§ [FIFTH DAY.]
§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [17th January] to Question [15th January].
§ "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—[Mr. Banks.]
§ Which Amendment was, at the end of the Question, to add the words
§ "But it is our duty respectfully to submit to your Majesty that Your Majesty's present advisers have not the confidence of this House:"—[Mr. Clynes.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
No one who has followed with attention the two days' Debate, which has already taken place on the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), can have failed to be struck by one feature of the discussion. Here is a Vote of No Confidence in the present Government. Even those who resist this Vote of No Confidence do not seriously contend that the country has any confidence in the present Administration; indeed, they hardly pretend to have any confidence in it themselves. If we were to vote on the merits of the Amendment, without regard to future questions or ulterior consequences, this Amendment ought to be carried without a dissentient voice. Certainly, members of the Government could not vote against it and least of all the Prime Minister, for the life of his Government is terminated not so much by the vote of the House of Commons as by the declarations which he himself made before and during the General Election.
The scene which we are witnessing to-day is not an execution; it is an 588 inquest, an autopsy; and there can seldom have been a case in which the cause of death is more easily determined by the declarations of the deceased. Only last October, at Plymouth, the Prime Minister described unemployment as the most crucial problem in the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] So it was. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is!"] So it is. The Prime Minister declared, I quote his actual words:No Government, no statesman could remain in power or deserve to remain in power unless the country was satisfied that everything possible was being done to fight this evil.He added,I cannot fight it without weapons.He deliberately asserted that as far as he was concerned the only effective weapon was a system of tariffs. Then, with an engaging frankness which secures for him the sincere respect of his critics, but which must, I think, sometimes be a little embarrassing to his colleagues, he reviewed the past performances of his Government and confessed:If we go pottering along as we are we shall have grave unemployment with us to the end of time.I should like, if I may, very respectfully, to put a question to the Prime Minister, who is, I understand, going to take part in the Debate. Does he, in the light of the declarations which he and his colleagues made just before the Election, ask the House of Commons to maintain him in office?
I see the Home Secretary sitting next to the Prime Minister. The Home Secretary was one of those who, when the Dissolution was announced, was let loose in the country in order to stampede the electorate into Tariff Reform. Only two days after the Dissolution was proclaimed he was speaking at Birkenhead, and this is what he said:
4.0 P.M.Unless Mr. Baldwin was armed with the power to put a duty on foreign manufacturers, he was not prepared to undertake the duty of governing the country.It is no use the Home Secretary saying that he had not in mind, when he spoke, the danger of the Labour Party, of the Socialist party, because in the same speech he dealt with that party and with the Labour menace in language which, to judge from his previous executive performances, would, in his judgment, 589 abundantly have justified the deportation and internment of everybody who was suspected of belonging to that party. So much for the Home Secretary.
Then, next to him I see on the Bench the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Air (Sir Samuel Hoare). The right hon. Gentleman was so much impressed by the Plymouth speech, that he told his Chelsea constituents this:No self-respecting Government faced with the present state of unemployment could go on—[An HON. MEMBER: "This is not a self-respecting Government!"]—but must go to the country and tell the electors that they must seek further powers to deal with the problem, insoluble by a palliative, in a more drastic manner.Yes, but supposing the electors refused these further powers, I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that a "self-respecting Government" should go on as though nothing had happened.
On the other side of the Prime Minister is the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Neville Chamberlain). He was also at his side at Plymouth, and this is what he said.
§ Sir J. SIMON
He said:If we are to deal adequately with the situation of unemployment next winter, then it will be necessary that we should ask to be released from the Bonar Law pledge.He has asked, and he has been refused, and the question I would invite the Prime Minister to deal with is this. Does he think it reasonable, does he even think it tolerable that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer should be left to prepare the next Budget, when, by his own confession, any Budget he could prepare cannot deal adequately with the situation? I think I have laid the foundations for my questions, but if anything further is required let me remind the Prime Minister of the language he used in this House on 13th November when he announced the Dissolution. This is what he said:I could not have undertaken to remain in my present position and to attempt to steer the country through the winter of 1924–5 unless I were allowed to use an instrument which I could not use having regard to the pledge given a year ago by Mr. Bonar Law."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1923, col. 39, Vol. 168.]590 Therefore I repeat, with very great respect, my question to the Prime Minister: Does he, in the light of these declarations of himself and his colleagues, really ask the House of Commons to maintain him in office?
In those circumstances, the Government had two courses before them. They might have resigned forthwith. That, it appears to me, and I should have thought it would have appeared to them, is a course that would have had certain advantages. In the first place it would have saved six precious weeks at a time, at a very important part of the year. In the second place it would have enabled their successors to make the acquaintance of the Departments before Parliament met, and in the third place it would have compelled the new Government to produce a King's Speech of their own, and to have declared their policy in detail. Lastly it would have enabled the country to learn from that authoritative document instead of from the frenzied vaticinations, weekday and Sunday, of the Sibyls of Fleet Street, whether the advent of the Labour Government, without a Labour majority in the House, really does mean steering for "red ruin and the breaking up of laws." Then, why did not the Government take that course and resign at once? It could not have been tactics, because the Prime Minister proudly declared at Plymouth: "I know nothing of political tactics." I see in some quarters it is suggested that their delay in giving up their offices was due to an over-mastering sense of constitutional propriety. Is that so? It surely cannot be constitutionally improper to follow a course which was taken by Mr. Gladstone in 1874 and 1886, and which was taken by Mr. Disraeli in 1868 and 1880. Indeed, it is interesting to recall the reasons which were given in 1868 for resigning at once after the General Election instead of waiting to meet the House of Commons, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) may be interested to know that then, as now, the decision of the Conservative Prime Minister was only reached after some unavailing protest from the then occupant of Knowsley. This is what Mr. Disraeli wrote, and there may be Conservatives in this House who, remembering the pinnacle of power to which Mr. Disraeli raised their party, and reflecting on the overthrow 591 which is threatening it now, may deem Mr. Disraeli's words not without application to the present circumstances:Her Majesty's Ministers hold it to be more consistent with the attitude they have assumed—at the Election—and with the convenience of public business, as well as more conducive to the just needs of the Conservative party at once to tender the resignations of their offices to Her Majesty, rather than wait for the assembling of Parliament, in which, in the present aspect of affairs, they are sensible they must be in a minority.The present Government did not choose to take the pusillanimous course of Mr. Disraeli; they determined to fight it out, and here they are. If they calculated on some respite from the Liberals, all hope of reprieve must have disappeared a full month ago, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley made his speech at the National Liberal Club.
Having come to this bold decision, how has His Majesty's Government spent the interval? They have not, of course, been directing the future policy of the country, for obviously no far reaching decision could be taken by tenants at will, not protected by the Rent Restriction Act, under notice to quit. They have spent the interval in composing the longest and most elaborate King's Speech on record. They have solemnly announced their intention of introducing no less than 17 Bills, although they know perfectly well they cannot survive the Address. Even more astonishing than the length of the speech is the character of its contents. Repentance at the foot of the scaffold is always a very affecting spectacle. We learn a year too late that the Conservative Government see their way to remove the thrift disqualification from old age pensions, that they would now like to introduce a Bill to improve the position of pre-war pensioners. They have failed to introduce it, and failed even to disclose its contents, during the whole of the last Parliament. The King's Speech appears to be framed by treating the General Election as a sort of youthful indiscretion, hardly decent to dwell upon, which mars the otherwise blameless record of a long and useful career. No wonder that, after two days of anxious Cabinets, they decided not to broadcast it. If they had, their supporters and subscribers at the last election might have thought they had got the wrong wave length, and were 592 listening-in to Abingdon Street, or to Eccleston Square. The only manifesto they have not consulted is the Prime Minister's own manifesto, and indeed the Prime Minister's own manifesto at the late election puts them entirely out of court. He set out the urgency of the unemployment problem, and he asserted that no remedy could be found without that fundamental change in our fiscal system which Mr. Bonar Law had pledged his party not to make, and he went on:I am in honour bound to ask the people to release us from this claim without further prejudicing the situation with any delay.The right hon. Gentleman protested thatNo Government with any sense of responsibility could continue to sit with tied hands, and content itself with palliatives.There they do sit with their hands admittedly tied, and I am bound to say that they do not look very contented. If I am asked why I, as a Liberal, am prepared to turn them out of office, I will reply that what the country above all needs is the removal from the Treasury Bench of people who have confessed in advance that they cannot effectively handle a problem, and the presence there of people, who, at any rate, hope that they can. The truth is that, regarded on its merits, the case for turning out this Government is overwhelming and unanswerable, and even hon. Gentlemen opposite know that the case that they would like to have made against the Government is not really based on the merits of this Government, but is based on suggestions of the inadequacy or the danger of another.
