§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [2nd May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
Which Amendment was—
To leave out all the words after the word 'that' and add the words 'this House holding that the evils of low-priced alien labour can best be met by legislation to prevent sweating, desires to assure itself before assenting to the Aliens Bill that sufficient regard is had in the proposed measure to the retention of the principle of asylum for the victims of persecution.'"—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."769
§ MR. EMMOTT
, continuing his speech, said: It will be interesting to the House to (know whether the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham gives for supporting this Bill, as a step in the direction of protection, recommend themselves to the Prime Minister, and whether the Prime Minister is going to recommend those grounds to! the House for the passing of the Bill, Why is it that these aliens come to this country at all? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said it was because they got better wages. Why.do they get better wages? Is it not because the conditions in this free-trade country are better than in the protectionist countries? But if hon. Gentlemen opposite knew that the exclusion of aliens was not only desirable but necessary, why was not this Bill brought in earlier, why did not the right hon. Gentle managers the i introduction of this Bill at an earlier period? The right hon. Member for West Birmingham taunted the Opposition with laving changed their view, but has he not changed his view? Was he, in 1894, in favour of this measure because it was the first step towards protection? He certainly did not advocate it then on those grounds and therefore I take it that was not his view. So far as I am concerned I frankly admit that I have changed my views during the last twelve months. I was not here during the debase twelve months ago, but had I been here and had I been asked to vote aye or no I should have gone into the lobby in support of the Bill. I have changed my views, and am going to support the.Amendment of my right hon. friend.
I maintain that we have a perfect right to exclude aliens from this country if their presence is undesirable. I go further and say it is our duty to exclude them if their presence here interferes with the well-being of our own people. I admit also, as I think all Members who have spoken from this side of the House do admit, that the Bill of this year is a letter and more workable Bill than that of last year, and I maintain that the 'Obstruction of last year has been amply.and abundantly justified by the changes which have been made in the Bill as.against that of last year. I may be asked, therefore, why I oppose or criticize 770 the Bill of this year. I will give the answer in one sentence. It is because of the extraordinary weakness of the case made out on behalf of the Bill. Every supporter of the Bill on the Unionist side of the House has thrown over the statistical fide of the case, they have been obliged to resort to prophecy, to foretell what is going to happen in the future rather than what is happening at present. They have evolved out of their own inner consciences an imaginary case, a case not supported by statistics or facts on the floor of this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary rested his case on certain figures, which he gave to the House. Now, I can quite understand hon. Members opposite magnifying a small case into a very large one for electioneering purposes, and if that is their position now it is merely part of the game of Party politics, and I do not blame them for that in the slightest degree. But when a case is so bad that the Minister in charge of a Bill has to rely on figures and statistics so misleading that any fool with five minutes study can discover the fallacy of them, then surely the case for the Bill is damned and the Bill itself shown to be a very bad specimen of window dressing, in introducing this Bill the Home Secretary rested his case on an import of 82,000 immigrants who were not stated to be going directly out of this country. Now I want to know whether the Home Secretary when he made that statement had read the paragraph on page 10 of the Paper presented to us yesterday showing how small was the balance of immigrants over emigrants. Did the Home Secretary know of that paragraph or not? It is only possible to suppose that he did not, because if he did, by the figures he gave he would have been intentionally deceiving the House, and that I cannot and will not believe. But if he did not know of it then we cannot do otherwise than accuse the right hon. Gentleman of I culpable ignorance on a matter of great; importance so far as this question is concerned.
What is the case that has been made out for the Bill? It is said!first of all that the excess of foreign aliens has depressed the wages of the 771 working people of this country, but there is ample evidence to show firstly that these aliens have brought new trades with them, and secondly there is ample evidence to show that where they have competed with our working population there has been an increase in wage and a decrease of hours in the trades in question quite as great as in other trades. Another ground for this Bill is that the introduction of these aliens leads to sweating, but there is evidence to show that the result of their coming into this country has only been that there have been new sub-divisions of labour and that the sweating does not arise from their competition but from the competition of women. It is the blackleg of our own country rather than the alien of others who is to be blamed for the sweating that exists. I consider the action of the Labour Members in this House contrasts very favourably with that of hon. Members opposite upon this Bill; they have had a very difficult part to play, and they have spoken with great courage in a situation which might have easily led them to display the white feather. With regard to the figures of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, they have been sufficiently dealt with by my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. There was, however, one figure which he did not allude to. The right hon. Gentleman said the immigrants for the first three months of this year were 14,000 in excess of the immigrants for the corresponding period last year, but he omitted to state that the excess of emigrants from this country for the same period was 15,000.
§ MR. EMMOTT
Certainly. From a signed article in the Manchester Guardian. I should perhaps have said I have not verified them.
§ MR. EMMOTT
Signed by a gentleman named Lauda. I should have said I have not verified them, but Mr. Lauda 772 wrote with such a grasp of his subject that I feel justified in quoting his figures. But the figures presented by the Board of Trade Returns are not alarming figures, the total increase during the last three years is very, very small. It is the smallest total of any progressive country in the world, and if we are? going to carry out this Bill it may result in a serious loss of transport and a serious danger, too, in the upsetting of our shipping. If you carried out this Bill in its entirety how many people are you going to stop coming into this country? I do not believe you will stop 100; but be it 100 or be it 500, what effect can that have on the question of wages-and sweating or overcrowding? With regard to the criminal and diseased foreigners we all agree that if we cannot stop them when they come in we should as soon as possible expel them when they are found out. The only argument we have heard to-night in favour of the Bill was that put forward by the hon. Member for Poplar, namely, that it was the best men who went away and the worst that remained with us. That is a question to which very serious attention, I think, should be given. We have heard of something of that kind with regard to miners in Scotland. On the other hand there is a good deal of evidence telling in another direction, because the reports of the Jewish schoolmasters show how well the children of these aliens are doing in the schools, and the returns of lunatics and paupers show that the aliens who come on the rates of this country are proportionately only one-third or one-fourth of the natives who come upon them. With regard to the question of sanitation and overcrowding, that can only be dealt with by general administration and the waking up of the local authorities.
The real crux of this question is whether poverty is a sufficient reason for keeping out these aliens. The poverty test is evaded in New York, and I believe it will be evaded in this country. This country has always made the proud claim in the past that it has been the asylum of political refugees and of the victims of religious persecution, and let hon. Members remember that if we have not in the past entertained angels unawares, we have given a home to those 773 who have been pioneers in the arts of peace and who have taught us trades to the great advantage of ourselves. Hundreds of years ago the foundations of our textile trades were laid by aliens to whom we had given, an asylum; aliens, again, have taught us much in artistic production. They soon became art of ourselves. If not Anglioris Anglicis ipsis they were as patriotic, as useful, and as intelligent members of society as the native born amongst us. At present, I know, we have a different class to deal with. There is an influx from Eastern Europe, if not for political reasons for religious reasons. It is not a large or dangerous influx, and these men become very soon peaceable and law-abiding citizens of this country. I ask the House is it worth while for an evil so small to introduce legislation of such a novel and startling character? I myself think not, and I hope my hon. friends on this side of the House will not be afraid to give utterance to their convictions on this subject or to back them up in the division lobbies. I know we I shall be subjected to misrepresentations, I have in my hand a leaflet issued from the chief Conservative office and distributed broadcast at the time of the Stalybridge election, which, if I may, I will read part of to the House. It says—Let them all come 'is the Radical cry. The Radicals, by their obstruction to the Aliens Bill, are evidently glad to see all foreigners who are criminals, who suffer from loathsome diseases, who are turned out in disgrace by their fellow-countrymen, who are paupers, who fill our! streets with profligacy and disorder. The Radical welcomes them all.I call that a lying and disgraceful leaflet, which no hon. Member who is an hon. Member can possibly support.
