§ (1) For the purpose of making the best use of all persons, whether men or women, able to work in any industry, occupation, 1884 or service, it shall be lawful for His Majesty to appoint a Minister of National Service under the title of Director-General of National Service, who shall hold office during His Majesty's pleasure.
§ (2) The Director-General of National Service shall, for the purpose, have such powers and duties of any Government Department or authority, whether conferred by Statute or otherwise, as His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer to him or authorise him to exercise or perform concurrently with or in consultation with the Government Department or authority concerned, and also such further powers as may be conferred on him by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, and Regulations may be made under that Act accordingly.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I beg to move in Sub-section (1), after the word "persons" ["the best use of all persons"], to insert the words "between eighteen and fifty-five years of age."
In introducing the Bill the Home Secretary twice mentioned, and I think what he said then has been repeated by the Director of National Service outside the House, that the age which it was intended to cover by the operation of the Bill should run from seventeen to sixty-one. I propose to limit those ages to eighteen as the lowest and fifty-five as the highest. The whole object of the Bill is to mobilise labour, and having mobilised it to transfer it from one to another more useful industry, and in a great number of cases there will be an actual transfer of labour from one district to another from the point of view of residence. There seems to me a very considerable danger of waste of labour and waste of money if you take these two extreme ages which have been mentioned by the Home Secretary. The Bill applies both to men and women. I would put to the Committee the very great danger there is from the point of view of morals in asking girls of seventeen years of age to accept labour under the Ministry of National Service, and to be transferred from the district in which they are living, from the place in which they have their homes and their connections with their families, to work in some separate undertaking where they would be cut off from their homes, from their families and their restraining ties, and be put into new surroundings where they must either be left to pure chance or else be congregated in a 1885 sort of barracks for the purpose of utilisation by the employer into whose service they are passing. There is at this moment a great outcry as to the demoralisation of the young people of this country of both sexes. There are complaints in every newspaper as to the conduct of many of the younger girls, and it seems to me that to ask these children, because they are little more than that, to set out on a new career, isolated from all their former connections, must lead to an increase of that demoralisation and a lowering of the general tone of the young people of this country.
So much for the younger girls under seventeen. Now take the case of the older, single women over fifty-five years of age and ranging up to sixty-one. How many single women are there employed in industry between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-one? I have made such inquiry as I can in my own neighbourhood and in the industries with which I have some acquaintance, and the number is infinitesimal. You will not really receive any substantial accession of labour, and such labour as you could get under these conditions would be extremely hard to train, would not be strong physically, and would not render you any real service or advantage in carrying out your proposal. Then take again the question of the boys of seventeen who will be caught up in the net of the Director of National Service. You will only take boys of seventeen for national service for a year. You have to take them away from some other industry, and you have only twelve months in which to accustom them to the new industry, and at the end of that time, if the War unhappily continues, they will be taken away from the work in which they will be becoming useful to the Army, and you will lose all the advantage of having trained them. You will therefore not get any advantage from the boys of seventeen that is worth having, but you will have dislocated in their case again the ties which unite them to their families, and which have some restraining effect on them at present. In their case, too, you will have to provide lodgings for them in a sort of barracks, or you will have to let them run loose, and you will not do very much good to the majority of the people of this country if you treat them in that way.
There is one other point which was raised the other day by the hon. Member 1886 (Mr. Anderson). Supposing you take old men of from fifty-five to sixty-one and transfer them compulsorily from some trade in which they are now employed, and put them into one of these other trades to which you propose to send them. What are they going to do when the War is over? They will have lost their place in the trades in which they are now occupied. They will not acquire skill in the new trades. Men between fifty and sixty do not learn either handicraft or many of the advanced trades with the same facility as young people. Inasmuch as this is a voluntary Bill you will not be stopped from receiving the services of persons of exceptional skill who may be over the age of fifty-five. If my Amendment is accepted, there will be no waste of power on the part of the Ministry of National Service, and, on the other hand, there will be great economy of expenditure both of time and of money on the part of the officials of the new Department.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I think the Committee will not be surprised if I say I hope the Amendment will not be pressed. To begin with, I think it is in the wrong place, and it would be more in order if it were moved on the second Sub-section. But, apart from that very small point, I ask the Committee not to limit the age in this way. We desire that the Director of National Service shall have power to ask for and to use the services of men and women of all ages at which they can render competent service. If it be possible that a man between fifty-five and sixty shall give useful service to the nation, I see no reason whatever why he should not be asked to volunteer, or why his offer should not be accepted. If these words are inserted you shut out men of these ages and limit the activity of the Director of National Service. The scheme already before the country provides for men between the ages of eighteen and sixty-one. That shows that the Director of National Service thinks useful work may be done by men over fifty-five. I should be very sorry to think that usefulness ceased at the age of fifty-five, and I am sure people who are useless will not be accepted. I hope the Committee will not limit the Director to persons under fifty-five.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I think the House will be surprised at the fact that the Home Secretary has refused to accept this Amendment. I am not struck by the fact that 1887 the Director of National Service says that everybody between the ages of seventeen and sixty-one are to be impressed for National Service. I should be very much more impressed by the opinion of this House. I am sick to death of people outside telling us what we shall do inside. We are sent here, with what brains are left to us, to advise this Government as to what ought to be done in regard to the promotion of National Service. I think it is an impertinence on the part of these so called genii, who have been discovered outside, to tell us what we ought to do, and then send an obedient and docile Government down to this House to ask us to provide the money for what these disturbers of the peace do outside Will the Home Secretary address his mind to the arguments advanced by my right hon. Friend (Sir C. Hobhouse). For instance he has not met the argument which applies to the boy of seventeen. The Home Secretary knows perfectly well that a boy when he has reached the age of eighteen is compulsorily taken into the Army, and that, therefore, to move a boy to any great distance from his own home at the present moment into any particularly useful industry is simply to waste time in training him to do nothing up to the moment when he is to be taken for the Army. Has the Home Secretary any reply to that argument? It is not sufficient for him to say that the Committee will not be surprised that he cannot accept that Amendment. That is not meeting the argument at all. I do not know whether we must expect that kind of debate from the Front Bench, but I do respectfully suggest to the Home Secretary that it is not dealing with the problem, and that it might be worth his while to consider the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend, in view of the interference of the War Office, in regard to everybody who is employed in National Service when he has reached the age of eighteen.
My right hon. Friend advanced an argument which is worth much more serious consideration than apparently the Home Secretary or the Director of National Service have given to it yet, and that is the movement about the country away from their homes of young girls under the age of eighteen. May I tell the Home Secretary the experience that some of us have had of that kind of thing in ether Departments? Take, for instance, the Scottish education system, which has 1888 recently resulted in the secondary schools being placed in centres remote from the smaller villages and towns in Scotland, with the result that girls just at the age at which the Director of National Service hopes to get them by voluntary means have to live away from their homes. If the Home Secretary will consult the Minister of Education or the Secretary for Scotland he will And some awful reports of the result of this taking of girls away from their homes at that tender age and putting them beyond parental control. I do suggest to the Home Secretary that here, again, he has failed to appreciate the argument put forward by my right hon. Friend. I think it is reasonable to ask that in this voluntary effort the services of girls under the age of eighteen shall not be accepted unless within the area of their residence, and that they will not be moved beyond parental control. The question which we were discussing to-day on a Bill which necessitated a Division as to whether a certain type of person shall be dealt with in a certain way has a bearing upon this matter. Every person who addresses his mind to this question knows perfectly well that one of the causes which brings about the things that are to be dealt with by the Bill in question is this lack of parental control just at the very moment when these young girls require such control. I respect the Home Secretary's views much more than to believe that the value of that argument does not appeal to him. As regards the age of fifty-five, I am not sure that I agree with my right hon. Friends. I am perfectly willing to yield the age beyond fifty-five, but I appeal to the Home Secretary to split the difference and accept the suggestion at any rate with regard to girls under the age of eighteen, and keep these girls within the area of parental control. I think he would be meeting the wish of the Committee if he would do that. With regard to boys, I do not know how far he can meet us, but I think the point made by my right hon. Friend is a perfectly good one that at the age of eighteen these boys must go into the Army unless they are put into essential industries, badged, and impossible to be recovered. I see the Home Secretary is nodding his head in regard to the girls. I take it that he is going to yield on that point. I hope he will also yield with regard to the boys. At any rate, I hope he will yield on the question of girls up to the age of eighteen.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I thing there is something to be said for the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. This Bill, as far as it goes, is a voluntary Bill, and therefore it does not much matter what the ages are in this Bill, but there is no doubt that in all probability this will eventually be made a compulsory Bill, and if it is made a compulsory Bill then the ages are very important. What I am afraid of is that if we agree to these ages without protest, when a compulsory measure comes forward we shall be told that the Director of National Service said these were to be the ages and no one took exception to them in the House of Commons when the voluntary Bill was before the House, and, therefore, we must accept them in the compulsory Bill. May I point out to the Home Secretary that with regard to boys the argument used by my right hon. Friend is undoubtedly very strong, namely, that you take a boy at the age of seventeen and begin to teach him a trade, and that probably he will not have learnt that trade by the time he reaches the age of eighteen, when he will be taken away from that trade into the Army. He may be doing something which is more useful at the present moment. You may take him away from something which he has been learning from the age of fifteen or sixteen, and at the age of seventeen you take him away from it and set about teaching him something else for a year, and then he has got to work in the Army. I do not see why you want these young boys at all. Up to the age of from twenty-one to twenty-five they should be in the Army and not in National Service. I think it would be better if the ages were twenty-one, twenty-two or twenty-five, instead of these very young ages in this Bill. With regard to girls, the taking away of a girl of seventeen from her home may lead to all sorts of consequences which may be much more disastrous than would appear from the arrangements made by the Director of National Service.
When we go to the other end of the scale, I do not mind whether the age is fifty-five or sixty-one so long as it is voluntary, but we have to consider this Bill on the probability that it will be a compulsory Bill afterwards. Under those circumstances, is it right or wise to take away men over fifty-five, who perhaps are not gifted with the perennial youth which my right hon. Friend enjoys, and who have been all their lives in a sedentary 1890 occupation, and to put them into some other occupation where Mr. Neville Chamberlain says they ought to go, and to put them into something which is totally different from the occupations they have been in the habit of undergoing? It may be that you are taking them away from something which is useful. That is one result of bringing in a Bill which is not the real Bill. This is a Bill which is going to be followed by something else; therefore we have to argue this matter not on the Bill which is before us, but in view of the Bill which is to be introduced later on. To say that there is to be forced labour for everybody between the ages of seventeen and sixty-one is a very tall order. That is what comes to if we are to have a compulsory Bill. People of a certain age should devote themselves to the service of the State, but it is a tall order to say that everybody between the ages of seventeen and sixty-one shall be liable if a compulsory measure is introduced. Therefore, I hope that we shall modify this Bill.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
I think, if the Home Secretary would meet the suggestion made by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) with regard to both boys and girls, his action would meet with the approval of the Committee. I do not see any great objection to the higher age from fifty-five to sixty-one, but there ought to be some safeguard that if men volunteer at that age and state that they do not want to go away from their homes they should be allowed to remain near their homes. With regard to boys and girls, particularly boys, if the Home Secretary will come into any of our Lancashire towns he will find that there is a great scarcity of boys now for the staple industry, and that it would be absolutely impossible to get any volunteers unless he takes them from the munition works. If he will read the papers, almost any day he will find that the munitions tribunals in Birmingham are absolutely refusing to release boys of the ages of sixteen and seventeen from munition works when they want to go elsewhere. With regard to girls, I would point out that if a girl is taken from home at the age of fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen, and she goes into domestic service, the person for whom she goes to work has to sign a paper which confers a very serious obligation upon that person in regard to looking after these girls. If it is necessary to have a form signed by a person with whom a girl of this age 1891 goes to live, which pledges that person to look after the physical and moral well-being of the girl, it is doubly necessary that care should be exercised when you are sending a large number of girls away from their homes into strange towns where there is, practically speaking, no one to look after them. I think that from that standpoint the Home Secretary will agree to the age of eighteen being put into the Bill as the age to be attained by a girl before she can be taken away from her home to work elsewhere.
I am absolutely amazed at the blind confidence the Government seems to repose in any one man they have appointed to control or direct a certain Department. I take it that if that one man is not a Member of this House and he fails in his mission or in the week he undertakes the Government will put all the responsibility on that man, and they will escape altogether. I say without hesitation that no one should have the control of either men, women, or material to any extent unless he is directly responsible to this House. I would much rather in connection with the National Service scheme see a small Committee of practical men appointed from Members of this House to deal with the whole question. I am not going to say anything in regard to the advice of some of these experts, but I have met experts, and I have not been overwhelmed with their knowledge and experience of worldly things. Therefore, I do hope that we shall have no more of this system of establishing Ministries, and so on, to be directed by one man or another outside this House. Let the Members of this House, who were sent to Parliament to do Parliamentary work, and who are responsible to their constituents, be appointed, if it is necessary to appoint anyone, to do this work as part of their Parliamentary duties.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. TENNANT
I want to inform the Committee that this bench on which I have the honour to sit is animated by no lazy uniformity of view. I do not find myself altogether in agreement with my two right hon. Friends who have spoken. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol (Sir C. Hobhouse) has a sincere apprehension that girls may be taken from their homes and deprived of parental control, and may be subject to great danger. All of us who know what has been going on 1892 during the last twelve months or more realise that very large numbers of girls have gone from their homes already, and are doing work which is invaluable to the State. My right hon. Friend the Under^ Secretary is very well acquainted with those cases. We know that we are deriving the greatest advantages from that work. I am not going to stand here and say that I do not think that in any single individual case has there been any hardship, or perhaps worse than hardship. Lots of these girls are from sixteen to seventeen years old.
§ Mr. TENNANT
No. As my hon. Friend is aware, there are large hostels for these girls. They have them at Woolwich and elsewhere.
§ Mr. TENNANT
I cannot agree. I realise that it is liable to danger. I happen to have a singular method of ascertaining this fact, which I dare say the Committee will realise, and I happen to know that a primary concern—if I do not put it higher than that—of those who are to be responsible for the allocation of work, and for the manner in which the women will be housed, is this very fact of the control of their domestic arrangements, the housing accommodation which is to be provided, and the whole of the arrangements which have to be made and seeing that they are properly looked after. I cannot imagine that anyone who realises the duty of making this arrangement will think for one moment that those who have been put in those responsible positions like Mr. Chamberlain should omit to consider the very first thing that must be in their mind. It is perfectly childish to make any such suggestion. My right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) said he feared that boys might be taken away from useful work and put to work which was not useful. Would that be one of the functions of a Director of National Service? Obviously the Director of National Service will have first regard to the actual work which is being performed by those who are put under his control.
