§ (1) His Majesty may, by Proclamation declaring that a national emergency has arisen, direct that any certificates of exemption granted or renewed to any class or body of men specified in the Proclamation, or to men of any class or description so specified shall, as from the date specified in the Proclamation, cease to have effect, and all certificates to which the Proclamation applies as from that date cease to be in force.
§ (2) While any such Proclamation remains in operation no application shall be entertained for the grant or renewal of any certificate to which the Proclamation applies, or for the grant of any certificate to which the Proclamation would have applied if the certificate had been in existence at the date when the Proclamation came into operation, and if any application for the grant or renewal of any such certificate is pending at that date, it shall be deemed not to have been made.
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the first group of Amendments on this Clause, they raise, in one form or another, the question of the consent of, or review by, Parliament of proposals contained in the Clause. I have considered this matter, and I think the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Sir Willoughly Dickinson) is the one most suitable, though it does not matter which one it is. I propose to allow the different proposals to be discussed generally, so that the Committee may arrive at such a decision as it desires. The Amendment, however, should not be as it is on the Paper, but should be in this form—after the word "may," insert the words "in pursuance of an Address from each House of Parliament."
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "may" ["His Majesty may"], to insert the words "in pursuance of an Address from each House of Parliament."
I move the Amendment in the form which you suggest, Sir, and I shall do so briefly, as the point is simple and obvious to the House. The Clause itself is an extremely important one, and it will only be put into operation if a national emergency has arisen. It is clear that the 2014 Government contemplate that there shall be no delay in giving effect to the powers which the Clause contains, when national danger has arisen. I do not think, however, that the fact that there arises moments of national emergency and danger is a sufficient reason for putting Parliament altogether out of consultation. The bringing of an Address before each House of Parliament will only require one Parliamentary day, and not a whole day, and therefore the Government cannot well say that it will introduce such delay of their procedure as would not justify their dealing with the matter in the manner proposed. The Clause gives powers to withdraw certificates of exemption, and therefore all the country would be affected when an emergency has arisen; but it is only reasonable that time should be given, so that men may communicate with their Parliamentary representatives, and, through them, with the Government, in regard to the new Clause. I hope the Government will see their way to meet the wishes of the House in this matter. I do not imagine that this will be a greater or more sudden emergency, and I think, therefore, that the Government should make some concession in regard to this Clause.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
The Amendment that we are now urging not only covers Clause 3 but Clause 4, in which the same point is involved. These two Clauses scrap the whole of the machinery which has hitherto existed in connection with tribunals, and so on. In place of having any safeguard of that kind, and in place of having Parliamentary control in regard to the rights of these men in respect of military service, the whole question is going to be placed in the hands of the Minister of National Service. I submit that questions affecting business men, affecting individual men, affecting millions of men in this country, are far too big a charge to be left in the hands of any man, whoever he may be or whatever he may be, and that the power ought to be retained in the hands of this House. Unless that be done you are going to abrogate your functions entirely, and you may as well dissolve the House altogether. The Minister of National Service, under this Bill, will have direct Prussian powers over his fellow countrymen, and it will be a form of Prussianism without any of the efficiency of Prussianism. During the whole of the War, with regard to this question, there have been all manner of 2015 mistakes made, and these mistakes are going to be repeated under these new conditions on a far wider scale, and involving greater hardship than has been experienced up to the present time These two Clauses involve a bonfire of every pledge, every promise, and every safeguard given to us in previous Military Service Acts. Those Acts were allowed to pass through the House because safeguards were put into them that were insisted upon by Members of this House. Every one of those safeguards will now be destroyed, and the whole question of whether a man can appeal at all, or on what ground he can appeal, or whether any tribunal will be sitting to listen to his appeal, is entirely in the hands of the Minister of National Service under these new condition. The very question of doctors' certificates and everything else are gone.
Clause 3 says that this can only be done by a Proclamation that a national emergency has arisen. In Heaven's name, what greater national emergency does the Government want than the emergency it has got at the present time? What further national emergency is the Government going to bring upon the country than the emergency they have given it at present? These forms of words are, therefore, without value of any sort, because the Government complain now that the emergency has arisen. Surely it does not look forward to an even greater emergency than the present, and, therefore, all the power they say would apply on a national emergency has already arisen, and now they can sweep aside the whole of these exemptions and, to use the favourite word of the Minister of National Service, the men who have been granted exemption for any reason can be seized by the Government Press-gang. I suppose that, first of all, this does not apply—indeed, I am sure, it does not apply—to occupational exemptions at all, because you do not require legislation to deal with the occupational exemptions. The Minister of National Service is cancelling them by the hundred thousand now, so that the new power he is asking for is not a power to deal with occupational exemptions, because he has that power without any further legislation at all. What is he asking for? Who are the men to be affected by the sweeping away of these exemptions? First of all, the unfit men, the men who have been given the exemptions because of physical unfitness.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Yes, Group 3; so that the halt, the maimed, and the blind can be called into the Army without any kind of safeguard or protection if the Government is given the powers they are asking for under this provision. Without any investigation of any kind on the ground of the hardest domestic circumstance or on the ground of the hardest form of business claims—without really being examined at all—all these exemptions can be swept on one side by the edict of the Minister of National Service, and all questions of business ground and of domestic hardship can be brushed aside. They cannot possibly be examined. How can he examine these various questions himself? So without any investigation these men can be taken up. There is also involved in this the whole question of those who have been moral or religious objectors to military service, and the protection hitherto given to them is cancelled under Clause 3 and Clause 4.
The hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) made an exceedingly able speech in this House two days ago, and he put his finger on the spot as to why all this new machinery is necessary. It is because the protection that we had in the past and the forms of tribunals will not apply in the case of Ireland at all and, therefore, in order to extend the Act to Ireland, they have to destroy all the safeguards which have protected these matters in regard to this country. I would point out to the Irish Members that Irishmen under this new form of military service are going to have none of the safeguards that Englishmen and Scotsmen have had up to the present time. Apparently the Government will be afraid to set up any form of tribunal in Ireland, and, indeed, under this Act the only tribunal to be set up by the Department of National Service might be a tribunal of Royal Irish Constabulary and the soldiers to deal with all questions of military service in Ireland. That is actually the position, and I ask any Member of the House to read these two-Clauses and to see whether he can challenge me on these points.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it is rather a pity to mix Clause 4 with Clause 3, because they really are not the same matter. On Clause 4 the Committee has an opportunity of dealing with the tribunal question.
On a point of Order. I will, of course, strictly abide by any ruling you may give, but you have not definitely stated your opinion—you only say it is a pity to mix these two Clauses. We on the Irish matter have been constrained within one night of debate without being able to open any one of these topics, and we surely ought to have some consideration in this. I should like to know whether you are absolutely firm in your mind on the point of Order of discussing the whole matter on this particular Amendment?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I really do not think that the Clause 4 question arises on the present Amendment. This is a question of the proposed Proclamation dealing with certificates of exemption. Clause 4 deals, on the other hand, with the way in which these exemptions are arrived at or dealt with. I think they are two separate points, and that it would be a convenience to deal with them separately. Clause 4 will be the first matter dealt with on Monday.
On a point of Order. Does not the question of the existence of a national emergency affect both the sections?
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
On the same point of Order. May I suggest that while the one deals with the exemptions and the other with the tribunals, it is our point of view that you cannot separate them. Our objection is that both Clauses run right across the whole thing. For that reason I say it would be more convenient to allow a discussion on the whole question, because both Clauses are related to one another on that particular point.
§ Mr. L. JONES
May I point out that it is not a question of exemptions more than tribunals, but whether Parliament shall be consulted before the exemptions and before the tribunals are dealt with. The point raised by the Amendment is only whether the withdrawal or power shall be dealt with by Parliament before the Government acts upon them. The real point at issue is whether Parliament should be consulted before these extraordinary powers are taken by the Minister of National Service. I submit it is one question, and should be dealt with now.
§ Mr. PETO
On a point of Order. I should like your ruling on this. When the time-table was settled, the Leader of the 2018 House specifically stated that we were to assemble on Saturday to deal with Clause 3, and Clause 3 only. At the beginning of Clause 3 are the words as to what is to happen in the case of a national emergency. No such words appear at the beginning of Clause 4, and I submit with all respect that would be very unfair to the members of the Committee to allow any discussion of the tribunal question on Clause 4 since it has already been agreed by the House when it settled its rules of procedure that it should be dealt with on Monday and not to-day.
Before you decide in reference to what has been said may I point out that Clause 3 arises in case of Proclamation, and Clause 4 arises only in case of an Order in Council, and I respectfully submit, although the matter has not been developed that the intention of the Government is first to issue a Proclamation, and having by Proclamation proclaimed the emergency then to act by Order in Council, so that if I am right in what I may call the concatenation the Proclamation must be made in the minds of the Government before the Order in Council arises. Therefore, the two Clauses must be taken together.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I would like to point out that you cannot establish the extent of the grievances which must arise unless the whole question of machinery is examined at one time.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir George Cave)
The attempt of the hon. and learned Member for Cork to indicate what is in the mind of the Government is wholly mistaken. We can issue the Proclamation first or the Order in Council first, and what we have in our minds on those two matters has no connection whatever. I submit that you cannot discuss the merits of Clause 4. The subjects are purposely put in two different Clauses. We have come here to-day to deal with Clause 3, and the House has set aside Monday for Clause 4. I submit it is quite unfair to Ministers and to the Committee as a whole, especially those who are absent to-day, to allow Members to drag in matters relevant to Clause 4.
Why, then, have in one case the machinery of Proclamation and in the other that of Orders in Council?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That, of course, will be dealt with in the answer of the Minister, but we must keep the two matters separate. As I have said, I shall be disposed to select Amendments on Monday on Clause 4, which raises issues with regard to tribunals. What is proposed in this Clause is to deal with the case of some national emergency, and the Government either justify their position on that account or meet the views of the Committee on that account.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
May I submit that in Clause 3 we are considering the taking away by the Government of all exemptions granted by tribunals, that is, we are taking away the power of tribunals to deal with all exemptions at present granted? Clause 4 is merely taking away the power of tribunals in regard to all future possible applicants. I submit that the subjects are too cognate to be discussed separately, and it would be for the general convenience of the Committee to discuss the whole thing now.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the other way. I think this is a big enough question to be dealt with by itself, and deserves a separate occasion from the other.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
It may be presumption on the part of a mere layman to offer an opinion different from that expressed by certain learned Members, but it seems to me the two things are not closely connected. Clause 4 provides what might be called permanent procedure, whilst Clause 3 deals with the possibility of a critical situation, and any action taken under Clause 3 is intended to be only of a temporary character, and I think, instead of clarifying the matters, it would confuse them if we were to discuss the future regulations governing the actions of the tribunals, at the same time that we are discussing the second matter raised in Clause 3. Therefore I think your ruling is likely to enable a much more intelligent discussion.
§ Mr. DENMAN
Are we to have now a general discussion on the merits of the Clause on the question that the Clause stand part, or are we merely to confine ourselves to the single point as to whether some Parliamentary control is to be given?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The question of Parliamentary consent or review is the issue now raised. There are two or three later 2020 Amendments in the Clause I propose to select, and then we shall arrive at the question that the Clause stand part.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Of course I accept your ruling at once, although our opportunities have been so limited by time that many of these questions have not been brought out in this House as they ought to be, and the difficulties are much greater when we come to deal with specific Amendments which bind us down to one point rather than the accumulated effect. However, I accept your ruling, and will deal with the main point. Without apparently the consent or the concurrence of this House in any way, certain things may be done by Proclamation. All exemptions granted for business reasons, for domestic reasons, or for any reason, can be cancelled. I say that is a thing that ought not to be done apart from Parliament, and I urge very strongly that an Amendment on the lines indicated—an Amendment that vests this power in Parliament—ought to be inserted. I come back once more to this question, that the mere putting in of words that a national emergency must arise means nothing. The national emergency has arisen, and therefore the Minister has power now to cancel the whole of these exemptions. If we pass this he has power to cancel any exemption for any class of men, and to inflict any amount of hardship on any class of men, and can do that apart from the control of the House of Commons altogether. I say it is a wrong principle, and I strongly urge that the Amendment be accepted.
While absolutely accepting in letter and spirit your ruling, Mr. Whitley, I do think it would be better that, as we can never discuss the Clause as a whole now, because we are always in the middle of a Clause when the Closure is put, I would suggest that on the next Clause it would be better to put the first word and discuss the whole Clause then. We shall never be allowed to discuss the Clause as a whole, for the Government have made up their minds practically to take no Amendment, so that really we are putting the shackles round our own limbs by our Amendment. We are in a national emergency. I do not think in the history of this Kingdom there over was such an emergency. Is it not idle, therefore, for us to be blinking the fact as to whether Proclamation is necessary or not? If the Government want power, they ought to get it, 2021 provided they are in a position to deliver what the Americans call "a punch." If this is to enable a punch to be applied which is going to knock the solar plexus of the enemy, that power ought to be put in the hands of the Government. Will anyone tell us—and this is what I have been waiting for all along—that the genius which selected Gough, and which is the cause of the national emergency—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—blink it as you like, it is the same genius that has selected the Minister of National Service. Other Ministers grow in this House. We see the plant, we see them coining on, and we can judge them. But the right hon. Gentleman became a giant oak in five minutes. I am not taunting him on that account. All I say is this: We have not had occasion to be able to feel in our minds that confidence which we would have in men of more seasoned experience. What I respectfully offer with regard to this question of Parliament is this. I do not care a button, if I think the power is going to be adequately directed, whether it is done by Parliament or by Proclamation. I think that when great questions of emergency arise that to deal with small legal points is really to fiddle while Rome is burning. That takes me to this: where are we to gain confidence? Three and three-quarter years have gone! What is my reason for supporting this Amendment? I would bring the Government to the tribunal of public opinion, English, Irish, and Scottish. I should compel them to come to Parliament. I would bring them to the tribunal so as to be able to tell them at least what we think of their purposes. After all, this terrible calamity, the calamity into which the three Kingdoms have been brought, has been brought about by the folly of one man, a man appointed after protest by a general about whom the Prime Minister on Tuesday said that never in the history of war was there such a forecast. The man who forecasted that future said, "Do you appoint Gough?" The Government appointed him, and we are here sitting on a Saturday to consider—
§ The CHAIRMAN
Really, I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is very unfair. I do not know whether he is right or wrong in what he is saying, but this is not an occasion on which an administrative matter can be discussed. Besides, the proper persons are not here 2022 to answer such statements as he may make. May I suggest to him to keep to the substance of the Amendment?
I will make my apology to you in the language of Shakespeare:Be Kent unmannerly when Lear is mad.I will simply address myself, therefore, to the point of this Proclamation. I only support, as I have said, this view in order to give the House of Commons and the country a chance. We are in a thicket. I would almost say a swamp. I would have preferred a private sitting for the discussion of these matters. We have not got it. Therefore, there are so many Members concerned in this matter who have a better title to speak than I have, and I will therefore resume my seat.
§ Sir G. CAVE
—which the hon. and learned Gentlemen has raised, I will offer no observations as to the attack he has made upon a soldier, in the absence of those who are entitled to speak for soldiers. I would, however, take note of his admission that he supports this Amendment not on its merits, not because he declines to give these powers to the Government—with which he is satisfied—but because he desires at a future time, to have the opportunity of renewing his attacks upon the Government of the day. I propose to deal with the matter on its merits. First of all, I would remind the Committee that it is not the fact that we propose to give these powers to any Minister, to any particular Minister, not even to the Minister of National Service, although, for myself, I would gladly entrust my right hon. Friend with any powers which the Government thought necessary for the conduct of the War. No proposal to entrust these powers to him is made. The Proclamation will be made, not by any Minister, but on the recommendation of the Cabinet. The Cabinet will advise it and will be responsible for it. It is from that point of view that I ask the Committee to consider the Clause. The real meaning and basis of the Clause is this: that we want power in case of national emergency—I will consider in a moment what that means—to cancel all certificates in certain classes and up to a particular age. Just as a little while ago it was mentioned by my hon. Friend that 2023 the Minister alone, by himself, could cancel all occupational exemptions up to a certain age, so the desire of the Government is to have power, by means of Proclamation, if necessary to extend that to all certificates of persons up to that age. We want the power to make a clean cut, to make the thing complete. That is exactly what this Clause means. I agree, having in mind the terms of the Clause itself, that the cancellation made may be temporary. It is exceedingly likely that a Proclamation made at a time of great stress and peril may, when the peril passes, be revoked
§ Sir G. CAVE
The point is that the Government do desire in a time of great stress to have this power—drastic power, I admit—to cancel all certificates up to a certain age.
