§ Sub-section (3) of Section three of the principal Act shall as respects certificates which cease to be in force after the date of the passing of this Act apply only in the case of a man who has been engaged in an occupation certified by a Government Department to be work of national importance, or whose conditions of employment have been subject to the provisions of Section seven of the Munitions of War Act, 1915, and in all other cases the Sub-section shall be construed as if "two weeks" were substituted for "two months," and as if the words "unless in 2130 the meantime the man has made an application for a renewal of his certificate" were substituted for the words "unless in the meantime the man has obtained a renewal of his certificate."
§ Lords Amendment: Leave out the words "a man who has", and insert instead thereof the words "men who have".
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ Mr. LONG
I desire to make a brief statement in connection with this Amendment. It will, I think, be convenient that I shall deal with the question as a whole. Following this Amendment, there is a second, to leave out the word "or" ["or whose conditions of employment"], and insert instead thereof the words "and were engaged in such an occupation before the fifteenth day of August, 1915, and in the case of men".
The really important words are "and who were engaged in such an occupation before the fifteenth day of August, 1915." This is an Amendment to what is known as the Industrial Compulsion Clause. This Clause underwent some alteration when the Bill was before this House, and both in this Bill and also in the original Act it gave rise to no little difficulty, and in some quarters there was, I think, an impression that there was a sort of conflict between the Army Council on the one hand and the representatives of Labour, in this House and out of it, on the other; that while the Army Council was striving by means, legitimate or illegitimate, to get every man it could into its hands, Labour was striving, on the other hand, to defeat the legitimate objects of the Army Council and to prevent men being enlisted in the service of their country. I can speak with some personal experience because I have been engaged in connection with these two Bills in the consideration and settlement of a great many of these questions, and I have been brought into the closest possible contact, not only with the Army Council, but also with the representatives of Labour in and out of the House, and I can state emphatically that all that the Army Council desires is to fulfil its duty to the State by getting the soldiers that are required to serve their country, and, on the other hand, I can state with equal emphasis that, so far as Labour is concerned in and out of the House, throughout the whole of these negotiations and the whole of our work, it has co-operated with 2131 the Army Council and with the Government in a spirit of loyalty and self-sacrifice which not only reflects great credit upon Labour, but to which is due in no small measure the great success which has attended the efforts of the Government in raising these great armies. There has been no attempt on either side to steal or obtain any improper advantage. We really have had throughout the same object. The only difficulty has been to find words which would give effect to what both the Army Council and the representatives of Labour thought right.
What was desired and intended was to make it impossible that there should be, under any form of compulsory service, what is known as industrial compulsion. In another place words were inserted which excluded from the operation of the amended Section those men who have gone into their employment since the 15th of August, 1915, the date from which all our new arrangements date. I thought when the Bill left this House, as I think still, that on the whole our plan was the simplest and the best. But that was not the view taken by the Army Council. I have discussed it with them at very great length and on many occasions, and they hold the view that the Clause as it stands, while it does not prevent industrial compulsion, which they are anxious to prevent, does undoubtedly open the door to the escape of many of those who ought to be recruited. The House knows that we have been engaged now for some time in what is known as combing out our various industries in order to get men who can properly be released from industry and enlisted with the Colours, and the Army Council assure me that this Clause operates so widely that it allows these combings, as they are called, to escape, and consequently throws upon the older married men the obligation of recruitment first when it ought to fall upon the single men who would be available if we could get at them. They attach the greatest importance to this change, and they authorise me to say that in their opinion for military reasons this is essentially necessary. In those circumstances the Government propose to ask the House to agree with the Lords Amendment, and in making that recommendation I desire to state that, in order to avoid, not merely industrial compulsion, but if we can what has been a most unfortunate and expensive mistake in the past, namely, the en- 2132 listment with the Colours of men who are required for work at home, and who have consequently to be released subsequently from the Colours and brought back to England, and in order to assist the Army Council in this, and other matters, we have asked the Labour party to appoint a small committee—I hope it will not be composed of more than three members—who will be constantly in session and will be prepared to advise and assist the Army Council in regard to the particular labour problem.
§ Mr. LONG
If my hon. Friend desires to show that he thinks our proposals are unsound, we shall be glad to listen to him. I am stating what we have done, for which I take full responsibility. Those who disagree can state their views afterwards. There is no reason for interrupting me now. I doubt whether the particular questions upon which the Army Council desires assistance and advice are not questions upon which it is essential that the advice should come from those who are conversant with the actual conditions in which men are working in the various industries rather than those who, though they may represent labour politically, as they are entitled to do to a greater or less degree, have not under their immediate charge the protection of those special rights and privileges, and the supervision of those difficulties which have from the beginning been connected with this question and with the maintenance of national industries throughout the country. The Army Council believes that this committee will enable these difficulties if they should occur to be overcome. For instance, supposing there is a case of industrial compulsion, all that the committee would have to do would be to bring that case to the notice of the Army Council.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I thought that we were told previously that the Bill would not have anything to do with industrial compulsion.
§ Mr. LONG
Our object is to prevent industrial compulsion. I have always said that in my view industrial compulsion is impossible, but that is not the view taken by a considerable section of this House. The Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of the Government, undertook that if it could be demonstrated that there was any risk of industrial compulsion under the powers of this Bill, it should be made impossible by the introduction of the necessary powers. Well, that is not easy. We have done our best to find words which would make it impossible to use the powers of this Bill for the purpose of industrial compulsion. It seems easy enough, but it has been found impossible to simply set that out, and therefore the protection of Section (6) is limited by the Amendment inserted in another place to those who were in these occupations before a particular date; and I am now only explaining the machinery by which we believe we can—and certainly the Army Council are very positive we must—deal with any case of industrial compulsion of the kind to which I refer, namely, where men such as fitters, moulders, or others are taken into the Army, but ought to be in their industries, the Army Council have authorised me to say that they have had to deal with this very difficult question already. I think the House knows that where men have been enlisted into the Army, and it has been found necessary to transfer them from the Army to industry, the Army Council have done their best—everybody will realise that—to meet the practical difficulty by releasing these men temporrarily from the Colours for certain industries. I am not quite certain which are the industries, but I think they are mainly connected with munitions. But the Army Council find that this has undoubtedly resulted in some limitation of the actual freedom of these men, and they do not think it is a system that will continue to work. They therefore authorise me to say that, as soon as they have the machinery available, they intend to place these men in the new Reserve which is created under this Bill, taking care to obviate any financial loss or detriment to the men. I think it is quite clear that by the policy already decided upon it will make absolutely impossible, so far as that can be effected, 2134 that anything in the form of industrial compulsion shall come under the powers of this Act. I have always said that we did not believe that it was likely to happen, and so far as we can see it is impossible; but it is quite obvious that there is a way in which the ultimate fate of compulsory service might be used to compel a workman to do what he did not want to do. Therefore this machinery, coupled with the statement I have made on behalf of the Army Council, will, I hope, satisfy the House that we are doing our best to carry out the promise made to the House by the Prime Minister, and that the Government and the Army Council, in endeavouring to get men, at the same time are desirous of avoiding this difficulty, which we all seek to obviate. I hope the House will accept my motion to agree with the Lords in their Amendment.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I desire to make only one or two observations on the speech of my right hon. Friend. Certainly, so far as I am concerned, I quite agree with the Amendment made by the House of Lords. I think it was a necessary limiting Amendment upon the Amendment which was passed, rather in a hurry, at the end of the passing of this Bill, and without very much consideration, when the Bill was in this House.
§ Sir E. CARSON
The matter has been further considered, and of necessity further considered, and it is quite plain that the Army Council, who felt that the Bill would not work, thought that this Amendment should be drawn up and proposed in the other House. It was proposed in another place, and the Amendment was accepted. But my right hon. Friend gets the Amendment accepted as an extraordinary kind of deal with the Labour Members. I do not mind that; the House understands what it is; I have not the faintest objection in the world. Some Members of the House imagine that I am in persistent hostility to the Labour Members. It is exactly the contrary. Certainly, since this War broke out, I do not think I have ever said one word disrespectful of anything that was done for them, or as to concessions made, having regard to the enormous services they have rendered during this War. But we really cannot allow, simple as the proposition is, that it should be said, "This is all right; we understand all about it." I do not believe anybody in the House who heard 2135 the statement of my right hon. Friend knows what this Committee is about. I say honestly that I do not.