I say that the truth is that the case against this Government is overwhelming, but it is equally true—and I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to see that I am conceding the point—that a large body of public opinion is sincerely troubled by the vision, whether real or imaginary, of what the consequences of turning out the Government will be. I am not referring to the professional panic mongers, or to the obvious partisan. It is true that there exists in the country, among steady, serious, sober people, a real anxiety as to what may be the ultimate consequences of turning this Government out of office, and if the House will allow me I would like to speak on that part of the subject with the greatest frankness. I am not a 593 Socialist; I am a Liberal—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—and no good is done by ignoring or minimising the differences between the two, but in deciding on what my duty is, having regard to the recent Election—[an HON. MEMBER: "Duty to whom?"]—to my constituents and the country—the same duty as hon. Members owe to their constituents and that we all owe.
In considering what my duty is I reflect upon the experience of the last Parliament, and in reflecting upon that experience I note two things, and I would invite the House to be good enough to let me point them out. The first is this. The experience of the last Parliament showed, clearly enough, that there is a large field of immediate practical endeavour in which Members of the Labour party, and Members of the Liberal party, have been able to co-operate. We have found ourselves again and again in the same lobby. The electors who voted a short time ago knew that perfectly well. We have again and again joined together in the same Debates. I am not discussing who it is, on this side, who has taken the more prominent part, but I would point out that in the difficult subject of international affairs—and the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs has had some reason to remember it again and again during the last year—the criticism which has been offered to the present Government is a criticism that has been offered from Liberal and Labour Benches together. The same is true in a large variety of domestic subjects. That is one plain truth which anybody who considered the history of the last twelve months must thoroughly have appreciated, and which the electors know just as well as the Members sitting in different parts of this House.
The second thing is this. The Parliamentary history of the last twelve months also shows us that there are ultimate conceptions and financial methods favoured by men in the ranks of the Labour party to which we, as Liberals, are resolutely opposed. I would remind the House of the Debate on Socialism, and the Division last July. It was an occasion on which the whole of the Liberal party, to whatever wing we might be supposed to belong, voted against the doctrine of Socialism, if by that doctrine you mean the suppression 594 of private enterprise and private industrial ownership—not as an expedient adopted in a given case, as a matter of practical judgment, where legislative intervention is shown to be necessary—but as a formula to be everywhere repeated, and to be remorselessly applied as an article of faith over the whole field of industry and in every department and compartment of the social structure. Liberals do not forget or qualify or retract their vote of last July, when that proposition was submitted from the left of the Chair by my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), and we would equally oppose that proposition if it were presented to the House from the right of the Chair by a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer.
You ask us to consider the moral of the last Election. It is true that the verdict of the recent Election went to show that the country is as firmly opposed to Socialism, as I have defined it, and to the Capital Levy, as it was opposed to Protection. But I must protest against the notion that the accession of the Leader of the Opposition to the position of Prime Minister in this House of Commons, composed as it is, means that between night and morning Britain will become a Socialistic State. You refer us to the result of the Election, and we rely upon it. The true result of the General Election is this, that the country has rejected alike the wild experiments both of Protection and of Socialism, but that there is a vast majority of votes in favour of a new spirit in government and a new policy in foreign and domestic affairs which might fairly be described as in the common occupation of the Liberal and Labour parties.
We are told that this will ruin the Liberal party. It is most amusing to find that a number of persons, who hitherto have not shown themselves deeply solicitous of the future of Liberalism, should now be so greatly concerned about its fortunes. We had the Chancellor of the Exchequer, last Friday I think, warning us of our impending doom. We have the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, with his more nimble intelligence piercing the mists of the next 100 years, and prophesying cheerfully for a century ahead. For my part, I am not unduly perturbed by these prophecies. These are the prophets—there they sit, major and minor—who a little more than 595 12 months ago were foretelling that we were at the beginning of a long tranquil period of powerful Conservative government. These are the prophets who, only two months ago, on the eve of the Election—even the Prime Minister joined them—explained that they were not really going in for any gamble. It is true that they put their money on Protection, but then they were backing a certainty. Now these new friends of the Liberal party are joined by an old friend, Mr. Winston Churchill.
Let me say—and I think that the House will agree—that Mr. Churchill's defeat at Leicester deprived the House of one of the most brilliant Parliamentary figures of our time. But the question, after all, is not a question of brilliancy in debate, or brilliancy in manœuvre. The question is a question of soundness of judgment, and, greatly as I admire the coruscating qualities of Mr. Churchill, there is nothing in his recent record which leads me to believe that he is the best authority on how to keep Labour out. His eager and ingenious mind is always occupied with the strategy of politics. He would, I think, be the last to declare that there has been strict fidelity in all his political attachments, but a combination between Liberals and Tories to keep Labour out is his principal obsession. It is the fixed pole round which he continually revolves. I confess I should have thought that those who are most alarmed at the prospect of Labour in power ought to see the obvious objection to this plan. Apart from all other objections, apart from everything else, that ingenious strategy is of all things calculated to strengthen the very forces which these ingenious strategists are striving to circumvent. Let me quote—and I think hon. Members opposite will largely agree with them—some words spoken by Mr. Bonar Law only about a year and a half ago:The argument put forward, that in view of the pressure and danger from Labour it was necessary to keep up even the name of a Coalition when the reality was gone, believe me, is a profound mistake. If we had succeeded in setting up on the one hand, one party representing everything opposed to Labour, and, on the other, Labour alone, you could have done nothing which would have added more to the force of Labour.I confess I think the plain and simple course on an occasion like this, is the 596 right course, and as far as I am concerned, and I believe as far as most of my party are concerned, this is the conclusion of the whole matter. I am not going to refuse support to Liberal Measures because they are proposed and because credit for them is claimed, and naturally claimed, by a Labour Government. I am going to oppose un-Liberal Measures, whoever proposes them. Whether the new administration will succeed in the very difficult circumstances in which they take office, time will show, but certainly and beyond all question they are entitled to assume office, and I hope they will assume office with the good will of the whole House of Commons. Some people who oppose their advent, oppose it on the strange ground of Constitutionalism. They seem to think that the British Constitution is a door which will only open one way, just as there are some people who always have loyalty on their lips and who act as though it was only necessary to be loyal when they get what they want. The duty of the Liberal party as I conceive it is plain and simple. Their duty is to help to get rid, at the earliest moment, of this incompetent administration, which, by its own declarations, has disqualified itself from further useful service; to render all proper and patriotic support in securing that the King's Government is carried on; to resist violent and ill-considered change from whatever quarter it is proposed; to rejoice that fresh minds and a new spirit may be devoted to the difficult task of Government; and to co-operate with men and women of good will in all parties, in the pursuit of European peace and of domestic reform.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am far too old a Member of this House, and far too great an admirer of its traditions, to join in the common cry that speeches do not influence votes, but I shall be surprised if the speech to which we have just listened changes a single vote. My right hon. and learned Friend began his speech with a hypothesis which all of us know to be untrue, and for half an hour occupied the House with the consideration of how easy it would be to decide our votes if we had not to consider the consequences of them. Then in ten minutes of heavy labour he sought to find some pretext for the vote he is going to give. As I listened to the right hon. and learned 597 Gentleman there came to my mind lines familiar to the childhood of us all:The dog to serve his private ends Went mad and bit the man;and we are not so far removed in memory from those early days that I need remind my right hon. and learned Friend what the sequel was. But, indeed I am dispensed from dealing with the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He has amplified and expanded, but he has added nothing to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). The right hon. and learned Gentleman, with his shy overtures to the Leader of the Opposition — his coy advances—comes too late. He had a little altercation with the Leader of the Opposition in the last Parliament. May I remind him of what the Leader of the Opposition said, speaking in the Debate, to which I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred, on the 16th of July:There are only two parties in politics today. There is the Capitalist party and the Labour and Socialist party. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley has tried to get into a sort of halfway house. His halfway house is on wheels. It always moves forward when he likes, and nobody will be in the Socialist camp sooner than my right hon. Friend when that camp becomes popular."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1923, col. 2010, Vol. 166.]I am not so vain as to think that in such a Debate as this and at this stage of it, any words of mine will have more effect upon the votes that are given this evening than the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend opposite. If I venture to intrude for a short time it is because I occupy a position which has not so far found complete expression in any speech delivered from these benches, and I believe I have some thoughts to contribute to our present discussion which, though they may not represent any large number of votes in this House, are yet shared by not a few anxious people in the country at this time.