§ Sir G. CAVE
It will not cover those, because their exemptions do not arise upon a certificate; they are exempted by special contract, as I have already said on a previous Clause.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Oh, certainly, though this Clause is not required for agricultural labourers. The Government have already shown by the course which they took yesterday that they are very desirous of recognising the rights of Parliament, so far as it is possible so to do, on the question of raising the age; but this is a different matter. Parliament may not be sitting when the emergency arises. There is also the risk of wasting, or, at all events, occupying a certain amount of time when time may be of vital importance. I could conceive no more grave and no more serious emergency than that under the shadow of which we meet this morning. Therefore, I say quite frankly to the House that, so far as I understand it, we desire to have the right to exercise this power to-morrow, or, rather, on the morrow of the passing of this Bill. And, after all, would it not be absurd for us to agree to the view that before exercising these powers we should again come to Parlia- 2024 ment and ask for power to use the powers which we are asking for the present emergency, and for reasons which are urgent to-day? I want the power at once. The Government desire to have these powers
§ Sir G. CAVE
Proclamation is the appropriate procedure in time of war in connection with the calling up of men. There is very little difference between an Order in Council and a Proclamation. An Order in Council is issued by His Majesty in Council, but a Proclamation is issued by His Majesty after the draft has been approved in Council. Proclamation is the proper and appropriate procedure in this case, and that is why it has been provided for.
§ Sir TUDOR WALTERS
Does this mean that you propose at once to withdraw all exemptions on personal as well as occupational grounds?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am afraid it is still not clear what is going to be done by this proposal, or why this provision is needed. Reference has not been made to an Act which was passed two months ago, in February, namely, the Military Service Act, 1918. Clause 2 of that Act empowers the Director-General of National Service to withdraw exemptions. As this Clause is very relevant, and as no copies of this Act are to be obtained in the Library, perhaps it would be convenient if I read the Clause to the Committee. It provides:(1) The Director-General of National Service may at any time by Order withdraw any certificate of exemption from military service to which this Section applies as from such date, not being; less than fourteen days after the date of the Order, as may be specified in the Order. and as from that date any certificate to which the Order applies shall cease to be in force.(2) This Section applies to any certificate of exemption from the provisions of the Military Service Acts. 1916 and 1917, whether granted before or after the passing of this Act, and whether granted by tribunals or by or under the authority of a Government Department, where the certificate was granted or renewed on occupational grounds.The next Sub-section provides thatAn Order under this Section may be made applicable either to individual certificates 2025 granted by Government Departments or to certificates granted to any class or body of men specified in the Order.The substance of that proposal is that the Director-General of National Service today has power to make a clean cut on occupational grounds, and an Order has been made on those grounds within the last two or three days. Therefore, it is not quite clear for what purpose this Clause is really needed. There are, it is true, three or four classes of men who are exempted from the Military Service Act. There are those who are exempted on grounds of ill-health. I presume it is not proposed to make any Order bringing them in. Of course, they might fall under this provision, but I imagine that it does not apply to persons exempted on grounds of ill-health by the tribunal. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Well, that might be the consequence, although I do not think it is the intention. Then, there are the conscientious objectors. I should like to know if the Government can tell us whether it is proposed to make an Order repealing all exemptions on conscientious grounds. For my own part, I have always regarded the conscientious objector as a profoundly misguided person with whom I have no sympathy whatever, but the fact remains that he exists, and they are a stubborn race, and if you were to abolish all the exemptions of conscientious objectors it is very doubtful whether you would add at ail to the effective strength of the Army, and you would probably be merely multiplying your difficulties.
I submit, however, that Parliament having enacted a Conscientious Objectors' Section in the Act, specific reference should be made to Parliament before it is repealed or swept away by an Executive Order. Although there are many conscientious objectors of whose genuineness we have much doubt, there are some—for example, the Quakers—the strength or sincerity of whose objection is not doubted. There are none who wish to see the Quaker community forced to serve in the Army. Lastly, there are those exempted on grounds of domestic or financial hardship. Perhaps the Minister of National Service can tell us whether he has those classes in mind. The Home Secretary has just said it is not proposed to make any Order abolishing all those exemptions, but is it proposed to make any Order abolishing those exemptions up to a certain age? Further, I should like to ask whether a man will be able to get 2026 any hearing if he wishes to present his case for consideration, or is his exemption to be abolished without any appeal, because the Clause which we are now discussing says, in Sub-section(2) While any such Proclamation remains in operation no application shall be entertained for the grant or renewal of any certificate to which the Proclamation applies.Not only may the work of all the tribunals be absolutely undone, but no man would be able to present his case, because he would be taken automatically into the Army if the interpretation, which appears to be plain on the second Sub-section, is really such as I have suggested. Those are questions which I think we ought to consider before we proceed further in this Clause, and on which we ought to have some information from the representative of the Government. I would like to point out that the question of Parliamentary control in this matter was debated at very considerable length when the Military Service Bill of last January was before the House; in fact, it was the main subject of discussion on that occasion. As a consequence of the Debates that have taken place, it was admitted by the Government that the power was too great even with regard to occupational grounds to leave it entirely to the unfettered discretion of the Minister of National Service without any opportunity for Parliament to express an opinion on the subject. Consequently, the Government agreed in deference to the strong opinions expressed in all quarters of the House to insert a Sub-section to the effect that the Order should be laid upon the Table of both Houses of Parliament, and if either House presented an Address that the Order should be annulled. It was an exceedingly moderate power, to insert, unlike that regarding the extension of the age limit to fifty-five, which was inserted in this Bill yesterday on the Motion of the Home Secretary as a concession to the views expressed in the House, and under which it is necessary before any action is taken by the Government for them to move for the presentation of an Address to His Majesty. I am of opinion that some specific Parliamentary opportunity should be given for a review of these matters before effective action is taken either by the Minister of National Service or any other Minister.
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I wish to follow, in the first place, the point which has just been made by my right hon. Friend. As he has 2027 reminded the Committee, in January last special provision was made regarding a clean-cut so far as it was to operate in regard to exemptions granted on occupational grounds. It was provided then that we here should have the right to discuss any Order made under that Act. I submit that the effect of this Clause is to withdraw that right. It is true, that apart from the Clause that we are now discussing, the Government have the right to take men who are exempted on occupational grounds, but by this Clause they are empowered, apart from that Act, to take them whether they are exempted on occupational grounds, or on domestic grounds, or on conscientious grounds, or on health grounds. It is therefore a very wide power and not one simply affecting the margin left out of the last Act. It supersedes the machinery which Parliament deliberately applied to men exempted on occupational grounds, and it is dealing un fairly with the Committee not to make it clear that you are not only making a change by this Clause which affects a comparatively small number of exemptions on domestic and other grounds, but that you are also changing entirely the machinery which Parliament has set up for dealing with the large class of exemptions on occupational grounds. Personally, I am not prepared to abandon the existing machinery. I believe that we should adhere to that machinery. In Fact, the Prime Minister, in introducing this Bill, gave the House to understand that this was what was being done. He said, "We have already the power to deal with the men exempted on occupational grounds, and an Order is now being made which will be published in the Press to-morrow. It deals with all sorts of occupations. That is being done up to a certain age. We only want the power to do the same kind of thing in regard to men exempted by tribunals on other grounds." That is not what this Section is doing at all. This withdraws from the men exempted on occupational ground the machinery which Parliament has deliberately applied to them, and it is also taking this arbitrary power. I do not desire to put in the hands of this Government by ukase—that is the proper word—the power to seize, to use again the word of the Minister of National Service, every man irrespective of the ground on which he has been exempted by a tribunal of his peers from military service. It seems to be a matter 2028 of amusement to the Minister of National Service that we should object to this. It shows the, state of affairs at which we have arrived. This is a serious matter to many thousands of people in this country, and I think even Ministers should treat it with something more than derision.
§ Sir G. CAVE
My hon. Friend must not misrepresent me. I have never treated this as a matter of amusement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"]
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I have made no accusation against the right hon. Gentleman. I said nothing about him. I referred to the hilarity on the part of the Minister of National Service.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Under these circumstances, if the right hon. Gentleman assures me that it had nothing to do with the subject under discussion, I gladly and unreservedly withdraw. We are asked to give this right to the Minister of National Service to administer all the details affecting the position of these men whose cases have been dealt with judiciously, many of them not only by local tribunals, but also by Appeal Tribunals, and even by the Central Tribunal, of which my hon. Friend the Member for the Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) is a member. That is all to be set aside by what is called the clean cut, and they are to be seized by Proclamation. I do not think that this Committee is entitled to do anything of the kind. We are bound to insist that a Parliamentary opportunity shall be given. I would recall to the mind of the Committee the very grave speech made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Asquith). I think it was the gravest speech ever made by a Leader of the Opposition in this House of Commons since Parliament came into existence. His only excuse for not turning the Government out yesterday was the gravity of the emergency. On the next occasion when this Government is seeking powers to deal with men the emergency may not be so grave. Surely then we should not allow the Government to take advantage of this emergency to take these extreme powers, but we should see to it that the House of Commons on 2029 a future occasion, when the emergency may not be so grave, will be able, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, to express the opinion which it undoubtedly holds of the present Government.
§ Colonel Sir R. WILLIAMS
I wonder if the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken knows the meaning of all the language that he has used. Does he know the meaning, for instance, of the word "ukase"? It is purely a proclamation in Russia, and he has chosen to give it a particular meaning to suit his own purposes. I am perfectly amazed that an hon. Gentleman should get up and make a speech like that this morning. He said the late Prime Minister yesterday made one of the most serious speeches that had ever been made in Parliament. Why was it so serious? It was serious because there is a great national emergency. That right hon. Gentleman—he does not always choose to back by voting what he recognises—at any rate recognised what apparently hon. Gentlemen here do not recognise. The Home Secretary a minute ago talked of the very grave situation which exists at the present moment. I am not a pessimist and I never have been, but has the hon. Member read Sir Douglas Haig's Order this morning? We are fighting with our backs to the wall. The Germans are within 41 miles of Calais, and may have got there by now, for all we know. If the Government came down and said, "Will you pass this Bill through all its stages this minute?" we ought to do it. You talk about this class and that class, the half-armed and the half-legged; you are half-hearted! The time may come when we shall want every man we can get hold of, even if he is half-legged or has no leg at all. No matter what the age or occupation is, we want everyone necessary to save our liberties.
§ Sir R. WILLIAMS
And our heads into the bargain—some of us. What does the hon. Member mean by that? Does he mean to say that I have lost my head?
§ Sir R. WILLIAMS
I will apologise to the Committee if I have spoken too vehemently. I have not lost my head, for all the hon. Member chooses to say in rude remarks across the floor. There are few 2030 men in this Committee who would venture to say such a thing as that. I speak with a great sense of responsibility. I say that if the Government came down to us and said to-day, "We believe there is a great national emergency," we should pass the Bill without delay. Hon. Members have spoken about all the words in the Clause except the two most important, namely, "national emergency." If the Prime Minister would himself come down and say, "There is a national emergency, and will you pass the Bill on Monday?" we should get it through as fast as we possibly could. I am aware that the Irish difficulty is a tremendous one. The Labour difficulties are also very great. I have been talking with those who represent single-man businesses, and everybody knows what their difficulties are. But what are all those difficulties against the fact that our very existence is at stake, and when the man at the head of our Army tells us that we are with our backs to the wall? When we are in a national emergency I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland should take up time to talk about other things when the whole Clause only gives the Government a power which any Government, no matter what it is, ought to have in the case of a national emergency.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I rise, if possible, to secure a specific and definite answer from the Home Secretary as to what the meaning of this Clause really is. In reply to a question put to him a short time ago by an hon. Member below the Gangway he gave an answer, and so far as I understood the question the answer did not correspond to it. The question I want to put, the question which I understood my hon. Friend to put, is not what is the intention of the Government. I, for one, desire to say at once that I believe the right hon. Gentlemen opposite are inspired by the intensest anxiety to do their duty to the country and to every individual. I have had many opportunities of meeting the Director-General of National Service. I imagine there is no man—there can be no man in this Committee—who feels the responsibility of this matter more than he does. But the point at the present moment is not the intentions of the Government in using this Clause—I hope we shall have that before the Debate closes—but I want to be told to us, and through us to the country, what is the operation of this Clause. I ask for a specific answer from the Home Secretary 2031 to this question: Whether under the terms of this Clause; directly this Bill is passed, it is possible for the Government by Proclamation to absolutely annul every exemption granted to any man under any circumstances whatever, and that, however hard, however harsh, however cruel, all are to be taken, whether it simply ruins one man or only hurts another a little; and whether the individual man, in these circumstances, has no power whatever of any appeal or any way of putting his case before any authority whatever? We want to know is that the case or not? [An HON. MEMBER: "It is!"] It is not for us to give the interpretation. I am asking for the interpretation of the authority in the Committee. I do it very respectfully. I recognise the Government's position very seriously indeed, as I recognise the position of the country, and I am asking the chief authority in this Committee, the Home Secretary, to declare whether my interpretation of the Clause is correct, and whether, whatever their intentions may be, the power which this Clause will give them directly the Bill is passed is immediately to cancel every exemption granted under all conditions, and that no man whatever will have any power of appeal?
§ Mr. DILLON
The speech to which we listened just now from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Dorset (Colonel Sir R. Wiliams) is the best possible proof of the folly and absurdity of rushing this Bill through the House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is outraged because some members of the Committee criticise this Bill. He is an honoured Member of this House who, in pre-war days, was one of the most tolerant, moderate, and friendly Members of the House. He gives us a specimen of the way in which Bills like this may be worked. His idea is that in the emergency in which the country now is it will be necessary to call up every man in the whole country, no matter whether he hag only one leg or no leg at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] He said so. How long will the Allies last, or how long would the Allies hold out, if such a spirit as that were applied? [An HON. MEMBER: "Not a fortnight!"] The hon. and gallant Gentleman was greatly infuriated because he thought somebody had hinted that he had lost his head, but the objection was really taken 2032 not only to the wild spirit, but to the reckless spirit exhibited in his speech as regards the relation of man-power to the different essential requirements in which man-power is at work in this country. He has no regard for them. He thinks we can live on air, that this battle can be fought without guns, and that food can be brought to England without ships or sailors. That was involved in his speech. [HON MEMBERS: "No!"] Then what was the meaning of calling up every man in the whole country to go into the firing line?"
§ Sir R. WILLIAMS
I only said that the Government ought to have the power to call up every man they want.
§ Mr. DILLON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman went far beyond that. He now observes the absurdity of his statement. What is far more important in the working of this Clause is that he was in favour of calling up of a man with one leg or no legs.
§ Mr. DILLON
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not mean what he said, but that is what he said. Knowing what we do, and having heard what the Deputy-Chairman of Committees said the other day as to the appalling waste of money and the reckless infliction of human suffering on unfortunate men who are absolutely unfit, and after the experience we have had of the possibilities of careless or reckless administration under these Acts, the idea that the Government should be empowered, without careful inquiry into each case, to sweep away all these exemptions that have been given is perfectly appalling. The result would be not to strengthen the battle line even six months from the present date. With their backs to the wall now, what on earth would these men do? If the battle is maintained for three or four months the Americans will be with us, and we have an enormous reservoir of men coming to our aid. It is becoming an increasingly serious danger that all this reckless thoughtlessness, these ill-digested proposals, and the maladministration to which they are subjected are spreading in this country a feeling of war-weariness which will be brought home to you very unpleasantly before long if you go on at this rate. Some men get into a panic, and they 2033 seem to think when things are going wrong in France there can be only one possible explanation, and that is that there are not men enough at the front. That is not the explanation. We know from the statement of the Prime Minister himself that that has neither been the explanation last year nor this year, unless you are prepared to do what I have never done and never will do: admit that the British soldier is not a match for the German soldier, man for man. We are not short of men at this moment, nor, looking to America, are we likely to be. We are short of other things. This is panic legislation, and many speakers who address this Committee are speaking in a panic, because they are proposing measures which have no reference to the real needs of the case.
