Before I call the first Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe), I would point out to the Committee that I have selected it with some hesitation. On balance, however, I think that it is in Order, but I hope that the discussion will not be too prolonged.
I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, at the end, to insert:
and as respects Defence Regulation fifty-eight A.
It would probably be for the convenience of the Committee if this Amendment were taken together with the following Amendments to the First Schedule and to the Title:
In page 7, line 26, at end, insert:
Regulation fifty-eight A (Control of employment).
In line 3, after "1946" to insert:
and Defence Regulation 58A.
All these Amendments cover the same point, namely, whether Regulation 58A should be continued or not. If hon. Members will turn to page 7, they will see that the effect of the second Amendment, if carried, would be to include Regulation 58A among the Defence Regulations not to be continued in force. This Bill provides an opportunity for considering the Defence Regulations and selecting those which shall not continue in force. The Committee will not, I hope, think that I am occupying its time unduly if I indicate the difference between Defence Regulation 58A and the orders which were made under it, one of which we discussed a few days ago, and which is subject to a Prayer at the present time. The primary purpose of Regulation 58A is contained in paragraph 1. I feel it so important the Committee should appreciate its primary purpose that I venture to read it out:
The Minister of Labour and National Service (hereafter in this Regulation referred to as the Minister) or any National Service Officer may direct any person in Great Britain to perform such services in the United Kingdom or in any British ship not being a Dominion ship as may be specified by or described in the direction, being services which that person is, in the opinion of the Minister or Officer, capable of performing.
The effect of that is that the Minister or any local office of the Ministry can direct any person to any job. It will be appreciated that in addition there are ancillary provisions, notably in paragraphs (4) and (4, a) of the Regulation, by which the Minister can make various orders for regulating the engagement of workers, or for securing sufficient workers for certain industries. These are the orders which have been the subject of Prayer and discussion. We are considering tonight the question of whether the fount and origin of these
orders, the regulation itself, will remain in force or not. In other words, we are considering whether or not we are to proceed along the path of industrial conscription and the slave State. We, on this side of the Committee, want to stop that. The reasoning by which Members arrive at the conclusion whether or not there should be industrial conscription, is the same reasoning which will decide their vote tonight.
I propose to approach this matter from the aspect which Members of the Government have sought to justify. They say, "This is a bad thing which we have always condemned in peace, which we have condemned in recent months, and which we have promised, in the most solemn terms, not to use in this country; but, despite that, the circumstances today are such that this bad thing must continue as part of the law of the land." With that we disagree. First, is there any need for the continuance of this regulation; secondly, will the continuance of this regulation increase the efficacy of our industrial effort at the present time; thirdly, what will be the effect of this regulation on individuals and their future lives; fourthly, what will its effect be on the community?
I will first deal with the need. It is clear that before we say we shall continue the powers of industrial conscription we should look at what might have been done to make the continuance of the powers of industrial conscription unnecessary. This has been justified on the basis that there is some maldistribution of our labour force today. Nobody has ever denied that. I have put that point to the House on three occasions during the last six months; but before we can say that the answer to the maldistribution of labour is industrial conscription, we are entitled to ask if any steps could have been taken—especially when they are obvious—to avoid that maldistribution. It is our first point that the Government were never alive to this question until they had been 18 months in office, and that they took no notice of it until they published their White Paper in February, 1947. Since that time their steps to correct it have been of the most faltering and indecisive character.
We have all said that the most obvious, and critical, and the vastest maldistribution of labour is to be found in the tremendous number of people who have been retained in Government employment. I put this point in a Debate in the House as long ago as last March, when I asked for a reduction of at least a quarter of a million. At that time, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was suggesting a reduction of 80,000 but, in fact, after eight months the reduction has been an almost negligible figure—32,000. This is after the increase on the prewar number in national and local administration had risen to over 600,000. It is not only a question of this vastly swollen bureaucracy in itself, but the fact that at least 300,000—an absolute minimum—have to be retained in industry for the sole purpose of marking and filling up the forms which these 600,000 extra bureaucrats turn out. That is one important reason for the maldistribution of labour, and why it is said that we must now turn to industrial conscription. The other reason—and I only indicate it now—is that, no steps having been taken to cure the inflationary trend which has become so apparent during the last few months, it has been impossible to have proper and natural incentives in the jobs—
I want to keep the Debate as narrow as I can, and I asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman to try to do so. It is very difficult, on every occasion, to prevent him from making references to other matters which are not included in the regulation.
You will see, Major Milner, the difficulty we are in. The effect of these Amendments is to dispense with Regulation 58A, which gives power of direction and the imposition of industrial conscription. The issue before the Committee is whether that regulation should be continued or ended. I have tried to indicate, without going into details, the reasons why I think the regulation should be ended. The first reason is that had ordinarily prudent steps been taken in time to deal with the maldistribution of labour there would have been no need now to decide whether there should be the compulsory direction of labour or not. If anyone is asked, "Are you going to vote in favour of continuing the compulsory direction of labour or not," he is entitled to say," What is the need for it? "If the Government had taken steps to deal with maldistribution of labour in time, it would not be necessary to debate this matter now. If, at the moment, the Government were prepared to deal with my other two points, to have an overhaul of the unnecessary material used in the public administration, and to deal with inflation, they could find an alternative to direction and compulsion.
The second point I want to put to the Committee is efficacy. Is this an efficacious method of assisting our industrial output and production at the present time? That must be material. It is a point to which anyone considering this matter fairly, judicially, and in an unbiased way, as I am sure hon. Gentlemen will, should address his mind. I could give a long string of quotations on that point, which have been made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, in which they have decried the efficacy of direction and the labour which it produces. The presence of the hon. Member for' North Battersea (Mr. Jay) reminds me of a quotation from his book, which I shall not give to the Committee, but which I am sure someone will give before this Debate is over, and, therefore, Major Milner, in answer to you, I confine the recollection of the House to two quotations which I consider are most vital.
One is from the well-known speech of the Minister at Brighton, when he said that the person who was directed was not much use to his shop, his fellows, or himself. The other was the striking remark made by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) that the result of direction to the coal mines was only to increase absenteeism. I take these as typical, and, I think, a fair selection from a large number of quotations, and they go to the root of the matter. We have the view of the right hon. Gentleman and the view of a most experienced miners' Member who said that, in the case of industry generally, and the coalmines in particular, directed labour is not useful and not likely to add to efficiency of production. Therefore, that point I consider to be established, because this is a Debate largely between the two sides of the Committee, and that point is admitted by those on the other side of the Committee who have the greatest right to make the admission from their long experience.
I now come to the effect on individuals. One is bound to make a passing reference to what was said as to the effect on individuals in the case of the National Service Bill when service for one year was imposed. This is not a question of a temporary imposition. It is true that the point has been made that the Orders made under this regulation by the right hon. Gentleman are given a first ending period at the end of 1948, but no one in this Committee who has listened to the speeches, from the Government Benches alone, on the duration of the economic crisis, can expect for a moment, or would be so vain and foolish as to hope, that the end of 1948 could be the final period in regard to the continuance of the orders; and certainly the same applies to the power to make them under the regulation. Therefore, what we have to consider, and what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are voting for, if they vote against this Amendment, is the right by direction and by supplementary order to deprive the young men and young women of this country of the right of choice with regard to their future life for a long period, and, it may well be, for all time so far as each individual is concerned. There can be no graver issue affecting the personal liberty of the youth of this country, and, as I have said, their whole future—not only their industrial future, but their whole future—as to whether they will go through life as free men and women or not.
I leave that point, dealt with in that summary manner, because the point itself—the deprivation of the free choice of work—is of such importance that its very statement is the justification of our answer to it. It is not only a question of individuals. This is not only a question which can be considered from a partial or semi-selfish point of view. It is important enough that the individual should have the chance I have described, but it is still more important that the community of which we are all members should take a part other than this regulation indicates for it. Every hon. Member opposite knows that I could cull from a sheaf of quotations against industrial conscription in time of peace from practically every hon. and right hon. Gentleman who sits opposite tonight; but I am not going to weary the Committee, or to embarrass those who are facing me, by giving detailed quotations of their views.
I ask them, assuming, as I do, that they were speaking with good faith and truth in their hearts when they made these speeches, what is there now to change the point of view that they so clearly and vigorously expressed? I ask this question: have they abandoned that point of view? Did the speech of the Foreign Secretary at Southport, when he said that for every minute he had been in this Government he had been working for planned direction, mean a complete change of heart and change of mind? Does it mean that a planned economy, or a Socialist economy, is now found to require planned direction; found to require compulsion for the ordinary man and woman as they go into life? If that is so, let us face it.
We shall be voted down tonight but we shall not be voted down by the country on that issue. If it is once made clear, and honestly admitted, that this planned economy of which we have heard so much means planned direction for young men and young women, we shall face that issue with confidence, not only in the Tightness of our cause, but in our power of winning. It goes further than that. We are, I believe, at a parting of the roads. There is always a hard way and an easy way. I could again give examples from the history of almost every country in the world of the fatal ease with which the lazy way has been adopted. It is so easy to say: "Well, things are very difficult; the situation is almost as serious as during the war. During the war young men and young women were conscripted. Why should they not be conscripted now? In that way we will cure our difficulties."
To say that is, first of all, to ignore the fact that war has a condition entirely of its own kind when the vast majority are ready to make sacrifices to meet an abnormal and unique condition; and, secondly, it ignores that in a time of peace, if we are going to go forward as a free and democratic people, we must demand of the citizenry that they will make a voluntary effort. It is quite true that that demand is not merely a question of putting up posters saying "Work or Want" or using facile expressions in speech. That demand means putting the truth before the people, even when that truth involves the disclosure and admission of mistakes that have been made. If the truth is put before the people, I am quite sure that the demand for their services will never be made in vain. If we are prepared to say that two and a half years after the end of the war we have abandoned the idea of asking the British people to go forward in liberty because we do not think they will answer to the call of the truth, and are adopting the easy way of compulsion, taking it gradually and following one step after another, then we are simply adopting and administering the old Latin proverb that the easiest road is the road down to hell.
That is the issue. There is no question of where it comes in this Bill or any other point that will obscure the issue, to my mind, to the mind of everyone in this Committee, and Jo the minds of the people of the country. The choice has got to be made whether we will go forward and use every ounce of energy that can be given by free men and women or whether we will submit to this compulsion. That is as serious a choice as the people of this country have ever had to make. We as their representatives have got to make a choice for them tonight as to whether the powers of compulsion will continue. I ask the Committee to accept this Amendment which would take away this stain on our people and give them once again the chance of free lives.
The Committee, the House and the country are getting thoroughly sick and tired of these idle, irresponsible and mischievous speeches that are made on this subject by right hon. and hon Gentlemen opposite. They do not mean it; they know they do not mean it; and they are deliberately misleading the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I am not talking about hon. Members on the Liberal Benches. [Interruption.] Let me explain. The hon. Gentlemen on the Liberal Benches voted against any peacetime military conscription and that makes all the difference in the world.
Let us look at the case put forward. It is admitted that, with all its evil and unpleasantness, Regulation No. 58A was necessary in war. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) sat in this House on the Government Front Bench and defended Regulation 58A. I take it he is not ashamed of that. He does not wish to withdraw it; he does not think by passing and operating Regulation 58A throughout the years of the war that this country was transforming itself into a totalitarian or slave State—or does he?
The hon. Gentleman appeals to me. I made that point quite clear that war conditions were abnormal and during that time in my belief—I know the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) does not share that belief—conscription was justified. I do not think it is justified in time of peace.
I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I heard him say that, and it was not necessary to say it a second time. I still say it is idle, irresponsible and mischievous nonsense. The thing that justified it during the war was not the fact that it was the war, but the fact that the war made it necessary. I do not know why the right hon. and learned Gentleman smiles. This sort of thing is not done in wartime merely because there is a war, but because it is recognised that the conditions created by the war made it necessary. It is defended only on that basis, so that the question whether it ought to be done or ought not to be done does not depend on whether it is war or peace, but on whether circumstances make it necessary.