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY
What the hon. Member has staled accurately describes the attitude of the Radical Party in the election of 1892 and 1895.
§ MR. EMMOTT
This has nothing to do with those elections. This has to do with the election at Stalybridge, and it is absolutely and entirely untrue; we are as anxious to exclude the criminals and those who have loathsome diseases as hon. Members opposite, and we will support that part of the Bill.
§ SIR FREDEEICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
Is the hon. Member opposing the Bill at the present moment?
§ MR. EMMOTT
I am going to support the Amendment of my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. So far as we are concerned I am quite certain that we have no reasons whatever for not expressing our convictions on this matter, and, so far as I am concerned, I shall support the Amendment of my right hon. friend.
SIR HOWARD VINCENT
As one who has taken interest in the matter for many years, and as one who sat on the Royal Commissions in 1888 and 1889, I desire to thank the Government for having introduced this Bill, and having shown a determination to pass it through this session by placing it so early before the House. That it is an excellent Rill we have the testimony of the hon. Member for Poplar and those who signed the representation which he sent to the Leader of the Opposition. He said it was capable of being made a useful and effective measure. The hon. Member for Poplar made an excellent speech this afternoon, and I only regret that last year he was not placed on the Grand Committee, because if he had been he might have put a stop to some of the obstructive procedure of his hon. friends.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said as a member of the Committee of Selection it was impossible for him to be a member of any Grand Committee.
SIR HOWARD VINCENT
I am glad to have given the hon. Member an opportunity of making that explanation, because it has been a matter of surprise to many that the hon. Member was not a member of that Committee. The hon. Member who has just spoken did not give a particularly char answer to the hon. Member for Peck ham as to whether he was opposing this Bill now.
SIR HOWARD VINCENT
Then I take it he is opposing the Bill. I have 775 no responsibility for the leaflet the hon. i Member read to the House, but if he had been present at the Grand Committee last year when the whole of six sittings were occupied in listening to interminable speeches of hon. Members opposite, with the result that, at the end of the time, only three lines and one word of the Bill had been passed, he would understand the reason why we are glad to see on the other side of the House so considerable a change in the views of those hon. Members. [Several HON. MEMBERS: It is a different Bill.] The Bill is practically the same, and it is due to the action of hon. Members opposite last year that the country has had to suffer from the continuance of this evil for another twelve months. The hon. Member, when dealing with the figures, took his figures from the table of emigration to and from foreign countries, but we are dealing with alien immigration to this country from the Continent. The total number of persons entered in the alien list is 194,836, from which must be deducted the seamen. I cannot see why the seamen should be deducted myself, and I think if Mr. Havelock Wilson, who was in this House and who was closely connected with the Seamen's Union, were here now he would have taken great exception to the deduction of these seamen who affect so much the welfare of British seamen. But having made all deductions we have a remainder of 82,845 immigrants as against 61,968 in 1902, and 63,401 in 1903. In those three years the total number of immigrants came to 218,484, of which it appears from the Report 77 per cent. were Russian and Polish Jews who settled in London.
SIR HOWARD VINCENT
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. They arrived in London and went from there to Sheffield, Leeds, Birmingham, and other places, all those who did not settle in London. The hon. Member for Oldham quoted certain figures which he said he obtained from the Manchester Guardian.
§ MR. EMMOTT
said the figures he quoted dealt with the balance of im- 776 migrants over emigrants in the first-three months of this year.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
I was not in the House when the hon. Gentleman quoted these figures, but I understand he stated that any fool could see the fallacy of the figures I gave. The figures-I gave were from the monthly Return, and were precisely accurate, and they are borne out by the figures at the top of page 11 of the statement made by the Board of Trade.
§ MR. EMMOTT
Has the right hon. Gentleman read the first paragraph on page 10, and, if so, what does he think about it?
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
I dealt with that just now, that is not relevant to-the Return we are dealing with.
SIR HOWARD VINCENT
A number of hon. Members have represented that a large proportion of the alien immigrants who come into this country are on their way to the United States. But there is no really accurate information on the subject of this transmigration. This question is not one which affects London alone; there are various other centers where the effects of alien immigration are felt. The number of aliens in receipt of Poor Law relief last year was 6,003–4,000 in London, and the remainder in the provinces. That is a very considerable number for us to give entertainment to at the public expense. Then, again no account has been taken of the considerable hardship to the population of this country caused by the immigration of these aliens. The people of this-country have to work longer hours, and at lower rates in consequence, and in many places these aliens have driven the-native population out of their occupations. It was clearly shown before the Select. Committee that many of these aliens, although not themselves on the poor rate, have caused others to subsist upon Poor Law relief. The Jewish Board of Guardians has repeatedly called attention to the extraordinary increase in the number of poor they have had to deal with; that shows the character of this immigration. What is the use of the right hon. Baronet the Member 777 for the Forest of Dean and other hon. Members opposite relying entirely upon these figures, because they are not at all reliable. I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member for Woolwich is in favour of this Bill, as I have not been able to gather whether he is or not from the interruptions he has made.
Sir HOWARD VINCENT
I do hope that we shall hear the views of some of the Labour Members opposite before this debate closes. I hope the hon. Member for Battersea, who is not present now, will give us his views upon this question. The absence of the Labour Members from this debate is very remarkable indeed. The increase in the number of criminal aliens is serious. In 1897 there were over 2,000 aliens, arid last year there were 4,700 aliens who were convicted and received sentences of imprisonment and penal servitude. Frequent reference has been made to the United States. The object of their legislation is to compel the steamship lines to take ever? possible precaution against bringing any but the best immigrants into the country. In the last twelve years over 40,000 persons have been debarred from entering the United States. During one month in the year 1902, 1,000 emigrants to the United States were returned to the United Kingdom. A little while ago a large number of gipsies were taken over to America, but were refused admittance, and were brought back and landed in this country, where they were sent about from county to county—a most disgraceful state of things, though one cannot blame the local authorities for the action they took. Last year 1,721 aliens of the class who are supposed to go on to the United States were refused passages at Liverpool on account of disease, and upwards of 900 of these were sent to London to spread their maladies among the native population. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight said it was the duty of a Christian country to offer hospitality to the afflicted, but surely it is the duty of a country to look after its own people first of all. Surely we ought to protect our 778 own people from the unfair competition of foreigners, and from people coming in under unsatisfactory conditions. Above all, it is the duty of this House and the country to protect its own people from contamination, and from the loathsome diseases from which many of these aliens suffer. I thank the Government for having put this Bill, down so early, for it is an earnest of their determination to pass it this session, and I hope the Under-Secretary will press upon the Prime Minister the great importance of putting down the Committee stage of this Bill as early as possible, and of pushing forward the Bill by every possible means.