§ The CHAIRMAN
We are really getting very far away from the Amendment, and I would ask the Committee to come back to it. The point is whether the proposed action on the part of the Government, should or should not be subject to some form of Parliamentary sanction or review.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Of course it is quite open to do that, but questions of military policy and so on are really beyond the question.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Did not the Home Secretary intimate what it was? The right hon. Gentleman said he presumed he knew what the intentions of the Government were, and the Home Secretary intimated that the short object of this was the clean cut on other than occupational grounds.
§ Mr. THOMAS
In the first place I want the Government to recognise that, whatever differences there may be between hon. Members speaking in their individual capacity, for the first time the whole of the Labour party and the whole of the Trade Union movement are responsible for the suggestion that is made in the Amendment. The object is to delete the whole Clause. That is the party's decision, and, furthermore, our instructions are not to agree to any proposal that takes authority and power from this House. It is im- 2034 possible under this authority to do what the Home Secretary suggests. Under a previous Bill the clean cut is given in certain occupations. That is admitted. But concurrently with that promise the Government said they would not exercise that authority in any way which would remove the right to appeal on other grounds. The other grounds clearly could only be domestic, medical, and suchlike. Under this Amendment it could only be dealt with by the Minister. The Home Secretary says not the Minister but the Cabinet. Even the Leader of the House was not aware recently of a decision that the Cabinet had arrived at, so that is going to be absolutely no guarantee whatever. But even if it was a guarantee that it would only be the Cabinet dealing with it it ought not to be necessary. Parliament has never yet refused any power that it has been asked for. The Government for three and three-quarter years have obtained everything they have asked from the House of Commons, and we have no reason to believe that there will be any different spirit unless there is a feeling that they can no longer be trusted with the power or, alternatively, that there is a better way of dealing with it. Let me show what this Clause would mean in a case of this kind, to show the absurdity of talking about the clean cut. This is a letter I received this morning from one of my own Constituents. He says:I write to you as senior member to ask my position under the Bill. In September, 1914, I and three brothers all enlisted together. I was discharged in February, 1915, medically unfit. My brother Norman, twenty-two, was killed on 1st July, 1916. My brother Cyril was missing, and we do not know—He means that he does not know whether he is killed or not.William, my other brother, thirty-one, married, with five children, is still in France, and I, on resuming civil employment, followed my trade as a butcher. I was called up again in July last year, and then classed C I, and granted exemption conditionally upon joining the Volunteers. I am now awaiting my discharge from the Volunteers as my knee, which was the cause of being rejected from the Army, has again given way.What is the use of talking of this power of the clean cut? How can you clean cut in cases of this kind? And this is the case that this authority is asked to deal with—not only one, but hundreds of thousands. It does even interfere with the occupational side, because when the Minister of National Service met the trades to agree upon the occupational cut, 2035 this specific question was put to him: "If we agree to you having the authority of the occupational clean cut, are we to understand that it does not interfere, and that the Government has no intention of interfering, with all the other individual rights that we have been granted under the Military Service Acts?" The answer was given specifically "Yes." There was a definite promise less than a fortnight ago on this point, but under the Clause we are now dealing with the Minister can say, "I have got the power at this moment to settle the occupational side on the basis of the clean cut, and now I am taking the power, without consulting Parliament, without having to justify my action, without being able to justify the emergency; I am having all this power handed over to me and, in addition, the power to determine your fate on occupational grounds and to determine it on the clean out on the other." I say that that is a power the Government ought not to seek. It is suggested that Parliament may not be sitting. There can be no greater emergency than the present one, but if there is and if this emergency continues, I submit that Parliament ought never to be out of Session. In case of emergency the Government can come down and ask for any proposal, and I am perfectly certain they will get it. But what guarantee is there if we put this power into the hands of the Government? It is not simply a question of the Ministers, because they are not the people to give effect to it; many other people have to give effect to their decision. Under these circumstances I ask the Government to accept this Amendment, moved in a spirit not to hamper the Government, but, at least, to protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens which has already been given to them by Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I sincerely hope that one of the last observations of my right hon. Friend will not be accepted. He said that, if this national emergency should continue, he has no doubt that Parliament would grant any powers which this Government might seek.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I am not going to deal with the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Dorset, which was dealt with so effectively by the hon. 2036 Member for Mayo. I shall endeavour to keep strictly within your ruling, Mr. Whitley, but I want to refer to that speech in a few words because the attitude seems to me to be a conclusive answer against this Clause. The hon. and gallant Member made a speech the character of which the House is quite familiar. Numerous speeches of the same sort have been delivered. His point was this, that the House of Commons, without question, should grant the Government any powers they seek. I am opposed not only to the whole of this Bill, but I am opposed to granting to the Government the powers which they are seeking under this Clause, because I have no faith in the Government. I do not trust the Government, and I will be no party to giving the Government any powers in addition to those they possess at the present time. The hon. Member for Cork said the present emergency was undoubtedly due to one man. I expected that his further observation was going to be that that one man was the Prime Minister. If the individual indirect responsibility is to fall upon a particular soldier to whom the hon. Member referred, the direct responsibility is upon the political head of the Government. The Amendment proposes that the powers sought in this Clause should not be exercised by the Government without the consent of Parliament.
The right hon. Gentleman for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel) was very anxious to get from the Government a clear statement of their intentions. I care nothing for their statement. I would not give the crack of my finger for any statement they make as to their intentions. The floor of the House of Commons is knee-deep with scraps of paper which the Government have torn up during the last two or three years. There is not a single pledge they have made in connection with the first Military Service Act, and the second Military Service Act, which they have not broken. It is no use asking them for a statement of intentions. As my hon. Friend Mr. Anderson reminds me, the only clean cut we have had has been the clean cut of the Government Bench. I know the spirit in which these powers will be exercised. The Home Secretary said it is the intention of the Government to issue this Proclamation. On whose advice will they issue the Proclamation? Probably on the advice of incompetent officials at the War Office. But who will be the administrator of this Proclamation? It 2037 will be the Minister of National Service. Who is the Minister of National Service? He is a man of whom nobody had ever heard until a few months ago. I understand he is a schoolmaster from Canada who knows nothing about politics. Certainly his performances in this House have not justified the Members of this House in reposing much confidence either in his ability or in his administrative capacity. I am not prepared to give power either to the Government or to the Ministers to whom the War Cabinet will give the carrying out of these powers. We were told by the hon. Gentleman that he could possibly imagine a greater emergency than that which exists at the moment, and the idea that he conveyed to the members of the Committee was that if this Bill becomes law on Wednesday that a Proclamation is going to be issued on Thursday exercising the powers which this Clause gives. What are the powers conferred by this Clause? The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. G. Thorne) put a question which I was surprised to hear from him, seeing that he belongs, I believe, to the legal profession I cannot imagine any man, either lawyer or layman, having the slightest doubt as to what is the meaning of this Clause.
§ Mr. THORNE
I only put the question so that the public might know from the Home Secretary exactly what it meant.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I do not think the public attach the least importance to what the Home Secretary says. The public of this country have long ago ceased to attach the slightest importance to any statement made from that bench. Every promise made by Ministers which has not been incorporated in Acts of Parliament has been treated with contempt by the tribunals and the Courts of justice wherever the matter has been raised. We are not dealing with the intentions of Ministers now; we are dealing with what is in black and white in the Bill before us; and what do these proposals mean? It is proposed to give the Government power to withdraw every certificate which has been given upon grounds of ill-health, upon grounds of conscientious objection to military service, upon grounds of financial hardship, and upon grounds of domestic hardship. Any of these certificates can be withdrawn the day after this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament simply by a Proclamation issued by the Government.
2038 That means that men who hold certificates of exemption on the grounds of ill-health can have their certificates withdrawn, and they can be called up within seven days, because we were told by the Minister of National Service the other day that it is his intention only to give seven days' notice. Therefore, we know that the maximum amount of time between the issue of this Proclamation and the time when a man must report for service cannot be more than seven days. Probably within the next week or two the Minister of National Service will reduce the period to three or four days, and probably before very long the man will be required to present himself at the recruiting office within an hour after receiving the calling up notice. How is this going to apply to business men? A greater hardship is inflicted upon business men whose certificates are withdrawn than on those whose certificates have been withdrawn on grounds of occupation. The very most a man will have will be seven days between the cancelling of his exemption on business grounds and the call to the Colours. How can a man make arrangements for the carrying on of his business and the settling of his affairs in seven days?
Certificates can also be withdrawn which have been given on the ground of conscientious objection. Do the Government think that by withdrawing certificates of that character they are going to get the men? Surely, if there is one member of the Government who entertains that illusion it cannot be the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, especially after his experience of the stubbornness of the conscientious objectors which he must have derived from his Home Office administration. There have been about 6,000 of these men court-martialled already. Fifteen or sixteen hundred of them have been court-martialled two, three, four, or five times. Five thousand of them have passed through prison. I do not know the number of certificates granted on grounds of conscientious objection which are now held by men who are doing work of national importance, but I know that the number must be very large. I suppose that it is extremely likely that the very first Proclamation will cancel the certificates of these men. Are you going then to get these men into the Army? Will they respond? Not a single one of them. You have not prisons enough in the 2039 country to hold them, and you are going to have a great many more conscientious objectors by raising the age to fifty-one.
The hardship which compulsory military service inflicts was recognised in the first Military Service Act which provided certain safeguards. These were incorporated in the second Military Service Act, and down to the introduction of this Bill there has been no suggestion made in this House that the protection afforded by the special Clauses in these Acts should be abolished. Now we have the Government proposing, simply by a stroke of the pen, to cancel every one of these exemptions. There must have been hundreds of thousands which have been granted by the local and Appeal Tribunals, after, I suppose, more or less careful inquiry into the circumstances of each particular case. As one who has never been a supporter of this War I do not know that I ought to look with any apprehension to the spread of war weariness, but if I were an enthusiastic supporter of the War I certainly would not grant the Government drastic powers of this character even from the point of view of the War. They are going to create disaffection and unrest among hundreds of thousands of people who hitherto have given more or less enthusiastic support to the War. The point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Dorset (Colonel Sir R. Williams), leads as a logical conclusion to this, that you might as well say "scrap all existing Acts of Parliament, all Regulations or Rules, and just pass two or three live Clauses of the Bill, stating that the House of Commons abrogates all its constitutional functions, and that during the period of the War it places all powers unreservedly in the hands of the Government." That is what we are really doing in regard to this particular measure.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I do not support this War, but if I were a supporter of the War, and if I could trust the Government, then, democrat as I suppose I am, I believe that if they were a Government who had the capacity and the intelligence and the brains to carry on the War efficiently, perhaps the best thing would be to give them almost unlimited and autocratic powers. But they ask for these powers in an Act of Parliament, in order to relieve 2040 themselves from criticism. My objection to this Clause is that it is going to put power into the hands of men whom I do not trust. The Government is responsible for the present critical situation. The men who have got the country into a mess like this are not fit to be trusted to continue to have the power to get the country into a worse mess. They are responsible for the military situation, and they are responsible for the bungling of the diplomatic policy during the last two or three years. This German offensive and the present military situation are the reply to the declaration of the Versailles Conference. Seeing that the Government have got the country into this mess I, for one, at any rate, am not willing to give them any further powers.
§ Sir J. D. REES
It seems to be a truly tragic thing that on a day like this and in present circumstances objection should be raised to giving the power which the Government of the day deliberately asks for. Reference has been made, notably by the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Pringle), to turning out the Government. On such an issue I should have thought that the whole House would have united to give the Government any powers which they ask for at the present moment. The Government has been hampered in the conduct of the War right through—
§ Sir J. D. REES
By the necessity of having to come to this House for leave to take measures which should devolve upon one or two or three men or four men. I cannot think that hon. Members in their hearts feel that 640 men can manage the War, although they may manage legislation in ordinary times. I had no intention whatever of making any reference to hon. Gentlemen from Ireland. Their attitude in regard to the whole matter seems to be, as far as I can make it out, that of the Latin poet who wrote of a. certain lady, that such were his feelings about her, he could not exist either with or without her. They are lighting for us though they hate us. Their regiments are amongst the most gallant in the Service, and although hon. Gentlemen opposite are attacking this Bill, I do not believe they are expressing their real feelings. On the contrary, I believe they are willing to help the country in its emergency. But I cannot understand how any hon. Member 2041 for an English Constituency can take up the like attitude. It seems to me to be absolutely inexcusable.
I want to refer particularly to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Samuel) namely, that under the Act of February last the exemptions granted, although cancelled, can be continued by the Minister of National Service. Let me take a case, an extremely bad case, which has had a serious effect throughout the country, and which has made the public think that there is some favouritism or something improper in the administration of this Act. It is the case of a man who obtained exemption on the ground that his services were required on his own farm. He subsequently received an appointment with a high salary under the Government, and, in consequence, the local tribunal who had granted him his exemption cancelled it. Being well under military age, it was expected he would go to the Colours, but what happened was that under the Act of 1918 the Ministry in which he was serving—the Ministry of Food—gave him another exemption. I submit that as the object of this Clause is to bring everybody of military age to the Colours, it becomes the Government—and I press this on the right hon. Gentleman—to see that in no individual cases, or class of cases, is a course allowed to be taken which is calculated to give rise to the impression that the Government are acting in a spirit of favouritism, with the result that people of military age who have been deprived by the local tribunals of their certificates of exemption will no longer be allowed to continue in civil employment instead of proceeding to join the Colours. The gentleman to whom I am referring is a Commissioner for Live Stock for Scotland, but I am not going to be drawn into dealing with individual cases in detail. I simply mention that case because it is one that has come under my notice, and I want to impress upon the Home Secretary the necessity of seeing that justice is done in these matters. It is not the only case, of course. In many other cases tribunals have been altogether too favourable to appellants.
§ Mr. DENMAN
Is it in order to discuss the general administration of the Military Service Acts and the action of the tribunals on the Amendment now before the Committee?
§ Sir J. D. REES
I was not raising the point, but I think I was equally relevant with the right hon. Gentleman the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) in referring to cases in which I am particularly interested, and in which my Constituents are interested.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Is it in order to raise cases which cannot possibly be affected by the isue on this Amendment, namely, whether this provision is to come before Parliament or not?
§ Sir J. D. REES
Then may I ask how it happened that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby was able to deal with individual cases from his own constituency? But I will leave this case, as it is outside my own Constituency. I am, of course, well aware that that is not the ground of your ruling. I will now give some cases which have arisen in my own Constituency, and I should like to be enlightened how these people will fare under this provision. There is a general apprehension that under this Clause there will be a clean cut, and the object of the Amendment is to prevent that.
§ Sir J. D. REES
I really do not know why the irrelevancy which is so frequently allowed to the hon. Member for North-West Lanark should not be extended to myself. I hope I shall be strictly in order in pointing out the fear that exists in certain quarters that this clean cut may deprive certain trades of the labour which they require to carry them on. Take the case of the lace trade. If the thousands of exemptions granted by tribunals to young men are withdrawn or cancelled there will be an opportunity for the services of older men to be utilised to much greater advantage, and anything which the Home Secretary can tell us with regard to these cases will be very welcome. I am quite prepared to support the proposal as it stands and to oppose the Amendment on general grounds, but I think it would be helpful if the Home Secretary would say something in regard to those classes, 2043 among whom there is some apprehension, as to the results of the clean cut and the scrapping of decisions of tribunals under which exemptions have been granted.
Really I must protest. I attempted earlier in the day to discuss this question and your predecessor in the Chair, as I understood, ruled it out. I do not object, of course, if the hon. Gentleman opposite is allowed to proceed, but I trust that the same latitude will be allowed to others.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member in possession of the Committee has already been twice called to order, and I did not want to call him to order a third time, because of what might be the unpleasant consequences of so doing.
§ Sir J. D. REES
I will leave that subject. As a matter of fact, I have been allowed to say all I meant to say. It is not a particularly easy matter for a Member to bring in particular questions which one desires to raise on behalf of his own Constituency, and if he does digress a little it surely is not a serious offence, provided he does not take too long. Still I am obliged to the Committee for having allowed me such latitude.