§ Mr. LONG
My right hon. Friend will allow me to interrupt him. He stated that there has been a deal. There has been nothing of the kind, nothing at all of the kind. This Committee was set up a very long time ago, but it has not been in operation. It was set up long ago in order that the Government might get the advice of Labour representatives.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I am not in the least objecting, but I think the right hon. Gentleman did not give the names of this Committee, even though it was set up a long time ago.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Then my right hon. Friend does not know to whom it is to be entrusted, or going to be entrusted. Let the House see what is the effect of this kind of statement. The Government have told us over and over again—and I believe it to be absolutely sound—that this Bill has nothing to do with industrial compulsion. It is on the faith of this that the Bill has gone through, and everybody has supported that idea without, I think, a single objection being raised. The right hon. Gentleman now tells us that there may be an apprehension of industrial compulsion. By whom? Is it by the employers? Is it by the employed? If by the employers, who is to represent them? If by the employed, has this Committee to deal with them, and how? Let us see what would happen. Somebody may say, "There is a man put into the wrong place, amounting to industrial compulsion," and thereupon the Army Council are suddenly to summon the Committee of Labour members, who are to decide whether the person is inside or outside the Act of Parliament. On a matter of that kind, ought not we to have a definite scheme for deciding a difficult question. I have not the slightest objection to leaving it to the Labour party, if you like, but let us know what we are leaving to the Labour party—and there is no man in this House at the present moment who knows what is to be left to the members of the Labour party! I believe you cannot administer without friction your Act of Parliament in this kind of way. You must frame your Act of Parliament so as to make it clear what you mean, and there is really no difficulty in 2136 doing that. Look at the kind of friction that might arise. Supposing the Army Council took one view, and the Labour party, whatever it is, takes the other view, whose view is to prevail? I do submit to my right hon. Friend, "before this Committee is set up, and before this matter is finished, that the House ought to have before it in black and white the exact relation of this Committee to the administration of this Bill and to the Army Council in carrying out the Act.
§ Mr. BARNES
I am sorry that a very simple matter has been clouded over with a number of words. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] I was not aware that my hon. Friend had risen.
§ Mr. WARDLE
I quite accept the explanation of my right hon. Friend who has just said that he was not aware I was getting up. It is simply a misunderstanding which I hope the House will not think has any importance attaching to it. I got up at once because I felt it was my duty to do so in view of the statement which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just made. I say quite emphatically that there has been no such thing as any deal or any bargain in regard to this matter. I want to say that now most emphatically, in view of what I intend to say later. I repeat emphatically that there has been neither any deal nor any bargain with regard to either the question of the Committee or with regard to the question of this Amendment. Most of those with whom I am associated are very sorry to see that this Amendment has been accepted in the House of Lords. We much prefer the Bill as it left the Commons, and I believe that we shall be bound to take a Division upon this matter, because the thing is really of such a serious character that we feel we must, in order to safeguard the rights of those for whom we speak, take the opinion of the House of Commons upon the question whether this Amendment which has been made by the Lords should remain in the Bill or should not. In regard to the question of the Committee, let me say quite emphatically that if this Committee is proposed by the Government, the Government are proposing it entirely upon their own responsibility, and the onerous nature of the duties which would be thrown upon a Committee of that character might well make any Member of the Labour party—or any other party in this House—hesitate very much before accepting a position of that responsibility and of that 2137 character. There can be no doubt about it that there is a fear of what is called industrial conscription arising out of this Bill, especially if the Amendments which the House of Lords have introduced today are allowed to stand. Let me give one illustration. Only to-day I gather that there were ninety engineers discharged from railway works in Darlington, and immediately they were discharged the military were acquainted with the fact of their discharge, and there is a feeling that these men might be taken under this two weeks' Clause into the Army without being given proper opportunity, which we think they ought to have, in order that they can carry out their duties. At the very same time that the military are acquainted with the fact that the men are discharged, there is a fear that thousands of the men wanted will not go into munition works and various other occupations which are absolutely essential to the carrying on of this War, much more essential than that these men should go into the Army.
What is the fear? It is not of the Army Council, although there may have been cases where the Army Council had made mistakes, and it is not the Government. It is the fact that while there are good employers in this country—and I am not going to say a word against them—there are other employers who, if they have the opportunity, will take advantage of holding over the head of a man the threat that if he does not do exactly what they want, then he will be discharged, and the only refuge—the only effect would be that he must go into the Army under the compulsion, not of the Army Council, but of the employer. That is the real point where the danger comes in. It may be said, why object to this Amendment, because you agree—and I say here so far as I am personally concerned I do agree and many of my Friends agree—that where men have gone into munition works and other certified occupations to escape military service there is not the slightest reason why those men, unless they are doing better work where they are, should not be transferred into the Army. When we come to the present position it only shows that if these men had been wanted in the Army and could be taken from industry, then they ought to have been given notice to cease working in their industry long ago, before the Act came into operation, and then a two weeks' Clause or a two months' Clause would not have been necessary at all. There has been plenty of time for the 2138 Army Council and the other people who carry out the Military Service Acts to have brought this about. We do not see any necessity for this Amendment. We do not believe you will get a single man a single day sooner in consequence of it. You allowed us a safeguard which many of the men concerned will still obtain, and for the reasons which I have given I feel bound to say that we must divide.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
It has always seemed to me that there has been a considerable amount of misunderstanding on this question amongst Labour representatives. As far as the practical working is concerned I would like to put the question from a practical point of view, as it bears on cases with which I am personally acquainted. Under the original Act a man has a munition certificate stating that he is working with, say, Messrs. Jones & Co. He leaves Messrs. Jones, very often without any certificate, and disappears for two months. If the man has given up munitions work he is possibly doing work of no earthly value to the country, and yet he is allowed to remain outside the Army, while every other citizen in a similar position is compelled to go into the Army. I cannot understand why Labour Members consider that a fair state of things. I will go further. We are continually being pressed to comb out the single men. The military authorities and the munition authorities come and say, "How many single men have you got, and can you not substitute married men and women?" What is the good of that if every single man who leaves your works to-day has two months in which you cannot use him at all. If he goes in the meantime and finds another week's work in a certified industry, he can get another two months, and if he has got any sense at all he can go on all his life getting exemption after exemption under the Act as it stands. That is not what is wanted, or what was intended, but that is exactly how the thing has worked out. It has worked out largely in that way because of the very bad way in which the matter has been worked. I have pointed out myself to the Ministry of Munitions that a man ought to be certified as carrying on some skilled trade, and not as working for any particular firm. Now, if a man is working for a particular firm he gets a badge, and in some cases a certificate, so that you 2139 really duplicate matters. No man seeing the certificate knows whether the person who has it is an engineer, or labourer, or whether he is of an occupation which is wanted or not. That is one of the difficulties that has arisen.
I think, as things are to-day in the labour market, that a fortnight ought to be enough to enable a man to get fifty jobs. I do not believe myself it would be found difficult for any man of any value to find a job in a fortnight. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Wardle) is rather confusing two different points. If a man is necessary for national work he ought not to be taken into the Army, and if he is not necessary he has no right to exemption. It is not a question of compulsion by employers; the compulsion usually comes from outside of the employers. No employer is anxious to discharge men when he does not know where he is going to get any men to do his work. Hon. Members have been shouting that these single men should be combed out, and have told us that they had no wish to keep them in works where they had no right to be. Is a man to be given a prescriptive right to stop at a certain place and not go into the Army? The only standard, I think, should be to have the people where they can do the best work. I think, and I have always thought, that the original two months was a mistake, and that fourteen days is quite sufficient. It ought surely to be made impossible for the ninety engineers of whom the hon. Member for Stockport spoke, to be taken into the Army. I do not think this question is affected by the Amendment, but that it is one of administration. As far as I know, these men have the right to appeal. Obviously they are badged men, and cannot be taken into the Army. If they are not badged they have only got to go to any Labour Exchange and declare themselves munition workers and get an exemption ticket. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, no!"] Certainly they can. I saw that only the other day.
§ Sir A. MOND
A man wanted to go to munitions, went to the Labour Exchange and got a ticket as a munitions volunteer, and I think, so far as I know, that is still open. I think that some of the vague fears which have been expressed exist in people's minds, and that up to 2140 now those great fears have not been found to exist. Most industries to-day are controlled, and surely nobody is going to say that in the controlled works it should be possible to compel people to do something which was quite wrong. The hon. Member for Stockport spoke of men "taking refuge in the Army." That struck me as a very extraordinary expression when over three million men have already gone. To say, "Look at this poor workman, whose foreman says 'if you do not do some degrading thing you will have to go into the Army,'" surely, considering that millions of men have gone—
§ Mr. WARDLE
The right hon. Gentleman must have misunderstood me. I did not mean to use the word "refuge" in the sense which he means, and I withdraw it at once.
§ Sir A. MOND
The hardship seems to me to be an illusory one. I cannot understand any man of spirit, of military age, submitting to any kind of order because he has to join the Army. Why, one of the difficulties has been that men insisted on going into the Army, and some of them are still insisting on doing so. In a town of my own Constituency I know of a case in which colliers walked twelve miles to a recruiting office in order to join the Army, and they were very much disgusted on being told that it was a reserved occupation and that they were not allowed to join. It does not seem to me that there is much chance of any employer doing much wrong with the alternative that the man has to go into the Army unless he does a certain thing. In such a case the men would say in a body, "We will go, and you can carry on your works as best you may." I do not think myself the intention of the Amendment has ever been a very sound one. I am sorry that the Labour party are going to divide. After all, the Government met them handsomely against what was the opinion of some of us, and we did not divide against the Government, because the point was not a vital one. I should have thought that hon. Members might very well accept the alteration plus the offer of a Labour Committee, rather than put the House to the trouble of a Division.
§ Mr. BARNES
A great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said is true, provided something was not done 2141 long ago. The right hon. Gentleman seems to forget all about the Munitions Act. We did not ask for the Munitions Act.
