§ Postponed Proceeding on further consideration of the Bill, as amended, resumed.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
The point at which the Debate was interrupted was that we had moved an Amendment against the continuance of Regulation 18A.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain W. Benn) was in process of moving the Amendment, if I recollect rightly. It has not actually been put before the House. Perhaps the hon. Member will now move.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I beg to move to leave out Regulation 18A.
I may be wrong, but I think the precise position is that we were discussing the new form of Regulation 18A as embodied in the Amended Draft, and not the Draft which was under discussion in Committee. Upon that point the House is entitled to some explanation as to what is the precise position of these Regulations. As framed in the Schedule, the Regulation reads, "Prohibition of communication with agents of foreign Powers." As the Regulation stands in the Draft, which was discussed upstairs, it reads as applying to the agents of enemy Powers, and I understand the position to be that since the Draft was under Debate the Regulation has been altered to apply to agents of foreign Powers. With that assurance, and having cleared the way as to what exactly is involved in the new amended Regulation, I desire to offer one or two reasons why it should be opposed. There 162 are at least two features of this which must commend themselves to everyone. In the first place there is the commercial phase and in the second there is what I regard as much more important in this connection, and that is the political aspect. As we understand the amended Regulation, it would mean that communication with an agent of a foreign Power even in matters of commerce would be prohibited as the Regulation now stands, and a power like that, now that the war has passed, is altogether too drastic and is one to which we should not at this stage give our assent. I take it, therfore, that the idea of the Government is rather to try to prevent the communications of agents of foreign Powers in the matter of political propaganda, that is, to try to regulate or control either the supply of literature or the dissemination of views with which they may not be from time to time in agreement. I have not the slightest sympathy with any revolutionary or subversive propaganda, but if you want to defeat dangerous and nefarious doctrines, the best way to do so is to allow them publicity, to allow them scope, and not to drive them underground where we may have very great difficulty in dealing with them at all. In the present condition of international affairs and with a view to international peace and the removal of all difficulties and misunderstandings between nations, it is eminently desirable that we should know exactly what views are being promulgated in any country, no matter what those views may be. We may be absolutely opposed to them. We may consider them wrong, unjust, and dangerous-to society, but all that can be carefully considered by the people when they have access to them, and when they understand exactly what they mean. It is quite probable that a resolution of this kind in its political aspect would be used to prevent any communication with the representative of a foreign Power on points 163 which it might be very desirable indeed to have discussed on international or national lines. The Regulation, as framed, is altogether too wide and sweeping as applied to agents of foreign Powers; it is dangerous, and on these grounds I oppose it.
§ Lieut. Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to second the Amendment. I submit that it is of extreme importance, because these are very dangerous powers indeed to leave in the hands of the Executive. During the War it was necessary to put into the hands of the Executive very drastic powers dealing with cases of espionage. It was necessary to take swift action in cases where it was found that there was an agent of a foreign Power collecting information as to our naval and military dispositions, and those powers were ungrudgingly given. It is now proposed that these powers should be continued in a time of peace. They may be used in two distinct ways. We wish to prevent people coming here and acting as naval and military spies of some Power with which we may be at war. We wish to prevent them coming here and collecting information about our armed forces, our dockyards, our aerodromes, and all the rest of it. What Power is going to do it? Is it suggested that the Germans are going to send over agents and try to find out our naval strength, the disposition of our fleet, and the means that we have of coping with the submarine? There is no German fleet, or such of it as there is lies at the bottom of the sea at Scapa Flow. The suggestion that the Germans might send over agents to find out information about our Army is absurd on the face of it. By the terms of the Peace Treaty the German Army is reduced to 100,000 men. Although we know that has not been carried out, the Minister for War has assured the House that the present Government of Germany is carrying out its obligations under the Peace Treaty as faithfully as it can, and that the German Army has been reduced and is not at present being organised as an offensive force. What other enemies have we? Austria? We are spoon-feeding Austria at the present time. She is bankrupt. Is it seriously suggested, after what has happened in the last five years, that any of our Allies are spending great sums of money—because this 164 business of espionage is a very expensive one—sending spies over here to find out our naval, military and air force secrets? If so, it is a very strange commentary upon the new world order, of which we have heard so much.
If, however, certain Powers are taking steps to find out our naval and military secrets, surely the law as it existed before the War is sufficient to deal with them, if not, then it is time that a Bill was brought in and placed on the Statute Book to deal with espionage. Before the War there were one or two spy trials. There was a naval warrant officer tried for bartering and trading in naval secrets with Germany. He was laid by the heels without difficulty, tried, and imprisoned. I do not see, therefore, that there is any particular case made out for dealing with that type of persons. If there be such a case, then the first Bill that the Government should have introduced instead of this War Emergency Laws (Continuance) Bill should have been one giving greater powers to the Executive to deal with spies. I have dealt with the first and legitimate use of these powers which we are asked to give to the Executive. May I now refer to what I call the illegitimate use of them, namely, the use of them for prosecuting poor men for having communications with nationals of another Power whose Government does not agree with the political ideas of the Government of this country? I use the words "poor men" deliberately. It is only poor men who are proceeded against in these cases. Persons like the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), the hon. and gallant Member for East Leyton (Lieut.-Colonel Malone), and myself are members of the governing classes. We are the official classes. The hon. and gallant Member for East Leyton and myself have served for many years in the naval and military forces of the Crown as commissioned officers. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme comes of a family which has sent its representative to Parliament generation after generation. We are not the people who are prosecuted under these extraordinary powers. It is the poor fellow, the poor shop steward, or the poor East End tailor, who perhaps represents some obscure Socialist society which is not doing any harm, never has done any harm, and never will do any harm, but is simply a society which enables disgruntled people to blow 165 off steam. It is people of that class who are prosecuted by the illegitimate use of these extraordinary powers which we are asked to give to the Executive.
If this is not aimed an, spies who are supposed to come over here to get our naval and military secrets, it is aimed at people who may have communications with what are loosely called Bolsheviks: Russian, German, Hungarian or American; people who are supposed to be people holding Bolshevik ideas. They are the people you are trying to persecute. They are the people you want to lay by the heels and to put out of sight without any trial or publicity or, if possible, without telling their relatives. That is what you have been doing, and that is what certain members of the Government want to go on doing. We have had the Minister for War spreading himself in a Sunday paper. We have had extreme articles in a very popular illustrated Sunday journal. One Sunday we had the Minister for War dealing with a sort of pogrom against the Jews. The next Sunday we had an impassioned article suggesting that all people with whom we do not agree politically should be labelled Bolsheviks and shipped off to some desert island. I suppose it is with sort of an idea of doing that that these powers are required. You want to find out who are the people who go to Strasburg to meet the French Socialists, who are holding a meeting and where probably the majority will be found to declare for the principles of the Third Internationale. The people who will go from this country will be the extreme left wing of the Labour movement. [HON. MEMBEBS: "The Member for Hull."] No, the hon. Member for Hull has not been invited. If I were in Alsace I would have a look at Strasburg and probably listen to some very interesting speeches, which I should be able to follow, as I hope hon. Members opposite will be able to do at the present time. The people who will go to Strasburg probably will be members of the British Socialist party, members of the Independent Labour party, and members of the Socialist Labour party.
Is it really the intention in this year 1920 to persecute citizens of this country because they advocate, quite constitutionally, quite legally, as they are entitled to do, a change in the form of Government in this country? Not many years ago it was almost an act of treachery to advocate 166 the right of Parliament to control the expenditure of public money. To-day it is suggested by certain extreme elements that the days of Parliament elected on a territorial basis are over. No one who takes the oath and his seat in this House will subscribe to that. There are persons—I do not know whether they are many or few, but I am rather inclined to think that they are in a considerable minority—who declare that the Parliamentary system as it has grown up in this country is out of date and they advocate setting up another form of representative assembly elected on a vocational basis. Agreement with that idea is the whole basis of belonging to the Third Internationale. Is it proposed to persecute persons who hold that point of view? If you are going to persecute poor men in this country who have been in communication with Frenchmen, Germans, Russians or other foreigners who suggest that the better system of representation for democracy would be by election on the vocational basis instead of a territorial basis, you will want these powers. You cannot deal with them under the common law, and you can only bring your proceedings under these regulations by Order in Council. You can bring this vague charge against them of having gone to Berne or elsewhere to an International Socialist congress, such as that attended by the right hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. A. Henderson). You can say that they have gone to Strasburg and attended this meeting of the French Socialist party, and under this Regulation you can lay these people by the heels and intern them or imprison them without trial. Is that the power that this House, representing the victorious people of this country, which has come through all the trials of the past five years, desires to give to the Executive? If so, it is a confession of the complete failure of democracy in this country.
If we cannot allow freedom of opinion; if we cannot allow advanced Socialists in this country to communicate and exchange ideas with advanced Socialists in other countries, America, Russia, Hungary, or anywhere else, we might as well capitulate altogether and not attempt to rule this country constitutionally as a democratic country. If you are going to crush opinion in this country in this way, let us give up the pretence of being a democratic nation. Let us give up the idea of 167 being a free country, let us drop it. I hope this Amendment will be accepted by the Government without a Division and without showing to the world how effete a Parliament under the coupon system can become. If the Government will not accept the Amendment we shall have to go to a Division, and we will show the world what we have done. We are either afraid of foreign spies coming here to discover our naval or military secrets, or else we are afraid of the advanced Socialist with his new ideas of making a better and happier earth. We are afraid of him, and we need these extraordinary powers to arrest and intern him lest he corrupts the whole of the people of this country. I appeal to the Government to drop what the Noble Lord, the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil), calls the war mind. Let us get to the peace mind. Let us remember that we are a Constitutional country and that we have never suffered through allowing freedom of speech or freedom of action or freedom of the Press in this country. Our attempts since the Armistice to crush ideas have signally failed, and if we could not succeed before we cannot succeed now.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I would ask the hon. and gallant Member whether I understood him rightly to say that he and other members of the governing class had never been troubled with any inquiries on matters of this sort, and whether he will repeat on this or any other occasion that statement, with a deliberate recollection of the facts.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) for the way in which he moved this Amendment, and asked for an explanation which I shall be very glad to give. I do not wish in any way to criticise the manner in which the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) so faithfully criticised what he called the legitimate use of these powers, and perhaps, if it is not impertinent, I may offer him a compliment and say that I think he has faithfully criticised what he called their illegitimate use. In fact, I thought that his speech became more expansive, and perhaps more eloquent, with regard to the 168 illegitimate than with regard to the legitimate use. He asked me to exercise the peace mind. May I tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I am delighted to exercise, at any rate, a peaceful mind, because, although he was impassioned and stirred, I am sorry to say he did not either stir me or create any passion in me. I am, therefore, able to offer peaceful observations in answer to his expressions. He asked me earlier in the evening whether I would try and think internationally, and I am going to try and think internationally. With these preliminaries I come back to the Regulation.