§ Mr. HOLT
I would rather like to try and help the Committee, if I can, to come to a decision. I cannot, of course, profess to be a supporter of the Government, but I recognise, as we all recognise, the very grave emergency in which we are at the present time, and I am not unwilling to go as far as we reasonably can in the way of trusting the Government. There are four classes of exemptions affected by this Act. The question of occupation, the question of exceptional hardship, the question of ill-health, and the question of conscientious objection. With regard to the two last, I would submit that whether you approve of the conscientious objector or not emergency cannot affect his conscience, and if the Home Secretary could tell us exactly what are the powers that he in fact wants to exercise, I think we might be nearer an agreement. For instance, if he could tell us now that he would be willing to accept the Amendment standing a little lower down on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Pringle) and myself, to exempt from the operation of this Clause both the persons who have exemptions on the ground of ill- 2044 health and the persons who have exemptions on the ground of conscience, we should have a certain amount of lumber cleared out of the way. We should have reduced the question; to one of shortening the time already allowed for cancelling exemptions under the Act in January, including the power of cancelling exemptions on the ground of financial hardship. It is a serious matter in any case to cancel exemptions, and if that is the idea of the Government, I should like them to explain to me how they are going by a general cancellation of exemptions to cancel the exemptions which have been given on the ground of special financial hardship. I think if we could be told exactly how they propose to deal with these cases—we know about exemptions on occupational grounds—we should then only be dealing with cancelling occupational certificates, and I dare say the Committee would look at this with rather less disfavour than they do at present. I would also like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us whether it would not be the case that even then there would be in theory, at any rate, power of preventing any case in Ireland being put forward at all and whether it would not be in the power of the Government under this Clause to prevent any persons who are brought into the Act for the first time ever having their cases heard at all. I cannot help suggesting that it would be reasonable to say that no person shall be prevented from applying for an exemption who is for the first time brought under the obligation of compulsory military service by this Act.
§ Sir G. CAVE
If the Committee will permit me to say a few words I think we may save a little time. The Committee, I believe, will do us the credit of admitting that while we have been perhaps obstinate about matters which we thought were vital to the War, we have been willing to consider the opinions of the House on matters which could not come under that description. I think what the hon. Gentleman has just said does enable me to make a suggestion to the Committee. The object, as I said, of the proposal is to enable the Government in a serious crisis to extend the clean cut on what I may call the occupational ground to certificates of exemption on personal grounds. The personal grounds are practically three. There is first the medical. Of course, even if we revoked all certificates of exemption granted by tribunals on medical grounds we should still have the medical boards 2045 to rely on. Tribunal certificates on medical grounds are really cases where the tribunals have not agreed with the medical board, and so there is difficulty in dealing with those cases as the matter stands. Still the cases are not many. They are cases where some tribunal has been convinced that there were really sufficient grounds for exemption, and after consulting my right hon. Friend on this matter I am willing to exclude those cases from the proposal.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Sir G. CAVE
All certificates granted under paragraph (c) of the old Act. Then we come to another class of case, that of exemption on the ground of conscientious objection. I shall not be accused, especially after the experience that has been referred to, of any fondness for conscientious objection. It appears to me in many of its phases absolutely impossible to understand. But, of course, we are considering the question of military value. I know the opinion of the military authorities with regard to this class.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I am not sure that I could give in this House the view of the soldier on the conscientious objector, without breaking the Parliamentary Rule. Frankly, this class of man is of very little military value. Many of the men are of weak physique, and many of them are deficient in other ways—
§ Sir G. CAVE
—and I can quite imagine that at a period of crisis such as we are discussing now the soldier might hold the view that it is not worth his while to undertake the task of dealing with people of this kind. I make the suggestion with some reluctance, and after consulting those who have experience in the matter, that I am willing, if it is the general view of the House, to exclude also paragraph (d) from this Clause. That will reduce the matter to cases of serious hardship on business or domestic grounds. I quite agree that the hardship may be serious in these cases, but, after all, where there is this grave menace all personal considerations ought to give way. Of course, there is no question of administering the Clause without some consideration. It must be assumed that the Gov- 2046 ernment will show a certain amount of sense. Subject to that, we do want to have power over these exemptions granted on grounds of serious hardship. Take the young man who is in business of, say, twenty-three or twenty-five. There may have been in the view of the tribunal some really serious hardship at some past time, and they may have let him off, but we are dealing with a period of crisis in which all these considerations ought to give way, and there ought to be some compulsion on those men and their friends to find a way out. We want power over these cases where it is necessary. I wish to take this opportunity of dealing with another matter as to which I was impressed by what was said by my right hon. Friend opposite, as to the Sub-section of a Clause contained in the Act of 1918 relating to an Order in Council, providing that an Address may be presented within fourteen days for its annulment. I feel that the concession made with regard to that Clause might be fairly asked by Parliament with regard to these cases, and, to meet the view of the House, I propose to apply that Sub-section to the case now under discussion. I therefore ask the House to accept the Clause, subject to these two Amendments. First, we accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hexham regarding paragraphs(c) and (d); and, secondly I will move an Amendment to the Clause at the end in these terms: "Sub-section (5) of Section 2 of the Military Service Act, 1918, shall apply to the Proclamation in this Section in the same way as it applies to the Order in Council."
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
I wish to ask this one question. The right hon. Gentleman said that of course this new and extended power would not be used without consideration. Can the right hon. Gentleman say how that is to be administered? What means will there be to apply this power of consideration? Is it intended to review the cases, and, if so, by whom, and is it proposed to make an Order applying equally to every one of these exemptions on the ground of personal hardship?
§ Sir G. CAVE
We have already undertaken that the cases of these men shall be included in the Schedule.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I will consider that point, though, of course, it is difficult to revoke the Proclamation with regard to men who have joined the Army.
§ Mr. McCURDY
I am glad that the Home Secretary has stated the concessions which the Government are prepared to make. I am not sure that these concessions do not go a very long way to meet the case which I was going to put before him. I do not know if the speech of the hon. Member for Blackburn produced any very great impression upon the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, but I can assure him, whether they do produce an impression upon him or not, it is a kind of speech that will be made all over the country with regard to the enactments contained in this Clause, and will certainly have an effect upon many of the people to whom such speeches are addressed. I should like, though in all friendliness to the Government, to say one or two plain words to the Home Secretary and the Minister of National Service in regard to this matter. The hon. Member for East Nottingham spoke as though this subject was easily to be disposed of by saying that in any national emergency, in a war such as we are now going through, our duty was clearly to give the Government of the day whatever power it considered necessary or desirable to ask for. That, of course, goes upon the assumption that the Government are incapable of making mistakes, and that when they ask this House of Commons for any power it is quite certain that they know quite well, without any guidance or assistance from this House, what is the right and proper thing to do. Of course, if the Government share that view, which I am far from sharing, it would settle the matter, and they could come forward in an emergency and say, "We desire powers to do certain 2048 things," and there would be an end to the matter. I can assure right hon. Gentlemen that that is not the view of the country. I received this morning a letter from a very responsible business man in the Midlands, not as expressing my own views at all. He says his view was that the country has had more than enough of Sequahs and mystery supermen, and that it was time, and more than time, that ordinary folk had a chance, for it was inconceivable that any alternative Government could do worse. Do not let right hon. Gentlemen sitting on that Front Bench imagine that they ran safely pursue their policy on the assumption that they can ask the people of this country to shut their eyes and open their mouths and see what this kind Government is going to send them.
When this measure is through the first result is going to be, we all hope, an increase of the man-power of the country for the purpose of the War, but the serious question is what is going to be the counter-balancing loss of the will-power of the people?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
This does not seem to be relevant to this Amendment. The argument appears to be directed rather to the Third Reading.
§ Mr. McCURDY
I am dealing simply with the point of whether under this Amendment the representatives of the people in this House are to have a voice as to whether a national emergency has arisen, making it desirable to do certain things, or whether the Government on their own initiative, and without consulting this House, are to do it; and I say upon that point that if the idea is going abroad, which exists at present, that at a moment's notice, without Parliament being consulted in the matter, it is going to be within the power of the National Service Department to tear up all the certificates of exemption which have been granted as individual certificates, to meet individual hardships, after individual examinations, first by local tribunals and then by Appeal Tribunals, and if all these cases of individual hardship may at any moment be put on one side as no longer of any account, you are going to create a feeling of unrest, a feeling of distress, which in many cases will amount to mental anguish, on the part of men who are at the present moment exempted on grounds of personal hardship, which in my humble judgment will go very far to 2049 offset the advantages which are going to be obtained under other provisions of this Hill. In the last two years of the War I have had opportunities of moving very freely among all classes of people in this country, and it is not military service that a man minds, it is not the sacrifice of his business that a man minds; what your Englishman does detest is to be kept month in and month out in complete uncertainty as to what his future is to be, and it is that detestable feature of complete uncertainty that marks this Clause in the form in which it has been brought before the House. I am sure exemptions—as you, Sir Donald, know—have not for very many months past been granted lightly or without most careful consideration. You are now going to say to a large class of men in this country, "You are suffering undeniable personal hardships, and a sudden call-up may mean entire ruin. Regard yourselves as men who, from now onwards, will never know until the blow falls whether your business is to be doomed or not; who from now onwards can never spend a comfortable week in any certainty that it is not your last week so far as your business and the making of proper provision for your friends and family are concerned." It would be far better to call them up at once. To come and ask this House for power to hold suspended over the beads of business men, patriotic men, men who are willing to serve their country in any capacity in the War—to ask power to hold suspended over their heads this sword of Damocles and to leave them in constant suspense and uncertainty as to their future, is, I submit, to cause an amount of unrest which will do more to foster pacifism and war weariness than anything that can be done by the legions of the Germans at the present time.
I do not know whether the alternative method now proposed by the Home Secretary of first making the Proclamation, and then making it necessary to present in this House an Address which will nullify that Proclamation, is in the minds of the Government better than the simpler and most straightforward way provided in this Amendment. But I do know well that if you are going to take powers for man-power with regard merely to the military requirements of the country and not take into account what is the effect you are going to produce upon the moral of the people, a very great mistake will be made in the matter. I do not want to 2050 occupy further time, but I do press upon the Government the necessity either of accepting this Amendment or, if they prefer the altermnative method announced by the Home Secretary, to make it perfectly plain to the people of this country that unless some national emergency does arise, which would obviously in the minds of the Houses of Parliament justify some very exceptional steps being taken, they may rest content that nothing is intended to be done, and that if anything is done Parliament may have an opportunity of dealing with the matter. I do not like myself the phrase "national emergency" at all. I think the mistake this Government has made, and that preceding Governments made, is from the start to treat this War as if it were a series of crises. They are always expecting that in three or six months either the Germans are going to be defeated or that the end of the War will come in some other way. I wish they would settle down to the recognition of the fact that there is a long and arduous struggle before us before we can destroy those forces of evil which, until they are destroyed, render our security for the future a thing of naught. I wish they took rather longer views of the War. For my part, I do not quite trust the Government on this one point. I think obviously this Government and all Governments have shown signs that instead of taking long, broad views of the War they are apt to regard as matters of grave emergency and crisis what, after all, when we look back after a few years, will be seen to be ordinary episodes and events.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
I am sure the Committee will appreciate the concessions which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this particular Clause, but I should like to point out to the Minister of National Service that if, as I take it, the intention is to provide the same safeguards in the case of claims for exemptions under paragraph (b) of Section 2 of the first Military Service Act, which is now the only remaining paragraph, as were provided under the Act of 1918, No. 1, in the case of occupational exemptions, it may be necessary to carry the matter just a little further. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that he was good enough when the matter was discussed in regard to exemptions on occupational grounds to deal particularly with exceptional cases of hardship which 2051 might arise, and that in the paragraph under Sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Act of 1918 it is provided that in making any Order the Director-General may include giving the right of making an application to the tribunal in exceptional cases of hardship? Now that really carries the matter a little further. The right hon. Gentleman and his Department will have, as I take it, to scan the class of cases he is dealing with very carefully. I am not quite clear whether the intention is to make an absolutely clean cut in the sense that every person is to be taken whatever the degree of hardship may be. Of course, if that is the answer of the Government in a case of serious emergency; that is a view in support of which something may be said; but I can hardly believe that it is the intention of the National Service Department to go as far as that, and that, as they have recognised the exceptional circumstances in the case of occupational exemptions, they ought to be prepared to recognise cases in which exceptional hardship arises owing to financial, business or domestic obligations.
Let me put the case in this form: The right hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, be dealing with a considerable number of cases. I hope he will be in a position to inform the Committee of the number of cases involved, because, I think, that information the Committee is entitled to have. In dealing with these cases does he suggest that he is not going to take into account individual cases where the circumstances are so special that undoubtedly some provision ought to be made? If he is going to do so, it will be left at the present moment to the Department, on representations made to them, no doubt, to determine the question. Would it not be better to provide that an application may be made to a tribunal in such exceptional cases? I do feel that that would, to a certain extent, mitigate the feeling of harshness to which this Clause will undoubtedly give rise throughout the country. I am informed there is a strong feeling of anxiety, particularly in my own district, with regard to the effect of this Clause. It is our duty as Members of Parliament to see that this matter is most carefully considered in the House. We are representing a large number of men who are anxious to fight, but whose business and domestic position have made it extremely difficult for them to get away— 2052 men who really deserve consideration—and there may be such cases which, I think, would warrant the right hon. Gentleman going at least so far as to put them in the same position as those with exemptions on occupational grounds. I cannot quite see what the distinction is between the case of exemption on occupational grounds, in which you give the right of appeal in certain cases, and the case under Section (b). I think exceptional circumstances might apply equally to both. I would, therefore, urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that he might at least consider whether it would not be better altogether to put the persons who are affected under Section (b) in the same position as those affected under Section (a), and provide for appeal in cases which the Minister might consider deserving of special consideration. I am very anxious that we in this House should do everything we possibly can to prevent the feeling of uneasiness which has undoubtedly been created throughout the country, and I think he would find it to his interest to mitigate the hardships of this Bill on that point. I should also be glad if he would inform the House of the numbers affected by this particular provision.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I spoke early in this discussion, and raised a number of points, which have since been dealt with by the Home Secretary. I raised questions, among other things, of the medically unfit men, conscientious objectors, and Parliamentary control. I desire to say frankly that the Home Secretary has met us in a very substantial degree in regard to some of those points. I think he has met us almost completely in regard to the first two, and although the measure of the Parliamentary control is not as complete as some of us think it ought to be, still he has made concessions thereto. I desire to acknowledge these concessions, and to say that they will remove a good deal of anxiety throughout the country. In view of this, if it is in order for me to withdraw the Amendment on behalf of my hon. Friend who moved it, and who left it in my charge, I should be glad to do so. If not, we shall be prepared to seethe Amendment negatived without a division.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
The Amendment does not stand in the hon. Gentleman's name, but perhaps I might make a suggestion to the Committee. So far as I can gather, the concessions which 2053 have been made by one of the right hon. Gentlemen in charge of the Bill have the general approval of the Committee. There are still other important Amendments left for consideration, and as they are really of much greater importance now that those concessions have been made, I would very respectfully suggest the question whether the Committee should not now pass from this.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I merely want to ask a question of the Minister of National Service. I wish to ask him the position of the mercantile marine under this Proclamation. There is a great deal of anxiety felt, and perhaps he will be able to allay that anxiety, for I feel certain what his answer must be, because the mercantile marine has been bled white. I am not speaking of stewards, but of officers and men of the mercantile marine.
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
I have no doubt the Committee will desire to proceed at once to the consideration of other Amendments, but, before doing so, I should like to ask the Director-General of National Service whether he cannot give an answer to the very important point put by the hon. Member for North-East Lanarkshire (Mr. Millar), namely, whether there will be no opportunity under any circumstances for any of these men to secure any hearing in any quarter. With reference to men whose certificates are withdrawn on occupational grounds, in very exceptional circumstances a hearing might be given, but so far we have no assurance with regard to the other class.