It is agreed that war circumstances made it necessary, and the question is now whether these particular circumstances of peace make it necessary now. The distinctions between war and peace specifically add nothing whatever to the argument, and answer no question in this argument at all. What were the conditions of war that made it necessary? They were that it was necessary for the emergency created by the war to plan and direct all our resources material and human; that we were in such an emergency we could not afford to leave anything to chance; that we were in such an emergency that we could take no risks; and that we were in such an emergency that we could not afford to waste either material or manpower. Has that emergency passed? Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are going up and down the country saying that the emergency is more serious or as serious as it was during the war.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman in his own speech chastised the Government for not taking the matter seriously enough, and for never having taken the matter seriously enough. Is not that their complaint against the Government never mind whether it is unjustified or not, and it is not justified. Is there anybody who denies the proposition that our circumstances today—never mind who created them and how; I will come to that in a moment—are as serious as in wartime? Suppose for the sake of argument that it is conceded that it was all the Government's fault, that there had been no war for eight years destroying the whole basis of European civilisation, that we had not planned for several years to destroy the means of our physical and material existence—supposing all these things, it does not alter this argument. The situation is there, and I thought there was no difference between the two sides of the Committee on the seriousness of that situation and the emergency in which we find ourselves. I want to know, as I think the country will want to know, from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they think that in these circumstances, any more than in the circumstances between 1939 and 1945, we can afford to take chances, to take risks?
Let me finish this part of the argument. Do they think we can afford to waste our resources, material or human, and that there is any less need today, even though the need is a different kind of need, to plan the resources of our community for the benefit and in the interests of that community? Does anybody deny that now?
The hon. Gentleman has asked whether we are to take the risk. Dare we take the risk? Can I put it to him that it is proposed that we should take one of the biggest risks we have ever taken in undertaking the direction of labour in peacetime, which does not give increased production but merely gives increased numbers?
The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly valid point, and I will come to it in time. At the moment I am dealing with the argument that though it was necessary, advisable and desirable in war, so that the House could, with virtual unanimity, agree to it, the mere fact that we are at peace makes a difference. I deny that there is any validity in that argument at all.
Let me deal with one argument at a time. I will give way to the hon. Member in a moment. I know that the emergency will come to an end much more quickly under this Government than under any other Government. I know, further, that if the election of 1945 had gone differently, this country would now be in a very much worse condition. I think the hon. Member agrees with me on that point. I do not want this situation to go on indefinitely. I do not like industrial conscription any more than the hon. Gentleman, but the only test to apply is not whether war has broken out or whether peace has been declared but whether the situation as it exists requires this drastic Measure or not, I refuse to take seriously hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who voted for all these things during the war and oppose them now, unless they are prepared to say that times are normal, that the war is so far distant and that the difficulties created by it or by anybody else, have so far receded that we can afford to go back to what we are pleased to call normal conditions.
The hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) draws a distinction between peace and war in military conscription, but even that distinction is abandoned by the Conservative Party, so far as military service is concerned". They say, "We will support this during war because it is necessary during war, but not after the war, whether it is necessary or not." Did they apply that argument to the Military Service Bill? [HON. MEMBERS: "It was brought in during peacetime."] I am talking about the one that was brought in after the war and not the one that was brought in before the war and in anticipation of it.
Certainly, by a Bill. There is a Bill before the House now. This is a Bill. [Interruption.] It is no use hon. Members saying that it will not do. It is true that during the war this law was enacted by decree and by regulation. In this case that is not being done: In this case we have a Bill before the Committee—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] But we have. We are in the Committee stage of it. We are now deciding whether or not we shall give the sanction of a Statute of Parliament to a regulation passed during wartime.
Will the hon. Gentleman agree that in the case of a Bill there is an opportunity to amend the provisions? Would he also agree that it is impossible to amend these provisions by this method?
It would be possible to put an Amendment down. It does not necessarily need an Amendment of this kind—[Interruption.] All right, I am wrong about it—[HON. MEMBERS: "You are."] I am not concerned whether I am right, because that does not go to the principle of the matter. It does not matter whether the thing is brought in by Bill or regulation. Let us concede for the purposes of the argument that we are not now debating the Committee stage of a Bill but debating, say, a Prayer against Regulation 58A. It does not seem to me—
The hon. Member has just told the Committee that this question is now being discussed on a Bill. Is he aware of the fact that Regulation 58A is not in the Bill before the Committee and is only being discussed because my right hon. and hon. Friends have put down an Amendment to include it? It would not have been discussed at all but for the initiative of the Opposition.
I appreciate that point and I appreciate that it is a good ground for a perfectly legitimate argument. I do not accept it but I agree that it is a legitimate argument that we are now dealing with a regulation and not a Bill. That is what I am being asked to do. I do not want to pursue the other point, though I am tempted to do so. It is irrelevant to my argument. If we look at it on that basis we have to look for the reasons for and against it. Whether it is brought in by Bill or regulation is not material. We are debating it now, and we can, if we like, pass or reject this Amendment. We are deciding whether or not Regulation 58A shall be or shall not be continued, and the other procedural point is quite irrelevant to my argument. What I am saying is that the reason which brought about virtual unanimity in the House during the war, exists now. I do not want to be too long about this, tempted as I have been; I want to deal with the actual terms of it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman talked about slavery, freedom of choice and all that kind of thing. There is nothing in Regulation 58A that really limits anybody's freedom of choice except in two respects. A man is no longer free to choose whether or not he will work. Why should he be, in these circumstances? Why should any citizen of this country, at this time and in these circumstances, be free to decide to render no contribution at all?
That is the difference between the two sides of the Committee. Hon. Members opposite would leave it to the blind play of economic forces, but we prefer, consciously and deliberately, to plan it. That is the real difference between the two sides of the Committee. Does any hon. Member mean to say that in this country anyone in the working or middle classes has ever had freedom to choose whether he would work or not; or has ever had freedom of choice in his job? Of course not. All that we are doing here is to ensure that there applies to the whole community the necessity to work, which economic conditions have always forced upon the bulk of the working and middle classes of this country. Nor is it a question of choice alone. In these circumstances, the State has not merely the right but the inescapable duty of seeing that that work is not wasted or frittered away.
Just as during the war, if we are to get out of the difficulty in which we find ourselves, if we are again to stand as a free and independent nation in the world, standing on our own feet and making our own living, dependent upon nobody, we must take control of such resources as we have; and, without being tyrannical about it, without being despotic about it, without driving it too far, without handing over everything to an official behind a desk for decision—taking all those risks into account and guarding against them as best we can, we must take our courage in both hands and ensure that our labour and material resources are not wasted. That is what hon. and right hon. Members opposite believe as much as we do. They pretend to believe that these objects have always best been secured by laissez faire economics. Well, they can go on believing that if they like. We on this side of the Committee do not believe it; and the great majority of this country does not believe it either. We believe that we have to plan it—to plan it with care, with deliberation and with courage.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) at times commands the respect and sympathy of the Committee, especially when he speaks on something he understands, and about which he feels deeply and genuinely; but I think he will forgive me if I say that he is not at his most convincing when he is at his most noisy.
The speech to which we have just listened was, perhaps, one of his most unconvincing speeches. From time to time we on this side of the Committee have been twitted with what I believe to be the totally fallacious argument that, under the system of economic life in which we repose our confidence there must necessarily be a pool of unemployed. I believe that to be false. But whether or not that argument be true or false, the speech to which we have just listened can leave absolutely no doubt in the mind of any impartial observer that under the system of economics in which the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne believes—whether or not that applies equally to any or all hon. Members opposite I do not pretend to know—there must be a pool of slaves compelled not merely to work at something—because that is not the point under this regulation, which the hon. Member had evidently not read, or at least had not understood—a pool of slaves—
—not merely to work at something, but to work at the particular thing which the Government direct him to do. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne was good enough—after a string of epithets upon which I shall not seek to rejoin him—to say that we did not mean what we said when we opposed this order. I beg him to believe that he is wrong. I speak, of course, only for myself. If I have ever meant anything that I said in the House, I mean that I hate this regulation with all the fibre of my being. I am quite willing to go to prison for my opinions, and, if the Government go on in the way they are going, it may be that some of us will have to go to prison for our opinions. I say to the hon. Gentleman plainly that, much as I love my country, and willing as I am to die for her, I would rather see her go down in dust and ruin than go on with this system of slavery, and I mean this as sincerely as anything I have ever said in the House. Hon. Members may agree, or disagree, but I resent the suggestion that what I am saying is not sincerely and deeply meant, and is not felt by many people, some of whom are outside the ranks of the party of which I am a member.
I wish to say something which is, in a sense, personal. This question of freedom and slavery has always had a particularly intimate meaning for me. It is an odd confession to make, but I was brought up on the arguments between freedom and slavery, as my maternal grandfather was concerned with the American Civil War, which was fought on that very issue. I was brought up to understand how very formidable the case for slavery really was, and how very insidious were the arguments by which it was supported. What were those arguments? They were the arguments which have been addressed to the Committee by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. They are the arguments by which the Minister of Labour sought to defend his Order the other day.
The arguments were almost identical. It was in fact the main argument of the Southern States. The arguments were these: first, that the public interest required slavery, that they had to get the dirty work done somehow, and only the niggers could be made to do it. So we are going to have a class of niggers in this country, people who belong to "a form of employment incapable of exact definition," or some such phrase as that, in the new order. The dirty work has to be done somehow, and so we have to make the niggers do it. The second argument which was used was that slavery might be a bad thing, but it was a necessary thing, and the slave owners would always administer it kindly and humanely, and could be trusted to do so. In the main, the argument was true; the slave owners did, in the main, act kindly and humanely, and could be trusted to do so.
I want to get this clear, because it seems a very important point. Surely, that argument, in those circumstances, was advanced in favour of making one section of the community, although the slave section, do the dirty work. If this order were directed only to one section of the community, the analogy would be complete. The difference is that whereas they said the dirty work could be done by a few, we say everybody must do his share.
That is not so, as I am about to show from a reference to these regulations. That is precisely what the right hon. Gentleman does not say, and the hon. Gentleman, with his usual acumen, has exactly forecast my point. The effect of this Order, as I shall endeavour to make clear in the course of my ineffectual remarks, will be to impose on some people, but not on others, the obligation to do the dirty work. Precisely for that reason I say it is chattel slavery, and nothing less. I am glad the hon. Member has at least done my argument the courtesy that, although he disputes my premises, he admits that if the premises be granted, the conclusion follows.
The next argument which was used was, of course, that the niggers were happier when they were slaves. The hon. Gentleman did not emphasise this to quite the same extent as he emphasised some of the others. The argument is constantly heard from the Benches opposite. It is, of course, in another form, the argument we have been hearing for the last two years that in the years before the war economics enslaved people, and so now when they are enslaved legally instead of economically, they will be happier because they have additional security. Of course, the niggers were happier very often when they were slaves. But I doubt the strength of that argument. I doubt whether it really is sufficiently strong to justify an abominable institution. The other argument was, of course, that the niggers were so idle that they would not work unless they are made to.
On a point of Order. May I ask whether, if laxity is being allowed to the hon. Gentleman to discuss a point in this way—chattel slavery versus economic slavery—others on this side of the Committee will be given an equal opportunity to indulge in such statements?
It is for the Chair to decide how much indulgence should be given. I hope that hon. Members will condense their remarks and narrow the discussion as much as possible.