Mr. KEIRHARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite that the first duty of a Government is to its own people. If the Government had proceeded on those lines, the Unemployed Workmen Bill would have occupied the place which this fraudulent measure occupies at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has expressed concern as to the views of the working classes on this question. I can assure him there is no demand for this Bill from the working classes. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh!"] The records of the Trade Union Congress will be searched in vain for any sign of approval of a measure of this kind, and the congress, and not hon. Members opposite, is the mouth-piece of the trade union movement. The Bill is supported on one genuine and one fictitious basis. The genuine basis is that certain people who are diseased, or who are criminals, come into this country every year. Everybody admits that in that respect there may be a demand for legislation. But the Bill is spoken of in the House, in the Press, and on the platforms of hon. Gentlemen opposite, not as a Bill to keep out criminals and diseased aliens, but as one to keep out workmen who come here to compete with native labour. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Both."] In that sense it is fraudulent, deceitful, and dishonourable. The Labour Members, and working people generally, understand that there may come a time when the importation of aliens might become a serious question, requiring to be dealt with in a drastic 779 fashion by the House, but we protest against a Bill of this kind being dangled before the eyes of the workers as a remedy for the competition in certain trades when we know it will not touch the fringe of the question.
I have listened with some interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Mile End, who talked of the numbers of aliens who required assistance from the Jewish Board of Guardians and the other Committees for the relief of Jews in London. One would have thought to listen to the hon. Gentleman that this Bill is establishing a charity organization for Jewish poor, and is not an attempt to keep out the poor altogether. Some figures have been quoted in regard to criminal aliens, but there is nothing whatever to show that the criminals are drawn from the poor of London, or that they were criminals before coming to this country. The most probable explanation is that the measure of prosperity which they enjoy here has produced a degree of criminality to which they were strangers at home. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] Let me remind hon. Members who laugh that if this argument of the increase of crime is brought forward as a reason for expelling Jews, it can equally be applied to Scotland, because some years ago crime in that country developed enormously, and that was due to good wages and the amount of money which the people were able to spend upon liquor. That probably explains the case of the pauper alien. Under the first clause of this Bill poverty is put forward as the crime for which the alien is to be kept out of this country, and Sub-section A provides as follows—For the purpose of this section an immigrant shall be considered an undesirable immigrant if he cannot show that he has in his possession, or is in a position to obtain, the means of decently supporting himself and his dependents, if any.And so those poor creatures who have teen shot down in the streets of Warsaw and other parts of Russia, those poor poverty-stricken human beings who have been hunted down as beasts of prey, are to be condemned by this Bill to remain in a country that does not know how to treat them. The hon. Member for Mile End referred to the question of Chinese immigration, but I wish to point out to 780 him that Clause 1. seems as if it were framed to legalise immigration under contracts. A person coming in has to prove that he can support himself, but if he has a contract with an employer to take the place of a British working man on strike he is allowed the right of free entry. Therefore, this clause, whilst designed against poverty, may also be used in future to the very serious detriment of the working classes of this country. Reference has been made to America keeping out these poor people. In America they commenced by making poverty a crime; they have advanced a stage further now and made opinions a crime. A gentleman belonging to this city went out to America on a lecturing engagement last year, and he was kept in prison for ten weeks, not because he was poor, but because he held certain political opinions. We on these benches refuse to take the first step along the road which leads to the destruction of the liberty of the subject and of freedom of opinion.
What is this terrible burden that is being imposed on us by these aliens? The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite spoke of Sheffield. I have taken the trouble to turn up the figures relating to Sheffield as given in the Board of Trade Return. I find that the number of alien paupers in Sheffield in 1902 was twenty-one, and in 1904 they had increased to twenty-four. This increase of one pauper a year is what justifies that wealthy city in supporting a Bill of this kind. Birmingham is in even a worse plight. In 1902 the number of pauper aliens was 121 and last year they had decreased to eighty-nine. Obviously, therefore, there is no increase in Birmingham to justify this measure. When we come there to Liverpool we get the same results. In 1902 the number of pauper aliens chargeable to the rates was 372, and in 1904 they had fallen to 310. [An HON. MEMBER: These figures are wrong.] I am taking the figures as they are given in this Emigration and Immigration Return. I cannot be expected to go beyond the official Return. The figures are correct so far as they go. I hope the hon. Gentleman does not charge the Board of Trade with falsifying this Return. That is practically what his statement amounts to. I admit that in parts of London there has been an increase. In 781 Poplar, according to the same authority, they increased from fifty-three to seventy-four; but in St. Pancras they decreased from 133 to 130. The total number for London has gone up from 3,234 to 4,162, but I may remind the House that the increase is not confined to pauper aliens. There has been an increase all round in the number of paupers in London and elsewhere, no due to the foreigner, but due to the depressed state of our trade, which to a large extent is the outcome of the war which was supported on the other side of the House. In regard to London pauperism generally, I will only make one extract from the half-yearly statement which appears on page 9 of the Report. It is dated 1st July, 1904. The total number of paupers was higher in London at that date than at the corresponding date in any of the twenty-two previous years, there being a rise of 4.1 per cent. Therefore, the increase in the pauper aliens is little more than keeping pace with the increase in the native pauperism. We all regret the increase in pauperism and the causes of pauperism. If the working class received more of the wealth which their labour produces there would be fewer paupers. Quoting again from the same Return, may I point out in regard to the increase in paupers generally, that between the years 1896 and 1904 the increase in the cost in London was.05 per cent. and for the country as a whole 2.9 per cent. Here is an interesting point which the hon. Member for Northampton may be able to explain. The increased cost of pauperism in Northampton was 9.1 per cent. There are no pauper aliens in Northampton. Here we have it shown that in districts totally free from this alleged evil the increase of pauperism has been greater than in the worst parts of London. Now we come to the charity of which the hon. Gentleman opposite made so much in the course of his speech. The Jewish Board of Guardians relieved in 1894, 20,434 Jewish aliens. In 1904, the number had increased to 22,859. This is the intolerable burden which is being imposed by poor Jews in London upon their richer fellow-subjects, and which is made a ground for and justification of this Bill.
782 Now I come to the second part of Clause I dealing with the exclusion of men and women who are accused of being criminals. I frankly admit that this a more serious part of the clause. It is an easy thing in Russia or Germany to prove a Socialist to be a criminal, and the people most in need of protection are those most likely to be affected by this Bill should it become law. I would ask the House to note that an immigrant has to prove that he is seeking admission to this country solely to avoid prosecution for an offence of a political character. He has to prove his innocence to a shipmaster, and seeing that that shipmaster, if he makes a mistake, will have to take him back at his own charge, it is easy to understand how difficult it will be for a man suspected by the authorities to prove his innocence to a shipmaster. Taking the immigrants for last year, you will find the overwhelming proportion of the increase is in the refugees from Russia and Poland. It is certain that the bulk of those people will be poor people who will be kept out under this Bill, and are we to say to those poor creatures that England of all lands under the sun is no resting place for them from the conditions now prevailing in their own country? I hope the House will hesitate before closing the one way of escape which these poor victims of injustice have left open to them. I deplore that some of the Opposition leaders have withdrawn their opposition to the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham rightly taunted his opponents, with the fact that in agreeing to the measure they were taking the first step towards protection, and I agree with him. Whatever the front Opposition Bench might do the Labour Members will give a solid and unyielding opposition to the Bill unless the parts of it which I have specified are withdrawn.