§ The MINISTER of NATIONAL SERVICE (Sir A. Geddes)
Two nights ago, on the Second Reading of the Bill, I tried to explain to the House what the real proposals were under this Clause, but, owing to difficulties beyond my control, what I said was perhaps not very clearly heard. The object of this Clause is this: We have got an enormous number of demands for young—as young as possible—fit men, not only demands of the Army, but demands for exemption for the mercantile marine, demands for munition work, demands of all sorts. Youth and fitness is becoming a priceless national asset, and the purpose of this Clause is to allow Proclamations to be issued making available for military service men who possess this priceless asset of youth and fitness, and who are not exempted on occupational grounds. I have used the word "exemption" in its more ordinary 2054 meaning. By that I mean men who were not in such a position that they could not possibly be recruited because of their occupation. We have at the present time a certain number of men in civil life who possess what I have called the priceless asset of youth and fitness, and who have been left in civil life simply because of their own personal interests. It seemed to the Government that at a time when it was asking powers to raise the military age to effect such senior and important men as those in the neighbourhood of fifty engaged in business and commercial life, that it really would be an unjustifiable thing to seize these older men if at the same time they were leaving men much more valuable to the forces in civil life because some tribunal had granted them exemption on personal grounds.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question? He says that they not only require these men for the Army, but for munitions, and so on. Do I understand that under this Proclamation young men who possess what he has termed the priceless asset of youth and fitness can be called up for munition work?
§ Sir A. GEDDES
I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised that point: it gives me the opportunity of saying that the young men of the country, required for these various things which I have mentioned, are in munition works already, and cannot, in the interests of the nation, be withdrawn. Others who are not there, but in other walks of civil life, will be taken for the Army or the Air Force; but there is no power under this Act to take a man out of one position in civil life and put him into another similar position. As to the point raised by my hon. Friend opposite, who asked would there be any special review of these men's cases, I would reply that it all depends on the emergency and the greatness of the need. Suppose we have something very bad Happening in the next few days, and we have to reconstruct a large part of our Armies. I do not think that any young fit man of this kind should have his own personal position considered, unless he is in a position in civil life where his work is helping on the War. If he were he would be there retained by administrative action, as is done in almost countless cases now. The whole hypothesis is that this individual has got some personal hardship attaching to his removal and not a national 2055 object—that he should not be there because of the greatness of the national benefit arising from it, but from the purely personal point of view. You cannot measure, you cannot put the thing into the scale, and say that at a certain point in this scale the man who presents this priceless asset of youth and fitness is to be left to look after his own affairs. That is why it appears to me to be very undesirable that there should be any statutory provision with regard to the reconsideration of these cases. If the emergency be less, if there be any possibility of granting a man reasonable and fair consideration, then we will act as we have always acted, using such machinery as there is available locally for investigating the cases.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
May I point out, in connection with that statement, that paragraph (2) of this Clause will prevent the local machinery to be used to review withdrawals?
§ Sir A. GEDDES
There is, I think, nothing, perhaps, in paragraph (2) which prevents the National Service Department calling up the men. There is nothing in paragraph (2) which limits the obtaining of advice as to that point. There is nothing to prevent one using a non-statutory body in connection with procedure.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
Or a statutory body. That is what I tried to explain to the House the other night. It really, in our opinion, is very important that we should have this power.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
It will, of course, depend upon the actual limit of age which will be decided upon. Here is a figure which I have had just handed to me, which I will give, but about which I cannot speak with certainty. It would appear to affect, at the outside, some 200,000 men.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
Yes, that figure would cover all medical grades. But there would be, so far as I can foresee—although this is merely an expression of belief—no Grade 3 men required under the Proclamation at present, because we have at the present moment, as I said in the House the other day, more Grade 3 men available 2056 in civil life than there are demands for them at the present time. So far as one-can foresee, the powers asked for under this Clause will be used in connection with the higher grade men only. They would be used where we really require the men as fighters, possessed, as I have said, of youth and fitness. It is altogether a different type of men that would be dealt with by this Proclamation and method of procedure to the type of demand dealt with by the ordinary procedure under the Acts.
§ Mr. PENNEFATHER
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered a question as to the status of the officers and men of the Mercantile Marine.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
The position of the men of the Mercantile Marine is that they are engaged in work of national importance.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), after the word "exemption" ["certificates of exemption granted"], insert the words "other than those granted under paragraphs (c) and (d) of Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Military Service Act, 1916."—[Sir G. Baring.]
§ Captain Sir C. BATHURST
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "men" ["body of men"], to insert the words "other than skilled agricultural workers."
I should like to say at once that, in view of this Amendment, I have no regard whatever for the interests or the feelings of the men whom I desire to see exempted. The right hon. Gentleman has just told us that no young and fit man should have his own personal position in civilian life considered in this matter. I adopt that proposition, and it in no way applies to my Amendment. It is not in the interests of this class or their employers that I make this proposal, but it is in the interests of the general food-consuming public that I feel it a public duty to move this Amendment. We must take care lest in a Departmental panic, or through lack 2057 of a due sense of proportion, we drift from an emergency which is remedial to one which, through lack of foresight, may be irremedial. We have all read the stirring message of General Sir Douglas Haig addressed to the British Army yesterday, that the safety of our homes depends upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.
In our excitement about the military front do not let us forget our home front, of which the chief defensive weapon is food. I wish to emphasise this consideration to-day, because, in the light of past experience during this War, it is a danger that we forget in the anxiety of the moment, and it is a peril at least as great as that against which this Bill is directed. In the light of our past unhappy experience I think it is unsafe to leave the disposal of skilled agricultural workers, and through them our security against national starvation, to the discretion, still less to the caprice, of any Department other than the Board of Agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman, I know, has given his own personal assurance that the really indispensable farm workers shall not be displaced even in an emergency such as is contemplated by this Clause, but we have no certainty that the right hon. Gentleman will continue to occupy his present position when such an emergency arises, and consequently I ask the House to put this provision in the Bill, and not leave it to Departmental discretion or caprice.
By way of illustration of the lack of foresight that has already occurred in this connection, may I remind the Committee that in 1915–1916 no less than 60,000 skilled agricultural workers were withdrawn from the farms, to the serious risk of food production, in spite of assurances given both by the War Cabinet and the Minister for War, and, indeed, by the President of the Board of Agriculture. In face of that, and bearing in mind the uncertain prospective peril that we suffer from in our continued dependence upon oversea supplies of food for the bulk of what we require for the maintenance in a state of bare efficiency of our working population, I suggest that it is not safe any longer to pass any military service Bill without this House saying with the greatest emphasis that these men must not go whatever their age, even in a great emergency, in case there is a still greater emergency to be faced as the result of their going.
2058 Let me remind the House that a continual difference of opinion on this vital question between different Government Departments is even now operating against the successful and efficient production of essential food. Even to-day, as all agriculturists are aware, particularly in the South of England, the Air Department and the Road Board are withdrawing essential men from the farms by the attraction of high wages provided at the public expense, and which no farmer could possibly pay without incurring loss as a result of doing so. I have an instance which I could give to the House which has only occurred during the last two days to exemplify the danger from which we may suffer by trusting to the Department of National Service to exercise a discretion in this matter. There has already been issued a decertifying Order removing the certificates of exemption from certain occupations. This I found to my astonishment, and I speak with some little knowledge as the result of the last fifteen months' experience, that amongst these persons who are to be de-certified by a Departmental fiat are foremen bakers, slaughtermen and dressers of carcases. I only need remind the House that if there is one man who is essential to-day in the food trade more than another it is the foreman baker, in view of the great variety of ingredients which are now being incorporated into the loaf, and it requires an export to control the management in order that baking may be satisfactorily carried on. I have every reason to know that these de-certified occupations have been inserted in this Order without the approval of the Food Controller or his Permanent Secretary.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
May I say that this question is being talked over in consultation with the Food Minister?
§ Sir C. BATHURST
Under the circumstances I do not press the point, but whatever Departmental assurance may have been given, it is a matter about which the right hon. Gentleman is likely to hear a great deal more during the next few days, and I hope the result will be that these particular occupations will be eliminated from this Order. Under the circumstances it would not be proper for me to push this matter further, except to suggest that I think there has been some little error. However that may be, these are cases which I think probably ought not to have been inserted in the decertifying Order. How much stronger is the case of 2059 the skilled agricultural worker upon whom the actual production of food depends. I want particularly to refer to the case of shepherds, and, above all, ploughmen and horsekeepers. These classes are indispensable, and in certain cases irreplaceable. The ploughman or the horsekeeper is not only indispensable, but he is absolutely irreplaceable, and particularly so at a time when you are enormously increasing the arable area of this country, and when you are depending to an ever-increasing extent upon the production of that arable area to provide the bare essential foods which the nation requires.
In agricultural matters you cannot possibly live from hand-to-mouth. You must look at least twelve months ahead or the crops will not be grown. It is the uncertainty of the Government's attitude towards the agricultural community, and particularly towards this labour question, which has affected farmers in their activities more seriously than any other one fact. If they are being appealed to by the Government in the vital interests of the nation to produce to an increasing extent the essential food that the country wants, they ask to have a definite assurance from the Government that in answering that appeal they will not have the means of carrying it out withdrawn from them by the Government themselves. Let me refer to a recent appeal made by the Prime Minister, with winch I have the most profound sympathy. It was an appeal to farmers during the next three weeks—it has got to be done during the next three weeks—to grow an enormously increased area of potatoes: to plant no less than 400,000 additional acres of potatoes. May I remind the Committee that there is no agricultural crop in this country which requires more labour in planting, in cultivating, and in lifting, with the possible exception of hops, than potatoes. I go further, and I say that in the event of a seriously weak corn harvest, and there is no certainty what submarine casualties may await us hereafter, the potato crop is prospectively the most important food crop in this country, as it has proved to be in every belligerent country in the world. But, above all, it wants labour, and unless the Government can show that they mean without any doubt or uncertainty to provide the labour for cultivating and harvesting that crop it will not be grown.
2060 3.0 P.M.
I want, briefly, to re-emphasise the case of the ploughman. You cannot teach the man of thirty-five or forty how to handle horses if he has never done it before, and still less to use a plough. It is only those men who have been trained who can do it. There are to-day many thousands of comparatively young men working as ploughmen on our farms who are ready and anxious to go into the Army, and who are longing to go into the Army, but it is not in the national interest that they should be allowed to do so. So far from their transference to military duties being in the national interest, it is fraught with real peril to this country, war or no war. If you are reckoning on getting the bulk of your food during the next twelve months from abroad, as you have done in the past, you are reckoning upon a grave uncertainty. In this matter you have got to play for safety. I have as little sympathy with the submarine pessimist as I nave with the submarine optimist. I have felt throughout this War that the British public are entitled to be told the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as to the submarine sinkings and the effect of them upon our food supply in this country. Over and over again we have been told that the position was steadily improving and that the additional output of our now merchantmen would put the mutter right. We know from our experience that these expectations have not been realised. If you budget upon this prospective optimism, you are budgeting upon a grave uncertainty which may land you in serious peril during the next eighteen months. It is the one sphere of home activities in which you cannot afford to take any serious risk. Before sitting down I want to say this: It is true that it is a personal matter, but I think I am entitled to say it. On this subject I do claim, I will not say to speak with authority, but, at any rate, to be heard at least as much as any man in this House. It is in no spirit of egotism that I say it, but I can claim that for twenty long years before this War I took every opportunity, in this House and out of it, so far as my poor voice could reach them, to warn the British public of the fearful peril that was awaiting us in the event of war in consequence of our drawing the greater production of our essential foodstuffs from abroad, and, if for no other reason—I have served in the Ministry of Food and know something about the prospective food supplies of this 2061 country—that I did not keep silent when others did in days gone by, I do ask the House to listen with sympathy to the appeal that I make, and in the interests, not of the men and still less of the farmers, but in the general interests of the consumers of this country, I ask them to see that this matter is not left to Departmental discretion, but is incorporated in this Bill, so that there shall be a statutory exemption afforded to these indispensable skilled agricultural workers.
§ Mr. G. LAMBERT
May I very briefly support the appeal which has been made by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite, than whom there is no greater agricultural authority in the House, or, indeed, outside it. Let me assure the Minister of National Service and the Committee generally, that I do it with no idea of gaining any personal advantage for the farmers of the country. If it would help those gallant fellows at present fighting in France that the whole of the land should go out of cultivation and that the whole of the agricultural labourers should be drafted into the Army, I would willingly vote for it, but it is because I foresee a great peril to this country if there is any diminution, and, indeed, if there is not a very large increase in agricultural products during the coming year, that I support the Amendment now before the House. My hon. and gallant Friend has brought in once more the question of Ministerial misunderstandings. How it could have been possible that there should have been misunderstanding between the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of National Service after we have had so many of these misunderstandings, I do not understand. Evidently my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment speaks with some authority. Let me remind the Committee that the submarine optimist is apt to be mistaken. Our losses during the first quarter of this year from marine risks and submarine risks is more than double the amount of shipping we have built, that is to say, for each one ton of shipping we have built we have lost two tons. Beyond that there are the cargoes. Two cargoes were mentioned the other day, one of 3,000,000 lbs. of cheese and another of 1,000,000 lbs. of bacon. Those cargoes, in addition to the ships, have gone to the bottom and are lost for human consumption. I know full well that the optimist will say that our losses for the first ten days of April have been very light. But 2062 the German Navy as well as the German Army is under the command of Hindenburg, and one does not know what great operations he may be planning. I have no doubt that our naval authorities have some inkling. But in spite of the fact that the submarine losses are light for the first twelve days of April it may well be, indeed I think it is quite probable, that the German Navy will be assisting the German Army and that the submarines may be used in another theatre.
A word with regard to the skilled labour of which my hon. and gallant Friend has spoken. You not only want skilled labour, you must have climatic experience. It is no use drafting men for the absolutely basic operations of agriculture from one part of the country to another. The men do not know the work; they do not know the job. I am almost certain that the Minister of National Service will say to us, "Oh! yes, but you have a large new crop of boys and youths coming on." I beg to remind him—I am sure he is well aware of it—that whereas you have a crop of boys coming on there is another crop dying off at the other end; the older men have gone. Another matter which requires consideration is the way in which men are drafted at the present moment from agriculture into Government contracts. It is being done over and over again. I could give an instance which occurred in my own parish in Devonshire. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) suggested the other day that the right method would be for the farmer to pay higher wages. Well, if you take off the limits of prices from agricultural products, the farmer would be able to pay very much higher wages. The farmer can always pay higher wages provided the price of his product is higher too, but so long as you limit prices, of course you limit the wage the farmer can afford to pay. I want the Minister of National Service really to take drastic steps in this matter. No man in ordinary industry can possibly compete with the open-handed generosity of Government Departments. It cannot be done. Therefore, may I suggest to him that, if he has not time to do it himself, he will get someone who is competent to take this matter in hand and prevent men being drafted from agriculture into other forms of industry in which they are as much lost to agriculture as they would be if they were drafted into the Army?
2063 Another point I wish to put to the Minister of National Service with great respect is that I want him to realise that in the past it has been the policy of the military representative—now the representative of the Ministry of National Service; really it is the same individual under another name—to say to the farmers, "What is the fewest number of men with which you can do?" That is not quite the point. I can assure him that the farmer to-day wants all the supplementary labour he can get. He wants the same labour of the ploughman and the stockman. It is not a question of acreage alone; it is a question of the crop. I can assure the Minister of National Service and the Government—I do not know whether they are aware of it—that they are sending a very large number of tractors over the country, they are ploughing a great deal of ground, but of the ground that is being ploughed by these tractors a great, or at any rate some part of it, will never yield a crop this year. It cannot. Those of us who know something about it are perfectly certain of that. There is land which is quite unsuitable for a crop being ploughed. There is land being ploughed which is suitable for a crop which will not be tilled. I saw myself last Thursday week a tractor ploughing a cold, grey field with a northern aspect. That was the 4th April. It is perfectly certain that no crop can be grown on that this year. I would endeavour to impress this on my right hon. Friend: do not let him be deluded by these thousands and tens of thousands of acres that are paraded in the Government Returns, because it is not the acreage, but the crop you want. We had a large acreage at Richmond Park, but the crop was not entirely satisfactory. The agricultural labourers in the country are understanding this. I have never known more real disgust on the part of the agricultural labourers—and when they understand a subject they have the shrewdest intelligences in the country—at the waste of money in ploughing land which is quite unsuitable for a crop. They see motor cars going up and down, whizzing to and fro, using petrol, and they say, "What a waste of money!" I am impressing this on the right hon. Gentleman in order to show him that if he wishes for a great increase in the agricultural pro- 2064 duce for the country during the coming year he must maintain the skilled ploughmen and stockmen on the farms to-day.