The Regulation is one to which we attach importance, and the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh, who, as he always does, has taken the trouble to inform himself exactly, pointed out that it is a Regulation which has been amended. It was amended, at the end of November, in the sense in which he rightly informed the House, that is to say, the term "enemy" has now been eliminated, and it now deals with foreign agents; and the Interpretation Clause, which is Clause (b) of the Regulation, which formerly ran in this way—the expression 'enemy agent' includes any person who is, or has been, or is-reasonably suspected of being or having been, employed by the enemy,and so on, now lays it down that the expression "foreign agent," which is used throughout the Regulation, includes any person who is, or has been, or is reasonably suspected of having been, employed by a foreign Power directly or indirectly, and so on; so that, as the hon. Member rightly says—
§ Captain W. BENN
The right hon. Gentleman was reading the sub-section. The sub-section goes on to say, who has been employed on any act "which if done within the United Kingdom would be a contravention of these Regulations." When the body of the Regulations has vanished, what Regulations will be referred to?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
When my hon. and gallant Friend was interrupted in his speech by the Adjournment of the House, he was raising a point in which I thought there was some substance, but the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh has rightly informed the House that my hon. and gallant Friend was misinformed, and that the Regulation, as it was amended 169 in November, 1919, runs in the way I have stated. I was dealing with paragraph (b), but let me go back to the first part of the Regulation, which reads:Where a person, without lawful authority or excuse, either within or without the United Kingdom, has been in communication with, or has attempted to communicate with, a foreign agent, and is subsequently found within the United Kingdom, he shall be guilty of an attempt against these Regulations unless he proves that he did not know and had no reason to suspect that the person with whom he so communicated or attempted to communicate was a foreign agent.Then in Sub-section (a), the word "foreign" is to be read instead of "enemy," and in the definition Clause (b), which now stands, "the expression 'foreign agent' includes any person," and so on. I really think that my hon. and gallant Friend may take it from me that the point he raised when he commenced to move this Amendment does not really arise, because in fact it now applies to foreign agents and not to enemy agents.
I want to come back to the Regulation, upon which we have spent a good deal of heat, which I think was quite unnecessary. I am going to remind the House exactly why, in the case of the original Bill when we discussed this Regulation, my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General reminded the Committee, and I have to remind the House now, that this Regulation proved a most important Regulation during the course of the War. It was a Regulation which enabled us to arrest persons who undoubtedly had secured, and were securing, information which might have been disastrous to this country. I have been informed by the War Office, and I say it with full responsibility to the House now, that they are satisfied of the necessity of maintaining this Regulation at the present time. Information is collected which we desire to stop—information which ought not to be collected if we are considering the safety of this country—and when I say that I am quite sure that the House as a whole will accept the statement.
Let me come to what this Regulation does. Really, the first line is the answer to all those expansive speeches which may be delivered, one of which has been delivered and one or two of which I may hope will be delivered. My experience in the Committee leads me to remember that what takes place in a dress rehearsal 170 is sometimes repeated on the first or second night, and therefore I am to a certain extent acquainted with the rôles which will be played.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I am glad to hear that there is to be a new production. We really need not go beyond the first line—" Where a person without lawful authority or excuse." The hon. Member for Central Hull gave us a lurid picture of persons coming over here with no sinister purpose, or in the interests of humanity at large and of civilisation in general, thinking internationally, and all the rest of it, to express their kindly views towards this country and the various classes in it. He pictured, then, that they were going to be persecuted, and he looked across and fixed his eyes upon mo as though I should enjoy hunting those poor people, who were to be persecuted for my delight. That is really not so.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am sorry to interrupt, but I must at once disassociate myself from any personal reference to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
After all, what we have to deal with is persons whose activities are without lawful authority or excuse. Any person who comes into this country for the purpose of trade, or of making speeches in Hyde Park, for the interchance of views with the hon. and gallant Member, for the purpose of sharing his hospitality or of advancing civilisation in concert with him—all of these persons would have a lawful authority and excuse, and would be in no danger of arrest, still Jess of persecution. But the pictures change, and if we find foreign agents coming to this Country for a sinister purpose, for a purpose which endangers the safety of the country, and which we could satisfactorily prove before a jury—because the charge would have to be made there—if without lawful authority or excuse such persons came and collected information, is there a single Member of this House who would say that we ought to leave ourselves exposed to a danger of that sort, and not be ready to continue this Regulation? It is put to me that this matter ought to be dealt with by a Bill—by permanent legislation. That is a very fair argument indeed; but what is to be done in the 171 meantime? I am not sure that hon. Members opposite would suggest that a Bill of that sort could, or, indeed, ought, to go through with any great rapidity. I think it is a Bill that ought to be discussed. If you were to refuse to give these powers until the 31st August you might leave the country naked and open to its enemies. We are informed by the War Office, and those who are responsible and have the means of judging and the duty of informing the House, and who tell me that I may tell the House, that these powers are necessary, and I ask the House to continue this Regulation so that where a person comes and cannot offer any lawful authority or excuse or justification for his conduct in this country may take measures to preserve itself, and in asking that these limited powers should be continued I believe that I shall have the general assent of Members of this House.
The Solicitor-General will remember that the first day the Committee met I moved the adjournment on the ground that we had not the information necessary to give an intelligent consideration to the Bill that was then before the House. I was severely taken to task by his colleague the Attorney-General, and I complained that I had not been able to obtain the Regulations. The Attorney-General said:I am sorry that the copies were not immediately available. I had taken care to make arrangements, as I thought complete arrangements, that there should be in the hands of every Member of this Committee a copy of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, which we should not reach for some hours yet.I asked:Can the Attorney-General give me an assurance that this copy is up-to-date?The Attorney-General said:If the hon. and gallant Member's copy is the copy consolidated and revised to the 31st May, 1919, it is.Then I said I was told that some Regulations had been altered since that date. The Attorney-General said:I am not responsible for that statement.That was a clear indication to me that this copy was up to date. I admit that I ought to have known that that Regulation was altered, but I did not discover it until to-night, and I discovered it about half-an-hour before the Solicitor-General discovered it, because he did not know 172 that it had been altered. I submit that it is not fair for the Government to deal with the House in this way. Here we have a most important Regulation, which is the kernel of two very drastic Regulations, 51 and 55, dealing with the power of arrest and search. It is the foundation-stone of both those Regulations, the only thing that makes those Regulations worth anything at all. Yet we do not know what we are discussing. Very few Members of the House knew of the alteration. This Regulation applied originally to the nationals of four enemy countries, Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria. It has been altered within the last few months quietly, to include the nationals of another 40 or 50 nations, not only neutral nations, but Allied nations. It has been made to apply to the subjects: of the French Republic who have been fighting side by side with us, and nobody knew, not even the Solicitor-General, until to-night.
But I did not realise, and the House did not realise, that it was altered, and I only discovered it to-night, and I was assured by the Attorney-General that my copy of the Regulations was up to date. The time has come when we should withdraw this Regulation, and should make it apply only to those nations which were our late enemy. There is very considerable feeling on the other side of the Channel that their subjects are not receiving due consideration, and I would suggest that this should be made merely to apply to agents of Governments that were our late enemies.
§ Captain BENN
The Solicitor-General appeals to the House so that in our hour of stress we shall be able to deal with" our enemies who are trying to collect information against us, and the House cheers him because it has essentially what the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin has called a war mind. The main thing to be done if we are to advance at all into any new realms is to get into a peace state of mind. The first Bill introduced was called the War Emergency Laws (Continuance) Bill. We understood it was to continue certain legislation which were necessary during the war to protect us against our enemies. Part of that legislation 173 was a Regulation of the most stringent kind giving us certain powers to arrest and deal with spies of our late enemies, Germany and Austria. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Middlesbrough remarked in Committee that it was something strange speaking about enemy foreign Powers. It was then discovered that a complete change has been made in the Regulation. I submit that it is an outrage on the spirit of the legislation passed during the War if, after the War has closed, Regulations are to be amended, and then we are to be asked to prolong these Regulations after the official termination of the War itself and with a change so that they shall apply not only to late enemy nationals, but to other nationals, neutrals and Allies. This is enacting the war legislation in an entirely new form.
The Solicitor-General says there is no one in this House who will not wish them to have protection against enemy spies. I should never dream for a moment of refusing to give to the Home Office or the War Office any necessary powers, but why does he say that it is so much more urgent in the year 1920, when the War is finished, and that when the greatest and most menacing enemy is in the dust, that is the moment to endow these offices with new Regulations giving powers greater than those which they possessed before, and which were considered sufficient, and proved sufficient, in 1914 to deal with the situation? It has been repeatedly stated, and hon. and gallant Members know perfectly well that within a few weeks of the outbreak of War all the people who had been sent over here for the purpose of communicating military information to the enemy were laid by the heels under the powers which the Solicitor-General still possesses. What, then, can be the reason for giving these new powers? The hon. and learned Gentleman says that the Department concerned asked for the powers. Of course they asked for them. What Department in the world, being what a Department is, would fail to ask for a continuation of the powers it possesses?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has overlooked the fact that this Regulation, in its amended form, was inserted by way of Amendment in Committee. It was before the Committee in its amended form, and the Attorney-General asked in particular that 174 this Regulation as amended, and as it stands to-day, should be inserted. Up to that time he had hoped it would be unnecessary, but it was found necessary in its amended form to ask the Committee to accept it.