It is not so very long since I was pleading with my friends of the Unionist party, at the famous meeting in the Carlton Club, not to break up the Coalition which had then existed for many years between a large and powerful section of the Liberal party and our own party. I ventured to point out to my friends before that election—the last election but one—and I repeated it after- 598 wards when the results were known, that we who defended the old principles and the old freedom, were not so strong that in the face of a common menace we could afford to indulge in mock quarrels. I was answered by Mr. Bonar Law in a passage not quoted by my right hon. and learned Friend, but parallel to it. He said that if you teach the country that there are but two parties capable of Government, one comprising all that is most liberal in the Liberal party and all that exists in the Unionist party, and the other comprising the Socialist party, then is it not certain that sooner or later, some day, the Socialist party will come into power. Yes, "some day," if we had continued the Coalition. But barely a year has passed, and to-morrow a Socialist Government enters into office. The Coalition is dead. At this moment nobody can revive it—nobody would revive it if they could. But the Coalition being dead, co-operation is a necessity, and the only question is, who shall co-operate with whom. Between whom shall new alliances exist? I cannot help thinking that a great deal of nonsense has been talked on this subject by a great many I hope not otherwise than sensible men. The late Mr. John Bright once observed that the trouble with great thinkers was that they usually thought wrong.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberavon (Mr. MacDonald), in advance, denounced any "wangling" that should dash the cup from his lips, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley lent countenance to this doctrine. But what is going to happen? Two parties have got to "wangle," if that be the word, into the same Lobby to get this Government out. Two parties have got to "wangle" into the same Lobby to keep any Government in. Oh, yes, Sir, my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley talks easily at the National Liberal Club about the limits of his acquiescence. We are to turn out my right hon. Friend to-day, and put in the hon. Member for Aberavon to-morrow, and, the day after, if we are in any difficulty, we are to turn to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. No, Sir; men must be deemed to intend the natural consequences of their acts. The King's Government has to be carried on. If you put a Socialist 599 Government into office, day after day you will walk into the Lobby to keep them there. The assistance must be active or passive. It must be passive by abstention—if the right hon. Gentleman and his friends chose to abstain, the result to-night would be different—or it must be active by their intervention; and they have chosen the course which requires constant activity on behalf of a policy in which they do not believe, in support of a Government which they profess to mistrust, rather than the middle course that might give the country what the country wants.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy)—I am glad he is with us again—says we have not seen their policy yet. Apparently, like a greater man, the hon. and gallant Member does not read the newspapers. Does he suppose that the hon. Member for Aberavon contemplates assuming office in order that he may turn his back upon himself, and repudiate all those principles which differentiate his party from either of the other parties in the State? The right hon. Member for Paisley and his followers occupy a very curious position. For some years past, my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)—I am sorry he was not here to hear the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley—have exchanged nothing but back-handed compliments. But just before the Election they apparently exchanged back numbers of their old speeches, and out of the material so provided they succeeded in constructing an address, to which nobody paid any attention, and which, therefore, they are able to claim that the country did not reject. The result is—[An HON. MEMBER: "That you are in a minority"]—that the party on this side have no majority in the House, and that the party of my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley hold the balance.
My right hon. Friend thought it necessary to defend himself against the aspersion cast upon him in some quarters that he might be actuated by a greed, a lust for office, regardless of principle or honour. I do not know what vulgar minds conceived or what vulgar tongues uttered this slander on one of the great orna- 600 ments of our House. My right hon. Friend remains among us as a monument of Victorian statesmanship and of Victorian oratory,but, alas, he is also what, in undertakers' language, would be called the relict of Victorian controversies. He dwells among the old shibboleths, the old cries of the past, and he will not face up to the new conditions. He is so frightened of getting a touch of the Tory pitch that he plunges headlong into the vat of Turkey red. It is quite true that he says he will not give a blank cheque to the hon. Member for Aberavon. Nobody has asked him for a blank cheque at present. He may keep that for the capital levy. No, he does not give a blank cheque, but what he does is to issue Letters of marque to the good ship "Clyde," to cruise the waters of commerce and industry, and seize what they can. And then he seeks safety in a formula "Where progressive thought has grasped the same ideals," then the Liberal lion can lie down with the Socialist lamb, and none of us will know whether we are listening to the roarings of the one or the bleatings of the other.
I think my right hon. Friend has lost a great opportunity. The verdict of the country was in some respects indecisive. It was left to this House to give it precision. It rejected—I am sorry for it—the Protectionist policy of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and it rejected with equal decision the Socialist policy of the Government which the right hon. Gentleman is going to put into power. What did it want? It wanted something of the spirit, of the method, of the policy of Mr. Bonar Law, and I think it would not have been unbecoming my right hon. Friend, at the close of a great career—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not the close!"]—to undertake the responsibilities of Government at this critical time, when we are disqualified by our own declarations, and when the country never wished and never supposed that it was going to place in power a Socialist Government. I could not suspect my right hon. Friend of any vulgar ambition, but he had it in his power to give the true sense to the verdict of the country. This is not a round game, in which every child must have its turn, or is entitled to call out that its treatment is unfair. What we had to consider was whether there existed a stable majority, not by coalition, but by co-operation. The right hon. Gentleman deliberately 601 decided to act, not in combination with us, with whom, apart from Protection, he shares all the fundamental principles, but in co-operation with, if not in subservience to, those from whom he is as profoundly divided by all that he has taught, by all that he has preached, in his long career by every act of government and administration as he can be from anything in our British polity.
He has taken his choice, and he has by that choice constituted his own immortality. He will go down to history as the last Prime Minister of a Liberal Administration. He has sung the swan song of the Liberal party. When next the country is called upon for a decision, if it wants a Socialist Government, it will vote for a Socialist; if it does not want a Socialist Government, it will vote for a Unionist. It will not vote again for those who denatured its mandate and betrayed its trust.
§ Miss MARGARET BONDFIELD
I feel I must apologise for intervening in this battle of the giants. I am certainly suffering under the depression of the funeral dirge on the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), to which we have just listened. The points on which I wish to address this House have very little to do with these intellectual scintillations, but they have a great deal to do with the suffering that is going on in this country at the present time amongst unemployed women. Unemployment amongst women, I recognise, is only a small part of a very large problem, but at the same time those of us who have to face these unemployed women day after day realise that for the unemployed women it is the most vital question before the country, and my criticism of the Government is, that in this small problem there was much that could have been done to mitigate the lot of the women, with very little expense, but with a certain amount of administrative common sense, and they have consistently refused to do that little. We have round about a quarter of a million women who have been unemployed during the last three years. The number has varied from time to time, but some of them have been almost continuously unemployed. There were things that could have been done, extensions of schemes that were already in operation, but what is the record of the Government? In 1921, by dint of great pressure from the Central Com- 602 mittee on Women's Employment, backed up by the Trade Union Congress and by large bodies of entirely nonpolitical public opinion, we succeeded in getting a grant of £50,000 allocated to the Central Committee. In 1922 we secured, after tremendous pressure and agitation which ought to have been entirely unnecessary, another grant of £50,000. At the end of December the Central Committee had spent, from the funds at its disposal, £150,000.
The first £50,000 from the Government was conditional on the Central Committee providing £2 to every £1 of the Government. The second was conditional upon the Central Committee putting £1 to every £1 of the Government. With the united fund we have succeeded in passing through various classes about 15,500 people. There are at present not more than 1,000 persons in the training classes, and the last returns show that there are still 250,000 unemployed women, many of whom are again facing a black winter. These small grants were given conditional upon certain training schemes being confined entirely to the development and supply of domestic servants. I am not quarrelling with the necessity for securing domestic work training. I heartily welcome the Report published by the Committee of Inquiry into the conditions of domestic service. It is a sane and practical Report, which has faced facts and realised that there is a curious psychological situation that has to be met, as well as merely a shortage of labour. The recommendations in the Report show a grasp of the whole problem which I hope a future Government will take into account. But the Central Committee could have enormously extended the classes for what we call the home makers. We were not permitted to have any money at all for that category, which would have been so helpful in great areas like Lancashire and Nottingham, Cradley Heath and elsewhere. We have had a certain number of classes there, and we have been able to help a certain number of women, but this had to be done entirely out of the funds raised voluntarily and controlled by the Central Committee on Women's Unemployment.
The War made an enormous difference to the position of women in this respect. I do not think hon. Members realise quite what it means to-day, for example, to be 603 in the clothing trades, compared with what it was 15 years ago. In the clothing trades mass production has developed enormously, and the War accentuated that development. Power machines are the rule rather than the exception, and the specialisation of processes has gone on to such an extent that women who have devoted years to the clothing trade are now in the position of having an option of doing only a thirtieth or even an eightieth part of a garment, and they are kept at that task. Here is a great avenue for helpfulness. The unemployed women in the clothing trade could have been helped by the immediate development of technical classes under the education authorities, where they could learn at least to be able to visualise the processes of a whole garment, and go back to the labour market with knowledge of more than one of the 80 or more processes in the making-up of clothes. That would strengthen the efficiency of the labour supply in the clothing trades and would be an enormous advantage not only to the individual but to the general efficiency of the clothing trade as a whole.
There are other categories of workers in regard to whom there is room for Government action. There are the women in clerical work, many of whom were brought into Government Departments during the War. Of necessity—I do not complain—vast numbers of women were put to do work of a certain elementary kind that did not give them the necessary training or experience to enable them to continue clerical work at the end of the War. These women, above all others, require opportunities for developing technical and general knowledge. In their case classes could have been formed at very little cost. Such classes would have helped to keep up the morale and strengthen the efficiency of the women.