May I reinforce the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman in one more particular—namely, that we do not get sufficient foresight on the part of the Government with regard to what we are wanted to grow? At the present moment we are asked to put in an enormous number of potatoes. We cannot do it without labourers. If the Minister of National Service takes away our labourers, which I hope he will not do, those potatoes cannot be put in. One of the ablest farmers in Cornwall said to me only last Friday, "If the Government will tell us what they want us to do, and give us the labourers, we will do it. If they will not tell us what they want us to do and will not give us the labour, we cannot do it." I have put those few remarks before the right hon. Gentleman because I think he realises the difficulties. In spite of the criticisms which have been passed upon him, I have more faith in the Minister of National Service than I have in some other Ministers of the Government, because I think he realises what the state of the country is. I hope that any remarks I have made this afternoon to reinforce the very powerful appeal made by my hon. and gallant Friend will be taken in the spirit in which they are made, which is not to embarrass, but to help the Government in winning the War.
§ Major BARNSTON
I desire, as strongly as I possibly can, to support the Amendment. We have moved it entirely on patriotic grounds. It is, of course, important to get men, and we who represent agricultural constituencies are most anxious that men should be got. In fact, I should imagine that from the landlord class, in proportion to their number, more men have voluntarily gone to the front than from any other class. It is important to get men, but it is also important to feed men and to provide food for the people of this country. If the Government wants more food for the people of the country, they can only get it by having skilled agricultural labour. Nothing is more foolish than to suppose, as people very often seem to do, that every tinker, tailor, soldier or sailor can be a successful agricultural labourer. You must get men who are skilled and who are accustomed to do that work. If the Prime Minister came to me now, which is most unlikely, and said, "We want six Cabinet Ministers 2065 and six Under-Secretaries," I should produce the goods to-morrow morning; but if I were to go to Chester to-day, which is market day, and a farmer came to me and said, "Can you get me a score of agricultural labourers?" it would take weeks and months to find them. I do not in the least support this Amendment in the interests of my Constituents, but because I firmly believe, looking at the situation to-day, that it is absolutely necessary for the welfare of the country. Whenever a Cabinet Minister speaks he asks the farmers to make every effort to produce more food. I believe, as far as they possibly can the farmers of the country are doing so, but they can only make that effort if they have skilled labourers. Every man who can plough, who is accustomed to horses and to stock, or who is a really skilled agricultural labourer, is doing more good on the farm than anywhere else, and his place is there. There are three things which are absolutely necessary to save this country, I will not say from starvation, but, at any rate, from great privation. First of all, you must have the land put to the best possible use. You must do away with all preconceived notions and put the land to its best possible use for providing food. Secondly, the farmers of the country must make every effort, as I am sure they are doing, to produce every possible thing they can. And, lastly, that cannot be done unless you have really good agricultural labour, without which it is impossible to produce food. I beg the right hon. Gentleman, not in the interests of the farmers or of the labourers, but in the interests of the country, to put words like these into the Bill.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I desire strongly to support the appeal to the Government to accept the Amendment. Difficult as it has been hitherto for the agriculturists to respond fully to the reasonable demands of the Government to increase the food supply, unless this Amendment is accepted the task will be still more difficult to fulfil, because hitherto we have been led to understand that skilled men, who have been exempted because they were considered by the agricultural committees indispensable for carrying on agricultural work were to be left on the land. Unless this Amendment is accepted that position will be discontinued, and a state of uncertainty will arise which will be extremely embarrassing in the production of food. While agreeing with the arguments of the two hon. Members who 2066 have preceded me, I would emphasise the necessity for the retention of the present agricultural labourers from the point of view of the milk supply. I fully agree as to the importance of increasing the crop of potatoes, but the question of the milk supply—to the rising generation, at any rate—is equally important with the supply of potatoes, and the difficulties of getting men at present to attend to cows and to do the milking is extremely great by reason of Government work, such as munition work, taking men away from agricultural employment. If there is further embarrassment, as I take it will be the case unless this Amendment is accepted, there will be, instead of an increase of the milk supply of the country, an absolute diminution. We who till the land want some degree of certainty. Every farmer who is patriotic will respond to the full to the Government requirements to produce all that his land is capable of producing. We are ploughing up three or four times more land than ever before. We want to be assured that, having done that, we shall be able to till the crops and to reap the fruit in the interests of the commonwealth. There is a good deal of anxiety felt among farmers because of the use which is being made of men who have been taken from the land. I could quote cases in which important ploughmen have been drafted into the Army and put to washing dishes. I know of excellent stockmen who have been taken from the land and allowed by the farmer to go without appeal, from patriotic motives, and put to grooming officers horses.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That seems to be a question of the administration of the Act. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will leave these specific instances of what he terms misapplication of the Military Service Act, and address general arguments to the Committee.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I was endeavouring to show that instances such as these have caused uncertainty and resentment, and we observe with anxiety and suspicion that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent a continuation and recurrence of them. While we must strain every nerve to provide the men to supply the forces, it is indispensable that we should keep up the food supply, and unless the Government makes it plain that it is going to provide us with the necessary men for that object, I am afraid, while farmers will do their best under any 2067 circumstances which may occur, we must fail to respond to the appeal of the country to the full extent we would wish to do. The necessity expressed by the Government of maintaining the age limit at fifty-one will still further endanger the position of the tillers of the land. It will take away the older men whom we maintain are of no use in the Army, but are extremely valuable on the land in directing women and young lads and others who come from the towns, willing to help in agriculture, but lacking in knowledge, so that they are of very little value without men of experience to teach them and guide them in the operations. We are making this appeal to the Government in the interests of the Commonwealth. While hesitating to say anything which may appear to be against the Government on this great question, we should be untrue to our position unless we made it plain that while we will till the land and do all we can, unless it is made plain that no more skilled men are taken from the land, we shall fail to respond to the needs of the country in maintaining and increasing the necessary food supply.
§ Mr. LESLIE SCOTT
May I suggest an addition at the end of the Amendment of the words "except with the consent of the Ministers responsible for agriculture in England. Wales, and Ireland, respectively." I suggest that the addition of these words would secure the object of the Amendment, and at the same time protect in the interests of the Government the position which I rather gathered is the attitude the Government intend to take up upon this Amendment. If it be the case that the Government will say on this Amendment, "We must have this power, for fear there should be some emergency in the future even greater than the great emergency of to-day, which makes it imperative upon us to suddenly then and there call up every able-bodied man we can lay hands on, although we do not at present contemplate doing it in relation to agriculture or at any date in the future that we can foresee." In that case the additional words I suggest would reserve to the Government the right of attaining that result when it was necessary. It is quite obvious that should the Government come to the decision that such an emergency had arisen, an emergency which would make it worth while to lose the production of food which the taking away of these men 2068 would involve, then the Ministers responsible for agriculture in the respective countries would obviously be obliged to give way. I am anxious to put the point in a form which it is possible the Minister in charge of the Bill may see his way to accept, because with the knowledge of agriculture I possess, I absolutely agree with the preceding speakers to take the men specified in the Amendment would mean an absolute reduction, and a serious reduction, in the output of food in the United Kingdom, a reduction which would be so serious as greatly to imperil the use of our mercantile tonnage. In a certain sense this Amendment does not raise an agricultural question, but a question of shipping tonnage. Every ton of food that we fail to produce in this country, that we should have produced, has to be brought from overseas, and the events that have been happening in the last three days and the last three weeks make the tonnage question even more momentous in its urgency than it was a month ago. Does the Committee bear in mind the figures in relation to shipping tonnage involved in the transport of men and materials across the Atlantic? Each soldier transported means four tons of shipping tonnage to bring him. Each soldier brought to this side means the use during the year of 10 tons of shipping tonnage to keep him on this side with a supply of various sorts. The number of voyages made across the Atlantic during the last twelve months have averaged for each steamer not much over five—five voyages a year. If you translate that in terms of hundreds of thousands of men into shipping tonnage you will appreciate what it means to bring over to this side at the rate we need them the American troops whose help we want at the earliest possible moment. It means devoting to that transport an amount of shipping tonnage which will make the greatest demands upon the available tonnage we have got. Therefore, this is essentially a purely military question of the most immediate character, not merely in the sense of supplying food at the next harvest. With the greatest degree of urgency we want to be able to release shipping tonnage from now continuously till next autumn, knowing that we can look forward to the production at the harvest next autumn of supplies that will take us through the winter. The matter is of the greatest importance, and to take 2069 away one ploughman from a farm may mean the prejudicing of the whole of the production on that farm of perhaps 100, 200, or 300 acres. It is a matter which it is difficult to estimate because it is so serious. Therefore, if the Minister in charge of the Bill would say that he recognises the great importance of these men being retained on the farms, and that he does not intend at present to ask for them to be taken away, it will be some relief. There is another aspect of the matter, and it is this, that in order to get the maximum output from the farms it is absolutely essential that the farmers should know where they are and to be able to look forward during the season and know that the preparations that they make to-day will not leave them in difficulties for want of labour next harvest and next autumn. Therefore, I submit with the greatest earnestness to the Minister in charge of the Bill that if he were to accept the Amendment with the few additional words I have suggested he would retain to the Government the power of instant action, if in their view that action was imperative, and at the same time would assure to the agriculture of this country that its absolutely necessary and irreplaceable labour will be retained and not taken away. Bear in mind that the farmers of this country were promised a very considerable supply of skilled agricultural labour from the ranks of the Army. The present military exigencies I expect will make that almost impossible. They have got some. Whether they will be able to retain the use of those skilled agriculturists from the ranks of the Army throughout the season is a matter on which the attitude of the Government towards this Amendment causes considerable anxiety. I expect that they will have to go back. I understand that in some places they have already been called back to the Colours. I do appeal to the Minister in charge to accept the Amendment with these protecting words, as in that way and that way only can the country have the assurance which is really essential if food production is to be maintained.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
I realise the difficulty of the Minister of National Service in dealing with this matter. There is no trade in the country which could not say "we are working now under great difficulty owing to lack of labour." But there is no trade that could say it with more definite truth and more on the basis of national importance than agriculture. 2070 The testimony to which the Committee has listened to coming from Wiltshire and Devonshire is probably as strong as any testimony could be, but coming as I do from the Eastern counties, where the most important branch of agriculture is carried on—the raising of wheat and other cereals—even to a greater extent than in some other counties, I do desire most emphatically to support the appeal that has been made, and the Amendment which is before the Committee. There is no farmer in East Anglia engaged in raising cereals who is not at this moment short-handed. Farmers are complaining at every market gathering, and the increase of acreage under tillage, pasture that has been ploughed up, has accentuated very much indeed the necessity for labour, and particularly as regards ploughing, there is nothing like the necessary supply of labour, because the tractors and other mechanical means which the Board of Agriculture have organised have not overtaken the difficulty of the increase of acreage under tillage. I realise that my right hon. Friend the Minister of National Service would have great difficulty in accepting the Amendment as it was moved by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite, but with the protective words, the modification which the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division has suggested, I think the Amendment ought to be accepted. I do not know whether the suggestion from the Member for Liverpool would be accepted as a solution by my hon. and gallant Friend, but I do feel certain that if that were so, and an agreement by consent could be arrived at, it would be to the benefit not only of agriculture and of the country in the sense of food production, but, as my hon. and learned Friend has shown, indirectly an enormous advantage in relieving the great difficulty of supplying soldiers from overseas. Therefore, I support this Amendment on the highest grounds of general public policy for the nation, and I hope my right hon. Friend-will see his way to accept it.
§ Sir W. BEALE
I have a special reason for saying two or three words in support of this proposition of the hon. and gallant Member for Wiltshire, with the modification suggested by my hon. and learned Friend. I happened within the last few days, in my own Constituency, to hear of something like a break-up of the local committee, a committee of most valuable men who are giving their services freely, 2071 on account of this very difficulty of not getting their labour retained, or at least not getting it retained without great circumlocution. I am quite sure that the Minister for National Service does not intend to add to those difficulties if he can help it. There is no doubt that this Clause in the Bill, coming upon people already in that frame of mind, would be very dangerous. I would like to see something done to obviate that danger. The words proposed do not come in very happily, and in the place proposed you get something like a contradiction in terms. The thing is to be in the Proclamation when you really mean that it is not to be in the Proclamation. That is a mere drafting matter, and can be got over by putting it into force, with a proviso that will give a better opportunity of putting in such words as the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool suggests. Another word in the same spirit. As a modification, I would suggest that you should provide for the consent either of the local committee or of the Board of Agriculture. I put in the alternative for this reason, that you will get it more quickly from the local committee. I know the difficulty. I know that there are some places—I am speaking, of course, with particular experience of Scotland—where you would rather expect the local committee not to be very helpful. In such cases you need not trouble them; you can go to the Board of Agriculture and override them. But if you had a proviso that you should not call up these particular skilled men without the consent of either the local committee or of the Board of Agriculture. I think that this would meet the difficulty without at all impairing this Clause.
§ Mr. J. MASON
As the cultivator of a great many hundred acres, I am very much interested in the sufficiency of agricultural labour, but I think that no one who has followed closely the events of the last few days can fail to see that the one paramount necessity of the moment is the military situation, and the question is, How far the military necessities can be met without sacrificing the needs of agriculture? There are still left in the ranks of agricultural labour a certain number of men who are in the first class and fit for military service—[An HON. MEMBER: "Thousands of them!"]—and there are in the Home Army considerable numbers of men who are not fit for foreign service, but who could be made available for work 2072 on the land and in other respects. There are also the prisoners whom we hold in this country. How far can those soldiers and those prisoners be turned to account as substitutes for the "A" men still left on the land? Personally I am working my farm to a very large extent with soldiers and prisoners and the results are extremely satisfactory. My principal object in rising is rather to dispute the suggestion that men in the category mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment are not replaceable from the ranks of the soldiers. I think skilled stock-men may in exceptional cases be difficult to replace—
§ Sir C. BATHURST
I said that stockmen, in my opinion, in certain cases are not irreplaceable, but in the cases of horsekeepers and ploughmen they are not only indispensable, but they are also irreplaceable.
§ Mr. MASON
And the object of my remarks was to state an exactly opposite opinion. I suggest that skilled stockmen are irreplaceable, but that men who know something of horses are frequently to be found in the ranks of the soldiers, and my experience has been that men who have been brought from the Artillery or the Cavalry have proved excellent managers of horses—indeed, I have been able to avail myself of their services as ploughmen and carters with very considerable success. If there is some certainty of the retention of these men—and this is an important point—of the retention of men who are not in sufficiently high categories as soldiers to be sent abroad so as to make them available for the farmers, then it seems to me that the men in Class A who are still left in the ranks of agriculture might be still further drawn upon for recruiting purposes. Up to now I have been extremely unwilling to see the ranks of labour still further drawn upon, but in my opinion the time has come when we have got to meet this military necessity from sources which have hitherto been regarded as sacred to the recruiting office. The time has come when men who are fit to fight, whether they come from the agricultural ranks or from munition works, or even from the House of Commons, should be called upon to do so.
§ Brigadier-General McCALMONT
I desire to support what has been said by the last speaker. I do not suggest that agriculture should be depleted of labour, but I should like to give the House one 2073 instance which will bear out the argument of my hon. Friend. Only this week I was at a farm in Scotland which is cultivated by a man who makes his living thereby. I saw five pains of horses ploughing in the field, and of the five ploughmen one was a lad just of military age—he was nineteen and a half years old—and two were between seventeen and eighteen. The first one was exempt because he was a ploughman, and the other two boys fully anticipate being exempted in due course. The farmer, who is himself an officer, and was home on leave from France, told me he could easily replace any of these lads out of the ranks he himself commanded. That is a fair illustration, I think, of what is happening all over the country. No one wants to denude agriculture of labour, but, inasmuch as the Army is full of old, wounded, and sick men, who are only too anxious to get back to serve their country on the land, I do suggest that if some system of exchange could be arranged, these younger men who are more fit for service abroad could easily be sent to the Colours and their places taken by those who could do on the land more useful work than they are now doing. I should also like to say a word with regard to the effect of high wages in denuding farms of labour. In the neighbourhood of one farm with which I am acquainted a large aerodrome is being constructed, and many hundreds of men are engaged on the work They are being paid 50s. weekly, whereas no agricultural labourer in the district has ever earned more than 25s. weekly. The result is that no farmer can keep his labourers, and people who have been able to afford to employ gardeners are also unable to retain their services, because of this temptation of higher wages. I think the Minister for National Service should try and protect the farmer against this sort of thing.