§ MR. FORDE RIDLEY (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I have listened to the speeches which have been made on both sides of the House, and I believe hon. Members will agree with me when I say that we have had a most remarkable debate. All the speeches to which I have listened from hoe. Members opposite, whether they have been made with the intention of supporting or opposing the Bill have 783 I think I may say, with the exception of the last speech from the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, made out a striking case for the Bill now before the House. The speech of the right hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment resolved itself into this. He relied on statistics to show that the number of aliens who came into this country was so infinitesimal that the effect of the Bill would be nil. If that be the case, then why the violent opposition to the measure? If the result is to be, as he has endeavoured to show, no effect whatever, then for my part I cannot understand this keen and active hostility to the measure which he has shown. The hon. Member for the Elland Division seconded the Amendment, and, after all, what does his speech amount to? Very much the same thing. The hon. Member said that there was no material difference between this Bill and that of last year. Very well, if there is no material difference, why this change of front on the part of Members on the benches opposite? Last year they gave no quarter to those who supported the Bill. They were opposed to the Bill root and branch, and now hon. Members set up in their places and say that there is nothing obnoxious in the Bill, and that, after all, there is nothing in it, and that it is so trifling a matter that it is not worth fighting about. The hon. Member for the Elland Division also said that the reason for taking this particular view of the Bill was the near approach of a general election. There I am entirely in accordance with him. I think the view that hon. Members opposite have taken now of the Aliens Bill, which on the hon. Member's own showing is virtually the same as that of last year, is the very near approach, as they think, of a general election. The hon. Member for the Elland Division proceeded to set up a bogey, and then, as we any, to knock the stuffing out of t. He said that Members on this side of the House are of opinion that an increase in population means an increase in the number of unemployed. The only persons who adduce such a theory are the Gentlemen who used that argument in their opposition to the introduction of alien labour into South Africa. They opposed the introduction of Chinese Mr. Ford Ridley 784 labour into a market which was in need of unskilled labour, yet we find them in favour of the introduction of alien labour into a market which is admittedly overstocked, and holding up their hands in pious horror at the proposal to prevent the introduction of alien labour into our overcrowded districts.
The hon. Member for the Cleveland Division of Yorkshire made out, I think, a strong case from his point of view. He said that pauperism in this country was a very serious matter, and that he would welcome any measure that would deal with it. He omitted to mention that the statistics of pauperism which have been quoted so freely in this House tonight by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite take no cognisance of the great relief that is given by the Jewish Board of Guardians to the members of their own community in regard to this matter. That being so, I think we arrive at very erroneous conclusions in regard to numbers, because it is an undoubted fact and well known that the Jewish Board of Guardians are very lavish in the assistance they give to their co-religionists, not only in sheltering them when they arrive in a friendless and destitute condition in this country, but also in assisting them to return if, after making a stay of a month or two months, or, it may be, a year, or longer, it is found that they are not likely to succeed in this country. They expend large sums in sending them back to the countries from which they came. It is all very well to say that we deplore pauperism, but it would be simpler if, instead of having all the relief machinery which is now in operation, we went to the root of the matter and stopped the cause of pauperism, which undoubtedly is partly due to the admission of huge numbers of aliens who undersell our own working class in the labour market. I know this from personal experience, and I have some experience of the workers in the East End of London, not only in my own constituency, but in other parts. I know that there are no I workers in the East End of London who will welcome this measure for alien restriction more than the members of the Jewish community who have settled in this country and who now earn a good, living. 785 The hon. Member for the Cleveland Division referred to the criminals. He said he deplored the great number of criminals in this country, and he pointed out how great the proportion was. It amounted to fifteen in every 1,000 of the alien community. Again I would say, why not apply the axe to the root of the tree, for the proportion of criminals is very great as compared with the native population? Why not stop off the supply at the source and not admit those criminals who come into this country, because the hon. Member for the Cleveland Division cannot surely assume that it is the evil influence of this country which makes these aliens criminals? No, they some with the intention of perpetrating their nefarious plans when they arrive on our shores. When the criminal statistics are of such a serious nature I think they ought to be taken into consideration when dealing with this question. In answer to a Question which I put the other day in regard to these criminal statistics, the Secretary of State for the Home Department stated that a special inquiry had been made and had elicited the information that in 1904 no less than 4,833 alien criminals were received into His Majesty's prisons of Great Britain and Ireland. These criminals had been kept at the expense of this country, Hon. Members will agree with me that I this is a serious number indeed. In I reply to a supplementary Question put by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, it was stated that between 1896 and 1904 the ordinary prisoners in His Majesty's prisons had increased by 22 per cent., whereas, during the same period, alien prisoners had increased by 68 per cent. As hon. Members must know, that means an enormons cost to the taxpayers of this country.
In regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Cleveland, I have only one thing to say on a matter in which I cannot entirely agree with him. He said, referring to the Jewish community that the Jews easily assimilate with the nations in which they go to dwell. There, I think, the facts will not bear out the statement. I think it will be universally admitted, not only by the members of the Gentile persuasion, but 786 by the members of the Jewish persuasion, that the Jews do not assimilate easily with those of the Gentile persuasion. In whatever country they go to they intermarry among their own people, and they do not easily assimilate with the Gentile population. I think this is one of the causes which leads to the great congestion in the overcrowded districts. It is not practicable to introduce a measure to spread these people all over the country.
In regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight, who said that America had only prevented a comparatively small number of immigrants in a year from gaining admission to her shores, I would point out to him that his argument does not show that the American law is ineffective. It has a deterrent effect. The restrictive legislation there prevents these people from going to America to-reside, because they know perfectly well that if they go to the expense of taking a passage to America, they stand a chance, on arriving at the ports of debarkation, of being sent back—I was going to say to the country from. which they came—at any rate, to this country. Therefore, the legislation, in America has a deterrent effect on the stream of immigration to that country. Instead of his argument being against this measure, it is in favour of our adopting similar legislation,, which results in thousands of people being sent back; and a similar measure in this country would have a similar healthy effect.
I do not propose to detain the House at any length to-night. The question has been discussed on two former occasions during the time the present Government has been in power, and all we can say in regard to the figures which have been produced from time to time in the House is that, instead of this being a mere passing evil, as hon. Members opposite have tried to impress on the House, the evil has been increasing and the number of these foreign paupers and undesirable aliens coming to our shores is still increasing. Hon. Members opposite are always willing to give reasons for this. At one time they say that it is because of wars; at another time they 787 allege that it is an Anti-Semitic movement. But whatever the cause, we do not concern ourselves with it. What we have got to look at is that there is a growing increase in the number of undesirable aliens flocking to our shores, which ate already overcrowded, who are underselling our workpeople, turning them out of their homes, and making their lives unendurable. In my own constituency whole streets of new houses are continually being erected—properties are being pulled down and large dwellings are being put up for the occupation of which, it is announced, "No Gentiles need apply." Why is it that these new streets are being built to accommodate a larger number of persons if the numbers are falling off, and why is it the at no individuals are to be received as tenants but those who come from every country but our own?