§ Captain BENN
I fail to see that that affects what I am saying. I was proceeding to show that the War Office and the Home Office and the Government Departments generally were already possessed of powers that were ample for the purpose of protecting this country against the machinations of the secret services of other countries. They have proved it. They have those powers now. Why, now that the War is over, should they seek new powers? No case has been made out, even on the military ground. What is really the purpose of this Regulation? It is not a necessity at all. It is because the secret service work during the War has grown to such dimensions that no one wishes to destroy it. I do not deny that there may be some value in secret service work, but I submit, with great respect, that the value of the Cabinet Noir in time of peace is grossly exaggerated. The Departments are apt to accumulate information for the love of doing their work efficiently, and information which is not really of the value attaching to it. I have seen, only in a very junior capacity, of course, something of this Department during the War, and I know there is no money we would not ask for to complete our card index and get the information we want. But that is different from asking the House of Commons for such powers as these. The Secret Service Vote, which used to be £50,000, or it may have been £20,000, ten years ago, is now, I believe, £200,000.
§ Captain BENN
It is at least over £200,000; in fact, I am not sure whether it is that or £400,000. It is certainly an enormous sum. To give these powers is not advisable. The intention really is not to cope with military dangers. Whom are we to fight next? What is the purpose of beginning again, under the influence of the War mind, to reconstruct the machinery of espionage and counter espionage and all the dirty ramifications which it is bound to bring? I do not think that is the intention of the Government at all. They wish to stamp out 175 political doctrine to which they object. That is the real reason. Although I have not the least sympathy with a great many of the doctrines which would be oppressed by this, I have a great sympathy with liberty, and I do not believe that any doctrine, however offensive, is best dealt with by police repression. The best way is to show people by the light of reason that a doctrine is bad, and if you do that they will turn to something better. We have had instances of how this is carried out. Herr Ballin was undoubtedly employed on agency work by the Germans. Supposing in the course of his other business some person was found to be in communication with Herr Ballin. I submit that if the Home Office desired they could hale that person before the courts, on the plea that Herr Ballin was in his life an agent of the Germans. Take Monsieur Litvinoff, who may very likely be engaged in something of which we would all disapprove. Does anyone mean to say that anyone in communication with him or who even had his address in his pocket, really has committed an offence which would enable the Government to bring him before the courts?
§ Captain BENN
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes (Mr. Henderson), who has an excellent character and is Chairman of a very important party in this country, was subject to police espionage when he went to Basle There is not the least doubt that if the Government wished they could have made him amenable under this Regulation. What military need can there be for flouting liberty in this way? That is what we object to. We do not like to see all the submission that was made very willingly to every sort of restriction and repression during the War, continued by the Government merely in order to put down political opinion. That is the gravamen of our charge against the Government. Let me refer to an article written by Sir Basil Thomson in the "New World," called "The International Police Section of the League of Nations," in which he writes:Months ago it was realised that the spread of communistic ideas, attended by all the things that are most hateful to democracy—despotism, cruelty, torture and murder—was a danger, not to one country, but to all. Immediately the civilised countries, 176 even Germany herself, began to stretch out hands to others who know whether some common action could not be devised to stave off the disease which threatened the existence of civilised society.This Regulation and the money taken are not intended to protect us against an enemy, because we have no enemies. [Laughter.] Who dares to say that we have enemies? I submit that we have no enemies. The purpose of this is a political purpose. Let me read the Regulation, with the Amendments which the Solicitor-General has read—Where a person without lawful authority or excuse either within or without the United Kingdom has been in communication or has attempted to communicate with a foreign agent, and is subsequently found within the United Kingdom, he shall be guilty of an offence unless he proves that he did not know and had no reason to suspect that the persons with whom he so communicated was a foreign agent.10.0 P.M.
That is to say a person who goes abroad to foreign countries, unless he asks the permission of the Government to go, because that is the only way he could secure "lawful authority," may find himself brought before a court as an offender under this Regulation. The hon. and learned Gentleman says "No," but I submit that is the plain meaning of the words. The Regulation continues, "a person shall, unless he proves to the contrary, be deemed to have been in communication with enemy agents if he has either visited the address of the foreign agent." It will be seen that the onus of proof is on the person charged which is a complete reversal of the ordinary practice. There is further," a person shall be deemed to have committed this offence if either out of or within the kingdom the name or address or any other information regarding the foreign agent has been found in his possession." That is to say, if some one were to go and put an envelope into the letter box which contained information or something about the foreign agent there would be a charge and the person concerned could not prove to the contrary.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
It is quite obvious he would be able to show immediately that he had a lawful excuse. The hon. Gentleman may differ from me on law and, while I am very sorry, I should prefer my own interpretation to his. He may be very anxious and frightened but he need not be nervous about himself. He 177 will be quite all right. He will have lawful authority and a lawful excuse.
§ Captain BENN
I prefer the hon. and learned gentleman's opinion of law to ray own. He is a lawyer, and I should abide by his opinion, but unfortunately he is not the person who is carrying this out. I can give him a ease in illustration. There was a Sinn Fein Member of Parliament who had thrust into his hand a letter. He alleged he did not know who gave it to him or anything about it. You may not believe him, but I confess I do. Shortly afterwards he was arrested and sentenced, and is being punished on the charge that he was in possession of that letter.
§ Captain BENN
In that event what becomes of the Government case and of the statement that this sort of thing cannot possibly occur. I leave the hon. and learned Gentleman and his supporters to settle their differences between themselves. As far as I am concerned the case is complete. It goes on to define enemy agent in terms which read out in Committee by the Attorney-General. The terms are very wide—An 'agent' includes any person who is or has been or is reasonably suspected of being or of having been employed by a foreign Power directly or indirectly committing either within or without the United Kingdom any act prejudicial to the interests of the State.I submit that such wide powers, of such general application, which may be applied in so oppressive and unjust a manner, are not necessary for the military safety of the country, can only be used and are only intended to be used in a political sense, are likely to give the gravest offence to those who have been fighting with us in the War, including the United States of America, and are subversive of the very principles for which we should be most urgently insistent at this moment, namely, the preservation of friendly feeling throughout the world, so that we may emerge from the miasma of war fears and hates into a time of peace and goodwill among men.
§ Brigadier-General COCKERILL
I intervene at this late hour because I think it may possibly be useful to the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken if one who has been rather intimately 178 associated with these Regulations during the past five years, should point out the necessity for them. I do not think the Solicitor-General stands in any need of support from me, because a more lucid statement of the meaning and object of this Regulation I have never heard. The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down says he would never dream of refusing to give the War Office any necessary power, and I intervene in the hope that I may be able possibly even to convince him that these powers are necessary in the interests of national safety. I need not remind the House that the foreign agent to whom this Regulation refers is a person defined as reasonably suspected of being employed by a foreign Power to commit an act prejudicial to the safety of the State or in the interests of a foreign Power. I think, if my hon. and gallant Friend would study the words in which a person who has been in communication with a foreign agent is defined in this Regulation, some of his fears would be removed. It says if he has "consorted with" him or "visited his address," or "a person who has been found in possession of a note of the address of a foreign agent," or "who has supplied the address to another person, or who has obtained it from another person." Every one of the details given in the Regulation are such as have been found necessary in pursuit of spies during the War, and very clearly they are words that would not be used for the class of persons that he has in mind, of whose persecution he stands in so much fear. The fact is that these Regulations embody the accumulated experience of the whole period of the War, that is to say, the accumulated experience of the Department which has been engaged in tracing the activities of enemy agents and enemy spies and bringing them to justice.
The hon. and gallant Member suggests that we had all the machinery necessary to deal with enemy spies before the War. That is not the case. The Department which dealt with these cases prior to the War was very much hampered in dealing with these enemy agents. We had only the Official Secrets Act of 1911, an Act which, though it gave some powers to the military authority, did not give those powers which the experience of the War has proved are essentially necessary if 179 justice is to be done to enemy agents, and this Regulation has been built up just as it has been found necessary from day to day to meet the practical difficulties as they arose. It is essentially a Regulation which embodies every improvement upon the old Official Secrets Act of 1911, and, speaking for myself, I hope sincerely that before many months are past the Government will take in hand the revision of the old Official Secrets Act, and will give us the powers which have been found necessary in this War and which, as experience has proved, ought to have been in the hands of the Executive in those early days of the War in August, 1914, when the activities of enemy aliens were so insistent in this country. This Regulation as it stands has proved effective. It is not brought down to the House as a thing evolved in some theoretical mind. It has been evolved by men engaged in the task of disclosing enemy activities. It has proved extremely effective during the War, and practically every enemy agent who has been caught and convicted during the War has been convicted and punished under this Regulation.
§ The question arises as to whether this Regulation is still needed. There is no question that, until the League of Nations has been instituted, until it is working satisfactorily, until the need for armaments in every European country has passed, it is essential that military secrets and naval secrets should be preserved. I am not here to argue as to whether, after the League of Nations has been formed, it will then be necessary to keep from foreign Powers naval and military secrets, but surely until you have the League of Nations in actual operation, it is essential that you should prevent the leakage of naval and military information. There are technical details with regard to ships, munitions, material, works, plans and documents, and indeed all the official information which it is necessary in the interests of the State to keep inviolate. Under this Regulation there is some hope of keeping these secrets intact. Let not the House suppose that the activities of foreign agents have ceased with the declaration of the Armistice. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) makes a point that to-day we have no enemies in the world. Had we any 180 enemies in 1913 or 1914 before this War broke out? There are those who sat on those benches who led us to suppose there were no enemies in those days. I do not wish to dwell on that point, but clearly common prudence dictates that we should guard the country against the same dangers to-day as existed in 1914, though perhaps they were not recognised. The hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested that we had all the machinery we had in 1914 and during the War at the present disposal of the Executive That is not the case. If the House will permit a personal observation, I had the honour to control the whole of the services which were directed to countering enemy activities in this country and the British Empire. That machinery, drawn up under my direction, was an exceedingly intricate and complex thing; its ramifications extended not only throughout this country, but every Dominion of the Empire, and it was closely connected by liaison officers with all our Allies The vastness of that organisation has not been realised in this-country, though I do not know that I need dwell upon that now But I should like to point out that to-day that machinery does not exist. There is no censorship of the cables, nor of the postal service. These two services alone enabled us to detect the activities of many agents throughout the War. You have no examination at the ports of this country—a service instituted during the War, being found necessary, and which no longer exists—and properly so in times of peace.