Above all, probably, criticism ought to be directed against the Government administration in regard to their handling of the juvenile question. Boys and girls alike have been at the mercy of a world into which they were turned out of the schools with no place in industry ready to receive them. On boys and girls in the most formative years of their lives, when their characters were influenced by environment, that could have nothing but 604 a disintegrating and deteriorating effect. Here, too, with a little co-ordination between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education and any other Department that could have been useful in the matter, surely it might have been possible to build up, not merely an enormous extension of continuation class work, but some opportunities might have been given to the cleverer amongst the children to qualify for better and more extended opportunities of service to the State. We feel that the absence of any co-ordinated effort to deal with juvenile, unemployment will go down as one of the gravest marks against the administration of the Government.
I must say a word with regard to inspection. It is very important that we should make laws and that those laws should be good, but they are useless if they are not administered properly. In connection with the legislation that has grown up in the 20th century, inspection has been a vital part of the completion of the law. Take the whole of the ramifications under the Trade Boards Act. The underlying principle enabled the organised workers to work with the organised employers and to get something like a basic rate, filling in the morass of the sweated industries, and getting some sort of firm foundation on which afterwards, by united action, the workers could be maintained and the standard of life raised. We had many employers who welcomed the coming of the Trade Boards, because they recognised that those who desired to deal justly with their people were being saved from a particularly mean and unfair kind of competition. But the success of the Trade Boards depends upon the enforcement of their awards and the enforcement is the business of the inspectors. What has happened in the Trade Board's Department? We had given to the Cave Commission again and again evidence from the Department itself that the staff of inspectors was totally inadequate to deal with the vast problems connected with Trade Board inspection.
We had the humiliating situation last year, when there was a flagrant case of violation in connection with the Tailoring Trade Board rate. It was not the fault of the inspectors, but the Government Department decided that the thing was too difficult, and that it was not possible 605 to conduct a prosecution if they had to deal with a log rate. So the union took up the matter instead. The union won and got an award. It was proved beyond a doubt that it was possible to estimate whether or not the workers were receiving less than the Trade Board's rate. The mischief of the lack of inspection lies in the steady undermining of respect for the law, when that law has been entered into both by employers and workers. These protective laws are in the interests, not merely of the individual concerned, but of the whole community. If we are to advance, we want more of that kind of legislation, but we must insist that when we have got it it shall be fully operative. We want, therefore, a very large extension of the inspectorate.
Is it not ironical that in the very year when factory inspection is the subject of international inquiry, when the Government sends its representatives to Geneva to consider recommendations and covenants laying down the basis of an international system of factory inspection, at a time when the whole world has had its attention directed to the British system of factory inspection—many of us are proud of the record which our inspectors have laid down, for it is a fine tradition, and I had the opportunity in Geneva of meeting inspectors from different countries of the world, and they explained that they were anxious to follow the British method and to develop the British system in their respective countries—is it not ironical that in the year when this has happened, we find a niggardly policy adopted by the Government, which has crippled, hampered, and brought sometimes into disrepute the very system of which we should be so proud? It is a matter of deep regret that these administrative details have been allowed to escape the attention of the Government, because it did not feel the importance of the matter. That is one reason why I am very glad that hon. Members on this side of the House are going to take office. It is not a matter of statistics or of dialectics, but of safeguarding what has been won by tremendous effort and sacrifice on the part of those who are dead and gone.
If I am not regarded as impertinent in the first weeks of my membership of this House, I would say that the speech of the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. D G. 606 Somerville) brought vividly to my mind a conversation that I had after the 1922 Election with the right hon. Gentleman who lately represented Northampton. He said that for him an election was a mental rest cure. I am bound to say, after the speech of the hon. Member for Barrow, that I felt that his mental rest cure had not yet been completed. I am astounded that the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House should still imagine that the country has rejected Socialism. I am a Socialist of 30 years' standing and to-day am a more convinced Socialist than ever I was. Every General Election appears to bring out a larger assortment of entirely imaginary evils, based upon entirely imaginary facts, produced by Members of the party opposite.
It is surely time that we should have perfectly clear-cut divisions—here I echo very cordially the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway)—with regard to intellectual differences. Goodness me! There will always be enough of them to keep us busy and alive and to provide a subject for debate in the House of Commons. There are and will be fundamental differences. Why, then, let us waste the time of the country and of the House by discussing things that have no reality, discussing possible evils that nobody really believes will ever come to pass. Let us get right down to the fundamental differences between those who believe that certain industries will be better under public control than under private control, and those who will not believe that that can ever come. That is a real difference, an understandable difference, an intelligible difference, and I am quite sure the country is debating that difference.
Sitting suspended at Fifteen Minutes after Five o'Clock until Half after Five o'Clock.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Amery)
I should like to begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Northampton (Miss Bondfield)—who, for the moment, is not in her place—on the very interesting speech which she has delivered. The hon. Member confessed, in her closing remarks, that she was a little puzzled by some aspects of this House. I can assure her of one thing, 607 at any rate, and that is, that this House, regardless of party, always welcomes and appreciates anyone who, like herself, contributes something of real value and real interest to the discussions. She will, I am sure, forgive me if I do not follow her in the very important subject which she brought before the House, and if I fail to reply to her challenge. I have only risen for a few minutes to fulfil a promise which I gave to several Members that I would outline, at any rate, the special programme of naval construction that we have put forward with the view of relieving the unemployment situation in the great shipbuilding centres. I need say nothing to elaborate the gravity of that situation. My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow (Mr. Somerville) gave some striking figures the other day. The matter was dealt with very effectively, also, by the Noble Lady (Duchess of Atholl) whom we are very glad to welcome as a recruit to our ranks.
The whole situation is one which, so far as commercial shipbuilding is concerned, can be relieved only by a recovery of the world's commerce to a degree sufficient to reabsorb redundant shipping and create an effective demand for new construction. In these anxious and urgent circumstances we considered whether it would not be possible to anticipate to some extent our normal, and, in any case, necessary programme of naval replacement—or this, I rather think, will be the more correct way of putting it—to restore the normal programme which, under the pressure of the call for economy, we had been prepared, to some extent, to postpone. From the naval point of view the situation is this: Practically the whole of our light cruisers will become obsolete and worn out in the course of the next twelve years. To replace them and to maintain our cruiser establishment in strength sufficient to meet the requirements of our Fleets, and the protection of our commerce, we shall have to lay down, in the course of the next ten years, a total of some fifty-two cruisers in all, in other words an average of five a year. There will, moreover, be a particularly heavy drop in the next six years, and to prevent a serious deficiency arising in 1929 and subsequent years, we ought to lay down as many above that average as is reasonably possible in the next three years. Apart from strategical considera- 608 tions, there are also very strong reasons of administrative efficiency and economy, in favour of expediting to some extent our cruiser replacement programme. In 1927–8 and subsequent years we shall have to keep the yards well occupied with considerable replacements of destroyers which, by then, will have become obsolete. From 1931 onwards we shall, under the provisions of the Washington Treaty, be faced with heavy expenditure in connection with the replacement of capital ships. By getting out of the way a substantial part of the light cruiser replacement programme in the next few years, we shall provide a much more even distribution of work and of expenditure, and secure better tenders, as well as meet the immediate needs of the employment situation.
What we had, therefore, proposed was to lay down immediately eight light cruisers of the type that, under the Washington Treaty, has become the standard type adopted by all great naval Powers, namely, vessels of 10,000 tons armed with eight-inch guns. Three of these we had proposed to lay down in the Royal Dockyards and the remaining five put out to tender. In addition to these, the special unemployment programme this year included three submarines and a submarine depot ship, two destroyers and a destroyer depot ship, two gunboats, a special ship for the Persian Gulf, an aircraft carrier, and a mine-laying vessel. All these are necessary requirements and most of them urgently needed replacements. The whole programme would give direct employment to 32,000 men and would involve a special addition of £5,000,000 to the Navy Estimates in the coming year. Our intention was to have asked for a token Vote as soon as the House got to business in order to enable the tenders to be issued, and the work to be put in hand at once. I fully realise that these proposals of ours will have to be re-examined by our successors, but assuming—as we are entitled to assume, however much we may differ in other ways from hon. Gentlemen opposite—that they are not indifferent either to the needs of naval security, or to the urgent and almost desperate situation in the shipyards, I have every confidence that they will give these proposals of ours prompt and sympathetic consideration with a view to taking action in the 609 House as soon as we re-assemble. That is all I with to say to the House. I do not propose to say anything on the main issues of to-night's Debate.