Now, in regard to the question of the desirability of the immigrants who come to our shores, I know that it has been said, not once nor twice in this House and outside, that these immigrants bring to this country new industries which they alone can excel in, and which the British working man can never make a success of. I will read a short extract from a paper read by the sanitary inspector in the employment of the Bethnal Green Borough Council before the Sanitary Inspectors' Association last, year to show the sort of industries which are introduced by these aliens into the crowded districts of our cities. He said—I will just mention two cases that occurred in Bethnal Green. Our medical officer of health and I, on a Wednesday afternoon, paid a visit to an underground bakehouse. The place was in a filthy state. I turned out seven cats and four kittens from under the trough, as well as some dirty socks that smelt rather queerly. The floor was as black as coal; the baker, a Russian Jew, who gave an English name, was dressed in a woman's petticoat tied at the waist, and was kneading the dough on the black floor with his naked feet. The dough was adhering to his toes, and whilst we were there he scraped his toes with his filthy hands and mixed it with the other dough. The other case was in an underground bakehouse kept by a Polish Jew; this man had let off one end of his bakehouse to a family as a room to live and sleep in. They had rigged up a curtain and were sleeping upon the miller's sacks; when I examined them they were almost alive with vermin. The bakehouse, in addition, was very filthy.788 Are these the industries introduced by aliens which it is desirable that we should foster and encourage? These aliens come and compete with the British working man and would drag him down to their own degraded level. I refer to the hon. Member opposite who is here in the labour interest. All honour to him. He alone has the courage to come here and express his opinions in this House against this Bill; but I do not believe that hon. Members who voice the sentiments of the working classes will rise in their places and say that they are of opinion that the working classes of this country should be degraded to the standard of these aliens. I do not impute any evil motives to these poor creatures; but surely it is for us first of all to defend our own working classes and their wives and families from the degradation in which these aliens are sunk, and not to drive them down to the alien level. There is another case I wish to mention. It refers to the ready-made tailoring trade, which is supposed to have been brought to this country by these aliens, and in which it is said our working classes cannot compete with them. A witness stated last year that—Another and important section of the tailoring trade is being organized—namely, the machine button-hole makers. A public meeting of these men was held 'to consider how to make a standard of livelihood, as the wages are so low that no one can make a living at it.' These button-hole makers possess their own machines, take the finished garment from the middleman to their own back rooms and under ground cellars, and make one hundred buttonholes for Is., and provide their own gimp and twist.I say that that is a scandal and disgrace to this country and that those hon. Members who have the courage to go into the lobby to oppose this Bill will stand condemned before the working-men of this country; and though they say there is no demand for legislation of to is kind, they will fin I when they ask for the suffrages of their working-men supporters that they will get an answer very different from that which they have prophesied in this House.
I add my meed of praise to the Government on at last having taken up this question seriously, and on having determined at all costs to see this Bill to a successful issue. We have waited long for remedial legislation. It 789 has been promised over and over again; and if it had not been for the dilatory tactics of the Opposition, led by the hon. Member for Oldham, during last session, that legislation would have passed last year and we should not have had the bitter cry from East London of unemployment in the bygone winter. For we should have succeeded in keeping out a very large number indeed of aliens who have been coming in increasing numbers to our shores to under-sell our working men in the labour market and do such damage by turning them out of their homes and taking away their means of livelihood. Hon. Members opposite affect to believe that this Bill is a great improvement on the Bill of last year, and many of them are not going to oppose it; but I am not a great believer in deathbed repentances. I know that the general election is not far distant, and I reserve to myself the right to see the further stages of this Bill passed, and how hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite intend to behave in regard to this measure, before I accept the assurances so kindly and blandly given by them.
MR. ATHBRLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has painted in very lurid colours the condition of certain labourers in this Metropolis. I think he might have found in some other departments of industry in the country—for example, the chain-makers of Staffordshire—instances of conditions of labour which would excite the sympathy of the House and provoke the same horrifying sensations which he has sought to impart to us over aliens labour in the East End of London. I am disposed to think that my hon. friend who sits behind me is a more efficient representative of the working classes of this country than the hon. Gentleman. I will go further and say that, in the speech he has made to-night, he has represented the characteristic generosity of the working classes of this country towards aliens. This movement in favour of the Bill does not emanate from the working classes, but from those who think they can appeal to the prejudice, ignorance, and bigotry of certain sections of the community who came closely in contact with aliens. We are indebted to the right hon. Gentleman 790 the Member for West Birmingham for his really clear explanation of the object of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, with his customary frankness, told the House that this is a protective measure, intended as part of the policy which he hopes to apply to the importation of articles. That is a perfectly fair position for the right hon. Gentleman to take up; but if the right hon. Gentleman had gone a step further and had demonstrated to us that this influx of aliens did seriously interfere with the British working classes I should have voted with instead of against him. But the right hon. Gentleman—I say it with all respect—although he made a proposition which, if proved, might have commended itself to the House, failed to give any proof of it. Perhaps we shall hear from the First Lord of the Treasury some little addition to what has fallen from his colleagues—some evidence that there is competition by foreign alien workmen with our own workmen. Our only sources of information on that point are to be found from those people who have studied the question and from the Report of the Royal Commission. Now, the Report of the Royal Commission establishes beyond controversy—I do not mean to say that there are not individual cases in a contrary sense—that the great bulk of the aliens who come to this country are engaged in trades which have not hitherto been followed by native industrials. [MINISTERIAL cries of "What trades? "] The trades are stated in the Report of the Royal Commission. There is, for instance, the cabinet-making trade. [MINISTERIAL ironical laughter.] Hon. Members laughed. Do they not known that the cabinet - making trade is a very large industry and that it is followed by Jew aliens. Do they not know that they have a trade union of. their own?
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
The hon. Member ought to know that better than I do. I understand that the great bulk of the Jew aliens are of the same religious persuasion as himself.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
In answer to that staccato interruption, I do not know that there are any aliens in the Durham mines, but I believe there are some in the mines of Lanarkshire. I say that these Jew alien carpenters constitute a large industry and that they have recently entered into negotiations with their English fellow-workers to assimilate their conditions of labour with the same efficient conditions as the Englishmen. Then there is the apparel trade, which is largly carried on by foreigners. It is a trade which did not flourish in this country through native industry; but it has progressed since the introduction of it by foreigners, and has been a source of strength and advantage to this country. Then there is the boot-making trade. [Ironical MINISTERIAL laughter.] Yes: there is a certain class of the boot-making trade which was not pursued by English mechanics, but which has been largely developed here by foreigners. In 1888 we exported from this country what is called ready-made clothing to the value of £4,600,000, while in 1902 that trade had increased to six millions odd; and we are told on indisputable authority that that is the result of Jew aliens immigrant labour. In 1888 we exported 660,000 dozen pairs of shoes; in 1902 that had increased to 1,800,000, and we are told on high authority that that is due to alien industry. With all these facts before us, I press on hon. Gentlemen opposite that there is no evidence to show that the alien immigrant has entered into serious competition with the British working man. The only possible instance is to be found in the coal mines of Lanarkshire, but, so far as I can learn, it has resulted in no serious displacement of Scottish labour. So much for competition with English labour.
What is the pretext for this Bill? It is that disease, crime, and pauperism are introduced here by aliens. In regard to disease, there again the only trustworthy testimony is that of the officials and the medical officers of health. The Medical Officer of Health for London has demonstrated that the standard of health among the foreign labourers is 792 higher than amongst our own working classes. We are told that 24,000 people passed through the Jewish Shelter, and that there was only one case of infectious disease amongst them. Take the statistics from your hospitals. The evidence is that the Jew is a healthier subject—for the foreigner is a Jew for the most part—than the English. Their children are strong, lusty, vigorous. The parents are scrupulous in their care of and tenderness for their children. There is no pretence for saying that the Jew immigrants are unhealthy. Of course nobody would object to inspection; but the number who would be excluded from this country in that way would be infinitesimal. Well, there remains pauperism. The hon. Member for Mile End told us that a substantial part of that belonged to the Jewish race. I was sorry to hear him say that the burden of the poor Jews was so heavy on the rich, wealthy Jews.