This Bill is a purely voluntary Bill. Anyone who is sensible and is already employed upon really valuable work is not 1893 likely to be so stupid as to leave his home to go to something different. That being so, I think that there is very little argument in that point. My right hon. Friend also spoke of boys being taken at seventeen and trained for work which they could not carry on after the age of eighteen. It is much better that they should be trained at something than at nothing. If they are trained already, let them continue at the work at which they are engaged. No doubt they will be doing valuable National Service. As this is a limiting Amendment I ask the Committee not to accept it. I do not think that it is desirable at the time of great national emergency in which we now find ourselves to tie the hands of the Director who is specially called upon to undertake a most difficult task. My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. W. T. Wilson) seemed to be surprised that the Government should place reliance on any individual and suggested a Committee of this House. What would be the action of the Director? As far as I understand, he is going to propose committees of experts in various industries in different localities of the country, who are very much more capable persons than we should get among ourselves. I really think that that is so, because, after all, we are Jacks of all trades, and they are authorities on particular industries and able to give more valuable advice. That being so, I trust that the Committee will not accept my right hon. Friend's Amendment and will leave the hands of the Director as free as possible.
§ Colonel Sir CHARLES SEELY
I am inclined to agree that as this is a purely voluntary Bill it is rather a mistake to put an age into the Bill. If you are going to put ages into the Bill, I would like to say a word or two. Being fifty-seven myself, I rather object to putting down fifty-five as the age at which one is worth nothing. I do not think a man of my age is absolutely worthless, or even after sixty-one. I myself object to compulsion altogether in this matter, and I object absolutely to the compulsion of women; but if you were to have any compulsion of women, it seems to me that you would be making the greatest mistake in fixing the age at seventeen or eighteen or anything of the kind. If you were to compel women you should certainly not apply compulsion to any woman under the age of twenty-five. I would 1894 like the Committee to think that over, because we may come in a short time to the question of compulsory service. There is an idea of compulsion, and I do not like putting an age in this Bill for that reason, because, though there is no compulsion in the Bill, still there is a certain element, if I may say so, of moral compulsion, in the fact of the Bill itself and the effect that it will have on the minds of women, and of young women in particular. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last said that every care would be bestowed on women who went to work away from their homes. There is a great, difference between women going under a voluntary arrangement with the full knowledge of the parents, with their consent and probably their wish, and the case where they go where there is any kind of compulsion, whether actual or, as I have said, of a moral nature. I only make those suggestions, not because I think that there is any reason for an age in this Bill as it stands, but because the case might arise.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I only want to remove one misapprehension that may have arisen. It was perhaps by a fault of mine. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that the Director-General of National Service is inviting boys of seventeen. The invitation is addressed to males between the ages of eighteen and sixty-one—that is, those who have passed their eighteenth, but have not yet reached their sixtieth birthday. No invitation has yet been addressed to women.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I would put it to my right hon. Friend that the Director-General and those who assist him with regard to women may be trusted to bear in mind the views which have been put before the Committee. I am quite sure that they realise their duty of taking care that young women and girls who come under their schemes shall not suffer, and that we need not limit the age in the Bill.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the correction which he has made about the ages of boys. Of course, I accept that; but I think that the Amendment which I have put before the Committee has had a very useful effect, because we have got a declaration from the right hon. Gentleman as to the intentions of the Director-General 1895 of National Service. But I am a little sorry that he did not go into the case of the young women, for this reason. I believe it has been stated that there is no intention at the present moment of extending this invitation to women, but it is clearly in contemplation by the Director-General to extend that invitation at a very short date.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
In view of that invitation which is to be extended, I should like some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that the limitation of age which has been indicated in the case of boys—that is to say, the lowest age is eighteen, and not seventeen—should also extend to young women. At the very least—though I confess I should like very much the age which is indicated by the hon. Member for Mansfield (Colonel Sir C. Seely)—the age in the case of women should certainly be over twenty. The right hon. Gentleman made no attempt to answer the case which I put forward with regard to young women. My right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick (Mr. Tennant) said he spoke with certain expert knowledge.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I hope it was expert as well as peculiar. I want to press the matter from this point of view. There are much greater dangers, which are known to all of us, in the way of temptation, and of falling under temptation, which are bound to arise if you are going to take young girls away from their homes and their restraining influence. What is the meaning of the Bill which we discussed recently with regard to which we had a Division this afternoon? Simply that there are great dangers surrounding these girls, and that it is the duty of the State to put these dangers as far away as possible from them. I do not wish to press my Amendment to a Division. I am satisfied with the discussion which we have already had on this subject, but I would wish the right hon. Gentleman to give us some indication as to the likely age which will be fixed in the case of women?
§ Sir G. CAVE
I will answer that at once. I do not know what the ages are, of course, but I can only say that it will surprise me if the age is anything under eighteen. I cannot say more at present.
§ Mr. WATT
I think it important that the Director-General should have some indication of the views of the House of Commons on this question of age limit at which young women may be taken away from their homes. It is a very serious thing to take away young women under certain age, indeed, under the age of twenty one, from the restraint of their parents who live in districts other than those in which they are engaged, and if the House of Commons emphasises this view, as it is doing by this discussion, it may have the effect on the Director-General, and his female assistants, of raising the ages between which he desires women help. For that reason it is most essential in fixing the age that a high age should be fixed, so that young women may not be taken away from their homes and from their parent's influence. I think the more Members emphasise that point, the more likely Mr. Chamberlain and his assistants will be to take the view of the House of Commons.
§ Sir J. JARDINE
I would like to add my voice to those who have already spoken on this point both as regards boys and girls. I think there is very great weight in what has been said as to keeping girls at home right up to the age of eighteen; and we ought to have a further statement from the hon. Gentleman as to the hours intended to be worked in the new industries which this Bill creates.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Cannot the Minister give us some more definite reply as to the Department affecting women, which has already been in operation, and the Director and Assistant-Director have been appointed? It is apparently the case that the women's department are taking in women under eighteen years of age, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Tennant) will be in a position to speak about that. I have evidence that certainly women under twenty are to some extent taken into this new department of National Service. I know the case of a young woman under twenty who was going to Canada, but was placed in the National Service, and if the Director of National Service has come to a decision in regard to this question of age, why cannot the right hon. Gentleman inform the House of that decision. It is quite true that everybody who has spoken, with the exception of a single Member, the right hon. Member for Berwickshire, has been 1897 strengthened in the opinion that the bringing in of younger women would be a mistake in the national interest, and would not be in the interests of the women themselves. I think, in view of the expression of opinion which has been made, we are entitled, first of all, to a statement of what the Director of National Service has in view, and, secondly, we are entitled that the views of this Committee shall be taken into consideration, in so far as the workers are concerned.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "any" ["work in any industry"], to insert the word "essential."
This and the next Amendment which I have on the Paper are intended to be read together, the second Amendment being, after the word "service" ["occupation or service"], to insert the words "set out in the First Schedule to this Act." Unlike my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, I have not been in contact or touch with the new Director of National Service, as he seems to have been, but I very much prefer the pronouncement or verdict of the House of Commons to that of any gentleman outside, who is out of the range and control of this House, however eminent or however able he may be. It is perfectly well known to every Member of this House that persons have been withdrawn from industries for military service and for enrolment in the Army who, if they had not been taken from their industries, could have been doing good work. They have been put into the ranks of the Army and kept absolutely idle, not doing any kind of work useful to the Army. I have a case in mind where a man was taken in the third week in January, and up to the day before yesterday he had not done a quarter of an hour's work of any sort, description, or kind, although the country have been paying him, and his wife is provided with a separation allowance. That man's work has been wholly lost to the country, a fact which is more important still. In connection with this Bill, if it become an Act, the same thing will take place, unless some limit is imposed upon the words of the Clause, and it is for that purpose I put in the word "essential," making it read "any essential industry." I propose also to put in as the First Schedule to the Act the list enumerating all the essential industries which has been issued to the 1898 public. That would prevent, not the Director of National Service, but it would prevent committees and tribunals scattered up and down the country from getting people at any cost in order to add to the return which they make to the head office that they are serving. They get people to enrol themselves who are now doing useful work, and these are all collected, to follow the words used by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in one of the divisions of the Army controlled by the Director of National Service and kept there for a certain time, without any useful employment, and meantime the work of these ordinary civilians will be lost to the country. The right hon. Gentleman no doubt will say, of course, that we must trust the organisation that has been set up. As to the Director of National Service, we have to take his merits on the good word of the Ministry of the day, and we have that good word as to the agents with whom he works. I would much rather that this House of Commons had the opportunity of seeing what trades are essential and what trades are not essential. At present we have had no possibility of knowing, examining or inquiring as to what trades are or are not essential, and I think we ought to know, consider and pronounce.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I thought I had made it clear to the House the other day that the object of withdrawing anyone from a nonessential industry was to bring him into National Service. It is not contemplated that any person shall be drawn from his own industry and remain idle, for he will not be asked to leave his present employment until he is actually required in some other kind of business for the National Service. The real point of the Amendment is that my right hon. Friend desires that there shall be in the Bill a Schedule of essential trades. I venture to say that will not be a wise thing to do. It is very difficult to make sure that you have introduced every industry which is, or will be essential. The list which the right hon. Member has put upon the Paper is a very useful list, but I do not know that it is exhaustive. But even if it were the full list to-day, who can say that it will be the full list a month or six months hence. Occupations which to-day may appear non-essential may six months hence appear to be essential and useful. For instance an export trade may not in itself be of great importance for the purpose of the War, but if the Director- 1899 General finds that it manufactures goods which are sent abroad to the benefit of our export returns, that would be a reason for maintaining it. That is only one illustration. For these reasons I think it is undesirable to attempt to settle a Schedule in this House. It is far better to leave it to the Director-General himself and to those associated with him, to work out their list of important industries, and not tie their hands. I hope my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to press this Amendment.
I did not gather from the Home Secretary that he would agree to the word "essential." I concur with him that it would not be wise to put a Schedule in the Bill, because if you do so you put any trade outside it in the position of being considered a non-essential trade. When the list appeared in the "Times" the other day I immediately looked to the textile trades, and found that the great cotton industry, which is an essential industry, was not included. The great cotton industry is not only essential in regard to the War, but it is of great importance to our export trade. Such an important omission as that shows that the Director-General of National Service has not really had his attention called to the cotton trade. Therefore, this list which he published in the "Times" must be very carefully considered by him before anybody can say that it is a complete list of essential industries. Under those circumstances, to put that list in an Act of Parliament would be the greatest possible mistake. Of course, if it is adopted by the House of Commons, I shall put down an Amendment to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the cotton industry and its allied trades. The object of this measure is to take people away from non-essential trades and to put them into one of the essential trades, or some trade which the Director-General considers to be essential. If you take away cotton spinners and weavers it would make an enormous difference in respect to the War, because it is from cotton we make the wings of aeroplanes, besides which it is of importance in our export trade. The percentage of cotton exported helps to pay for the imports we get from abroad. To take people away from that industry, which is very shorthanded, and has never been more shorthanded, would be an absurdity; and, therefore, on these grounds, I oppose putting the Schedule in 1900 the Bill, especially as it omits what is not only an essential industry, but one of the most essential industries in this country. Therefore, if the word "essential" is put in, it does limit his absolute autocratic omnipotence to those industries which are really essential. He cannot on his own, so to speak, take men away and put them to business which is not essential. I desire to second, if I may, one of the Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman dealing with this point.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I hope that the Government will put in some adjective to define the scope of the Director-General of National Service. We are in this somewhat awkward fix, that if we put in the Schedule, which my light hon. Friend is about to propose, we would limit the Director-General in such a way that we might either have to have fresh legislation or put in some sort of general powers later on in the Bill, which would, I think, not be a very effective way of dealing with the difficulty. Legislating by Schedule in a case like this is a very awkward method of proceeding. On the other hand, the Government comes to us and asks us to give them general powers to deal with any trade. They say, "You must trust us." We are quite willing to trust them, but the House of Commons ought to do something more than trust Ministers. It ought to make up its mind what it wants doing. It is not enough for us just to throw a very crude idea at the Front Government Bench and say, "You carry that out." The intention of the House is to give the Director-General powers to deal with the essential industries, and it is right and proper that we should put that in the legislation, so that if he interferes with any other industry, his representative in this House can be challenged to prove that it is an essential industry. The method which we have been pursuing for the last two years in legislation like this is altogether slipshod, and there is not a single Member who has had experience of the administration of those general powers who has not got very serious grievances to bring against the Departments responsible. If we put in an adjective like "essential," we do not limit the powers that are asked for, because the Home Secretary does not say that they want powers to deal with industries which are not essential. By doing so, we are making our idea perfectly plain, and we are not limiting the authority of the Director of National Service, 1901 so far as we are willing to confer that authority. Therefore, I think that it is only right the House should insist on the Government making this Bill so precise and definite that it will express the intention of the House. I hope, therefore, that the word "essential" will be put in, and that the Government will accept it, and if it does not, that the House of Commons will have the opportunity of showing its own will in this matter.
§ Sir WILLIAM BEALE
I think there is a very good reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not proceed with his Amendment in this form, if some such safeguard is required, this is not the way to do it. Legislation by Schedule is objectionable, as has been pointed out, and if you merely put in this word "essential," you practically gain nothing. The Bill is for the purpose of making the "best use" of all persons, and you want to make sure that the best use is limited to use in essential and not in non-essential industries. No Amendment is really required for that purpose. In the words "best use" you have got all the safeguard you want, and any Member of this House can at any time point out employment in a non-essential industry. Anyone who applies to the Department will, I am sure, get information, and their complaints will be listened to. I have a very great objection to dealing with the matter in the way proposed, and while I have every sympathy with the object, I would suggest be the right hon. Gentleman that he should not press his Amendment in the form in which it now is, as I think it would be futile to achieve that object.
§ Mr. DILLON
I think the speech to which we have just listened is an excellent illustration of the necessity of this Amendment and more on the same lines. The hon. Member said that the essence of this Bill is that all men and women in the country should be put to the best use. That is the object of the Bill, and, in my opinion, no greater insanity ever took possession of this country than the idea that one man, surrounded by a few scratch officials, is competent to judge of what is the best use to which to put every person in the country. It is officialdom gone mad, and in it we have reached the final culmination of this idea, that all you have got to do in order to win the War and perform miracles is to start a new Department. That theory was started a year ago, 1902 and in the days of the ginger groups, when anything was said, the idea was to go and clamour at once for a Minister for everything.