§ Mr. BARNES
I not only did not vote for it, but I was not here when it was passed, and I took the very earliest opportunity when I came back to say that I would not have voted for it if I had been here. Consequently the observation is entirely uncalled for. My right hon. Friend says we were asking for certain privileges. Let me assure him we have never asked for any privilege. The assumption underlying his remarks is that people engaged in munitions are simply asking and demanding that they should be specially dealt with. As a matter of fact, the Government specially dealt with them six months ago. They took away from them their industrial freedom and placed their industrial freedom in the hands of employers. That has given rise to the whole difficulty, because owing to the provision of handing over the industrial freedom of a man into the hands of his employer, the man was penalised in the way of not getting employment in a munitions factory for six weeks, or anywhere else. The munitions factories were not so numerous at that time. Practically the munitions factories cover the whole field now, and therefore that penalty is very real, as far as the operatives of munitions factories, or industries connected therewith, are concerned. It is that six weeks that has given rise to the whole difficulty. All the demand that we have put up is that things should be again equalised by this Bill, and that is the simple explanation on that point. Hence the eight weeks, now lessened to a fortnight. I have a good deal of sympathy with what was said by the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) last week. I know there have been a good many men—I know personally of grocers' assistants and scene-shifters—who have gone to munition factories, and there are a great many more, whose fathers are town councillors or something of that kind, and happen to know the manager of a munitions factory, and therefore have been able to get into munition factories instead of going into the Army. There are a good many men of that sort in munition factories, and, for my part, I do not want to keep them there. I would rather have them out. Having gone so 2142 far, I might as well go farther and say that I do not know yet how I am going to vote if a Division is taken. A good deal might be said, but I think it best not to say it here, at all events, although I may have something to say elsewhere. With regard to the remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University, I am awfully sorry that there has been so much clouding the issue about this Committee. As far as I understand, the Committee is to have nothing to do with industrial compulsion.
§ Mr. BARNES
If the hon. Baronet had listened when I spoke last week, and the week before he would have heard what I then said on the subject. I do not like repeating what I said, but I suppose I must. I have been employed by the Government in getting men from France, Canada, and elsewhere, and I know the terrible shortage of labour there is in engineering, shipbuilding, and kindred trades. Many places are now working their men from six in the morning till nine at night every day. These shops ought to be working night shifts, but they cannot get the men. We all know, too, what a terrible difficulty there is in regard to tonnage. Hence the desirability of getting more men for the shipbuilding yards. While that position has existed for the last few months to the extent of thousands of pounds having to be spent to get men out of the Army in France, all the time men have actually been taken from the workshops in this country. Exactly the same sort of men that we have been bringing from France have been taken into the Army and sent to France or Salonika or elsewhere. It is because of that that this small Committee is required. I did not ask for a small Committee. I have made representations, as I am doing now, as to what has been taking place and suggested that it should be stopped. The Committee is entirely the right hon. Gentleman's own suggestion. It comes from him, not from us. What is the Committee for? I feel sure that it is out of no disparagement to the hon. Baronet that it has been suggested it should consist of Labour men. It is simply because Labour men know the sort of man that is wanted. I do not want to set msyelf up as an authority on anything else, but there are certain matters of which I have had daily experience. I spent twenty-two years of my life in engineering and ship- 2143 building yards from one end of the country to the other. I know all the groups of workmen, all the divisions and sub-divisions in the engineering and shipbuilding yards. Therefore, I was of some service to an official of the Local Government Board the other day when he was drawing up a list of men whom the local tribunals will have no authority in the future to take from the workshops, no matter what their ages may be. Prior to that there had been a provision that certain men marked "M M" should not be disturbed. Then there was an alteration, and it was stipulated that the same type of men should not be disturbed if they were over twenty-five and then over thirty years of age, the assumption being, I suppose, that a man under twenty-five is more suitable for the Army. The right hon. Gentleman had at last recognised that even if men are under twenty-five years of age it is very impolitic to take them away from the workshops. Hence this new circular providing that certain types of men will be left in the workshops no matter what their age may be, and that no local tribunal will have any power to touch them. It will be the duty of this small Committee, as I understand, to determine what sort of men should be included in any subsequent circular or in any interpretation of the last circular. No principle is involved. It is simply a matter of ascertainment of fact.
With regard to the Reserve, I am somewhat alarmed, and I venture to give the right hon. Gentleman a word of warning. I am afraid he has been misled. When the Bill was introduced the Prime Minister made a passing reference to a Reserve. Many hon. Members, including myself, were a little alarmed, but when it was explained, it appeared to be all right, and I believe it is all right. I do not believe there is the slightest fear of any man going into that Reserve and having done to him anything which may be said to be industrial compulsion. But what I am sorry to find is the new-born zeal and love of certain Members of my own party for this new Reserve. I only knew this from reading the OFFICIAL REPORT the other day. The suggestion was made, and apparently accepted by the right hon. Gentleman, that everybody should be lumped into this new Reserve. If you do anything of the kind you will have trouble. If you had had this Reserve at the beginning of the War it might have been done all right, and no other consideration except the free- 2144 dom of the workmen would have been involved. But you had not; you have only started it now. You have other Reserves in actual operation. You have—I do not know how many—probably tens of thousands of workmen up and down the country, working in another Reserve. What are you doing with them? You are giving them 17s. 6d. a week in addition to their wages. Immediately you lump these men into the new Reserve it means taking 17s. 6d.—
§ Mr. BARNES
Then I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. I gathered that he was going to convert the other Reserves into this one. I need not say anything further on the point. I am not at all sorry that I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, because I know that the suggestion has been made from these benches. I am glad he has not accepted that suggestion, and I hope he will not, because if he does he will have plenty of trouble.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I do not think there ought to be much dissension on this Amendment, although I do not like the Clause relating to the Committee.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I mean arrangement. I agree with every word said by the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University as to the patriotic part played by the great majority of the Labour party during the War. But I think that too much importance has for years past been placed on the fact that a man labels himself "Labour." We sat on the benches opposite before the Labour party came into the House, and we permitted them to sit on the benches they now occupy although, being new Members, they ought to have gone on the benches behind. Because a man labels himself "Labour" he claims to be entitled to speak on all labour questions on behalf of labour, while we who represent labour just as much as the so-called Labour Members do are supposed to be not so entitled. Hon. Members are quite wrong in taking that view. I know far more about the conditions of labour than any member of the Labour party does, because I am in constant daily contact 2145 with the work carried out by my Constituents, whereas members of the Labour party only see the working men at meetings at night, when the differences between myself and other employers and the men are brought to their notice. Hon. Members know also that working men in industrial constituencies constantly reject these so-called Labour representatives and select others. They may be right, or they may be wrong. But I object to this preference being given in this House to men simply because they call themselves labour. I do not know what this Committee is for at all. The Leader of the Labour party says there has been no deal. I do not understand it. I do not know what the exact dictionary meaning of the word "deal" is, but, if this is not a deal, I do not know what is. Can Members who sit on the benches below me give any single case where a man has been industrially conscripted since the passing of the Act at the beginning of this year? I do not believe they can. I have a good deal to do with men who come under the operation of this Act, but I have never known a single case where a man was industrially conscripted. As to this bargain which the right hon. Gentleman has made with Members who claim to represent labour—
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
The right hon. Gentleman is really playing with the House, if he wishes us to believe that all these conversations have taken place within the House itself. We should not have heard about the Committee of three 2146 unless he had had conversations with Gentlemen sitting below me, either at his own office or elsewhere. However, I do not want to press the point. I only protest against the arrangement under which Members representing industrial constituencies, who are just as well able to judge on these matters as hon. Members who label themselves "Labour," are shut out from this Committee which is going to advise the Government.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The discussion we have had this afternoon illustrates the unfortunate consequences of haste, for this Bill has been passed both through this House and the other place. Had this subject been discussed with the deliberation it deserves we would not now have been in the midst of the confusion and difficulties with which the House is faced. I have to complain in the first place of the obscurity, the deep obscurity, which still hangs over this Committee of the Labour party which has to deal with this particular Clause. We have heard that this Committee is to discharge certain functions with regard to this matter—at least, that was the impression made by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board when he proposed the Motion now before the House. We have been told, however, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackfriars that this Committee has absolutely no relation to the Clause now under discussion. This is a matter which deserves to be cleared up. The House ought definitely to be told before we part with this Amendment whether this particular Committee is to act as a Court of Appeal for the tribunals or for the Government Departments. The matter is one which ought to be cleared up; it ought not to be left in the obscure position in which it is at present. We were told that there has been no deal, but it emerged, as a result of the dialogue between the hon. Baronet (Sir A. Markham) and the President of the Local Government Board, that there had been "conversations." Obviously the "conversations" have had some substantial result. Apparently the attitude of what is still called the Labour party is to be modified in some way by the concession of this precious Committee.