§ MR. H. LAWSON
I did not say that the Jewish immigrants were a burden on the wealthy Jews in this country. I said that in the ordinary course of things the steady inrush of the last few years had caused, according to the testimony of the Jewish Board of Guardians, a very severe and unnecessary call upon their resources.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
I think their resources are equal to it. I do not think the hon. Member represents the sentiment of a race, who are singularly generous to their compatriots. I do not think that that should be a reason for supporting this Bill. At any rate, the House is not concerned with any little amercements that may be made upon his class for these people.
§ MR. H. LAWSON
I never claimed to speak on behalf of any class. I simply stated the facts as they appear in the report of the Jewish Board of Guardians.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
I think it would have been better if the hon. Member had allowed one of the race for whom he speaks to have made the statement. It takes away what little value would otherwise have attached to what the hon. Gentleman said. Then what are the statistics of pauperism? They have been given us by various public officers. 793 Taking the Jew areas of Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, and Stepney, there are 715,000 inhabitants, of which 62,000 are male aliens. Out of these 715,000 there are 10,800 indoor paupers and of these 109 are aliens. Is it not ludicrous to talk about the pauperism of the alien immigrants and their being a burden on the rates? The same thing applies to outdoor relief and to other parts of the country. The alien is a hard-working, industrious person. Then as to crime. It is undoubtedly a fact that there is a considerable amount of crime—so we are told—among aliens. But who are the aliens who commit the crime? Not the aliens you would exclude by this Bill, but people who come from America. The proportion of American aliens who commit crime is something like 23 or 24 per cent. while the proportion of the criminals who come from Russia and Poland is an infinitesimal fraction of that number.
I am opposing this Bill on higher grounds. I am voting against it for reasons which ought to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I see in it means by which political refugees may be excluded from these shores. The Bill provides, apparently, that no criminal shall be admitted into this country. But how is the alien who comes to these shores to satisfy the Inspecting Board or the inspecting officer that he is not a criminal? I suppose he will have to bring some document to show that he is not a criminal. But where is he to get it from? He must get it from the police authorities of the country which he leaves. No doubt the Russian police would be only too glad to give a clean bill to any scoundrel who wished to leave that country. But how about the political offender? How can he get to these shores and be allowed to land if he cannot produce a document to show that he is not a criminal? I appeal to all who are anxious to preserve the right of asylum, and to all who are devoted to that great traditional policy of this country, to vote against a measure which renders it possible that mere officialism shall be able to exclude the political refugee from this country. I do not fear for the English interests even if the number 794 of aliens were to be doubled, because I believe that the people here are strong enough, both intellectually and numerically, to absorb a larger number of alien people. The proportion of aliens in this country is only 69 per cent. against 2.0 per cent. in any other country, and against 13.0 per cent. in America. I have inherited traditions which compel me to vote against a measure which I think would tend to impair the world wide and historical reputation which this country has enjoyed for centuries as being a sanctuary of the politically distressed. At the present moment things are being done in Russia which compel people to fly from that country, and as to the character of which there is no difference of opinion on either side of this House. It would be a cruel thing, an un-Christian thing, and an anti-national thing for us to take this opportunity of putting any hindrance in the way of those unhappy creatures being afforded that asylum which for long centuries it has been to pride of this country to extend.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
A speaker earlier in debate—I think it was the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Elland Division—told the House that we, sitting on this side of it, were the only Party who had ever passed a Bill of this kind, and no doubt he spoke the truth. But I think hon. Gentlemen opposite have begun to realise that the political forces, at all events, and, as I would venture to hope, the argumentative forces also, in favour of the Bill, are rather stronger than perhaps they were disposed to think when they offered an uncompromising opposition to every stage of the measure which they had an opportunity of dealing with last year. I do not think anybody who has followed the general course of the debate to-night can really think that the arguments put forward—some of them arguments dealing, no doubt, with feelings with which we all sympathise—can be considered by those who approach this subject in a cool spirit as showing the slightest cause why, the House should not carry into law a Bill approved on the Second Reading 795 last year, and which, I understand, is to be approved again, perhaps even without a division.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the Bill will be approved by a large majority when those who have announced their intention of dividing against it have had the opportunity of showing their numerical strength. I have regretted that at intervals throughout the debate there have appeared some allusions to what on the Continent has attained unenviable fame as the Jewish question. The Bill which we are discussing to-night has nothing whatever to do with what in Continental Europe, and especially in Eastern Europe, is called the Jewish question. I cannot imagine anything more disastrous than that any legislation by this House or speech in the House should attempt to join a measure which I shall presently attempt to show is consistent with every sound system of statesmanship with the bigotry, the oppression, the hatred the Jewish race has too often met with in foreign countries. The treatment of the race has been a disgrace to Christendom, a disgrace which tarnishes the fair fame of Christianity even at this moment, and which in the Middle Ages gave rise to horrors which whoever makes himself acquainted with them, even in the most superficial manner, reads of with shuddering and feelings of horror lest any trace of the blood-guiltiness then incurred should have fallen on the descendants of those who committed the deeds. This is a question wholly alien to and wholly distinct from the Jewish question; and it has to do with a much wider problem, and on bold lines, with which I have no hesitation in expressing my belief—the problem whether an individual country has or has not the right to decide who is to be added to its community from outside, and under what conditions. That, I think, is a final and indestructible right of every free community; and we are amply justified by every principle of law and every principle of morality in determining for ourselves under what conditions we shall or shall not admit citizens of other nations to take a share in our 796 civilisation, our industries, and in our social life.
Now the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean laid down the proposition that in considering the problem we need scarcely ever consider the question of race, but only questions of character, of spirit, of power of absorbing ideas and of sharing the sentiments of the nation into whose bosom the immigrants desire to come. There is great truth in what he said, but I think he pushed the proposition a little too far. I quite agree with him that the power America has shown of assimilating men of many distinct nationalities and many races and of turning them all by a process of natural alchemy into citizens of the United States, and who as such become heirs and sharers in Anglo-Saxon laws and civilization—that power is marvellous. I do not wish to underrate it. But it has its limits, and none of us can, on calm reflection, seriously say we can ignore the question. If there were a substitution of Poles for Britons, for example, though the Briton of the future might have the same laws, the same institutions and constitution, and the same historical traditions learned in the elementary schools, though all these things might be in the possession of the new nationality, that new nationality would not be the same, and would not be the nationality we should desire to be our heirs through the ages yet to come.
There is assent on both sides of the i House to the proposition that we have a moral right to decide whom we shall admit to our fold and under what conditions; and I ask—does the Bill lay down any extravagant or excessive requirements from those who desire to become British I citizens or to come among us? Let the House notice there are two modern circumstances that seem to call for modern legislation, new conditions that call for new remedies, and the first of these is the facility of transport. It was perfectly easy and natural that our ancestors should not make any special provision against the immigration of aliens when immigrations was not very easy for anybody, and was impossible for those who were both remote and poor. But the remote and poor can, under the modern condition 797 of transport, come here with little or no difficulty; and, indeed, if some of the observations that I have heard in the course of the debate to-night are accurate, we have steamship companies and railway companies competing for their custom. Those are new conditions. Is it unnatural to suppose that to deal with those new conditions new provisions are required?