There is, however, just one thing I should like to say. As I look across the House at the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) my mind goes back to an evening, now thirty years ago, the first occasion on which I met him, when I listened till a late hour of the night while he expounded with all the fervour of youth his conviction that the old historical parties—and more particularly the Liberal party—had outlived their usefulness, and that the time had come to create a new party more constructive in its ideals, more virile in purpose, more closely in touch with the people, in order to control the affairs of the State and to re-shape the life of this nation. What a daring dream that was thirty years ago! How many long years, and what efforts were needed, before even the hon. Member himself could enter this House, or gather around himself the merest handful of colleagues!
To-morrow, I suppose, the party which he has done so much to create will be in power, and he, himself, will be called to the greatest and most responsible political office in the world. However much we, on this side, may differ from the hon. Member in policy, however keenly we may contend with him hereafter, at this moment we can afford to pay to him and to those who have been associated with him throughout all these years the tribute that is due to all men who have given a life's work to a cause outside themselves. I will only add this: On these benches, too, there are some of us who have worked and striven, have fought and lost, and fought and lost again, for an ideal and for a policy which we believe—more profoundly to-day than ever—to be vital to the welfare of the toiling masses of our people, and to the prosperity, strength, and unity of our Empire. We trust that we shall receive from hon. Members opposite the same sincere recognition of our purpose when our day of achievement comes, as most assuredly it will.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
We have all listened, and, I am sure, were greatly interested in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. Everybody will, I think, he grateful for the generous spirit of his closing sentences. 610 My right hon. Friend made one revelation. I was anxiously waiting for another which he did not make. Since the story of the Man in the Iron Mask, a problem yet unsolved, there has never been yet so insoluble a problem as to who was the particular gentleman that persuaded or cajoled the Prime Minister into the disastrous expedition into the unknown which has ended with such consequences. Rumour has rather pointed out in this situation the right hon. Gentleman as the Man in the Mask. I regret very much that he did not add much which will help future historians in considering the problem as to who in this instance was the Bower behind the throne. What he said, however, will largely influence my vote and my remarks. He spoke of still adhering to the principles on which he and his friends went to the country. I thank my right hon. Friend for his fidelity. I thank him for his self-revelation. How am I to vote on the Amendment before the House? If I vote against it, I vote for the Government. What is the Government? The Government is a Protectionist Government that went to the country on Protection! That is dropped for the moment. The words of my right hon. Friend merely prove that instead of abandoning the policy of Protection he is more ardent in defeat than in realisation.
I regard Free Trade as the very Ark of the Covenant, and as the one thing that will preserve our commercial supremacy, that will protect the food and conditions of the masses of the people, and give to the world some chance of being able to pursue the paths of peace by being diverted from the consequences of unfair tariff wars. How can I give a vote in favour of a Protectionist Government and of an unrepentant Protectionist Government? As I cannot vote for the Government, I ask myself, Can I vote for the Amendment? The Government coming into power will call itself a Socialist Government. Let me discuss the advent of a Socialist Government from the point of view of a Liberal from the extreme left. A Liberal of that school is in a very independent and secure position in this Parliament as constituted, because if the new Government proposes a Measure which he approves of, he can support it, and if he disapproves he can prevent its passage into law. 611 I believe that the Labour Government will immediately propose large measures of social reform. Is there any such measure of large social reform to which a consistent Liberal can place himself in opposition? I doubt whether some of my hon. Friends sitting on the Government Benches can really oppose a policy of social reform, and some of the younger spirits amongst them are already putting forward a policy of social reform instead of that barren, dead, and putrid policy of tariffs. Is it any real objection that these measures of social reform are going to be carried out by a Labour Government instead of a Liberal Government? When that argument is probed to the bottom it can only mean that Liberals who accept that argument came here not to advance principles but to get jobs.
Take the history of my own party. When we started the campaign for Irish reforms, our country was a nation of paupers and slaves. Now it has been transformed into a nation of prosperous free men. We had to fight against calumny and misrepresentation, and we were powerless here and in the country, but we ultimately got every single reform we advocated carried by Liberal and Tory Ministers, and they were never carried by any Ministry in which we had a place or wanted to have a place; and if I could hope to spend 43 years more in the House of Commons I should be very glad indeed to have the measures I wanted not carried by myself, but by other men. What is the alternative? The Member for West Birmingham and others have spoken on this point, and what is their suggestion? It is that members of the Liberal party should join with the Conservative party—I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham will give up the epithet Unionist, because that is dead and gone—and form a combination with them, and that the basis and ground of their policy should be the exclusion from power of the Labour party. I hope to be able to show that this is an unsound policy. The Labour party is the second largest in the House. Supposing the result of the last Election had been that the second largest party had been the Liberal party, would any hon. Member opposite have dared to say that the Liberal party was unfit to take office, although by itself it did not command a majority of the votes of the 612 House? Nobody in the House of Commons would put forward that contention. Therefore the contention of hon. Gentlemen opposite amounts to this, that the one party in the State which shall be excluded by all other parties in the State is the Labour party. Could there possibly be a greater stimulus or argument for revolutionary or unconstitutional doctrines than that these men representing the masses of the people—
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
The Member for Oxford University interrupts me, and this scholarly representative tells us that hon. Members opposite represent the majority. I am ready to sit at his chair as a professor of history, but not as a teacher of democracy. Here is the Labour party which has got to its present position by constitutional means and by a constitutional appeal to the people. The overwhelming majority of them are determined to carry on their propaganda and policy by constitutional means, and we are being asked by hon. Members opposite to drive them outside the constitution. That is the way revolutions have been made in the past by the Marie Antoinettes and the Czarinas, and the Members for West Birmingham who are always trying to meet the appeals of the people by putting them outside the constitution. These are my negative reasons for supporting the amendment, but I would be wanting in candour if I did not give some positive reasons.
It may be excusable in an old Parliamentarian like myself to have some regrets that old comrades like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and others on the Front Opposition Bench are not to form part of the new Government. They and I have fought together for many years, and though on personal grounds I should have liked to have seen them in the Government, on other grounds I confess that I am glad a Labour Government is coming into power. They have been described as socialistic. I have tried all my political life never to be a slave of formulæ, but it is too late for anybody to denounce all Socialist legislation. Have we not had it in the past, and have we not got it now? Have we not had old age pensions and national insurance? When Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Ashley 613 were members of the party opposite, did not Lord Shaftesbury ameliorate the conditions of the children and the women in the factories?
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I do not think the hon. Member for Dartford is as old an historical student as I am, and I think I can qualify what he has just said by saying that Lord Shaftesbury had to oppose parties and all parties. Therefore, I do not think that I am obliged to oppose a Labour Government because it is called socialistic. I do not think that in present conditions one can reasonably expect the new Government to go beyond a certain point in their programme. Evolution is a slow process both politically and biologically, and it is slower politically than biologically. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir C. Oman) objects to my statement that the Members of the Labour party represent the majority of the nation.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Who are the majority of every nation? The millions who do daily work for their living. Does anybody deny that proposition? I say that the majority of this nation and of every nation are the workers that work usually for a subsistence wage, for daily food and on daily work. Electoral accidents do not give any party in the country or any minority its real equality in representation, but the fact remains that the majority of the nation consists of the daily workers earning their daily bread, and I am glad their representatives are coming into power. It is said that at the Election both the Liberals and the Conservatives tried to defeat the Labour party, but in spite of their earnest efforts the Labour party is still the second largest in this House. If the majority of the nation belongs to the daily wage earners, I would ask the House to consider what are their conditions everywhere? All over the country they are living on a subsistence wage. No less than 1,500,000 of them are without employment, and starvation and semi-starvation are stalking like a spectre 614 throughout the country. The slums are still inhabited by a large number of very poor people and mainly by some 2,000,000 of my fellow countrymen living within the shores of Great Britain. Who are the best people to represent them and understand their conditions and bring in the legislation and administration most required by them?
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Who are the best persons to do that? Any hon. Gentleman opposite who has had the support of a large working-class vote, I hope, will be found when the Division takes place on the side of the Labour party. What will the new Labour Ministry consist of? There will be several Members who are intellectual rather than manual workers. I do not know that the intellectual labourer is not quite as good as the manual labourer, but there will be very few of the party in the Cabinet who have not had a hard struggle in life, who have been born wealthy, and who from their youth have not lived in modest homes. All of them have been in employment. Most of them have experienced unemployment, and a man who has had unemployment has had his hours of hunger and despair. I represent a large number of people in this country who have known unemployment and hunger, and who are feeling it to-day. Do you think that the best court of appeal for cases like that is the man who has never known anything but comfort in the whole course of his life and in the life of his father before him? I prefer to go to the man who knows the conditions with which he is called upon to deal.
