argument, but a dangerous argument. The law is the law. If it be the law, it should be carried out. If it is a bad law, it should be repealed or amended. But we in the House of Commons certainly cannot justify enactments which we do not intend to carry out, or intend to carry out only in certain circumstances against certain people. That is not law. That is not justice; that is caprice. It is of the stigmata of tyranny, to leave some people free to do things for which other people are punished. Nothing could bring the law and Parliament into more contempt and hatred than that. Hitler could not do more damage to Parliament than that.

This has already been done. There was a bus strike in London last week. I have a special report on that strike. The resumption of the strike occurred, so my informants tell me, when the Ministry did not carry out their promise to the men not to use the troops on the Friday. All the buses were out. A military bus went in and the men came out again. I cannot understand the attitude of some people. Do they not realise exactly the same purpose, exactly the same capacity for generous indignation, exactly the same stalwart courage that our men display on the battlefields, they also display in bus garages? Do we expect men to be lions on the battlefield and sheep at home? Indiscipline certainly is bad, and if the display of indignation against troops in an industrial disturbance is bad it ought to be punished. But why was no action taken? I understand they were members of the Minister's old union, living in the Home Secretary's constituency. I want seriously to ask Parliament why it does not use the law against all persons who break the law? If not, why do not the Government withdraw the law?

The other day a number of so-called Trotskyists were arrested. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary might look up what he was being called in the last war—also the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. The language, or its content, remains the same; the individuals differ. These poor people were imprisoned in Newcastle, kept on remand for 21 days, and then tried in camera, and the explanation was given that they were tried in camera because the police had not completed their investigations against other alleged offenders.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

These poor people had none of the benefits of any democratic code, and at the moment when they were in prison, before they had been tried, the newspapers were permitted, without any action being taken against them at all, to commit contempt of court, to an extent which had never before been seen in Great Britain. They piled up public hatred, they vented indignation and they slandered and abused these people at the very moment when they were committed for trial. No action was taken by this venal Government to protect them in any way. The whole thing is disgraceful, and shows the extent to which public morale has degenerated under the leadership we have at the present time.

I come to the actual nature of the Regulation itself. I have in my constituency, like all other Members have who represent mining constituencies, a lot of young lads working at the coal face who, for some reason which hon. Members do not seem to understand, do not really like coalmining. Little boys of 14 years of age are sent straight to the coal face and they do not like it. A number of these little boys now and again "gang out." They work at the conveyor face, and coal-cutting face, in gangs, and this change in the technique of mining has created many difficulties. In the old days the lads used to work with older men; man and boy would be together in a stall. Now, because of this new system of machine-mining, a large number of boys work together and, naturally, they develop the gang spirit. Do not hon. Members imagine that they have grievances? They often have grievances. On a sunny summer morning, these little boys may be at the top of the pit and the time comes for them to go down. I was a boy at the coal face myself and I did not like to have to go down the pit on a sunny morning. These little boys get together and one says to another, "Look here, let us go back home." I did it myself when I was a nipper. Is it to be five years' penal servitude because these boys have a nostalgia for sunshine?

It might be said this will not be done, but there never yet was a law so bad, that a bad judge could not be found to carry it out. This Regulation makes criminals of these little boys who are acting quite impulsively, and acting, in the framework of these circumstances, normally. It exposes them to court trial and to any sentence up to five years that a sadistic magistrate might be inclined to pass. The right hon. Gentleman has been responsible for a major defeat in the war by passing a law of that sort.

Take the position of two men going to a factory. They arrive at the factory gates and the foreman says that the rate on the job has altered. Perhaps there is a reduction of 2d. a piece, or 3d. an hour. The employer is all right because he has not locked them out. All he says is, "Take it or leave it." In the definition under this Regulation, that is not a lockout, and, therefore, no penalties are inflicted upon the employer. But if one man says to the other, "Let us go home," he gets five years' penal servitude for fomenting a stoppage. The employer does not need to say, "You shall not work here unless you accept the new terms." All he says is, "These are the new terms; here is work for you." It is not as I say a lock-out but, if the men do not work, they are striking, and are liable to imprisonment or fine. Do hon. Members consider that that is a just and reasonable position in which to put people? Suppose the man strides across the shop floor, and says to one of the shop stewards, "Look here, he has altered the rate and has not told me about it. Let us have a meeting." If those shop stewards are not incorporated under the rules of the union, they are not persons authorised to call a meeting. If they meet in a corner of that shop and decide to strike, or if anybody at that meeting says, "Let us go home; do not have it," they are all liable to imprisonment, or a fine, or both.

I challenge any subsequent legal opinion expressing itself in this Debate to deny that shop stewards who are not incorporated under the rules of the A.E.U. are not safe. The reason is that many trade union officials do not like the shop stewards, because the shop stewards are nearer the men than they are, and therefore challenge the supremacy of the trade union officials. One way of becoming a Member of Parliament is to become a shop steward or to lead a strike and then to be sent to gaol for doing so. That is a certain lever for getting into Parliament. But these shop stewards are all alarmed, and I have had telegrams from shop steward committees all over the country expressing alarm about this. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to operate the Order against them? If he does, he will create more strikes than the Trotskyists have been able to do in five years of war. In fact, we shall have to get rid of him, because he will be a public danger if he operates the Order.

There it is. The worker has his hands tied behind his back, but the employer is perfectly free. The argument that the employer himself is exposed to penalties in regard to a lock-out is known to be nonsense, because employers, in a hundred and one ways, are getting their own way without locking people out. They do it normally all the time. In the mining industry, disputes occur from time to time. Conditions vary from pit to pit, and disputes are usually put right, often by small unofficial meetings. If the men obey, or are afraid of this Regulation, they will postpone any attempt at spontaneous unofficial settlement of these disputes, until the atmosphere in the pit becomes so fevered, so poisoned, as to break out into a real strike over a wide area. Small strikes, small disputes are the vent valves of society, they do not hold up the war. These minor adjustments in industrial relations are the means by which the whole apparatus is kept smoothly functioning. To make those minor disturbances major offences under the law is lunacy.

If, on the other hand, you manage to get into a trade union meeting, you can agitate for a strike. We are now in the queer position that a man has to become a member of a trade union. He must have a licence to be free. If you can persuade your branch official, or a trade union organiser, to convene a meeting, then, at that meeting, you can advocate a strike. But if you step outside the meeting into the street and continue the same argument, you are put in gaol. Every industrial village and city in this country, in the course of a stoppage, reveals the same uniform spectacle of men discussing the position. If, in those little groups, they argue with each other about the stoppage and say they will not go back, the Ministry of Labour says, "That is an offence under the law and punishable by five years' imprisonment. You could say that in a trade union meeting but, when you come outside, you must be careful." That is as bad as the situation in Germany before the war, where everyone looked over his shoulder before he said a word.

What is to happen if the Minister's Regulation becomes law? We shall all become "cock-eyed" watching each other. That is, unfortunately; the situation which will arise, that people will have to be careful where they say a thing, and what they say. They will have to speak two languages, one for the street and the other for the trade union meeting. There never was a more absurd law framed than that. Its constitutional implications are shocking. I am speaking with great frankness, and I know the Minister of Labour will be equally frank when he comes to reply. I know that nothing I say to-day is going to affect the vote, but I am satisfied that in the months to come this Debate, and this Regulation, may become a first-class domestic issue. It is necessary, therefore, for us to take such time as is necessary to expose all the implications of the new law which the right hon. Gentleman has made. There are over 13,000,000 workers in this country who are not in the trade unions. Not one of them will have any protection whatever under this Regulation.

It may be said that they can all go into the unions. Of course they can, but are we now setting out to recruit trade union membership, by threats of five years' penal servitude? Is that what the Conservative Party has come to? It is an astonishing situation to see Conservative Members giving special legal protection not to trade unions but to trade union officials, because it is trade union officials who are invoking the law against their own members. Do not let anybody on this side of the House think that he is defending the trade unions; he is defending the trade union official, who has arterio-sclerosis, and who cannot readjust himself to his membership. He is defending an official who has become so unpopular among his own membership that the only way he can keep them in order is to threaten them with five years in gaol. Whenever you get the rank and file at trade union meetings this Regulation will be opposed. The General Council of the T.U.C., at the top, supports it, but the worker at the bottom opposes it. The further you get away from the trade union official to the rank and file, the less support the Regulation gets. The more you move away from reality, from the robust, dignified, normal worker, to the jaded, cynical, irresponsible trade union official, the more support the Regulation gets. That is the situation. Is that an exaggeration?

We have had it over and over again. I have had threats this week that if I went on with this Motion action would be taken against me, not by my own members but by the big bosses at the top. Well, I do not represent the big bosses at the top; I represent the people at the bottom, the individual men and women, and I say that this Regulation is the enfranchisment of the corporate society and the disfranchisment of the individual. It gives status to the organised body, and destroys the status of the individual citizens. It elevates the irresponsible trade union official—and I use the word, "irresponsible," in the constitutional sense of the term, because a trade union official is irresponsible; he is not subject to election, as we are; he is not exposed to pressure, as we are. George Bernard Shaw said, in "The Apple Cart," that the person in this country who is in the most strongly entrenched position, next to the King, is the trade union official. Between 7,000,000 and 8,000,000 organised workers and trade union officials are protected under this Regulation, but 13,000,000 unorganised workers have no protection at all.

Now I want to use an argument which I am sure will appeal to my trade union friends. What has been the logic behind the Minister of Labour's policy throughout the war? It is this: That there exists in this country normal machinery by which disputes may be discussed and put right. It is his desire to preserve that machinery throughout, and he has said that men have no need to resort to strike action, in order to get their grievances redressed. He says in the Regulation, "If you try to get your grievances redressed in any other way, you expose yourselves to these penalties." I want to ask my trade union friends this question: If Parliament says to the citizen. "Here is your trade union, we are satisfied that it gives you all the protection you need, and if you try to settle grievances in any other way, we will send you to prison for five years," is not Parliament, therefore, under an obligation to see that the facilities of union are made available to every member of a union? In other words, ought not Parliament to consider all the rules of the unions? The unions are self-governing bodies. Some of them, including the Minister's own organisation, appoint their organisers from the top. They are not elected from the bottom; they are appointees, selected by the executive. If the organiser is responsible at all, he is responsible, not to the men below him, but to the employers above.

If a busman or anybody else goes to an official with a complaint, and that official takes no notice, and does not attend to his grievances, what is his remedy? He has to try to alter the rules of an organisation of perhaps over 1,000,000 members. What protection has he got? Has not Parliament an obligation to see that the rules are so framed so as to give facilities in the union? Does the Trades Union Congress want all the rules of every union in the country to be submitted to Parliament and be revised? Of course not; they dare not. Will they have secret ballots? Will they re-organise them all? That is what they should do if this law remains. We should insist on the re-consideration of all union rules before we dare hand over the citizens to the protection of these unions. I believe that the Minister's Regulation is wholly unnecessary. I do not understand what is in the mind of the Government at all. Here we are, almost at the end of five years of war, during which the Government have had unprecedented loyalty from the country. Compared with the years of the last war, theirs has been a bed of roses. The three main parties in the State are supporting them, and almost every party in the State is supporting the war effort. Now, when we are nearly at the end of five years of war, after a comparatively happy relationship, the Minister introduces a law of this sort, which gives the impression all over the world that most extraordinary measures are now necessary in Great Britain in order to keep people working for the war effort. Is not that a slander against the working people of this country?

If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he has the support of members of the Armed Forces, then he does not know the mood of the Armed Forces. The men who will shortly go to France are not soldiers; they are civilians in uniform. They are miners, busmen, farm labourers, shop assistants and the like, all thinking of coming back to civil life when the war is over, all hoping and believing that their liberties will not be curtailed but will be enlarged, and that they will come back not to a narrow and meaner life, but to a fuller and more generous life. Now, after putting them in uniform and handing them their orders, the Government stab them in the back [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, the Government stab them in the back. What other language could be used, when a man comes home from the Army, goes back to his workshop and finds that he cannot even suggest a stoppage against what he considers to be bad conditions, without running the risk of five years in gaol? I say that that cannot be described adequately. It is depriving the citizen soldier of his civic rights after you have put him into uniform.

I, therefore, suggest to the House and to the Government that they ought to take back this Regulation. If they want any special powers, they ought to come to Parliament for them and let us discuss them properly. But the Government, in circumstances of this sort, ought not to put penalties upon the British people which will have the effect, not of minimising but of aggravating stoppages, and will undermine the morale and courage of the people of Great Britain at a moment when they are wanted more than ever. I ask the Government for Heaven's sake to consider the mood of our people. If they are big men they will say, "We have made a mistake. We will take it back. We will trust to the people. We will trust to conciliation and self-discipline, because we are satisfied that it is not necessary to bludgeon our workers into the efforts required to win the war."

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

I beg to second the Motion.

This is the first time this Regulation has come before the House. The first time that we heard of it officially was yesterday and, when we did hear about it and talked it over, it was distinctly stated that we had to accept it. Fancy those who are part and parcel of a hardy and intelligent race, being treated in that fashion. The Minister of Labour has raised a hornets' nest about his ears. I have about 20 telegrams, particularly from the marine engineering centres in Great Britain, condemning the Regulation. What a farce that he, who has rendered such yeoman service to my class, should be placed in this position to-day. I appeal to him to withdraw this Regulation. He is largely responsible for this peculiar phenomenon from one end of Britain to the other—the stoppage of work. Our people have beaten all records. There is no demand that the Government have made on the workers that the workers have not met. I challenged the Minister at our meeting yesterday to tell us one instance in which the Admiralty had asked for a ship, a gun, a tank or an aeroplane in a given time, and it had not been delivered more punctually than in peace time. Not once were they let down.

There is a safety-valve which I have used on many occasions, and I have been the means of settling innumerable strikes, as Ministers themselves know, when the trade unions could not settle them. Trade union officials and employers cannot come together as long as the men are on the street. I have gone into that situation and settled the dispute, and, time and again, I have got into the bad graces of the trade union officials, because they do not like that to be done. The safety-valve was that the men could send a deputation to a Member of Parliament, who would take them to the Minister. That was the case until the present Minister of Labour arrived on the scene. He got the Cabinet to decide that a Minister would not receive a deputation unless it was accompanied by a trade union official. We never required anything of that kind before. My union, the A.E.U., had their offices at Peckham blasted out and went to Northampton. No one knew that better than the Minister of Labour. I could say something about a certain individual in this connection but I would only say that that colleague of mine knows perfectly well that it was impossible to get an official from our London office, because another terrible thing is that there are too few trade union officials at the moment, to handle the situation. The safety-valve has been cut off, and the men have no way of giving expression to the conditions under which they live, move and have their being.

What is the machinery that is to be put into operation? When there is a dispute, what is to happen? They have a works conference. If they do not come to an agreement, there is what they call a local conference. If they do not come to agreement at the local conference, the matter comes to a national conference, and in the circumstances it takes sometimes nine months before its gets there. That may be all right in peace time but it will not do, in war. It has to be settled at once, if it is humanly possible to do so. I am satisfied that a proper man, with courage, would go and face the workers. I have asked the Minister time and again but he has said, "No, I am not going." I asked him to go to the Tyne but he said, "No.". I said, "You can take it from me that they will strike." He said, "Let them strike. If they want a showdown, we are ready for them." Who, I ask, are "we"? Ready for whom? What a disgrace! The Minister of Labour is a man who has lost his soul.

What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? I am driven to say these things. What is the next thing that happens? I hear from the shop stewards in the shipyard that the whole place is up on end, just when we were gradually getting the workers to come down and face the position like men. They have their own flesh and blood, their own sons and daughters in the Forces. They are anxious to win the war. Does anybody who knows me fancy that I would let my country down? I have done all one man can. It may be very little, but I have done all I can to keep the engineers at work. Our boys are outraged at the Minister of Labour and our union, the A.E.U., is split from top to bottom. The engineers in the country are always behind me, because I have always stood by them, and nothing in this place has wooed me from my class. I have received a letter from the Glasgow district committee of the A.E.U. It is dated 27th April, and it sends the following resolution, unanimously adopted at the Glasgow district committee meeting on the previous night: We of the Glasgow District Committee of the A.E.U. protest against the action of the T.U.C. in endorsing the Regulation which allows for the imposing of a penalty of five years penal servitude on any of our fellow members who move for strike action in the workshop. And I ask hon. Members to listen to this; if it does not make the Minister of Labour think, I do not know what will: We also protest against the action of our president, Jack Tanner, in agreeing that this is a fit and proper Regulation. We believe that this Regulation gives a licence to the employers of labour to continue their policy of provocation. And so it does. There is a state of affairs for you! That is what the Minister of Labour has done. The Clyde is up on end. I cannot say what that means because it would be giving information to the enemy. I have sympathy with the men, because I am working with them and know them so well. I know that the managers and trade union officials are "up against it" at the moment. Their life is a hell at times. Supposing that is the case—and I admit it all—it does not demand such tragic action as the Minister of Labour has taken. If a Tory had done this, the whole place would have been up on end. It has taken the heart out of me to say these things, but I have to say them. I say honestly that there is no cause for alarm. We are doing well. The work is being produced, and the managements admit it. The last ship that was launched in the Clyde was not due to be launched for a month yet. It has been launched before time, because of the action of the workers.

One of the Minister's grievances is the apprentices. When he initiated that idea of Ministers not receiving a deputation without a national trade union official, it made things a bit awkward, but most of the Ministers simply ignored the idea. I started the agitation for Pay-as-you-earn, and it is not to be forgotten that it was brought into operation as the result of a deputation of the much-maligned shop stewards, which I brought here. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury was good enough to receive the deputation, which had on it representatives of the shipyards from Aberdeen to Barrow-in-Furness. There was one apprentice on the deputation, and he was very anxious to speak. This was at the time when the submarine menace was at its height. What do you think the apprentice said? His name was MacGregor MacGregor. He apologised because he did not know anything about Pay-as-you-earn, but he said, "Mr. Minister, what concerns us apprentices at the moment is that John Brown and Company will not allow us to get away in our last year." I hope the House understands what that means. These are the boys who, they say, let the country down. I said to the chief engineer of John Brown's: "For God's sake do not kill that spirit; let them go to sea as engineers, which we so much need."