§ Let it not be supposed, however, that, while the machinery has ceased to operate, the activities of foreign agents has ceased. The fact that the machinery has gone by which we can hope to deal with the matter effectively makes their operations the more safe, and probably these activities are more continuous even than they were during the War. I also suggest that some hon. Members seem to overlook the fact that these powers which the Executive ask to be continued until the end of August are in existence to-day, and have been in existence during the past year. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, the Member for Leith, drew a very moving picture of what might happen to an hon. Member if he was engaged in Switzerland, or some other neutral country, in peaceful operations calculated to be an advantage, I gather, to the cause of civilisation.181
§ Brigadier-General COCKERILL
It did happen? But I did not gather that the hon. Gentleman concerned was either arrested, brought before a Court, or tried for any offence against these Regulations. The fact is that these Regulations exist, and the hon. gentleman to whom reference has been made, so far as these Regulations were concerned, went unscathed. Whatever happens to-night, when, as I hope, this Regulation will be confirmed and extended, I shall still be perfectly convinced that the hon. Member could be engaged in the same activities as in the past without any fear of the consequences under this Regulation. I have said that I hope personally there may be an amended Official Secrets Act. I think the hiatus between the repeal of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, which terminate automatically the moment peace is declared, and the date on which a new Official Secrets Act comes into force, should, in the interests of this country, be bridged. It seems to me essential that the activities of foreign agents should be closely watched in the intervening period till we have secured, as I hope we shall, a revised Official Secrets Act. It seems to me we should remember that no prosecution can be undertaken solely by the military authorities. To-day, as the Regulation exists at this moment, any competent military authority can launch a prosecution if he so desires. That has been the case during the last 4½ years of war, but, so far as I know, no case has been produced in this House of an abuse of power by the authorities. The Government is not asking to continue this power to competent military authorities, but on the contrary, they are asking that this power should only vest either in the learned Attorney-General or in a police officer or in some special authority. The exact words of the provision are:the Attorney-General for England or Ireland, or an officer of police, or a person acting under the special authority of the Government Department concerned.Those words define the matter generally, so that no prosecution can be undertaken merely on the fiat of some military officer. We should keep in mind that these cases have been prepared and prosecutions initiated by persons who
§ have throughout the War been giving these matters their very close attention. I have myself the very greatest admiration for the manner in which this duty has been performed throughout the War, and I can assure the House that the responsibility of the officers engaged in this task is realised by them to be very heavy, and they have given the most anxious consideration to every case of suspicion that has arisen during the War, and I feel the House may rest assured that no-hasty or oppressive action is possible, having in view the character of the gentlemen who will be called upon to administer this Regulation. It is directed solely against evil-doers, and no person other than an evil-doer can possibly be affected adversely. As the Solicitor-General has pointed out, lawful excuse is a valid answer to the charge, and all the ordinary remedies against abuse of power by those entrusted with these powers remain available, including, finally, an appeal for redress to this House if any wrong were established.
§ Brigadier-General SURTEES
We have heard hon. Members arguing that the prewar powers dealing with espionage are sufficient to cause spies to be laid by the heels. Let us consider what happened in time of peace. I think I am correct in saying that all the most dangerous spying is done in time of peace, and not in time of war. It is a case of crede experto. I have spied for my country in times past. I have employed spies of almost every nationality in times of peace. I have received valuable information from officers—friendly and unfriendly—in the country with which I was concerned, and I am certain that unless things are vastly changed, reports are now being compiled in this country, ready to be sent abroad at the very first possible opportunity. Therefore, I say, that instead of reducing the powers dealing with espionage, they should on the contrary be vastly strengthened.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 179; Noes, 48.183
|Division No. 24.]||AYES.||[10.25 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Atkey, A. R.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Armitage, Robert||Baird, John Lawrence|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Hambro, Captain Angus Vaidemar||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Parker, James|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Herbert, Denis (Hertford, Watford)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Perring, William George|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Higham, Charles Frederick||Pollock, Sir Ernest M|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hood, Joseph||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Blane, T. A.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Hurd, Percy A.||Remer, J. B.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Jephcott, A. R||Rodger, A. K.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Jellett, William Morgan||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Britton, G. B.||Jesson, C.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Johnson, L. S.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Simm, M. T.|
|Burn, Col. C. R (Devon, Torquay)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Casey, T. W.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lindsay, William Arthur||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Clough, Robert||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lort-Williams, J.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Taylor, J.|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lyon, Laurance||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Townley, Maximillan G.|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Waddington, R.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Donald, Thompson||Maddocks, Henry||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Magnus, Sir Philip||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Manville, Edward||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Mason, Robert||Waring, Major Walter|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Meysey-Thomson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Foreman, Henry||Mitchell, William Lane||Whitla, Sir William|
|Forrest, Walter||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Morison, Thomas Brash||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Morris, Richard||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morrison, Hugh||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Younger, Sir George|
|Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Neal, Arthur|
|Gregory, Holman||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Capt. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Griggs, Sir Peter||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hancock, John George||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hartshorn, Vernon||Rose, Frank H.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hayday, Arthur||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Billing, Noel Pemberton-||Hayward, Major Evan||Sexton, James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, G. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Briant, Frank||Irving, Dan||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Tootill, Robert|
|Cape, Thomas||Kiley, James D.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Lawson, John J.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Granville, Harold James||Myers, Thomas||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||O'Grady, Captain James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Major Barnes and Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy.|
§ The House divided: Ayes, 174; Noes, 50.185
|Division No. 25.]||AYES.||[10.35 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas R. S.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gilbert, James Daniel||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Armitage, Robert||Goff, Sir R. Park||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gregory, Holman||Parker, James|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gretton, Colonel John||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Perring, William George|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Herbert, Denis (Hertford, Watford)||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Higham, Charles Frederick||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Remer, J. R.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hood, Joseph||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Billing, Noel Pemberton-||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Roberts, Sir s. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Blane, T. A.||Hurd, Percy A.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Jephcott, A. R.||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Jessen, C.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)-|
|Britton, G. B.||Johnson, L. S.||Simm, M. T.|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Casey, T. W.||Lindsay, William Arthur||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Taylor, J.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lort-Williams, J.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Clough, Robert||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Townley, Maximillan G.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lyon, Laurance||Waddington, R.|
|Calvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Courthope, Major George L.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Maddocks, Henry||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Waring, Major Walter|
|Dalziel, Sir D, (Lambeth, Brixton)||Manville, Edward||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Mason, Robert||Whitla, Sir William|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Mitchell, William Lane||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Foreman, Henry||Morison, Thomas Brash||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Forrest, Walter||Morris, Richard||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Morrison, Hugh||Younger, Sir George|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Neal, Arthur||Lord E. Talbot and Capt. Guest.|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, Vernon||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hayday, Arthur||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayward, Major Evan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hogge, James Myles||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Briant, Frank||Irving, Dan||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cairns, John||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Tootill, Robert|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenyon, Barnet||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Klley, James D.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lawson, John J.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lunn, William||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. A. Parkinson.|
|Hancock, John George||O'Grady, Captain James|
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I should like to know why when the Bill was printed it was necessary to have these restrictions on dealings in war materials. This is a matter of some importance. There has been a good deal of agitation in some newspapers in regard to dealing in war materials for sale on the Continent. This Regulation deals with the control of the export of arms and ammunition. Can we be informed, or would it be against the public interest, why it is now considered necessary to dispose of this Regulation which controls the export of arms and ammunition to the Mad Mullah, or to any foreign country? I know of no change in the international relations of these foreign countries and their neighbours which explains the reason for omitting this Regulation. In twelve months we have exported arms and ammunition to the extent of £100,000,000 to one of our late deadly enemies.
§ Captain W. BENN
Can the Under-Secretary to the Home Office tell us how it is that sporting-gun factors may sell a double-barrelled shot-gun, but not a single-barrelled shot-gun, without approval of some competent military authority?
§ Major BAIRD
My impression is that it will not be possible for my hon. and gallant Friend to buy either a single-barrelled or a double-barrelled gun without a licence. At any rate there is no discrimination between them.
With regard to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull, the reason why the House is asked to agree to the elimination of these words is that under the authority which we possess under the Customs and Inland Revenue Act of 1879, it is not possible to control the export of arms, and the question of the export of arms is very closely affected by the International Convention which was signed in Paris in September last by all the Powers concerned. In that Convention we undertook, in common with the other Powers who signed it, obligations regarding the prohibition of the export of arms, which we cannot carry out unless the House consents to this alteration of the Regulation, for the reason that, as the Regulation now stands, the position would be that any person could buy, sell, or deal in war material 188 without restriction so long as he was prepared to show that there was no intention of exporting it, and it would be very difficult to prove that there was such intention. The Regulation in this form enables us to deal with that. Without it, he only control that could be exercised would be to open every case that leaves the ports, and that is clearly impossible.
Legislation will be necessary, and, as has been stated, a Bill will be presented to the House to deal with this matter on broad lines, and every opportunity will be given of considering the question in detail. At the moment we ask the House to consent to this elimination, in order to enable us effectively to carry out the obligations which we have entered into with the other nations at Paris. As regards the question raised by the hon-and gallant Member for Leith, I confess I do not know what he refers to, but perhaps he will kindly put down a question on the subject.
§ Mr. BILLING
I desire to protest as briefly as possible against the general closure of the Debate which has arisen. I presume that if we take this any further it will be closured in its turn. We come down here to debate these questions, which are all-important, particularly the one which has just been closured by the Government, after a very able speech in support of it—
§ Mr. BILLING
We have been asked this evening to legislate in the same comprehensive way as to whether we shall review or renew our espionage system, as to whether we shall control the export of arms—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member may only discuss the Question now before the House, and may not review the Debate.
§ Mr. BILLING
I was coming to the question of the export of arms, and finally whether or not it should be legal to sell chocolates in a theatre after eight o'clock.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move to leave out Regulations 39BBB, 39C, 39CC, 39DD and 39FF.