I have several times in this House called attention to the case of some of my countrymen who have come over from Donegal to pick potatoes in Scotland, and to the horrible conditions under which they have been compelled to live, to the bad housing leading occasionally to a virtuous Catholic girl from an Irish village passing from the potato field to the slum and thence to something worse. The claims of the people will get a better hearing from the hon. Member for Aberavon, one of whose biographers has told us that for the purpose of helping the budget of his women folk he himself has gone to work in a potato field and therefore knows the conditions very much 615 better than the hon. Member for Oxford University or than the hon. Member who splendidly represents the luxurious magnificence of Kensington (Sir W. Davison). I want to plead, and it has been my aim all my life to plead for some means of raising my people out of the slums in which they have been living since 1847 and in which they are still living. The period of the famine would have been impossible in Ireland if there had been a Labour party in power. I sometimes say to my countrymen who foolishly and fanatically plead their claim for national autonomy, that when they talk of hating England they are indulging in a miserable and fallacious generalisation. From the very first hour of the dawn of the birth of democracy in this country there came an era of reform for the people of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Finally, I am in favour of a Labour Government because of the foreign policy I hope it will pursue. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, and some newspapers, have made it a taunt and have even called it a crime that Labour will have to be in close association with working men in other nations. I believe my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon is now to be called Arbeiter. If I were in his place I should bear such a gibe with considerable equanimity. My faith in my earlier years has grown stronger and stronger in the belief that if we are to have not merely good social conditions, but peaceful international relations in the world, it is not through aristocracies, it is not through plutocracies, it is not through the Stock Exchanges we have to look for a common policy of common humanity, but to the working classes themselves.
When I came to London first, thinking its streets were paved with gold, thinking that every Englishman had a large balance at his bank—and up to that time every Englishman I had seen coming to Ireland had spent a large amount of money on bitter beer and Irish whisky—when I came to London first expecting to find every Englishman a millionaire, I was taken by a fellow countryman to see an Englishman who, he said, had written seventy pantomimes and was a man of brilliant ability. I went to see this past master in the art of letters, an art in which I was a young 616 and tremulous apprentice, and I found that my millionaire Englishman, the author of 70 pantomimes, was living in a single room with a small bed and only one chair. That was the moment of my conversion. I then realised that what was at the bottom of this magnificent English greatness were the masses of the people struggling daily for a daily wage. I was at that time a strong Nationalist. I have since been with equal vehemence and conviction an even stronger internationalist. I differ from hon. Members opposite fundamentally in this. They and their party have always had a distrust of the voice of the people in the Government of the nation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] In my own day I have seen them oppose every effort to increase the political power of the masses of the people—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—and the successors of hon. Members opposite will a generation hence call themselves good Tories when they have stolen the gospel of my hon. Friends around me.
I hold that the great object of all honest and humane statesmanship is to appeal to the masses of the people everywhere. If my hon. Friends are on good terms with the working men of Germany and if they are on good terms with the working men of France, let me say I would trust the working men rather than the jingo militarists of those countries. I say to all Members of all parties in this House: "We live in a new world. The Great War produced a new world. You must change your attitude towards that world. Every party must change its attitude towards the world. Two hundred thousand miners went from our mines to fight on the battlefields of Europe. Many of them did not come back. Those who did come back may well be excused if, when walking through the streets of Manchester and Liverpool, and noticing the great bank buildings they feel inclined to tell the proprietors and the shareholders, "it was at our peril, by the deaths of our comrades, that your property was protected." It is time we saw a new spirit that will recognise these new conditions, and it is because I believe the Labour party will bring a new note, a note of humanity, into the government of this country that I shall, with as much conviction and as much good will as I 617 have given any vote in this House, record a vote that will bring the Labour party into power.
§ Sir C. OMAN
As I have been given the privilege of addressing the House on this important occasion, I will do that which I think will best please the House. I will promise it a speech short, destitute of rhetoric, destitute of personal anccdotes, and one that is all sincere. It may be taken merely as the observations of a historian trying to be honest. We have heard a good deal of false history in this house during the last two or three days. The first point I have to raise is the fundamental mistake which has been made from the very opening of this Debate, and one which was started by no less a person than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). The right hon. Gentleman attempted to draw analogies with crises and dissolutions of Victorian days; but I venture to say that there is nothing parallel to the position to-day in the whole Constitutional history of England. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of there having been three parties before; he spoke of the divisions in the Conservative party under the Duke of Wellington at the time of Catholic Emancipation; he spoke of the divisions in the Conservative party caused by the Peelites of 1846–52 He spoke of Lord Hartington and the Liberal Unionists. He spoke, too, of the Home Rule party. But while these factions caused complications, they none of them could aim at separate power; there can be no analogy whatever between such crises and the present position. Any attempt to draw an analogy is only an attempt to deceive the House. There never were three organised parties fairly equally strong in this House. Minorities of 50 or 60 are quite a different thing. We have at present a condition which has never before happened in the Parliamentary history of this country, and we have to face it.
If the House will pardon me, I will give for it a Constitutional solution which is quite different from those which various hon. and right hon. Members have presented. I may make one exception, and that is that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Major-General Seely), who threw out precisely the suggestion which 618 I am going to make now. On both sides of the House there is some chance of this solution being thought over. The position is this. There never have been three fully organised parties in this country and, therefore, it is perfectly absurd to talk of the necessity of the Crown sending for the leader of the largest party out of three, all existing as minorities only. May I point out one simple fact: that when the Prime Minister has been driven from office by the votes of the Liberal party, a position will have been created in which there are three Oppositions in this House, the Conservative Opposition, the Labour Opposition and the Liberal Opposition. It seems to me that if any Opposition has then the first right to be consulted, it is clearly the one which consists of 258 members, rather than one which consists of 191 members, or one which consists of 155. The arithmetic is quite convincing, and, therefore, the same solution occurs to me which occurred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Wight, namely, that, instead of sending for the representative of a paltry 31 per cent. of this House, or a still more paltry 28 per cent., the Crown ought, undoubtedly, to send for the representatives of the majority of this House, that is to say, for the representatives of all the three parties together. There is no doubt whatever that that is the solution. If the three heads of those parties were thus addressed "You three are all responsible British statesmen. The vote of the nation has brought about a crisis such as has never occurred before, in which no party has a majority, and you are asked to put your heads together and consult as to what should be done." It may be that a "Government of Affairs," as the French call it, should be created, or a Government of the "Greatest Common Measure." If that appeal were made to those Gentlemen, and any one of them refused it in a spirit of narrow party spite, or of ambition for the Treasury Bench, I think the voters of his party would have something to say to him at the next General Election.
There are three parties in this House at the present moment, neither of which has a clear mandate from the nation. I grant that the Conservative party has lost many seats, and that the mandate for which it went to the country has been refused to it. We do not plead, there- 619 fore, that it should remain in office, for it is in a minority in this House. But, passing on to the second party, I have a few words to say to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). He talked of the Labour party as representing "the Masses"; but the Labour party had 4,500,000 votes at the last Election, while the Conservative party had 5,800,000, and if to this he added the votes of the 35 uncontested Conservative seats, the Conservative party had 6,000,000 votes. How can the 4,500,000 be "the Masses," and the 6,000,000 "the Classes"? It seems to me that there is some confusion in the hon. Gentleman's mind. He has got into a political hypothesis which Aristotle styled very difficult, for he is, apparently, conceiving a State in which the democracy are always in a minority!
A few words can be said about the mandate of the Labour party. The Labour party is well settled in limited local areas, but, so far from its being a national party—and it is said to be built up on class-consciousness, which does not sound very national—there are many constituencies in this Kingdom where it does not dare to show its face. There are many other constituencies in which a unique and curious thing happened to it, which happened to neither of the other parties—the Labour candidates were fined their £150, owing to their securing less than one-eighth of the votes of the electorate. How many Conservative candidates were thus fined? None. Which looks like the national party—the party which can secure a large following everywhere, or that which, when it shows its head in Aston, the Hartlepools, Worcester, Darwen, Hornsey, Wells, the Isle of Wight, Barnstaple and many other places, receives the votes of less than one-eighth of the electorate? It seems to me that any claim that the representatives of a party which secured only 4,500,000 votes out of 15,000,000 should have possession of the complete governance of this Realm, is absolutely absurd. They are not a majority. They got 30 per cent. of the voters, and 31 per cent. of the Members of this House. Why should the governance of this great Kingdom be handed over to a minority—I might almost call it a paltry minority—of one-third, because a still more paltry 28 per cent. of Liberals are prepared to 620 put in office this minority, whose principles, in the greater part of their Election addresses, they declared themselves to detest? Those who read their daily papers will have seen the "corolla" of Liberal statements about the dangers of Socialism collected by diligent people.
Such is the claim of the Labour party to the Treasury Bench. The State, however, does not exist for the purpose of giving various political parties their turn in office. There can be no more contemptible conception of the State than what used to prevail in Portugal during very evil times—the "rotative principle," by which all the parties rolled round one after the other, a period ending in the ghastly condition of modern Portugal. The State has the right to call upon all its representative statesmen, whatever their parties, to co-operate for the good of the State, to put their own party advantage aside, and, when an unparalleled crisis like this has arisen, to endeavour to rise to the height of patriotism, to acknowledge that none of them has any right at present to the Treasury Bench, and to combine for the good of their country. For my part, I believe that such an appeal, made to these three honourable men, could not fail to be successful.