Some people thought that men would fear to go down into the bowels of the ships—because there is no hope for the engineer if anything happens. He is a man caught like a rat in a trap. These are my fellow countrymen, these Clyde engineers, and they want to go down there and die for their country. And I am supposed to take all this that is proposed because it comes from a big, powerful man in the Labour movement—well he was, but he will not be after this, unless he alters his tactics. Here is my proof. It comes from no less a person than a Cabinet Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland, well known and respected in this House. He says: During 1943 only 2 per cent. man-days were lost in disputes in the shipbuilding and engineering industries on Clydeside. That is two days in 1,000, which is unprecedented in peace time. He continues: In other words, over the whole year only about two days in 1,000 were lost in this war. In the engineering industry on Clyde-side alone stoppages were fewer in 1943 than in any war year. For 14 weeks there was no disturbance of any description. Since the outbreak of the war there have been no major stoppages on Clydeside. Here is a statement from the Third Sea Lord of the Admiralty, in a message to the shipyard workers which was published only three months ago. He is Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Wake Walker, who has the responsibility of providing the ships, machinery and equipment for the Fleet. He said: I have been looking at a chart which shows the strength of the Navy each year since the middle of the 18th century. What interested me most was the end part of the chart, where I could see side by side what the shipyards did in the last war and what they are called upon to do in this. The shipyard workers have easily beaten the records of the last war, and Britain has never, in all its history, had a finer Navy than we are building to-day. Here is what a leading American who visted this country has to say about us. He is Rear-Admiral H. L. Vickery, the Vice-Chairman of the United States Maritime Commission. He was broadcasting to Americans in September, 1943, to give the impressions he had gained from his visit to United Kingdom yards. In the course of his remarks he said: There is another item I have found on my inspection of British shipyards that will interest you all and probably give you a little food for thought. The British"— The British are the folk we are appealing for here to be treated with justice and respect, and not as if they were an army of criminals, because we believe that either in peace or war free men are better than slaves. He went on: The British build their ships at less cost than we do. The actual man-hours consumed in the building of a cargo vessel are fewer than ours. This is something to conjecture with when the war is over and the sea is again open for commerce. Do you notice that in computing the building of a ship I say 'man-hours' and not dollars. We all know that the American workman is paid on a much higher scale, but the fact is that here in Britain a given number of men consume less time in turning out a comparable ship. This is a remarkable record and a challenge. The British do this with less space, with severely rationed workmen, less tools, less facilities and the ever-present darkness of black-outs. That is my case. I appeal to the House not to pass this Regulation. If it does so, the House will rue it. We shall be letting down the working class, and standing by the Minister of Labour, who, in my opinion, in this action has betrayed all the good work he has done throughout his life.

Photo of Mr Charles White Mr Charles White , Derbyshire Western

It is with some degree of trepidation, despite a lifetime's association with public life, that I rise to make my maiden speech in this all-important public body. I would say, at first, that I do not think anybody on this side of the House laments any less than I do that industrial disputes should have been taking place in England, Scotland or Wales during the past 12 months or, for that matter, at any time during the war. In extenuation one must say that, in regard to many of the difficulties which the workers have had to face, they have had to take action on their own, because of the lack of trade unionism in many of the rural parts of this country. That fact, I would say at the outset, makes this a matter of vital importance to every Member of this House.

Let us see what the position is. There are 9,000,000 trade unionists in this country, and we have heard to-day that a considerable proportion of them are, definitely, against this Regulation. In addition, there are 13,000,000 workers not covered by any trade union, and they depend on the Members of this House to look after their rights, to look after their conditions of labour and to look after their wage rates. If this Regulation is allowed to remain in force, then none of us here, unless we are paid trade union secretaries, or organisers, will be able to intervene in any trade dispute. To my mind that is a very retrograde step. It is the last thing that any Minister of Labour should have done, especially one who, like the present Minister, has been brought up in the trade union movement and has done a tremendous amount for it, though he appears to have caught the complaint one would expect to catch, by association with hon. Members opposite.

I want to say, frankly, that everybody regrets the strikes that have taken place; everybody regrets that the time of Parliament should have to be taken up with this discussion; but everybody would regret it still more if one of the rights or any of the trade union rights which our forbears fought for were taken away from the workers of this country in the way proposed and at such a time. Unlike the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) I have had very little association with engineers. I have lived amongst the miners of North Nottinghamshire, Eastern Derbyshire and Southern Yorkshire, and I want to say that, after their efforts, both in the last war and in this war, it is nothing short of an insult for this House to say, or the Minister or those responsible for the Regulation to say, that they cannot be trusted to carry on to the end of this war without this terrible threat of punishment for exercising rights which every Member on this side of the House has fought for in past days.

Look at the matter from another standpoint which has not been mentioned up to now. I remember sitting in my home in the rural parts of Derbyshire in the blackest days of 1940, and listening to a Government spokesman on the wireless warning the people of the terrible times through which we were passing. He was thanking the people for the efforts they had already made, but was calling for still greater efforts and holding out to them this sop—a promise which, if it had been carried out, would have prevented all the industrial troubles we have had during the past year. He said: We have conscripted life, and now the time has come when we will stop at nothing in the conscription of the resources and the wealth of the country. If that promise had been kept, we should not have had the industrial troubles of the past 18 months. Let us see what provocation the men have had. I am acquainted with a mining district where the colliery owners told the men which union they had to belong to, and that they could not have a job unless they joined it. I remember the men gradually sinking, their conditions getting worse, their wages getting lower, walking four or five miles to the pit only to be told to go back again, their work allotted in such a way that they were denied unemployment benefit for a portion of a week, because of the way in which the owners had cleverly organised things so that they should work for one certain portion of that week. I say that after all this provocation, after all this oppression they have, during the four and a half years of war, rendered a tremendous service to the country and have not looked at their opportunities for revenge.

Let us see what was said about South Yorkshire. Here, as I understand, the whole trouble originated in some miserable disagreement about miners' allowance coal. Even the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power said there must have been a ridiculous arrangement, or words to that effect. If such things as that are allowed to exist in the working life of the miners without any corrective through their usual channels, the trade unions, then I say that to deprive them of that assistance would to my mind be nothing short of criminal. Look at it from another standpoint. In the next division to the one I represent—a division in which the electors are made up of miners, engineers and railwaymen, represented by an hon. Member sitting on this side of the House, and a district very advanced so far as trade unionism is concerned—there has not been a labour dispute during the whole of this war. Is the hon. Member for that Division to be denied, in any industrial dispute in the future, the opportunity of looking after the interests of the trade unionists in that constituency? Is he to be denied the opportunity of saying whether or not a strike is the only means of meeting the necessities of the case? Let us have truces by all means, let us have unity of effort by all means, as far as this war is concerned, but do not let us have one side giving all and the other side taking all, because, as far as I have been able to gather in my short time in this House, limited to a matter of weeks, that seems to be the position.

Let me point out very briefly what we may have to look forward to under this Regulation. I see that the president of the Miners' Federation, making a speech about a fortnight ago, gave a warning about the hostility of the mineowners when signing that agreement a few days ago. A Yorkshire colliery owner was quoted in the same paper in which that speech was reported as saying that although the agreement had been signed there were very many things that would cause discussion and probably difficulties in the immediate future. If this Regulation had been as stringent with regard to the mineowners as it is in the case of the miners there would perhaps have been some greater justification for it than I have been able to find up to now. I say with all sincerity that while nobody wants to see strikes or to see the war effort minimised, while nobody wants to hinder the Government in the successful prosecution of the war, some at any rate of those sitting on this side of the House do object to war circumstances being utilised for the purpose of making the workers' lives less happy than they could be made if we looked at the matter from the national and not from a party standpoint.

Photo of Captain Edward Cobb Captain Edward Cobb , Preston

I am very happy that it should fall to me to offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. C. White), who has just made his maiden speech. It is said that political memories are apt to be short, but I think there are very few of us who have not still, however long we have been Members of this House, a very lively recollection of the agony through which we went when we delivered our maiden efforts. I can congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the fact that there was no outward or visible sign of the trepidation which most of us felt on those occasions. Mine is the first voice raised in the Debate so far in support of the Government and in opposition to the Motion. My attitude is dictated by my firm belief that if the strikes, which this Regulation is designed to prevent, are allowed to continue, they must, inevitably, lead to a shortage of the supplies which are needed for our Armed Forces. Many of us still remember vividly what a shortage of essential supplies can mean for the Army in the field. A great many of us were in France in the last war during the shell shortage, and those of us, particularly we who served in the infantry, remember what an extremely unpleasant experience it was to sit in the trenches hammered by the enemy's artillery with virtually no support from our own gunners, who had not the shells with which to retaliate. I think it was perhaps during those days that the expression "P.B.I." originated.

There are others of a later generation who served in France in 1940 and in the Western Desert before El Alamein who recollect the unpleasant results of being inferior to the enemy in equipment and in necessary war supplies. I am quite sure there will be general agreement amongst all hon. Members that the conditions which our troops endured in those days must never be allowed to occur again. We are to-day, it is common knowledge, on the eve of the most immense and critical operation. It is our bounden duty, and it is the bounden duty of the Government, to see to it that the men who are fighting for us are amply supplied with everything they need and that there are adequate supplies to replace wastage. There can be no possible questions about that.

A suggestion has been made that the Regulation constitutes an affront to the working classes. I represent a constituency that is mainly working class, a constituency, incidentally, which has made a notable contribution to the war effort, both in the supply of men and women for the Forces and in the production of war material, and I feel that I know the British working man well enough to be sure that he resents very deeply the fact that he is acquiring a reputation which he does not deserve owing to the activities of malicious agitators who are doing everything they possibly can to create unrest and discontent amongst the working men. One has to make generous allowances, I think, for the working man, who has done a good job, generally speaking, during the five years of war. One has to remember that in many cases he has been living away from home, frequently under uncomfortable conditions, that he has not been able always to obtain the food to which he was accustomed, that he has been obliged to travel to and from work very often with inadequate transport facilities, and on top of all that there have been five blackout winters, which have had anything but a cheerful effect on people's spirits. It is not surprising, therefore, that after five years of these conditions the working man, and in fact every member of the community, is not as good tempered as he was five years ago and is very likely to be subject to fits of irritability and discontent. Is it not obvious that men that condition are an easy prey to the agitator who wants to make mischief?

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if he has ever seen one of these agitators?

Photo of Captain Edward Cobb Captain Edward Cobb , Preston

The hon. Gentleman whom I had the pleasure of defeating in the Preston by-election knows I have not seen these agitators. But one must believe what one is told by reliable people. I have no doubt at all that the great bulk of the unrest and disturbances in industry to-day is a direct result of the undesirable activities of these agitators and mischief makers.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

Is the hon. and gallant Member talking about the leaders of the General Strike?

Photo of Captain Edward Cobb Captain Edward Cobb , Preston

We have had ample evidence that this type of agitator has made the fullest possible use of his opportunities. It is the Government's plain duty to take such action against him as is necessary, and it is the duty of the House to support the Government in that action. Indeed, if I were disposed to criticise the Government it would be on the ground that they have shown undue restraint in this matter, and that they have been too slow in tackling a very serious situation, in view of the fact that it became evident some months ago that the Trades Disputes Act was too mild and ineffective an instrument for the purpose.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) has drawn attention to the sub-section on page 2 of this Regulation which appears to exempt trade union leaders from its operation. I want to ask the Minister whether he will explain the need for this exemption. Everybody will admit that the trade union leaders during the whole course of this war have shown themselves to be responsible and patriotic persons who have used their utmost endeavours to prevent strikes and to persuade their people to go back to work. I think I may say that no strike has taken place during the war with the approval of the trade union leaders. The conduct of the trade union leaders has shown that they do not need exemption of this kind. Quite apart from the undesirability of placing anybody above the law, it seems to me odd that exemption should be applied to a body of men who during the five years of war have shown that they have no need for it.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale made one remark, and only one remark, with which I wholly agree. He said that it was unfortunate that this Debate should take place. I agree with him entirely, because I feel that there is a distinct possibility that the opposition to this Regulation, even it is comes from only a small handful of Members of the House, may create an impression both at home and abroad that the House is divided on the need for devising means for stopping strikes. It would be a most unfortunate thing if that impression were created. This Regulation, I believe, will go a very long way towards preventing these stoppages of work, these disturbances and the unrest which has taken place in industry with such detrimental effects to our war effort. It is the duty of the Government to put a stop to this as soon as they possibly can. I hope the House will show in no uncertain way that the Government have the full support of the great majority of the House, and that we shall continue to support them in such action as must be taken to prevent any activities which may prolong the war.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I rise to support the Motion, believing that a very great mistake has been made in introducing this Regulation. I have failed to see in this country any evidence of any deep-rooted plot to overthrow the Government, to interfere with the war effort, or to do any of the dastardly things that I have seen suggested in the Press and have heard suggested in other statements in this country. I would say, at the outset, that I have never been a very keen advocate of the strike weapon, either in peace or in war. I have always believed that the people who got the worst end of the deal in strikes, were always the workers, and I could never bring my-self to go down as a political agitator and urge workers to come out, or to stay out, on strike. I have always thought it was an impertinence for me, as a political agitator for some new order, to go down, comparatively well-fed, to strike areas and urge other people to carry on their strike and to fight to the last crust.

This country has been comparatively free from strike action. There has been the upheaval during recent months, but I was satisfied that there was no deep-rooted plot or antagonism behind the strikes. I saw the agitation that was carried on in the "Daily Mail," practically alleging that these strikes were the result of some deep-rooted Trotskyist plot, and that some young lady—a blonde in corduroy trousers—had been assisting in bringing the workers out on strike. The "Daily Mail" is not the avenue that I would like to take for any reasoned opinion regarding the activities of any section of the working class movement. Previously, when it was supporting Mosley and Hitler, it was a leading organ in this country that always believed in the exercise of dictatorial authority in order to put the workers into what it termed their proper places. The "Daily Mail" got up this scare in this country in order to make the people believe that some very strong-man action sary to deal with it.

It is alleged—and there are, of course, cases before the courts on which I do not intend to comment—that individuals have incited the workers to come out on strike. I say that the British working class, who arc organised in trade unions, can, in the long run, discern the difference between the political "codder" and those who are engaged in some reasoned action for the uplifting of the class to which they belong.

I have always believed that it is better to move a man by reason than by hunger or by action through passion. Does anybody suggest that 100,000 miners were on strike because of some Trotskyist plots? I have never heard anybody allege that. At the beginning of this war, and before Russia came into the war, there were shop stewards belonging to the Communist Party in almost every shop, and it became a byword that Communist leaders used to say: "What can we have a strike about to-day, boys?" The motto then was "A strike at any cost," whether it was justified or not.

That phase has passed away. Communists who were then calling the members of the party to which I belong "yellow," because we refused to engage in what was political sabotage in factories and workshops, and refused to support those strikes, have altered their attitude. If a member of the Independent Labour Party dares even to support some justifiable action now in order to remedy a grievance, Communists do not call us "yellow" but "Fascist." We are opposed to the war, but we have never engaged in any form of sabotage in industry, nor have we encouraged it. We have always believed that while the nation may be politically wrong-headed in regard to the war, it was not right to try to correct it by any action of that kind or by indulging in sabotage. Therefore, I do not see the evidence of this sabotage in the country. The statement has been made that there cannot be a legitimate strike. Let me give a small quotation from the "Daily Sketch" of yesterday morning. It stated: Whatever justification may be put forward for union-approved strikes in war-time, there can be absolutely none for unofficial strikes. Did anybody ever hear from a leader-writer such reasoning as that there may be justification for official strikes, but none for unofficial strikes? Let me, by reading a letter from one of my constituents, show the kind of difficulty that may face the workers. The writer says: Dear Sir. I ask your interest on the position and general conditions of employment at the Glasgow Docks under the Ministry of War Transport scheme. A large percentage of the men employed are not permitted to join any union and are also refused membership of the Scottish Transport and General Workers' Union, who, by the way, have a guarantee from Lord Leathers that no other union will be recognised for negotiation, etc., at the Glasgow Docks. A few non-union men approached the Municipal and General Workers' Union, who enrolled over a thousand members. The Scottish and General Transport Union went on strike in protest against this, and sent a deputation to Leathers, who gave them the aforementioned guarantee to recognise their union. I understand that they claimed that their union was full up. This included their members in the Armed Forces, whose position they wished to protect whilst on service. It was submitted that they open a special branch for war-time dockers, but giving their own members the protection they demanded. This was defeated by a large majority in a secret ballot they held recently. Two of the men who tried to organise on behalf of the Municipal and General Workers' Union, were dismissed from the docks, with three months' wages in advance. It was to demand the dismissal of these two men for their activities that the official union, viz., Scottish Transport Union, went on strike. The Municipal Union has now evidently retired from activity, and the general conditions now remain the same, if not worse, for a large number of men, most of them discharged from the Services, victims of not only privileges but abuses, which they must suffer or—? Here is a body of men who want to join the trade union catering for the workers, and the union say: "We are full up. There is a closed book. We cannot take any more members, because they will become a menace to our union."

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Yes, and they say that no other union is allowed to enrol those members. They go on strike to prevent it. The men are non-unionists, but not by desire. They are deprived of the opportunity of expression of their legitimate grievances. They are deprived of the opportunity of voicing their grievance inside a trade union branch, because they are excluded, so, if they are driven to take strike action, they become liable to a term of imprisonment for five years or less, according to what the judge may have had for breakfast. The judge will decide. We have seen some of these judges on the bench. The prisoner may think he is doing well until he hears the sentence which is meted out to him. People in that position have not a proper medium through which to voice their grievances, and it is putting them into a position in which they can be accused of agitating. They have no opportunity of agitating in a proper manner, and so they are liable to be brought before a court and to suffer imprisonment.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Will the right hon. Gentleman say where is my hon. Friend wrong?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I do not want to interrupt, but under Order 1305, even if a non-unionist reports a case to me, I must refer it to the court.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I have experience in the Glasgow area. I can see the importance of the point mentioned by the hon. Member who moved the Motion, when he said that the Regulation was designed to protect trade union leaders against the rank and file. Perhaps the Minister will listen to me while I give him my experience. He may say that it is wrong, but I will tell him what I have been told by some of my constituents in Parkhead Forge. They say that when a man begins to agitate in the workshop, he is selected for disposal and transfer elsewhere. He is marked out, and trade union leaders and Ministry of Labour officials all agree to that man's transfer. In no case have I seen the man winning his case in such circumstances, in Stewart and Lloyds, Beardmore's and other works in the area.

A non-unionist member of the rank and file in the workshop may draw attention to a matter, but that does not mean that the grievance will be rectified. Any person knows that, in many cases, attention is drawn to grievances, but no change takes place. It may be different if my attention is drawn to it, and I bring it to the notice of the Minister. I know that in matters like that, the Minister has courage, capacity and character in dealing with many of these cases, but I am referring to a large body of men who have no proper means of expression. If they give expression to their grievances, they are being dealt with in the most ruthless manner, as having broken the law. On the other hand, in the trade union, an individual can urge a strike, and he is not liable to prosecution. What is said inside the trade union branch, is like what is said in a freemasons' lodge; it becomes immune. Everybody can keep the secret—in fact it need not be kept secret. It can even be stated that they have urged the strike at the trade union branch. The strike may take place, and yet the people who urged it are not liable to prosecution. In this case a body of men are excluded from the trade union, and they are deprived of opportunities for collaboration with their fellow-men, except on the job. Their collaboration cannot be inside the branch; it must be at the docks; it must be done by agitation and representation of an informal character. Therefore, they become more liable.