§ Mr. DILLON
We were to have a margarine controller, and everything was to be controlled. This tiling now seems to be arriving at a stage when for every act we do we must have a special controller in a special palace, with a special staff to look after it. Here is an hon. Member who apparently is of opinion that the only way to get the best use out of every man and woman in this country is to have them passed by Mr. Neville Chamberlain, formerly Lord Mayor of Birmingham. If Mr. Chamberlain were an archangel, or if he were Hindenburg and Bismarck, and all the great men of the world rolled into one, his task would be wholly beyond his powers. I say that before very long, in my opinion, it will become manifest to the people of this country that there never was a more absurd, a more impossible, a more mischievous idea than this—that one official, surrounded by a gang of officials, can put every person to the best possible use. This humble Amendment, so far as it goes, is undoubtedly an improvement, though very, very slight, of this extraordinary measure. What was said just now by hon. Member below me is perfectly true. It is a great it is misfortune, but it is absolutely true, that we are bound to discuss this Bill from the point of view of compulsion, because we are told by those responsible for the present Government that if this does not turn out to be a success, and that promptly, it will be followed by a compulsory measure. Therefore we know we are discussing the framework of a compulsory Bill. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, whenever he is faced with that difficulty, says that there is no element of compulsion in this Bill. We heard all that last year on the question of the Army. The only difference between the voluntary proposals made last year for the Army and the present proposals is this: Last year there were solemn Ministerial pledges that those voluntary proposals would not be pressed to compulsory proposals. The present Ministry are far more practical. They say from the beginning, if this thing on voluntary lines does not become a complete success, and in a very short time, it 1903 will be followed by a compulsory scheme. Therefore we have to look at it from that point of view.
I am inclined to agree with the view that it would be a mistake to put a Schedule into this Bill. It is not in the least degree necessary to recommend this Amendment that it should be followed by a Schedule. On the contrary, my idea would be this: If you put in the word "essential" it should be required that the Director-General of National Service should from time to time lay upon the Table of the House his list of essential industries, and that the House should have some opportunity of discussing that Schedule from time to time. Let me take as an illustration of that one point that has been alluded to, and that is the omission in the Schedule already published, because the Director-General of National Service has already published two Schedules, I think, in the "Times" newspaper. Looking over that Schedule, the omission of the cotton trade created the most extreme alarm throughout the whole of that trade, because the cotton trade of Lancashire, and of this country generally, on looking over the Schedule, discovered that that great trade, one of the pillars of the finances of this country, was omitted from the list of essential trades. Let me enlarge on that point. That created alarm, not alone amongst the cotton trade, but throughout the whole country, because of the light it threw on the test which the Director-General of National Service was going to apply to the question of essential and non-essential. Apparently he is somewhat tinged with the War Office spirit and looks at this matter through War Office spectacles. He thinks that those industries are essential which can be described as war work. One of the delusions of the War Office, on which they may very soon get a rude awakening, is that it does not matter in the least whether this country can go on paying for the War, provided you put a large number of soldiers on paper, because they are certainly largely unable to take the field, as we all know, and that if you can get a large number of soldiers to wave as a bogey in front of Germany, that it is not necessary to consider whether this country is to be crippled and rendered unable to maintain the staggering and gigantic burden of 'financial responsibilities which it has assumed.
1904 It is perfectly plain that any man who is capable of drawing-up the First Schedule of essential industries in this country and leaving out the cotton trade is not to be trusted in this matter, and therefore I say that it is not only that that action on the part of the Director of National Service is calculated to alarm the cotton trade, but it is also calculated to alarm every industry in the country that is not in the first list, because inevitably the first argument that would occur to everybody interested in any industry not included in the Schedule will be that the Director of National Service is going to apply the War Office scale and treat all industries whose only justification is that they contribute to the financial stability of the country as non-essential. That is not all. One of the members of the War Cabinet, a very distinguished and influential member, inasmuch as he represents labour on that body, I mean the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson), is going about the country now—and he is the only member of the War Cabinet who is speaking to the country—and he made a speech two or three days ago in which he made this amazing statement: That there are three and a half millions of men in England to-day engaged in non-essential work. All I can say is that, to my mind, that is a preposterous statement, and it is not only preposterous but most alarming, because every man who reads that and who is engaged in any industry and knows anything of the condition of the country, must say that the Government have it in their minds to make a clean sweep and close up nearly half the industries of the country and nearly bring the whole country to a state of bankruptcy and ruin. Therefore I say that this is an extremely serious matter, and if the right hon. Gentleman takes it to a Division, I shall certainly go to a Division with him. I also think we ought not to be content with this check, but that we should put in some other Amendment so as to reassure the industries of the country that have not already been proved essential.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Brace)
I am sorry the Committee has taken the view that the word "essential" is necessary to be put in the Bill. As to the Schedule, I understand that my right hon. Friend (Sir C. Hobhouse) who moved that the Schedule should be incorporated has agreed to drop the Schedule, 1905 and therefore the discussion has been concentrated on whether or not the word "essential" should be included.
§ Mr. BRACE
I am hoping that this Bill will be sufficient of itself as a voluntary measure to secure the number of men necessary to carry on work of national importance such as has been and will be scheduled. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson) and others are touring the country with the hope of raising sufficient men by voluntary endeavour to prevent compulsion being necessary altogether, and if this word "essential" is incorporated in the Bill, it will be a disadvantage to this extent, that we shall be faced with no end of litigation by people who do not want to serve the nation in these days of trial, and as a consequence our voluntary effort will fail, and we shall be driven by force of circumstances to a position that this House does not want to be put into. I am advised that if the word "essential" is put into the Bill it will weaken the endeavour that is being made to get the men by voluntary effort, and therefore I will ask the Committee not to pass the Amendment.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has somewhat misconceived the position. My own view is that it does not really matter a great deal whether "essential" is put in or not, and as a matter of fact I do not think it matters whether we have these introductory words at all or not. As far as the actual operative effect of this Clause is concerned, I do not think we really require the wordsFor the purpose of making the best use of all persons, whether men or women, able to work in any industry, occupation, or service.The rest of the Clause will be quite effective without these words, which are really something in the nature of a preamble. However, we have had this question raised here, and my right hon. Friend 1906 opposite has taken this opportunity of raising a double question: first of all, the question whether the action of the Director of National Service is to be confined to essential industries; and, secondly, whether there is to be a Schedule in the Bill. I think it is of great consequence that the new Minister should have his attention confined to essential industries, and that an attempt should be made to define those industries. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Denniss) referred to the Schedule. His speech was an argument against the present Schedule, but not against having a Schedule. Indeed, it was an argument for a Schedule, and the very fact that the Director of National Service has omitted from the Schedule which he has published such an important industry as the cotton industry is the strongest possible argument we could have that Parliament should control the scheduling of industries. If he can make a blunder of this kind——
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Oh, yes, it is a blunder. The Home Secretary says it is not a blunder, and that makes the case all the worse.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I meant that this list was not intended to be a list of the whole of the essential industries of this country. It was only issued as a list of important industries in which labour is now wanted, and the Director of National Service did not say that any industries outside that list are not essential. He simply submitted those industries in which labour is wanted to-day, and that is quite a different thing.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not know of any important industry to-day in which labour is not wanted. There are many other industries not included in this list in which there is the greatest possible dearth of labour, and it does not seem to me that the explanation of the Home Secretary particularly helps the matter. After all, it was issued as a list of essential trades, and I think it is common knowledge that there are many trades outside the list which are essential, and which are also greatly in need of labour. I think, therefore, that in view of the situation and of the uncertainty to which the action of the Director of National Service has given rise, we should insist, if we are not to have a Schedule, at least that we should have control over the industries which are 1907 scheduled by having these Schedules placed on the Table of the House. We have had an example already of the possibility of dealing with these things in regard to Home Office Orders. I think the late Home Secretary had some trouble with the Home Office Order in regard to shops. It is very important that, by the process of laying on the Table this list of essential industries, the House should have an opportunity of checking, supervising, and controlling the Director of National Service. We have been told that we should have implicit faith in the Director of National Service, but if we look at the way other directors and controllers have acted in regard to national work, I think we are justified in entertaining a great deal of scepticism. If we look, for example, at the way in which agriculture has been treated by the War Office, and if we look at the way in which munition workers have been treated by the Ministry of Munitions, and at the way in which the Ministry of Munitions have allowed the War Office to treat them, I think we shall find the very strongest grounds for hesitating to give any further dictatorial powers to Government Departments. I believe that we cannot achieve the result which my right hon. Friend (Sir C. Hobhouse) seeks to obtain, and I think the only way of doing it will be by moving a new Clause, because, as I have indicated, this Preamble is pure surplusage, and if we add to a Preamble I do not think it helps the operative effect of the Statute we are passing.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I think two things have emerged from the discussion. One is that the vast majority of Members who have spoken on the Amendment have approved of the insertion of some such word as "essential," and the other is that nearly everybody has disapproved of the concrete proposal which I should have made to the House with regard to the addition of a Schedule. I should like to tell my hon. Friends who have supported me in the view that we should insert the word "essential" that I shall be glad to obtain their support on a subsequent Amendment, because I should like to withdraw my Amendment as it occurs in regard to a Schedule at this point and later to put down some words which would ensure that the Director of National Service should lay on the Table of this House a list of the scheduled trades, which should 1908 not become operative until the House has had a chance of discussing them.
Mr. T. WILSON
I wish to draw the attention of the Home Secretary to a trade that is very essential so far as Lancashire and Yorkshire are concerned. I believe he has had resolutions sent to him from branches of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation, protesting against taking from their trade the cloggers of Lancashire and Yorkshire. In the Division which I represent in this House what are called "absentee committees," which deal with miners who are absent from their work, have had it proved to them many times that the men have been absent from work owing to the fact that they have been unable to get their footwear through lack of labour. I also know that during the present winter large numbers of school children have not been able to go to school on account of their footwear not being able to keep out the damp. I know that a protest has been sent by the master cloggers of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and also by the operatives, to the Reserved Occupations Committee, and to the War Office as well, protesting against men being taken from this industry. If we find miners not able to keep up the output of coal owing to not being able to get the footwear which they need, I think it is high time that something was done in this House to prevent these men being taken. It is just as necessary that people should be clothed and have good footwear so that they may get the minerals, as it is for Mr. Neville Chamberlain to get a large number of men on his voluntary list for National Service. Something must be done to prevent men being taken from essential industries, especially men who are absolutely necessary for providing footwear for the miners in Lancashire and Cheshire.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WATT
Like the hon. and learned Member for North-West Lanark, I do not think there is much importance in this Amendment, and whether or not the word "essential" is inserted. But the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment coupled it with the next Amendment on the Paper on the question of a Schedule being put in by this House. I think that is a most important matter. It is a question of whether this House shall or shall not draw up a Schedule, or whether the House shall hand over its powers to Mr. Neville Chamberlain, who 1909 is to be Director-General. The speech made by the hon. Member for East Mayo was a most valuable contribution to the Debate. I would it were printed and circulated throughout the length and breadth of the country to-morrow, for it is exactly the type of speech the newspapers will not give at any length, because it in some degree was the truth, and was against the views of the Government. It is the idea of that speech that I desire to emphasise clearly, and to say that we are now handing over to Mr. Neville Chamberlain the power of scheduling trades as essential and non-essential. When he declares a trade, such as the cotton trade, to be non-essential, he has the power of removing, and probably will remove, from that trade the labour with which it is carried on. We have the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A: Henderson) going about the country saying that there are three and a half millions of men in the country employed in non-essential trades. That is a most severe shock to those three and a half millions of men, and to the men, too, who have capital employed in these trades. Mr. Neville Chamberlain, by his mere ipse dixit, will be able, when this measure passes, to ruin these trades; if not to ruin them, to give them a very severe shock by removing from them labour absolutely essential for their satisfactory conduct. This is a most drastic measure. I hope the Committee really apprehends the fact of what we are handing over to this man! Each of us in this House represents many traders who are included in this three and a half millions. Any of these may be deprived of their livelihood by the ipse dixit of this unknown man. Therein lies the importance of the situation. I think this Committee should insist that a Schedule of some kind—it may not be the Schedule of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Bristol—but a Schedule of some kind should be adopted, so that this House, and not Mr. Neville Chamberlain, may say who in the country are to be ruined by his idea of what is essential and what is non-essential.
§ Mr. HOGGE
In discussing this word "essential" we ought to bear in mind that Mr. Neville Chamberlain should, at any rate, be given power in the Schedule that it is proposed to lay upon the Table of the House, to take non-essential men out of the Army and place them in 1910 essential trades. I believe that the Army is the means of the greatest wastage of men to essential trades in the country to-day. My hon. Friend (Mr. Tyson Wilson) referred in his speech to the clog industry. That is an industry which exists in my own city of Edinburgh. There is only one clog industry in that city. It supplies, or did supply, munition workers with the clogs necessary for their work. It was run by a man who was taken into the Army. That man went through the Mesopotamian campaign, was badly wounded, and returned to this country with malarial fever. His mother and sisters were trying to run that essential industry in Edinburgh. I made application to the War Office, and used all the arguments in favour that I could for the release of the man to continue that necessary industry in Edinburgh. My application was refused. The mother has since died owing to the exertions she had put forward to maintain that industry. The man is still retained in the Army. Having been wounded, he is given light duty, and is not likely to return to the fighting line. If he were put back into that industry it could be maintained. The one absolutely essential thing to remember in all these discussions is that Mr. Neville Chamberlain should be given authority over the Secretary of State for War. He is the man who ought to be controlled. He is the man who is wasting the industrial activities of the country, by absorbing men into absolutely useless work, both so far as the country is concerned and so far as the men themselves are concerned, thus creating the necessity for interfering with the machinery of industry which is at the moment contributing to the wealth required to run the War.