§ Sir ELLIS GRIFFITH
As one who very respectfully declines to vote for this Amendment, I may be allowed, perhaps, to explain to the House the reasons that have led me to the conclusion at which I have arrived. I have heard it said often in the course of this Debate that each Member must ask himself what his duty is, and it is quite obvious to me that we have to do our duty upon our own judgment on the merits of this Amendment. We have to arrive at the best judgment we can, and, having formed that judgment, to vote honestly according to our convictions upon it. This Amendment means two things. In form it means one thing—turning out the Conservative Government; but in substance it means two—it means turning out the Conservative Government and putting a Labour Government in its place. The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we prepared to justify this substitution? That is the whole point. As I have said, I have come to the conclusion upon my own judgment that I see no reason for 621 it, and I am corroborated in that view by what has happened in the country, and what has happened in the constituency where I fought.
The Conservative party are in a minority of 99 in this House; the Labour party are in a minority of 233 in this House, and the Liberal party are in a minority of 299. I ask, then, why turn out a Government which is in a minority of 99, in order to put in its place a Government which is in a minority of 233? I see no reason for that. That is the decision at which the voters of this country have arrived. Have I been given, or has any Member of this House been given, the right to reverse the decision of the country? I think not, and I see no reason in the world why the Liberal party should assume the power to reverse the decision of the country as a whole. When the Liberal party went to the country—I am speaking for myself amongst others—we denounced the Conservative candidates and we denounced the Labour candidates, and there was not much to choose between our views as to them both. Now, the country having arrived at its decision, the Liberal party says, "Oh, we are the umpires here." Who made us umpires? Did any Liberal in the country ask for power to become an umpire between the other parties? Of course not. The Liberal was so much concerned to get in himself, and to get his party in, that he never thought he would be in this position.
It seems to me, therefore, that the Liberal party is assuming for itself a function for which it never asked and which it does not possess. Take, if you will, the constituency in which I fought. The Liberal was first, the Conservative was second, and the Labour candidate was third. That shows, at any rate, what the constituency thought as between Conservatism and Labour; it put Conservatism first and Labour last. Why should I reverse the opinion of my own constituency on this matter? With regard, therefore, to this position which I have endeavoured respectfully to put before the House, I think I have no right to reverse the decision of the country and the decision of the constituency where I fought. But the Leader of the Liberal party says, "Oh, I will keep them in order; I will put them in, but, having put them in, I will see that they do not do anything wrong." 622 How is he going to do it? The Liberal party is fewer in number than the Labour party. How can the smaller number govern the greater number? An hon. Member says, "Turn them out"; but you cannot. The Liberal party cannot alone turn the Labour party out. When the Leader of the Liberal party talks like that, he means with the assistance of the Conservative party, and I do not think that that is a fair argument to use in this Debate. In taking the course which, at any rate, my conscience tells me it is right, I have in view—there are other matters which I will not mention, because they are of less importance, but to me this is of some importance—the future of the Liberal party, to which I have always belonged; and I think that those who vote for this Amendment are doing a bad service to the future of the Liberal party.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I rise to address the House to-night from a point of view rather different from those from which it has been addressed hitherto I listened to the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Birmingham talking to-day about the Clyde ship. It may well be that I am only the cabin-boy of the Clyde ship, but in any case, whether the hon. Member likes it or whether he does not, the Clyde ship is here, and the Members for the Clyde are likely to remain here, and to remain longer than the hon. Member. In any case, we are faced with a situation which, if I may say so, would appear to me to be almost unreal. I have listened to the Debate from the first day on which Parliament entered upon its duties, and the whole thing has struck me as being unreal, for during that time everyone gathered in this House has known the result of the Vote. Everyone of us was convinced that the Amendment was likely to be carried, and yet we have gone on arguing for and against whether this was right or this was wrong, and while we are arguing here as to what is right and wrong people in my constituency, in London, and in every centre of the country are starving and suffering misery and want.
After all, I wonder if hon. Members here have a sense of their responsibility. I am not here merely to represent myself as such. If we have any knowledge of our functions the duty of Parliament ought to be to solve the problem of how the people 623 in this country live. I am not concerned with whether the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. MacDonald), the Prime Minister, or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) is the best man to form a Government. What I am concerned with is which is the best party or the best group to solve the problem of human life. I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) tell the Conservatives that their programme had been taken on merely for the King's Speech. Who is he to call attention to that? Did not the Liberal party produce a Newcastle programme which, despite years of power, they never made the slightest endeavour to carry into effect? Who are they to talk about other parties? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara) sentenced my children at Gorbals to live on 1s. a week. Who is he to talk about lack of progress? The Liberals, with Sir Alfred Mond at their head, issued a circular telling the Scottish children that if their fathers were idle they should no longer be fed as they had been fed before. What could be more cruel than Sir Alfred Mond, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camberwell and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Burghs (Mr. Lloyd George) saying a man could live on 15s. per week? What could be more hideous than sentencing a child to live on 1s. a week, less than you pay to keep your dog? The Labour party is supposed to be a Socialist party. This is not a Labour party. The Labour party are in the factories. [Interruption.] I am a Socialist and am proud of my Socialism, and I challenge my Friend to come to Gorbals and fight me on Socialism. I think this is not a Labour party after all.
What is a Labour party? A Labour party is different from all the other political parties. Every man who comes into the Liberal or Tory party inherits his politics. Ours is a new conception of politics. I am not anxious for the Labour party to take power at the moment. I am not keen on them holding office. I should much sooner have driven the Gentlemen who sit there into their rightful quarter along with the Conservatives to the place they occupied at the Election. They fought the Election, not against the Conservatives, but against the Labour party. In Glasgow they handed out the 624 seats in the way a grocer hands out sausages—so many to the Liberals and so many to the Tories. Then they tell you that the great enemy is the Conservative party. Their great enemy, and their mutual enemy, is the oncoming Labour and Socialist movement. I heard the railwaymen criticised to-day. I think it is commendable that men should fight against wage reductions. You talk about force. I welcome the coming of force. There is nothing commendable in walking to the Labour Exchange each day, signing a book, and making no noise about your starvation. If it were your class you would play hell in a more drastic fashion than our class has done. Whatever Government it may be. I will go to the people whom I represent and tell them there is nothing great or honest or noble in a country where there is wealth in plenty, which is not stricken by nature, and which first and foremost ought to be able to provide a standard of life for our people.
People worked and voted for us not merely to have a penny taken off their tea, not merely to remove the thrift disqualification on Old Age Pensions, not merely to see this or that little reform. The mass of the people who worked and voted for Labour worked and voted for a new conception, for a higher standard of life for our people. I think you can only make the poor richer when you start to take from the rich and give to the poor. Your conception in the last Parliament was the opposite. You passed legislation which took from the poor and gave to the rich. [Interruption.] In your Rent Restriction legislation did you not take millions from the Scottish and English tenants and place it in the hands of the wealthy? Have you and your class not stolen the land from the people in the past? When I read my Scottish history, did I not read of the Sutherland clearances when the people were turned out of their villages? Sir Frederick Banbury is just the same type to-day as the people who cleared us from our land. You would use force. Sir Frederick Banbury wishes to call in the Coldstream Guards. I am not afraid of that. If there is to be fighting you have neither a monopoly of fighting capacity nor yet of courage. We in Glasgow can look after ourselves.