I have been rather amazed at this use of the 1927 Trade Disputes Act, because I have been watching, not in a tremendously interested fashion, the agitation to repeal this law. I understood that it was a vicious law, that it was operating so strongly against the trade unions that Sir Walter Citrine recently almost presented an ultimatum to the Government to get it removed. It was the Act which Sir John Simon, as he then was, put over. I remember the late Ramsay MacDonald bringing in an amending Bill of some kind in 1930, and the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) castigating Mr. MacDonald for the deal which, he said, had been made with the T.U.C., with the collaboration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). He said that an arrangement had been made, and that the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs had said to the Prime Minister of that time, "After all, we have been in the same boat. Dog does riot eat dog; let us take this Bill upstairs to Committee, as a convenient way of cutting its dirty throat." The agitation which has gone on for years against this Act is followed by the Act being now operated by a Labour Minister, a trade union leader, in a more vicious form. I am amazed. I cannot see any justification for that. As hon. Members know, I am completely opposed to the war.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Because I believe it is a purely capitalist war.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

My hon. Friend is entitled to his opinion, but there is a large body of peope in the country which holds the same opinion as I do, and its number will increase as the war goes on, as was the case in the last war.

Photo of Mr George Reakes Mr George Reakes , Wallasey

Candidates who have stood for that policy have forfeited their deposits.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

If a man stands for a policy, and polls only two votes, that does not make the policy wrong. But I am not arguing whether that is right or wrong. When anybody says to me "Hitler would not allow you to say that; if you did, you would be in a concentration camp," I know that they think that I should be in a concentration camp; otherwise they would not say it. I have given my opinion. I do not back it up by action; I simply say, "I am opposed to the war, in every shape or form, but the nation is backing the war, and the nation is entitled to get the instruments to fight the war." Therefore, I have never done anything consciously to take away from the Government the power to wage the war which they believe it is necessary to wage.

I think that the worst feature of the Regulation is this arrangement with outside bodies, to which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) referred. It is altogether wrong that the Minister should meet the Employers' Confederation and the T.U.C. and agree to formulate regulations, which he puts into effect over the head of Parliament. If he had consulted Parliament and secured approval for the Regulation, that would have been all right. If I did something which is against the law I would not squeal if I were gaoled; but I have never done anything of that character. I have, of course, made strong speeches. The Government may even go to the extent of saying that, by pointing out that this is a capitalist war, I am inciting the workers to withdraw labour. Every trade union leader in this country has come to the front through strikes. Sometimes not desiring it, he becomes a leading man, then he forms a trade union, and becomes the leader. After becoming the leader of the trade union, he says, "Five years' imprisonment for you if you repeat what I did."

I remember visiting the Templehof aerodrome in Berlin, where 4,500 engineering workers were employed. I went there through the assistance of the British Ambassador in Berlin at that time. I was told that the organisation was run by what was called the Dr. Ley trade union and the management. They decided the routine. The manager said to me "This used to be one of the worst factories in Germany for strikes: it was a very strong Communist factory." I asked where were the Communists, and he said "We differentiated between the leaders and the workers. We treated the workers as being misguided, and gave them a chance to work out their salvation, but the leaders were transferred elsewhere." I remember the Prime Minister saying that in this country we did not put our trade union leaders into concentration camps; we invited them into the drawing-room to have a cup of tea. Under the system of the Dr. Ley trade unions, the corporate State has grown, and the workers have developed into a corporation. We arc developing along the same lines, without the brutality of the German system.

We are evolving from these sections, the T.U.C., the employers, and the Government, a corporate body, which is going to wield power, and Parliament is going to be subservient to it. That is the greatest danger about these Regulations, not the fact that somebody may get a year's or six months' imprisonment for advocating strikes, but the development and the evolution of the corporate State. The British ruling classes have always been very keen on putting across anything of a reactionary character in a completely different way from the way it has been put over on the Continent. The Germans failed completely because of the brutality they used. They put forward a system which would have extended throughout the world, but it was put forward in such a brutal and arrogant manner that it will be their own undoing. I see this not as an isolated case, but as a development of the corporate State, which is not for the good of the people of this country. It is very difficult—and this is to my own disadvantage, politically, sometimes—to convince the people of this country of the need for any change in policy; but, whether the people of this country think with me or against me, they are very intelligent and resourceful, and they like to see justice.

If this Regulation is destined to crush out some form of political agitation by some insignificant minority party, there is nothing like prosecution and persecution to establish that party securely. If the members of a party are imprisoned that party is going to be established, not by the justification of its policy, but by the fact that its members become heroes in the eyes of young people, who admire their courage. In that way a large number of people who were the rebels of the last war, have been thrown on to these benches. I heard an attendant in this House say "It makes you think. You are a conscientious objector in one war, and a Cabinet Minister in the next." When the poacher becomes the gamekeeper, it is a very dangerous thing for the community. In my opinion the most dangerous thing about this Regulation is not this isolated case, but the fact that it is one of a series of trends in the political development of this country. The war is being used as a cloak for putting over policies to which the people would never agree in time of peace; and the fact that cunning minds behind the scenes, out to get the workers disciplined and tied hand and foot, are behind all such Regulations. But I have inherent faith in the British workers, both at home and in the war theatres abroad, and I believe that, when they know the policy that is being pursued in this country, there will be a radical change in their political outlook.

Photo of Mr George Reakes Mr George Reakes , Wallasey

I rise to support the Government. I have listened very patiently to the speeches which have been delivered in favour of the annulment of this Order, but I have not heard any concrete evidence that there is any alternative method of dealing with the grave situation which has been caused in the industrial areas by events of the past few months. We have heard a torrent of destructive criticism from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), backed up by, an allegation that there is a conspiracy in Fleet Street to inflame public opinion against the miners. Of course, if it is unsupported by evidence, it is a mere statement that that is the policy behind our national newspapers. I regard that as a lot of "tosh," and that it is very discreditable to impeach the Press at a time when they are doing their best to give the public the facts. I know the facts, and I read the Press, and I have yet to have it proved to me that any editor in Fleet Street has gone out of his way to create a public opinion against the miners.

I am behind the miners. I have been behind the miners for years. I suffered three months' unemployment by victimisation because of the stand I took years ago in the general strike. In this House, three months after my election, I went into the Lobby with nine other hon. Members in favour of nationalisation, because I felt that that was the only policy which would create settlement in the mines. We have now reached a critical stage of this war, and the Government cannot afford to take chances. We know the big claims that have been made by our Fighting Forces for coal and munitions of war, and we know that, as a result of the strike, fully 1,500,000 tons of coal have been lost at this most critical period. The situation has become grave, and it has to be faced up to, and, in facing it, the Government have, I believe, the overwhelming support of the country.

I have spoken to all sorts of people before coming here to-day, and I find that nine out of ten, wherever you meet them, are delighted to think that the Government are, at long last, coming to grips with this strike question. I am certain that I am voicing the opinions of the Fighting Forces when I say that they too, are delighted that the Government are at last going to experiment with this Regulation to try to end strikes in war time. From Hastings to-day I watched the bombers going over, as they do day after day, and I imagine that, if I could have asked the pilots and air crews carrying out those dangerous expeditions, "Are you in favour of the Government taking some action to deal with this strike question?" they would have replied, "Yes." There would not be one man amongst them who would say "No," because they know that, if we do not get down to this issue, our war effort will be gravely imperilled, and the heroism and good work of our airmen and merchant seamen will be brought to nought.

I feel, too, that the miners and those who work in factories welcome some action. Do not let it ever be said that there is a majority of miners, or of workers in the factories or in the transport organisations, who are in favour of strikes in war time. They are not. It is only because they are between the devil and the deep blue sea. I believe there is a majority of miners and workers in favour of some action being taken. And why? Because they do not want us to lose this war. They do not want to see the wonderful sacrifices of the people of this country made of no avail. Thousands of them have sons in the Forces overseas or on the high seas, and thousands have sons who are prisoners of war, languishing their hearts out and asking the question "How much longer have we to wait for victory?" If we could get into the hearts of these people, particularly the people we never hear about, we should find that they welcome some attempt to put down strikes in war time.

I hope sincerely that the Government on this occasion will get an overwhelming majority. It will then restore confidence in the country, and will let the people of this country, and of the Allied Nations, not forgetting gallant Russia, know that, at least, we are going to have austerity for all and discipline for all. I did not hear the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) speak about the rigid discipline that is enforced in the Army. No, it is always the rigid discipline that is applied to the worker.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

The hon. Member will recollect that the hon. Member for Shettleston and I did make an effort for political freedom in the Army only a fortnight ago.

Photo of Mr George Reakes Mr George Reakes , Wallasey

The fact remains that, when the Second Front opens, if there are any young men in the Forces who, when they approach the invasion stage, find that their courage fails them, they will be shot if they do not do their duty. That is only one aspect of the rigid discipline of His Majesty's Forces. We are not asking that a similar discipline should be applied to industry and commerce. In an effort to save us from disaster on the eve of great events the Government are simply asking for power to deal with illegal strikes by the men who defy the trade union leaders. That is all.

I join with other hon. Members who have deprecated the way this matter has been introduced. I think it would have been far better to have taken the parties into the confidence of the Government straight away, to have had, through the constitutional channels, the subject brought up before the House, debated and voted upon, but it is no use allowing that issue to cloud the main issue of to-day's proceedings. I suppose there are sufficient hon. Members in this House, and sufficient live and enthusiastic trade union leaders, to see that there is no misuse of this Regulation. It is all rubbish to say that it may be misused. Every Act of Parliament may be misused, but there is machinery that will prevent it being misused, and, if once it is misused, we can have these cases fought out on the Floor of the House. We have been able to do it in the case of Regulation 18B. I have been one of those who thought it was time we had these cases dealt with on the Floor of the House, and we have had them dealt with here with beneficial effects, and there is no reason why, once this Regulation becomes law, they should not be dealt with in that manner. I hope the Government will be supported by a big vote—I honestly believe that it would be a tragedy if they were not—in order that the Minister of Labour and those associated with him can get to grips with what I say is the most sinister aspect of things in the country to-day.

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

For the first, time since the hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Reakes) has been in this House, I find myself in disagreement with him, but that no doubt is the prerogative of independence. I would like to join issue with him on one matter. He made a statement—I do not think he quite realised it, or perhaps he did not use the words he intended to use —the effect of which was that most editors were against the cause of the strikers. I think that it is not fair to the editors, because, as I understood the mover of this Prayer, it was not so much against the editors that he had a grievance, as against the owners of the newspapers. After all, the editors do not decide policy. That has nothing to do with editors or their Press correspondents. The newspaper proprietors are the people that should bear the onus.

So far, this Debate has been a little one-sided, inasmuch as we have had five speeches and some fine rhetoric from those in favour of this Prayer being accepted, and, on the other hand, we have had only two hon. Members who are in favour of the Government's Regulation. I have no doubt that that discrepancy will be altered when we come to the Division Lobby. The other hon. Member who has supported the Government, in addition to the hon. Member for Wallasey, was the hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Captain Cobb). I am sorry he is not here, because he made one statement to which I want to make reference. The hon. and gallant Member emphasised that troops must not suffer because of strikes. He obviously thinks that these Regulations are going to improve the labour situation. With the information that is at present at my disposal I believe that this new Regulation is far more likely to aggravate that situation. I think though that my hon. and gallant Friend will, anyhow, agree with me when I say that this strike menace, unless handled properly, can develop into one of the most serious things that has happened to this country since Dunkirk. The hon. and gallant Member would have to agree with me that the Cabinet, without consulting the representatives of the people in this House, have decided upon drastic measures to deal with this menace. If ever there was a responsibility that should have been shared with Parliament, it was this one, for it entails a decision that can be of the gravest importance to the very existence of this country, and not only to our existence but also to the future of our Dominions, Colonies and Allies, who, I think, are also worthy of some consideration.

If Mr. Speaker were in the Chair now he would, no doubt, recollect that as long ago as 6th April, before we went away for the Recess, I asked his permission to intervene during that Adjournment Debate, to warn the Government on this very matter, and to ask that they should not come to any definite decision before they had consulted this House. Mr. Speaker was good enough to say that, though he had a full programme, there might be an opportunity of my getting in, but, during that Debate, events of momentous importance came up which took the shape of a long discussion on the merits and demerits of the Kitchen Committee. In fact, two hon. Members had to go so far as to make the very serious complaint that, on more than three occasions at lunch time, fish was off by one o'clock. As a result, there was no time left to discuss the—by comparison—comparatively unimportant question whether the Government should consult the House on a grave matter of national importance. As it was the Government, deterred by no word of warning from Members, proceeded to ignore the House and to give powers to the trade unions that may eventually have the effect of making not the trades unions, but the trades union leaders, more powerful than the Members of this House. That, of course, would not be very difficult, but the fact remains.

Assume for the sake of argument that this decision of the Cabinet to deal with the strike menace is the correct one, and turns out in every way to be satisfactory. Even though that be so, the fact still remains that the Cabinet, by flouting the rights and duties of Parliament, has done great damage to the prestige of our form of government. How much more will this be the case, if this decision of the Cabinet turns out to be a wrong decision? If, originally, the procedure which had been decided by the Cabinet had been agreed on by the country as a whole, that is to say, through its elected representatives in this House, then the responsibility for anything that occurred would be on the shoulders of the majority, which would be right and proper. But as it is, if the decision proves to be wrong, and serious repercussions ensue, the majority of the country, knowing that their representatives were not consulted, are going to have their faith in so-called democratic government seriously undermined.

As has already been pointed out to-day by the mover of the Motion, the faith of the people in democracy was very badly shaken before the Government made this, their latest, constitutional blunder. Their faith began to be slightly rocked each time the Government extended arbitrarily their proper span of life without bothering to evoke that little constitutional practice of consulting the will of the people at a General Election. But democracy was given an even further jolt, when insult was added to injury and the head of this Methuselah government, the present Prime Minister, threatened the electors with dire consequences if they did not support the candidates that he sponsored at by-elections. It did not stop at that, for he referred to those who opposed his party hacks as "swindles." As a result, and as those hon. Members who get round the country realise, there were millions muttering, "This is all a very strange idea of how democracy works in practice," but these mutterings turned to growls when they suddenly realised that, on the top of it all, a great deal of our Parliamentary procedure in this House was becoming a farce and a waste of time.

No Member of this House could possibly disagree that the other day the representatives of the people in this House made a majority decision and as that decision was not in accord with the wishes of the Government, the Government forced Members of Parliament to reverse their decision, so to speak, to eat their votes, which, after all, was not unreminiscent of the Fascist castor-oil practices. That Members of Parliament did not maintain, on that occasion, the strength of their convictions was bad enough,—"rubber stamps," became a universal term of derision throughout the country—but what has done irreparable harm has been that the Government, not content with flouting the people in this amazing unconstitutional manner, capped it all by not consulting the representatives of the people in Parliament, on a policy of vital significance to the nation, that of how to deal with the grim menace of strikes in war-time.

There is no doubt at all that this has given a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure to a section of the community. The extremists in this country, the Trotskyites and anybody like that, are delighted. They are only too anxious that our form of democracy should become discredited. Taking the long view, our leaders, by their high-handed behaviour, are doing an immense disservice to the nation. They have enjoyed so many years of continual office and of immense power, which we, the Members of this House have given them, that it has gone to their heads, with the result that they now not only ignore, but have literally become contemptuous of Parliament. Human nature being what it is, you cannot altogether blame them, because it is, apparently, so easy to take advantage of this Mouse as at present constituted. The majority are either too old, too stale, too mesmerised, too honours-seeking or just too, too Tory, to do anything else but be a drab chorus chanting a shrill subservient "Yes, yes, yes." But a day of reckoning is bound to come and in the meantime, if the majority of Members of Parliament are content to sit down, either occasionally in this House or more often in their own houses, and complacently relinquish the nation's constitutional practices and safeguards, they will only have themselves to blame if, as a result, unnecessary and possibly terrible disasters come our way before the end of the war. In that event, theirs will be the responsibility.

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt Mr Denis Pritt , Hammersmith North

I do not want to attack the Minister of Labour —I do not know whether he will be disappointed or not—because it is obviously a Government decision, and it is the Government that must take the praise, if there be any, and the blame. I do not want to criticise the trade union movement, and indeed, it would be difficult to do so with any clear-cut criticism, because substantial elements of the trade union movement have condemned the said Regulation; nor do I want to embark on any constitutional argument. If the case for this Regulation could stand on the footing I am going to describe then the case for enacting it by Defence Regulation would be established. Nearly everybody has said, and I would like to begin by saying, that nobody wants strikes in war-time. Everybody deprecates strikes in war-time, but we want to have those blamed whose stupidity or incompetence involves first one section and then another section, and eventually the whole working class in strikes at a time when the whole working class know well we do not want to have strikes if we can possibly help it. But, what is much more important, everybody should be opposed—and I think nearly everybody is opposed in his heart—to the idea that the occurrence of strikes, whoever is to blame, should be seized upon by the Government as an opportunity to pass stringent additional legislation which is likely to be very sinister in the future. This legislation will not automatically disappear when the circumstances under which a strike is a grave injury to the war effort disappear. It will last a week, a month, six months, two years or three years, it may be, after the conditions which make strikes a disservice to the country have disappeared. It will form part of the already formidable arsenal of the ruling class against the working class at the very moment when employers, many of whom are already showing a very considerable desire to be provocative, will be fighting for their Jives against their competitors and for the possibility of holding the working class under their heel. They believe that they cannot carry on trade unless they have the working class under their heel. To start the post-war period with employers equipped in that way and the workers correspondingly kept down by them cannot possibly be defended. Of course, legislation must be passed now if it is necessary for the war effort.

There is one thesis I want to put before the House. This is part of the Government's considered post-war campaign against the working class, of which another part was shown when the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained blandly that it was in order that wages and prices should not get out of step, that he was proposing, quietly and scientifically, to reduce the real wages of every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom. It is called a "slight rise in the cost of living." Consequently, we have to look at this whole problem in the light of what is being prepared for post-war. When we come to examine the Regulation for the immediate purposes for which it is alleged to be put forward we see that it is utterly unnecessary and unfitting.

This Regulation is a rather complicated one from the point of view of the law. I understand that no Law Officer is going to speak, so we shall not have as much bad law as usual. I want to explain a little to the House, because law is a technical subject, and while laymen in the House are apt to follow it with difficulty, the Government and their lawyers are apt to follow it with a great deal more difficulty. Nevertheless, we cannot really understand this position, and see how completely unnecessary this Regulation is, unless we do study the legal position for a moment. The House may be told at some stage that the Government are advised that the law is so-and-so, and many hon. Members have often taken comfort from the fact and said, "Well, the Government say that is the law, so it cannot very well be administered to any other effect." They are apt to forget if they knew, that when a particular Regulation comes up in court, and the court says it means something entirely different from what the Minister said, one is not even allowed to tell the court what the Minister said, because the court is the only interpreter. What the Minister said was, no doubt, said in good faith, but it does not count and cannot even be mentioned. It is like what the soldier said.