I repeat the argument which I used the other day on another subject. I have made frequent use of this argument in the country recently in trying to help to raise the War Loan. Many of the business men, certainly in Scotland, hesitated, and did not contribute to the War Loan because they were not sure what Mr. Neville Chamberlain was going to do with the employés left to them. Men were not certain whether or not Mr. Chamberlain would consider their trade an essential trade, and whether or not they would be left, as many are being left, without any trade at all! Let me tell a case that I heard this morning which occurred not two miles from this House. An employer employed sixty 1911 workmen at the beginning of the War. He has been deprived of every one of them, has had to close his doors, and shut down from £4,000 or £5,000 worth of essential plant, which cannot be used for any other purpose at the moment without great loss. That man was contributing to the finances of this country. Amongst his employés was a War Loan club, which took between £600 and £800 of War Loan. That is all scattered to the four winds of Heaven, because someone insists upon taking men who will be no use to the Army. Therefore I want to emphasise,
§ as I have emphasised often before, that the real cry that everybody should promote at the moment is to comb out the Army. Get rid of the men who are a nuisance to the officers and the other men because of absorbing men to take care of them. Return them to industrial life, where they will be some good, and prevent Mr. Neville Chamberlain doing as much mischief as he might otherwise do.
§ Question put, "That the word 'essential' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 73;: Noes, 188.1913
|Division No. 3.]||AYES.||[6.9 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Hancock, John George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Leary, Daniel|
|Anderson, W. C.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hogge, James Myles||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Holt, Richard Durning||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hudson, Walter||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo. North)||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburgh)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Jowett, Frederick William||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Clynes, John R.||Keating, Matthew||Shortt, Edward|
|Cosgrave, James||King, Joseph||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Snowden, Philip|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lundon, Thomas||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dillon, John||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Watt, Henry A.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Daris, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Field, William||Worrell, Philip||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Finney, Samuel||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Fitzpatrick, John Laior||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nuttall, Harry|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Denniss and Mr. Thomas Richardson.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Bull, Sir William James||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling||Butcher, John George||Gardner, Ernest|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Carllie, Sir Edward Hildred||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Archdale, Lieut. E. M.||Carnegie, Lieut.-Col. D. G.||Glanville, Harold James|
|Armitage, Robert||Cator, John||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Barnett, Captain R. W.||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hanson, Charles Augustin|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff)||Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Craig, Col. James (Down, E.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Craik, Sir Henry||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Currie, G. W.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Dairymple, Hon. H. H.||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Bird, Alfred||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Hewart, Sir Gordon|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Dixon, C. H.||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.|
|Bliss, Joseph||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Hills, John Waller|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Hinds, John|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fell, Arthur||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Perkins, Walter F.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Peto, Basil Edward||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwork, West)|
|Hunt, Major Rowland||Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Ivor (Southampton)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Pratt, J. W.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Kiley, James Daniel||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Tickler, T. G.|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Radford, Sir George Heynes||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Rawson, Colons) R. H.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Mackinder, H. J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Wardle, George J.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Malcolm, Ian||Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.||Weigall, William E. G. A.|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Robinson, Sidney||Weston, J. W.|
|Millar, James Duncan||Rowlands, James||Whitley, Rt. Hen. J. H.|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Rutherford, Sir John (Lanes., Darwen)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Rutherford, Watson (W. Derby)||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Newman, John R. P.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|O'Neill, Capt. Hon. H. (Antrim, Mid)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)||Younger, Sir George|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Partington, Oswald||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)||Starkey, John R.||Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Primrose|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Stewart, Gershom|
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Dumfriesshire and three other Members, is out of order; it is not in correct form, but the substance of it is raised in the succeeding Amendment.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
On a point of Order. Am I not entitled to move the first part of the Amendment, which says, "The Director-General of National Service shall have such powers and duties of any Government Department or authority as may be conferred on him by Statute"?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It is not in order to leave words out and then replace them. The hon. Member will find that his point is substantially covered by the next Amendment.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
The Amendment standing in my name is to leave out in 1914 Sub-section (2) the words "whether conferred by Statute or otherwise." I think the Amendment ought to begin at the words "or otherwise," and with your permission, Mr. Maclean, I will limit my Amendment so as to delete the words "or otherwise."
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
The Sub-section will then run:The Director-General of National Service shall, for that purpose, have such powers and duties or any Government Department or authority, conferred by Statute,leaving out the word "whether." The object of the Amendment is, I think, the same as that of my hon. Friends opposite—that is to say, to limit the power of the Director-General to such powers as this House can control, and to prevent his exercising powers over which the House has I no control. We have had within the last few days—certainly within the last month—very startling results from the conferring by Regulation under the Defence of the Realm Act of powers upon various Director-Generals and Ministers. The other day a member of the Government in this House coolly proposed to issue a Regulation under the Defence of the Realm 1915 Act which, he confessed, if it were to become operative would have the power of overriding Statute law, and it was not until he was challenged in this House as to whether or not he could exercise the power he proposed that he consented to refer the matter to the Law Officers of the Crown. I rather gather, from the silence which has been maintained up to the present as to the issue of that Regulation, that his wings have been more clipped by the advice of the Law Officers than he suspected. All that is very well in a case where a Minister happens to be challenged in the House of Commons, but if you give to the Director-General of National Service powers under these. Defence of the Realm Act Regulations he will issue all sorts of orders which people, in ignorance of the limitation of his power, will obey. His decrees will not be challenged as they ought to be challenged, and as they could be successfully challenged, and the result will be that you will create a dictator with powers unknown to this House. Should this Bill be eventually transformed, as has been suggested, into a compulsory Bill, you will have created in a person powers such as no monarch ever held or thought of holding. That may not be the intention of the House of Commons, or even of the Government at the present moment, but it is quite certain that if these words passed first of all unchallenged, and if they passed successfully through the criteria of the House of Commons, they would tend to create, not only in this Director-General, but in all other Director-Generals whom we may expect to come along after this one, powers which it would not only be very wrong to confer upon them, but which they could not usefully exercise. Therefore, I propose that the Director-General shall be limited, as he ought to be limited, to powers conferred upon him by Statute, "or such as His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer to him," and so forth.
§ Mr. R. MACDONALD
On a point of Order. I am not quite sure if my right hon. Friend has really considered the meaning of the words he proposes to leave out, and I would like to ask your ruling, Mr. Maclean. The words the right hon. Gentleman proposes to leave out are words which have this effect, that His Majesty may, by Order in Council, transfer to the new Director-General powers already enjoyed by Government Depart- 1916 ments, whether by Statute or otherwise. As a matter of fact, they do not mean-that powers not now enjoyed by Government Departments may be created by Statute or otherwise, and therefore the whole thing is retrospective, and if we are to strike at the extension of powers, the striking must take place further in the Clause. Consequently, if it is the right hon. Gentleman's intention to carry out what he has just said, the Amendment he now moves does not effect his intention at all, and therefore, it would save the time of the Committee if that were understood. I would respectfully submit, in the form of a point of Order, that the Committee would like to save the time if they are not discussing a thing of substance.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I was going to point out as one reason against this Amendment the very consideration the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) has put before the Committee. This particular Amendment does not touch the words under which new powers might be conferred upon the Director-General. The effect of it is only to prevent the transfer to the Director-General of National Service of powers which belong to other Departments, otherwise than by Statute. I do not know whether that is the right hon. Gentleman's intention. If it is, I will proceed with the argument.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
If I may say so, I am in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, and I think I ought to move an Amendment lower down in the Clause which would enable the Committee to have a much better discussion. In that case I should be prepared to withdraw my present Amendment, so as to enable the Amendment to come on in a later place. I do not know whether you; Mr. Maclean, will agree to that procedure?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
On the point of Order. In view of the fact that my Amendment could not be moved, and because of the meaningless Amendment which is now moved, will you consider your former ruling and allow me to move my Amendment?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am not responsible for what takes place after I have given my ruling. If the hon. Member (Mr. Pringle) will forgive me for saying so—whether he forgives me or not I shall still say it—I think his conduct is distinguished by disrespect to the Chair, 1917 and if I have to call the hon. Member's attention again to his conduct, I shall have to ask the Committee to take other steps, which I should very deeply regret. As to the point of Order raised by the hon. Member for Leicester, I am not prepared to give a ruling on this point against the right hon. Gentleman, as it seems to me to be a matter which is very much mixed up with the merits of the question.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
As long as I am assured that we shall not lose an opportunity of discussing this point, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Leave to withdraw Amendment withheld; Amendment negatived.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It seems to me that the proper course to pursue now is for the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Sir C. Seely) to move his second Amendment first. If that be carried, the words of his first Amendment would naturally follow.
§ Colonel Sir C. SEELY
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "and also such further powers as may be conferred on him by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, and Regulations may be made under that Act accordingly."
I propose this Amendment in order to carry out the promise made by the Home Secretary the other day, that this was a purely voluntary Bill, and was not intended to confer any compulsory powers. As to whether the words I wish to leave out will carry out the object I have in view, I am not quite certain. If this Amendment is agreed to, I shall afterwards move the insertion of the wordsother than any powers and duties conferred upon any such Department or authority by the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, or the Ministry of Munitions Act, 1915, or any Act amending the same, or any Regulations made thereunder.I think that proposal would confine this Bill to the duties at present existing, and it would prevent this measure being used to obtain for any Department any compul- 1918 sory powers, which, I understand, is not the object of the measure. We have already said enough in regard to the question of compulsory service, and I suggest these words to the Home Secretary as a means of carrying out his intention. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman has put down another form of words to carry out his promise, and I shall be glad to hear what he has to say on this point.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I entirely agree with the hon. Baronet when he says that there should be no element of compulsion of labour in this Bill, and I have endeavoured to carry out my promise by the words which I have put on the Paper. If those words are adopted I, at all events, shall be satisfied that they will prevent any element of compulsory labour being introduced. They will so far govern the words which the hon. Baronet wishes to leave-out that there can be no risk of compulsion under this Bill. I prefer the form of words which I have put on the Paper to the omission of these words, because if they are omitted the omission will have another effect besides that which the hon. Baronet has in mind, for it would prevent us from conferring upon the Director-General of National Service any powers by future Regulations. I do not think the House wants that, and I am sure the country does not. The country is desirous that this Bill should pass. It is behind the Director of National Service in his excellent work, and the country would not desire the omission from this Bill of any of the objects which it is intended to secure. I am sure the country desires that the Director-General should have the full powers which are necessary for giving effect to the objects for which he was appointed. I quite accept the condition laid down by the hon. Baronet that words should be inserted to prevent any possibility of industrial compulsion, but I believe that the country wants the Director-General to have full powers. I feel sure the House has that object in view, and if so, it would be an error to strike out the words which the hon. Baronet has proposed to omit, and which are necessary to enable the Director-General to carry out his work.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I agree with the Home Secretary that so far as compulsion is concerned, the words suggested by the right hon. Gentleman are better words, and that is a better way to deal with the matter. There are, however, other powers 1919 which may be conferred upon the Director General of National Service which might be much more insidious and dangerous. I should like to know how we are to guard against powers which do exist, and which might exist hereafter, and which would convert what is an industrial army really into a military army. The proposal today is to have a voluntary industrial army, but probably it will very shortly be turned into a compulsory industrial army. The idea is to organise it as a voluntary army, and if necessary apply compulsion to it afterwards. The powers given to the Director-General of National Service are such powers and duties as the Government Departments or other authorities already possess, and they are to exercise them concurrently, or in consultation with those Government Departments or other authorities concerned. One of the powers which exists at present is the power conferred by the Defence of the Realm Act on the War Office to try any sort or kind of offence by court-martial. I presume the Director. General will under these powers make regulations which will be binding on any voluntary member of the industrial army, and which will make him subject to punishment if he does not carry out the regulations. There will be regulations and specific orders for a breach of which any member of the industrial army may be subject to punishment. I want to know if there is to be the power to set up, in consultation with the War Office, courts-martial to try those offences?
§ Mr. SHORTT
I think it is essential that we should keep the hand of the military from the industrial army, and I should like to know whether there really is any safeguard in this measure against any sort of punishment or trial for breach of regulations being dealt with in consultation with the military authorities by a military court-martial, or something equivalent to it, with all the shortcomings and evils of a military court-martial. I for one shall certainly strongly oppose anything that will lead to the introduction of the military hand in the regulation of an industrial army.
§ Mr. DILLON
I really do think we are entitled to have from the Home Secretary some indication of what is in the mind of the Government. I begin by recognising 1920 fully that his words, if adopted, would prevent the Government conferring compulsory powers to force anybody to take up any industry or to transfer anybody from any other industry. It is perfectly plain the Government have in their mind some large and important powers which I they are thinking of extending to the Director-General of National Service under this Bill by the Defence of the Realm Act. We must remember that it is an enormously elastic Act. I will put to the Committee, as practical propositions, one of two things, very far-reaching, which are quite likely to be in the mind of the Director-General. First of all, it is possible that he will seek power to close down any business that he thinks ought to be closed down. We are entitled to ask the Home Secretary if that is one of the powers to be conferred? Could anyone conceive a more tyrannical power to be placed in the hands of one man in the country than that he should be able to shut down and destroy the business of any man in the country? Of course, that would not in any way be prevented by this Clause against compulsion, although it would be a most formidable form of compulsion, because all the unfortunate men or women who were employés in that concern would be driven out into the streets, and be obliged to go and seek employment in some other industry.
Nothing would be more likely than that the Director-General would follow that up by saying that all men and women thrown out of non-essential employments should be compelled, if they took any other employment, to go into an essential employment. You would then have a complete system of compulsion without contravening the words of the Home Secretary at all. It would not be a general system of compulsion, but it would be used against great masses of workpeople. Men might starve if they thought fit, but if they wanted to earn their living they would have to take such employment as the Director-General directed. That would be quite consistent with the wording of this provision, and not only would it be consistent with the words proposed by the Home Secretary, but, honestly, I think it would be a very likely course of procedure, because it would enable the Director-General to bring into play, practically for all the purposes he wants, compulsion of the most stringent character. Anybody who has devoted any attention at all to the great social questions of the 1921 times knows that the wage system in this country very often works in bad times as a compulsory system of the cruellest character. What is the use of telling a man that he is free if he is only free to starve? He has to work for what he can get. I could construct out of this Bill, without infringing the words of the Home Secretary, an absolutely complete system of compulsion which could still be held up to the country as a voluntary system. That is one aspect of this question which makes me suggest that this Amendment should not be allowed to be withdrawn without a Division. I see in the Section power placed in the hands of the Government to bring about a well-constructed system of compulsion.