§ Mr. PETO
I find myself with some regret, in opposition to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for another constituency of Wiltshire (Sir C. Bathurst). I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Clause to which the Amendment is proposed is permissive It places in the hands of the Government of the day the power of saying when a national emergency has arisen, which makes the demand for military service paramount over every other demand whatever. It is a question purely of time. I have hitherto, during the past two years, 2074 been a strong advocate of the claims of agriculture in respect of labour. Why? Because then the War was pursuing what the late Prime Minister has called something of a normal course. Whilst it was a war of attrition—a fight to see who would last longest—I gave support to the claims of agriculture. But the emergency contemplated under this Clause makes it inconceivable to me that Members of this House should take up the position that they are to be the judges or that this House as a whole is to be the judge of what is required by military policy. The hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mr. Leslie Scott) admitted that it was a purely military question, and while I agree with the emphasis which he has placed upon the importance of agriculture, I must say I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mason) and with the last speaker that there is no question that there are throughout the country a vast number of young fit men with very little knowledge and experience of agriculture whose proper place in the present national emergency is in the fighting ranks of the Army.
I welcome as an agricultural Member the powers proposed to be taken by the Government, because we must have a central authority. We must have unity of control in cases of emergency like this. We cannot have debates on questions of this kind. There is no time for that, and, therefore, I welcome the Clause as it stands, and, in answer to the hon. Member for the Eddisbury Division of Cheshire (Mr. Barnston), who says that the proper place of every man who has a knowledge of agriculture is on the land, I wish to suggest that he must make exceptions. Every man except the young man of Class A or Grade 1 that is fit for active military service—there I would agree with him. What does this Clause propose? It merely proposes to put into the hands of the Government—I do not take the view that has been held in other parts of the House in this Debate as to the capacity of members of the Government to settle these questions—to deal with all these exceptions that have been made. I would like, in support of what my hon. and gallant Friend (Brigadier-General McCalmont) has said in regard to one farm he knows, just to quote to the Committee the case of a man who is a practical farmer, who has been doing his war work by doing agricultural work on his own farm for three years in Somersetshire, a neighbour- 2075 ing county of my own, which will show the Committee how irregular have been the decisions of the local tribunals, which, as our French friends would put it, have naturally the defects of their qualities. They are local, and therefore are liable to local considerations, and work with extraordinary unfairness as between one district and another. This is what my friend said, writing a few days ago:Does it not seem to you quite wrong that boys of eighteen should be appealed for as indispensable on the land? They are not——underlined—and this county swarms with boys of that age, Class A, exempted because the tribunal consists almost entirely of tenant farmers; and from what I see these boys doing there is nothing that a strong, willing, girl cannot do as well. There is a girl on the opposite side of the valley who dragged sixteen acres in one day with two horses, and that is a deal more than any of my men will attempt to do, and they do not deny they saw her do it. There should be no appeal for boys of eighteen to twenty except medical.Briefly, what my friend—who is a practical farmer and a man who has done work himself as war work on his farm to eke out his agricultural labour—asks for, is what this Clause gives power to the right hon. Gentleman to do. I do not suppose whether the Amendment proposed to the Amendment by the hon. Member for the Exchange Division is accepted or not the right hon. Gentleman who is sitting there would either be likely, if he were given the power, or would be likely to be allowed by the members of the War Cabinet in the face of this national emergency, to exercise the power in such an unreasonable manner as absolutely to cripple our food supplies. Therefore, I frankly say that as I am not prepared myself, and as I should not welcome a sort a general Committee of the House of Commons, to take the responsibility I am quite prepared to leave it to the right hon. Gentleman and the War Cabinet, after the protests have been made on behalf of agriculture that have been made in this respect, to exercise the powers that are given them under this Clause 3 with a reasonable sense of the relative proportions—because that is what we always have to keep before our minds—between the military and the food demands of the country. We all know we could not carry on the War for a week if we absolutely neglected our agriculture; but, on the other hand, it would be idle to continue 2076 the tilling of land in this country if we were prepared to surrender the defence of our shores to the national enemy.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I only venture to intervene for a moment with regard to stockmen and horsemen on the farm. I am sorry to disagree with the hon. Member who has just spoken and with the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. J. Mason) on this point. I quite agree, however, with the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just resumed hits seat that you must maintain the balance between fighting power and food power in this country. With regard to this question of stockmen and horsemen, it is rather a different point from that of the ordinary agricultural labourer, and I entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Wiltshire when he maintained that it is most important to retain on the farm the men who are experienced in regard to stock and horses. I can give the Committee this instance, and I should like to do so, with regard to breeding agricultural horses. I have had an inexperienced man, through whom I have lost the whole of my foals, and one who failed to get the mares to foal in the following year. By changing him I got a man who saved every foal in the year after, and these horses are so necessary now for the cultivation of the land that I think it is most important to retain experienced stock and horsemen in brooding stock on the land if you cannot replace them adequately. The same applies to a great extent with cows and those experienced stockmen. I have experienced myself, and I have seen it on many other farms, the enormous loss of calves, and also the ruining of a large number of valuable milk cows by the mismanagement of their calving in the spring of the year. As everyone knows, the saving of every calf is of the greatest importance to the national food supply, while also the supply of milk is of very great importance. You must have in order to keep the experienced stockmen retained on the land, and not have men sent down who do not understand the work and who may cause serious damage to the country in that way. I only intervened for one moment to point out those considerations, because I have bred horses and cattle for a great number of years, and I know the difficulty and loss that follows from inexperienced men being put in charge.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
I have listened with the very greatest interest to the Debate, because one realises here that we are dealing with what is one of the most difficult and intricate questions in connection with any utilisation which might be made of the powers under this Clause. I think the Committee are all agreed that there are at the present time protected from military service, and, at all events, nominally on work on the land, a large number of young males quite fit who are not doing really anything important from the point of view of food production. It is one of the big umbrellas. There are, however—and this we all know and admit most fully—a certain very considerable number in all quite fit men who are in fact highly skilled, and I think there is really only one class in which youth and real skill are found together in any numbers, and that is in connection with the ploughmen. With most of the ploughmen the age runs just about eighteen or nineteen on the average, so that really we have here a problem which concerns a certain number of ploughmen. In what circumstances is it proposed to utilise the powers which are asked for under this Clause of the Bill? They are powers which are asked for in a national emergency—a time when we are going to want a large number of young men. It is perfectly true that, if the emergency be misgauged, we might do, by calling up all the young men from agriculture, more harm to that aspect of the matter than to the direct war policy.
But I would impress upon the Committee that we are at a stage of this War when there is not only the production of food and the sowing of crops, but when we have to consider the question of who is going to reap those crops. I do not mean what individual is going to reap them; I mean the representatives of what nation is going to reap them, for that is what is happening over large tracts of the front now. We have in agriculture at the present time men engaged in that industry who are exempted very often by executive committees or by tribunals, and there is a very large number of men among them who are fit to fight. I realise fully, I absolute realise, the importance of the increase of our food production, and I do not think I can add anything to my admission of the importance of that particlar one of our activities. Still, I do not think that it is really possible for the Government to be bound by Statute to say that they are not to call out any man 2078 engaged in agriculture in any conceivable circumstance. I would like to say, on behalf of the Government, that this power which is asked for is intentionally not confined to any one Department. It is not any Minister who is to issue the Proclamation, which is practically the same as an Order in Council, but quite different in procedure. It means that the Cabinet has got to decide the Proclamation, which is considered by the Privy Council, before His Majesty issues it. Therefore, we are here dealing very carefully with the matter by a safeguarded procedure, and I have no doubt that Ministers actually responsible in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, if such an occasion should arise, will fully consider every aspect of the case, and will have every opportunity of ascertaining the agricultural point of view, which will be balanced in the Cabinet, so that no grave decision will be taken on the point before the whole question has been fully considered.
§ Captain WRIGHT
I have had some experience of this subject as a member of a Committee which has dealt with this subject during the last ten months, and as a member of the Executive Committee, and of the Federation of Executive Committees, who are, of course, very much concerned in this question. As to what the Minister of National Service has said, I agree that a large number of young men fit to fight are at present engaged in agriculture. It is, of course, largely due to the nature of the agricultural calling that these men are fit to fight, as living in the open air, and so on; but when he goes on to say that a large number of men of military age, fit for military service, are doing nothing in the way of food production, I beg to challenge that statement.
§ Captain WRIGHT
I accept the word "essential," but my point remains the same. We have been asked in my county to cultivate 30,000 acres extra, and we have cultivated 32,000 acres extra, and that at a time when we are short of labour, and even before that we were very short of labour. Over the whole county we have some 700 soldiers now working on the farms, and we have made application for 200 or 300 men to be supplied. We have 2079 also German labour and women labour working, but we are quite unable to get the labour for which we have applied, and yet it is proposed to take away from the labour we have at the present moment. It may well be, if we do not get a sufficiency of labour, that it will be a question of who is to reap the crops. I would point out that if you are going to take any more there will be that danger, especially as we have been told by the President of the Board of Agriculture that by the 20th of this month we are going to have a further programme. I put it to the Minister of National Service that if that programme is necessary and must be carried out, then he cannot expect that it will be carried out if he is going to take any more men away from agriculture.
§ Sir C. BATHURST
Although I cannot pretend to be completely reassured by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot under the existing circumstances take the responsibility of making the House divide on the Amendment.
§ Mr. DEVLIN rose—
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I do. It seems to me an extraordinary attitude adopted by many Members of this House that they come here and discuss matters and thereby rule out many important other questions of this character, and, having aired their views in order to satisfy their constituents, they do not press the matter which they regard as vital to the interests of the country. Therefore, I suggest to my hon. Friend that this matter ought to be pressed to a Division. We are appealing to a country that has done a great deal for food production in response to the appeal of the Prime Minister. A further appeal has been made to us to make a still larger contribution during the coming year, and, of course, the application of the Compulsory Service Bill to Ireland means that the country will be denuded of the agricultural population and Ireland cannot contribute as it has contributed during the past year. Everyone admits that the food of the people is a most important element in this War, and it is very vital that the national interests with regard to food should be met. These 2080 necessities cannot possibly be met if you are going to take the agricultural labourers away from the fields and send them into the trenches. I was somewhat amused by the speech delivered by the hon. and gallant Member for one of the divisions of Antrim. He says that what you ought to do is to get all the cripples and the wounded and the incapable and the physically unfit and put them on the land. Well, I am not a Member for an agricultural constituency, but I confess that it seems to me that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who is a Member for an agricultural constituency manifests the most profound ignorance of agricultural pursuits and the methods of producing food if he thinks that cripples and old men and men deformed are the proper persons to carry on the onerous and arduous tasks of food production in the country. I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman is a better authority on military matters than he is on agriculture.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
That accounts for the fact that we are almost on the borders of starvation. The hon. Gentleman wants that. He would rather send the agricultural labourers to be killed in the trenches in France. My Friend has transferred himself from the opposite side to this. I think he is the last man who ought to speak in this House. He went with the dispatch boxes to somewhere or other, but lost them. I think it would add to the peace and good order of this country, and the utility and efficiency of our Parliamentary proceedings, if he had gone down with the dispatch boxes. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, if I may call him so, did not interrupt the court-martial.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I think the hon. and gallant Member would be better on his farm than sitting here interrupting me. It would enable the Army to get more food from that part of England he represents if he went down there and assisted in getting food from the farm where there are no men working. I object altogether to this place being turned into a comedy 2081 theatre, with the hon. Gentleman opposite as chief comedian. Those of us who are anxious for the expedition of business have to sit here and listen to these long speeches in a grave and vital moment when the interests of the Empire are at stake, and the time of the House is occupied in a series of academic speeches from farmers who know nothing about farming, and whose speeches inculcate that the best way to provide food for the Army is to have no one working on the farm. That is a philosophy which does not justify itself even for the purpose of Parliamentary
§ obstruction. If it is a matter important enough to be discussed, it is important enough to be voted upon, and therefore I say we will not permit any of those Gentlemen to play-act in the House and to run away from their own declarations—to point out what is vitally necessary for the State, and then to run away from the vital necessities of the case. We invite them now to vote with us for their convictions.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 79; Noes, 234.2083
|Division No. 20.||AYES.||[4.19 p.m.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Glanville, Harold James||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Guiney, John||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Boland, John Pius||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Harbison T. J. S.||O'Dowd, John|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Leary, Daniel|
|Byrne, Alfred||Healy, Maurice (Cork City)||O'Malley, William|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Healy, Timothy M. (Cork, N.E.)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hearn, Michael L.||O'Shee, James John|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Cosgrave, James (Galway, E.)||Joyce, Michael||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Crean, Eugene||Keating, Matthew||Reddy, Michael|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kelly, Edward||Redmond, Capt. W. A.|
|Cullinan, John||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roch, Walter F.|
|Devlin, Joseph||King, Joseph||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Dillon, John||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Sheehy, David|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lundon, Thomas||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Donovan, John Thomas||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Snowden, Philip|
|Donnelly, Patrick||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Thomas Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Doris, William||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Duffy, William J.||M'Ghee, Richard||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Esmonds, Capt. J. (Tipperary, N.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Esmonds, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||Meagher, Michael||Williams, Llewelyn|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co.)|
|Field, William||Molloy, Michael|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Muldoon, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES,—Mr. D.|
|Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Nolan, Joseph||Boyle and Mr. Anderson.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Boyton, Sir James||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Lt.-Col. Wm.||Brassey, H. L. C.||Davies, Timothy (Louth)|
|Archdale, Lt. Edward M.||Bridgeman, William Clive||Denison-Pender, Capt. J.|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf||Brookes, Warwick||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Denniss, Edmund R. Bartley|
|Baker, Maj. Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Bryce, John Annan||Dixon, Charles Harvey|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bull, Sir William James||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City London)||Burdett-Coutts, William||Du Pre, Maj. W. B.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Mid.)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Faber, George D. (Clapham)|
|Barnett, Capt. Richard W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Falls, Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Barrie, H. T.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc. E.)||Clynes, James Avon||Fisher, Rt. Hon. William Hayes|
|Beach, William F. H.||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Coats, Sir Stuart (Wimbledon)||Fletcher, John S.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Collins, Sir William (Derby)||Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Colvin, Col.||Fester, Philip Staveley|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Ganzoni, Francis J. C.|
|Benn, Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Geddes, Sir A. C (Hants, North)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry||Coote, William (Tyrone, S.)||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham|
|Bigland, Alfred||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John|
|Bird, Alfred||Craig, Ernest (Crewe)||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Blair, Reginald||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.)||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Grant, James Augustus|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid.)||Dalrymple, Hen. H. H.||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis Jones||McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. R. C. A.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Guinness, Hon. R. C. L. (Essex, S.E.)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Haddock, George Bahr||M'Laren, Hon. H. (Leics., Bosworth)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur|
|Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Macleod, John M.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Bridgeton)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Macmaster, Donald||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Hamersley, Lt.-Col. A. St. George||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Altrincham)||McNeill, R. (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sharman-Crawford, Col. R. G.|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.||Maden, Sir John Henry||Shortt, Edward|
|Hanson, Charles Augustin||Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Malcolm, Ian||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Aston)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence (Ashford)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds)||Meux, Admiral Hon. Sir Hedworth||Staveley-Hill, Lt.-Col. Henry|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Stewart, Gershom|
|Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)||Millar, James Duncan||Stirling, Lt.-Col. Archibald|
|Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Mitchell-Thomson, W.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Haslam, Lewis||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Sykes, Col. Sir A. j. (Knutsford)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)||Thomas-Stanford, Chas. (Brighton)|
|Hewins, William Albert S.||Morton, Sir Alpheus Cleophas||Thompson, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Mount, William Arthur||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Newman, Major John R. P.||Walker, Col. W. H|
|Hops, Harry (Bute)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Parkes, Sir Edward||Wardle, George J.|
|Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Pearce, Sir Robert (Leek)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Pease, Rt. Hon. H. P. (Darlington)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Perkins, Walter Frank||Watson, Hon. w. (Lanark, S.)|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Peto, Basil Edward||Watt, Henry A.|
|Jessel, Colonel Sir Herbert M.||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)||Weigall, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||White, Col. G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (York)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Kerry, Lieut.-Col. Earl of||Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert||Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)|
|Keswick, Henry||Randies, Sir John||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ratcliff, Lt.-Col. R. F.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Rawson, Col. Richard H.||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Larmor, Sir Joseph||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bcotle)||Rees, Sir J.D. (Nottingham, E.)||Wood, S. Hill- (Derbyshire)|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Geo. H. (Norwich)||Worthington Evans, Sir L.|
|Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford. W.)||Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M.||Younger, Sir George|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rothschild, Major Lionel de||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Lonsdale, James R.||Royds, Major Edmund|
|Lowe, Sir F. W.|
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am inclined to think that the Government Amendment, which was the subject of debate earlier, and was then accepted, should come at the end of the first Sub-section.