I am speaking without any heat or exaggeration in saying that of all the hundreds of statements by Ministers as to what they are advised the law is I have never heard one that was not palpably wrong. It is not the fault of the Ministers, it is the advice they get, which is nearly always wrong. Looking at the law and the whole position as I see it, I would like to warn the House of two difficulties. One or two hon. Members have asked me what is the legal position of this and of that. I find it is very natural and common for anybody to look at the Regulation and say, "Well, yes, that is the position. If it says there you are not to be liable by reason of this or that, then you are safe." That, unfortunately, is not the position, because there are one or two bits of the common law and two or three bits of miscellaneous Regulations existing side by side, and if you think you are safe from one of them, which you may be, you find you are anything but safe from the others. So that each step of this law is a little complicated.

The other thing of which I want to warn hon. Members is this. We often see the phrase "shall not be liable by reason only of" so-and-so. I think the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) discussed those points to some extent, and I hope to be able to sit down without having gone into that again, because there is quite enough I want to say without that. A common method of legislation, very tempting to the draftsmen, but it may be rather dangerous, is first to make your general proposition and, because you are afraid of making it too narrow, you make it too wide. You then seek to safeguard people who ought not to be hit by the Regulation by saying that they shall not be liable "by reason only," shall I say, of having taken part in the strike. When that comes to be analysed in court, if they have done one single bit more than taking part, or ceasing work, the court is bound to say they are caught by wide words at the beginning of the Regulation and do not keep inside the law by reason of the words "by reason only." Therefore, they are liable. Those two dangers have to be borne in mind.

The proposition I want to put before the House is this: this Regulation is utterly and absolutely unnecessary. The law as it stood before was perfectly sufficient for everything that the Government could reasonably need to do, and more than amply sufficient for everything that the Government said they wanted to do. Therefore, you are confronted at this stage of the war, and at this stage of the approach of the post-war period, with a piece of legislation which is extremely wide and which is, as I hope to demonstrate, utterly unnecessary. It should therefore be viewed with the utmost suspicion and rejected. If I am going to make good that proposition, I shall have to examine closely three points. First, I have to see what the legislation in fact is. Secondly, what is the particular evil or trouble that the Government say they are aiming at. Thirdly, what is advanced on behalf of the Government to suggest that the existing law is not sufficient to cover the evil which the Government say they are aiming to defeat.

Of course, I have not had the advantage of hearing the Minister's speech, because he will naturally want to leave it to the end, but one has heard a great many declarations and statements as to what the Government are aiming at, and why they suggest the law needs to be strengthened. Therefore, I shall probably be aiming at the right target. Possibly the first thing for me to do is to remind the House what is the existing law relating to strikes—not, for the moment, the existing law about instigating strikes. It will be remembered that the whole of this Regulation is said to have been passed because of Trotskyite instigation but, for the moment, all I want to deal with is the law relating to strikes. I do not think I am stating it too high when I say that the present legal position is that it is almost impossible for any strike to be legal. I do not know of any strike which has taken place in the latter stages of this war since Regulation 58AA and the Conditions of Employment Order No. 1305 that even looks like being legal. That arises in this way. Strikes, of course, are legal at common law—except when they are really inconvenient, and then some great lawyer gets up and says there is a conspiracy against the State.

But let us take the general proposition that they are legal at common law. Order No.1305 of, I think, 1940 does not use very clear language, but it is possible to understand it. Take it by stages. It says that the strike shall be unlawful until certain notices are given which are to cover 21 days. So it is unlawful for 21 days; and if in that time it is not settled and the Minister has referred it to the National Arbitration Tribunal, or to another body, it remains unlawful while it is being dealt with by that Tribunal or other body.

So far it is not lawful. When the Tribunal has adjudicated on it, it becomes an award binding on both parties, and, if you want to strike against that, you have to start again, and then you are illegal all over again. Therefore, subject to one point which I am going to mention, I say that it is the plain, blunt truth in regard to any strike in this country at present, whether in the essential services or not, that if the Minister operates his conciliaton machinery in the usual and normal fashion, that strike will be illegal.

Therefore, at first sight, one would say that as far as making strikes illegal is concerned this Regulation must be unnecessary. But I said there was one exception I ought to mention. It is perfectly true that Regulation 58AA and the National Arbitration Order both cover only strikes which take place in connection with a trade dispute, and it is suggested, as I understand it, on behalf of the Government that if a strike is not in relation to a trade dispute, it is probably perfectly legal. It seems a topsy-turvy result of the law but the law often has topsy-turvy results. As I understand it, if there was a strike totally unconnected with a trade dispute, it would not be covered by Order No. 1305.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Was not that excepted by the definition of a strike?

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt Mr Denis Pritt , Hammersmith North

There is a Clause in the Order which defines what a strike is. Next I want to consider what reason the Government put forward for this legislation. The Government advance the difficulties of Trotskyite instigation. I do not belittle Trotskyite instigation in the least. The only person foolish enough to do that, so far as I have discovered up to now, is the Home Secretary, with whom I will deal in a moment. What is the legal position about the Trotskyite instigation of a strike? It is said that this vast piece of machinery directed against the whole mass of the working-class is necessary because Trotskyites have been instigating strikes, the inference being that if we did not have this new Regulation, we could not hit the Trotskyites. I will not say I have never heard such nonsense before, because I have heard a good deal of law from the Government, but I will say it is pretty well nonsense. I think I ought to speak with a little care here because, after all, certain individuals are being prose- cuted under certain Statutes, in respect of certain charges, on certain evidence which has not yet been produced in court, so the more generally the one speaks about it the better.

Let us assume quite generally that there is some evidence that Trotskyites—I use the word because the Home Secretary has used it—have been going round instigating strikes. I think the Home Secretary referred to them as a couple of pedestrians going round the mines. Suppose there are a couple of pedestrians going round the mines instigating strikes; is it really suggested that the whole machinery of our law is powerless? Surely the legal advisers to the Minister of Labour have not told him that to incite anybody to strike in this country is not a crime. If they have told him so any solicitor's clerk could tell him, and could produce authority to show him, that if is. But perhaps his legal advisers have never heard of the law of conspiracy. It is not something they forget when it is necessary to crush the working-class.

Those are two things to start with, and there are two other methods which the Home Secretary mentioned. There is 2D, which closes down a newspaper, and 18B, which puts them away. But let us for the moment stick simply and solely to legal remedies in the narrower sense. There is Regulation 1A. It is perfectly true that until they amended Regulation 1A by the Order against which we are now praying, 1A was not much good for this purpose, but they are now amending it by this very Regulation and, whilst I heartily support the Motion against the whole Order, it is relevant to consider that it not only brings in the new Regulation 1AA but amends the old Regulation 1A and, under that old Regulation, as amended, you can without the slightest difficulty prosecute anybody who does anything whatever towards preventing the production of goods in any essential industry. So you have the whole of what the Government profess to want in amended 1A alone, and you do not need 1AA at all. Most people will agree that nobody would have got up in the House 18 months ago—if I may use the dreadful word, "Communists" instead of "Trotskyists"— and have said, "The poor Government are so powerless that they have not even got legislative power to prevent Communists going round the country instigating strikes." If they had said that, people would have roared themselves sick with laughter. But that is the principal Government reason for bringing in this Regulation.

I take now some of the counter-objections which the Government, I understand, have advanced, in answer to the proposition that the present legislation is quite sufficient. As I understand it, the argument is that the limitation of Regulation 58AA and Order No. 1305 to trades disputes provides a really serious limitation. The Government say that there may well be strikes that do not arise out of trade disputes at all, and that there is no protection against this, unless they have these amendments. There are half a dozen answers to that. I practise the law, and although I do not understand it all, I misunderstand it less than most people. I have given a good deal of thought to this matter, and I find it very difficult to imagine any situation in which there would actually be a strike that did not arise out of a trade dispute. I was connected with a very peculiar case that went before the National Arbitration Tribunal in which I tried to argue, or the other side tried to argue, I forget which, that there was no trade dispute at all. In any event, the argument broke down completely and I was able to learn how very difficult it is to imagine some industrial incident, leading to a strike, which is not a trade dispute. A trade dispute is, defined as: Any dispute or difference between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of employment or the conditions of labour of any persons. Well, you do not want anything much wider than that. The next answer is this. Let us think of the Government's anxiety about Trotskyist instigation and about a couple of pedestrians going into an industry and calling out all the men. These pedestrian Trotskyists have been treated by the Home Secretary with the utmost contempt, as not worth picking up under Regulation 18B. Suppose they go into an area, where they probably speak an entirely different dialect, and call out, say, 5,000 to 20,000 hard-headed, decent, patriotic, English working men on strike. Of course, that is not likely to happen, unless the Trotskyists have the good fortune to have some incredibly provocative employer, to create for them a situation in which they can do it. But how are they ever to work up such feeling among the workers as to get them out on strike at this stage of the war, without ever having a trade dispute? It is no good getting the men angry with their conditions of labour, because that is covered by the law; it is no good getting them angry about their terms of employment, because that is covered by the law; it is no good getting them excited about non-employment, the turning-off of men, or about the employment of black-leg labour, because these, too, are trade disputes and are covered by the law.

Therefore, how are these pedestrian Trotskyists to induce apprentices and men to go out on strike unless there is a grievance on which the men can come out? It is a very strange thing, indeed, that we have gone on since 1940, since Regulation 58AA and Order No. 1305 were passed, and nobody has ever discovered any difficulty in working them, by reason of this limitation, until now. It is a poor compliment to the draftsmen and to the Government that all this has not been discovered until now.

If the difficulty is that the definition of a trade dispute is too narrow, then make it wider. Just because a definition of a trade dispute is too narrow, you do not want to send the cream of the working-class to gaol for five years. Yet that is what a lot of people on the other side of the House want to do. So much for that. There is another argument. The whole law as it stands at present is not strong enough to deal with this Trotskyist instigation, say the Government. As I have said, I do not minimise this Trotskyist instigation; I think it is serious, and I think it has grown up partly because of the persistent refusal of the Home Secretary to do anything about it. The Home Secretary has two fiddles to play.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

The hon. and learned Member wants 18B?

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt Mr Denis Pritt , Hammersmith North

Not only 18B but also 2D. The Government, instead of supplying paper for "Socialist Appeal," should stop the paper itself.

As I was saying, the Home Secretary has two fiddles which he plays. He says, "I am a strong man. Do not forget Weimar, because I never forget it. I will put them all away." The other line he takes is, "I will keep the flag of liberalism flying for ever at the Home Office." But at any rate, whatever it may be, the Government have now discovered, what a lot of people have been telling them for a long time, that the Trotskyists are sufficiently dangerous to be taken seriously. It does not come very well from the Government now, and maybe it is a pretext and an excuse. But at any rate, the danger exists. One does not need to be a lawyer—although I do not know what it feels like not to be one—to be able to see that here is a Government who, after equipping themselves with a whole mass of legislation, and with the common law to help in some respects, say that it is necessary, because the Trotskyists have been instigating strikes, to legislate. To legislate against what? Against the instigation of strikes. One would think that this was intended to be legislation against the instigation of strikes. Indeed, in some of the publicity matter which has been going round it has been so called. Having, presumably, people who understand the English language to help them with their drafting, the Government now settle down to legislate on this. Dealing with Regulation 1AA, what do I find? Sometimes there is a description of this legislation in the marginal note, which is often accurate, and in this case the marginal note says: Prohibition of strikes and lock-outs likely to interfere with essential services. So it is not specifically addressed to instigation alone. It is very wide indeed. It says: No person shall declare instigate or incite any other person to take part or otherwise act in furtherance of any strike among persons engaged in the performance of essential services or in a lock-out of persons so engaged. So it looks to be a general piece of legislation against strikes, in which one of the things dealt with is instigation or any other action in furtherance of any strike. As I have said, it is very wide indeed. You would have thought it would have been enough to say: No person shall incite another person to commit an offence against these Regulations. But any lawyer would have told the Government that it is unnecessary to say this in a Regulation, because the law says it for you. It is odd, to put it mildly, that the Regulation is so very wide. I think the last argument put forward by the Government to show that we need more legislation than we have already, is that heavier penalties are required. Well, you do not need to be a lawyer to think out this bright idea: if the only thing wrong with legislative penalties is that they are too small, then enlarge the penalties. I make no charge for that piece of advice. The Government have done it under the Ministry of Food Regulations. So, that cannot be the reason.

Now we come—I almost said, "in my submission," because it is so much a matter of law—to the end of the argument so far as 1AA is concerned. The law amply covers the whole situation already. It makes every strike that is ever likely to happen illegal, and thus makes it unlawful for anybody to incite to any strike that is ever likely to happen. The reasons suggested, that the law as it stands does not cover the position, all break down. Thus we have this absolutely unnecessary legislation. No one can doubt that a month after the end of the war, there will be no reason why workers should not strike against their employer, or why men should be sent to prison for five years for attending a strike meeting that is not a trade union meeting. Therefore, one becomes extremely suspicious of this absolutely unnecessary legislation, and I suggest that this Prayer should be accepted. I was tempted to say something about these two provisos, but I think I should be guilty of provocation if I did so, and I have already spoken for a long time.

I want however to say something about Regulation 1A. It is a good illustration of that system of legislation which I mentioned a short while ago in using the words, "by reason only," and it also reinforces my main argument. This Statutory Order is doing two quite different things. It is amending 1A and enacting 1AA. If, on examining 1A as amended, you discover that 1AA is absolutely unnecessary you ought to have further reason for suspicion, for agreeing to this Motion and rejecting the Regulation leaving the Government to re-enact the amendment of 1A. Here I think it is worth while reminding the House of what 1A did. It was a fairly early Regulation. It was passed in 1939, and it says: No person shall do any act having reasonable cause to believe that it will be likely to prevent or interfere with the carrying on of their work by persons who are engaged in the performance of essential services. I have left out words about the performance of their duties by persons in His Majesty's Service, which can be fairly left out, though their existence reminds us that it was regarded as a very important matter. It is obviously a very wide Regulation indeed, and perfectly proper in war time. If you do anything at all, which you have reasonable cause to believe may interfere with anyone in the performance of essential services—the definition of "essential services" again is very wide—you can be fined or imprisoned under the general provisions of the Regulation. Let us see whether it does not hit too widely. In 1939, it was not the Government's intention to interfere with strikes. I do not mean that they did not want to discourage strikes, but it was not their policy to interfere with them by legislative means, so a proviso was put in that a person should not be guilty of an offence against the Regulation by reason only of taking part in a strike or peacefully persuading any other person to take part in a strike. So the Regulation, as it stood, was useless for present purposes because, if you attempted to deal with a Trotskyite under it, he would say "No, I come in under the proviso. I have only peacefully persuaded other people to take part in the strike." It has now been provided that the proviso should be altered to read, provided that no person shall be deemed to have committed an offence against this Regulation by reason only of his having in the course of a strike ceased to work or refused to accept employment. Now what is the position? Your Trotskyite persuades people to strike. You can hit him at once for instigation; you can hit him under 1305 for taking part in an illegal strike, because it is bound to be a trade dispute. He cannot get in under the proviso, because the only person the proviso saves is the person who has ceased to work in the course of a strike. The others ceased work before the strike began. The only people protected by the proviso are those who come out on the second day. It is the people who came out on the first day, who caused the strike. Even if the existing law can be imagined to be insufficient, I defy the Government to suggest any circumstances which have any reasonable likelihood of ever happening in which 1A, as amended, would not cover the whole of the ground. I support the Prayer.

Photo of Commander Thomas Galbraith Commander Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Pollok

I do not propose to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman into the legal maze which can be connected with the Regulation. I take the point of view of the ordinary citizen. I do not think there can be any doubt whatever, that the frequency of unofficial stoppages in recent months has caused great concern throughout the country, retarded our war production, rendered more remote the conclusion of hostilities, and postponed the day on which we shall achieve final victory. I am sure we all recognise that any prolongation of the war, no matter for how short a time, must inevitably hazard the lives of those who are fighting in our cause by sea, on land or in the air. The people of this country have made enormous sacrifices and have willingly surrendered, for the more efficient conduct of the war, many hard-won liberties. They have put forward an effort in every sphere of the national life such as has never been equalled, or even approached, in the whole course of history. They are not prepared to see the fruits of these labours, sacrifices and self-denials jeopardised, or even postponed, by any action that may be taken by a small number of thoughtless, or stupid or malicious persons. It is significant that a number of these unofficial stoppages have been taken part in by younger members of the community, and I am reminded that these young persons belong to the same generation, and indeed may well be the brothers of those who are fighting so courageously and resolutely for us on every front. It seems to me that they may have inherent in them the same great qualities. So, it would appear to be obvious that before they took the course of action that they did take, they have been wilfully incited and misled.

People who, at this time of crisis, induce others to take action damaging to the national interest are not worthy of any consideration whatever. That, at least, represents the feelings held throughout my constituency, the feelings held in the agricultural part of the country where I live, and I believe the feelings of our people as a whole. I am, accordingly, convinced that the provisions of this Regulation will be heartily welcomed. It has been sug- gested that the Government should have consulted the House before they consulted outside bodies, but, after all, it was this House which gave the Government the powers they are now using. Surely, it was not then anticipated that the Government should come to the House before they put those powers into operation, and surely it has become the custom, at least during the war, in the interest of good industrial relations, to consult those best able to judge what the repercussions of any measure might be, that is, the representatives of the employers and the employed. But, be that as it may, the Government have taken action of the kind that the country desires and has long awaited. Everyone must recognise that this new Regulation is a further invasion of the liberty of the subject but—I believe I am speaking for all on these Benches—we are willing to accept that, as we have accepted all other measures designed for the better prosecution of the war. I will not conceal for a moment the fact that in normal times I might have taken considerable exception to some of the provisions in the Regulation, but the times are not normal, and responsibility has been placed where it ought to rest. Were I to be critical, I would say that the Regulation is not sufficiently stringent or sufficiently all-embracing. Nevertheless I shall support it in the Lobby, believing, with all the sincerity of which I am capable, that it is in the national interest, is necessary for the prosecution of the war, may well be the means of saving valuable lives, and that it conforms to the wishes of the country.

Photo of Mr James Glanville Mr James Glanville , Consett

I am not going to deliver a polished political speech. Since leaving the coalfield a few months ago, I have listened to the Debates that have taken place in this House, some of which have been interesting, others distinctly otherwise. But I have never previously intervenéd. I should have preferred a more favourable occasion than the present. I am sorry to find myself in conflict with some of my hon. Friends on these Benches, but I oppose this Motion, definitely and distinctly, on the ground that I believe in trade union organisation. I would remind my hon. Friends on these Benches, particularly the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who went out of his road to attack the trade union leaders, the trade union move- ment generally and the Minister of Labour personally, that, had it not been for the trade union movement, many of us on these Benches would still be toiling in the coal mines and would not be here at all. The trade union movement is not the infant, but the parent of the Parliamentary political Labour Party. Let that be distinctly understood. We had the trade union movement before we had any Parliamentary party. The politicians are the political expression of the trade union organisation and to say that we are being dictated to by the trade unions, is absolutely wrong. What we are doing is what we have a perfect right to do.