I was endeavouring to show that the arguments are identical with the traditional and, let it be said, most formidable arguments in favour of chattel slavery. In answer to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), I should be inclined to say, if I might without offence, that if he has really been trying to follow the tenor of my remarks, they were precisely the opposite of what he seems to think. So far from treating the word "nigger" as a contemptuous reference to those who had the misfortune to be slaves in America, I was trying to summarise accurately the arguments by which chattel slavery was justified by their opponents. I had reached the argument that we heard that the niggers were so idle that they would not work unless they were made to work. This is the argument about spivs and drones. The word "niggers" is not used yet, but "spiv" is, and both have as much justification when applied to human beings. The only disadvantage of "spiv" is that it means nothing, whereas "niggers" refers, although perhaps impolitely, to an obvious physiological fact. The argument is that the spivs are so contrary that they will not work unless they are made to work. I do not like the habit of referring to a number of people whom one intends to enslave by an opprobrious epithet as an excuse for turning them into slaves. Frankly, I dislike it. [Interruption.] It may be that the hon. Gentleman likes that method of approach, but I do not. When I say that I do not, I am only expressing a purely personal preference.
I venture to point out to the Committee that even if it were true it would not justify an anti-human institution. It is precisely because the institution of chattel slavery in direction of labour is, by definition, anti-human, that I sincerely intend to oppose this order. I am going to say a good many more unpleasant things about it before I sit down. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne, having said his tirade, has now abandoned us to correct his speech in the Reporters' Gallery. It needs it, but I do not think that within the Rules of Order he will be able to improve it much. He referred, with some apparent or pretended bewilderment, to the fact that those who agree with me in politics had constantly supported military conscription in time of war, and as a corollary industrial compulsion, in time of war, and had, indeed, supported the National Service Act which was proposed by the present Government since the war. He seemed to see something inconsistent between that attitude and our opposition to this regulation today. I venture to suggest to the Committee that there is, in fact nothing inconsistent at all.
I make no complaint against those who are opposed to both military and industrial. That is a perfectly consistent and honourable attitude with which I do not happen myself to agree, but I make no quarrel against that. I only say that my own attitude is both intellectually honest and consistent, and my own attitude is that in time of war, death and destruction from an external source are the order of the day. I believe it to be morally wrong that death and destruction should be dealt out only to the best who volunteer for service, and not to citizens in accordance with some objective test. I believe that to be fundamentally wrong, and I believe that wrongness to justify military conscription, and therefore its corollary, industrial conscription in time of war, when the object is an equal sharing of danger to life and limb in a moment of external attack from enemy sources; but that is not what we are discussing tonight.
What we are discussing tonight is the production of wealth by an economic process. It may be that the production of wealth is extremely necessary and urgent for the survival of the community; that I admit may well be the case, but if we give in on this vital point of freedom now, we are taking the decisive step to make slavery a permanent feature of our institutions. I cannot for a moment be persuaded that the mere fact that during the war death has to be dealt out with an even hand, the mere fact that this is so should justify us in abandoning the fundamental principle of freedom which is that a man should be entitled to choose his occupation, and I add, in all solemnity, that he should be entitled, if he pleases, to be a worthless and idle fellow.
Having attempted to deal sincerely with the argument of the hon. Gentleman for Nelson and Colne, I wish to address myself to the more substantial arguments which are sometimes put forward on behalf of the Government. The first argument is based on the necessity for a redistribution of labour, and for the necessity that everyone—a proposition with which we should all agree—should play his full part, so far as in him lies, in the national effort at the present time. I believe that argument is bad for practical reasons, which I shall endeavour to show, but before I come to deal with the practical reasons, I want to say that even if I were persuaded that slavery was the only way out for this country, I should still be against it. I would rather see this country, much as I love it, ruined, than see it go on with this policy. I would like to be absolutely frank. I do not regard that as an idle mischievous or irresponsible statement. Hon. Members opposite may think that misguided, but I believe it as sincerely as those who went to prison as conscientious objectors at any time in the two world wars. I believe it is far better that this country should be ruined, than that it should indulge in what I believe, rightly or wrongly, to be a form of chattel slavery. It is because I take objection to this on conscientious grounds—and grounds just as conscientious as anything that was ever opposed to military service—that I am making this speech, which is not an easy or popular speech to make.
Having said that, I suggest to the Government that they are being wholly misguided as regards the practical results of their policy, although it seems to me that they are perfectly right in saying that a redistribution of labour is probably the prime necessity for our recovery from our economic problems. I admit that, and I appreciate that they are seeking to deal with this problem in this way, and that they have, at any rate, that legitimate objective in mind. If one analyses the figures, which I think it would be out of Order to do in this speech, I think it can be made abundantly apparent that, if all the people who are now in work were only working, not harder, but just as hard, on different things than they are doing now, there probably would be either no crisis at all or one of very much smaller dimensions than is the case at present.
I do not believe that that is really capable of dispute, but what I do say is that this regulation will do nothing to effect a practical redistribution of labour at all, because it will not deal with those categories who are now primarily misemployed, and, secondly, this regulation, and the scale on which it is proposed to employ it, are still inadequate to deal with the problem of the redistribution of labour, because the turnover of labour which is required is in advance of anything whatever that will be secured by such operation of this regulation as public opinion will allow the Government to impose.
Therefore, I say that this is a misguided approach. We are sometimes asked on this side of the Committee for an alternative. Well, there is an alternative—an alternative which I should not be in Order to develop now, but which I can mention in a word—the return to the price mechanism. The price mechanism has its defects and it will always have its defects. So has slavery, and if I have to choose between the two, I know which I am going to choose. Moreover, I believe that the defects of the price mechanism can be overcome, whereas the defects of slavery cannot, and I believe that the price mechanism is able to effect changes in the redistribution of labour on a scale comparable to what is required, whereas slavery cannot, because, whatever else may be tried, this people has never, by its nature, been addicted to a love of servitude.
The hon. Gentleman has referred to the price mechanism. May I tell him that, under the influence of the price mechanism as it operated in 1929, I was on the dole for 18s. a week? May I also tell him that I would prefer to be directed to a fully-paid job than experience again life on the dole?
The hon. Gentleman is perfectly free to make his choice. There are people who prefer slavery to freedom because it gives them greater security. I suggest that they are selling their birthright for a mess of pottage. I cannot help it if the hon. Gentleman makes that choice. I believe it to be true that, if the price mechanism were allowed to return in our present economic situation, the hon. Gentleman would not suffer the experiences of 1929. I am bound to say that, if it was not so, I would prefer freedom to slavery, even if it were freedom to starve—[An HON. MEMBER: "What does the hon. Gentleman know about that? "] Now, apparently, we are to be starved, but not with freedom, on 2,700 calories a week, or less than the unemployed had before the war.
I have one or two other things to say to hon. Gentlemen opposite who prefer security to freedom. Their attitude is not merely false; it is also a very foolish one, because, as a matter of fact, all the good things of life and all the material standards of life, for which we have been working and fighting for years, now depend, in the last resort, upon freedom, and, if we destroy freedom, in the end we shall destroy that state of society in which these things are possible.
This regulation, it is alleged, is designed only against the idle who will not play their part in the national effort, but that is not its effect. Its effect will be to select for adverse treatment people who are either self-employed or who are employed in one, two or three named categories, or who are employed in some capacity which it is difficult to classify. That is the operation of this regulation. It is those people whom we are determining to enslave, and not the population as a whole. There is no question at all of the great mass of the population being affected by this regulation in any way. There is no truth at all in the suggestion made from the benches opposite that all that is being asked is that everybody should make his own contributidon. What is being asked is that certain specific categories should be enslaved, and that I am not prepared to concede on any terms whatever.
I want to ask the Committee, in the few remaining moments that are left to me, to consider what would have been the effect on various well-known historical personages if this regulation had been in force in the past, instead of the rule of Common Law by which Englishmen were then considered to be free. What would have happened to the man who invented the steam engine? Was he in a form of employment which it was easy to classify? There he was, wasting his time in the kitchen looking at the steam coming out of the spout of the kettle. What would the right hon. Gentleman have said about him? He would probably have said that he was a "spiv at the spout." What was Shakespeare fooling around—
I am endeavouring, Mr. Beaumont, to show what the effect of this regulation would be. We will not call him Shakespeare; we will call him Robbie Burns, or Bacon, or Fletcher, or Beaumont. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman opposite found an idle sort of fellow rootling round the woods chasing deer, and writing poems in his spare time; what what would he be called—a drone, an eel, or a butterfly? I do not know to which category he would belong, but I do know that he would come within the ambit of this regulation. If the right hon. Gentleman says that he is such a good judge of poetry and art, and such things, that the people affected in this way will only have to submit specimens of their work to him in order to get a licence to pursue their craft in their own way and time, I can only say that I do not believe him. There is only one way in which one can really value the operations of the artist, and that is by giving him freedom. Oddly enough, moreover, there is only one person in the world who can classify who is and who is not a genuine artist, and that is the person himself.
If we are, in fact, going on with this policy, there is absolutely nothing in the world which is going to protect the ordinary man or woman who happens to be something of an individualist—and who happens to wish to lead his or her own life—and, it may be, to offer to the community in that way something far better than those whose business it is to be occupied more regularly in some humdrum task—from being prosecuted and enslaved, and sent to prison. I would point out that I do not speak on this matter for other Members of my party; I do not speak for anybody but myself, but, none the less, I speak with complete sincerity. I believe it is the duty of people to refuse to register under this regulation. If anybody does refuse on conscientious grounds, let the right hon. Gentleman send him to prison and I shall be proud to go with him. I shall do my best to get him out if I do not go.
The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) a few minutes before he finished his speech, asked me if. I was a judge of poetry. I admit at once that I am not. But, as a Cockney, I think I am a judge of humour, and what I have listened to I do not regard as humour at all. The hon. Gentleman has tried to make play with what he himself has admitted is a serious subject.
I believe the hon. Gentleman did. I wish it was possible to test the hon. Gentleman's sincerity in the matter by giving him a direction and seeing what he would do about it.
I want to deal with some of the points which have been made this afternoon. I would ask, with all respect and sincerity, whether it is necessary to repeat the statement that was made in justification of our asking the Committee to give us the order which we got a few weeks ago. We gave a full explanation of it. This afternoon there has been an attempt to prevent this order being effective, and we are wondering why. [Interruption.] I listened right through the speeches of three legal Members, and I did not have the temerity to interrupt. I therefore ask hon. Members to give me a chance to get going. If I put my foot in it, they can then pull me up.
I do not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I think he said, "order" on the second occasion when he meant "regulation" for the purpose of his argument, and I wanted to get it straight.
Hon. Members who are learned in the law have fallen into exactly the same mistake all the way through the Debate. They should not blame me if I do the same. It is difficult not to get mixed up. We are making an order under a regulation, and the Amendment before us relates to the regulation and not to the order. I hope, having got it straight up to that point, we can keep it straight for a bit further. I am sorry the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe), who moved the Amendment, is not here because, once again, I had the feeling that he was working himself up into a passion and he did not really feel like it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Those of us who know the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and on all sides respect him, really understand him. That is my impression and I am entitled to express it. Some hon. Members may not agree with me, but I am entitled to express my opinion and I have done so. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that we are embarking upon the path leading to the slave State. We shall be a slave State unless the workers can save us from it, and only the workers of this country can save us. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why? "] Are we not told to produce more goods to sell abroad for export, and all the rest of it? Did not a certain hon. Member say that if these people who are working, would only work harder there would be no need for this order? Did not the hon. Member for Oxford tell us that?
I said exactly the opposite. I said that if only people who were working could work at something different—not necessarily harder—there would either be no crisis, or the crisis would be of smaller dimensions. I said exactly the opposite.
No, I did not. On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. The right hon. Gentleman did not take down my words, and I challenge him to produce them from the OFFICIAL REPORT. It is an absolute outrage that people should say directly the opposite, and pretend to get away with it by having taken down something inaccurately. I am within the hearing of the House.
We will leave it to the hearing of the House, and we shall be able to decide in the morning. May I say at once that, if I have misinterpreted the hon. Gentleman, I will apologise in advance, but the impression that I obtained from his words was that he said people must work harder.