The real point, however, is one of considerable substance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackfriars said it was a simple matter. It is nothing of the kind. I do not believe that at the 2147 present time the majority of the Members of this House understand either the Clause as it stands in the Bill without the Amendment or the exact effect of the Lords Amendment. The majority of the members of the Labour party at the present moment think that under the Clause the position of every man who is engaged in munitions work or in work of national importance is safeguarded—that is to say, every man engaged in this work before 15th August, 1915. That is their impression. It is not so at all. It says that protection is only granted in respect of certificates which ceased to be in force after the date of the passing of the Act—that is, in respect of certificates granted under the original Act. Consequently it will not apply to the certificates referred to by the Amendment. Therefore, every single married men who becomes compulsorily enlisted under the Amendment Act is now subject to the two weeks' period, irrespective of whether he is or is not under the Munitions Act. I do not suppose the Labour party understood that. At least, the consideration of that point seems to have been absent altogether from the speeches of the Labour party, and from that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackfriars. There is also another effect. It applies also to every man who has received a certificate of exemption on the footing that he was to have two months.
Everybody knows that it was only in the very early days of the tribunals that the tribunals did not take into account the two months beyond the term of postponement. As soon as it was discovered that there were two months additional under Section 6 of the original Act every tribunal in every part of the country, in granting an exemption, has always granted it on the footing that there was two months in addition to the time mentioned in the certificate. But as this is, no man -who has lost his certificate in the two months allowed for will be entitled to that. They will be compelled, every one of them, to go before the tribunal. You will, consequently, have every tribunal in the country having to take up every one of these cases, readjudicate upon it, and give a new term of exemption. Was ever anything more ridiculous done in the name of national organisation? We are mobilising and organising our resources! We are now placing the whole of our resources under scientific organisation, 2148 and the two Houses of Parliament and the Coalition Government decide to do this most ridiculous thing in the name of scientific mobilisation! Hardly ever has a more stupid thing been the result of the combined wisdom of the Government and of the two Houses of Parliament.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Yes, and the conversations—those that have taken place either in the room of the President of the Local Government Board, or in his office at Whitehall, or in the room of the Labour party. In spite of our Debates here, and of all the difficulties—it is true that we have sat into the small hours of the morning—we have perpetrated this extra ordinary legislative monstrosity. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea talked of the ridiculousness of giving two months to every man who is a munitions worker. The right hon. Baronet knows perfectly well that had it not been for Section 7 of the Munitions Act we would never have had this at all. The right hon. Baronet had the opportunity of getting rid of that ridiculous Clause when the Munitions of War (Amendment) Act was going through this House. At that time he got up and advised the Minister of Munitions to maintain it. He said that what was wanted was not less industrial compulsion, but more. This he said on the Second Reading of the Bill. Now he gets up and professes the greatest amazement that there should be any doubt or misgiving in any part of the country regarding industrial compulsion, when he himself, with the exception, perhaps, of one Minister on that bench, has done more than anybody else in the country to excite this misgiving. Obviously, if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen wish to get rid of this provision of the two months, it is for them to agitate for the amendment of the Munitions Act. Let them get rid of this fetter upon industrial freedom, and upon a man's freedom to seek employment where he wishes. I do not believe that under existing conditions the supply of munitions is promoted in the slightest degree, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree—
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think that the right hon. Baronet does not watch the proceedings that go on before the Munitions-Tribunals.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
It is an unfortunate thing that it is before the Munitions Tribunals that these offences are prosecuted. It is quite true that the right hon. Baronet may not take the trouble to prosecute before these tribunals in respect of these workers, but undoubtedly anybody who looks at the reports of these proceedings in different parts of the country, in the West of Scotland, in the North of England, on the Tyne, or even in London, will see that there are constant prosecutions of men for evading this particular Statute. In many cases, it is true, the man cannot be traced, but at the same time there is a sufficient number of prosecutions to make the existence of this provision a very keenly felt grievance by large sections of workmen. I believe it is futile. I believe it is disastrous in its results. As the right hon. Gentleman now thinks it absolutely useless, I hope that he will use his great influence with the Minister of Munitions to secure a further Amendment of the Act, and the repeal of this mischievous and pernicious provision. I mention this provision as a justification for the insertion of the two months period.
So long as you have this provision in the Munitions Act, namely, that if a man leaves his employment in a controlled establishment without his employer's assent, or the assent of the Munitions Tribunal, that he is to go idle for six weeks before he can get other employment—so long as you have that you must give a period of extra exemption in respect of military service beyond the six weeks' period, so that the man may have an opportunity of securing other employment. That is obvious. The members of the Labour party admit it. In respect to this particular Amendment of the House of Lords it is doubtful whether it is of any real value in limiting the application of the exemption. It will only apply, in the first place, to men who are exempt under the original Act. It will not have any application to any certificate of exemption granted under this Act. It only applies to men who have not been employed either in the same or similar occupations before August, 1915. The Amendment does not say "immediately before." There might be a considerable interval between the period before, or the earlier period of this employment, and the employment subsequent to that date. It is a point whether the 2150 Army Council are well-advised in introducing that position in view of the small number of men who will become available by reason of it. I think, however, that the whole Clause as it stands is a mistake. It is introducing difficulties and confusion, and as a protest against the alteration of the original Act I am going to vote against its insertion.
§ Mr. THOMAS
We have listened to some interesting lectures this afternoon. The right hon. Baronet (Sir A. Markham) told the House very plainly that his grievance against the Labour party, since 1906, was that they had robbed him of a particular seat that he enjoyed, seeing the seat he now occupies probably prevents him often from catching the Speaker's eye. In any case I do not think any member of the Labour party claims to represent his constituency in any different sense to that of any other Member of the House. It is, however, true to say that the hon. Baronet does not employ a large number of men, and I believe, unlike many other Members of this House, he is satisfied that it is to his interest to give preference to trade unionists. It is also quite true to say that the miners do not usually go to the hon. Baronet for advice. They invariably go to the miners' leaders to seek advice in order to fight the hon. Baronet. That is where the differences and the close connection come in. It is quite true that though they cannot trust the hon. Baronet to weigh their coal for them, they are quite ready to allow him to make laws for them. Then the right hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea (Sir Alfred Mond) informed the Labour party that they are primarily responsible for what he calls the combing out of the single men. I do not know, but I have a distinct recollection of the right hon. Gentleman giving his blessing to the Labour men in that combing-out process. I think it was he who was pointing out how wise they were, and how unwise those other people were who did not see quite eye-to-eye on this matter.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The right hon. Gentleman was lecturing everybody who did not support the single-men theory, and that was nothing else but the combing-out process.
§ Sir A. MOND
I admit I have always advocated universal compulsion, but that the single men ought to go first.
§ Mr. THOMAS
It is quite true that, whilst the right hon. Baronet did advocate universal compulsion, he was also specially anxious to get the single men first. But I want to come to this so-called bargain, because, for the first time I think, I was in it, and I think I had better clear the air straight away as to what actually happened. I do not know whether it is assumed that other Members of this House do not take part in Parliamentary negotiations. I have a very distinct recollection of being connected with many deputations and negotiations with other Members in this House, and I do not think it is any exception to the rule to find the Labour party being consulted. So far as I understand, what took place is this: When the Labour Members met the right hon. Gentleman they were faced with an Amendment that was contemplated in the other House, and that Amendment which would have had the effect of putting everybody under the military machine. It would have had the effect of nullifying all the efforts that were being made to prevent engineers being driven into the Army; in short, it was to give the Army Council absolute and complete control. Now we were told, at this conversation, that the Army Council did not desire industrial compulsion. We were told quite frankly that the Army Council was as anxious to safeguard industrial compulsion as we were, but they were anxious to obtain those thousands of people my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. S. Walsh) was anxious about who had got into mines and other places, and I said immediately that if that was the object it could be obtained in another way than by the Clause that was then on the Paper. Curiously enough, I have since found myself in the position of being fathered with this proposal that the Lords are now asking us to accept. At all events, I want to make it perfectly clear that I thought then, and I still think, that this is the only way to deal exclusively with those who have gone into occupations for the purpose of escaping military service, but nevertheless this does, in the very nature of things, create industrial compulsion.
Several people have asked for an illustration of how it operates. To-day a case was brought to my notice of a fireman who had been for fifteen years employed by one of our trunk companies. He met with a mishap. A fortnight ago he had an unfortunate slip on the railway. The rail- 2152 way company punished him by reducing him threepence a day. He is a married man with a family, and he says, "I cannot live on 24s. a week. I think the punishment of losing threepence per day is excessive, and therefore I will immediately tender my resignation and get, another job." Immediately he does that the railway company says, "No; so far as we are concerned, although we have exercised our right to punish you, we will not give you a leaving certificate." That is to say, having punished the man, he, not being satisfied with the punishment, decides to seek another job, and then the employer says, "We will prevent you getting a job." Under this Clause, although the employer has the right to prevent the man getting another job, he automatically, in a fortnight, goes into the Army. Now that is the crux of the whole question. I will give another case that happened on Monday. At Southampton there is a body of men who were subject hitherto to one day's notice—that is to say, if the railway company liked to say to them on Saturday night, "We do not require your services," on Monday morning they cease to be employed. These men have been under contract for a large number of years. Now the Government have opened a factory right across the river where they are paying 7d. per hour. One of these men says, "Seeing that I am only subject to a day's notice and I only get 5½d. an hour, I will get a job under the Government at 7d. an hour." He immediately goes across, and they say to him, "We are quite willing to employ you, as we are short of men, but we want a leaving certificate from you," and when he goes over to the South-Western Company and asks for this leaving certificate, they say, "Oh, no, we are not going to allow you to leave, and you are thereby penalised six weeks." What happens in that case? The Government, or the new employer, whoever he may be, refuses to employ the man. The late employer refuses to give him a leaving certificate. He is out of work for a fortnight, and within the fortnight he comes under the provision of that Clause.