I cannot fly to the heights of rhetoric and I cannot enter into the technical legal questions which have been so cleverly expounded, but, speaking as a plain man from the coalfields, I know the feeling in the mines, the factories and the workshops. We have a particular element there who are not there, in any sense, to serve the war effort. They are there because it provides a safe and secure shelter for them until such times, as the war has been won. Then they will go back and get their living, as they previously have done, without working at all. That is the position as I have found it in my experience and not from reading text-books or newspaper reports. It is an indisputable fact that the people who are creating the most dissension in industry to-day are the people who are of no use to it at all. Why should we be opposed to the Ministry of Labour and the Government arranging a satisfactory settlement in an attempt to solve these difficulties? Why should we be offended if the T.U.C. is consulted so that an agreement can be arrived at which will be satisfactory; because this measure, instead of weakening, will certainly strengthen the trade unions. Just as surely as these people are undermining the war effort, so they are undermining trade union organisation. Make no mistake about that.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale magnified in high falutin' language the implications of this measure, but they exist purely in his imagination. This is a wartime measure and it finishes at the end of hostilities. If it is necessary that this House should collect the boys and conscript them to go and risk their lives, it is necessary to exercise severe control over the disrupters, who are preventing the workers carrying on necessary jobs. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale asked what conditions our lads are coming back to. The lads will never come back, unless we see that they get the stuff. The trade unions are the pioneers of organisation in this country. They ought always to have a say in political activities. They are the people who are responsible for us being here. Why should we attack the trade unions? This Prayer is meant definitely as an attack on the trade union movement and on the Minister of Labour personally. I say that without any fear of contradiction. I hope that if our friends force us into the Lobby the House will register in no uncertain manner its opposition to this Prayer. I have been a life-long Socialist, and a true one. I led pickets in the 1926 strike and I had seven summonses served on me in one day. I have never done any rhetorical flourishing, talking on behalf of the working class; I have fought for them. My record as a local trade union leader in Durham will bear examination. My friends know me, and I have gained that position without all this rhetorical language. The record of the Minister of Labour will bear examination. He has been the best friend of the working classes. There is no question about that.

I hope that hon. Members will, with no uncertain voice, resist this Prayer on the ground that the Regulation is a war-time measure and on the ground also that some control must be exercised. What have the trade unions to fear? Incidentally, when I heard the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale standing up and appealing on behalf of 13,000.000 poor non-unionists and asking what was going to happen to them, I wondered what the people in South Wales, the miners who sent him here, would think about it. The poor non-unionists' position is a perfectly simple one—join the unions. I hope that the House will, without any doubt and in no uncertain manner, register its support for this measure on the ground that in doing so it is taking the necessary steps to see that, on the eve of great events, the boys are supplied in every possible way so that we can get them back as soon as possible to where they belong, under conditions which they ought to be enjoying.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

May I first congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville), whose speech has been heard with the deepest interest by Members on all sides of the House? If I may say so to my hon. Friends opposite, "There is the authentic voice of the Durham miners." [Laughter.] My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) laughs. I know far more about the Durham miners than he does. We are discussing to-day, in an atmosphere on occasions of rather high temperature, a Prayer in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale. So far as I am concerned, I find this new Regulation distasteful. Since it was issued I have seen no trade union leader who does not deplore the fact that it has had to be issued. A very large majority of them have come to realise, however, the inevitableness of a Regulation of this kind.

I would remind the House, and particularly some of my hon. Friends opposite, that the British trade union movement has played a great part in the war effort. It has, without waiting for appeals from the Government, and without pressure, but of its own volition, voluntarily conceded, for the time being, the suspension of well-established rights and customs which have been long enjoyed. It has taken every step it could to prosecute the war effort. It has, during the war, entered into co-operation with the Government and with various Government Departments concerned with war production. No complaint can be made about that, because my party has entered into co-operation with the Government. During the war the trade union movement has begun to play what will prove to be a permanent part in the industrial life of this country. It quite willingly gave up the right to strike. I have been concerned at the offices of the trade unions in nearly every big strike since the end of the last war. I am against the abolition of the right to strike. I know how deep that right is in the hearts of the trade union rank and file—the right to withhold their labour. When the trade union movement generously, without question, without qualification, gave up that right it made a great contribution to the prosecution of the war.

It would appear from speeches that have been made to-day, that my right hon. Friend, who is quite capable of defending himself, has been guilty of some active treachery undermining the authority of the House of Commons. I dissent absolutely from that point of view. In 1924 and from 1929 to 1931 I had more to do with legislation than any other Member of my party in the House to-day. I would never have dreamed of introducing a Bill into the House unless I had consulted beforehand the people who were vitally affected and the people who would have to carry it out. There is nothing new in that. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said there was no need to consult the T.U.C. He would have been the first to raise a storm in this House if my right hon. Friend had not consulted the T.U.C.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

What evidence is there for that statement?

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

My hon. Friend always acts in the way I imagine he is going to act.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Nobody knows what that means.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

I think that some of my hon. Friends know. It is a well-established fact that Ministers, wisely and properly, before they come to the House with a Measure finally printed for Second Reading, do consult the people who are likely to be affected, and particularly those who will have to administer it. Therefore, I do not think that on that ground my hon. Friend has a very strong case.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

The right hon. Gentleman said that there should be consultation with the people who are likely to be affected. Would not the consultation in this case, therefore, be with the Trotskyites?

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

If my hon. Friend will listen to what I have to say, he will realise that the people who ought to be consulted in this matter are the general body of trade unions through their organisations, because their future is being imperilled by these Trotskyites. A good deal of the discussion to-day has not been concentrated on this Regulation. Why has a Regulation of this kind been sought and why has it been accepted? It is because, for over two years, negotiated agreements entered into by trade unions and employers' organisations have been flouted by minorities. That is the fact. So long ago as May, 1942, the Durham Miners' Association issued a circular calling a conference which was held on 30th May, 1942, to discuss the situation which had arisen in the coal fields because agreements were not being carried out. This meeting was called to hear a report, on the recent unconstitutional stoppages that have taken place within the last two weeks and to determine whether the constitution of the Association as embodied in its rules, the National and County agreements to which the Association's signature is appended, and the pledges it has given in several council resolutions have to be honoured and carried out, or dishonoured and disregarded with all the serious consequences involved. The circular, which is signed by all the members of the Executive of the Durham Miners' Association, goes on to make this statement: We have witnessed the remarkable spectacle within the past fortnight of the majority membership of a lodge expressing in a lodge vote, a desire to return to work, and a section of the members refusing to honour the majority vote and causing the pit to remain idle. Later, the circular says: The Executive Committee and the Agents are profoundly disturbed at the methods now being adopted by members at lodges that have been involved in recent stoppages and are convinced, and they feel the membership is too, that minorities cannot and will not be permitted to determine the policy of the lodges, and the sooner it is stopped the better, otherwise we shall be faced with consequences, the results of which cannot be to the benefit of the Association. The Conference was held on 30th May, and a resolution was adopted calling on the constituent bodies, the lodges, to honour the agreements into which they had entered. That resolution was carried by 638 votes to 136. Here we had a properly constituted authority consulting its members and getting a democratic decision by a large majority against people who were quite deliberately acting out of harmony with the decisions to which they had subscribed in agreements which had been reached. But last year the Durham Miners' Association again had to return to this problem and issued a circular on 10th November, 1943, headed "Strikes and Unconstitutional Stoppages." In that circular it is stated: The Executive Committee and Agents are profoundly disturbed by these lightning strikes and unconstitutional stoppages as they are a violation of pledges and can only be designated, consciously or otherwise, as sabotaging the war effort and assisting the enemy. That is very strong language. The circular goes on to quote the resolution and says: That resolution was carried by an overwhelming vote, and up to a few months ago seemed to have a salutary effect; but recently it seems to have been ignored by many Lodges, as indicated by the many stoppages that have taken place … In fact it is known that on occasions a Lodge vote has decided for a pit to work but a minority section refused to honour the decision and kept the whole pit out. This is anarchy and not order, and alien to democracy… Following upon that—only within the last fortnight—there was again a special conference of the Durham Miners' Association and a long resolution on the subject of stoppages of work and restriction of output with an appeal for loyalty to decisions was carried with only three dissentients. I quote that as an illustration of a miners' union fighting to maintain the right of the majority to enforce its decisions on the minority. Those of us who have been in the House for years—I have been practically always in a minority—know that majorities will have their will. There is nothing wrong with trade unions that demand that agreements entered into on behalf of their members shall be honoured. I do not think this Regulation arises particularly out of the mining situation as some of my hon. Friends appear to think. We have had young, immature, irresponsible boys striking on political issues, on the question of the ballot for the mines settled by this House. There has been trouble promoted by men whose names we do not know, trouble promoted by men who will not carry the responsibility for that trouble, trouble created at a very, very difficult time in the progress of the war. I realise to the full that people in the factories and the mines and the workshops are tired men. We all are. War strain is telling on them. There are grievances which ought to be righted. Many of them are substantial grievances; some of them loom large, just because men have become tired and fretful. Let us admit all that, but at this stage of the war we cannot afford to allow the tail to wag the dog. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale made a speech to-day of an anti-trade union character the like of which I have never heard from the most diehard Tory in this House or outside this House. My hon. Friend gibbetted the trade union movement, gibbetted its leaders, frowned upon its officials and even said that the elected representatives of the people were nobody; all these things rested in the hands of the officials of the unions. That is untrue. The hon. Member knows it is untrue:

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I did not say it, as a matter of fact.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

It is within the recollection of the House. I have not perhaps expressed it with the refinement of my hon. Friend because, like the hon. Member for Consett, I have not my hon. Friend's gift of the arts of oratory. It is within the recollection of the House. I would say this. I have spoken in this House on the war issue before the war began and after it began. I would regard myself as unworthy of membership of this House if I took any action which, in any way, could imperil supplies to the men who are fighting. I say in all seriousness that my hon. Friend used the most awful phrase to-day when he talked about the Government stabbing the Forces in the back. He said the men in the Forces were civilians dressed up in uniform. They happen to be soldiers embarking on the gravest military adventure in human history. A large number of them are trade unionists. You will find in every trade union district office in this country letters from miners who are serving soldiers deploring these strikes. They come from men serving in the Middle East and in Italy, and not merely from miners, but from other trade unionists, who deplore this lack of discipline amongst people who ought to know better at this time. I believe the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is going to risk a fall on this and I ask my hon. Friends to oppose the Prayer in the national interests. My right hon. Friend deplores the situation which requires him and the Government and the trade union movement to accept a restriction of this kind—we all do—but I believe honestly that it is for the greater good.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I am afraid most of the speeches to-day have really been discussing Order No. 1305, and not the Regulation which is before the House. But before dealing with that, I would like to give one or two general answers to the opening speech, not because I think they are deserved, but in order to remove any possible misconception on the part of trade union members outside. I think that I have really no need as an individual to defend myself even before trade unionists—certainly not in the steel and tinplate trade in Ebbw Vale, among men who have been my members for many years. I believe that I still enjoy their confidence as much as ever I did, in spite of my present task, and, sooner or later, I will take steps to ascertain whether I do or not. I think that only fair, in view of the charges thrown at anyone holding the job I now hold. It is not an easy one. Making catch phrases is an easier job than directing 24,000,000 people in a war of this character. It was said in the opening speech that I worked up the Press, that I got hold of all the editors, and that I put everything in such a form that I could create the atmosphere for this Regulation. I do not know whether it is Parliamentary, Mr. Speaker, to say so, but that is a lie. That is the only phrase that I can apply to it.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

In the first place it is quite un-Parliamentary, and in the second place I said no such thing. All I did was to quote Mr. Garvin from the "Sunday Express" to the effect that the atmosphere had been prepared for the Regulation the right hon. Gentleman has made and that in fact he did inspire the campaign in the Press.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I am open to withdraw any word that is un-Parliamentary, but unless I am told by Mr. Speaker to withdraw I want it to go on the record that the whole conception was a lie.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I was somewhat deaf on the first occasion, but I was not deaf on the second occasion, and I fear that the word used was not quite a Parliamentary expression. "It is not a fact" would be better.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I withdraw the word, in deference to you, Sir, and it is the first time I have had to withdraw anything in this House. What, in fact, happened?—because this is the important point. During the three weeks prior to that speech to which reference has been made we had been living on an industrial volcano. We made no speech in public at all, in the hope and in the belief that we could ride the industrial storm, as we had ridden so many during this war. On that week-end, the situation had reached a point where we were in danger of stoppages occurring—stoppages resulting from strikes—which would have stopped the production of nearly 3,000,000 people in this country in gas, shipbuilding, engineering and coal. I wonder what would have been said in this House if I, as Minister of Labour, in possession of those facts, had not at least raised my voice on that occasion, to try to stem that disaster.

It happened that I was invited to a lunch. What for? It was a conciliation board, both sides of which had entered into an agreement for post-war; and what was the agreement they were celebrating? To give a guaranteed week in the civil engineering trade, post-war, and to provide for the payment of men for "wet time" in future. I do not think that is a bad thing to celebrate. After all, these trades in the building industry before this war were willing to pay insurance of 9d. a week to achieve that object. By this ridiculed machinery of conciliation, which I am proud to have played my part in developing in this country—I did not originate it, it was long before my time, but I tried to perfect it—they had arrived at that result, and I am glad of it. I went to that lunch. Instead of the Press being on my side, what did they do? They took care to take a photograph of me with a wine glass in front of me. It was not even mine, and it only had water in it. If my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale had been there, he would have made a speech of protest under those conditions—I am sure he would.

They took the photograph, and as I was trying to address the working class on their misbehaviour, the Press—which is all in my favour, we are now told, published that photograph, in order to produce disrepute next morning. [Interruption.] Well, that is my view of the matter. I have never had any astonishing friends in Fleet Street yet. Whether I ran a paper or whether I did not, it is true that there is no newspaper proprietor in this country who can ever say that when he attacked me I failed to retaliate, or that I ever bent the knee to any of them, and I never will. What did I say? It was not read in this House to-clay. I happen to have a shorthand note of it. This has a great bearing upon this whole situation. I said: When I became Minister of Labour I had a very difficult decision to take. I realised in 1940 what a fate was awaiting this country. In fact, I had not been many weeks in office before this nation was entirely alone. I had to ask myself whether, in those circumstances, it would become necessary, virtually, to introduce what was a concept of military control of the whole nation "— As I look back I see that in 1940 that was a thing which had to be faced— or whether I should advise the Cabinet at that time that the great joint industrial relation machinery that had been built up would see us through. Alter study, I came to the conclusion, that, if I trusted it, relied upon it, the trade unions and the employers through their industrial relations machinery, might make a better job of it than if we introduced totalitarian methods. I accordingly advised the Cabinet at that time that my policy would be based upon the utilisation of all this great joint relation machinery that had operated during these years. On the whole, I think, that decision has been justified. If I may say so at the outset, at the moment there is one black spot, and that is the mines. I speak to you to-day with the most profound regret that this thing, for which the Trade Union Congress stood, is in danger of failing at the 11th hour of this great struggle, because that one great industry is failing in the utilisation of the machinery. I would like from this meeting to-day to say to them: 'You don't live alone. If you pursue this policy of wrecking your agreements and industrial relations, properly arrived at, and arbitration courts for which you have struggled for 30 years and now have got, if You throw it all over and reduce it to anarchy, it is not the miners alone who will suffer; it is the great mass of the working class.' I also said: My policy may fail and if it fails, I cannot prognosticate what may have to take its place. Is that an attack on the working classes of this country? When we had as that very moment practically the whole work for the Navy in danger of closing down in Sheffield, what would hon. Members have done, if they had been in my position as Minister of Labour? Would the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) get up and argue a long treatise and legal definition as he has done to-day? Not on your life, he would not. He would have done as they have done in Russia.

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt Mr Denis Pritt , Hammersmith North

I think I would do what my right hon. Friend would do and what any sensible person, from Russia or from this country, would do—look at my weapons and see whether they were sufficient and if they were, I would not worry any more.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

It all depends what the weapons are, and what we are in the habit of using. If I turn to the difficulty of handling this job, in retrospect, for a moment, I may be forgiven. I did consider this Regulation a long time ago. I thought it would become inevitable. That was when this war was called an imperialist war, and I was getting strikes all up and down the country, without provocation, and by design. [An HON. MEMBER: "Were they Trotskyists?"] No, they were a majority, who suddenly decided that this war was not an imperialist war. The Trotskyists were the "wee frees," who did not accept that. At the critical moment this change came, and, in my anxiety not to introduce anything else, we went on without taking any further steps. Until this development took place, when the second front was really in danger, and when at the moment—and I say this with a great sense of responsibility—we cannot afford to have our industrial machine upset by the changes in diplomacy or anything else that is going on between Governments—I say that with emphasis—we cannot afford to have shop stewards and other people turned on to us at a critical moment in this country's history, whichever side it comes from.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

What is the right hon. Gentleman talking about?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

My hon. Friend knows what I am talking about; and it is very vital to the Labour movement of this country.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I mean that at one moment everything is peaceful; then suddenly, in the most mysterious way, these activities come—and the people who make the bullets do not fire them. We find activities going on in workshops, first from one source and then from another. That is why we have set out to deal with this instigation business. Let me deal with the background of the thing. I regard the life of this country as being at stake in this, because I believe that this country has the right to govern itself, and not to be governed by anybody else outside. Therefore, this has a very vital bearing on the whole of this business. In 1940 and 1941 my task became almost impossible. If hon. Members will throw their minds back they will recall that there was Debate after Debate in this House, because I was not taking stringent action enough to deal with it. I was trying to make this great industrial machine work, and all the time I was being "put on the spot" up and down the country.

I come to the position of the trade unions. In 1940, when the country did not look quite as safe as it does now, I called every executive of every trade union in this country into conference, to meet me in the Central Hall. I asked them at that meeting, in the same way as I have asked them now—and when the first Regulation was made there was no protest from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale against consulting the T.U.C.; things were more dangerous then, and silence reigned over a great part of the country that is now vociferous—if they would forgo strikes, and if, in substitution for the strike, they would accept arbitration for the duration of the war. They agreed. I did not force them: that great conference agreed unanimously. I do not believe that the working classes of this country have lost by that decision. The evidence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this week, of the wage increases and the changes and improvements, is the greatest evidence of the wisdom of that decision. The miners themselves have not lost by the new agreement, which has recently been arrived at: can anybody say that they have?

We have not taken advantage of that decision on arbitration either to sprag the wheel of their progressive development, or, alternatively, to hold them down or interfere with the proper judicial way of dealing with their cases. I believe that if that great conference were called tomorrow and they were asked whether they wanted to give it up for the rest of the war, there is not an executive who would do so. And let me say that the members of executive councils are not officials. Every member that sits on my executive, and there are 32 of them, comes straight from the workshop. No official in my union has a vote on a single committee, from one end of the country to the other. It is true that they are appointed as officials; and have they not a right to be? They are employees, and I believe in the employees being in the same position as the Civil Service, and the government of the union being in the hands of the rank and file, through the elected committee. That is what we have always done. These men were not officials, but men from the workshops, the factories, and the fields. In what position did they find themselves? It is to the eternal credit of the trade union movement, that not a single executive has paid one penny strike pay to support a strike since that day. They have honoured that agreement.