189 In Committee there was a Division on Regulation 39BBB, which was only carried by a majority of one. Considerable feeling was expressed, and at one time if we had divided we should have beaten the Government. There is at present great congestion in shipping, and if we are to obtain the goods which we want that congestion should be remedied. Whatever may have been necessary during the war, it is no longer necessary to give the Shipping Controller these great powers. For instance, 39BBB provides:39BBB.—(1) The Shipping Controller may make Orders regulating, restricting or giving directions with respect to the nature of the trades in which ships are to be employed, the traffic to be carried therein, and the terms and conditions on which the traffic is to be carried, the ports at which cargo is to be loaded or discharged or passengers embarked or disembarked (including directions requiring ships to proceed to specified ports for the purpose of loading or unloading cargo or embarking or disembarking passengers), the ports at which consignees of cargo are to take delivery thereof, the rates (maxima or minima) to be charged for freight or hire of ships and the carriage of passengers, the form of bills of lading and passenger tickets, the building, repairing, equipping, refitting, converting or altering of any ship or vessel* the user of and the work to be done in or with any dock, shipyard, dry dock, or other accommodation adapted or capable of being adapted for building, repairing, equipping, or refitting ships or vessels (in this Regulation included in the term 'shipyard'), and any plant in or about the same, the priority and manner in which and the places at which orders or contracts for building, repairing, equipping, refitting, converting or altering ships or vessels are to be executed, or any such work is to be done, and the payments to be made: in respect thereof, and other matters affecting shipping, where it appears to the Controller necessary or expedient to make any such order for the purpose of making shipping available for the needs of the country in such manner as to make the best use thereof having regard to the circumstances of the time or for providing and maintaining an efficient supply of shipping.Is it necessary that these great powers should be continued for another six months, fourteen months after the Armistice?
It is really almost inconceivable that anyone should ask that the whole of the shipping of the country should be under the power of one man, who decides where a ship shall go, where it shall embark its passengers, how it is to be repaired, and where repaired. The Controller is to be dictator. He can order a ship to remain in port or go out, or to go to another place 190 and remain there. The House knows now what it is going to do. If hon. Members confer power of that sort, they cannot be surprised if there is trouble with the financial and commercial world.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
This Amendment raises one of the most vital questions for the commercial well-being of this country. I have had at least 25 years' experience, or at least observation, of the working of shipping in one of the greatest seaports in the world. I think it is generally conceded that the creation of the Ministry of Shipping was necessary during the War. As has been said, we are now at least sixteen months past the date of the Armistice. We have congestion at the ports, consequently lack of food and raw materials, with high prices, disorganisation, general danger to the trade of the country and distress among the people. The pride of the British mercantile marine and one of the main causes of its great success in the commercial supremacy of this country has been the independence of the shipowners and of those who work with them. They built it up; they know how to run it; and it was entirely due to their splendid services and those of the seamen that the mercantile marine played a part second only to the British Navy in our supremacy of the sea. What is happening to-day? Shipowners are unable to handle their tonnage in a way that they best know how. Anybody who knows anything about shipping knows that the secret of efficient use of tonnage is to turn it round, as they say, as quickly as possible. I do not know whether I am quite right, but I will state that if the shipping industry was allowed freely to handle its tonnage in accordance with the needs of the country, the immediate or very quick result would be that there would be less congestion at the docks, a swift disappearance of those huge piles of food and raw material which are rotting often in the case of food or lying useless in the case of raw material for manufactured goods required in the industries of the country. His Majesty's Government have to justify this power to-night. The Executive come down asking for further legislative powers of control of shipping. Before the House agrees to that an overwhelming case ought to be made for the retention of the powers of shipping control for another six months. Unless that 191 is done this House will be lacking in its duty if it gives support to the demands of the Executive. It might be urged with considerable force that to relax the whole of the Regulations would be a rather dangerous experiment in view of the system which has at present grown up. I am quite sure if the shipowners were allowed to take this matter in hand, with a committee of their own, assisted by the men who work with them, they could do so. They would, for instance, have the Sailors' and Firemen's Union to assist them. That Union has time and again shown its patriotism, not only during the War, and a spirit of reasonableness which the ship-owners at one time did not fully recognise, but latterly, I think I am not wrong in saying, they came to give their due meed of praise to that. I notice that my hon. Friend (Sir W. Raeburn), who is a large ship-owner, agrees with that statement. I believe if the Government took their courage in both hands and let this great and vital industry go free that industry would speedily assert all its power and its vast accumulation and experience, and we should see a better condition of affairs, not only with regard to the shipping industry, but the whole range of other industries. These are the difficulties in connection with getting coal abroad, and only those who know, as some do, the vital part exports of coal played in the maintenance of our mercantile marine appreciate what it would be to have an absence of the fetters which cause irritating delays which go on at present. A large portion—eight per cent., I am sure—of the tramp mercantile marine goes through the port of Cardiff in the course of twelve months, and it simply has to extricate itself and fight for an exit, owing to the way in which the shipping industry is endeavouring to carry on. You will never get anything approaching the re-establishment of freedom in the shipping industry, and the consequent immediate easing of our industrial and social difficulties, until you let shipping go free. There is no sign of relaxation here and no mitigation in the control of shipping.
The time has come for a release to be granted, and I would suggest to the Government this. Cannot they meet us in this matter? It is very urgent. They are asking for the full term of six months; 192 is there not some way of meeting us by at any rate halving that, and let them come back for powers to this House again in, say, three months' time? I want to press this very strongly. This is a subject on which I have rather more than a slight knowledge. If the Government cannot see their way to give the complete freedom which we ask, surely it is not asking too much in this vital matter, at any rate, to meet us half-way. Will they give it us till May 31st? Here is the best time to do it, in the summer season. In mid-winter there are difficulties in relation to the conduct of shipping both on sea and in the docks which we all, perhaps, appreciate, but here is the most favourable time of the year for making a new start, and I do hope that we shall get something from the Government. I am sure that if they do they will give new hope to the shipowners and to the whole industry. I do not press the claim merely of the shipowners. I do not own a single share in a ship; I wish I did, but from such knowledge as I have spread over a quarter of a century of observation—anyhow, of the urgent need of the removal of this paralysing control. I make this appeal, although I desire to pay a most generous tribute to Sir Joseph Maclay and those who work with him for the very splendid work they have done. I do not know what Sir Joseph Maclay's views are, but of a surety he would be very glad to be relieved of these duties.
§ Sir W. RAEBURN
It is not very often that a shipowner gets a chance on the floor of this House to say a word about this particular industry, and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend (Sir D. Maclean) for the word he has put in for the shipowners to-night. The majority of the items, such as the question of repair and fitting out of boats, have been for a long time in abeyance, and I did wonder when I saw some alterations in other parts of the Schedule there was no alteration made here. But I rise rather to justify the Controller, because the difficulties in the ports to-day are not to be laid at the door of the Shipping Controller. The Meat Controller, the Wheat Controller and the Coal Controller are the Controllers who are doing a very great deal of damage to the trade of the country at the present moment and the sooner some of these controls come off the better. So far as the directing of ships is concerned, there would be none at all but 193 for the fact, which the Controller has put to me quite plainly, that the Government come to him and say they have meat in the Argentine or Australia, or sugar in Cuba, and they must be given tonnage. It might have been thought that if anybody was going to propose an Amendment to this, it might have been a shipowner, but we have not done this because we have had very reasonable treatment from the Shipping Controller all the way through, and I think it redounds to the credit of the shipping community that it has willingly submitted to all the restrictions put upon it. We see the end of this coming very soon, and I do say to my right hon. Friend that we have nothing to fear—I speak from a shipowner's point of view—if this control lasts even until 31st August, if some undertaking can be given by my right hon. Friend that the same treatment that is now being meted out is going to be continued.
§ Sir W. RAEBURN
I am not looking at it from the monetary point of view. I am not out in all I am doing to make money, but I am out to do the best for my country. We have shown that, and still wish to do it. If it were only money that weighed with me I might have joined with hon. Members in opposing this. But I do not think anyone can dogmatise as to whether the Amendment would be of any benefit to shipowners. I think if we were to be freed from these restrictions, we might make more money, but I am looking at it from the right point of view when I say that, if we have to submit for some time longer to a few of the restrictions, we are doing it willingly. But I hope the control will be taken off at the earliest possible moment. I shall have something very strong, however, to say about some of the other controls that are blocking our ports at the present time. I am exceedingly glad that I have had this opportunity of really saying how unfair it would be to put the blame for a continuation of this position on the Shipping Controller, and to repeat that if you allow us to go on for a little longer you will find it is not going to be to the detriment of the country.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I have some hesitation in opposing this, for I would still be favourable to the Shipping Controller 194 having a reasonable control, even under existing conditions. I find myself in the position of speaking for the Labour party and in support of the resolution of the right hon. Baronet for the City (Sir F. Banbury) for entirely different reasons to the right hon. Gentleman. The line in the Schedule "Powers of the Shipping Controller" seem at the first glance to be a very innocent thing. I have no doubt the intention of the Shipping Controller are good. But we are told that the road to a hypothetical region is fixed with good intentions. Disguised under 39DD, the Defence of the Realm Regulation reads:Except under, and in pursuance of, a licence granted by the Shipping Controller, no British ship registered in the United Kingdom shall proceed to sea on any voyage whatsoever, and no British ship whatsoever shall proceed to sea from any port in the United Kingdom.I am surprised at the attitude of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir W. Raeburn) in regard to this suggestion, because with him I served on the Ways and Communications Committee, and there I found him most vigorous against the Minister of Transport having anything to do with ships or control in any way whatever. This Regulation prevents British ships proceeding to sea from any British port, but there is nothing to prevent any foreign ship coming to a British port and taking out a cargo that a British ship ought to take out. The foreign ship does not require a licence.