The right hon. Gentleman really must try not to mislead the Committee. What I said—and I am going to say it only once more now—was that if only people were working, not harder, but in different positions from those in which they are now, either there would not be a crisis, or not a crisis in the same direction. I notice that the Home Secretary is nodding his head. He was sitting there throughout my speech. I ask him to correct his right hon. Friend.
I will accept that. If people would work in the jobs where they are more useful. Is that what the hon. Gentleman means? Well, how are we going to get them to those jobs?
Not by direction? We were told by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the Debate that he admitted that there was maldistribution of labour. He said the Government were never alive to this and took no action to redress it. Did they not keep the Control of Engagement Order on the miners and keep them tied to their jobs? Did they not keep the control on the agricultural workers and keep them tied to their jobs? Did they not keep the control on the building trade workers and keep them in that industry? I never heard any righteous appeals in this House to set those men free.
Oh, no. We shall see; but I do not recollect an appeal being made. Did we not, by voluntary means, do the best we could with the four million men who came out of the Forces to get them into the industries necessary to be manned up? There had to be no direction then, and there would not be direction now if persuasion carried its way. I believe persuasion is going to carry its way a long distance. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said—and I agree with him—that this matter must be considered fairly, judiciously, and in an unbiased way. With great respect I would say that I wonder if it has been discussed up to now judiciously or in an unbiased way. He went on to refer to the effect on individuals. That is a matter to which I should like to come. He said we had no right to deprive men and women of the right to choose their jobs. What are we to do about this? Are we to see that people are to be deliberately engaged in work not necessary to the welfare of the community at a time when there are necessary jobs? I do not know whether it was the hon. Member for Oxford or the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who spoke before him, who referred to the fact that asking people to do those things they care about would be effective. I have a recollection of my own, when, as a young man, I was engaged to sweep the snow from the streets of Finsbury—not because I wanted to do so, but because I had no other work to go to; and I remember I was walking to work in shoes that let in the water through to my feet, and I wanted a pair of boots.
I have listened to everybody else. Let me be listened to. Let me tell what I think about this matter. Hon. Members talk about direction and people being "directly directed" or "indirectly directed"—about negative and positive direction. I can remember when some 200 railway engine cleaners had to come from Scotland to England to follow their jobs or be out of work. I can remember an instance in my own trade—printing—when a famous London printing firm decided to move into the country and said to the. people working for them, "You can if you like take your jobs in the country, or we have nothing else for you." But their wages for their jobs in the country were 15s. a week less than their wages for their jobs in London. So we had that kind of direction put upon us.
The hon. Member for Oxford—I came in a little late, and I do not think I should be quite right in attributing the reference directly to him; he may have been taking it up from somebody else—made a reference to "dirty work—get the niggers to do it." As I say, he may have been paraphrasing a remark made by someone else. But who is going to do that work? Somebody has to do it. I wonder if the friends and associates of hon. Gentlemen opposite, when there are dirty jobs to be done will say, "Find me a nice dirty job and I will do it." I am perfectly sure they will be looking out for the clean collar jobs. He also mentioned the production of wealth, and referred to the necessity for looking after the welfare of the community. The production of wealth is effected by those who give some effort and service to the community, whether it be the man who works at the bench, the manager, the traveller, or those at the top who do the planning. The only wealth this country gets is produced by the application of labour.
Suppose somebody is not prepared to do his part towards that labour, in some way or another, or to do his share in helping the nation in its time of need like this. The hon. Member for Oxford says that a man is entitled to be worthless and idle if he wants to be. Who does the hon. Member suggest should feed, clothe and house that man? In the old days, bad as the old Poor Law was, they had to feed, house and clothe such a worthless idler. What happened? All sorts of pressure was put on boards of guardians all over the country, making it criminal and punishable for that man to go to the board of guardians for food if he was capable of work. That was a form of direction. Therefore, this direction for which we ask is no new thing at all.
The hon. Member for Oxford made reference to the price mechanism. He argued that we should let the price mechanism operate, thereby making men flow from one job to another. That means cutting down wages to the lowest level in order to force men to go to other jobs. That is how the price mechanism worked in the past.
The right hon. Gentleman is not really being quite fair. I was pulled up during the course of my speech by the Deputy-Chairman—rightly, as always if I may say so, respectfully—when I was attempting to enter into an argument on what I meant by the operation of the price mechanism. It really is not fair for the right hon. Gentleman to taunt me now for not having dealt with it at greater length.
It is not my intention to taunt the hon. Member; I am answering a point made during the Debate. I do not desire to indulge in taunting any hon. Member. I do not want to argue the point, but I do desire to make a reference to this matter which he raised. After the last war, round about 1922, the price mechanism operated. It cut down the wages of working men by 20s., 25s. and 30s. a week, bringing them down to starvation level. If that is what the price mechanism means, I am perfectly sure the workers of this country would prefer being directed to a job at which they can earn a decent wage, then to have to put up with the conditions which prevailed under the price mechanism.
I do not want to go at great length into the methods we have to adopt. We must have this regulation. To be perfectly frank, in the main it will be a power in the background. We are satisfied that a great number of our people will respond to the guidance which is being given in the employment exchanges, and will take the jobs offered to them. We really must have this power. There may be a man who can do a job for which he is badly needed; perhaps a skilled electrician is needed in a power station because the power plant is standing idle. There may be a great many mechanical gadgets, machines of different kinds, which cannot be operated because there is not a sufficient flow from the electrical motor, and if we find a man who can deal with faulty electrical motors, who can get the job going and the machines produced and on the market, we think it best to have him doing that, which is something worth while and useful. We should be wrong in saying to such a man, "You can do a job on the pools" or some similar job, and that he need not do a job which is necessary for the country. We are asking in this regulation for power to deal with that situation.
We have the Control of Engagement Order, but if this regulation is taken away from us, the whole thing will be completely null and void. I say, without any hesitation, that, under those circumstances, we should not be able to carry out the redeployment of labour and the essential manning up of industries in this country. There are many vital industries for which we must find manpower in order to keep the wheels of the nation's industries turning properly. I have not been in touch with the employment exchanges within the last two or three days, but I cannot recall that we have yet had to impose any absolute direction, although there may have been cases which have not come to my notice. We feel that people are saying, "All right, tell us a job to do and we will go and do it." We believe we can carry on along those lines, and we think it is necessary.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has said that the country is in a state of emergency. Sometimes the Opposition tell us that we are not taking this crisis seriously enough. The Government take it sufficiently seriously to ask our people to surrender that amount of freedom for the time being, and to take the jobs which we offer them. Yet, in doing this we are told we are doing a bad thing. How do we work it? When a man or woman comes into the employment exchange, we offer a choice of jobs. I went into this before, but perhaps hon. Members will not mind if I repeat it again. If it is possible, we will' offer a man a job in the industry in which he has been actively employed. If not, we shall find an industry in which that class of labour can be usefully employed. It is not until a man has turned down the offer of the four jobs, for which he is suited in the opinion of the officer, that he is told to take one. If a man who is offered a job accepts it, he goes there without being directed—[Laughter.] What is wrong with that? I can see what is wrong; it is not the statement which is wrong. Let me repeat it. A man goes to the exchange. He is asked to take a job. He says: "I do not like that one." He is shown another, and says: "I will take that one." Having taken that one, he is not directed.
If hon. Members opposite are asking me to impose directions upon a man directly he comes into an exchange without giving him a chance, let them say so. We are trying to be fair. Please understand that some of us have worked side by side with working people. We have learned from our contacts with them on the bench, and not from reading about them in books.
I accept that. The hon. Member is proud of having fought side by side with working people, and he says that they are darned good people. That is our point too. We believe that they are good people, and we believe that they ought to have a fair deal. We want to give them a fair deal, and we are doing it. If the nation's need requires it, we must call upon everyone who can turn a hand to help their country. That power is there, and we want to keep it. We shall exercise it with all the care, courtesy and decency we can. We ask the Committee to reject this Amendment; otherwise we cannot do the task.
The Minister has made a very conciliatory speech. I think that many of the remarks made earlier were intended to apply more to the powers than to the intentions of the Government Front Bench. May I make it perfectly plain that, in the long discussions we have had on this matter of direction of labour and other forms of power, the central point is the one which the Minister of Health has laboured over and over again, namely, that there is all the difference in the world between coming to the House with a specific power narrowly limited to the purpose it is intended to achieve, and taking a vast range of power, far wider than is needed to be used at the moment, and then later on finding you are going down the slippery slope as you discover that you have not utilised the full powers which have been taken. In other words, the central issue is this. It is not, as the Minister has said time and time again, the intentions of the Government that matter to us, but the powers, because we are granting the powers.
I am bound to say to the Minister that I am by no means clear, having read his last speech over and over again, what the Government are doing under this regulation; nor do I find that the people of the country are at all clear about it. As I understand it, it is the case that once a man is a miner he is going to remain a miner, and that once a man has taken a particular form of employment, he will remain in that employment. I believe that to be one of the effects of this regulation. I draw the Minister's attention to the remarks he made when he was asked about married women. He said that married women do not come under the direction of labour unless they volunteer. What an extraordinary situation that would be.
Then that means that if married women volunteer they can utilise the employment exchanges, which will offer them jobs, but that if they take jobs they are not to continue to be subject to direction. Married women are out of the scheme altogether, whether they volunteer or not. Do I understand that married women are not to be directed in any circumstances?
That is a most important point. I am glad to hear that. It makes a great deal of difference to the scheme if married women are to be exempted entirely from the direction of labour.
I have already made that point, and I have said that primarily we have to consider the powers. The Minister will operate these provisions, and it is of great interest to the Committee and the country to know what he intends to do. I have no doubt at all that the Minister, having said tonight that he has no intention of directing married women, will fulfil that undertaking.
I hope it will not be considered academic if I deal with the arguments that have been adduced tonight. I do not believe that the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) represented the point of view of the Government. It has been made plain many times by the Government, in their election policy, and in "Let Us Face The Future," that in the Labour movement we draw all the distinction in the world between war and peace. I do not think it is forgotten that all the totalitarian régimes have said that in time of peace they were really at war. That is what Stalin says, and that is what Hitler said. It has been made clear over and over again, by the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, that we do not draw a parallel between war and peace. Of course, the Government are now faced with a crisis of appalling magnitude, which has been partially caused by the misapplication of our domestic labour force, and it is a matter about which they are entitled to ask Members on all sides to be specific.
I want to put to the Minister of Labour a point I put to him on the last occasion we debated this matter. It was decided by the unanimous vote of the Labour Party, on 29th May, only six months ago, that we were not to have direction of labour, but were to have a differential wages policy. That was supported by Lord Dukeston, speaking for the Municipal and General Workers' Union, Mr. Arthur Deakin, speaking for the Transport and General Workers' Union, and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, replying on behalf of the Executive, who used these words on the subject:
We cannot accept the resolution moved by Mr. Deakin because it might, in some circumstances, appear to indicate that we favoured the direction of labour. We do not.' We favour a differential wages policy.
It is only fair to recognise the fact that at the Election we said it was our intention to enlarge freedom. In my manifesto I made it clear that Socialism did not involve the direction of labour. I was specifically challenged on that point by my Conservative opponent. He said that Socialism did involve the direction of labour, and I said that it did not imply the direction of labour—
I am asked where my Election address is; it is not necessary for me to produce it. It was not in the Labour Party's programme, but it was an implication of our programme, and I am quite certain that it was the long-term intention of the Government that the direction of labour should disappear as soon as possible.