What was Order 1305? Order 1305 was virtually a collective agreement, given the clothing of law in a Regulation. It was worked out and argued in detail; and what is wrong with that? I never heard a single protest, in the 18 days during with the Education Bill was going through this House, because my right hon. Friend met the Catholics, the Church of England representatives, and everybody else. It was quite proper that he should have done so. He met them, he discussed the Bill with them, he went into their difficulties; and let any hon. Member say that my right hon. Friend was wrong in meeting all these bodies so highly involved in what might have been a great political controversy, and in smoothing out the difficulties, and coming here with an agreement. I believe that it was a relief to this House that the Minister had done his job so thoroughly in that way. What is wrong with seeing the T.U.C. on a problem which affects 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 of their members? This House can reject this Regulation to-day, and that is the answer to any understanding with the T.U.C.

I have come here with several Measures, dealing with disablement, reinstatement, the means test, and all sorts of things, and no hon. Member can say to me that I have ever used the argument in this House that, because I have agreed with the T.U.C., I have a right to interfere with the judgment of the House in the final vote. Never have I said it and I do not say it now. I would not use it as an argument. But I have an absolute right, as my right hon. Friend had in the illustration which I drew from the Education Bill, to say that I have consulted the employers and the trade unions, and that they have all agreed. That does not bind anybody in the House. What is wrong? If, for instance, you come to reform the law, if it is capable of reform—and I would not undertake the job—and you did it without the Law Society—imagine touching the Law Society, and not can-suiting them! Try to imagine for one moment, under the National Health scheme, the Minister of Health coming to this House and saying "I have refused to meet the doctors."

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Is there not this essential difference between the Minister's position and that of the President of the Board of Education or the Minister of Health—that they come to us with a Bill and ask us to decide, whereas the Minister of Labour announces to the world, after consultation with the T.U.C. and the Confederation of British Industry, that this is the law, and the House of Commons can now come along at his heels and make protests?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

No one is a greater constitutionalist than my hon. Friend. I am coming to the point of why I used a Regulation and not a Bill. With regard to the introduction of a procedure adopted by means of Regulation, I must be forgiven if I do not know all the Rules of this House. [Interruption.] I do not, really. I have not been here long and I must be guided. I have been far too busy with other jobs and other things in the last four years to study the Rules. But I took the utmost care that, in the presentation of this Regulation, I was following the procedure correctly, and no hon. Member has said in the Debate to-day that I have not done that. In fact, though I do not often read the "Tribune," I have found that the mover of this Prayer acknowledges, in his article, that at least, if I am wrong in everything else, I am apparently right in that I used the correct procedure.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Mr. A. Bevan rose

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

Please do not interrupt me, as my time is short.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I do not want to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman's argument, but, really, he is pressing against an open door.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The Government, in 1940, with the consent of the House, armed themselves with general powers, and can do almost anything they desire, but the Government have, over and over again, used Bills, not Orders. Why does the right hon. Gentleman not use a Bill now, instead of an Order?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I thought it would not be a legitimate interruption, but I am coming to that. I do not think it is fair to be interrupted by further arguments after I have listened so fully. I decided to advise my colleagues in the Government, on this occasion, to have a Regulation to deal with this problem, and my reason was that the trade unions value very much—and I suppose this House and the country do—trade union law, and I did not want this war to be used to introduce any new Trade Union Bill. You can put a Bill on the Statute Book, but repealing it is another story. Therefore, I felt that anything I did, or advised my colleagues in the Cabinet to do, on this issue, should be limited solely to war purposes, and that, when the Defence Regulations went, this went, too, and the trade union law stood exactly where it was. I thought that was a wise decision, which commended itself to all my trade union friends.

The other thing about it was that I wanted to limit it to what is very difficult to define, but might be described as essential service in accordance with the definition as applied under the Defence Regulations. When the war with Germany ends, there will be, very quickly, a redistribution of what is regarded as vital and essential in this country. We have taken under the umbrella of essential services now, practically every operation in the country. Almost every boy and girl, up and down the country, is embraced at this moment in the term "essential service." That is because the nation is mobilised, with all its industries and services, to such a high point. But there will come a moment, and the civilian will insist upon it, when many of these things now mobilised to this high point, will have to go back to serve the civil community, and they will pass out of those categories. They will not be vital, many of them, to the war effort, even if we are pursuing with vigour, as we are determined to do, the war against Japan. The character of the thing changes at that moment.

Therefore, I have these two considerations. First, that I was averse, and still am, on this issue, from introducing a Bill, even if it might come under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act. Even that is subject to the vagaries of the annual vote in this House and such a Bill might not be eliminated even under that procedure. I preferred to stand— driven to it, as we were—on the Defence Regulations. As to the necessity of it, the trade unions, as I have said, pledged themselves not to order strikes, not to declare strikes and not to further strikes. In other words, they would go to arbitration during the war. I want to suggest that nearly every argument to which I have listened to-day did not deal with this Regulation at all. It was really an argument against Order 1305. We were told what would happen if men struck in the mines. That has been illegal all the time, as an hon. Member has pointed out, so that nearly all the arguments advanced have affected the law as it stands. I have to deal with quite a different thing. I will take the apprentices' strike as an illustration. Rightly or wrongly, the Government decided to allocate certain young men to the mines in accordance with the powers given to them by this House. That apprentices' strike was not a trade dispute within the meaning of the law. There was no grievance and no quarrel with the employers and nothing of the kind was asked for. The issue was that the Government should withdraw their decision to order boys to the mines.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

That was not what it was about.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

That was the issue, and no attempt to dress it up by means of any political dodges will do. The hon. Member knows that it was, and the whole business in Huddersfield and on the Tyne and the people associated with them—

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The right hon. Gentleman has not prosecuted anyone who went on strike.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I am trying to be careful about the prosecutions, if my hon. Friend will not provoke me. I am trying to keep off a case that is sub judice, and my hon. Friend who is a member of the legal profession ought to assist me in that.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I think the right hon. Gentleman is right in what he says, but he misunderstood what he half overheard. I have not said anything about those he did prosecute. My intervention was that he has not prosecuted anyone who went on strike.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

That has nothing to do with this Regulation.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I have been careful about prosecuting men, and I could have prosecuted, in this war, thousands of men, and taken to the courts, as my hon. Friend knows, thousands of people. Is it now to be held against me that I have not gone round using the big stick and prosecuting people? What do my hon. Friends want? I have tried to administer this law with common sense, and a knowledge of the working class, too. Is it to be held against me now that I did not put apprentices, who had been misled, into gaol? That is not a crime. I have difficulty with a tiny little, semi-legal, rhetorical minority in the Labour Party. It was possible, even for an ordinary member of a trade union, against his executive, and when the executive would have been performing a legal act itself, to declare a strike. The man who declared the strike might not be in it. Mention has been made of the shop steward and I shall not burke the position of the shop steward. As long as the shop steward operates within the rules of his union, he has nothing to fear from this Regulation, but if the shop steward suddenly becomes the executive, and orders the men on strike, then he is liable, and I think he ought to be, if he takes on the duties of the elected executive, whose power and business it is to do these things. I do not think the poor executive should be liable and that he should go scot-free.

I am asked about Section (b) and the question of this wonderful protection of the trade union branch. I have been a trade union official, but I did not know whether I had really been one or not when I listened to the description. This is a protection for the ordinary member in the branch. That is the intention. Somebody said that this was turning the trade union branch into a masonic lodge. I have never been in a masonic lodge, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) is a member of the Catholic faith, I do not know how he knows what it is like. Something has gone wrong somewhere. I heard a Mason once described as being "a Buff with a top hat." I do not know if that is right, but I never got beyond the Buff. I regard the trade union branch jealously as a place of assembly, where no one but those entitled to attend can he present. Whatever is said in that branch is as sacrosanct to me as what a man says in his own home and I am against detectives, police or anybody having the right to go into a branch and use anything that is said, however wise or however foolish, in. a police court as evidence against a man. That is where I stand, and in that I try to protect them. I also take the view that what happens in the branch is the property of the union, and that the executive is responsible for discipline in its members and for what occurs in the branch. But if a man goes outside and does something then, while he is outside, he is not a member of the branch. You cannot have this privilege and prerogative of protection in the open street, or in the open air, which you give to persons in their own club by law. Therefore, I have tried to protect everything the trades unions have regarded as sacrosanct right from the Act of 1875 until now and not to minimise it by anything in this Regulation.

I have created no new privilege. What I tried to do, with the help of the Law Officers, was to draft something to ensure that the Regulation should not be an invasion of those rights which have been established by law in this country. That is all there is in it. I do not know why it has been magnified into the view that I am doing something extraordinary for the trade union official. Speaking as an old general secretary, I say it is both healthy and good for the union that the member in the branch can tell me what he thinks of me. It is good that he should send on his resolution; it would be wrong if he sent it to the executive council. It would be wrong if he said to the executive council, "We demand that you should call us out on strike." I think it wrong for the police to go to the head office of his union and get that which could be used against the man as evidence in court.

I do not know what my hon. Friends want. I am not prepared to accept the coincidence of this development. Why was it in gas and coal; why was it all that three weeks, in the most vital thing affecting vital production? What is the answer to it? Why were certain districts selected, and why suddenly did the circus fly off here and there? When branches decided to return to work, w ho organised the pickets to meet them on the road to stop them? These things are not done by ordinary members of a trade union branch, believe me. I am not going to elaborate this too much, but I have fought more unofficial strikes than any other man in this country and won, and I have got the largest union in the world to-day, one of the most effective and one of the most efficient, whatever may be said. I know that some hon. Members would rather that the working-class went to hell through chaos, than that they won a victory by organisation. The I.L.P. is a grand example of that, one of the most wonderful organisations in this country brought to nothing by that philosophy—well, very near.

I do not want to talk much about the troops. All I can say is that if ever bitterness existed in an Army, it existed in ours three weeks ago. We have the evidence of it. In this case we set out to mark definitely the difference in the crime of instigation, by the five years' penalty, as against the ordinary fine or penalty for taking part in a dispute under Order 1305. I say to the House, that in a war of this character the biggest crime is the machination and instigation of other people to take part, and we have marked that out. I hope it will never have to be used. I trust that as a result of this Debate and, I hope, of this vote, we shall know where we stand. The electorate are entitled to know where they stand and we are entitled to defend ourselves against those who attack us, and I hope we shall have the opportunity in no uncertain way.

The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville), in what I thought was a very human maiden speech in this House, put what ordinary folk feel in this matter. I beg the House, therefore, to support the Government overwhelmingly. I believe the moral effect now will be an inspiration to the men in the field. They will believe that this House is behind them. They ought to have that assurance; they are entitled to it and, as an old trade union leader, I say this: that in the workshops, the seriousness, the importance, the very vital thing that lies ahead of us will be impressed upon their minds by this vote to-day. Let those who would weaken the war effort by the defence of a few instigators, go their way, but let those who are proud of the fact that we have not been left in this country like the working-class of poor Austria, to fight alone and go down, not like Czechoslovakia and the parties on the Continent, stand together. When Fascism and Naziism had to be really faced in England—and this is a justification of the National Government—we, at least, did not pick one class to face it as they did in poor Austria; we have stood as a nation against the vile thing. Let us stand united until it is defeated.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I make no complaints against the hon. Members who shout "Divide," for I have shouted myself, but hon. Members must bear in mind that some of us think this case is important. In the first place I ought to say a word or two about the hon. Member who moved the Motion. I cannot use words up to the standard of the right hon. Gentleman. I can only use the simplest of language. He used a sneering word about the eloquence of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan). "Rhetoric" he called it. I am always afraid to use that word, for fear I pronounce it wrong. But he himself indulged in it in every sentence. When the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale uses it, it is wrong, and he is subject to bitter attack and to sneers. Indeed, the stage has now been reached in this country when all the good qualities have to be possessed by the few, and those of us who happen to occupy other positions are not to be allowed them.

I think I ought to answer the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I do not see the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville), but he has been acclaimed as having made a great speech in a human way about the Durham miners. Let me say quite frankly that I know nothing about the Durham miners, indeed I know little about the mining community as a whole. Unlike the Minister, who claims to know about every kind of worker in Britain, I make no such claim. My claims are much more modest. The hon. Member for Consett made a speech about the rights of trade unions. May I say a word to the Labour movement in this respect? This party, I hope, will one day be a real political power in this country. If this party is to become capable of taking power, of being able to persuade the electors to go with it, it must never make the mistake of being merely a trade union party subject to the trade union movement. If the Labour movement feel like that, let all hon. Members outside the mining divisions go back to their divi- sions to-morrow and tell the electorate that they are not prepared to represent in this House anybody but a member of a trade union. Not one of us would do it. Let me give a simple illustration. I remember that on one occasion we wrongly deprived the non-unionists of a certain right of appeal on unemployment benefit. I thought it was wrong, but the party decided against me and carried the day with the aid of the Conservatives. The junior Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) fought it, but in Dundee not one person would go on the platform and say that he was prepared only to look after trade unionists. How many trade unionists are there in the Forces to-day? I do not know, but I do know that there is a large number, and that there is also a large number of non-unionists. [An HON. MEMBER: "We all know that."] Well, let me say it my own way, Do not interrupt; save your interruptions for others. The other week we and Members on the other side fought the Government for pay and allowances for people in the Fighting Services, many of whom, as I have said, are non-unionists. Is the theory to be that because those in the Services are non-unionists they ought not to benefit from the increases which we have succeeded in getting?

Let me tell the Minister that he has not dealt with the Regulation at all; he dealt with wide and airy things. I do not think it matters to the House of Commons whether he is, or I am, a great man in social advancement. What the House of Commons is interested in at any one time is the Measure before it. This Regulation gives the Minister power to imprison certain of His Majesty's subjects. With regard to the Minister's remark about the I.L.P., if they have come to their present sorry state it is because their great leaders used to defend the most awful things at the Treasury Box. I do not know whether to laugh or to get angry about the apprentices' strike, about which I made inquiries. What are the facts? They are that no boys' strike can last for a week or a day unless their parents support them. Everybody knows that. A boy is not like a grown man, he is subject to his parents in every possible way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, a boy who is serving an apprenticeship has only a limited amount of money, and he will not stay on strike unless his parents support him. It is difficult enough for n man to fight a strike unless his family support him, let alone a boy.

What happened in this strike? None of the parents wanted their boys to go down the pits. There was a ballot. When the boys came out the real instigators were their parents, who may have been wrong and, I think, were ever so wrong. The Minister talked about a great executive meeting, but his speech was far, far away from the Regulation. I happen to be, for my sins, a trade union chairman; I have been associated with a trade union for many years, and I have never taken any part at all in assisting a strike, even in the most indirect way. In fact, the only trouble I have been in with my union was for settling the strike called by my late general secretary, who was a member of the T.U.C. Council, members of which this Regulation makes immune. What about this meeting with the T.U.C.? The Minister should give all the facts. I remember the Deputy Prime Minister, several years ago, saying that the Government were to take powers to take over property and everything else. Everybody said, "Now we have real men on the job." We thought that the nation would have taken over the mines, transport and the like in this country in a few weeks or months, instead of which we now have the position where private interests and monopolists remain while the working class are handed over to this sort of thing. I am not sure that what the Minister is doing now will be popular in a few weeks' time, because people and their minds change so quickly. If there is cheering at the end of this Debate it does not mean to say that it will last.

What is the position? Suppose a man is working in a shipyard and after his work goes home to have his food and change and then goes to his trade union branch and says in eloquent language, "Come out on strike to-morrow." Some people, including the hon. Member who made a maiden speech, sneer at people who have been in the House for some time, but being a Member of Parliament is as honest and courageous an occupation as being a trade union leader and no-one need sneer at it. There has been talk about people not having worked at the coal face for a long time. That can be said about a lot of people outside the House of Commons. But these things do not matter. An organiser says, "Come out and strike." He is free. He can do it. But if I am working in the hold of a ship under abominable conditions and r say to two or three fellows beside me, "This is hell, Come out."—Five years! The trade union leader does it with deliberation and malice. The one man who does not do it with malice gets five years. That is the Regulation. Every agitator I have known has either become a Member of Parliament or the leader of a trade union. I am possibly the one exception, because I never was an agitator. I had never addressed a public meeting before I came to Parliament. In my union I refuse to do the agitating business. I cannot do it.

One of my difficulties about the war is this. I did not fight in the last war and I have not fought in this, and I cannot get my mind to ask others to do what I have not done. It is the same about strikes. I took the minority view in the general strike. Men who have "done time" in prison are now in the House, and men who have done all sorts of things are now trade union leaders. Who can blame the boys in Newcastle if they copy them? Who is to be their judge? The right hon. Gentleman closed with a threat. I think the electors have rights, and this House of Commons has some rights. When he tells me that the discussions on this were like the discussions on the Education Bill, he just does not know the House of Commons. He does not know Parliamentary work. In the case of legislation we negotiate beforehand with different interests. The late John Wheatley did it, quite rightly, with the building trade and then he brought in a Bill, which was subject to alteration and amendment in the House of Commons. This Regulation has been made after negotiation with the employers and the Trades Union Congress. The right hon. Gentleman gives a draft copy of the Order to all these persons, who have no more responsibility to the electors than the ordinary citizen. They can alter it and make three years into five years. They have made the law. All that I ask is that I, as an elected Member of the House of Commons, should at least be put on the same footing. Is that too much to ask? I am sick to death of my trade union friends sneering at the House of Commons and the political movement.

One has a right to be proud to be a Member of the House of Commons, and a Labour Member more than anybody. The difficulties which a Labour man has to surmount in order to get here are tremendous, and when he comes he should be proud.

Whatever we may say of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, he has done a public service in initiating this Debate. Nobody has a right to alter the law without the matter being debated in this House. If I may say so without offence to the leader of our party, if he had been doing his duty the first thing he should have done was to demand a Debate on this matter. I am a political man. If to-morrow the politicians of our party were going to interfere with trade unions, what would be the first decent thing we should do? We should consult the unions. Would it not have been equally decent for the trade union movement, on a political issue, to have some consultations with us before they considered this Regulation? We are threatened with the electors. I have been here a long number of years and I have been threatened in that way often, but I must confess that the threats for the future weigh lightly on me. I must do as the Minister of Labour does and make my decision honestly, cleanly and with thought. I make my decision to-day with no less love of country and no less love of human beings than he has. He has been a great leader. Time will be the test. The decision we make here to-day will not be the test. I leave the test with confidence, not to next week, but to the future, and those who vote with us to-day will not be ashamed in years to come of their conduct.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

The hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Captain Cobb) suggested that this Debate was unnecessary. I do not take that view, but on the contrary agree that this discussion was essential. The Defence of the Realm Regulations give immense powers to the Government. This Regulation was made during the Recess. That might have been an accident, but it is clear that Parliament has the right, when such an important issue is raised and the machinery of the Defence of the Realm Act is invoked, to discuss it. When this matter came up on the Tuesday after the Recess I expressed the view that the Government should have an opportunity to state their case for this Order. I am sorry that the discussion had to be on a Prayer. When an emergency arises which leads the Government to take special powers over the rights of the individual, the Government should come to the House and justify those powers and explain the reasons for them, making clear that they are essential for the proper prosecution of the war. The Defence of the Realm powers are tremendous. I remember the Government coming down in 1940 on the initiative of the Deputy Prime Minister, and in a few hours we gave the Government those powers. It was then clearly understood that the authority of Parliament remained. Last year, on the initiative of the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick), we had a day's Debate on the machinery of legislation by regulations and orders. They are most dangerous powers, and some of us are concerned about the growth of this practice.