It is no good arguing that that is not industrial compulsion. It is no good comparing the position as being a privilege. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport did not speak of the Army in a disparaging sense. He did not mean that at all. None of us could suggest that it is any disgrace to be associated with men who have given their lives for eighteen 2153 months. That is not the sense in which it is understood at all, but what we say is that if these people up to now have been necessary in the country's interest, is it not putting an unfortunate and a dangerous power in the hands of an employer who may be unscrupulous and use it in the opposite direction? That is the danger of the position. The Minister of Munitions came down to this House and said, "I am being hampered by some trade unions who will not relax their rules." The First Lord of the Admiralty himself from that bench emphasised that the real need of the Navy was the dilution of labour. The Minister of Munitions intimated that, so far as he was concerned, he required 80,000 skilled and 200,000 unskilled workers, and, as I am reminded by an hon. Friend, they want 30,000 skilled workers yet. What is the meaning of dilution of labour? My right hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) says, "I know grocers' assistants and scene-shifters who have gone into munition factories." It may be true, but they have gone in at the invitation of the Minister of Munitions, and they have gone in because the trade unions have relaxed their rules. Dilution of labour can only mean a blending of unskilled with skilled men. It can only mean that some of those who hitherto were excluded from this kind of work have now been brought in and trained, and what I want to put to the House is this: If it s true, as we have been told, that our munition factories are not working and producing the output they ought to produce, if it is true that munition factories to-day cannot be opened because of the shortage of labour, is it not a waste of energy, and is it not bad organisation, that you should talk about bringing out of the factories the very people you invited in and have been training so long? It is because there is the danger felt by the working classes of the power of an unscrupulous employer—we are not dealing with the Government in this matter at all—
§ Mr. THOMAS
And equally an unscrupulous workman, because do not let it be assumed that any Labour man pretends that all the virtues are on the side of the working classes. They have the same vices as the other people. The only difference is that the other people have more friends to look after their interests and more 2154 power, and we, on the other hand, feel that it is our duty to look after the interests of the working classes. In this connection I think the Government ought to stand by the Clause as it is. Labour never asked for, and was not party to, the six weeks' Clause in the Munitions Act. Some of us opposed that Clause, and the original eight weeks was only inserted in the Bill because of the Munitions Act. Having regard to all those circumstances, having regard to the dangers, and having regard to the fact that there is a suspicion in the minds of the workers which we want to allay, I hope the Government will reconsider their position, and say that what the President of the Local Government Board said when he accepted the original Amendment of the Labour party is as true-to-day as it was then.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
Is it not possible for my right hon. Friend to ask the House to disagree with the Lords' Amendment? I, unlike the hon. Member for Mansfield, regret that there is no deal or bargain between my right hon. Friend and the Labour party. If the suggestion of a Committee really meets the objection of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), or if there is any other way on a point, on which they are rightly and naturally sensitive, by which they would be satisfied, that would probably satisfy other Members of this House. The House agreed to the Clause in the form in which it left the House without a Division, and without any opposition except from the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), and the House agreed to that for the very obvious reason that the vast majority of this House are thoroughly opposed to industrial compulsion, and modifications put in at the instance of the Labour party, and in the form in which this left the House, were taken as a security against this industrial compulsion. I am confident that even the slightest tinge of industrial compulsion is far more deeply resented and more likely to be a serious difficulty in the country than all the military compulsion which is now possible under these various Acts of Parliament. It is quite clear to-day, from the speeches of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Wardle) and the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), that Labour does not agree with or accept this Amendment proposed in the Lords, and these adumbrations of the Committee, whatever be the subject-matter which they are to deal 2155 with, are not taken as adequate substitutes. Is it really in the public interest that my right hon. Friend should adhere to what he thought was his sound judgment, which he thought was the best solution? His experience of civilian feeling is far greater than that possessed by the Army Council, and is it not wise that he should adhere to his original view, and not at the last moment run the risk of doubt growing up in the Labour party and those they represent on this point to which they attach so much importance? I submit that it would conduce to the smooth working of this Act if the Clause was restored to the form in which it left this House. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman as one who wants this Act to work and to avoid all kinds of social friction. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks the dread of industrial compulsion is exaggerated, even the existence of that dread is a social danger. It is the opinion of those whose point of view on this subject is worth considering that the rejection of this Amendment would allay that fear and promote the smooth working of the Act. I say this as strongly as possible, and I shall retain my freedom as to what I shall do on this proposal, and my action will depend on what we hear further from the Front Bench on this question.
§ Sir GEORGE CAVE
I hope the House will now be willing to come to a decision on this point. I think it is a pity that this Amendment should be made the subject of a Division. If it is accepted, the position will be that skilled men who were in those specal occupations before August last will have two months after their certificate comes to an end in which they can obtain a certificate of exemption. Those men will still be in that position. The men who have entered those occupations after the Registration Bill, and after compulsion was in the air, will come under the conditions that affect other occupations, and they will not have two months; they must apply for their certificates in fourteen days, and if they are really entitled to exemption, and they apply within the fourteen days, they will get their exemption easily within the two months. Therefore, in all genuine cases this will apply. It is only in cases where the men have entered a reserved occupation in the hope or expectation of avoiding military service that the period is limited to fourteen days. It is very far from the desire of the Government that any kind of victimisation should take 2156 place. We do not desire under the Military Service Act or the Munitions Act to victimise any workmen, but we want as many men as we can obtain, and we want to get them at the earliest moment at which they can reasonably be got. I think this suggestion, although it is not in any sense an agreed compromise, is a fair Parliamentary solution of the difficulty which the House might accept without going to a Division.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I am not very much in love with this Parliamentary deal, which seems to me to shirk the real trouble, and I thought we had got away from Parliamentary deals in time of war. In times of peace I revel in them as much as anybody else, but to hear the right hon. Gentleman recommend this Amendment as a Parliamentary solution jars upon my nerves. For weeks I have been battling with the difficulties of this Clause. I have listened to the discussion, and particularly the contribution of the hon. Member for Middleton (Sir Ryland Adkins), and I could not see any familiarity with the problem in what he said. He spoke about doubts and fears in regard to something existing in somebody's mind. We ought to legislate because of what is in the hands of the Germans that is going to kill our people. There is a good deal too much consideration on the benches around me to ideas of that sort which have to be removed. It is said that we shall have more difficulty and complexity in working our various industries because of some imaginary grievances. I pay this compliment to the Labour party, that as a rule, when they raise a point, it is because of some concrete fact which has come under their notice. In battling with this Clause the principal difficulty arises from men taking advantage of it who were never meant to be benefited by this House. If this House passes legislation to protect some spoiled children invariably people not entitled to it immediately take advantage of it, just as was the case with the Clause dealing with conscientious objectors, which was taken advantage of by many who were simply cowards and shirkers.
The people who are shielding themselves here are not the class of people whom good-meaning men like the hon. Baronet the Member for Salford (Sir W. Byles) have in mind. Who are taking advantage of this proposal? Such people as clerks and travellers who are totally unnecessary in their businesses, and they 2157 go on this two months' exemption. I would rather the House of Lords had gone a little further in this matter. The only cases I have found in practical experience of the introduction of this two months' period have been people whom all hon. Members would wish to go to the War. You dismiss a man because he is not required, and it may be because some employer has been showing a little favouritism, and then you come along with a better intention, or perhaps wake up and you get rid of this man, and then you are in trouble with your own Munitions Act, or the Military Service Act, which were not passed to protect those people. I speak somewhat feelingly, because I am standing the racket of law actions from skulkers and cowards whom I have turned out to go into the Army, and the work is going on better without them than when they were there. It is to please men with theories and ideas of this sort who will not come down into the works that Clauses of this kind are put into the Bill, and this causes all the trouble. I welcome the Government's action, because to a certain extent it clears up the position, and it will not make it difficult for trade unions. I have no trouble with the genuine trade unions, but it is the other kind that bothers us in the North of England, and this Amendment will help us to deal with it.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
This Amendment seems objectionable because it complicates in an additional degree a subject which is already pretty complicated. It introduces several other complications, and makes the question more difficult to understand. I wish the Government had adhered to their first thoughts in this matter, although I am prepared to support them as I have done all along when the Government think a course is necessary and that it is the best policy in the interests of the nation. When that is the case the Government are really in a position of trustees, and they ought to give more than usual consideration to these difficulties which are raised. I also want to refer to the criticisms which have been passed on the Government for what is supposed to be a deal or a conversation. I notice the objections to this course come from those who have been most in the habit in the past of indulging in those conversations and deals. I find it very hard to understand the difficulties raised by the right 2158 hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson). I listened to him with a sympathy that I did not entertain in the past, but in spite of that sympathy I found it difficult to understand his position. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech and an interjection, but it seemed to me that the difficulties he raised in his speech were all answered in anticipation by his interjection.