There is another aspect which to my mind is equally dangerous and equally probable. We all remember how dangerously near the Act which set up the Ministry of Munitions came to bringing about great strikes and labour complications, and we all remember the extremely stringent regulations imposed upon munition workers. What is more likely than that under this provision the whole labour of the country should be brought under the most stringent discipline, more stringent, if the Director-General so decrees, than is now applied to the great controlled establishments and munition works of the country? That, I think, is the proposal of the Government. They intend to bring the entire labour of the country under the strictest discipline, practically military discipline, and, make no mistake about it, they can do it under the Act in its present form without in the slightest degree being interfered with by the words which the Home Secretary proposes to insert. Therefore, I say that the House of Commons ought not to be led in blinkers, as on many occasions in the past, by appeals to duty and the fact that we are at war. We ought not to be led on in the dark to sanction legislation as to the scope and possibilities of which we have not the faintest notion. If we are to have military law, military practice, and military discipline applied as many men in this country have openly advocated—I do not agree with them because I think it would be disastrous, but there are hundreds and thousands of people who are very anxious to try it—to the whole labour of this country, and if we are to have compulsion, then, in the name of common sense, let us have the thing squarely set forth in the Bill which we have to consider, and let the 1922 House of Commons decide, because, after all, the House is supreme in these matters. Let it decide with its eyes open, knowing what it is doing, and whether it is going to submit to industrial compulsion or not.
§ Mr. W. ROCH
There will be a general feeling among those who have read this Clause of difficulty in understanding precisely what powers are given under the Clause and what the Amendment means, and I must say that the Home Secretary, who is a very distinguished lawyer, could throw a good deal of light on the matter and clear up any misunderstanding as to the effect of his Amendment if he would tell us quite clearly and frankly what are the powers which he wishes to preserve. It certainly does seem that the effect of his Amendment is to remove the power, without further legislation, of transferring compulsorily one man from one industry into another. As far as I can understand it, that is perfectly clear. But it is not clear to my mind what are the formidable powers which he obviously seeks to preserve under this Section. Does he, for instance, contemplate applying the terms of the Munitions Act, the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and the powers given by the Section to the volunteers who come under it? If a man volunteers and goes to agriculture, will there be any power, such as the Disciplinary Code given by the Munitions Act, which can be applied to him? Will the other formidable penal powers, such as deportation, which are given by the Defence of the Realm Acts, be applicable to the people who have actually volunteered? I am not hostile to what the right hon. Gentleman wishes to achieve, but let him make no mystery about this. Let him tell us frankly what are the powers which he seeks to preserve, and, if he does that. I do think that we shall make perfectly smooth progress and help him to secure the Bill.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I wish to support what has been said. The important thing is that the Home Secretary should try to tell us what is in his mind and what the Government have in mind in regard to the very wide and vague powers mentioned under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. This is supposed to be a scheme by which there can be a voluntary transfer of labour, accepted by the workpeople themselves, from less essential to more essential industries. If that is the scope of the scheme, what part is the Defence 1923 of the Realm Act going to play in it? It is highly important we should know before we agree to the passing of this Clause. I would like to point out that already increasingly industrial pressure has been applied to the workpeople even by Acts of Parliament which did not seem to apply anything in the way of industrial compulsion to them. The Military Service Acts have pressed even in the industrial sense upon the workpeople, and so have the Defence of the Realm Acts and, of course, the Munitions Act. All these Acts of Parliament have already affected the whole status of labour, worsening it in many respects, and before we continue that policy we want to know what part the Defence of the Realm Acts are going to play in this voluntary organisation. The least we have a right to ask from the Home Secretary is a clear explanation of the meaning of this Clause—how it can be used and for what purpose it can be used?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
It seems to me that the question we are discussing does not cover all that may be included in this Subsection. It is true that the main question which, on the Second Reading, raised the greatest anxiety was the question of compulsion as applied to labour. The powers given by this Sub-section possibly do not go the full length of compulsion, but they include power with regard to the closing down of industries over which, I think, this House should insist upon exercising control. The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that his Amendment fairly meets the point regarding the compulsion of labour, but it is a very narrow Amendment as it appears on the Paper. It is to this effect: "That no such Regulation shall authorise the compulsory employment or transfer of any person in or to any industry, occupation, or service."
That simply means that no Regulation under the Defence of the Realm Acts will have that effect. But there are powers which may be transferred to the new Department from other Departments, and which may be quite as strongly compulsory in their character as any Regulations which might be issued under the Defence of the Realm Acts. You might, for example, by Order in Council, transfer to the new Ministry the powers which are at present exercised by the Minister of Munitions in respect of munition workers. You might do so under this Sub-section. 1924 Under Section 7 of the original Munitions Act the Ministry of Munitions can apply to any establishment in the country the Regulations in regard to leaving certificates. If, by Order in Council, you can confer that power on the Director-General of National Service then everybody who enlists under this scheme may be tied down to his job in the name way as the munition worker is tied down under Section V of the Munitions Act. I do not know whether the Committee remembers exactly the effect of that Section. Under it a man cannot leave his work without his employers assent. If his employer refuses assent he has to go to a tribunal to get a decision that that assent has been unreasonably withheld, and in that matter there is an appeal. There you have men literally tied to their occupation. Under this Section as it stands at present, even apart from the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Acts you can give a real binding power, and you may have what has been called by men under it "white slavery." It has been so described by munition workers. I know of a case which recently occurred, in which a man desired to take a foreman's place. Obviously, that would have been in the national interest. It surely must be to the national interest that a man should be employed as a foreman rather than as a journeyman. The employer, however, refused to give this man his leaving certificate. The man appealed to the tribunal, and that also refused the certificate. The matter went on appeal to a judge of the High Court by whom the refusal was confirmed, and that man was consequently deprived of the right to serve the country in a better position than he has been occupying. What has been the result? He has been compelled to go idle for six weeks in order that he may take the other job. He is, in fact, idle now. He is sacrificing a salary of £5 a week for six weeks so that he may take this better post. What we fear is that a similar state of things may obtain under this Bill.
It is all very well to talk of a minimum wage of 25s. a week, but surely what is aimed at is to make the best use of the men and women of this country, and, that at any rate being our object, we distrust these fancy proposals. It is extremely important that not only the new powers to be conferred under the Bill but also those to be transferred should be laid down by 1925 Act of Parliament, and not by Order in Council. That was the object of the Amendment I had on the Paper, an Amendment which was intended to raise this whole question. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity of moving it. But it does seem to me that the only way in which we can have proper security is to include all the powers to be conferred on the Minister in a Schedule to this Bill, and to set out also the powers that are to be transferred. We have had difficulties in other cases with regard to transferred powers. We know the result of going on these lines in the Bill which set up the Ministry of Munitions. We had similar troubles in other Bills, and in all cases these transfers of powers have produced the greatest confusion. It will be remembered that, in connection with the Bill creating the Ministry of Munitions, there were certain excursions and alarms about the Ordnance Department, and the attempt made to supersede General von Donop. But here we do not know what powers are going to be transferred, and, as a result, the whole thing is left in a state of confusion in which one Department will be fighting with another. The right hon. Gentleman said that the country desires to give the new Director of National Service full powers. But we do not know that he will have full powers under this Bill. Will he have full powers in relation to the War Office or in regard to the Admiralty, or in respect of agriculture? I do not think it is likely, and it is because I wish to have a clear definition on this point that I personally believe the Amendment of the hon. Baronet opposite would be acceptable in conjunction with one which the Government intend to propose later.
Mr. T. WILSON
If the Government wish the Bill to be a success I hope they will make quite clear what will be the position of working men and women under it. If they are in any doubt as to what their position is going to be when this Bill has been circulated in the country I think the right hon. Gentleman may rest satisfied that working people will not volunteer under the scheme. Perhaps it is part of the scheme that the Government do not want them to volunteer. If so, let them say so at once. Let the right hon. Gentleman come forward and say, "We must have compulsion." I would rather he did that openly than attempt to secure it by a backdoor system. Undoubtedly, in my opinion, the Munitions 1926 Act will apply to these men and women once they come into a national factory of any kind. I am told that men responsible for the scheme have declared that the cotton industry is not an essential industry. [An HON. MEMPER: "That is not so."] I am glad to get that disclaimer. Like other people, I want to see the Government make the best possible use of the labour of the country. At the same time, I want to see men and women working contentedly and not hanging back because they are in doubt as to what the Government intend to do. I am satisfied that when working men and women see all the cards on the table they will rise to the responsibility that rests upon them.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
We have had moderate and reasonable criticism upon this Clause. One or two very plain questions have been asked of the Home Secretary to which we should like to have a reply. Does he or does he not intend, by the Regulations which are to be passed under this Bill, to shut down industry? We have had no answer to that question, and I hope we may have a direct one.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I can give a direct answer, and will give the best I can to the various questions that have been put to me. I do not think it was quite fair for the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Tyson Wilson) to suggest that the Government do not wish this Bill to be a success. Why are we pressing it on the House? Why is Mr. Neville Chamberlain, and why are many of us, giving up our time in making appeals all over the country in order to press this voluntary scheme on the public?
§ Sir G. CAVE
I will attempt to answer the point made by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Shortt), who raised a very ingenious plea, and suggested that the Bill was going to authorise the National Director to hold courts-martial in order to try volunteers under the scheme. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had not made that suggestion, I should have thought it perfectly absurd. Any powers which the Director will have will be transferred to him by Orders in Council, and is it possible to conceive an Order in Council authorising the Director of National Service, under a voluntary scheme, to hold a court-martial upon anyone for not carrying out a voluntary undertaking—an under- 1927 taking which every man is at liberty to break if he chooses! I said that on the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. SHORTT
But will he be at liberty to commit offences by breaking the Regulations while remaining a volunteer?
§ Sir G. CAVE
We rely on the honour of the volunteer, and on the honour of the employer, to carry out their respective promises, and it is quite absurd to suggest that, under an arrangement of that kind, there could be such a thing as a court-martial for not carrying out the terms of the undertaking. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) is a persistent opponent of this Bill, the Second Reading of which, I would remind him, was passed without a Division. He has suggested that under the Bill a man might be compelled to take any employment which the Director-General of National Service approved. That is not so. There is no such element of compultion in the Bill, and I say, without fear of contradiction, that no such thing could take place under this Bill. The hon. Member for East Mayo made as his second point that military discipline might be introduced into the working of the scheme. Again I say it cannot be done. You cannot read" that into it. Then there has been the question of deportation raised. I do not think that is possible.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I thought the reference of the hon. Member was to deportations from the country. It has never occurred to anyone that we should give the Director any such power. It would be wholly outside his function, and no one dreamt of such a thing.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Not so far as I understand it. Certain powers are given to the Minister of Munitions under the Munitions Act, but I am sure no one dreams 1928 of transferring penal powers to the National Director under this. Bill. I do not know how to meet these objections in any other way than I have already done. When introducing the Bill I described the scheme as purely voluntary. We propose to give the Director of National Service authority to invite applications from fellow subjects to give voluntary service. We propose to give him power to accept such applications, and to transfer those who are prepared to give up their present occupations, which we assume to be non-essential, to some other occupation in which they can render greater service to the country. That is the whole purpose and object of this Bill, and it will be made effective by my Amendment, which I hope to move later on. If anyone can suggest better words for that Amendment, I shall be extremely glad to consider them. But I wish to say plainly there is nothing in the Bill, as I understand it, which would enable the National Director, even if he so desired, to compel anyone to give service which he was not willing to give.
§ Mr. R. MACDONALD
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us positively what powers he wishes to transfer and what type of cases he proposes to deal with?
§ Sir G. CAVE
I think the hon. Member knows the powers referred to—powers such as are exercised by the Food Controller—and exercised, as I believe, to the satisfaction of the country. It may be that the Director of National Service may find it desirable to exercise similar powers. I do not want to limit myself as to the powers that may be transferred within the provisions of the Bill, but I will give an instance. I believe there is power already to limit the employment of new labour only in certain industries, and it may be that exactly the same type of power ought to be vested in the Director of National Service. He would be the proper person to make regulations of that kind. It is he who, after having reviewed the-whole field of available labour and knowing where it is most wanted, would be able to say, "I want no more men to go into that industry, because I hold it is non-essential, and I require it for another industry." That is the type of power which ought to be given to the Director-General. Everything will be governed by the words of my Amendment—that is to say, that no Regulation can be made under 1929 the Bill which shall authorise the compulsory employment of any person in any industry or compel the transfer of any person from one industry to another. I hope I have given a direct answer to the right hon. Gentleman's question. I must add that I hold these words to be essential to the success of the Bill, and I hope the Committee will not accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I have listened to the Debates on the Second Reading and Committee stages of this Bill, and it appears to me that the point raised by this Amendment is by far the most important that has yet been touched upon. The Committee is obliged to consider this Bill not only in relation to the scheme which the Director-General of National Service has laid before the country, but also in relation to other plans that may subsequently be made. In doing that, I am sure none of us desire in any way to depreciate the efforts of Mr. Chamberlain or to cast doubt upon his success. Mr. Chamberlain has undertaken a most difficult task with great courage and great energy, and I am sure all of us must desire the fullest success to attend 'his measures. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson), who holds a very important position as a member of the War Cabinet, spoke in this House a few nights ago and informed the House of the steps that he would find himself obliged to take if further voluntary assistance failed, and directed the attention of the House to the other measures that would thereupon have to be taken by the Government and the position that he himself would assume in the presence of Parliament. The Home Secretary has completely disposed of any fear that this Bill can be used for what is ordinarily termed industrial compulsion—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no!"]—by the terms of the Amendment which he has put down, which definitely, specifically, and in language that cannot be misunderstood, declares that there shall be no compulsion on any individual to enter any employment. It has hitherto been assumed that the alternative to a voluntary scheme, such as that which Mr. Neville Chamberlain has proposed to the nation, is compulsory industrial service on the lines that have been adopted in the case of compulsory military service. It has been assumed that, as the nation has been obliged to say to individuals, "You shall serve the State as soldiers in such-and- 1930 such a unit, or in such-and-such a capacity," it may conceivably be compelled to say in the future to individuals, "You shall serve the State as a workman in such-and-such a trade and under such-and-such an employer." The right hon. Gentleman has distinctly shown that this Bill, with this Amendment, cannot be used for such a purpose.