I have been much concerned with some of the speeches of the Home Secretary in which he has hinted that our clumsy, slow machinery of legislation must be amended into something of the character of legislation by regulations and that the House should be concerned only with principles and not details. The question is, When does principle end and detail commence? Powers such as these granted in this Regulation should be embodied in a Bill which then can be examined in detail by the slow and clumsy, but effective, procedure of making an Act of Parliament. Therefore, I think this Debate has been worth while. The Minister of Labour, with vigour and logic, justified the powers he has sought, but my view is that these disputes were settled during the last few weeks, not because of the power conferred on him under this Order but because of the skill in negotiation of the Minister of Fuel and Power and the Minister of Labour. The whole House dislikes the machinery of legislation by order and regulation.

The Minister said that as soon as the war is over he will return to the normal procedure and abandon these powers. I want a more definite assurance than that. I want it made clear that as soon as the Armistice is signed the whole of this objectionable machinery shall disappear. I shall support the Government to-day, not because I like this Regulation, but because I am satisfied that the nation is in dire peril. Our rights and privileges have been filched from us because of the war. The whole of the nation has been subject to conscription; we have surrendered our liberties to the Government; and this is only one more example of surrendering our liberties for a definite purpose, that is, to guarantee victory. We have a right to demand that in return for that surrender we shall, as soon as the Armistice is signed, return to the normal procedure of legislation through the machinery of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I want to enter my protest against the manner in which this Motion has had to be brought into the House for discussion. When a Regulation is suddenly placed on the Table after our absence for a week and becomes operative immediately, it is a matter against which every Member who believes in Parliamentary procedure and in electoral representation should protest. It is the beginning of Fascism in this country if we allow this particular method of passing laws to be continued without any protest being made by the elected representatives of the people. We have now increased the penalty to five years for anyone who instigates a strike and does not do it in the proper legal constitutional manner of attending a branch meeting of his union and moving his resolution there. That is five years more than the limit of the term laid down in the Trade Disputes Act, 1927. Two years have been added for anyone instigating a dispute without the proper method of procedure of getting a motion for a strike carried at a union meeting. Why is that being done? The Minister told us to-day that there were certain instigators going round fomenting dissatisfaction in the country and organising strikes. Surely if that is the actual fact we should have heard of a greater number of arrests of people engaged in these nefarious practices. As a matter of fact we have only heard of four individuals—three men and one woman—being arrested.

Is this particular Regulation supposed to be a legitimatising of the arrest of these tour people, giving the judge power to send them to prison for five years, and how many more are going to be arrested? If there are only four I think the House will be paying a very heavy price for the punishment of four individuals who were arrested before the Regulation was laid on the Table and were tried in camera. We are told that the Regulation does not apply to them. We are expected by the people who sent us here to pay attention to the issues that arise in the country and take safeguards for their wellbeing. We have had strikes in my constituency. I have been a Member of this House for a quarter of a century and I have made a practice of being in my constituency every week so that my constituents may come to see me and make their complaints. To my room have come time and time again deputations from the shipyards and engineering shops, and I have always advised them to go back to their trade union branch, get the organiser of the union to come down, have the matter discussed and then lay the complaint in proper form against the employer. That is where we play our part, but when you get the Trades Union Congress General Council and the Federation of Employers beginning to dictate to this House what particular law we must pass, then it is time for the House to defend its own methods of self-government. We are not going to be dictated to in that way, any more than the Minister of Labour would allow himself to be dictated to, as he said, by a few agitators.

This Regulation has been law since it was laid on the Table at the beginning of the week. People are liable to be arrested, tried and sentenced at this very moment. All you need do now is to put into the Regulation authority for a judge to transport people overseas to penal settlements and we shall be back to the days of the Tolpuddle martyrs. The Minister of Labour is one of those who took part in a demonstration to celebrate the place of the Tolpuddle martyrs in trade union history, but he is now taking part in throwing back the trade union movement. Of course, the Regulation satisfies a large number of hon. Members who do not like trade unionism and think it should not be permitted. It was they who cheered when the Trade Disputes Bill was brought into the House, who welcomed it and voted it into law. Their successors are likely to walk into the Lobby to-day to vote for the continuation of this Regulation which has been already established. But there is always a future. I am certain that the people of this country who are now fighting for liberty, fighting for it abroad, in the air and on the seas, will take very good care when they come back that they will fight for liberty against this attempt to put them in chains.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

I regret that it has been necessary for the Minister of Labour to leave the House at this stage. Possibly it was unavoidable, but he cannot expect many Members to get up after his speech and not to make references to it. I would much prefer the right hon. Gentleman to be present when I am forced to describe his speech as the most incoherent mass of rhetoric that I have heard coming from either side of this House. The right hon. Gentleman either does not understand the Regulation that stands to his name and for which he was largely responsible, or he has refused to take the House into his confidence. When one tries to remember and to visualise the kind of speech that he made one must really appeal for that sense of fairness and for that measure of courtesy to which the House is entitled. What did the Minister tell us and what light did he throw upon the alleged necessity for bringing this Regulation into being, or on the content of this Regulation? Obviously, the Minister does not understand it. I am certain from his speech and particularly his reference to the meaning and the purport of the Regulation, that he could never have been advised by the Law Officers of the Crown. It was the most senseless, most stupid and most irresponsible interpretation that I have been forced to listen to since I have been in this House. The Law Officers of the Crown, whose opinions and advice are always listened to with considerable respect, ought in their own interest to get up and repudiate the constructions placed upon this Regulation by the Minister of Labour.

Why did the Minister bring in the mass of irrelevancies he did to-day? After some of them, it is really no wonder that an hon. Friend on my left spoke about comedians taking liberties with the House of Commons. A comedian could extract from the speech of the Minister all he might need for the next three or six months. At the very outset of the speech we were told that about three weeks before the Regulation became law we were living on the edge of an industrial volcano, which, by the way and as a matter of fact, is not true. By that I do not mean that there was not considerable restiveness on the part of a large number of workers in this country; but to say that we were on the verge of about 3,000,000 shipbuilders and others coming, out on strike—

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Sowerby

The right hon. Gentleman never said it.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

He said that a stoppage of nearly 3,000,000 workers was imminent. Hence the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made and hence his photograph in the Press.

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Sowerby

He was very careful to say that the stoppages there were would cause 3,000,000 people to have to give up their work. Re did not say that 3,000,000 people were coming out on strike.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

He said that a stoppage of nearly 3,000,000 people was imminent. I am satisfied that the impression he wanted to give to the House was that he had made that speech for that reason and that he had to bring in the new Regulation, and that, as a result, the 3,000,000 workers did not come out on strike. It is monstrous. He made great capital also about the strikes that were going on up and down the country in the early part of the war. That, again, was a gross exaggeration. The right hon. Gentleman knows only too well that four times as many days were lost during the last war than have been lost in a comparable period during this war, a fact, by the way, that he did not give to the House. That is the main background that one must bear in mind when one is seeking justification for this new Regulation.

I wonder what has come over the Government that they should have passed this piece of panicky legislation. Frankly there is no justification for it. The Minister would not dare to claim that the new Regulation will add to production, say, an extra ounce of coal, or an extra nut or bolt from the engineering factories of this country. Just the reverse has happened. If one seeks trouble among the workers of this country one need only be provocative, as the Minister and the Government are in this Regulation. Do the right hon. Gentleman or the Government believe for a moment that this will frighten the miners of this country or the factory workers, the engineers, or the shipbuilders? Imagine for a moment any trade union official talking to an exasperated group of workers and reminding them of the penalties provided under what is now very well known in the country as "Bevin's penal servitude Regulation." That is what it has been christened. I have had a letter written to me about it.

Do hon. Members think that a strike would be prevented in a situation of that kind? Every man with experience in the trade union movement knows exactly what the reaction would be and what language would be used to the trade union officials, language, by the way, that one cannot reproduce in this House. Things are not happy in our industry, admittedly, but this is provocation, this is a challenge to the workers, and with the least added provocation they would take up the challenge of the Minister and the Government. Only fools or knaves would have been a Party to this piece of provocation. It will create stoppages in this country. Let us not forget that lots of workers are tired. I know it to be a fact in the mining industry where a small complement of 700,000 men and boys are employed, and 30,000 of them have to be thrown on the scrap heap every year. This is not the language to use to these sturdy and courageous people, and the Government will rue the day when they were so foolish as to provoke the workers of this country with this harsh and stupid Regulation.

What has happened to the Government? They seem to be breaking under the strain. A few weeks ago we had a gratuitous exhibition by the Government which did great harm to the prestige of our Parliamentary institutions. In a ridiculous state of panic they converted the natural expression of opinion in this House into a Vote of Censure, and everything had to stop until a Vote of Confidence in the Government had been passed. Here is more panicky legislation. My opinion is that tile Government feel that the burdens facing them are too great for them. The ease with which they become panicky is not a good example to the people of this country in days of crisis. The Government should have the grace to admit that they are tired. These exhibitions of theirs can be construed only as evidence of cowardice. I suggest that, rather than repeat these indignities, not only upon the House but upon the people of the country, the Government should admit that they are losing the confidence of the people, and that they are utterly incapable of leading a fighting nation. These exhibitions will not help us in the war effort. This Regulation will react to the disadvantage of the Government. There is the same fighting stuff in the people in our factories and mines as in those on the fighting fronts. These people will stand no _provocation of this kind, and I am certain that the Minister of Labour will never live down the gratuitous offence he has given to the workers of this country.

Photo of Mr Richard Acland Mr Richard Acland , Barnstaple

The speech of the Minister of Labour, in its shape and form, reminds me forcibly of the shape and form of a little book, on a different subject, which I read recently. The book is "The Truth About the Munich Crisis," by Lord Maugham. In order to make out his case, Lord Maugham limits his vision to the events which took place about To days before and about one day after the late Prime Minister's flight to Munich. Even on that basis he makes out a very poor case. His book utterly fails because he would not have dared to attempt to set out the events of Munich in the wider context of the five or 10 years' policy that led up to them. In exactly the same way, the Minister tried to-day to limit the vision of the House of Commons to the events which took place 10 or 20 days before he made a speech in the City and then went on to issue this new Regulation. He did not attempt to set out these events in the context of the whole policy that has led up to them, because he would have failed if he had attempted to do so. Even limiting his vision in this way, the Minister, I think, made out a very poor case, because I say, quite emphatically, that I do not believe him, and I do not believe that he believes himself when he says that 130,000 Yorkshire miners came out on strike because of the activities of Trotskyist agitators.

Photo of Mr Richard Acland Mr Richard Acland , Barnstaple

The whole of his contention was that agitators were bringing the men out on strike. It amused me to see the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) join the Minister in playing up the importance of this Trotskyist organisation. May I give a few facts about this organisation, which are, as far as I can make them, accurate—there may be 10 per cent. error, but not more. The membership of this organisation is 500—in a country of 40,000,000 people. The circulation of its paper, which only appears every other week, is a bare 5,000. The total expenses of its head office, including wages, are £10 a week. This is the size of the organisation which, it is suggested, can bring 130,000 miners out on strike. I do not believe it, and I do not believe that the Minister believes it; and I do not believe that any of the editors of the papers that have carried this story has believed the story that he was publishing. It is a very regrettable state of affairs when so many people speak and write what they know to be untrue. The Minister's case breaks down much more completely when one sets the events of the last weeks which led up to this Order in their context of Government industrial policy throughout the whole course of this war.

It may be suggested, though, not of course, by any responsible Minister or any responsible Member opposite, that those of us who go into the Lobby in favour of this Motion are also in favour of strikes. We are no more in favour of strikes than we are in favour of boils on the neck. As everybody knows, if you live a thoroughly unhealthy life, take far too much rich food, sit up late at night, burn the candle at both ends, something is going to happen, and it usually happens around where your collar comes, because that is the most vulnerable place and the collar is a rather stupid piece of apparatus. When boils break out the remedy is not to put your thumb on them and try to push them back again. The remedy is to start living a healthy life.

Sir Patrick Hannan:

On a point of Order. May I ask what in the wide world has this to do with IAA?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I understand that the hon. Member is only giving an illustration.

Photo of Mr Richard Acland Mr Richard Acland , Barnstaple

I was trying to show, by a simple analogy, which I would not expect the hon. and impatient Member to be able to follow, that, if the industrial life of our whole country is thoroughly unhealthy in war-time, you are going to get strikes and they will break out at the most vulnerable part of the industrial structure, which the party opposite seeks to maintain, namely, the coal mines. When they do break out, it is very little use just trying to put your thumb on them and push them down again. [An HON. MEMBER: "What did the Egyptians do?"] I am not much interested in what the Egyptians did. I am much more interested in what we should do in this country, and what we should do in this country, if we want to get good service from men who undertake very onerous and exacting work at salaries far lower than are paid to hon. Members of this House—

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

I think the hon. Member who interrupted just now should have an answer. The Egyptians mummified their dead; they did not put them on the Tory benches.

Photo of Mr Richard Acland Mr Richard Acland , Barnstaple

I am grateful for the support from that unexpected quarter. We need to keep the promises that have been made to our war workers, and it is not too strong language—and, if it is, the Minister of Labour has used it already —to say that, for several years past, this Government has been founded upon a lie, so far as the working population is concerned.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Chislehurst

Sir Waldron Smithers (Chislehurst) rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.

Photo of Mr Richard Acland Mr Richard Acland , Barnstaple

I propose to make a charge against this Government. At our hour of greatest danger, at the time when the Minister of Labour persuaded the executive of the trade union movement to abandon the right to strike, as an hon. Member has already pointed out, the country had just been inspired by the Act, passed in a single day at the request of the present Deputy Prime Minister, giving the Government powers to conscript life and property. You have conscripted life, but you have not conscripted property, with the exception of iron railings. There has been no conscription of property whatsoever, with the exception of iron railings. No property has been taken over from any owner for war purposes except iron railings. [Interruption.] The workers know perfectly well, and the keenest and most conscientious of them know it better than the rest, that what is happening in this country now is what happened throughout history in any period of national danger. When danger is acute, the ruling class chum up with the workers, pretend that we are all in the same boat, make wonderful promises, and get the workers to make all sorts of conditions to get us out of our difficulties and dangers, and then proceed to use all their ingenuity and skill to make sure that, when the danger is passed, the ruling class is still sitting on the top. That is the way in which you have run the industrial life of this country in the last three years. I say that is a thoroughly unhealthy state of affairs for industry. When you run your country that way, you are going to get trouble. It is no use asking those hon. Members who go into the Lobby in support of this Prayer whether they are in favour of strikes or not. This must happen when you run the industrial life of the country this way.

May I remind the House of a recent speech of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Fraser)—a speech which I myself could not follow in all its technicalities, because it was a technical speech, arising from the structure of the industry about which the hon. Member is fully informed. The hon. Member produced facts and figures to show how well the men in this industry are working, for not particularly high wages, while the owners were manipulating things in order to get all they could out of it for themselves. A man who owns an essential block of shares in a coal mine, say, £200,000 paying 3 per cent., after paying Income Tax and Super-tax, gets g6 14s. a day for doing nothing. The hon. Member for Hamilton said that these men are manipulating things to get yet more for themselves, but from that day to this, no answer has been given, on behalf of the Government, or on behalf of the coalowners, to show that the case made out is untrue. When that kind of grievance, that kind of abuse, that kind of racket is left unredressed, what on earth do hon. Members expect?

I am going to say that this Order, in its total effect, will damage the output of the weapons of war. I do not expect hon. Members opposite are particularly likely to be able to follow me, because here one is comparing things which are clearly seen, with things which are not seen, but which exist, none the less. If any dispute does lead to a strike, that is something which is seen. Even hon. Members opposite can see that, and they want to stop it. So do hon. Members on this side. But the thing which is not seen is this. Over and over again, throughout the whole towering structure of British industry, the fact that men might have struck has given them the power to talk on even terms with their foremen, their superintendents, their departmental managers and their boards of directors. If that power to strike is thus wiped out, as is suggested, by the threat of imprisonment if you whisper it outside a trade union meeting, then every little pocket Hitler through British industry, be he on a board of directors, a superintendent, or a foreman, is just confirmed in his position, and knows that it has become just that much easier to get away with bullying methods instead of the methods of persuasion.

So you get, throughout the whole of industry, these little dictators, standing up on their hind legs and doing that which they would not dare to do if this Order had not been passed. The effect of that on the war production will be far more damaging than anything that might be suffered through a few thousand miners being out on strike, very occasionally, far less than they ever were in the last war. For these reasons I earnestly appeal to Members above the Gangway on this side of the House to have the courage to show now that, although it may be a view unpopular in the Press, we are against this Order.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I hope that Members opposite who have really sat throughout the day in commendable silence, patiently listening to arguments with which few of them agree will, nevertheless, find it possible to prolong their patience a little longer while one final word is said on behalf of—what was it called?—"the little tiny, semi-legal, rhetorical minority." It will enable the House, as I am sure it will do in a little while, to give the force of Parliamentary sanction to what otherwise would have been merely an arbitrary act of the Minister of Labour under delegated powers. I am certain that all of those who will vote against this Motion and whoever may vote in support of it will at any rate agree that nothing has been lost, but, on the contrary, a great deal has been gained by the fact that the House has had an opportunity of considering this matter and of coming to a conclusion in the Division Lobbies about it.

With great respect and every gratitude for the promise of support which the speech of the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) contained, I would not myself think that this Debate was upon anything but one, quite small important but narrow issue. I do not believe that the Government were founded upon a lie. I disagree with a great many things that the Government do, but the Coalition Government, representing almost all the organised political parties in this country and a great many others, are not built upon a lie at all. They are built upon great truth, that all the great organised political parties in this country want to see the nation united to win the war and to win the peace. Neither do I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there have been a great many strikes, trouble and all that kind of thing, because people are getting tired and you have to make allowances for them. Tired they may be—I think that people all over Europe are tired—but I have not seen and heard anything from the Government side or from this side to indicate that there is any industry flagging in its determination to see this job through. I do not believe that any Government in the history of this country have had more loyal and united support from the masses of the nation than this Government have had. I am not saying that they have not deserved it. They represent the national determination to get the job successfully done and nobody, so far as I know, associated with this Motion desires anything else.