What were the difficulties he raised in his speech which was made in support of the Amendment? It is rather curious that so critical and so censorious a speech should have been delivered in support of the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman referred specially to this Committee of Members which has been appointed to act, as I understand, as an Advisory Committee in the administration of certain parts of the Act. He pointed out that there might be conflicts of jurisdiction, and he asked what was to happen when the Committee differed from the Army Council, and who was to decide between them. He said that there might be friction, all kinds of difficulties might arise, and there might be a deadlock. The answer to all that seems to be provided in the interjection which the right hon. Gentleman interpolated into the speech of the right hon. Gentleman when he was speaking about this Committee, for he asked whether the Committee was to be in the Bill, and therefore to have statutory powers, and the right hon. Gentleman said "No." That seems to dispose of all the difficulties which have been suggested. This Committee will have no statutory power, and it will be purely an Advisory Committee. Its advice will be there to be accepted or rejected, and no administrative or executive powers will be given to it, and therefore there can be no friction, no conflict of jurisdiction, no interlocking, and no deadlock, and it will not interfere with the smooth administration of the Act in any way. I have no doubt that the advice of such a Committee will receive due weight from the Army Council, and it will also carry weight in this House. I have no doubt whatever if it were found that in the case of this Committee the action of the Army Council was such as to establish anything approaching to industrial compulsion this House would be seised of the matter, and I have not the faintest doubt as to what the action of this House would be. That would very 2159 soon be put a stop to. I am not very apprehensive as to the possibility of industrial compulsion under this Act, but I think one must recognise that it is possible, if it were administered with an evil mind, or with a desire to establish industrial compulsion, for persons so disposed to introduce the thin end of the wedge, and
§ for that reason I would urge the Government to consider whether they cannot adhere to their own first intentions is regard to this matter.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 160; Noes, 69.2161
|Division No. 24.]||AYES.||[5 47 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fell, Arthur||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Forster, Henry William||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Grant, James Augustus||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Phillips, Sir Owen (Chester)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Pratt, J. W.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Harris, Rt. Hon. Leverton (Wor'ter, E.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Hayward, Evan||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Prothero, Rowland Edmund|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Henry, Sir Charles||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Herbert, Maj.-Gen. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Hill, James||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Horne, Edgar||Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.|
|Bird, Alfred||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Blair, Reginald||Ingleby, Holcombe||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Bliss, Joseph||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Jessel, Colonel H. M.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Boyton, James||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Brace, William||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Bull, Sir William James||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Stewart, Gershom|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Butcher, John George||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Knutsford)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Tickler, T. G.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Turton, Edmund R.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Donald||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Macmaster, Donald||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. T. J.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Whiteley, Herbert J.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Macpherson, James Ian||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Malcolm, Ian||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wilson, Captain A. Stanley|
|Currie, George W.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Winterton, Captain Earl|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Meux, Sir Hedworth||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Morgan, George Hay||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Dixon, C. H.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Younger, Sir George|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Mr. Gulland and Mr. Bridgeman.|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon W.||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Adamson, William||Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Hazleton, Richard|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Hinds, John|
|Anderson, W. C.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hogge, J. M.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Galbraith, Samuel||Hudson, Walter|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Gilbert, J. D.||John, Edward Thomas|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hancock, John George||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|King, Joseph||Robinson, Sidney||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Roch, Walter F.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Rowlands, James||Wardle, George J.|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Rowntree, Arnold||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Morrell, Philip||Shortt, Edward||Wiles, Thomas|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Snowden, Philip||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Nuttall, Harry||Stanton, Charles Butt||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Grady, James||Sutton, John E.||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Thomas, James Henry|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Thorne, William (West Ham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. J. Parker and Mr. Goldstone.|
|Radford, George Heynes||Tootill, Robert|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson|
§ Lords Amendment:
§ Leave out the word "or" ["work of national importance or whose conditions of employment"] and insert instead thereof the words, "and who were engaged in such an occupation before the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and fifteen, and in the case of men."—Agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment:
§ After the figures "1915" ["Munitions of War Act, 1915"] insert the words "as amended by any subsequent enactment, and who were in the same employment or engaged in the same or similar occupation before the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and fifteen."—Agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment:
§ At the end of Clause 6 insert the following new Clause:
§ Provisions as to Exemption of Medical Practitioners.—Regulations made under the Second Schedule to the principal Act shall provide for the establishment of professional committees to deal with claims for exemption made by duly qualified medical practitioners; and any application made by such a medical practitioner on any ground, other than that of conscientious objection, for a certificate of exemption shall be referred by the tribunal to whom it is made to such a committee in accordance with those Regulations; and the recommendation of the committee on the application shall be binding on any tribunal constituted under the principal Act.
§ Mr. LONG
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
This new Clause is the result of very patient examination by the War Office and representatives of the civil members of the medical profession who are in this country. The negotiations were not con- 2162 cluded at the time the subject was being dealt with in this House. The War Office have reason to be greatly anxious as to the provision of medical men at the front without at the same time depleting the supply of medical men for civil work here at home, and this arrangement has been arrived at between the War Office and the medical profession. I hope the House will be ready to adopt it.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I wish to support in every way this Amendment, and I gather that it is for the purpose of making exemptions to medical men rather more easy. I hope the Government will give the greatest attention to the question of the supply of doctors for civil work here at home.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. KING
I am afraid that I cannot agree in thinking that this is a good Clause, especially in view of the very inadequate explanation and the very few valid reasons, indeed, if there are any reasons at all, which have been offered to us by the President of the Local Government Board. Why have a special tribunal for doctors at all? If you want to make it easier for doctors to get exemption, why not accept the Amendments which were suggested in this House previously. There was one put forward by the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) giving special exemption, or grounds of exemption, in the case of doctors. Why should doctors have a special tribunal of their own profession, any more than lawyers, or grocers, or undertakers, or farmers and farmers' sons and agricultural labourers? Surely out of every class of the community we only want to take those men who can be spared, and the true and just way is to lay down provision which will apply equally to all tribunals, and then throw yourselves upon the justice of the average citizen, and not set up a special tribunal to deal with any particular class of the community. This is an extraordinary proposal and certainly ought to have more 2163 justification than we have had offered to us by the right hon. Gentleman. It is an old question, and there are several Members, myself amongst them, who have tried to bring it up on the Army Estimates, on Votes of Credit, and other occasions, and we have never had any answer whatever from the Treasury Bench. All of a sudden they tell us that the case is serious, though our warnings have fallen on deaf, or, rather, contemptuous ears, and now they set up a special tribunal to deal with doctors. This is not treating the House fairly. It is dealing with a very grave national question in a spirit of panic and sudden alarm. I am going to tell the House one or two facts which I had the privilege on a previous occasion of stating when the benches were entirely empty. I intend on this occasion to state them more briefly than before, when I hoped something might be put into the Bill dealing with this question. We have about 30,000 medical men in this country, and ever since August last the War Office, through a Committee which was set up and which was called the War Central Medical Council, has been trying to obtain the control of the whole of these medical men. They have gone about their work attempting to make every medical man sign an undertaking that when called upon he will respond to whatever may be asked of him by the War Office—to enter the Royal Army Medical Corps or to otherwise engage in war work.
It has been repeatedly shown to the House as a whole that the organisation of the medical men in our Army is most extravagant. Experienced men are put to work for which they are totally unfitted—work which is totally unnecessary, and by making the medical service dependent on the Army divisions, instead of such an organisation as the Army as a whole, or Armies which are in the field as against Armies behind the line, by making the whole medical service dependent upon divisional equipment in medical matters, you are wasting, as I believe, between 40 and 50 per cent. of the medical men in the Army. You have employed them on transport work and in clerical work, and you have specialists highly qualified put to all sorts of unsuitable work. The result is that you are wasting our medical resources in a way which is perfectly shameful. We were told yesterday by one who had been inside the War Council that we 2164 are wasting our fighting forces. Whether that be true or not I am not in a position to say, but having been in this matter on more than one occasion in consultation with eminent medical authorities I am absolutely convinced we are wasting our medical resources.
Now we are going to set up a special medical authority to give exemptions. We are not told what it is going to be. We do not know who will constitute this medical tribunal which is going to give exemptions. I have very little doubt myself it is going to be either the Central Medical War Council or somebody proposed by, and in touch with, that council, and the result will be that a certain number of medical men who have been got into tow with the War Office, who are totally against, and have always been against, anything like reorganisation or economy of the medical forces of the country, will be put in complete command of all the medical men of military age who may be brought within this Act. I will give, if I may, one or two facts which will show that I am not speaking without reason. This council of which I am speaking is practically a branch of the British Medical Association, and that association, although it professes to represent the whole of the medical men of this country, does not represent them at all. It is doubtful if it speaks with authority for more than one-third of them. In the last issue of the "British Medical Journal" we had this extraordinary proposal put forward as part of the policy of the British Medical Association, in connection, of course, with the development and treatment of the medical service, which would have to be reconsidered in connection with this Bill. I think I had better read the resolution which was passed, and which has the support of the "British Medical Journal":This society is of opinion that where medical men ineligible for war duties cannot be found for out-patients' departments of civil hospitals or for tuberculosis or school medical work, such departments should at once be closed for the duration of the War.This is one of the results of Conscription. We are to have our tuberculosis departments closed at once. We are to have our schools of medical work shut down. We are to have the out-patient departments of civil hospitals closed. Before the Bill is passed, the authors of this Clause are making proposals as to what they will do when the Bill has actually become law. If it is now beyond the power of this House 2165 to stop the Government in their wild course of militarism, what will they not want to do when the Bill has become an Act? I protest on behalf of the civil population, on behalf of the children, on behalf of tuberculous persons who might be saved and whom you are now going to condemn to a more or less certain early death. I protest on their behalf against this policy and against this Clause.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I fail to see how the hon. Member's speech has any relevance to this Clause, which is one to make special exemptions for medical practitioners, and which sets up a tribunal for that purpose.