I have never thought, and do not now think, that these are the only two alternatives. There is a third course—you might restrict the unnecessary industries. Instead of telling the workman "you shall serve as a soldier," you might prohibit the employer in an unessential trade from employing any labour or from employing as much labour as he has hitherto done. That is the point which has been raised very clearly by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who has asked whether the words of the Bill as they stand would allow the Director-General of National Service to suppress particular employments or to restrict particular employments. The Home Secretary, in introducing the Bill, told us that the Government did not intend to suppress particular employments, even though they might be unessential trades for the purposes of the War. He gave us two reasons, saying, in the first place, that it would be necessary to have those industries after the War, that if you closed them down you might ruin them, and that it would be difficult for them to start again; and, in the second place, that it would turn out of employment individuals who might, through age or incapacity for other employment, be unable to rind work, and who consequently might be left destitute. I think he gave us one or two other reasons as well. Those reasons appear to be sound. You would not be able to suppress industries altogether, even if they are unessential, but the question does remain whether you cannot and whether you ought not to restrict industries which are unessential, to prohibit employers from employing the same amount of labour as they have done hitherto, and then to leave the workpeople who thereupon quit those industries freely to find their way, on such terms as they can themselves obtain, into the War industries upon which the success of our cause depends. I speak for myself alone when I say that.
I agree that that policy is the right policy. It is not defensible in a time of War, when the nation is put to the stress 1931 under which it is now living, to let trades go on producing confectionery, producing jewellery, producing lace, producing all kinds of fripperies, using up labour that is essentially needed in other industries. While Rome is burning, we not only allow people to go on fiddling, but we allow them to be employed still in the manufacture of fiddles. You ought, in my view, to restrict industries. At present the restriction is purely haphazard and very unequal. Some trades are restricted by the lack of raw material imported from abroad, the importation of which is to be prohibited on account of tonnage difficulties. That may hit, quite casually and accidentally, one of the trades which is essential and leave untouched another industry which is quite unessential. You may have one employer with a number of men of military age and fitness, and you may find that particular business almost destroyed by their withdrawal, whereas another employer, engaged in the same trade near by, who happens to employ persons over military age and who are not physically fit for military service, who is able to go on almost untouched. At present the restriction of industry is quite haphazard and unequal. It ought to be put upon a satisfactory footing in a deliberate and scientific fashion.
There are two conditions which ought to prevail in the adoption of any policy of this kind: One is that the decision ought not to be left to a single individual. It is too great a power, dealing with too difficult and complicated matters, to be left to the discretion of a single individual. For this purpose there ought to be a strong Commission, fully representative of the industries and interests of the country, which should advise or co-operate with the Director-General of National Service in the execution of a policy such as that. The second condition is that Parliament ought to be fully apprised of it and that the consent of Parliament should be given. A grave matter of that kind ought not to be, done accidentally or surreptitiously. I am sure that the Government would not have any such desire. Therefore, we are entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman—indeed, it is our duty to ask him, and to do so not out of hostility to this Bill, because I favour this Bill, and not out of any hostility to the policy we have been discussing, because I have declared myself a supporter of it—it is our duty, as representatives of the people, to know whether 1932 a large departure of that kind is contemplated and whether the powers would exist within the four corners of this Bill, if it is passed as proposed by the Government, to carry out a policy of that character. The point was specifically put by the hon. Member for East Mayo, but it was not, I think, quite clearly answered by the Home Secretary, and I feel sure that there are many members of the Committee who would desire to know clearly how the House stands and how the country stands in that particular regard.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I am not quite sure how far the arguments of the, right hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. Samuel) are in order upon this particular Amendment. If they are in order, I should like to say that his particular scheme might have been introduced in the Military Service Act rather than in this Bill, because all the difficulties he has pointed out arose out of the Military Service Act as distinct from this Bill. I want to put a question to the Home Secretary with regard to his statement that every man is free to leave the employment on the day after or the very day he arrives in it. The Home Secretary must have forgotten that that cannot possibly happen in a munition factory, because if a volunteer is put in a munition factory and, according to the statement we have just heard, he is free to leave the day after he arrives, the difficulty we shall have in a munitions factory will be that one set of employés are working under the Munitions Act, and will be compelled to obtain leaving certificates, while the volunteers will be free to leave the next day.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Of course, I did not mean that. A volunteer who accepts the conditions of employment will be bound by the conditions of that employment like any other man who voluntarily joins it.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I naturally assumed that that was so, because the position otherwise would be absolutely untenable. I would ask the Home Secretary what is the real objection to the deletion of these words? He has told the Committee what is not intended. I submit to him that it would clear the Debate considerably if we could have a definite statement from him as to why it is necessary to have these words at all. If this voluntary scheme is going to be successful—I hope it will be successful—it can only be so because of the spirit in which "it is accepted in the country. If there is a suspicion of ulterior motives, and that industrial compulsion 1933 can be introduced, I am absolutely certain that it will fail at the outset. It is because I want it to be a success that I would ask the Home Secretary to make perfectly clear what is the objection to the deletion of these words?
§ Mr. ARTHUR RICHARDSON
I should not have intervened had it not been for a word which fell from the late Home Secretary. Coming fresh from the country and having heard the views of men of every class, I am exceedingly anxious that this voluntary scheme should pass through the House and become law. But I can assure the Home Secretary that unless ho and the Government are careful to state, in quite explicit terms that there is to be no form of compulsion and that military principles are not to be introduced into this measure it is bound to fail. It is not all to the advantage of the Government, or of this Bill, that Mr. Neville Chamberlain has not a seat in this House. The country is getting very fidgety respecting the manner in which men are being nominated for the highest positions and yet are not responsible in any direct fashion, except through Under-Secretaries, to the forms of this House, so that Members of the House can get at the Minister who is responsible. There is another very great danger. There is in the minds of a good many people a feeling that the terms "Controller" and "Dictator" are synonymous. If there is a term that the country dislikes—it dislikes the thing and it dislikes the name—it is the term "Dictator." Therefore I suggest that having the confidence, as they have—and I believe this Government has the confidence of the country—having been built up as it has been as one solid unit during the last two and a half years, unless they are very careful, on account of the very line they are taking now, unless they state in explicit terms that there is to be no compulsion, they are going to destroy the unity that at present obtains in the country.
I should like to put a question or two to the Home Secretary. I should like to ask whether, under the terms of this Bill, Mr. Neville Chamberlain will have power to close down a business of this sort1? A gentleman, wrote to me on Friday and came to see me on Saturday. He said, "I want a straight answer. Do you think my trade is an essential or a non-essential trade? If you believe it is non-essential and think it is likely to be shut down, I will make arrangements for shutting it 1934 down straight away." He is a miller and corn merchant of thirty years' standing in a large colliery and manufacturing area, supplying a radius of eight miles, with a population of 500,000. The only other mills in the same area are one five miles north-west and one eight miles east. His turnover is £140,000 a year, and he supplies a thousand 10-stone sacks of flour weekly to co-operative societies, bakers, and grocers, and 100 tons of corn and cattle feeding stuffs a week to fifteen collieries. Here is a letter sent to him by the managing director of a neighbouring colliery, the son of an old and respected Member of this House. He says:Dear Sir—I sincerely trust that you are keeping a sufficient number of men to do the necessary work in connection with supplying of fodder to our pits. It would be a very difficult thing at the present, time, if not impossible, to make new arrangements similar to the contract made with you some four or five years ago for the supply of foodstuff's, and it would be a very serious matter indeed for this company if these arrangements were to break down. As you are aware, the Government are continually pressing for an increased output of coal, and this cannot be done unless the horses are kept in first-class condition, so J trust you will fully realise the importance of doing everything possible to keep up the supplies of corn and fodder in accordance with the arrangements made with you.The question I put to the right hon. Gentleman is, "Is that an essential trade? Has the Food Controller power to shut that industry down?" Another gentleman called at my place last night and brought me a large swede turnip, which had been half-eaten away by a hare. He said there was an acre of these swede turnips all eaten in the same fashion by hares.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that would not come in on the present Amendment. We are not dealing with hares now.
§ Mr. RICHARDSON
I merely wish to ask this question. There are five gamekeepers on the estate protecting the hares which are destroying food, and there are 20,000 of them in this country. Is that industry essential?
§ Mr. R. MACDONALD
I should like to come back to the specific point of the Amendment before us, which is whether these words conferring powers on the Director-General by Regulation under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, are necessary or not? That is a specific point that we have got a very long way not only in the discussion of, but, I think, in the settlement of. I should like to begin where it was left off and see if we cannot get something further. I rather 1935 object to the idea that we who are taking most interest in this and who have made speeches which have all had substance in them, are delaying the Bill. There has been no superfluous language and there has been no attempt to delay the Bill, but we want to get information about the intentions of the Government. Our fear is that, whilst undoubtedly it will be necessary to endow the Director-General with certain powers which will enable him to make his office efficient, the powers that we are endowing him with, if these words remain in, are so wide that if he adds anything at all, except subject to the specific pledges that the right hon. Gentleman has given, he would be within the four corners of this Bill. I quite agree that the instance given by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newcastle, seem to be rather extreme, but whilst the setting up of courts-martial was an extreme instance, undoubtedly it could be done under the terms of this Bill. We will not dispute that. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will dispute that under the Defence of the Realm Regulations regarding the punishment of workers could be issued, and those Regulations would immediately have the force of law, and workers could be made subject to them in an ordinary Court of Law. I do not know if the Home Secretary remembers the first Clause in this document which these volunteers signed when they signify their intention of being volunteers. It is this:I hereby agree by my signature on the other side of tins form to attend when summoned for an interview at a National Service office near my home, and if required, on receiving seven days' notice, to undertake whole-time work of national importance in the employment of any Government Department, or other employer named by the Director-General of National Service, and to remain in such employment during the War or for such shorter period as may be required by him in accordance with the following conditions.That is the overruling condition of service under this voluntary scheme. If a man says, "I am prepared to serve the Government during the War, and I am prepared to put myself in the hands of the Government and take instructions from it which will compel me to serve any private employer named by the Director-General during the War,'' we are afraid that the necessary supplements of punishment and authority will be taken by the Director-General by the issue of Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act. Has the Government any intention of supplementing this very 1936 binding declaration which the volunteer subscribes? He certainly has the power if the Clause stands as it is.
§ Mr. ROCH
The Home Secretary told me quite specifically that there was no power, and that he did not wish to put penalties on these volunteers under the Defence of the Realm Act under the powers given by this Bill.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
in any event, if there is any misunderstanding it is much better that it should be cleared up. I really think I am right even should the Home Secretary have said something which seems to point in a contrary direction. There is the situation. You have people who volunteer. The act of volunteering is absolutely an act of their own volition. You do not compel them to subscribe to this, but having subscribed to this document, what is their relation to the Government? They have bound themselves to do certain things. They have bound themselves to serve in a certain way. There is a whole series of questions that they answer which are all embodied in that declaration, and become part and parcel of the conditions of service which they accept, and having accepted which, so far as the words are concerned, it becomes compulsion. It is that you voluntarily take upon yourselves duties which in themselves once voluntarily undertaken become compulsory in their operation. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman and I wanted to make an agreement, and I say to him, "I am prepared voluntarily of my own free will to serve you for the next twelve months," I should not object if he said to me, "Whilst I trust in your honour absolutely, and I know there Mill be no question arising between us, nevertheless I think you will agree that I am entitled to say if you do not carry out your word, especially when it is made under the conditions of this contract, I shall have some method of recovering damages or even perhaps of punishing you." Surely the Home Secretary will not deny that under the Defence of the Realm Act a Regulation can be issued that those who have come under this scheme, and who have taken upon themselves this responsibility, shall be subject to this, that and the other punishment and conditions of labour. So far as the power is concerned, I am still of the opinion that the power is in the Bill we are now discussing and in the words we are trying to keep out. So far as 1937 the intention of the Government is concerned, I do not know. That is what we want the Home Secretary to make a little clear. Does the Government intend to issue Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act which will implement and make specific the real responsibility which a person takes upon himself when he signs this document? Do they intend to use the powers in these words, "Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act," and that those powers shall be those which they will exercise when they are closing businesses? I think we ought to have a very definite statement on that. They may not want to close businesses—in fact, the Home Secretary has said they do not want to do that.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
I am going to assume that the right hon. Gentleman is speaking for the Director-General of National Service. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that it is not the intention of the Director-General to close up nonessential businesses, but that the intention is to limit their scope, so that they will not be guilty of wasting labour that might be used in essential industries. I think that was the gist of his statement. I want to know whether Regulations are going to be issued under the Defence of the Realm Act to enable them to do that. These are tremendously big powers which, even at a time like this, for the safeguarding of the national interests, ought not to be transferred to the Director-General or to a Department. In any event we ought to retain such powers in our hands as will enable us to revise, consider and decide upon finally the particular method adopted to carry out the powers given in this Bill. In these words we transfer these great powers without any chance of checking or revising the decision of the Director-General. The final point I want to make is that the Defence of the Realm Act has undoubtedly been used in ways that it was not intended to be used when it was moved first as a Bill by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who now sits on this side of the House. Those who remember those early days will remember that the Bill was rushed through this House. I do not blame the Government. The House of Commons gave them powers which they have been exercising. But I 1938 do say now that this House must retain in its own grasp such tremendous authority as these, which will enable one man or one Department or one body of officials to open businesses or to close businesses—in fact, to liberate labour, so that labour thus liberated must turn to the making of wages, and the only way it can make wages is to go into certain industries scheduled as being essential by the Director General. The two points I want made clear are these: first, as to punishment and labour conditions that may be imposed under the Defence of the Realm Act; and, secondly, what is really the intention of the Government as far as these powers are concerned? Are they going to use them for the purpose of limiting non-essential industries or closing industries altogether when the Director-General makes up his mind to do so?
§ Sir W. COLLINS
Like the hon. Member who moved the Amendment and the hon. Member who spoke before the hon. Member for Leicester, I also have been in recent relations with my Constituents, and I desire to join in the appeal made to the Home Secretary to accept the form of Amendment which is before the Committee rather than the form of words which the Home Secretary appears to prefer. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken more than once of the fact that this Bill received a Second Heading without any serious opposition. I cannot help thinking that that was achieved largely because of the wise discretion of the right hon. Gentleman in discounting the apprehension that then seemed to exist that there was compulsion contained in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said, "The fear seems to be that some kind of compulsion may be introduced into the Bill by some side wind." In the country, and especially in the town of Derby, I have found an apprehension in regard to two points of this Bill. There is an apprehension as to the great powers that are to be entrusted to a single individual, and there is apprehension lest compulsion, directly or indirectly, may be contained in the terms of this Bill. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman was rebuked in one leading periodical for the timidity with which he dealt with some of the objections raised in this House on the Second Reading. I rather congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the wise action and the prudence he then exercised, and I would beg of him to proceed one step further in that 1939 wise precaution by accepting the Amendment in the form in which it has been proposed, which will, I trust, in no way invalidate the success of the Bill, but will, at any rate, serve to allay some of the apprehension which still exists. I beg of him as one who has come to this House to support His Majesty's Government in the prosecution of the War, and as a friend of this Bill, not to turn a deaf ear to the appeals that have been made from various hon. Members to discount any apprehension by accepting the Amendment.