This House has never been reluctant to give the Government the most extended power where it has been shown that the power was necessary, and if the Government had made out a case to-day for further powers than those they enjoy, I certainly would not have associated myself with any' Motion to prevent them from having them. Our complaint that no case had been made out for these extended and very drastic powers, and the case that the form in which the Regulation has been published goes far beyond anything that could conceivably be required, made, I thought, unanswerably by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), has not yet been answered.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, in a speech that at one time made me wonder whether he had not forgotten that we had changed the business for to-day—we are discussing this Defence Regulation, not the waterworks—made no attempt to show that the powers with which he was armed before this particular Regulation was promulgated were not amply sufficient to do anything which he thought it was necessary to do. The hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) was sneered at by him for examining carefully the criminal law of this country and the dangerous revolutionary innovations in it. That is not a thing to be sneered at. Certainly, if a case is made out for additional powers, the Government ought to have them, but the House should look most meticulously at powers of this kind amending the criminal law by delegated legislation before it gives those powers. It must ask, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to have asked himself, whether he has not sufficient powers already. From his speech it is quite clear that he has never addressed his mind to that question at all. He thought it was quite wrong to do so. He rebuked the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith for examining the weapons already possessed before deciding whether new ones should be furnished or not. That is not the spirit in which very fundamental, extra-constitutional powers given by the House to the Government in an emergency ought to be exercised. The Government should not hesitate for a second to make full use of those powers wherever it is necessary, but they ought to think twice and thrice and yet again before using delegated legislation of this kind in circumstances that do not make it necessary at all.

There have been in this Debate many remarkable speeches but I think none of them have been anything like so remarkable as the silences. There has been only one speech for the Government—there have been two Front Bench speeches and one maiden speech for the Government and, without disrespect to anybody, I think we can leave those out of the count for the purposes of this argument. The only substantive case for the Regulation was made by the Minister of Labour himself, and it was very effective, but it is a remarkable thing that we have not heard a single word from either of the Law Officers of the Crown.

The Attorney-General sat through practically the whole of this Debate and he knows—I presume he read the Regulation and advised the Government upon it—that it contains some remarkable new principles on which our criminal law is to be conducted. Questions were asked, and the Minister of Labour attempted to answer one of them. But there were others to which no answer has been attempted. The Minister of Labour, in dealing with the one legal question he did tackle, showed the usual contempt of the amateur for the professional and, moreover, did not make out his case. He was dealing with the suggestion that the one dangerous thing being done by this Regulation is to introduce class or status discrimination into the criminal law, so that a thing done by one man may be perfectly lawful and unexceptionable because he is a member of a trade union, but when done by another man who is not a member of a trade union is an indictable offence, punishable with a maximum sentence of five years' penal servitude. It is obvious that this is a very important matter. There may be a justification for it, but I suggest to my right hon. Friend that there is no justification for it along the lines he indicated.

The Minister said, "I am doing nothing new. There has been a privilege attaching to the branch meeting of a trade union since 1875, and all I am doing by this Sub-section of the Regulation is to maintain the existing situation and to protect what is said by a member of a trade union at his branch meeting." My right hon. Friend asked what was wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with that, and nobody has said so. What is wrong is not the fact that you protect a man at a trade union meeting; what is wrong is that you discriminate against people who are not members of a trade union, who are not present at a meeting, but who are as much affected by the issues as those who are present. It is only now, by this Regulation, that we are making it an offence to persuade somebody else to do what, in itself, is a lawful act. I hope my right hon. Friend will follow me.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I am listening to my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

This Regulation contemplates that strikes in some circumstances, even in war-time, may be legal. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith argued that there was no strike in war-time that could be lawful. He may be right, I do not know, but it is quite clear that on the wording of this Regulation the Minister assumed that there were circumstances where a man might, in the course of a strike, refuse to work without being guilty of any offence. That is in this Regulation. In the very same part of that Regulation it is made a criminal offence, punishable by five years' penal servitude, for a man to persuade another to do a lawful act. That was not created in 1875; it was created on 17th April, 1944, and it is on that point that the Minister introduces discriminatory legislation so that a jury trying a man on indictment, with a possible penalty of five years' penal servitude, will have to look, when deciding whether to bring in a verdict of guilty or an acquittal, not merely at what was done, not merely at what was said and not merely at the consequences of what was done or said. That is not conclusive of guilt or innocence, because under this Regulation, where what was said is the same, what was done is the same and where the circumstances are the same, one man walks out of the dock with a verdict of acquittal and the other gets five years' penal servitude.

What the jury will have to look at is not merely these matters, but also—these are the decisive matters—where was the act done, whether at a meeting of the trade union branch or not, because if it was done at a trade union branch meeting it will mean acquittal, if not at a trade union branch meeting, then five years' penal servitude. And that does not conclude it altogether because the jury will have to consider not merely the place where the offence took place but the status of the man who is charged. Was he a trade unionist or was he not? If he was a member of a trade union, or an association of trade unions concerned with the particular question that the strike was to be about, he may do with impunity what it is an indictable offence for a nonmember to do, and this in circumstances where there are far more non-trade union workers than trade union workers. It is all very well to say they ought to get into a trade union and then they will be able to do these things with impunity. There are two answers to that. If they join a trade union and are able to do it with impunity, the purpose for which you want the Regulation will have been defeated, because everyone then will have protection and there is no one to prosecute.

The second answer is that in present circumstances, as the right hon. Gentleman knows far better than I do, of the 13,000,000 workers who are not in trade unions, as compared with the 9,000,000 who are, many are not in them because the trade unions will not have them. The trade union man has the privilege under the Regulation, and exercises it against the non-trade unionist, who is a non-trade unionist because the trade unionists will not let him in. Women are now allowed in some unions, but it is quite recent, and it took a long time to do it. Many unions fear dilution in after war conditions, with the result that women are not welcomed. That, at any rate, is one of the legal difficulties which obviously exist in the Regulation.

It may very well be, though I cannot see how, that this interpretation of the Regulation is wrong, that I do not understand it, that it does not have this effect at all, that it is not class distinction introduced into the criminal law by delegated legislation, that it is quite innocuous and that there is nothing wrong with it at all. If that is so, it is the bounden duty of the Government, through its Law Officers, to say that I am wrong and to explain why. The right hon. Gentleman did not say it was wrong. He said it was only leaving the position where it had been since 1875, but it is not doing that. We are dealing with new conditions and new penalties. We say that this Regulation means that the question of whether a man is guilty under it depends on his status and on the locale of the crime and not on what he has done.

Various points have been brought forward that ought to be answered. There have been some strange silences in the Debate. It is not only the Law Officers of the Crown who have been silent. There has been a lot of agitation in the House for the last 18 months or two years about delegated legislation. The young Tory group and another group of Members have put down Motion after Motion against Defence Regulations wherever the rights of property were affected. Where are they to-day? Does not delegated legislation matter to them when it is a question of imprisoning a man for five years for not belonging to a trade union? Does it not matter when delegated legislation goes to the root of our criminal law? Does it not matter when it affects solely the question of whether the liberty of the subject is involved? Do the young Tory reform group object to delegated legislation only when it is a question of property? Does that indicate the kind of new world they want to create? It goes further than that, because what are those Members, who are so indignant about delegated legislation in other matters and so silent about it to-day, agreeing to to-day?

The Government will get an enormous majority in the Division Lobby, chiefly of the Tory Party. They will get it at the expense of introducing into the criminal law a privilege for trade unionists. That is what the Tory Party has come to. One would have liked to hear more from the young Tory group. One would have liked to hear more from the Liberal Party too. Where are the sacred rights of free and equal citizenship for which that party fought in the past? I appeal to my hon. Friends on this side not to suppose that there is in the minds of any of u associated with this Motion any shadow of an attack upon the trade union movement or upon its leaders or organisation. The principle on which our whole movement has been based is the organisation of workers in trade unions so as to redress the economic balance against them and to enable them to act collectively.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

On a point of Order may I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that there is a crowd of Members outside the Bar who keep up a murmur of conversation which forms an impossible background to the Debate? We are discussing an important matter and the Boise is anxious to have a Division early, but they will only have it if they are courteous. May I say to hon. Member; that we are going to try to get an early Division, but if hon. Members will not give us equal courtesy, they will tact get an early Division, because I shall exercise the right of reply?

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I have been for a good long while a Member of this House, and I have been a fairly faithful attendant—I am afraid sometimes, Mr. Speaker, to your annoyance and worry. I see people here, and I am not sure if they are Members. I want to ask quite seriously and anxiously if you are sure. If I were in your place, I should spy Strangers. Have you made certain that these are really Members of the House of Commons?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member may take it that no Stranger has passed the doors on to the Floor of this House.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I really must ask for an assurance that either hon. Members come into the House and hear the Debate or else leave the Chamber.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Hon. Members are entitled to stand below the Bar.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Conversation should not be such as to interrupt the Debate.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

May it be that long absence has made them forget the ordinary courtesies?

Photo of Sir Arthur Baxter Sir Arthur Baxter , Wood Green

On the point raised, may I say we were able to hear every word of the hon. Gentleman's speech?

Photo of Mr Bartle Bull Mr Bartle Bull , Enfield

On a point of Order. Has the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) finished his speech?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I hope to finish it, if I am given the opportunity. I would rather hon. Members were in than out. Nevertheless, I would like to continue the argument I was addressing to my hon. Friends on these benches. I was saying to them that it would be a very great mistake to suppose that because I have had a good deal to say about its being wrong to discriminate between trade unionists and non-trade unionists before the criminal law that that was intended in any way as a criticism or denigration of the Labour movement in our country. What I was saying was that it would be very wrong indeed, and very dangerous from their point of view, if people were only to be compelled to join trade unions out of fear of penal consequences if they remained outside.

You can get no per cent. trade unionism like that. They got 100 per cent. trade unionism like that in Italy; they got 100 per cent. trade unionism like that in Germany. And what good has it done them? You can get 100 per cent. machine-made trade union members in that way, by bringing in the sanctions of the criminal law, but that is not the kind of membership we want. The kind we want is that which proceeds from the free, voluntary exercise of his own right by a man making up his mind that it is his duty to come in and stand with the others. It would be a most dangerous attack on the future of trade unionism if it were linked up with the coercive machinery of the State. When the coercive machinery was against them, that was when they were a power in this country, not when they had it on their side.

Let me say a final word to the Minister of Labour, which is that of all men in this House he is in the best position to know that never in the industrial history of this country was there a strike caused by agitators and never in the history of this country was a strike cured by prosecutions. On the contrary, prosecutions have done more to lengthen, provoke and multiply strikes than they have ever done to minimise or prevent them. No attempt has been made to make a case for extended powers at all or to answer what I think must be known to be substantial criticisms of the particular Regulation that the House is discussing. I think that we ought to exercise responsibly our powers in this matter of delegated legislation.

Division No. 18.AYES.
Acland, Sir R. T. D.Driberg, T. E. N.Pritt, D. N.
Barstow, P. G.Gallaoher, W.Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)
Bellenger, F. J.Grenfell, D. R.Silverman, S. S.
Bevan, A. (Ebbw Vale)Hardie, AgnesStokes, R. R.
Bowles, F. G.Lawson, H. M. (Skipton)Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Buchanan, G.Loverseed, J. E.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)MoGovern, J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Maclean, N. (Govan)Mr. W. J. Brown and
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Maxton, J.Mr. D. Kirkwood.
Actand-Troyle, Lt.-Col. G. J.Beit, Sir A. L.Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)
Adamton, Mrs. Jennie L, (Dartford)Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)Brown, T. J. (lnce)
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)Berry, Hon. G. L (Buckingham)Bull, B. B.
Albery, Sir IrvingBevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C)Bullock, Capt. M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. {H'lsbr.)Bird, Sir R. B.Burden, T. W.
Alexander, Bg.-Gn. Sir W. (G'g'w, C.)Blair, Sir R.Burton, Col. H. W.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (So'h. Univ.)Blaker, Sir R.Cadogan, Major Sir E.
Aske, Sir R. W.Boles, Lt.-Col. O. C.Caine, G. R. Hall
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Bossom, A. C.Campbell, Dermot (Antrim)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)Bower, Norman (Harrow)Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Boyce, H, LeslieCary, R. A.
Baillie, Major Sir A. W. M.Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.Challen, Flight-Lieut. C.
Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H.Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)
Baxter, A. BeverleyBraithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. J. G. (H'dern's)Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.Brass, Capt. Sir W.Charleton, H. C.
Beattie, F. (Catheart)Brlssoe, Capt. R. G.Chorlton, A. E. L.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C.Broadbridge, Sir G. T.Clarry, Sir Reginald
Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)Brooklebank, Sir C. E. R.Cluse, W. S.
Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'th)Brooke, H. (Lewisham)Cobb, Captain E. C.
Beech man, N. A.Brown, Rt. Hon E. (Leith)Colegate, W. A.

Never in the whole history of the exercise of these powers, since first they were conferred upon Governments, was there a worse, more mischievous or more dangerous exercise of them than is contained in this Regulation. I hope that many Members will find it in their hearts to do what I am sure many of them want to do, which is to go into the Lobby in support of our Prayer against this Regulation.

Photo of Mr James Stuart Mr James Stuart , Moray and Nairnshire

I beg to move, "That the Question be now put."

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

If I accept this Motion, I have to put it without amendment or debate, and I have accepted it.

Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

While I am on my feet the hon. Member must resume his seat.

Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order in Council dated 17th April, 1944, made under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amending Regulation IA of, and adding Regulation IAA to, the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, a copy of which Order was presented on 18th April, be annulled.

The House divided: Ayes, 23; Noes, 314.

Colman, N. C. D.Hill, Prof. A. V.Rankin, Sir R.
Conant, Major R. J. E.Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)
Cook, Lt.-Col. Sir T. R. A, M, (N'flk, N.)Holmes, J. S.Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)Howitt, Dr. A. B.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.Hudson, Sir A. (Hackney, N.)Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Critchley, A.Hughes, R. MoelwynRitson, J.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F, C.Hume, Sir G. H.Robertson, D. (Streatham)
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.Hunter, Sir T.Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M. A.(Mitcbam)
Culverwell, C. T.Hurd, Sir P. A.Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)Ropner, Col. L.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)Rothschild, J. A. de
Davison, Sir W. H.Isaacs, G. A.Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
De la Bère, R.James, Wing-Corn. A. (Well' borough)Salt, E. W.
Denman, Hon. R. D,Jarvis, Sir J. J.Schuster, Sir G. E.
Denville, AlfredJeffreys, General Sir G. D.Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)
Dobbie, W.Jennings, R.Selley, Sir H. R.
Doland, G. F.Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Shakespeare, Sir G. H.
Douglas, F. C. R.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Drewe, C.Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hn. L. W.Shute, Col. Sir J. J.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)Keir, Mrs. CazaletSimmonds, Sir O. E.
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.
Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)Kerr, Sir John Graham (.Scottish U's.)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)Key, C. W.Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. (Kens'gt'n, N.)Kimball, Major L.Smith, T. (Normanton)
Dunglass, LordKirby, B. V.Smithers, Sir W.
Eccles, D. M.Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.Snadden, W. McN.
Ede, J. C.Lakin, C. H. A.Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.
Eden, Rt, Hon. A,Lancaster, Lieut.-Col. C. G.Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.
Edmondscn, Major Sir J.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Spearman, A. C. M.
Edwards, Waller J. (Whitechapel)Lawson, J. J. (Chester-le-Street)Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver
Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Ellis, Sir G.Lewis, O.Stourton, Major Hon, J. J.
Elliston, Captain Sir G. S.Linstead, H. N.Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Emmott, C. E. G. C.Lipson, D. L.Strickland, Capt. W. F.
Emrys-Evans, P. V.Llewellin, Col. Rt. Hon. J. J.Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (Northwich)
Errington, Squadron-Leader E.Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)
Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S)Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)Studholme, Captain H. G.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)Loftus, P. C.Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Everard, Sir W. LindsayLucas, Major Sir J. M.Suirdale, Viscount
Fermoy, LordLyons, Major A. M.Sutcliffe, H.
Fleming, Squadron-Leader E. L.Lyttlelton, Rt. Hon, OliverSykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.
Foster, W.Mabane, Rt. Hon. W.Tasker, Sir R. I.
Fox, Squadron-Leader Sir G. W. G.MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. G.Tate, Mrs. Mavis C.
Frankel, DMcCallum, Major D.Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)
Fraser, Lt.-Col. Sir Ian (Lonsdale)McCorquodale, Malcolm S.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Teeling, Flight-Lieut. W.
Galbraith, Comdr. T. DMacdonald, Captain Peter (I. of W.)Thomas, I. (Keighley)
Gates, Major E. E.McEntee, V. la T.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'broke)McKie, J. H.Thorne, W.
Gibbins, J.Magnay, T.Thurtle, E.
Glanville, J. E.Maitland, Sir A.Tinker, J. J.
Gledhill, G.Mander, G. le M.Touche, G. C.
Gluckstein, Lt.-Col. L. H.Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.Tree, A. R. L. F.
Glyn, Sir R. G. C.Mathers, G.Wakefield, W. W.
Gower, Sir R. V.Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)
Graham, Capt. A. C.Medlicott, Colonel FrankWalker-Smith, Sir J.
Grant-Ferris, Wing-Comdr. R.Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Green, W. H. (Deptford)Mitchell, Colonel H. P.Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)Mitoheson, Sir G. G.Waterhouse, Captain Rt. Hon. C.
Greenwell, Colonel T. G.Molson, A. H. E.Watt, F. C. (Edinburgh, Cen.)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.Montague, F.Watt, Brig. G. S. Harvie (Richmond)
Gretton, J. F.Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)Wayland, Sir W. A.
Gridley, Sir A. B.Morris-Jones, Sir HenryWebbe, Sir W. Harold
Grigg, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H (Hackney, S.)Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)Wells, Sir S. Richard
Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Weston, W. Garfield
Groves, T. E.Murray, Sir D. K. (Midlothian, N.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Guest, Lt.-Col. H. (Drake)Naylor, T. E.Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Guinness, T. L. E. B.Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Gunston, Major Sir D. W.Nield, Major B. E.Wilmot, John
Hacking, Rt, Hon. Sir D. H.Noel-Baker, P. J.Windsor, W.
Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)Peat, C. U.Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.
Hannah, I. C.Petherick, M.Winlerton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hannon, Sir P. H.Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.Womerstey, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.Peto, Major B. A. J.Wood, Hon. C. I. C. (York)
Haslam, HenryPilkington, Captain R. A.Woodburn, A.
Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.Plugge, Capt. L. F.Wootton-Davies, J. H.
Helmore, Air Commodore W.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.Wragg, H.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Power, Sir J. C.Wright, Group Capt. J. (Erdington)
Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir AsshetonYork, Major C.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston)Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.
Hepburn, Major P. G. T. Buchan-Price, M. P.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—
Hewlett, T. H.Procter, Major H. A.Mr. W. W. Boulton and
Hicks, E. G.Pym, L. R.Mr. A. S. L. Young.
Higgs, W. F.Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.