§ Mr. KING
I quite understand I am going a little wide of the mark. I was only endeavouring to show that the whole of the present policy must, of course, be reconsidered in the light of this Act. It has been practically decided upon by certain high medical authorities in a way which will seriously hamper the health, strength, and efficiency of this country. I will not pursue this matter much further. I will only appeal to the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench—and there are some of them who are very able advocates who will, I am sure, look into this matter seriously—I appeal to them for more defence of the proposal and for a more adequate explanation of the Government policy. What are we going to do with the medical resources of the country? Are we going to throw them entirely—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The only question is as to the appointment of this special tribunal to be set up to deal with these practitioners.
§ Mr. HOLT
I think the House is entitled to complain of the way in which this proposal has been brought forward. It is not right that a matter of this great importance should be introduced into this House by an Amendment inserted in another place, thereby preventing us having an opportunity of properly discussing it. The right hon. Gentleman did not make it plain whether the object of this proposal was to protect doctors against being sent into the Army by local tribunals, or whether it was to enable the Army to lay their hands on doctors more freely than they have been permitted to do by the local tribunals. I am afraid it is the second of these alternatives which is really in the minds of the authors of this proposal, and therefore it ought to be scrutinised very carefully indeed from the point of view of the civil population. This matter becomes all the 2166 more important when we remember the way in which the medical students were taken away from their studies in the early days of the War, and if the War goes on another year or two the position will become very serious indeed. I object to a proposal by which the treatment of doctors with regard to their exemption or otherwise is to be placed entirely in the hands of a special committee of doctors. It seems to me, looking at the position of doctors in the State, that is a wholly wrong point of view to take. They exist for the benefit of the population—civil and military—and in considering whether they ought to be exempted or not, I do submit there ought to be a definite voice on the part of the non-professional section of the community. It is a matter on which the ordinary laymen of the community have the right to express an opinion, and in order to bring that about I shall, if I am permitted, move as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have already put the Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ Mr. HOLT
I am sorry I have lost my opportunity, but I should like, if I may, to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the point where I think this might have been amended, by leaving out the word "professional," and substituting the word "special," so that if a special committee were set up there could be on it some representative of the laity. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether there is not some means still open by which we can ensure that this question of the exemption or otherwise of doctors shall be decided with due regard to lay as well as professional opinion.
§ Mr. BOYTON
While I do not share the opinions of the last two speakers, I take it, from what the hon. Member for North Somerset said, that the British Medical Medical Association have had the biggest voice in framing this Amendment. We know on previous occasions when we have been dealing with matters affecting the medical profession there has been a big difference of opinion between the British Medical Association and other members of the medical profession, and I am in very grave doubts whether the views of the medical profession, apart from the British Medical Association, have been taken upon this matter. I doubt whether the doctors and medical staffs attached to dispensaries and hospitals share altogether 2167 the views of the British Medical Association. You can get exemption, if you go before the local tribunals, for the medical staffs of hospitals, which are regarded as necessary for carrying on the medical work of the country, and when you suddenly say that, whether he likes it or not, a member of the medical profession shall submit himself to a medical committee, it seems to me we are going very much too far. I venture to think it would be better to negative the Amendment from the House of Lords rather than to agree without very clear and definite knowledge of the real opinions of the profession—opinions which, as I believe, have not yet been obtained.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
There is one point in the speech of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) which, I think, demands an answer. He made the allegation—I do not believe it can be true—that medical practitioners are being used for other duties than medical work. He said they were being employed on clerical and other work, and, if that is so, I say it is a grave waste of useful material. At any rate, we ought to have some answer to those statements.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not see how that is relevant to the question before the House. The hon. Member is now alluding to a matter of administration inside the Army.
§ Sir F. LOWE
Although I do not agree with everything said by the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) and the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt), I think there is a good deal of force in the suggestion about setting up a special tribunal for the medical profession, whose recommendations are to be binding on the general tribunal. I believe that committees are set up by other trades and professions—for instance, there are the Insurance Committees and the Committee of Lloyd's. Both these committees have the power of making recommendations to the tribunals, but their recommendations are not binding upon the tribunals. It is a very considerable distinction to make, to bind the tribunals to accept the recommendations of the Medical Committee. It seems to me to make the Medical Committee judge in their own case. It is the duty of the tribunal to consider a case from all aspects, and in the case of all other trades and professions the tribunals attach very great weight indeed to the 2168 recommendations made by the special committees dealing with those special trades. The same should apply to the Medical Committee. I respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the Clause might be amended by leaving out the words at the end,
"and the recommendation of the committee on the application shall be binding on any tribunal constituted under the principal Act."
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
There is an additional difficulty which has not yet been mentioned in the course of the Debate that appears to be a substantial one. If the Clause passes in the form in which it appears on the Paper, it will limit the rights of medical men as compared with the rights of other men to go before the local tribunal.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I am going to show the President of the Local Government Board how it does that. The man who goes before the local tribunal and is aggrieved by the decision of that tribunal can go to the Appeal Tribunal and, possibly, to the final Court of Appeal, but under this Clause as now drafted a doctor who is refused exemption by his professional committee has no right of appeal, because the Clause says,the recommendation of a committee on the application shall be binding on any tribunal.Therefore you are putting those doctors who are refused exemption in a less favourable position than in that which you are putting the ordinary man. I respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that some Amendment is necessary, and that, if it is not possible to give the right of appeal at this stage of the proceedings, it may be possible to introduce such an Amendment in another place.
§ Mr. LONG
It is quite true as the hon. Member (Mr. Whitehouse) has said, that there is no right of appeal. That is intentional, because it is quite obvious that if you set up a special tribunal which is appointed ad hoc you cannot give an appeal from that tribunal to another body which has general powers and is appointed to deal with general cases. I am sorry that the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) did not think my introduction of the Clause was sufficient. I thought that all the House would want to know was that this Clause was the result of very 2169 careful negotiations between the Army Council and the representatives of the medical profession throughout the country. I can only answer according to the information which I have received, but I understand that these negotiations have keen going on for some time, and that the main reason for the Clause—I think this in answer to the criticism just made with regard to the power to refuse the application of an individual medical man—is that the supply of medical men for military purposes throughout the country has been unequal. In some districts as many medical men have been taken as could possibly be spared; indeed, we have, perhaps, got too near the margin. In other cases, where there is a redundancy, men can still be spared. There is a very strong desire, which does great honour to all concerned, that arrangements of various characters should be made; that there should be a definite plan worked by those who can survey the whole ground and look not only at the particular case and the particular district in which the application is made, but who can survey the whole ground, and who would endeavour, if possible, to maintain the supply for the R.A.M.C. and at the same time run no risk of depriving our civil population of the medical attendance to which they are entitled. It is to effect the identical result which the hon. Member for North Somerset appears to have in view, if I rightly understood his remarks, namely, that there shall be care not only for our sick and wounded in the Army, but for our suffering sick at home, that this Clause has been proposed in order to set up a special medical committee. That seems the most satisfactory way possible. It is impossible for me to say that here and there mistakes may not have been made. I cannot deal with a general statement of that kind now, but, if a particular statement is made, I will inquire into it. I hope I have answered all the criticisms, and that we may be allowed to add this Clause to the Bill.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think me unreasonable if, after his statement, I make, not a criticism, but put a question to him with regard to the actual working of the Clause, which I do not quite understand. I gather that Regulations are to be made for establishing professional committees. We have not got the Regulations, and do not know what they are going to be. It is not unreasonable to ask that we 2170 should have some idea as to how it is proposed to work this by the Regulations. Are these professional committees to be local tribunals of doctors, and, if so, what is the unit to be? The difficulty that is in my mind is this: Are we to have a tribunal of doctors, say, for a whole county, or for a division of a county, and how are the professional men who are to man that tribunal to be got hold of? Who is to nominate them? In country districts it may be very difficult to obtain a tribunal of doctors without interfering very much with their work. I do not see how, as a practical scheme, this is going to work out. Nor do I quite understand, from the particular point of view which the Government, the Army, and the medical profession alike have in mind, what is the advantage of a committee of doctors to determine this matter over the ordinary local tribunal. One can imagine rather definite objections to a tribunal of professional rivals to determine whether one man is to be taken and another man is to be left in a certain locality. Probably we have all known of examples. I have known certainly more than one case where a comparatively young doctor of military age said long ago that he was only too anxious to go and serve in the Army, and would be very glad to do so, but that he could not do so for professional reasons, because, if he did, his work would immediately be taken by another man in the same district. In these circumstances he felt it his duty to himself, his wife and family—there being no compulsion at that time—to remain because he was prevented from going so long as his competitor and neighbour was not willing to go too.