May I deal with the question of duration? How long is it intended that direction of labour shall last? Is it intended that it shall last as long as the crisis? If that is the intention, it will last a long time. I was in the House, and I voted for the Government on the issue of basic petrol. I listened to the speech of the Minister of Fuel and Power, and he ended by saying that, even if what is known as the Cripps' plan succeeds, at the end of next year our gold reserves will have dwindled to £250 million, and we shall still be running a heavy dollar deficit. If that is so, it is clear that the duration of the crisis will last for many years. I hope that the Minister will make clear how soon he hopes that this form of direction of labour will end. May I express a fear—and I put it to the Minister—not only that this thing will last much longer, but that the direction of labour will be by compulsion in a manner different from that which he has indicated tonight? If it is the case, as I see it, that this crisis will get far worse and our raw material shortages greater, and if our food position should also get worse, then, surely, the Minister will come to the House and say, "I did not intend to do so at the beginning, but now I find that I have to use greater powers of direction." That is what one hon. Member after another on these Benches has said, and has been cheered by a certain section of Labour Members. That is why I think it is clear that the Government should express their view on that kind of argument. I emphatically deny that Socialism implies, or should imply, in our British sense of Socialism, any diminution of personal freedom whatsoever. I say that we fought the General Election on the issue of obtaining a planned economy with personal freedom.
My second point is that the powers of direction must be linked with raw material controls. I suggest that a serious aspect of this is the threat made by the President of the Board of Trade, as he then was, only two months ago, when he said that if a firm did not fulfil what the Government regarded as its obligations in the realm of export trade, raw materials would be withdrawn from that firm. I do not deny that raw material controls are vital and must be exercised with great care, but if raw material controls are to be exercised in that way—
I am submitting, Mr. Beaumont, that by the use of raw materials as controls, the Government are artificially creating unemployment and thereby placing workers under the powers of direction. That is a view put to me by many trade unionists who ought to know, and I hope that it is a point which the Government will deal with. I would say that it is legitimate to use raw materials as controls in some circumstances, but it seems to me that a combination of the withdrawal of raw materials, on the one hand, and the power of direction of labour, on the other, would be a most dangerous thing.
Finally, I come to the main point which I think this Debate raises. It has been said that the alternative to the direction of labour is direction by starvation. I have heard that pointed out on many occasions from these benches.
Surely, the Government have taken the necessary steps to see that there is no starvation in this country again. Surely, we are all proud of the social security proposals which we have put forward. I think that starvation, so far as direction by starvation is concerned, is a thing of the past. I want to make it perfectly clear—is it or is it not right that there is a Statute on the Statute Book which ensures that every man, woman and child in this country shall never again live in fear of starvation? Surely, that is accepted by all sides of the Committee, and if that is so, the direction of labour by starvation is a matter of the past. By what means are we to get workers from the under-manned industries to the industries we want to man? I am not allowed to go into this, because it would be out of Order, but I end by saying that I believe that in the last resort, there are two roads we can take—the road of compulsion or the road of competitive selection.
I am trying in one sentence to be constructive and to say something for which I know I shall be criticised, as I have been criticised. I believe that we must combine a planned economy, not with compulsion but with competitive selection. That is the great problem of our time. If we start combining a planned economy with compulsion—I am not making any statement about the right hon. Gentleman's speech, because I am quite convinced at the moment that he does not intend to apply this as direction of labour. I do not believe that the Foreign Secretary would agree to direction of labour in this country, nor do I believe that the Trade Union Congress would agree to it—
I am not in a position to deal with the issue of Parliament agreeing to it. Already the House of Commons, by various votes, has indicated that it agrees with the policy of the Government, and as democratic Members of Parliament we have to accept that. However, I do not believe that a planned economy with direction of labour, which I believe to be wrong in principle and morally wrong, would make for efficiency. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite who has made certain allegations tonight, but I am bound to say that many trade unionists have come to me and told me that if they personally were directed to a job they did not want to go to, they would rather go to prison. I am perfectly convinced that that is a point of view sincerely held by many people who voted with, and worked in, the Labour movement over many years. I believe that to be the true spirit of the British people.
I should like to do so and I hope I shall be called on another occasion when I can deal with it, but I am afraid it would be out of Order on this occasion. [Interruption.] I am not afraid to deal with this point, and I would be delighted if I could do so, but would it be in Order?
Whatever view is held of me, I do not think I can ever be accused of being afraid to say what I think. I have never been frightened by jeers or taunts or any other form of bullying.
I never said the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) was. I want to end on this note. I believe that the crisis will really be surmounted by liberating the great genius, vigour and enterprise of the British people. I believe they will not take the path of compulsion, and I seriously hope that when the Government finally reply, they will make it perfectly clear that the direction of labour is something which they have spoken about in phrase, but have no intention whatsoever of implementing in practice.
I agreed with every word spoken by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe), who moved the Amendment. I thought indeed that in one respect he understated the case. In two or three passages he pointed out the tyranny of directing the young. Actually, the regulation which we are considering is very much more serious than that. There is no limitation whatever to the young; direction can be applied to a man or woman, married or unmarried, at any age. That is the regulation which we are considering.
I was, I must say, shocked by the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. That shocked me, not because it showed any lack of humanity. I do not believe that anybody, either among his friends or his political enemies, would ever suspect him of that. What shocked me was his absolute failure to understand what principles are involved in this great discussion. It is, in the sincere view of hon. Members on this side, I think also of hon. Members on the Liberal Benches and, I cannot help thinking, on the Government's own Benches, one of the most serious issues which the House has ever been called upon to debate. One thing I did deplore in the Minister's speech, and that was a reference to the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend. The Minister said he did not think that my right hon. and learned Friend meant it. We really do mean what we say on this issue. In fact, I have never known any issue on which feeling was stronger or more deeply held. Let me try to explain to the right hon. Gentleman some of the issues involved, as we see them.
This direction of labour really is slavery. I am there using the word not only as a Conservative might use it. I shall show again that it is a phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman's own supporter, the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay). I have, on a previous occasion, given the hon. Member some advertisement of his book, and I am most willing to do so. I wish it were widely read. Since on the last occasion I stopped short of the mention of the word "slavery," I must read the short passage again together with the following sentence. I will read what the hon. Member for North Battersea said. I give him full credit for still believing it, unless he gets up and says that it is no longer his belief. I shall watch with interest to see in which Lobby he votes tonight. The hon. Member said in his book:
For one absolute limit must be set to the extension of planning in normal times;"—
I think we should get on more quickly if I were allowed to make my own speech. The book goes on:
and that is the point at which it infringes on personal as opposed to economic freedom. Personal freedom means the right of the individual to do what he likes with himself, to work for whom, for what, when and where he chooses. To take this right away, is to infringe one of the most fundamental of human freedoms—perhaps the most fundamental, since inability to choose how one works is the essential mark of slavery.
I will yield to the hon. Member if I fail to deal with the point he has in mind. I promise hon. Members that I will not be slow in yielding, but I know that great numbers want to speak, and I do not want to be unduly long. The point that the hon Member may have in mind is the question whether the present situation is not parallel to war. That point was made more or less—if any point was made—by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I was a little surprised at hearing from that quarter the most pure enunciation of the doctrine of National Socialism that I have ever heard. The point made is that because these essential liberties may have been interfered with in the war there is no reason why they should not be interfered with now. The difference has been made clear by many hon. Members on both sides, but I would add one more point, that war is generally deemed to be probably temporary and peace is generally considered likely on balance to last rather longer than war; and if it were thought that a war was going to last to the end of the centuries people might hesitate to give up some of these freedoms even in war. The essential point about war is that it is a temporary interruption of civilisation.
While the hon. and learned Gentleman is near the point, he is not actually on the point. Is not the fundamental issue during the war and at the present time the whole question of the survival of the nation?
I would say two things in answer. I would answer first of all that I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Quintin Hogg) that that is not the sole point. I agree with him that, if the only chance of our survival were permanent slavery, I would not be prepared to buy survival at that price. But having said that, let me go on to assure him that I agree with those hon. Members on this side of the Committee, and, I think, a great number of those on the other side of the Committee, including if I am not mistaken the hon. Member for North Battersea, who believe that it is perfectly futile to think that this power of direction will promote any of the ends the Government have in view.
At this stage perhaps I had better speak for myself. I can assure the hon. and learned Member that I would not argue that times are so abnormal as to justify direction of labour in present conditions. I am opposed to direction of labour. May I add that I am in favour in the present emergency, for reasons I have already given, of the Control of Engagement Order, which is quite a different proposition. For these reasons I do not propose to vote against this Amendment tonight.
I am obliged to the hon. Member for His intervention. Perhaps I must be careful not to quote him too much, but he will realise I have not quoted him in any way that was derogatory to him. I have said, and I will repeat, that I will watch with interest how he votes tonight. Here is one other quotation in which the Committee may be interested, if they have not seen it already, because it is a quotation that is so prophetic. It was made 12 years ago. I will read it:
For when men return to an old institution which they have discarded and the proper name for which has grown odious (as we are returning to the enslavement of labour), they are particularly anxious to avoid that name, and spend much of their energy in discovering some new way of getting the old thing under a new title—thus no one will call compulsory labour slavery, nor will even the word 'compulsory' or 'compulsion' appear on the surface. There will be some other term and I for one shall follow with curiosity and delight the evolution of that term.
Unlike the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), I had not forgotten that fact. Our first objection to this regulation—and to anybody who shares these views that objection is decisive—is that this regulation and its continuance now are morally wrong. On that ground, if there were no others, we should with perfect confidence go into the Lobby in support of this Amendment. But let me pass to the other branch of the argument. Not only is it morally wrong but it is, as I said before in dealing with one of the orders made under this regulation, economically futile. I do not believe that it would be possible to find any economist in this country who would say that this is the way to produce the results desired. They would say that one of the causes of the thing we wish to correct is the ridiculous policy of inflation which the Government, Major Milner, have hitherto pursued—
On that same point of Order, Major Milner, while inflation is not the subject of the Debate tonight, is it not in Order for an hon. Member to say that one of the reasons for the introduction of this Measure is the failure to do something in some other connection which should have been done?
I would say at once that if I did not yield instantly it was not through any disrespect for the Chair, but because, guessing your point, Major Milner, I was going to say that I would not add another sentence on that subject. I only alluded to it in a way in which it had already been alluded to, once from this side of the Committee and once from the other side. I can assure you that I did not intend any disrespect for the Chair.
Let hon. Members opposite study the speeches of their own Front Bench, the speeches of trade unionists, and of Members of all parties when they were dealing with this question before it was before us in the legislative form of absolute industrial conscription, which is what we have now got under this regulation and the orders made thereunder. They will find that all have said that that industrial conscription was not only bad, but the wrong way of achieving the desired result. It is not economically effective. I agree entirely with an interruption made by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers), who pointed out, in interrupting the National Socialist speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, who thought that the Government were taking no risk by this regulation and these orders, that the Government are taking the most enormous risk by this regulation and these orders. They are doing away with the greatest motive force of British people, namely, the love of freedom and the inspiration that they can derive from a free society which incorporates the values of their civilisation. They are doing away with that, and substituting the most fantastically incompetent machinery in its place.
I am really surprised that the Minister of Labour seems unable to appreciate the point that a power which he himself only values as a reserve power will actually cause him more trouble by its presence than he would feel if it were absent. He has himself said that advice will often succeed, yet he wants this power in the background. It is the power in the background that deprives our people of freedom, and is therefore futile. I make this prophecy. This plan, on which the Government are now embarking, this plan of slavery—because I am giving it its true title; however benevolent it may be, it is slavery—this plan of slavery will fail. Unfortunately, we have experience of the fact that the more incompetent the Government become, the more conceited they become. When the plan fails, instead of the Government saying, "We were on the wrong lines, we will try freedom," they will say, "This has failed because some elements of freedom were still left." That is the position in which we now find ourselves. The Government by defending this regulation are claiming the right, without limit of time, to do away with the essential freedoms of a free society. I ask hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee to support the Amendment.