The real point we raise is that the Government have now, rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly—I am not dealing with the ethics of the case—entered into an agreement with Russia to import foodstuffs into this country, and in return, I suppose, exports will go to Russia. If this Clause is allowed to go without opposition there is nothing to prevent the Shipping Controller from indirectly creating a blockade in any port other than a British port. Whether it is right or wrong to export to Russia I am not going to argue, but the fact is that the Government themselves have given countenance to it. Under this Clause the Shipping Controller will have the power to blockade any port, and a power like that in peace time is very dangerous to put into the hands of any department.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I am not complaining of the Shipping Controller but the power which it gives any man to do a certain thing. It is a very dangerous thing to give this uncontrolled power without submitting it to this House, and that is the reason why I oppose it.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
A very important question is involved in this proposal. It is not the merits of the Shipping Controller we have to discuss, and I cannot help agreeing with the proposal put forward by the ex-leader of the Liberal party, who suggested that the Government should bring their proposal up again on August 31st. The argument in favour of doing that is that we shall never get any Estimates for the Shipping Controller like we do for other Departments, and if they come up then we shall be able to discuss this question involving these wide powers.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY OF SHIPPING (Colonel WILSON)
The right hon. Gentleman opposite said it was the duty of the Government, and I fully agree with him, to make out a case for the retention of these very large powers which the Shipping Controller has at present, and he suggests that instead of putting the matter into the hands of the shipowners the Ministry should work with the various unions concerned. I would like to endorse every word which has been said about the loyalty of the Seamen and Firemen's Union and all the other unions in the mercantile marine during the war. I think we have shown by the transference of the work of the National Maritime Board into the hands of the unions themselves that we desire to do away with any Government control of the mercantile marine. I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that it is our duty to show that we have real reason to ask for the continuance of these powers up to the 31st August next, but I would like to assure him that we have no intention of using these powers until then if we can possibly do away with them at any earlier date. The position of the Minister of Shipping in the matter of the retention of these powers is a very simple one. It is the policy of the Government that Government controlled maize, sugar, wheat, and so on should be brought into this country at Blue Book rates, and 196 therefore it is necessary to ask for the continuance of these powers in order that the Controller may fix the routes and prescribe the voyages of British ships. Without these powers it would be quite impossible for the Shipping Controller to fulfil his obligations to the Food Controller to maintain the country's essential supply of food imports. I am reminded by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London that the powers of the Shipping Controller were only carried in Committee by one vote. That is true I was not a member of the Committee or I would have liked to put before it the work being performed at that moment by the Ministry of Shipping as regards the carriage to this country of Government owned cargoes which had to arrive in the United Kingdom between January and August.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Did not that majority of one in the Committee upstairs include four members of the Government?
I cannot say, but I hope to alter that majority to-day even if I do not succeed in inducing the House to pass these powers without a division. I hope to satisfy hon. Members that the granting of the powers is in the national interest. At that time the Ministry of Shipping was responsible for a very large amount of Government owned cargo coming into the country between January and August, and has had to provide tonnage for wheat, sugar, maize, timber, and ships' plates to the total amount roughly of 7,500,000 tons. During the recess in order to do away as far as possible with the control of shipping we approached the owners concerned—the owners of tramp lines concerned and we made arrangements which will result in a large amount of that programme being carried in ships not under our direction. As a matter of fact with regard to timber, of which at that time there was half a million tons to be lifted, we have now only a matter of one or two shiploads to lift. As to ship's plate there are now only about 6,000 tons to be lifted in directed ships. The case of sugar is different, very small quantities are lifted by liners from South Africa and Peru and a slightly larger quantity, 70,000 tons, is lifted from the West Indies and Demerara. We need on the average about 100,000 tons of sugar a month, and in this connection we have made 197 arrangements with the tramp liners concerned to lift 50,000 tons a month of Cuban sugar at Government rates in non-directed ships. Then I come to wheat. At the time this bill was being discussed in Committee there was a million tons of wheat to be lifted from Australia alone. We have made arrangements that the whole of the residue of the Australian purchase shall be rifted by liner tonnage that will require no direction. But that cannot be said about all the wheat supplies to be brought to this country. It is true that in North America supplies are very short. I am hoping it will not be necessary to lift what there is by directed tramp tonnage. It all depends on the freight market. I cannot say what the freight market is going to be, but the liners concerned can carry all wheat that is required from North America and need no directed tramp tonnage, but the Ministry of Shipping must have the powers in order to keep the rates at a reasonable figure. The shortage of wheat in North America has made it necessary to bring a great deal more wheat and maize from South America and the result is that during April and May the Wheat Commission now require about £00,000 tons of shipping per month from the Plate. We shall be able to arrange for a good deal of this to be lifted in the ex-enemy ships, those which are being managed by the Ministry of Shipping at present, but a great deal of tonnage will have to be and is being found from directed tramp tonnage. If these powers are not given to the Shipping Controller it would be necessary for the Wheat Com mission, bringing in essential commodities into this country, to go into the market and charter at the market rates or to bring essential food products to this country at the open commercial rate. If the freight goes down to what the Government pays at present there will be no necessity for the Shipping Controller to exercise these powers which I am asking for, but at present, although the Government freight has been increased as from January 1st, it is considerably higher than the freight at which essential commodities are brought to this country in directed shipping. Let me take the Plate, in which our largest commitments are as regards commercial freight. I should not like to tie myself down to an actual figure because there is no grain on 198 private account coming into this country—all the grain is Government grain—but the freight for linseed is somewhere about 180s. and varies between 190s. and 150s.
I do not think it is, but I am taking wheat as delivered in France as the nearest comparison I can get as a commercial freight. I agree that it is difficult, but those are the only figures I could possibly get. The Commercial Freight from the Plate is about 170s. to-day. The Government freight at present is 107s. That is a very large difference. When dealing with hundreds and thousands of tons it would be a very large difference to the Exchequer and also to the cost of food. I go to sugar. I have no United Kingdom reports as to the commercial freights from Cuba, whence we have to lift 100,000 tons a month, but the commercial freight for Marseilles is 105s. and the Government rate is 85s. That is a very large difference to the country and the Exchequer, and it would undoubtedly largely increase the price of food in this country. In addition to that, several Members have alluded to the question of coal. We need these powers of direction and licence at present in order that coal should be distributed in the United Kingdom. Only the other day hon. Members from Ireland were asking me about the position of coal there, and they asked me to exercise these powers in order that Ireland shall be supplied with the coal which is absolutely essential. Hon. Members are constantly urging me not to do away with control, but, on the contrary, to increase it. I am being urged from every direction. There is a great shortage of iron ore in this country. The requirements, roughly, are about 500,000 tons per month, and the stocks are so small that in some cases there is grave danger of unemployment. I am urged to direct ships to Bilbao in order to bring iron ore here, and, while the Shipping Controller is not anxious to use these powers, I quite agree that it is his duty in such cases to use his influence to bring home the ore that-is necessary to keep work going. It is perfectly true that at the present time the world's tonnage is larger than it has ever been in the world's history—it is 5,000,000 tons larger than it was pre-war—but the difficulty of dealing with ships in ports and of handling traffic has reduced the real efficiency and utility 199 of ships. I wish to put it at a moderate figure, but it has reduced their efficiency and utility, at any rate, by 35 per cent.; and some experts say that is a very low estimate. My right hon. Friend, so far as I could gather, put all the faults for the congestion of shipping in the various ports down to the Shipping Controller. He said: "If you do away with the powers of the Shipping Controller, this congestion at the ports will entirely disappear and shipowners will be able to manage their affairs far better than the Ministry of Shipping is doing it." I entirely disagree with him. Under another Regulation, 39 c, powers are given not to the Shipping Controller, but to the Port and Transport Committee, to deal with the regulation of traffic at ports, and my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) knows well the valuable work that that Committee has done. If this Amendment be accepted, those powers disappear entirely, and the Port and Transit Committe is absolutely bereft of any of those powers which enable it to do very useful work.
§ Mr. SEXTON
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would assure me that this power will not be carried so as to prevent exports to Russia, to which we have agreed, there might be something in his argument.
I was dealing, not with Regulation 39 D.D, but Regulation 39 C, which deals with the Port and Transit Committee, and, if this Amendment be accepted, all the powers of that Committee disappear, and I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that that is most inadvisable.
Perhaps my hon. Friend was not here when Mr. Speaker said that all these powers came under the same Amendment. These powers with regard to congestion in the ports, as my hon. Friend learns, are utilised, not by the Port and Transit Committee, but really at the instance of that Committee 200 by the Port Authorities, and it has not been the actual use so much as the threat of the use of the powers which has been so invaluable in dealing with congestion at the ports. It is essential to keep those powers.
I am dealing with the congestion question at the moment. My hon. Friend has raised the question of 39 D.D. That is a power absolutely essential for the Shipping Controller in order to have the power of licensing. It is necessary in order that every owner can be treated fairly, and have his fair share of Government work, that every ship should be licensed, otherwise there would be no control over them. That power is absolutely necessary if the control is to continue. It is not possible to legislate except for ships on the British register. We have no power to deal with ships except those on the British register. We cannot only deal with ships on the British register.
An HON. MEMBER
The Shipping Controller has power to supply bunkers to foreign ships, without bunkers it is inoperative.
That is so. There is priority and of course the British ship gets priority. I am asking the House to renew these powers up to 31st August. If these powers are taken away there is no guarantee that the food essential for this country will arrive, and there is no guarantee at what price it will arrive. My hon. Friend (Sir W. Raeburn) is a shipowner, and I know other shipowners who agree that it is absolutely necessary in the national interests that these powers shall be continued, at any rate for a short time longer. No one is more anxious than the Shipping Controller to decontrol shipping at the earliest possible moment. 201 My right hon. Friend suggested three months, but we cannot possibly accept three months. It is impossible to say whether we should be able to get all the essential commodities into this country, and we cannot say what the rate of freight is going to be. I will, however, give this undertaking, that the moment it is possible, in the national interest, to relax all the control of shipping, the control will be relaxed by my right hon. Friend, the Shipping Controller. In the meantime I would like to ask the House, in the national interest—we are only asking it in the national interest—to continue these powers to the Shipping Controller. I agree that as a matter of fact we could dispense with some of them at the present time. Some of them we are not using, such as the power to control ship repairing and new construction. But, as I am informed, such a lengthy addition to the third paragraph would have been necessary in order to alter the regulation, that I was requested to ask the House that, while several of these powers are not being utilised, they might still be retained. I would ask my right hon. Friend whether there is any occasion whatever on which the Shipping Controller has abused any of these powers? I do not think there is one hon. or right hon. Member of the House who can show that he has, and I think I may ask that he should be entrusted with these powers at any rate until the 31st August.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
It is extremely difficult for the House to oppose any proposition supported by my hon. Friend who has just sat down, because he has such a wealth of soft answers that turn away wrath, and such a perpetual smile, that it is impossible for the House to get angry with him, no matter how much it may differ from him. We respect him more than anything else for the fact that when he rises to address the House, he shows an anxiety to give the House all the information in his power, and thus reminds us of the best traditions of Parliamentary life and responsibility. It is a reminder which is not without its uses in these days of coalitions.