Under this Clause you are setting up, presumably, a tribunal of medical men in some undefined area of a country district. That tribunal, consisting of medical competitors, will have to decide, in such a case as I have put before the House, that one man is to remain and get the civil practice in the locality while his rival—perhaps they have both been struggling to get the practice in the neighbourhood—is taken away for Army purposes. If the medical tribunal's finding is to be absolutely binding in such cases, I should have thought that the ordinary local tribunal set up for the purpose of determining questions with regard to other professions is not only as well but rather better qualified than a number of professional men to decide such cases. My right hon. Friend has not 2171 explained to the House that there is any professional point upon which the medical man as such is a medical expert, and that he is any better qualified to determine these questions than the ordinary local tribunal. If some member of the Cabinet could tell us a little more as to the practical working of the thing, as to the unit, the area with regard to which medical men are going to be appointed, and why the professional man is better qualified than the ordinary tribunal, it will be satisfactory to the House before this Amendment is accepted.
§ The COMPTROLLER of the HOUSEHOLD (Mr. Charles Roberts)
I have been asked to reply to the point made by the last speaker. When the House comes to consider it, I think they will realise that we are dealing with a very exceptional profession, which is under special obligations to the civil population, especially that part of it which happens to be insured, and that we have to look at all the circumstances of the medical profession in the various areas. For that purpose a special committee of professional men with local committees in different parts of the country, is a much better authority to deal with the problem than the local tribunals. The local tribunal cannot really know the medical needs of the district as well as the Central Medical Committee, which, for a year past now, has been carefully watching the enlistment and enrolment of doctors for the needs both of the Army and of the civil population. This Central Medical War Committee, which represents and has been chosen by the medical profession—it does not represent only the British Medical Association; it has been carefully chosen to represent every section of the medical profession—has been engaged in the very careful study of this problem. It knows far better than a local tribunal cases of financial hardship. It can look into the case of each area, and it is bound to prevent a breakdown of the medical service; at all events, as far as the insured population is concerned. Under these circumstances, I submit to the House that it is a special case which is rightly dealt with by a special professional committee, and that is the reason why it is now proposed to deal with the matter by means of this special committee, which has its local committees all over the country, rather than to leave it to the local tribunals to be dealt with.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
Has the special committee which the hon. Gentleman mentioned had any opportunity of considering the Amendment introduced in another place, or was it consulted in regard to it?
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
The Committee was certainly consulted in regard to it, but I cannot say that it was actually before them.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
May I put this point? As I understand it, the actual work will have to be done by the local medical committees. The Central Committee can have no knowledge whatever of the conditions of things in the country districts.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think the case which was made in the first instance by the hon. Member (Mr. King) has received no answer from the Front Bench. There is really no sound case for treating in a special way the medical profession as a class. There are many other professions and industries in this country which require special treatment, but in every one of these cases, while committees have been recognised, they have merely made recommendations which it was in the power of the tribunals either to accept or to reject. There is nothing in the case of the medical profession more than other professions which entitle a professional committee to have the absolute decision as to which man in a particular locality should go to the front and which man should be left. There is the further objection that you are allowing a man's professional rival to say whether his practice is to be left and to accrue to the benefit of the men who are deciding on his case. That obviously is a most unsatisfactory position. If there is to be special treatment, I think an exclusively professional body is totally unsuitable for the purpose. If there is to be a special committee, there should certainly be lay representation upon it. There might be, for example, representatives of local authorities who, after all, have charge of the health of the community and as administrators in respect of public health are bound to have official knowledge of the needs of the community. I shall certainly, if any Division is taken, vote against the constitution of an exclusively professional committee. I think the Government might quite well lay down a standard in respect of the further demand which is to be made in respect of 2173 doctors. We know already that doctors have been used with reckless extravagance, and if there is one department of the Army to which the expression so felicitously given by my right hon. Friend (Colonel Churchill) yesterday could be usefully applied of combing itself, it is the Medical Service of the Army. In all these circumstances I distrust a device which is the result of the united consultation of the Army Council, which has this bad record in the past, and of this professional committee, which I have good grounds for believing is distrusted by large sections of the profession to-day.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
My hon. Friend says there is no good grounds for making a committee for medical men any more than for lawyers or for any other profession or class.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
As a matter of fact, the Army does not want lawyers as lawyers; it does not want shopkeepers as shopkeepers; but it wants doctors as doctors.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
If there be waste in that respect, one of the best ways of rectifying it would be to bring the judgment of a committee of the profession to bear on it. But you cannot have it both ways. You cannot argue that medical men are not to be specially considered or to have a special tribunal any more than any other profession, and then to admit the fact that you are in special straits as to the economising of the medical force. Surely the medical body itself, acting locally, and a central body with knowledge of the whole medical strength of the country, is best able to secure a total economy of the medical forces. On the other hand, the fact that you want doctors as doctors is clearly a reason for having a professional body. It is the best judge as to professionally fit men. When it is suggested that professional rivals in this case will try to get rid of each other, surely this is a rather unworthy charge against medical bodies. The rivalries of medical men and the rival claims of medical men will be perfectly appreciated in the local committees and in the central body, and I do not see in the least how an ordinary tribunal would be better qualified than a medical one to decide which of two rivals 2174 should go. The suggestion that one man will not go because his rival is left points to a very serious difficulty. If a medical man says, "I will not go because the other man will get my practice," who is to decide? There is value in the suggestion that members of a local authority might be consulted and might possibly have representation on the committee, but that is a very different thing from saying the ordinary tribunal would, in this case, be a better body than a special medical tribunal. The case for a special medical tribunal to say what persons shall go to the Army and who are wanted for professional purposes, and not for combatant purposes, is a very strong case indeed.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
My right hon. Friend is in error, because this refers to conscientious objectors, which indicates that some might be taken for combatant purposes.
Mr. CATHCART WASON
The whole country is starving for want of medical men. There are miles and miles in the North of Scotland, and also in places in the South, where medical men are at an enormous premium, and it is absolutely impossible to get them, and to bring forward a Clause of this sort at this period of the Bill seems to me most absolutely unnecessary and quite uncalled for, and I am sure right hon. Gentlemen would be very well advised, as this is creating a good deal of unnecessary feeling, to drop the Clause altogether. I am sure no one wishes to throw any slur upon the noblest profession we have in the world—men who sacrifice themselves continually—and I sincerely trust, in the interest not only of the doctors themselves, but of the country districts, which are crying out for medical men, that they will very seriously consider whether it would not be well to drop the Clause altogether.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
In my view this Clause is quite unnecessary. Its object is to provide exemption for medical men. Who is better qualified to judge what medical men should be exempted than the local tribunal itself? It is said in its defence, how much better is the local tribunal, acting in combination with a central medical board, than an ordinary tribunal. But this Clause makes no provision for reference to a central medical board. It simply makes provision for reference to a local medical board, whose decision is to be final. The best judges in the circumstances are the 2175 ordinary local tribunals. It knows the wants of the community. It knows who should go and who should be left, and you would get from such a tribunal a far better decision, in my view, than from even any local medical board, because there may be rivalries and there may be differ-
§ ences, but such could not apply to the local tribunals, and I believe for that reason this Clause is entirely unnecessary.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 163; Noes, 42.2177
|Division No. 25.]||AYES.||[6.40 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Forster, Henry William||Perkins, Waiter Frank|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Galbraith, Samuel||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gilbert, J. D.||Phillips, Sir Owen (Chester)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Grant, James Augustus||Pratt, J. W.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gretton, John||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Prothero, Rowland Edmund|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Gulland, John William||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Hancock, John George||Radford, George Heynes|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Haslam, Lewis||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hayward, Evan||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. H. (Berks.)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Henry, Sir Charles||Rowlands, James|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Brace, William||Higham, John Sharp||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Hill, James||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hinds, John||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Horne, Edgar||Shortt, Edward|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hudson, Walter||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Butcher, John George||Illingworth, Albert H.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Buxton, Noel||Ingleby, Holcombe||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jessel, Colonel H. M.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Knutsford)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Turton, Edmund Rusborough|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Donald||Wardle, George J.|
|Cowan, W. H.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Macpherson, James Ian||Whiteley, Herbert J.|
|Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Malcolm, Ian||Wiles, Thomas|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Currie, George W.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth||Wood Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Newdegate, F. A.||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Younger, Sir George|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Fell, Arthur||Parker, James (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Bridgeman and Mr. Geoffrey Howard.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William||Goldstone, Frank||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Anderson, W. C.||Hogge, James Myles||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||John, Edward Thomas||Morrell, Philip|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Jowett, Frederick William||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Bird, Alfred||King, Joseph||O'Grady, James|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Boyton, James||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macmaster, Donald||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Snowden, Philip||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Thomas, James Henry||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Holt and Mr. Pringle.|
|Thorne, William (West Ham)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Tootill, Robert||Wilkie, Alexander|
Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.