Earlier, the Minister of Labour expressed the view that the discussion on the regulation had not been an unbiased discussion. My contribution to this Debate will also not be unbiased. I have an obstinate bias in favour of freedom, and an obstinate bias against slavery. And for those reasons I shall vote against this Measure tonight. I think the first thing the Minister of Labour ought to do—and I say this with affection, as an old colleague of his—is to make up his mind what is the case of the Government for this Measure. We have had two mutually contradictory, two self-destructive cases, made by the Minister in the course of a single speech. He stood on two legs—
In the case of the Minister, that is a mark of his humanity, which does not apply to some of his colleagues behind him. One case the Minister made tonight was that this really was not direction. "For," says he, "when the man comes to the exchange, we shall offer him this job, and if he does not like it, we will offer him something else. If he does not like that, we will offer him a third, and, perhaps, a fourth choice of finding a job which is congenial to him. And because we do that, and do not direct him, unless he rejects the particular appointments offered, we are not in fact directing labour." That is rather like a highwayman on the Great North Road presenting a gun at the traveller, and saying, "Deliver, or I fire," receiving the jewellery, and subsequently pleading in a court of law that he had not exercised compulsion—[Laughte.]—
I always feel about the interruptions of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) that it is an awful pity they are not kept until the end of the speech of the hon. Member whom he interrupts and made the subject of his own speech later, because then we could go out, and would not have to listen to them—
I was trying to say that I am always willing to give way on a serious and controversial issue, but one ought not to be expected invariably to give way to silly, barnyard noises of which we get an unfair proportion sometimes in this Committee.
I argue that the element of compulsion lies in the power which the Minister takes under this Measure and which he can, and in certain cases will, exercise. If not, there is no point at all in the direction of labour. When he tries to justify this Measure on the ground that it is not really direction, he is rather like the housemaid who apologised for the inappropriate baby on the ground that, after all, it was only a little one. We cannot tolerate, we ought not to tolerate, that line of argument from the Minister.
What is his other line? His other line is that this is direction of labour, and that we must have it in order to overcome the economic crisis in this country. I suspect that that is his real case tonight. The rest was eyewash. The real case is, "We need this "—says he—" to overcome the economic crisis in this country." He justifies it by referring to all kinds of compulsion—indirect compulsions which have been exercised on the poor in the past. I agree with a great deal of what he said. Like him, I was the subject of economic compulsion, the negative direction of poverty, at an early age. I sympathise with his own experiences which he recited to the Committee. But, surely, the effect of these experiences upon us in the past—and I do not deny their gravity, their seriousness, and some of their villainous results—the effect ought not to be to make us say, "I went through that, and now you have to go through it." The effect of those experiences ought to be to make us say, "I suffered so much from that experience, that if it is humanly possible I will never apply that experience to anybody else, or be an instrument to that end."
It is said that he is sitting pretty. I will only say that he is sitting.
In regard to the argument that direction can be justified in time of peace because it has already been done in time of war, surely, this argues a complete inability to distinguish between two utterly different things. One surrenders liberty in time of war in order that one may get it back at the end of war. But is the corollary to be that we should surrender liberty in time of peace to get it back at the end of peace? That would appear to be the corollary. I say that any man who cannot distinguish between a temporary and strictly limited surrender of freedom in time of war, with the enemy at the gate, and this kind of proposal for the indefinite conscription of labour in peace-time—'because there is no time limit attached to it—a Minister who cannot distinguish between those two things is, in my opinion, blind where he ought to be able to see, if I may put it as charitably as possible.
I agree with my hon. Friend behind me that if permanent or temporary slavery is the price of survival at the present time, we ought not to buy survival at that price. But nobody has demonstrated to us yet that either permanent or temporary slavery is the price of survival at the present time. I would go so far as to say that we have this Bill before us today because of the failure of the Government to do, in other directions, perfectly possible things. We are going to shove the individual around on the circumference because we have not had enough courage to deal with the problem at the centre. We have been told that this is a 10 per cent. crisis, a crisis in which an increase in production all round of 10 per cent. would make the difference between economic solvency and economic bankruptcy. I cannot understand how, of all Governments, a Labour Government, representing a movement which has been built up by propaganda—and after all the essence of propaganda is to take complicated truths and make them understandable by simple people—can have so completely failed to get the message of the crisis across to the country as to make it necessary to talk about the kind of Bill we have before us now.
For two years we were lulled, and even in the last troubled six months we have not been roused. We have had during that period one speech from a Minister who had any capacity at all to convey to the country the seriousness of the crisis. The Government failed to wake up the people; therefore they fall back on this. They failed to work out an agreed wages policy, a policy of attraction, and, therefore, they fall back on this: This Bill is the measure of the Government's failure to do the obvious and necessary thing. It is the measure of the Government's departure from their own earlier proclamations, for it was Ministers who declared that the real solution lay in the policy of attraction, and not in the policy of compulsion. This is a Bill which marks the measure of the Government's default. It is utterly alien to the history and tradition of the trades union movement in Britain. I remember earlier Debates in this House, and that on one occasion I once said, and people got very angry with me at the time for saying it, that there might come a time in England when the Trades Union Congress, with very little alteration, might become a passable imitation of the Nazi Labour Front without anybody noticing much difference. We are getting that now. We are getting a complete failure on the part of the trades union movement to keep its mind clear on the objective of liberty.
I am most anxious not to go outside your Ruling, Major Milner, but I am trying to argue that we have only got this Bill at all because the Government on the one hand, and the Trades Union Congress on the other, have not been able to address themselves to that problem of a wages policy.
I immediately accept your Ruling, Major Milner, and I pass from that point.
Objection has been taken to my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) inciting men to reject this order. The Minister of Labour took a very unkindly view of those particular remarks of the hon. Member for Oxford. I am not going to incite anybody, because what we have to do is to obey the law as it is, and thereafter change the Government if we do not think the law good.
The hon. Gentleman is misinterpreting what I said. I do not intend to run away from what I said but I should like to make it clear that I remarked that I hoped people with conscientious objections to this Measure will give effect to them by refusing to obey it, but I was not seeking to incite people to disobey the law in any general sense. [Interruption.] I gave an exact statement of what I meant and I am not going to run away from it.
I am not going to press that further. One Member may call it incitement, and another may call it a precise indication of his feelings about a particular matter. I think we have got to obey the law while it is there, and if we do not like the law the thing to do is to change the Government. But what I am astonished at is that the Government should so rapidly want to change themselves. Because, believe me, this Measure will do them more harm amongst the workmen of the country than anything the Government has done so far. If it is wrong to incite men to break the law, before we pass the law we ought to ask ourselves what is our capacity to apply it. The Government cannot apply this law. If there is any serious resistance this thing will crack in their hands.
No. There are certain features about this particular law, and our situation, which make it extremely friable indeed. The prison population is twice what it was before the war. There are three prisoners in a cell. And if prison sentences are passed under this law the Government will have nowhere to put the prisoners unless they begin immediately to create concentration camps for them. The Government ought not to pass a law unless there is a reasonable expectation that they are carrying the country with them and a reasonable expectation that the law itself can be enforced. The Government are not carrying the country with them. They have not consulted the country about it. They are not carrying the party with them, because the last expression of opinion at the Labour Party Conference was hostile to direction of labour. I cannot be persuaded that some of my old trade union colleagues want to touch direction of labour with a barge pole.
The Government have no mandate for this. There is no reason to suppose they are interpreting the mind of the people, and there is no reason to suppose that they can enforce this law if they pass it. In all those circumstances the obvious thing is not to go ahead with this folly, but to withdraw this Measure, and then do the job which Governments were made to do. The way to take the people out of the crisis is to lead them: Where we get a condition of permanent slavery, it is because of this kind of thing. The Government cannot stop here. If this Bill passes, in three or four years, or indeed in a less period, we shall find exactly the same arguments adduced for further compulsion as are now adduced for the compulsion of spivs, drones, eels and what not. Slavery grows by what it feeds on, and the Government cannot embark upon this path in peacetime without carrying it to its logical conclusion.
It may seem paradoxical that it should be a Labour Government which brings in this Measure. I remember some years ago in the Lobby meeting Ben Tillett, once a Member of this House., I found Ben" Tillett, at the age of 80 or thereabouts, in a state of very great distress. He had come down to the House with the intention of going up into the Gallery and offering his protest, as a lifelong trade union leader, against the application of compulsion in industry even in time of war. He was dissuaded from doing so by some of his friends in the House, but the old man was heartbroken that the trade union movement with which he had been associated all his life could contemplate industrial compulsion, which was anathema to trade unionists of my youth in any connection. He was heartbroken that a Coalition Government should do that in time of war. I am sure that if he could have seen a Labour Government imposing industrial conscription in time of peace, he would have had apoplexy straight away. This Order is absolutely alien to our spirit as a people, and alien to the traditions of the trade union movement. It has not been demonstrated to be necessary, and it has been shown that it cannot be applied if there is any serious resistance to it. Therefore, I ask the Government, in all those circumstances, to think again.
I am very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, whose sincerity I have never questioned, should have marred his own speech by opening it with an imputation against the sincerity both of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) and of other hon. Members on this side of the Committee.
In case I was misunderstood—I hope I was not—I would point out that I did not charge the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby with insincerity. What I meant to convey was that he did not feel the temper which he expressed. I did not question his sincerity, and I said so immediately afterwards.
I do not quite follow the distinction which the right hon. Gentleman seems to make between not feeling the temper which one is expressing as a Member of the House of Commons when addressing the House and insincerity, but, if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that there is a distinction there, he is perfectly entitled to it. What I want to say to the right hon. Gentleman is that I hope it has become clear by now that there are many hon. Members in this Committee, not only on this side, who do feel passionately strongly about this matter. The right hon. Gentleman may think us misguided, but I maintain that we are entitled to insist that he accepts from us that we mean every word we say upon this matter. We feel that we are discussing a matter of the very greatest importance. The right hon. Gentleman sought to buttress his suggestion that we were not feeling the temper we expressed by saying that we had never before taken any action in this Chamber upon this matter.
In the very brief time since the right hon. Gentleman said that, researches have been made, and I would remind him that on 9th October, 1946, the hon. Baronet the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor) moved, and, it so happened, I seconded, a Motion to annul the Control of Engagement Order so far as it applied to the coalmines. I would further remind the right hon. Gentleman that on 28th February, 1946, the same hon. Baronet moved a Motion to annul an Order in Council, which Order in Council actually continued in force the same Defence Regulation as the Committee is debating tonight. Both those matters were carried to a Division, and, in the face of that evidence, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his suggestion that this matter has not been contested before by hon. Members on this side of the Committee.
Certainly. I said that, from my recollection, I thought that to be the case. My recollection has now been checked, and I accept the hon. Gentleman's evidence and withdraw the accusation.
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for that. The right hon. Gentleman, in defence of this regulation, went on to use the argument which is used again and again by his supporters in the country. He said that there had always been direction of a sort in this country, only it had been direction by economic pressure, and not by the forces of the law. I would put this to him. First of all, if that be true—and, of course, there is a great deal of truth in it—that is no reason for adding a second evil to an already existing one. It is like saying, "I have committed one offence, let me commit another." Further, there is a real difference between direction by economic pressure and direction by the forces of the law. It is that direction by economic pressure means, as I understand it, that a man feels himself compelled to do the job the earnings of which will best enable him to support his family and himself. That is all that it means. The effect of the direction under this regulation is to say that in some cases a man may be compelled to take the job which does not provide him with the best chance and the best method of supporting himself and his family. It may well be that he will be directed from a well-paid job to a less well-paid job. Therefore, this form of direction operates, in many cases, in exactly the opposite direction to the economic pressure to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
The right hon. Gentleman gave as an example of this former economic pressure the case of a person being compelled to leave his home, go elsewhere and in another town take a job carrying 15s. a week less pay than his previous one. That is precisely what may well happen under this regulation. If it was wrong, as the right hon. Gentleman so plainly thought it was wrong, for the play of economic forces to do that to a man accidentally, is it not very much worse for a Minister of the Crown deliberately, and with the force of the law behind him, to do that to a man? If the right hon. Gentleman does not regard that as wrong, I do not understand the force of the argument which he sought to support by that example.