Then there is another circumstance, also new, also having its inevitable effect upon the course of legislation in this country; and that is that foreign countries, notably America and our own Colonies, have awoke to the fact to which we are slowly awakening—namely, that unrestricted immigration may become a great national evil. Now note how foreign legislation, especially American legislation, reacts upon us. It reacts upon us in this way, that those who come to this country on the way, as it were, to America, North or South, not with through tickets, but intending to spend a certain amount of time here, either from choice or necessity start from our shores to those countries, and when they get there only the fit are received, while the unfit are rejected and are sent back, where?—to this country. We become a sieve, as it were, which lets through the fit to North and South America, but which retains the unfit in the process. I was very much struck by a personal anecdote which the right hon. Member for East Fife told the House in the course of his speech this afternoon. He said that he had been to study the operations of the Jewish Shelter Society, a society which, with the splendid generosity of the Jewish community in this country, has set itself to work to deal with immigrants, not always Jews, but immigrants who have come in a state of extreme destitution and poverty to our shores. What did the right hon. Gentleman tell us? He told us that these people were on their way in many cases to other countries, and he especially mentioned Argentina. He was told that they stayed here one or two months, and gradually, by ones and twos or in larger numbers, the charity of the great Jewish 798 community here enabled them to go to Argentina or North America. But who is it of these unfortunate people who do not go to Argentina? Is it the fit, is it the healthy, is it those whom we should most desire to retain here if we have to receive immigrants as citizens of our country? No, Sir, those are they who go; but those who stay are those who would not be accepted either in America or Argentina, and would not be accepted by the Jewish community and by the Jewish emigration societies themselves if the statements are true, as I am sure they are true, made by many speakers this afternoon, to the effect that these great Jewish emigration societies have most wisely and properly laid down the rule that only people such as those whom this Bill admits to this country shall be of the class allowed to go to their great settlements in Argentina. Is not that a conclusive proof that unless we do something we must remain the sieve in which the useless dregs remain?
§ MR. ASQUITH
I must correct the right hon. Gentleman. So far as I can gather, those who remain here are persons fitted for occupations which are ready for them in this country.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then we come to a very plain and simple issue. Either this Jewish Shelter Society never shelter, the diseased or those who are undesirable, or it emigrates the undesirable, or it leaves the undesirable in this country. Now, which of the three does the right hon. Gentlemen select? If the Shelter Society never deals with the undesirable, well, its charity is so far restricted and apparently it does not touch those who most need it. If, on the other hand, it emigrates the undesirable where does it emigrate them too? What country is going to take them? Is it Argentina, or America, or Canada?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of course not, they stay here; and, as I said, we are the sieve through which the good immigrant goes while the bad, immigrant stays, 799 That is why I said this is one of the new conditions which did not exist some years ago, and which require the House to take account of the character of the immigrant who comes to our shores. That seems a conclusive argument in favour of doing something, and why is it that it does not meet with the universal assent of hon. Gentlemen opposite? The best reason I have heard is that which declares that it interferes for the first time in our national history with the right of asylum. I deny absolutely that it interferes with the right of asylum as it was understood by our forefathers. What was understood by the right of asylum in old days was this. We supposed ourselves, and with considerable reason, to be the best governed country in Europe. We were aware that there were a great many countries in Europe where tyranny prevailed and where it produced, as a natural consequence, conspiracies and in many cases armed rebellion and we prided ourselves upon giving an asylum to the protagonists in a cause which we regarded as, with some exceptions, the cause of freedom. In so far as that doctrine is still maintained, it is not violated by this Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, the Bill specially provides that in explicit and clear terms. The point is that the destitution of the class of which I am speaking would not keep them out. But I observe that the right of asylum has received most amazing extensions in the hands of some speakers to night. There is, indeed, one extension with which, as stated and on the first blush, we should all naturally sympathise. 800 One hon. Gentleman talked about asylum for those driven out of their country by or on account of religion for those who were persecuted at home for religious reasons, and who sought refuge here. I imagine there is not a man in the House who would not have the deepest sympathy for anybody of whom that could be truly said. But, surely, we must be careful of putting a provision in the Bill dealing with that. For instance, would you permit unlimited immigration of Roman Catholic Poles because the Roman Catholic religion is discouraged by measures we should disapprove of in Polish Russia? I can hardly believe that you would regard wholesale immigration on that ground as a thing to be tolerated in the highest interests of this, country But it is not to religion only that the right of asylum is now extended. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Elland in his speech said that we should give a right of asylum to every Reservist who disliked to join, his colours. He put that forward with regard to Russia, because he disapproves of the Manchurian War. But are we to judge whether a war in a foreign country is just or unjust, and if, in our opinion, it is unjust, are we to admit Reservists? The hon. Gentleman said there is a class of Reservist who does not get a proper pension at the end of a war. Surely, he said, you are not going to keep him out. Are we going to consider in this country the terms on which Reservists are engaged in a foreign country, and, if we think them inadequate, are we to admit them in unlimited numbers, whether they be diseased or insane or not, simply because they happen to come under this extraordinarily extended doctrine which the hon. 801 Gentleman has announced as that which, in his view, constitutes a right of asylum?
I think that that really does not exhaust the fallacy into which the hon. Gentleman fell. I think he compressed into his speech almost all the bad arguments which I have heard in relation to this question. He does not seem to see that this Bill only excludes, broadly speaking, those who are likely to become a public charge. Why should we admit into this country people likely to become a public charge? Many countries which exclude immigrants have no Poor Laws they have not those great charities of which we justly boast. The immigrant comes in at his own peril and perishes if he cannot find a living. That is not the case here. From the famous statute of Elizabeth we have taken on ourselves the obligation of supporting every man, woman, and child in this country and saving them from starvation. Is the statute of Elizabeth to have European extension? Are we to be bound to support every man, woman, and child incapable of supporting themselves who choose to come to our shores? That argument seems to me to be preposterous. When it is remembered that some of these persons are a most undesirable element in the population, and are not likely to produce the healthy children of which the last speaker has spoken, but are afflicted with disease either of mind or of body, which makes them intrinsically undesirable citizens, surely the fact that they are likely to become a public charge is a double reason for keeping them out of the country. What is the answer to that argument I There is absolutely no answer given except that the number of these people is so small relatively to the whole population of the country that they may be ignored. 802 Then we come to the figures produced by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean, and upon which other speakers have dwelt, I think, with very little profit. I would base my support of this Bill upon grounds much broader than those of the figures of immigration for this year or that year. What the right hon. Baronet contended for was that the number of immigrants is small. Take his own case on his own terms. Take the case of the hon. Member for the Elland Division, that the number is decimal half per cent, of the whole population, that the number of aliens actually in our workhouses or asylums is insignificant, and that it is impossible to conceive that such a small influx of foreigners can produce overcrowding. Is not that the greatest fallacy of all If they were spread over the whole community, if every workhouse and every asylum had its share and not more than its share of these people, if every hospital throughout the country was burdened exactly in proportion to its means by the sick who come from abroad, there would be some prima facie grounds, at all events, for the argument that this Bill, however just it might be, was hardly worth passing because the amount of hardship with which it dealt was so small. But what are the facts? Every human being knows that the burden is thrown upon a relatively small part of the country. The hon. Member for the Elland Division comes forward and says the number of these poor people who come from foreign misgovernment and oppression is so small a fraction of your population, how can you be so hard as to exclude them Do his constituents pay for these people? Do they go to the workhouses of the Elland Division? I think he would be a consistent philanthropist, a true 803 prophet, at all events, of the rights of asylum, if he and his friends bore a small share of the burden which is thrown upon the East End of London. If this tight of asylum is a national duty, it ought to be a national charge, and the hon. Gentleman and his friends should bear their fair share of the charge. What actually happens is that these foreign immigrants go into a small area of the East End of London, and they produce the evil of overcrowding, of which I believe the accounts given, like that by my hon. friend who spoke last but one, are not the least exaggerated. How is that to be cured? It is to be cured, says the right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean, by enforcing your municipal laws and, if need be, by improving them; by making better and more stringent laws and, when you have made them, enforcing them. Let me translate that into the actual facts of White chapel. It means that the foreign immigrant first drives the British workman out of White chapel and then the small remnant has to pay the rates in order to carry out the sanitary arrangements and the Poor Law arrangements which are to remedy the state of things which he is the victim. How can you justify it? The truth is that the evil is not only great and pressing in these districts where it prevails, but it is one which these districts are perfectly incapable of dealing with unassisted. I listened really with some shame to the loud professions of philanthropic altruism on the part of Gentlemen who pay neither from their own pockets nor from the pockets of their constituents, nor from any section or class with which they have to deal. They look on and see all these things happening, and simply occupy themselves in resisting a measure 804 by which, to some extent at all events, I hope this evil will be remedied.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Do the people whom this Bill would exclude contribute any important fraction to the rates? Does a man contribute to the rates "who cannot show he has in his possession, or is in a position to obtain, the means of decently supporting himself and his dependents?" Is that man capable of contributing to the rates? "If he is a lunatic or an idiot"—not very important contributors to the rates—"or owing to any infirmity appears likely to become a charge upon the rates or otherwise a detriment to the public." These are the people kept out by the Bill. Who was the hon. Gentleman who said they are going to contribute important sums to the rates?