On the merits of this proposition I was also in sympathy with the Shipping Controller till I heard the speech of my hon. Friend opposite (Sir W. Raeburn), and his speech has almost converted me. I 202 had intended to express my regret that, for the first time in the discussion of this Defence of the Realm Continuance Bill, I did not associate myself with my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles, and that I did not propose to support him in the Division Lobby. I am glad I did not get in when I rose before, because my hon. Friend opposite would not have had the opportunity of converting me. When I find the millionaire shipowner begging that control may be continued in the interests of the community, I begin to "hae ma doots." I have no doubt that my hon. Friend opposite is a patriot, but it is impossible for him to be devoid of personal interest in this question, and he must have had it at the back of his mind that a continuance of shipping control was going to be a very good thing for the shipowners.
§ Sir W. RAEBURN
I venture to say that if the Shipping Controller took the control off it would be very much better.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
If my hon. Friend says that, I do not carry the matter any further. But I should have liked him to explain something of the gambling that is going on in the shipping industry at the present moment. In the newspapers one sees prospectuses issued every week, and announcements of very large transactions in the shipping world. Some people are selling their ships because they say that control is coming off and now is the time to sell, while others are rushing in to buy because they say control is going to continue and this is the time to buy. I am only expressing my regret that my hon. Friend did not tell us how the gambling was brought about, and what motives prompted the gamblers to buy or to sell. [An HON. MEMBER: "Profits."] "Pro fits," says an hon. Member; but who is getting the profits—the one who is selling or the one who is buying? [HON. MEMBERS: "Both."] If both are going to make profits, then the people are going to pay in freights. I am sorry that my hon. Friend did not elaborate that point. It would have been very interesting to hear one of those open confessions which are so good for the soul, as to which side is going to make the money.
The Solicitor General advised me the other night to read those little buff books which I did not know before were 203 issued reporting the proceedings in Standing Committee. I got one of those books to see what happened and to see the eloquent speeches which my right hon. Friend always makes, adorning every subject which he approaches, and I read with great interest his plea for continuing control. Then I looked at the Division List. It was really most entertaining. The position was worse than that which was described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). He said that this was carried by a majority of only one vote, but in that majority there were four interested votes. There was the Attorney General for Ireland, who does not know one end of a ship from the other. I am sorry he is not here because he would have agreed that there is no nautical term that he could explain, and I know that he gets sea-sick every time he crosses the Channel. He rushed up when he heard that the Government were in distress upstairs—this sick Law Officer from Ireland—to save them from distress. But that was not the only funny thing. The signal of distress was wirelessed on to the Coal Controller, who rushed up to save the Shipping Controller, on the principle of "scratch me and I will scratch you," the Shipping Controller being ready to save the Coal Controller when the day of his distress comes. Then my right hon. Friend, who is always in the breach, was there to cast a vote in favour of the Shipping Controller. I think that he will admit that he does not know much about freights or coast traffic or any of these problems, except what he has learned in the Law Courts, which is not a very practical kind of knowledge. That gave me some little food for thought with regard to the merits of this controversy. I would like to hear from the hon. Gentleman who spoke last some evidence that the control is really effective for the purposes of home trade. He skimmed over a few suggestions to convey that he was doing all these things he just hinted at. He said that if you take off the control you will not be able to send coal to Ireland. Nobody knows better than he what happened about coal for Ireland. We could not get the ships. We have been agitating for these ships for months. My hon. Friend has been most courteous about these things, but he knows that it is a game of battledore 204 and shuttlecock. Go to the Coal Controller and assure him that industries are closing down for want of coal, and that in the towns and cities people are suffering great hardships, and you are told to go to the Shipping Controller and that he is the man to blame.
The moment I heard of a shortage of coal in Ireland I proceeded to get three more ships to a total tonnage of 4,000 tons on Saturday.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
I said that the hon. Gentleman was most courteous and obliging but I am telling him now what the Coal Controller said about him, and in nine cases out of ten the Shipping Controller would say "go to the Coal Controller. He is the fellow who is making all the trouble."
Another thing my hon. Friend did not explain. How is it that steps are not taken by him to compel a proper supply of tonnage for coasting trade? How is it that shipowners are allowed to send their ships abroad at enormous freights, while towns along the coasts of England, Ireland and Scotland cannot get freights at all or can get them only with the greatest difficulty? My hon. Friend spoke on the necessity of getting iron ore into this country. We have heaps of iron ore in Ireland. I could take the hon. Member to mines in my own constituency, but I could not get any department in England to develop those mines. If he will only send over surveyors and engineers and open up those mines he will get as much iron ore as he wants without going to Spain for it. It is perfectly futile telling him that, or any other member running this Government, for nothing will happen. I am very glad to hear that this shipping control is going to end at the earliest possible moment, but, knowing something about the difficulty of winding up control by any Government Department, I am very chary about accepting a forecast which mentions any date earlier than 31st August. The winding-up may come by 30th August, but even then most of the officials will find it necessary to continue at work "cleaning up." If we give him power to continue until 31st August we shall probably have to endure the control until that date. In these days, in a Parliament such as this, we have to be thankful for small mercies. I welcome the sign of grace in the hon. 205 Member's statement that he will try to bring control to an end.
§ 12 M.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I feel that the House ought to weigh the arguments very carefully before opposing the continuance of the control of shipping. The doubt that was in the mind of an hon. Member who spoke from the Labour benches has, I think, been removed that is the fear that these powers may be used by the Shipping Controller in such an arbitrary manner as to constitute himself a dictator. If ever a controller assumes such enormous powers of dictatorship the House would very soon not only remove the dictator but remove; the possibility of setting up another controller with anything like equal powers. I wonder what would be the feeling if we were to suggest the immediate removal of control from our railways. We would at once have an outcry that as soon as you got our big inland transport machinery freed from control freight charges would go up to an unlimited extent, and you would thereby inflict hardship not only on industry, but on the everyday consumer. Serious as that would be in the case of the rolling stock of the country, it would be more serious in its relationship to shipping. An hon. Member mentioned that there was plenty of iron ore in Ireland, and there is in England; but I happen to know that the quality of your finished iron largely depends upon the high grade Spanish iron ore being used in proportion with the one which is of a lower grade, and not entirely suitable for the manufacture of high grade iron by itself. It has caused considerable anxiety in that industry. If you decontrolled shipping instead of relieving port congestion you would rather intensify it, because there would be no direction as to where shipping would go for the purpose of discharging cargo. You would have the shipowners and shipping companies putting up freight charges, and, quite naturally, going to the best markets for the highest freights, a proceeding which would not be very profitable to the State itself. I have had occasion to write to the Shipping Controller because certain blast furnaces were threatened with closing down on account of coal being diverted from home to export purposes because of the higher prices to be obtained. If you remove control the shipowners will, take freights wherever they can, and they will not be troubled 206 as to whether the State is injured by the transaction so long as they benefit. I see a time when the House may be asked to tighten instead of to relax control. The trend of the arguments to-day has been not against control but that you have not used the powers of control as effectively as you might have done. You might in that case have had more effective treatment of your shipping and have afforded greater facilities for home industries and the food of the people. The control ought to be maintained and it may be that we shall ask for a further extension of it when August comes in the light of our then experience. To suggest that things being as they are, we must wipe out these regulations in April or May is tantamount to saying to a shipowner, "Get to work, form an effective trust, make all arrangements for the ceasing of the control," and then it will be very hard indeed for you to stop statements being made in this House as to the serious position of industry, because of a lack of foresight in seeing that it is necessary to maintain and even to tighten this control.
§ Mr. SEDDON
I would not have risen but for the facetious speech of the hon. Member for S. Down (Mr. MacVeagh). It appeared that the right hon. Gentleman was trying to make political capital out of a discussion that all Members want to make effective for the protection of the people of this country against the exploiter. With reference to the statement made by the hon. and gallant Member representing the Shipping Controller, I do not think anyone will take exception to his charm of manner or"' to use an Irish phrase, his "blarney." He can ladle it out as good as any man on the front Bench, but I want to point out to him with all his charm and good nature that there is a serious danger in allowing one section of this Government question to be top dog in his Department. The shipping interest is well organised and disciplined, and it has a punch behind it, and I want the hon. and gallant Member to remember that there is also the general community, whose interests should be attended to irrespective of the punch that the shipowners can put into their claims.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to move to leave out Regulation 51.