On the other hand, if it is wrong, as I am sure hon. Members on both sides believe it is, is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman is tonight trying to secure from the House of Commons authority to do just that sort of thing? Quite obviously he will not want the power in order to get a man to go to a better paid job within reach of his home. The man will go there anyhow. The only purpose of taking this power of direction is either to send the man away from his home or to send him to a job less attractive, less well paid and with less prospects than the one in which he has been working previously. The right hon. Gentleman really must face that fact. I say to him in all sincerity that if there were criticisms to be made of the old system, all that he is doing is to repeat many of the bad features of the old system and to support those bad features with all the authority of the State.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who I am glad to see has rejoined us after quite a substantial interval, tried to argue that the effect of the present discussion was to do what I think in his heart he recognises to be right, and that is to provide that if compulsory direction of labour is to be fastened upon this country, it should be so fastened by the machinery of a Parliamentary Bill. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne knows perfectly well that that is not being done. He knows that there is not at the moment one word in this Bill about Regulation 58A or direction of labour. He knows that it is only because hon. Members on this side of the Committee have sought to include it in the Bill for the purpose of abolishing it, that this matter comes before the Committee at all. What has happened is that the Government have seen fit on previous occasions to keep alive the wartime power to direct labour. They allowed that power to slumber for two years, and they have now resurrected it.
If this thing is to be done at all, surely it is quite wrong and an abuse of every wartime regulation to dig that rusty weapon out of the legislative armoury and use it to bring about what amounts to a social revolution in this country. If this were to be done, it should be done by a Bill, as military conscription was done, and I hope the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne is not now going even to pretend that it is being done in that way.
I feel that this is a tremendously big issue, that it is perhaps the biggest issue Parliament has had to discuss. It is right that we should discuss it, and that the immense change which is being effected in this country should be made blindingly clear to the people of this country. The Government have, as an hon. Friend of mine has already said, not a scrap of a mandate for this. The hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) today frankly admitted that that was so. I do not believe that there is one Member of this House of Commons on the benches opposite who went before the electors of "his constituency at the last Election and said, "Return a Labour Government and have direction of labour in a little over two years." I believe that if hon. Members opposite had said that there would have been very few of them here today. I do ask them whether they feel themselves entitled now, completely without mandate, without having said a word to their electors, to fasten upon those electors the shackles of what my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) so rightly called a "form of slavery." I am not myself very enamoured of the doctrine of the mandate; but, surely, if that doctrine has any force it must have force in connection with a major Measure of this kind, involving changes in the structure of society.
If the Government feel that there is public support for this and that it is necessary, I say to them: Let them tender the necessary advice to His Majesty, and have this issue discussed by the country at a General Election, and abide by the verdict. I know perfectly well that hon. Members opposite dare not do that. I know that they know the inevitable consequence to them and their political fortunes if they dared to do that; and they know that in their hearts. Therefore, I say that they have no mandate for this; that they have not one scrap of authority for it; and that they are doing it now without having any support in the country behind them.
I ask the hon. Gentleman why, since the argument he has just used applies with equal force in the matter of military conscription, he did not vote against that Act.
The hon. Member says he gave no pledge against it. Would he say that he would be here today if he had stood on the platforms of his constituency and said he would see to it that direction of labour was brought into this country? He knows perfectly well he would not. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne cannot get away with that. He knows perfectly well, so far as hon. Members on this side of the House are concerned on military conscription, that on this issue our consciences and our pledges are clean. I wish I could say the same for his.
The hon. Member is not doing himself justice. Nobody ever said that the party opposite was pledged against military conscription. What the hon. Member has been saying is that this Government had no right to introduce industrial conscription without a mandate. I am asking why, therefore, he did not use the same argument on the occasion when we introduced military conscription.
I have some doubt as to the right of this Government to introduce military conscription. I voted for it because, as a Member of the House of Commons, it is my duty to vote for a Measure that I think right, whether or not I think that the Government that introduces it has any moral right to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Are hon. Members opposite suggesting that it is the duty of an hon. Member to vote against a Measure which he thinks right simply because he does not think that the people who are introducing it have any right to do so? [Interruption.] Is that the constitutional doctrine which those interruptions indicate? If so, it is one of the more inspiring novelties of Socialist thought. It is no part of my duty to defend the action of the Government on this or any other issue, because I am concerned only to defend my own actions. I voted for military conscription because I thought it was necessary, and I hope no other hon. Member voted for or against it for any other reason than that they thought it necessary or unnecessary.
As the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne is taking this up with me, let me say that I assume from his attitude on a previous occasion that he will be with us in the Lobby tonight. On 22nd May he said:
There can be no distinction between compelling people to go into the Army because national defence is necessary, and because the Army is a distasteful occupation, and compelling people to go into the mines, because coal is necessary, and mining is a distasteful occupation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd May, 1947; Vol. 437, c. 2557.]
That was the hon. Member's reason for opposing compulsory military service. If he is logical, and if he opposed compulsory military service because it was indistinguishable, in his mind, from compulsory industrial service, surely the logical course is for the hon. Member to vote for this Amendment tonight?
Surely not, because if I did the result would be the illogical situation against which I protested? I said that if, in peacetime, the principle of military conscription was admitted for a remote war contingency, it was hopelessly illogical to pretend that it could be resisted when needed for the immediate circumstances of emergency. The House, having decided to impose that obligation, cannot now reverse that decision.
The hon. Member was as clear and as lucid on that occasion as he has been tonight. His argument amounted to this. As he saw it, one of the evils of military conscription was that industrial conscription would follow. That is what he prophesised. Tonight, he is saying to this Committee that because he prophesied that that must be so, he will now cast his vote to ensure that it is so—a feat of intellectual gymnastics above even the hon. Member's usually high standard. The issue is really far too big, even for the question of the consistency or inconsistency of individual hon. Members.
My hon. Friends have said with great force that, not only is this wrong but it will not work. Let hon. Members opposite consider this. Assume that the Minister of Labour uses his powers to the full. Assume that he sweeps into the industrial net the barrow boys, the spivs and all the other flora and fauna and excrescences of social life. Is there any hon. Member who thinks those people would be of the slightest use in industry? Is there any employer who would wish to have such people in his factory? Is there any worker who would wish to work alongside them? Is there any person who seriously thinks that they would assist in our industrial recovery? Is it really suggested that people who have avoided serious work all their lives will be turned, by the magic wand of the Minister of Labour, into efficient industrial producers? If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that, he is living in a world of fantasy. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that compulsory powers will turn slackers into hard workers, he is far simpler than I had taken him for.
It will not work. It will help nothing but the statistics of the Ministry of Labour. It will enable the Minister to say that he has increased the labour force by so many hundreds of thousands, but it will not increase industrial output or industrial efficiency in the slightest degree. Let us get it quite clear: the only point which matters is not the prestige of the Minister or his Department, but the industrial output of this country. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby said, and said truly, that at this moment we stand at the parting of the ways. I believe that to be profoundly true. I believe that tonight will be marked by future historians of this country as being the moment at which this country decided whether it wanted to be a free society, with all the faults, all the weaknesses and all the limitations of a free society—but still a free society—or whether it wanted to be a society in which the State directed all, and in which the individual had remarkably little place. We have to decide—and this regulation goes far to decide it—whether we want a society in which people are still entitled to work as they think right, in which eccentrics, cranks and geniuses have a chance to develop themselves, and to work in their own way as best they can, and to make their own way in life as best they can with the gifts God has given them. This kind of society, with all its faults and limitations, still seems in the eyes of Western Europe to be the only civilisation worth having. That is why we shall fight "this order of the Government at every opportunity we have. We shall fight this issue in the constituencies at every opportunity. As we believe in freedom, and as we believe in English ideas of liberty, I prophesy before this Committee that on this issue, we shall win and win soon.
I have listened to most of this Debate, and I confess at the outset that I dislike and hate this regulation with all the power and feeling I have. I know very well that it is left to me as a Member to go into either Division Lobby, or to refrain from voting. Having heard the speeches to which I have beep compelled to listen from hon. Members opposite, I have found it absolutely impossible to stick to my seat here. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not come over here?"] I shall be over there in a minute, but possibly in a manner which hon. Members may not like. I speak so infrequently in this House that perhaps I may introduce myself to the Opposition. I am privileged to represent, to the best of my ability, the constituency known as Merthyr Tydfil.
In addition, I happen to be a Welshman, and I have no reason to be other than pleased and proud of being a member of that gallant and very interesting little nation. This Debate, on compelling labour possibly to seek work away from home, has gone on for some time. It might interest the Opposition to know that when their party formed a Government, they drove 33,000 people out of my constituency by force during the inter-war years.
I did not impute, and I had not the remotest intention of imputing any kind of dishonesty to anyone, but I am entitled to know, not only in this extremely important matter, but in other important matters, where my Liberal friends stand. If I am left to draw my own conclusions, I must not be blamed. I was saying that in my constituency we lost 23,000 people in the inter-war years. I can assure the Committee that the overwhelming majority of that number were young men and women who did not desire to leave. They were compelled to do so despite the strongest of all sentiments. What they wished to do was to stay at home and enjoy contacts and associations with people among whom they had their roots. My little country lost half a million of its population in those days, but I never heard one protest from the Government of the day—a Tory Government. I am certain that I heard no objection from the purist hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), who has now left the Committee.
We are dealing with compulsion tonight, and I want to cut through the mass of hypocrisy which we have heard from the other side of the Committee. In doing so, the Committee will appreciate that, much as I hate this regulation, the Opposition, in their day, applied compulsion which was infinitely more deadly and more hateful than anything that I and my people have ever experienced in South Wales. They ruined our industries; they disrupted our people's homes. There is so much I could say. I shall continue to protest for a long time against the fiendish, infernal machines which Tory Governments of the past have created—
I do not think that any Member of the Committee has fallen foul of the Chair less than 1, Major Milner. I have no wish to do so, but I must say I have heard for some hours this evening the most, I will not say intolerable, but generous liberties being taken with the matter before us. I hope that will not be misconstrued. I support the Chair every time, but it errs on the side of generosity and leniency.
I cannot vote for the continuing of this power of compulsion, but I had to make my voice heard because otherwise my constituents would never understand why I had not done so. Heaven knows my people and the whole country have been subjected to compulsion in a far more insidious, fiendish, brutal way than ever proposed here this evening and I have got up, if I may summarise what I have said, to call the cheap bluff of those who protest so strongly against this regulation.
May I remind the Committee of what the Amendment proposes to do? It proposes to leave out from the operation of this Bill Regulation 58A. The effect is to put an end to Regulation 58A. That is not the same thing as the Control of Engagement Order. Regulation 58A is very different. Let me examine for a moment the Government's argument. They have not justified the direction of labour at all, except by saying it might be necessary and would be resorted to only if everything else failed. They will try offering men employment a first, second, third and fourth time before they direct them. That is their argument, and we have objected to it. I spoke against it on the Control of Engagement Order and voted against it.
But this is not the Control of Engagement Order. It is Regulation 58A, passed in time of war, which empowers the Minister to order a man to go wherever he wishes, whenever he wishes, to work under conditions and at whatever wage the Minister may determine. I agree with every word that has been said on the score of slavery. Whatever can be said about slavery with regard to the Control of Engagement Order can be said in peacetime about 58A. The hon. member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) championed this because he said there is an emergency today, but I do not grant him his argument. I agree with the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). If you want to keep any power at all, merely to enable the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne to do what he wants to do, is it not time that 58A was wiped from the Statute Book and proper directions, in accordance with the opinions of those who believe in direction, put on the Statute Book? That is not the attempt here. The attempt here is to revive and keep alive a wartime regulation necessary for the safety of the Realm, with an absolute power in peacetime to the Minister—not even guarded, not even limited. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman come to the House and proceed by means of a Bill, as the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames said, and not merely revive an absolute power of wartime? Whatever our views may be about the present emergency, if we reject this Amendment we shall be voting that an absolute power be given to the Minister. Can anyone deny that? Can the Minister deny it? That is the issue on this Amendment; it is not the limited issue of control—the issue of limited slavery. This is absolute slavery. No one denies that even in wartime this is slavery. That is what war means—it means slavery for the subject. People were prepared to accept it then to throw off Hitler's yoke. No one doubts that it was slavery upon each one of us.