§ Colonel Sir C. SEELY
I am not quite sure whether the objection of the Home Secretary to my Amendment, which is in two parts, is to the part which is now under discussion, namely, to leave out the words "Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914," or to the latter part, not yet moved, to take out the words "no powers shall be conferred on him under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, or any subsequent amendment of that Act." He and I want exactly the same thing, and I think practically all of us want the same thing, and that is, we want to be quite certain that there shall be no industrial compulsion brought in, so to speak, by a side wind. Of course, everybody likes his own baby the best, but when I saw my right hon. Gentleman's baby I was not sure whether it did not carry out the intention, rather better than my own. I think if the right hon. Gentleman would make clear the point which has risen it would do away with much of our discussion. That point is, that although he has no power to compel anybody to work, the Director-General may have power to close up industries on such a scale as to throw a large number of people out of work, and they would be obliged, if they wished to live, to go into other industries. I feel sure that he has no wish to do that, but I should be glad, and I think the Committee would be glad, if the Home Secretary could adopt some form of words, either on this Clause or later in the Bill, by which he could make it clear that the Director-General should not have that big power of closing industries. The right hon. Gentleman said that he only wishes to limit them. We want to be sure that he cannot close industries on a large scale without any reference to Parliament; and that there is no risk of industries being closed rashly and on a very 1940 large scale, so as to throw large numbers of people out of work, and, therefore, practically to bring compulsion into the Bill. If these points are cleared up I should be in favour of withdrawing my Amendment and accepting the words of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I have listened with interest to the speeches made on this point, including the speech of the hon. Member (Sir W. Collins) whom we are very glad to see back again. I feel that these words are so vital to the Bill that I cannot possibly give them up. The right hon. Gentleman opposite made a speech to which I listened with much interest, as to the necessity of having some power to restrict unimportant industries, and, if need be, actually to close them down; well, perhaps, not to close them down. I said in my previous speech that there is no intention of closing them down. I do not think there need be any misapprehension as to the authority by whom so stringent a power as that will be exercised. The Regulation now under consideration will be made by Order in Council on the authority of and after consideration by the whole Cabinet. It will not be an Order made by one individual. On a matter of such importance the right hon. Gentleman may be quite sure that no such drastic step as he contemplates would be taken except by authority of the Cabinet. I think that is the best guarantee that can be given, because the Cabinet is responsible to this House for every act it does. The only other point is the question as to the transference of labour. The volunteer who comes under this Bill, and who is transferred to a particular employment, is subject to the conditions existing for service in that employment. He may be a weekly employé, and in some cases he is employed under certain special conditions. Those, of course, are contractual conditions, or conditions which by law are imported into his contract. There is not the least desire to impose upon him any other compulsion but that. If a penalty were put upon him for something outside those conditions, I should have no hesitation in saying that that would be a form of compulsion which would be a breach of the condition which I propose to put into the Bill. I hope I have answered that question.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Docs that mean that whatever the conditions existing in the industry which the volunteer joins, those 1941 conditions will be the conditions, and no other, that will govern the employment of the individual?
§ Mr. HOGGE
I do not think we have got to such a stage in the proceedings that we can come to a decision. I am not satisfied—indeed, I am not beginning to be satisfied—with the explanation offered from the Front Bench, and I will tell my right hon. Friend why. We have been so long accustomed to hear similar promises given from that bench which amounted to nothing. In connection with the recruiting of soldiers for the Army we were told, for instance, that men who were running single-men businesses were not to be taken into the Army, and pledges were given from that bench, dealing both with the Army and with the trade of this country, which, as this Committee knows perfectly well, were torn up within a few weeks of their having been given. Therefore, I am not inclined—and I tell the right hon. Gentleman quite frankly—to take promises from that bench. The only thing that will satisfy me is a definite statement in the Bill in words which cannot be misunderstood. We have had support for the Home Secretary's argument from the late Home Secretary, who has no right to come to his support on this question, because he was as great a sinner with regard to that as the present Government. The hon. Member for Leicester, a few moments ago, drew attention to the document which I am now holding in my hand. I desire to draw attention to a sentence in it which seems to me to impose conditions that are not governed by what the Home Secretary says. The fourth paragraph says:Any question arising on these terms and conditions shall be decided by a Commissioner or other person authorised to act by the Director-General assisted by assessors representing employers and employes, and I agree to accept his decision as final and binding on me by my signature on the other side.What does that mean? We were told a moment ago that if a man signed the paper and went to any of the occupations mentioned in this Schedule he was free, if he so eared, to leave that service if he found it did not suit him. Inside the circular you will find a list of twenty trades for which volunteers are specially wanted. Among them you get such trades as aeroplane construction, explosive factories, munition works, national shell factories, national filling factories, and so on. Does the Under-Secretary for the Home Office 1942 (Mr. Brace) mean to say that a man who signs this can go to one or other of the occupations in this list and leave that occupation next day? That is what the Home Secretary told us less than half an hour ago. Can the hon. Member say whether that is true or not? If he has not got the document he can apply to any post office and get a copy of the document for which he is responsible Can my hon. Friend answer that perfectly plain, simple question?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I really think that this is in the nature of repetition. That question has been asked and answered by the Home Secretary, who said that the person would be under the conditions now existing in the industry which was concerned, and the hon. Member must have been absent, I think.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I was in the Chair when the answer was given to the question which I have just repeated. The hon. Member is now reverting to something which was corrected later on.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I did not understand. If, with your longer knowledge of the House than mine, you say that what was said in the second case was a contradiction of what he said the first time, of course it is not true that a man who signs that document can leave his occupation if he wishes. Therefore if that is true, this is not a voluntary scheme, because once he has signed this and been sent to one of these occupations he comes under the conditions which apply to the people in those industries, and there is nothing to prevent those conditions being applied even under the words which the Home Secretary suggests in his Amendment. I am glad to have it made clear that the second statement was right and that the first was entirely wrong and misleading, and that it does mean that once a man has signed that he is committed to any of those national industries under the conditions that exist. Now, with regard to paragraph 4. What does it mean? It says that the man is to be brought before some body set up by the Director-General, consisting of employers and employés, and that their decision with regard to that man is to be final. Does my hon. Friend intend to get the opinion of the 1943 employés in that industry upon the action which that man wishes to take? For instance, supposing a man went into a munitions factory the Munitions Acts would apply. But there are no employés taken into account in determining what may or may not happen to that man inside a munitions factory. Are you going to set up a new Court? If so, what kind of Court? It is obvious you must have some idea in your head as to the tribunal, over and above the conditions which are going to apply to the particular trade, as to what kind of Court is going to deal with this particular man who signs as a volunteer. The Committee is entitled to know whether, if a man goes, say, to munitions work, he will go before the ordinary munitions tribunal, and the decision of that tribunal will be final or binding, or whether this document which he signs gives him an opportunity of going before a different Court altogether, one that is created for the purpose of the Bill.
§ Mr. BRACE
I do net know whether I am in order in attempting to answer the points raised by my hon. Friend. He is a most ingenious controversialist. He has been here, and he has heard the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He has been told in the most explicit terms that the agreement is an agreement which was made by the man voluntarily undertaking to serve the nation at the works engaged upon work of national importance, at the request of the
§ Director, and by the way he has entered into the industry upon the same terms and conditions as the other people in the industry. If he wants to leave he will give the ordinary notice, and he will leave. I should assume myself that any man who left would be guilty of a serious breach of honour, for he has voluntarily agreed to place his services at the disposal of the State, and it is expected that he will be honourable enough to carry through his undertaking, exactly as the other people who were engaged in the industry. But should any question arise as to the terms of the contract, as set forth in the document, then that authority will be set up to deal with the terms of the contract, and no one knows that better than my hon. Friend. I do hope now that we may be allowed to proceed.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
On the lines on which the Bill has been explained I cannot find any reason for bringing in the Defence of the Realm Act in regard to these matters. These powers are very wide, and as they can be applied in various ways under this Bill and as no convincing reason has been given by the Home Secretary as to the retention of this part of the Clause, if I can get anyone to tell with me, I shall be obliged to divide against that part of the Bill."
§ Question put. "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 124; Noes, 47.1945
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.||[8.13 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Hinds, John|
|Archdale, Lieut. E. M.||Craig, Col, James (Down, E.)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Armitage, R.||Craik, Sir Henry||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Dairymple, Hon. H. H.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hunt, Major Rowland|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Denniss, E. R. B.||Illingworth, Albert H.|
|Barnett, Capt. R. W.||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Fell, Arthur||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Fletcher, John Samuel||Jones, William S. Glyn-(Stepney)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Foster, Philip Staveley||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Boyton, James||Galbraith, Samuel||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Grant, James Augustus||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Gretton, John||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Carnegie, Lieut.-Col. D. G.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Mallalieu, Frederick William|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. W. G.||Hanson, Charles Augustin||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Clyde, James Avon||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Nield, Herbert|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. H. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Samuels, Arthur W.||Tickler, T. G.|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Weigall, William E. G. A.|
|Pratt, J. W.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Weston, J. W.|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Starkey, John Ralph||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)||Stewart, Gershom||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Robinson, Sidney||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Rowlands, James||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Rutherford, Sir John (Lanes., Darwen)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Rutherford, Watson (W. Derby)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Beck and Mr. James Hope|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Adamson, William||Hudson, Walter||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Arnold, Sydney||John, Edward Thomas||Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)|
|Boland, John Pius||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Jowett, Frederick William||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Joyce, Michael||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Clynes, John R.||Keating, Matthew||Snowden, Philip|
|Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||King, Joseph||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Cosgrave, James||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Thomas, James Henry|
|Crumley, Patrick||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Wardle, George J.|
|Dillon, John||Lundon, Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Doris, William||Millar, James Duncan||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Hackett, John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Leary, Daniel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hogge, James Myles||Pringle, William M. R.||Anderson and Mr. Watt|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Radford, Sir George Heynes|
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I wish to point out to the Committee that the Amendment on the Paper does not completely carry out the undertaking given by the Government. The general undertaking given by the Government was to the effect that there would be no compulsory employment or transfer of any person to any other area, occupation, or service; but in this Amendment upon the Paper there is the simple statement that it shall not be done. The Clause refers to Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, and it might yet be done under those powers. That is why it is important that we should receive some real indication of what is intended on this point. I and my hon. Friends the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Mr. Watt), the hon. Member for Dumfriesshire (Mr. Molteno), Sir F. Banbury, Member for the City, and the hon. and gallant Member for Mansfield (Colonel Sir Charles Seely) have an Amendment on the Paper as follows: "Provided that the powers of the Director-General shall not in any event extend to authorise compulsion of any person to work under any employer other than the employer with whom he has made a volun- 1946 tary contract of service." If the Government in their Amendment, instead of using the words "but no such Regulation shall authorise" had used the words "the powers of the Director-General shall not authorise compulsory employment," that would have been absolutely watertight, and no exception would have been taken. I cannot understand why the Government should confine itself to this formula, "No such Regulation" when they could have used the wider term which is in the Amendment to which I have referred as standing in the name of several hon. Members.
§ Mr. WATT
On the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-West Lanarkshire (Mr. Pringle), I. think there has been a breach of the pledge that was given by the Government, again and again, that compulsion will not be brought in under this measure. That promise was made to my hon. Friend (Mr. Anderson), and to others, and that is the principle which is now proposed to be carried out by this Amendment, moved by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Office. But I suggest that it does not fully carry out what was definitely promised. The phraseology of this Amendment is that "no such Regulation shall authorise the compulsory employment," etc. To-what Regulation does that Amendment apply? Clearly it applies to the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act, 1947 1914, and, as my hon. Friend has pointed Out, this Amendment simply continues compulsion under the Defence of the Realm Act. Notwithstanding the adoption of this Amendment by the Committee, it will be possible to have industrial compulsion under this measure, though the promise has been given again and again by the Home Secretary, and is not now being fulfilled. May I say that the Home Secretary is adopting, in my view, a most wily method. He has been asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol and others, again and again, whether it is the intention of the Government to close down any trades? That is a definite question, and the trades must know in a few weeks whether they are to be closed or not, and why can they not know now? The right hon. Gentleman has avoided that. We have here another instance of where, having made a definite promise in appearing to fulfil it he has not done so.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the word "such," in order to insert instead thereof the words "Order in Council or."
I quite agree with the effect of what has been said, but not with all the things the two preceding hon. Members have said. It is quite clear the Amendment, as proposed, is only partial and only refers to the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, and that it is necessary also to deal with Orders in Council. Under the document which a man signs he has an appeal to a tribunal composed of a Commissioner and two assessors. The matter is to be in the hands of the Commissioner, who will be appointed, I suppose, by the Director-General himself. One assesor is nominated by the employer and the other by the employés. If they differ the Commissioner's decision prevails, and if they agree, and the Commissioner does not agree with them, their agreement matters nothing, and he decides in spite of them. In the Munitions Act, the first objection of the trade unions was that the assessors had no power. It was an Amendment which I moved to that Act which gave power to the assessors, when they agreed, to overrule the Commissioners. That provision does not appear in this Bill, and makes a difference which puts the volunteer under this Act 1948 in a worse position than people in munition factories. I understand the Amendment will be accepted.
§ Mr. BRACE
We thought, in considering the words of our Amendment, that we were meeting, fully meeting, the pledge given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and it is because we do not desire, and my right hon. Friend does not desire, that there should be the faintest suspicion behind these words, that we accept the words now proposed.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I beg to move, at the end of the proposed Amendment, to insert the words "or shall impose any penalty for any breach of a voluntary agreement made by any person with the Director-General of National Service."