I said the existing—
The remainder of the hon. Member's remarks was rendered inaudible by cries of "Oh."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not want to pursue my quarrel with the hon. Gentleman. I think I have made at all events that part of my case clear, which I think is almost the most important part of the whole argument. In my view we have a right to keep out everybody who does not add to the strength of the community—the industrial, social, and intellectual strength of the community. I think we have a right, which we ought to exercse in the case of all 805 the classes mentioned in the form of words which I have just read to the House; and I cannot conceive a more ludicrous inconsistency than for the same House of Commons to assent to these persons coming into the country who are to be a charge on the rates and at the same time charging the same rates with large sums of money for the purpose of emigrating Englishmen, Britons, from our shores. Let me grant that all these undesirable aliens have every merit that can be attributed to them. Poverty, I admits is no crime; by itself if it involve a charge on the rates it might be no evil. But grant that the lunatic, the diseased, and all the other classes have no disqualification from becoming citizens of this country—are we to believe that they are better than our own citizens, our own flesh and blood, for the purpose of getting rid of whom we are charging our rates? I do not think it will bear argument. It is quite true that the number of areas where this evil
§ presses hardly is not very large, and from that fact I dare say hon. Gentlemen have taken courage to oppose a Bill obviously just in its main outlines. But I think the generality of the country, even though they may not personally suffer from the evils which I have described, and which this Bill is intended to remedy, will have sufficient sympathy with those who do suffer to feel that this Bill is just in its inception, consistent with all sound principles of legislation, in no way violating our hereditary love of liberty or our hereditary desire to see that liberty spread throughout the whole earth as far as may be. And I believe we shall have, not merely in the division lobby to-night, but in all the struggles that may still await us before this Bill becomes law, not merely a majority of the House of Commons, but the sympathy of the great body of the English people.
§ Question put:—The House divided; Ayes, 211; Noes, 59. (Division List No. 146.)807
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Brymer, William Ernest||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Allsopp, Hn. George||Bull, William James||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Butcher, John George||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Carlile, William Walter||Elliot, Hn. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. H. O.||Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cautley, Henry Strother||Fergusson, Rt.Hn.Sir J.(Mano'r|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.||Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Bagot, Captain Josceline F.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm||Finlay, Sir R.B. (Inv'rn'ss B'hs|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J A (Worc.||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose|
|Balcarres, Lord||Chapman, Edward||Flower, Sir Ernest|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A.J. (Manch'r||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Forstcr, Henry William|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Compto:). Lord Alwyne||Gardner, Ernest|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Garfit, William|
|Bartley, Sir George C. '1'.||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredrk.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Crossley, Rt. Hn. Sir Savile||Gordon.Hn.J.E (Elgin & Nairn)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Dalryniple, Sir Charles||Gordon, MajEvansjT'rH'mlets|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Davenport, William Bromley||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby|
|Bigwood, James||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Bingham, Lord||Denny, Colonel||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dewa'r, Sir T. R. (T\ Hamlets||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Bond, Edward||Dickins n, Robert Edmond||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Dickson, Charles Scott||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs)|
|Brassey, Albert||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Gretton, John|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred D.||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Majendie, James A. H.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Malcolm, Ian||Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry||Marks, Harry Hananel||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos Myles|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tyneni'th||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M-||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwieh)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Milvain, Thomas||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)||Slack, John Bamford|
|Holder, Augustus||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Morrell, George Herbert||Spear, John Ward|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Mount, William Arthur||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes.|
|Hope, J.F. (Sheffield,Brightside||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Stewart, Sir Mark J M'Taggart|
|Hoult, Joseph||O'Malley, William||Stock, James Henry|
|Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||O'Neill," Hon. Robert Torrens||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Hozier, Hon. Jas. Henry Cecil||Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Parkes, Ebenezer||Talbot,Rt.Hn.J.G.(Oxf'dUnir.|
|Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.)||Peel, Hn.W. R. Wellesley||Toinlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred.||Pemberton, John S. G.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Percy, Earl||Tuff, Charles|
|Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Kerr, John||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Tumour, Viscount|
|Keswick, William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Vincent,Col.SirC.E.H(Sheffield|
|Lanibton, Hn. Frederick Wm.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Purvis, Robert||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.|
|Lawson.Hn. H.L.W. (Mile End||Pym, C. Guy||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Lawson, John Grant(Yrorks,N.R||Randies, John S.||Welby, Sir Cha. G.E. (Notts.)|
|Lee.Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Rasch, Sir Frederic Came||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S||Ratcliff, R. F.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Reid, James (Greenock)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Long, Rt. Hn.Walter (Bristol.S||Rickett, J. Compton||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Ridley, S. Forde||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsm'th||Rose, Charles Day|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Round, Rt. Hon. James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire).|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Grant, Corrie||Parrott, William|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hardie, J. Keir (MerthyrTydvil||Priestley, Arthur|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Harwood, George||Richards, Thos. (W. Monm'th|
|Black, Alexander William||Helme, Norval Watson||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Brigg, John||Higham, John Sharp||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh||Horniman, Frederick John||Runciman, Walter|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Russell, T. W.|
|Caldwell, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Kitson, Sir James||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Seely,Maj.J.E.B.(Isle of Wight|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Shackleton, David James|
|Crooks, William||Levy, Maurice||Spencer,Rt.Hn.C.R.(Northants|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Sullivan, Donal|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Tomkinson, James|
|Ellice,Capt.E.C(SAndrw'sBghs||Mansfield, Horace Rondall||Toulmin, George|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. Trevelyan.|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.808
§ Adjourned at one minute after Twelve o'clock.