§ Amendment made:
§ At the end of Sub-section (1), insert the words, "Sub-section (5) of Section 2 of the Military Service Act, 1918, shall apply to a Proclamation under this Section in the same manner as it applies to an Order made under that Section."—[Sir A. Geddes.]
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (2).
I recognise that the Government have been very considerate and have made valuable concessions to-day, and I shall therefore try to be as little provocative and certainly as little prolix as possible. In passing Sub-section (1) we have given 2084 power to the Government; to provide by Proclamation that certificates of exemption shall cease to have effect. In my opinion that power is sufficient and complete, and all that is wanted from the point of view of the Government; but in Sub-section (2) the Government propose to go further and to take power to declare by Proclamation that there is to be no application for any exception entertained. This Sub-section would take away during the time of the Proclamation the whole of the facilities and the machinery under which exemptions may be granted. They would not, as I understand, in any case be granted during the time that the Proclamation would be in effect. I conceive, if the powers of this Section are needed at all, that they will be needed as a temporary expedient in a time of dire necessity. But the War, I hope, would come to an end or proceed to a stage in which we should be gaining greater security, 2085 and that the special need for this Proclamation would pass. In view of that, it is very desirable that we should not destroy by Proclamation the power of granting exemption certificates or the machinery of the tribunals or whatever may be set up to take their place. I hope that I have made my point clear, and I think it only quite reasonable that the Minister of National Service should consider the Amendment and see if he cannot accept it.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I hope that the Minister of National Service will realise that there is a very substantial point to be dealt with in connection with this Amendment, even if he cannot agree to the total omission of the Sub-section. The right hon. Gentleman on another Amendment at an earlier stage of the proceedings gave some indication that when he issued a calling-up notice making a clean cut of certain certificates of exemptions he would not shut the door on the consideration of individual cases. This Subsection, if retained in the Bill, will prevent the Minister himself having the power to refer to any tribunal the consideration of any individual cases affected by Clause 3.
The Minister for National Service shakes his head. After all, we have the Clause in black and white, and although, of course, our intellects are not equal to those which either drafted this Bill or which will apply its provisions in practice, that is the more reason why the proposal should be explained in as clear language as possible. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, with great respect, that merely to shake his head when this point is raised does not carry us very far along the path of understanding it. If the right hon. Gentleman will understand what I say in the spirit in which I am saying it, he will know that I am not supporting this Amendment in any provocative sense. I am supporting it because, if the Bills goes through in this form, it will mean that the Minister himself will not be able to do what he desires to do. The right hon. Gentleman said at an earlier stage of the proceedings, in reply to an interruption which he courteously allowed me to make, that in effect this Sub-section will, indeed, prevent the tribunal as now constituted from considering any individual cases 2086 when he revokes the certificates by the clean cut, but it will not prevent special tribunals that he will set up considering personal matters. I understand that to be the meaning, although I am not professing to reproduce his exact words. I desire to point out to the Committee that even if the right hon. Gentleman sets up a special tribunal, the wording of this Sub-section would prevent that special tribunal considering the cases as individual cases. The wording is quite clear. The Subsection saysWhile any such Proclamation remains in operation no application shall be entertained.It does not say by whom the application shall not be entertained. It simply saysno application shall be entertained.I submit that the ordinary meaning of that, so far as we are able to understand the English language as expressed by Parliamentary draftsmen, is that there is no tribunal which will be competent to entertain applications for exemption after the Minister has taken action. That is why I think the right hon. Gentleman will see there is a substantial point here to be met if his promise still to consider individual cases or if the possibility of his considering them is to be made effective.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
The point put to me appears to be raised through a misunderstanding of what I said before. What I implied, speaking earlier this afternoon, was that if it were possible to give any individual consideration at all in the event of the Proclamation being issued under this Clause, it would be quite competent for the Minister of National Service to receive advice from the tribunals. That is quite a different thing from giving tribunals the power to entertain applications for the grant or renewal of any certificate to which the Proclamation applies. The result of any consideration would be exactly the same as is the case under the Act of 1918, that is to say, the Director-General of National Service is left to take such administrative action as is considered necessary on the advice of the tribunal, and exactly the same procedure will be followed here if such consideration in individual cases is possible at all.
If you read this Clause as it is at present drafted I should construe it as meaning that if His Majesty issues an Order that Class X is no longer to have any exemption, that would apply to Class X as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman, with his great authority, derived 2087 no doubt from long experience, says the contrary, and for the moment he has more power than all the Kings of England put together since the Norman Conquest or even Henry VIII. at his worst.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
This is so important a matter that. I am very glad even under the guillotine we have a few moments in which to discuss it. The right hon. Gentleman has made a very brief and singularly inadequate reply upon the points which were raised, and one which is demonstrably fallacious. He says when he makes an Order abolishing a great block of exemptions it will still be possible for individual cases to be considered, because the tribunals will be able to give him advices. I tell the right hon. Gentleman without fear of any contradiction that under the wording of this Subsection tribunals will not have the power to receive an application for any individual, and therefore refusing, as they will be bound to refuse, for this is a mandatory Clause, any application for any individual to be heard as to why his case should be excluded from the Order, it will not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to receive this advice in individual cases for tribunals that he says he will be willing to receive, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman gave an explanation which had no reference whatever to the point, and referred to a safeguard which had no basis in fact. I think it right that an attempt should be made that the Committee should clearly understand the point. When these great blocks of exemptions are withdrawn by the Minister, neither the tribunals nor any other body will have any power whatever to make any representations to the Minister of National Service respecting individual cases, because no individual will have the right to go to a tribunal and ask for his case to be heard. I should like very much to know whether the Minister of National Service dissents from the view I am putting forward?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Then what was the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's speech a moment ago? This is really a most interesting position. The right hon. Gentleman replied to me. I have shown him that his reply was wholly fallacious, and he says, "I do not quarrel in the 2088 least with what you say. You are wholly correct." I shall expect the Minister of National Service to get up and withdraw his speech in a few moments, because I will content myself by observing that the case I have put forward has received the unqualified endorsement of the Minister of National Service. I assume, therefore, that no division will take place on this Amendment and that the Government will accept it.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think this is a point of substance. In the earlier Act of this year certain protection is offered to those men who are at present exempted on occupational grounds. By Order in Council that exemption is withdrawn, and it is there provided that in exceptional cases by permission of the Director of National Service their cases may be considered by a tribunal. Under the Clause we are now considering the power of appeal offered to exempted people by the clean cut is extended to those who are at present exempted by tribunals, but instead of giving this permission which is granted to men who have exemption on occupational grounds to those who have exemption on the grounds of individual hardship you are making their position worse by this Sub-section, the omission of which is now proposed. I suggest that, instead of allowing this provision in the Bill to stand, that between now and the Report stage the right hon. Gentleman should frame a provision which will bring this Section into line with the Section of the Act of the earlier part of this year. It is obviously right that where you have at the present time an exemption granted by a tribunal on grounds of individual hardship that there is more likely to be a case for special consideration than in reference to the case of a man whose exemption is solely on occupational grounds. Consequently, the number of cases which are likely to deserve such consideration owing to exceptional circumstances are likely to be much larger under this Section than under the Section of the earlier Act. I think, therefore, that the case put by my hon. Friend is a sound one. The Minister of National Service has said it is his intention to treat both classes alike. Here is a simple way of doing that.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Then I would be very glad to hear exactly what you did say. A few moments ago my colleague in the representation of Lanarkshire put a point to the right hon. Gentleman as to the effect of his speech, and as I understood him he assented to my hon. Friend's interpretation. Now he interrupts me and tells me that I am misrepresenting him, and at the same time he gives the Committee no guidance whatever as to what he intended to convey to the Committee.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Perhaps the hon. and learned Member will put again what is the exact point he desires to make?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
It is this: that under a Section of the Act of the earlier part of this year there is a provision that where there are exceptional circumstances, by permission of the Minister of National Service, an application may be made to a tribunal. Under the Section we are now considering, the right to apply to a tribunal is absolutely refused, and this applies to men who are exempted at the present time by tribunals on the ground of individual hardship. I suggest that the Ministry of National Service should, on the Report stage, introduce an Amendment to this Section making it clear that the men whose exemptions are withdrawn under this Section should have the same rights as the men whose exemptions are withdrawn under the Section of the Act of the earlier part of this year. It is a very simple request to make, and I think it is an absolutely reasonable one, and I hope he will be able to comply.
This is a very reasonable suggestion, and in no way affects the powers which the Government desire to take. If he exercises his authority there must be some well-founded power from which that authority is derived. Both sides are agreed on that point. All we ask is that the Government's own view should be moulded in the form of a little Amendment. It would not require a new Clause. Let the right hon. Gentleman come down from his Canadian or Olympic height and say that he would consider the matter, and we might all go home comfortably for the week-end.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Remember that this applies almost exclusively to what is called the one-man business, and we know from our correspondence how important this matter is. What we are asking is that the protection to the one-man business, 2090 with all the circumstances surrounding it now existing, shall be maintained in this Bill. The Minister says, "It is not our intention to deal ruthlessly or unfairly with these cases," but that is no guarantee to these people who will be ruined, and all we ask is that the protection which is promised should be embodied in the Bill.
§ Mr. P. A. HARRIS
I have great confidence in the wisdom and capacity of the Minister for National Service, but Ministers come and go. The right hon. Gentleman is already the second in that office. Mr. Neville Chamberlain built up an elaborate organisation, which was not a great success. My right hon. Friend might be succeeded by a Minister who did not inspire the same confidence. I will not suggest the alternative. I hope that it will not take place, but Parliament has a great responsibility. There is no use in saying that we have personal faith in a Minister. The future of thousands of people depends on the administration of this Act, and we are bound to see that they are safeguarded, not by pledges of Ministers, but by words in an Act of Parliament. Therefore, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, between now and next Monday or Tuesday, to endeavour to find some words to give some protection to one-man businesses and the very large number of people affected by this Clause.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Without adopting the sarcastic references of the last hon. Member, I venture to associate myself with what the right hon. Member for Derby has said. In the district which he represents, in my own Constituency, and in many others, this question is one of the very utmost importance, and I would beg the right hon. Gentleman to give it his very best consideration.
§ Sir A. GEDDES
I would like to make it quite plain that I have given no pledge with regard to the treatment of any individual affected by a Proclamation under Clause 3. I said quite clearly, or I thought quite clearly, that the powers asked for are powers which may be required to be used in a great emergency, and they cannot in my opinion safely be whittled down in any way. The next point was this: I was asked, I think by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland, if it would not be possible to allow some consideration in individual cases when the emergency, though great, was perhaps not absolutely overwhelming? I suggested that it was quite possible administratively to 2091 arrange for such consideration on lines parallel to those laid down in the Act of 1918. That is as far as I went. I am quite willing, if the Committee think right, to add some such words as these, "except in so far as the Proclamation provides for the making of applications in any special case." That would leave the power unreduced and would be at all events parallel to the procedure in the Act of 1918.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I hasten, on behalf of those associated with me, to say that we should like these words to be added now, in order that we may examine their effect between now and the Report stage, when further suggestions can be made, if necessary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (2), after the word "shall" ["shall be entertained"], insert the words "except in so far as the Proclamation provides for the making of applications in special cases."—[Sir A. Geddes.]
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 228; Noes, 85.2093
|Division No. 21.]||AYES.||[5.0 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Anstruther Gray. Lt.-Col. Wm.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Archdale, Lt Edward M.||Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Home, Edgar|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis|
|Baker, Maj. Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Denison-Pender, Capt. J.||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City London)||Denniss, Edmund R. Bartley||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Barnett, Capt. Richard W.||Du Pre, Maj. W. B.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Mid.)||Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Barrie, H. T.||Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc. E.)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Kerry, Lieut.-Col. Earl of|
|Beach, William F. H.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)||Keswick. Henry|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Fisher, Rt. Hon. William Hayes||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir- Clement|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Fletcher, John S||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Molton, S.)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William||Larmor, Sir Joseph|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Foster, Philip Staveley||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Sonar (Bootle)|
|Benn, Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Ganzoni, F. J. C.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry||Geddes, Sir A. C. (Hants, North)||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)|
|Blair, Reginald||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Bouth, Frederick Handel||Goldman, Charles Sydney||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Goldsmith, Frank||Lonsdale, James R.|
|Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid.)||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Lowe, Sir F. W.|
|Boyton, Sir James||Grant, James Augustus||Loyd, Arcais Kirkman|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Greig, Colonel James William||McCalmont, Brig. Gen. R. C. A.|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis Jones|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Guinness, Hon. R. C. L. (Essex, S.E.)||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Brookes, Warwick||Haddock, George Bahr||M'Laren, Hon. H. (Leics., Bosworth)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Macleod, John M|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Macmaster, Donald|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Altrincham)||McMicking, Major Gilbert|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.||Macnamara, Rt. hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hanson, Charles Augustin||McNeill, R. (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Clyde, James Avon||Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)||Harks, Sir George Croydon|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Harris Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart (Wimbledon)||Haslam, Lewis||Meux, Admiral Hon. Sir Hedworth|
|Collins, Sir William (Derby)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Meysey-Thompson, Col. E. C.|
|Colvin, Col.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hewins, William Albert S.||Mitchell-Thomson, W|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, S.)||Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney||Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)|
|Craig, Ernest (Crewe)||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Morton. Sir Alpheus Cleophas|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.)||Hope. James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Mount, William Arthur|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Rothschild, Major Lionel de||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Royds, Major Edmund||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Newman, Major John R. P.||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Nicholson, Win. G. (Petersfield)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Wardle, George J.|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L (Cleveland)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Orde-Powlott, Hon. W. G. A.||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Palmer, Godfray Mark||Scott, A. MacCallum (Bridgeton)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Parkes, Sir Edward||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. H. P. (Darlington)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Weigall, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Sharman-Crawford, Col. R. G.||Whiteley, Sir H. J. (Droitwich)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Shorn, Edward||Williams, Aneurin (Durham)|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)||Spear, Sir John Ward||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Aston)||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (York)|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Starkey, John Ralph||Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Staveley-Hill, Lt.-Col. Henry||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Stewart, Gershom||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert||Stirling, Lt.-Col. Archibald||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Randles, Sir John||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, W.)||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|Ratcliff, Lt.-Col R. F.||Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Knutsford)||Wood, S. Hill (Derbyshire)|
|Rawson, Col. Richard H.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)||Worthington Evans, Sir L.|
|Rees, G. C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)||Thomas-Stanford, Chas. (Brighton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)||Thompson, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Remnant, Col. Sir James F.||Tickler, Thomas George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. Geo. H. (Norwich)||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Arnold, Sydney||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)|
|Black, Sir Arthur W.||Gulney, John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Bliss, Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway;||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Boland, John Plus||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Healy, Maurice (Cork City)||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Healy, Timothy M. (Cork, N.E.)||O'Leary, Daniel|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John (Battersea)||Hearn, Michael L. (Dublin, S.)||O'Malley, William|
|Byrne, Alfred||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hudson, Walter||O'Shee, James John|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harbison, T. J. S.||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Cosgrave, James (Galway, E.)||Keating, Matthew||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Crean, Eugene||Kelly, Edward||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Reddy, Michael|
|Cullinan, John||King, Joseph||Redmond, Capt. W. A.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Dillon, John||Lundon, Thomas||Sheehy, David|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Smyth) Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Donovan, John Thomas||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Snowden, Philip|
|Donnelly, Patrick||Macdonald, J. R, (Leicester)||Thomas Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Doris, William||M'Ghee, Richard||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Duffy, William J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Esmonds, Capt. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Maden, Sir John Henry||Watt, Henry A.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||Meagher, Michael||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Whiffy, Patrick Joseph|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co.)||Williams, Llewelyn|
|Ffrench, Peter||Molloy, Michael|
|Field, William||Muldoon, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir Godfrey Baring and Mr. Whitehouse|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Nolan, Joseph|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Program: to sit again upon Monday next.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.