This is also to give effect to a Government pledge, and to embody in the Bill the restrictive value of the pledge. Now that the Government is putting certain pledges into the Bill, it is very important that they should all receive equal authority. The Home Secretary gave the pledge quite distinctly that there would be no penalty imposed by Regulation on any person for a breach of the undertaking. Instead of having that embedded in the OFFICIAL REPORT, I submit it should be placed in the Bill, and the words I have selected seem to me to adequately express the matter.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I do not mind the Government turning an Amendment down it they give us a sufficient reason for doing so, but for the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department to get up and suggest that he does not accept an Amendment because an hon. Member of this House, who, after all, represents a large munition area crowded with munition workers, with whom the Government have had great trouble in the past, is supposed to have put this Amendment down in a spirit of mischief is hardly good enough. Does my right hon. Friend think we are giving up our dinner in a spirit of mischief in order to support him in getting this Bill through? Why has he not got the support now of his chief on that bench? It seems to me to be most unfair, and I might retort that my hon. Friend does this in some other kind of spirit which I need not specify. What can be the objection of the Under-Secretary to inserting these words? Does he object to them being included in the Bill? After all, my right hon. Friend has represented Labour in this House long and worthily, and at one period of his career was subject to similar conditions to those to which these men are going to be subjected. As a trade union leader, with vast experience of the working of bodies of men, does he see any objection to the words suggested by my hon. Friend? That is the real way to meet an Amendment. If my right hon. Friend gets up, with his trade union experience behind him, and says there is something subtle in the words suggested, and that therefore they ought not to go into the Bill, then I would support him in spite of my friendship for my hon. Friend, because I would have on the other side the value of the right hon. Gentleman's trade union experience. But it surely is nonsense to suggest that the reason for not accepting the Amendment is that it is proposed in a spirit of mischief. There is an Amendment on the Paper proposed by the Home Secretary. Is that proposed in a spirit of mischief? If the right hon. Gentleman wants the Debate to progress at the rate at which we all want it to progress he ought to meet the argument, and I invite him now, before it is too late, to recover his position as the Minister in charge of the Bill, and give a substantial reason why these words should not be accepted. This Debate will go down to history in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and after the War historians will look up 1950 this Debate and find that the only reply of the Under-Secretary was that he could not accept an Amendment because it was put down in a spirit of mischief, and then they will say, "That is why we did not win the War." I therefore invite my right hon. Friend to wipe out the memory of those few sentences and give us a statesmanlike answer.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I regret that we cannot get a reply from somebody who is in a position to accept the Amendment. It seems to me that to embody the terms of the pledge in an Amendment is the correct form, and it is exactly what the Home Secretary himself did. Ho made a promise in regard to compulsion on the Second Reading, and subsequently he was asked to put it down as an Amendment to the Bill. He did so, and we have that Amendment on the Paper now. But another matter has arisen in regard to this voluntary agreement. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the agreement is purely an agreement of honour, that no regulation will be made which will impose a penalty for a breach of that agreement. Then why cannot we say so in the Bill? The truth is that we have two inconsistent Government declarations in regard to this. It really comes to this, that it all depends upon what industry a man is sent to as to whether the voluntary agreement is an agreement of honour or not. If he is sent into a mine, for example, it is purely an agreement of honour, because in mines you have free conditions of labour at the present time. If, on the other hand, he is sent to a munition works, or a steel works, or an engineering shop, he there comes under the conditions of the Munitions Act, and a breach of the agreement there would be subject to a penalty. It therefore ceases to be an agreement of honour. I hold that an agreement of this kind should be the same, no matter where the man goes to work, and I think it is very important to have an express statement in the Clause that so long as we have a voluntary system a volunteer will be simply under an obligation of honour and under no legal penalties whatever. As, however, there is no opportunity of having an answer from the Home Secretary himself now, I will give notice to raise this question again on the Report stage of the Bill. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment now.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1951
§ Mr. WATT
I beg to move, at the end of the proposed Amendment, to insert the words "or shall authorise the compulsory stoppage of any trade, business, or industry."
I have put down my Amendment to this Amendment of the Home Secretary's in order to carry out what I have really been seeking to get carried out since the inception of the measure, and it is because it is not already in the Bill that I have opposed the Bill from the beginning. As I said some time ago on a previous Amendment, the Home Secretary has refused to give a definite answer as to whether the Government Department set up by this measure proposes compulsorily to close industries in this country. That question was definitely asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Sir C, Hobhouse), and no clear answer was forthcoming. We are setting up a national dictator under this measure, and one of the duties or rights which will fall into the hands of that dictator is the closing up of businesses throughout the country, the depriving of capitalists therein interested of their capital, and also the depriving of the workers in those various trades of their means of livelihood. I hold that that is an extraordinary power to put into the hands of any one man, and it is because this measure puts that power into the hands of the Director-General of National Service that I oppose this measure from beginning to end. In reply to my fears, and those of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite as to this drastic treatment towards industries, the Home Secretary has indicated, in a nebulous way, that it is not proposed to do this, that, or the other. Those of us who have been in the House during the last two years know that such statements from the Front Bench are practically of no avail whatever. Unless these promises are put in concrete form into the measure they are not worth the paper on which they are written. I would remind my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench of many instances of promises made that were not worth the paper on which they were written.
§ Mr. WATT
My hon. Friend beside me reminds me of the case of the only sons of widows who were not to go to the War, or the last son of the family who was not to be taken for the War, of single-man businesses which were to be preserved 1952 throughout the War. On such promises as these the measures dealing with these things were allowed to pass the House, and we subsequently found that the promises were an absolute fraud. If my right hon. Friend, when he gets to his virtuous couch to-night, ruminates over his experience in this House, and his recollection of Front Bench promises, his opinion, I think, will coincide with mine—that they are really not worth anything. It is to remedy that state of affairs that I make my proposal—to prevent these Regulations authorising the compulsory stoppage of trades or businesses. I repeat that we are sent here by constituents, many of whom will be in these businesses which may have to be closed by the ipse dixit of one man who was not known by the country at large before the last two or three months; who was apprehended by the Prime Minister and asked to take these duties. That one man should be allowed in this free country to say that my Constituents, or the constituents of any hon. Member, should have their businesses closed down, hindered, or dealt with drastically, is too much. Even a war does not justify one man saying that! That is the crux of my opposition to the measure.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I hope before my right hon. Friend replies ho will consider one or two rather serious considerations. We are approaching a period when we shall have our new Budget. In that Budget we may have to look forward to very much higher taxation. We ought, therefore, to be quite clear as to what powers are to be possessed by the Director of National Service with regard to closing down any kind of business. When the last Budget was under consideration well ad a long discussion, which ranged through many days and stages of the Bill, on several new taxes, such as the tax on: amusements. The House will remember that protests were at that time made, in regard to the imposition of taxation on such new subjects. The discussion was similar to what has been in respect of these particular businesses. My right hon. Friend probably Knows that a, great many of these businesses have suffered very materially, and are bound to suffer more, as the War is prolonged, and as prices rise. That is obvious. Is the Director of National Service to have a free hand to say, for example, that all theatres, music halls, and all other forms 1953 of entertainment in this country, are to be closed down because they are non-essential industries I will not argue the point as to whether they are essential or non-essential. There can be two opinions about that. In a time of war, I suppose, if it were absolutely necessary, we could do without any form of amusement, Presumably in these amusements there are occupied a large number of both men and women who might be occupied in other work. It is conceivable, too, that a Director of National Service might make, a sweeping Order saying that all amusements all over the country were to be closed down from a certain date. Obviously that would hit a very large number of people. It might be that it was not amusements, but some other industry, profession or trade. I only select amusements as an all-embracing industry well known to everybody. I should, therefore, like to ask my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary whether, for instance, if it were ever to come to the point that the Government thought it desirable, say, to close down all amusements in the country—whether that could or would be done by the Director of National Service, or whether such a thing as that would be brought for discussion and decision by the House of Commons? My right hon. Friend will not for a moment imagine that my hon. Friend beside me (Mr. Watt) is asking anything beyond what might be yielded by the addition of the words proposed. I think my right hon. Friend will agree that the House of Commons ought to have the power proposed and have it placed within the four corners of the Bill, and so prevent any one man from taking a step which might ruin a whole industry before that industry had time to put its case before the Government. I hope my right hon. Friend will meet the case which has been put by my hon. Friend; that he will see the reasonableness of asking him to retain in the hands of the House of Commons such ultimate and complete power as might be given to the Director if these words were not inserted.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not know whether the two right hon. Gentlemen who are in charge of the Bill think that they are going to facilitate its progress by treating any Amendment with contempt. It is obvious from the course of the Debate-that one of the subjects which must engross attention and excite men to acute controversy is the suggested irrespon- 1954 sible powers of the Director of National Service to close down industry without any supervision on the part of anybody. We do not know the extent to which the powers of the Director are intended to go. The Home Secretary has told us that he did not intend directly to shut down any industries, because that would involve paying compensation. He made that statement on the Second Reading. He went on to say that the Director of National Service might very severely limit some industries. The question comes as to whether the limitation of any industry might not be of such a character as to amount to its total destruction. If it were to amount to total destruction it would really have the effect against which the right hon. Gentleman pledged himself, brought about by a side wind. I think that, in the doubtful position in which we are, the Committee is entitled to seek for some security by definite words in the Statute itself. I do not suggest that the words of my hon. Friend are the best words to secure the result, but they are put as a feasible means of meeting this point. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks it can be done in a better way, or at some other place, I think we should be quite satisfied, but I think it is a fair attempt to deal with the question, and, being a fair attempt, it at least merits a reply.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I desired to know the exact nature of the Amendment before I spoke. Now I do know it, I must say I think I have dealt with this point many times. The Amendment provides that no Order in Council or Regulation shall authorise the compulsory stoppage of any industry. That is a thing which can be done to-day by Order in Council, and I do not think I should be right in the present condition of affairs to abandon the right that already exists. I have said more than once that the Director does not desire to close down any industry, even if unessential. I do not go beyond what I said on the Second Reading. I do not wish to limit the power which already exists by Order in Council to make Regulations which may turn out to be essential for the safety of this country, and, therefore, I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. WATT
I am sorry that no clear reply has been made by the Home Secretary. He has simply made the type of 1955 reply with which he has favoured the Committee two or three times to-day. He says the Director-General has no desire to suppress any trade in the country. There is no man from one end of the country to the other who desires to suppress a trade. If the right hon. Gentleman had gone further, and said "no intention," it would have been a different thing. The right hon. Gentleman is carefully skirmishing with the desire of some of us to get a definite statement put in the Bill. He has said in his reply that he has dealt with this question once or twice already. I dare say that is so. I have certainly been very emphatic in putting this particular matter before the Committee, and I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that it is my intention, D.V., to put it down on Report, so that the House may have the opportunity of cottoning on to this particular point, because I say to the right hon. Gentleman seriously that if the Members of the House realised what this Director-General had the power to do, and was likely to do with the trade of the country, the House would not pass this measure as it is. The House would be pleased, as I would be, to pass the measure if the right hon. Gentleman would clearly show that it would help to win the War or something of that sort, but it has no such effect.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I merely rise to ask a question of the Home Secretary. He said, if I understood him aright, that this power was already in existence, and he did not want to give up an existing power which might be of use in circumstances which he does not foresee. But the power of the Director-General to prohibit a trade cannot be put into force at the present time, as that Gentleman has no powers excepting those which we are conferring upon him by this Bill, and, therefore, unless these words are put in, there is an extension of the existing powers to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. He did not deal at all with that point in his reply, and I should very much like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to entrust to the Director-General of National Service the power to prohibit the carrying on of an industry in this country? That is the real crux of the question, and the right hon. Gentleman has made no answer to it in suggesting that the power is in existence, seeing that it is not possessed by this individual whom you are now going to clothe with new powers. 1956 Certainly the reply he made does not touch the point underlying this, or so at least it seems to me.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I want to understand if the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in reply to this Amendment is, that it is possible to close down a whole industry, such, for example, as the amusement industry in this country, without the House of Commons being consulted. Is that what the right hon. Gentleman means, and does he mean that the Director-General of National Service may exercise that power? I should very much like a "Yes" or "No," if he can give us a "Yes" or "No" to that.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I have said "no" many times. I said the power exists, and can be exercised by Order in Council. The Director-General cannot make an Order in Council.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment negatived.
§ Proposed words, as amended, there inserted.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add,
"(3) The office of Minister of National Service and the Ministry of National Service shall cease to exist on the termination of a period of twelve months after the conclusion of the present War, or such earlier period as may be fixed by His Majesty in Council, and then any appointments made under the powers conferred by this Act shall be determined, and any powers or duties which have been transferred to the Minister of National Service under this Act shall, without prejudice to any action taken in pursuance to those powers or duties, revert to the Department or authority from which they were transferred."
This is a purely verbal Amendment to insert the words of Section 13 of the New Ministries and Secretaries Act in this Bill, in order to make a little clearer than it is at present that the services of the Ministry terminate after the War. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment.
§ Sir G. CAVE
The Committee will observe that we propose later to incorporate Section 13 of the Ministries and Secretaries Act, and therefore we do incorporate a Section which repeats word for word this Amendment. If that section stood alone, I should not object, because I 1957 know the Committee like to see in black and white what is proposed. But, as there are other sections to be incorporated, I think it would be better to keep to the form which has been adopted by the draftsman in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I beg to move to insert the following sub-section:
"(3) The Director-General of National Service shall from time to time lay before Parliament a Schedule of trades to which labour has been transferred under the provisions of this Act, and no labour shall be so transferred until such Schedule shall have been presented to Parliament for ten days."
The object of my proposal is quite plain, and it was approved by a very considerable number of Members of this House when we were debating the question earlier in the day. I do not wish to labour the arguments which I presented earlier, but I wish to emphasise the need for some revising power in the House of Commons upon the Schedule which the Director-General of National Service shall, upon his own ipse dixit, insist upon. He is to be the sole judge, under this Act, of what trades are essential and what are non-essential, what are useful and what ought to be abolished, and I trust sincerely that the Home Secretary may accept some such words as these. If he does not like these particular words I hope he will consider the matter and bring up another proposal on Report. I hope he will accept some such words so that the Committee may have a chance of seeing what it is that the Director-General of National Service is doing. The cotton trade has been omitted from the list of essential trades, and another similar incident may occur and may cause great apprehension. Therefore I trust the right hon. Gentleman will see the reasonableness of my proposal and (either embody these or similar words in the Bill on the Report stage.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I think this proposal requires some consideration. The first part provides that the Director-General shall lay before the House a Schedule of the trades to which labour has been transferred, and the second provides that no labour shall be transferred until such Schedule has been presented to Parliament for ten days. The two proposals will not work together. At any rate, we will 1958 consider this point and see whether it is desirable that this should be done.
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
When this point is being considered I hope the Government will consider not only the trades to which they are transferred, but also the trades from which they are transferred.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.