It is proposed to maintain this because of what is said to be an emergency. Let us accept that for a moment, and bring that situation face to face with actual conditions. Can hon. Members go to the country, can they face any of their electors and say they have thought out this matter and that they mean to give, in peacetime, absolute power to the Minister to send a man where he likes when he likes, and for whatever wages he likes, and subject the man to imprisonment if he does not go? That is going a good deal further than any defence of the Control of Engagement Order. That is what you are defending here. I know that a large number of hon. Members on the benches opposite have spent their days in the battle for freedom, for liberating their fellows. Where are they now? It is no good saying to me, "Where have you been all the time?" They are not defending freedom here. They are defending a system of absolute slavery in this Measure. I want to make it as clear as I can that anyone voting for this Measure is not voting for the Control of Engagement Order, but for something far more sweeping and deadly.
I think we all listened with the greatest interest to everything which the Minister of Labour had to say in support of the retention of this highly obnoxious Defence Regulation. I must say that I thought his speech was singularly confused. The only thing which was clear about it was that he did not endorse the views of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), the only hon. Member in this Committee who has risen to support the right hon. Gentleman in contending that this Defence Regulation should remain in force. When I refer to his confusion, may I remind the Committee that almost in the same breath he said two contradictory things. First, he said that the Government would not be able to carry on the manning of industries without this Defence Regulation, and secondly, that he felt that people were saying, "Tell us a job, and we will go and do it." If that be the case, if he feels that people are coming forward and saying, "Tell us a job and we will go and do it," that really destroys his case for the retention of this Defence Regulation.
If he relies on the other argument, what does it mean? That this Government cannot carry on the government of the country without powers of direction, or maintain the economy of the country without such powers; without having in the community a limited section of slaves. I will prophesy that if they cannot carry on without these powers, they certainly will not be able to carry on with them. No one has disputed that this regulation gives to the Government very vast and extensive powers to direct any person, at any time, to any employment, and to continue in that employment for an indefinite period on terms and conditions which may be prescribed by a National Service officer.
It has been pointed out already in this Debate that the Government have no mandate for this; and indeed, when the Home Secretary moved the Second Reading of the Supplies and Services Bill, under which this regulation has been continued up to now, he did not say one word about that Bill being intended to carry on this Defence Regulation to provide for the direction of labour. He said quite shortly that that Bill was necessary to continue Defence Regulations to continue the rationing of clothing, foodstuffs, textiles, the control of building labour and materials, and to maintain agricultural production at the highest level. He said that this could be done only by the continued use of about a dozen Defence Regulations which came under the Bill. We have seen that in potato rationing. The fourth item which the Home Secretary mentioned was the control of prices to avoid inflation.
Not one word was said by the Home Secretary about retention of Defence Regulations for giving powers of direction. He rather indicated that the Measure would not be used for that purpose. This is the first opportunity since this Government came into power that we have had an opportunity to debate the issue of the direction of labour. We had a Debate about a week ago on the Control of Engagement Order. We might have a Debate in the future on the registration of persons under Orders made under this Defence Regulation, but this is the first time we have had the opportunity of discussing the real, vital issue of whether this country goes down the path of freedom in the future, or whether this restriction upon personal liberty should be imposed by this Socialist Government. The right hon. Gentleman has made no very clear statement as to the extent to which the powers will be used. He has cast his net wide, which applies to both young and old. Anyone may be directed. The hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay) said that he was against direction of labour except for the control of engagements. He must be in a dilemma in this instance to know how to vote. This Defence Regulation deals primarily with direction of labour, and I hope we will see him in our Lobby voting for the Amendment. We might see some more of his colleagues with us.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe), in moving this Amendment, pointed out that there is a great deal of labour which is misplaced in this country. The responsibility for that lies at the door of the present Government on account of their financial policy and also more directly on account of their own use of manpower. I should like to give just one instance to illustrate what I mean. In the fire services before the war there were 6,000 wholetime firemen. In April, 1947, the figure was about 22,000. Under a regulation made by this Government in the borough of Southport, which in the 25 years before the war had two major fires, the strength of the fire service has been greatly increased. Before the war there were four fulltime and eight part-time firemen. That was sufficient. Now under a Socialist administration that number has got to be raised to 40 fulltime and 16 part-time firemen. Can it really be said that this number is going to be properly employed?
It is scandalous to ask the Committee to give this wide power to the Government. On the one side there is this terrific waste of manpower by His Majesty's Government. Indeed, I should have liked to hear some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman as to how this direction is to be accurately applied, for instance, in the case of agriculture. Are the people going to be directed to occupy hostels vacated by German prisoners of war? How is it going to operate with
regard to that? There must be some intention in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. He has not said anything except that he hopes only to use the power as a threat. It has been said by many on this side of the Committee—and it is a view which I share—that this policy of putting chains on the British people will not lead to a solution of our troubles; it will not put us on the road to recovery. It will not produce good results, but will lead to unhappiness and distress, and a misuse of the manpower, and womanpower, and under the new improved educational facilities there will not be the advantages there should be. The right hon. Gentleman will destroy any choice of career to which the people might have looked forward. If the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters go into the Lobby tonight to retain this large power, they will be denying equality of opportunity to the people of this country and will bé imposing the slavery which goes with Socialism?
|Division No. 27.]||AYES.||[10.47 p.m.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Corvedale, Viscount||Gilzean, A.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Crawley, A.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)|
|Baird, J.||Daggar, G||Grierson, E.|
|Balfour, A.||Daines, P.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Barton, C.||Deer, G.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)|
|Battley, J. R.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Delargy, H. J.||Gunter, R. J|
|Berry, H.||Diamond, J.||Guy, W. H.|
|Beswick, F.||Dobbie, W.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Dodds, N. N.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Donovan, T.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Durbin, E. F. M.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Boardman, H.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Holman, P.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||House, G.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Hoy, J.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Ewart, R.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Carmichael, James||Farthing, W. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Field, Capt. W. J.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Foster, W (Wigan)||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Collins, V. J.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Janner, B.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Ganely, Mrs. C S.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Cook, T. F.||Gibbins, J.||John, W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well. N. W.)||Gibson, C. W.||Jones, D T (Hartlepool)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Pargiter, G. A.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Keenan, W.||Parker, J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Kenyon, C.||Parkin, B. T.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Pearson, A.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Lang, G.||Peart, T. F.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Leonard, W.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Levy, B. W.||Pritt, D. N.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Proctor, W. T.||Tiffany, S.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Pryde, D. J.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Tolley, L.|
|Longden, F.||Randall, H. E.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Ranger, J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|McAdam, W.||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|McAllister, G.||Robens, A.||Viant, S. P.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Walker, G. H.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Rogers, G. H. R.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Royle, C.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Sargood, R.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Sharp, Granville||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Shurmer, P.||West, D. G.|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Medland, H. M.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Simmons, C. J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Skeffington, A. M.||Wigg, George|
|Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Skinnard, F. W.||Wilkes, L.|
|Moody, A. S.||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Morley, R.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Snow, J. W.||Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)|
|Nally, W.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Williamson, T.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.)||Sparks, J. A.||Willis, E.|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Stamford, W.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Steele, T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Woodburn, A.|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Stress, Dr. B.||Woods, G. S.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Stubbs, A. E.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Orbach, M.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Paget, R. T.||Swingler, S.||Mr. Popslewell and|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Symonds, A L.||Mr. Richard Adams|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Erroll, F. J.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gage, C.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Manningham-Buller, R E.|
|Beamish, Maj. T V. H||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Marples, A. E.|
|Birch, Nigel||Glyn, Sir R.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Maude, J. C.|
|Bowen, R||Grant, Lady||Medlicott, F.|
|Bower, N.||Granville, E. (Eye)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Gridley, Sir A.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Grimston, R. V.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Byers, Frank||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Carson, E.||Hollis, M. C.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Challen, C.||Howard, Hon. A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Osborne, C.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Jennings, R.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Ponsonby, Col, C. E.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Keeling, E. H.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Kendall, W. D.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Raikes, H. V.|
|De la Bère, R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Digby, S. W.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Renton, D.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Linstead, H. N.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Lipson, D. L.||Roberts, Major P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Major Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Drewe, C.||Low, A. R. W.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Turton, R. H.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)||Wadsworth, G.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Studholme, H. G.||Walker-Smith, D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)||Commander Agnew and|
|Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)||Major Conant.|
|Touche, G. C.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Division No. 28.]||AYES.||[10.57 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E|
|Amory, D Heathcoat||Glyn, Sir R.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Astor, Hon. M||Grant, Lady||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Granville, E. (Eye)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Gridley, Sir A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Grimston, R. V.||Osborne, C.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Birch, Nigel||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Pickthorn, K.|
|Bowen, R.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Bower, N.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hollis, M. C.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Howard, Hon. A.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Renton, D.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Jennings, R.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L W||Roberts, Major P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Byers, Frank||Keeling, E. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Carson, E.||Kendall, W D||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Challen, C.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Linstead, H. N.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F C||Lipson, D. L.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Lloyd, Major Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Low, A. R. W.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Touche, G. C.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Turton, R. H|
|De la Bère, R.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C||Wadsworth, G.|
|Digby, S. W.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Manningham-Buller, R. E||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Drewe, C.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marples, A. E.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Maude, J. C.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Medlicott, F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fyfe, Rt Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Mellor, Sir J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gage, C.||Molson, A. H. E.||Major 3onant and|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Lieut-Colonel Thorpe|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Morrison, Rt. Hon W S. (Cirencester)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Delargy, H. J.|
|Austin, H Lewis||Carmichael, James||Diamond, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Champion, A. J||Dobbie, W.|
|Baird, J.||Chetwynd, G. R||Dodds, N. N.|
|Balfour, A.||Cobb, F. A.||Donovan, T|
|Barton, C.||Cocks, F. S.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Battley, J. R.||Collins, V. J.||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Durbin, E. F. M.|
|Berry, H.||Comyns, Dr. L.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Beswick, F.||Cook, T. F.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Bing, G. H C.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Corvedale, Viscount||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Crawley, A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Boardman, H||Crossman, R. H. S.||Ewart, R.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Daggar, G||Farthing, W. J.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Daines, P.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Deer, G.||Field, Capt. W. J.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E)|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Snow, J. W.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Sorensen, R. W|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Medland, H. M.||Stamford, W.|
|Gibbins, J.||Mellish, R. J.||Steele, T.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Gilzean, A.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mitchison, G. R.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Moody, A. S.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Grierson, E.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Swingler, S.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Morley, R.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Nally, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gunter, R. J.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Guy, W. H.||Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hardy. E A.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Oldfield, W. H.||Tiffany, S.|
|Herbison, Miss M||Orbach, M.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hobson, C R.||Paget, R. T.||Tolley, L.|
|Holman, P.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Pargiter, G. A.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|House, G.||Parker, J.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Hoy, J.||Parkin, B. T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Pearson, A.||Walker, G. H.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Peart, T. F.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Porter, G (Leeds)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Price, M. Philips||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pritt, D. N.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Proctor, W. T.||West, D. G.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pryde, D. J.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Janner, B.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|John, W.||Randall, H. E.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Ranger, J.||Wigg, George|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Robens, A.||Wilkes, L.|
|Keenan, W||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Kenyon, C||Rogers, G. H. R.||Willey, F. T (Sunderland)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Williams, D. J (Neath)|
|Lang, G.||Royle, C.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Sargood, R.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Leonard, W.||Sharp, Granville||Williamson, T.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Shurmer, P.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Woodburn, A.|
|Longden, F.||Simmons, C. J.||Woods, G. S.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Skeffington, A. M.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|McAdam, W.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|McAllister, G.||Skinnard, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Mr. Popplewell and|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Mr. Richard Adams.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
Question put, and agreed to.