Under these powers of search the police are allowed to enter anyone's house 207 with only one safeguard. The regulation reads:The competent naval or military authority, or any person duly authorised by him or any police constable may, if he has reason to suspect that any house, building, land, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other premises or any things therein are being or have been constructed, used or kept for any purpose or in any way prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Realm, or that an offence against these Regulations is being or has been committed thereon or therein, enter, if need be by force, the house, building, land, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or premises at any time of the day or night, and examine, search, and inspect the same or any part thereof, and may seize anything found therein which he has reason to suspect is being used or intended to be used for any such purpose as aforesaid, or is being kept or used in contravention of these Regulations.The only safeguard against all that kind of thing is that a justice of the peace is satisfied there is reasonable ground for suspicion.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
My hon. and gallant Friend seems to think that Regulation 51 is being continued as it stood, but if he will look at the third column of the Schedule he will see that the continuation of the Regulation is, "As if, as respects Great Britain, for that regulation, the following regulation were substituted," and he will remember that what is substituted is practically the clauses out of the Official Secrets Act which I arranged with hon. Members after discussion in Committee, Certain hon. Members were good enough to come down afterwards to my room, and we introduced these clauses as being clauses which were the most satisfactory for the purpose.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Am I to understand that the regulation I have read out has been superseded entirely by the words in the third column of the Schedule? I was unable to be present in the right hon. Gentleman's room, although we had a conversation after the Committee upstairs. The powers of search which I have read out are very drastic and can still be exercised with only these two safeguards, first, that it must be a justice of the peace who authorises the search, and secondly that it is an alleged offence under 18A in respect to which the premises are going to be searched. Regulation 18A has to do with communicating with foreign agents, and it was pointed out by several hon. members here that the words have a very 208 wide meaning indeed. We all know to our cost, unfortunately, what the Executive can do in a panic, and therefore the only safeguard we have got against this extraordinary invasion of our rights is that the application must be made before a magistrate, and that the powers must be sought for because an offence is suspected of being about to be committed against Regulation 18A. A justice of the peace is suddenly approached by one of the, minions of the law, who swears to him that an offence is going to be committed by terrible people in some part of the town, and the next thing that a peaceable citizen knows is that his house is knocked up in the middle of the night, and the officers of the law proceed to break into it. If anyone tries to break into my house at the dead of night and frightens the maids and the children he is going to be shot—at all events shot at—I do not say I will hit him. But I put an extreme case quite seriously to show how very wide are the powers we are asked to give the Government. For 100 years the Government have not dared to come to the House of Commons and ask for powers to search the houses of peaceful citizens. Raids on private houses in Ireland have assumed enormous dimensions; I believe recently to the extent of 500 houses. It has not been done to a great extent here; but there have been a few dozen cases. The thing might happen in the case of panic. There might be a strike and the competent military authority, or other person, might make a representation that the Secretary of State should have these powers to put into force in their area. That would create very ill-feeling, and I doubt if any practical purpose would be served. I do not believe a word about the great necessity of being able to afford some protection.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
I beg to Second the Amendment. I understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that these words in the third column were taken out of the Official Secrets Act. If the Government have these powers under that Act, why should they come to Parliament to ask for them at the present time? This seems to me to be a very material point.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I have a very ready answer to both hon. Gentlemen who have put questions to me. In regard to the question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman 209 (Lieut.-Colonel Murray) the position is this: Under the Official Secrets Act there is power taken to search in respect of all offences committed under that Act, but only under that Act There is no general power of search given for offences covered by these Regulations. Therefore it is necessary to take the special power that we ask for in these Regulations. With respect to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull, who said we have not had these powers for a hundred years and that it is a flagrant thing, I would remind him that in 1911—only nine years ago—the powers I am asking the House to continue were given after mature deliberation by this House. What happened? In Committee it was pointed out, and objection taken, that the power of search given under Regulation 51 was somewhat wide; and it has been suggested that, at any rate, for the present time we might take what were adequate powers and curtail the powers given under Regulation 51. We were quite ready to meet that position, and several Members of the Committee were good enough to come to my room and discuss the matter, and we concluded if we asked for the powers granted by the Official Secrets Act and no more we should have fairly met the criticisms. I expressly stated that hon. Members were not to be held by my bargain, and I did not complain of this criticism, and they were kind enough to come and help me in regard to modifications that would be acceptable.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not want to appear ungrateful, but we are now asked to legislate here under Regulation 18A, and not under the Official Secrets Act.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I do not think I misunderstood the hon. Member and I know he objects to Regulation 18A. Under that Regulation we take power to deal with those persons who for sinister purposes are here collecting information without lawful authority or excuse, and we wish to have an immediate power to deal with them. As ancillary to that it is necessary to search the premises where those persons are in order to find incriminating evidence, and wide powers of search are necessary to carry out our powers under Regulation 18A. The question is under what powers should 210 these safeguards be given. As I told those who came to my room, if these powers were no larger than the Official Secrets Acts we should be following Parliamentary precedent, and criticisms should not be offered like those made by the hon. and gallant Member that this class of legislation has not been seen in this House for one hundred years, because a precedent was created only nine years ago. Consequently we have not put into the third column of this Bill precisely the same powers as are given in the Official Secrets Act except those that we have put down in an important particular. In the Official Secrets Act where a search has been made under Section 9, Sub-section I there is power not only to search the promises but to search every person found therein. We have not taken that power to search persons and we have only taken power to search premises. Hon. Members on the other side take root objection to some of the powers which had already been given by this House this evening. They take exception to 18a. But the House has already decided that point, which cannot go over Committee again, and I am only asking the House to make the powers granted under 18a effective by giving similar powers to those which exist in the Official Secrets Act. We have modified them in the way I have stated, after discussion with some members of the Committee who took a great deal of trouble to try and meet me, the difficulties which the Government placed before them at this late hour of the night. I need not go into further explanations, but I do ask the general body of Members to see that we have met the position in a fair manner, and are not taking undue or excessive powers.
§ Captain W. BENN
We do not wish to prolong the discussion. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, Oh!"] If the hon. Member wishes further debate he shall have it. But I repeat, we do not intend to keep the House. We are going to divide on this and on our very objectionable proviso. May I say one thing, however The learned Solicitor-General omitted to deal with the crux of the whole thing, that this Regulation gives the Superintendent of Police power to order searches in Ireland, and the result is that raids are being and will continue to be made which are only calculated, and it may be even 211 intended, to provoke disturbance and disorder.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed
§ Amendment made: In Regulation 51, Column 3, after the word "peace" [" Justice of the Peace "] insert the words "including in Scotland the Sheriff."—[Sir E. Pollock.]
§ This Amendment deals with a very similar and equally objectionable clause in the Schedule which we hope to have expunged. The object of my Amendment is to get rid of Defence of the Realm Regulation No, 55, which gives the power of arrest to any person who is supposed to have committed in this country an offence against Regulation 18A. I do not know of many cases where the Regulation has been abused in this country since the212
§ to be left out, to the word 'peace' ['If a justice of the peace'] in column three, stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 113; Noes, 16.211
|Division No. 26.]||AYES.||[12.27 a.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Gange, E. Stanley||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Armitage, Robert||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Parker, James|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Glyn, Major Ralph||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Goff, Sir R. Park||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Hallwood, Augustine||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Betterton, Major Harry||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Remer, J. R.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Herbert, Denis (Hertford, Watford)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hinds, John||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Simm, M. T.|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smitbers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Britton, G. B.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F-|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Sturrock, J. Long|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Casey, T. W.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Waddington, R.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lort-Williams, J.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Clough, Robert||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Manville, Edward||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Mason, Robert||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J, (Richmond)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Morison, Thomas Brash||Younger, Sir George|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Neal, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Forrest, Walter||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Capt, Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Raffan, peter Wilson||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James||Major Entwistle and Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy.|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
§ Armistice. In Ireland, of course, it has been very grossly abused. All sorts of persons have been arrested, including the hon. Member for St. Stephen's Green (Mr. T. Kelly), simply on suspicion, and the same powers are sought in this country. I do not think that there is any hon. Member in this House, whatever may be his opinion, who does not deplore all the present proceedings in Ireland—houses being raided and people taken off in the dead of night without trial. We all deplore these things. The powers we are asked to give the Government art exactly the same for this country. It is possible to arrest any citizen of this country, practically on suspicion, of having communicated with an enemy alien, of having his address in his 213 possession, and so on. All these arguments against enemy aliens were dealt with very fully and not without ability from these benches by other hon. Members. The corollary is the power of arrest given to the Executive under this Bill. We are given the safeguard that the arrest warrant must be given by the Secretary of State, or, in Scotland, by the Secretary for Scotland, but, in practice, it will mean that the Secretary of State will be very much in the hands of his legal advisers. Some permanent official who will have the power to arrest some person in this country with whom he happens to have a disagreement. I contend that, at this time, when the country is settling down peacefully, doing its best and behaving remarkably well considering the form of Government we have got, these powers are unnecessary and that they are, in fact, an insult to our long-suffering and splendid people. The Amendment I propose is to get rid of them.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I share with the I hon. and gallant Member (Lieut.-Com- mander Kenworthy) the difficulty, at this hour of the night, on this question, of saying anything very bright or very new. For all that he said in reference to the last matter on which we divided, and all that I said, may be used, almost in the same words, as relevant to this present matter which we are not discussing. He objects to Regulation 18A, I, like him, do so. So does the House. He objects to powers being given at all and says that they are new powers. I refer to the Official Secrets Act. Again, in this power of arrest, I turn to the Official Secrets Act and say that exactly the same powers given for offences under this Act. I referred to the fact of this discussion in Committee, and on that occasion hon. Members moved, and they agreed on the matter, I think fairly, by eliminating certain powers given under the Official Secrets Act. I do not ask for quite so much as the Official Secrets Act gives. There is the power there to
§ arrest any person suspected of having committed, or of having attempted to commit, an offence. I do not ask for that; I only ask that where there is a reasonable case of an offence having been committed under the Official Secrets Act, so, under Regulation 18A, similar powers should be given. I was going to ask the House to complete the powers we have asked for to carry out Regulation 18A, and to make it a real and effective piece of legislation. I am going to ask them to give present powers and I am going to say that the pattern for these powers is already embodied in the Act passed nine years ago. While the hon. and gallant Member objects to Regulation 18A, and all the powers in it, I am going to ask the House to be good enough, as they have given me the power of search on Regulation 18A, to give me some power under the Official Secrets Act. That power does not go so far as that Act, but I think it to be a fit and proper measure to take.
§ Captain W. BENN
May I point out what it is that we on this side of the House object to in this case? We believe that Regulation 18A will be used for political purposes. We object also because it gives a police constable power to arrest without a warrant at all.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Will the right hon. Gentleman say how he proposes to construe the words "about to commit an offence "? Can he tell us how he knows that a man is" about to commit an offence "?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I am not going to discuss that matter at this late hour. If my hon. and learned Friend, who is a member of the English Bar, will meet me one day in the Temple, we will discuss it together.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 107; Noes, 14.215
|Division No. 27.]||AYES.||[12.46 a.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Baldwin, Stanley||Bennett, Thomas Jewell|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Barlow, Sir Montague||Borwick, Major G. O.|
|Armitage, Robert||Barnett, Major R. W.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-|
|Atkey, A. R.||Betterton, Major Harry||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Brassey, Major H. L. C.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Britton, G. B. (Bristol, East)||Herbert, Denis (Hertford, Watford)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hinds, John||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Remer, J. R.|
|Carr, w. Theodore||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Casey, T. W.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jodreil, Neville Paul||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Clough, Robert||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Cockerill, Brig,-General G. K.||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (isle of Ely)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Lort-Williams. J.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chlch'st'r)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Bosworth)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||M'Lean, Major Charles W. W.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Mason, Robert||Waddington, R.|
|Forrest, Walter||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis F.||Neal, Arthur||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavrstock)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Flnchiey)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Wilson, Colonel M. J. (Richmond)|
|Goff, Sir park||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Younger, Sir George|
|Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Parker, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Colonel Gibbs and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Holmes, J. Stanley||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Royce, William Stapleton||Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy and|
|Hayday, Arthur||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Major Mackenle Wood.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill to be read the Third time this day.