My last word is the Labour party itself almost at the moment of taking office. 625 It may be that they will be afraid to pursue their course because of timidness or, if you care, the opposition of the party on the other side. It may be that in their bold and drastic reforms they will be fought strenuously and be defeated by the combined forces of the Liberal and Tory parties. It may be, on the other hand, that because of those forces our future policy will be timid in the extreme. I say to the Labour party that if it be defeat from the other side we shall have to fight, and we shall have to defeat, ere many years have gone by, even the combined forces of Liberals and Tories. If the Labour party form a Government and does very little more than past Governments have done to solve the problem they will deserve the same fate, the same censure and the same scorn that the other parties deserved from the mass of the people. Unless they can solve the problem of life, the same fate will be reserved for them. We may adjourn, and it may be three weeks before Parliament meets again, but in that three weeks men will be unemployed and will starve, and women and children will suffer. I hope this Debate, unreal as it has been, will mark the last spasm of Parliament as I have known it in the 12 months that I have been a Member of it, and that we shall start a new epoch when we shall neither have the unemployed rich, as I have seen them in the House of Lords, dangling their wealth, nor the unemployed in the East end of your cities, where you will neither have the rich plutocrat nor the poor unemployed, where it will be a crime equal with murder for a child to starve in the midst of plenty, where gain or profit will not be our goal, but every man and woman with the capacity shall render social service for the social good of all.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Stanley Baldwin)
The Amendment before the House reads as follows:It is our duty respectfully to submit to Your Majesty that Your Majesty's present advisers have not the confidence of this House.That is the Amendment to which I propose to devote the remarks that I have to make, and I would begin by saying that I have realized, at last, what I have always been told, that gratitude in political life is the rarest of virtues. I say that because, amongst the charges of 626 vacillation, of impotence and of pusillanimity which have been brought against our Government, not one word has been said about that great healing work which I wrought—the reconciliation of my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and my right hon. Friend the Member For Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). What was beyond the power of the Liberal party to do, I did.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I remember once asking a friend of mine who was going on a pleasure voyage to Australia "Are you taking your wife with you?" and he said: "The ship is not built that would hold the missis and me." That is what my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Asquith) would have said last October, but the reconciliation had reached such a point at the meeting of the Liberal party that my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said that the right hon. Member for Paisley had made a statesmanlike utterance. I quote that because I do not want my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley to be puffed up. I remember the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs saying to a friend of mine: "You are a good politician," but Mr. Winston Churchill, whose name has been quoted before in this House to-day, said to my friend: "The Prime Minister has paid you a greater compliment than you wot of, because he rates a politician far higher than a statesman." I hope my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley will not be puffed up, because, after all, that merely made of him a second-class mariner, and as I am but a third-class mariner, there is but little difference between us.
The position of parties in this House to-day is indeed a curious one. We have been accused of committing suicide. There are worse crimes than suicide. My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley is like an obstetric surgeon who is going to bring a child into the world, and says: "If that child is not such as I fancy when it is born, I shall smother it." Though I do not like to pronounce a verdict on such a subtle question of ethics, I think that infanticide is worse than suicide. We must not forget that we are going to be put out of office by the votes of pro- 627 gressive parties. Progress is not necessarily forward. In 1906, the Liberal party had 376 Members of Parliament; in January, 1910, 275; in December, 1910, 270; in 1918, 167; in 1922, 115; and at the last Election, by appealing to our voters to help to keep out the Socialist party and to vote against dear food, you got only 40 more. That is a form of progress on the part of the Liberal party which we enjoy.
My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) put the case very powerfully this afternoon. I wonder that it has not moved the tender heart of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. MacDonald). I wonder that he can ride into power on the death of one of the old historic parties in the State. Would he not rather say, in the words of DrydenOh, rather let me perish in the strife, Than have my crown the price of David's life.It will be an unhappy hour for the right hon. Member for Paisley when, after the vote has been taken, he meets one of the leaders of the Liberal party, the late Member for Swansea West (Sir Alfred Mond)—whose absence from the House we all regret—who helped me to carry the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and who is the most powerful exponent of the anti-Socialist case. What will my right hon. Friend do when Sir Alfred Mond comes to him, after the Election, and after the cataclysm has occurred in the country which he always foretold would occur from the advent of the Socialist Government, fixes him with his mild and magnificent eye—I hope the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Wedgwood Benn) will forgive me for plagiarising that magnificent quotation which he brought in from Browning during that Debate—and says, in those well-known tones of his, to my right hon. FriendIs this the face that launched a thousand ships?I could wish that I might be there to hear the answer.
The right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) delighted us with his speech at an earlier stage of the Debate. I, who in my humble way, am always looking among speakers for literary merit, have found that in him we have a true successor 628 of Landor in his "Imaginary Conversations." Is it in vain to think that the millions of Hearst and Rothermere will be offered to him for the work of his pen when he is out of office? He will then set to work, with the same vivacity and verisimilitude that he displayed on that occasion, to write a series of imaginary conversations which will make his name go down the ages as the Georgian Landor. He not only had the exact words, but the exact accent of my Noble Friend, and he proved himself master of one of the most difficult arts to which any literary man can aspire.
We have been challenged during this Debate very largely on the ground that we have done nothing in the twelve or thirteen months of office. We have done one or two things. We have more nearly carried out what we promised in the King's Speech than any Government which has been in office for years. You may say that the King's Speech of a year ago was but a poor thing, but it is better to tell the truth, and what we undertook we carried out almost in its entirety. We settled the American debt. [Interruption.] I am only going to say one word about that. If that settlement had not been come to, one of three things would have happened. You would either at this moment be paying £15,000,000 a year more to America, or you would be paying what you thought you could afford, and the rest would be accumulating at compound interest of 5 per cent. against you, or you could repudiate it. There is no alternative.
We have made some modest but useful remission of taxes. We have, through a period of very great difficulty, maintained the Entente. We have made a Treaty with Turkey. We have practically settled the Tangier difficulty. We have practically settled the difficulty between ourselves and the United States of America in the matter of "bootlegging," and we leave our relations with the United States of America better than they have ever been between the two countries, by common consent on both sides of the Atlantic. And, though no one knows better than I how much remains to be done in regard to unemployment, we have done more than any previous Government has done. We have been attacked, and I am sure the House will have no objection to my putting the points, where I believe 629 something does remain, after all, to our credit.
There is another point. We entered into a very difficult heritage. In saying that, I am not laying any blame upon the preceding Government. We came in unexpectedly at a certain moment, and at that moment the situation with France was very difficult. The situation with Turkey was difficult. The position in regard to rent restriction legislation was difficult, and led to a most complicated situation, which necessitated that worst of all things, retrospective legislation. The housing problem was in a state of unsettlement. The Tangier question had not been touched, and there was unemployment, to which we devoted a great amount of consideration, and in regard to which we did more than any previous Government had done. If we are defeated to-night, we leave for our successors no outstanding problems—[Interruption]—except the problem as regards the reparation question, and the French question, which is looking, far as it may be from settlement, more hopeful to-day than it has been for a long time. We leave also as a legacy the question of unemployment, as to which I shall say a few words later. [HON. MEMBERS: "Housing!"] Housing has been discussed during this Debate, and I think the Minister of Health made a speech which convinced the House. It will be open to whatever Government succeeds us to take whatever further steps they may find feasible or desirable in the direction which all of us would welcome if it accomplishes what we want, and that is, more houses.
We have been criticised this afternoon for having placed our fate in the hands of this House, and for not having resigned in December. It was a fine point to decide, because there was no precedent. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) was quite right; no precedents are of the slightest use to consult in the position in which we find ourselves to-day. My own personal desire would have been to have taken a holiday as soon as possible, and I think probably the desire of most people in my position would have been the same. But after consulting various authorities, I was convinced that the proper Constitutional course in a case like this, with three parties of varying strength, and none of them in an absolute majority, was 630 to submit to the will of this House. I may say this, that I do not think that anyone who has seriously considered this question would deny that it has been a great benefit in this novel position that we have had a month for quiet reflection.
The next point I wish to say a word or two about, because it has been referred to in several speeches, is the way in which the Government brought their policy before the country and had a Dissolution and a General Election. I do not propose to say very much about that, but there seem Members of the House who are genuinely puzzled as to why we did not come to the conclusion which we arrived at in the autumn earlier in the year. I think the explanation is simple. I have said this before, and I apologise to the House for repeating it, that we and the Government before us had always hoped—against hope as it seemed—that conditions in Europe would improve, that normal trade conditions might be soon restored, and that with normal trade conditions it might be proved that the unemployment in this country was epidemic and not endemic, and that it would yield to the growing improved trade throughout the world. It has been alleged against us that we were an inexperienced Government, and there is an element of truth in that, because it is very difficult for anyone who has not had the responsibility of holding the first office under the Crown to get at once that width of vision which is necessary to enable him to form a reasoned judgment on the gravest matters of international affairs.
It was not until I had held office for about a couple of months that I formed the opinion, for what it was worth—and my hon. Friends may form a different opinion—that the restoration of normal trade conditions in Europe is going to be a much longer process than anybody bad anticipated. It may be years before we can look for relief from that quarter. Those who succeed us will have to deal with this question, because it is here, and they will have to come to a conclusion as to whether unemployment from which we suffer now is of a nature that can be cured soon, or whether we are going to have it with us on the scale that we have had it for years to come, and they will have to adapt their policy to agree with 631 their conclusions. I can tell them there are two factors, new since the War, which they will have to take into consideration, and which we all have to take into consideration, whatever views we may hold on what is called the fiscal question: and unless some solution of them can be found, they will find the whole matter one of almost insuperable difficulties.
The first difficulty is a restriction of markets almost throughout the world, partly from the growth of tariffs, and partly from increased poverty. The second difficulty is this, to which no one so far as I can see except myself has called attention. I should be very glad to see it investigated by those who are better competent to investigate it than I am. It does cause me concern, and it is this. We have in this country to pay not only for food and raw material, but also for a large quantity of manufactured goods, while we export our manufactured goods, and over and above all that we have now to find some £30,000,000 or more a year in payment of our debt interest to America, which has to be found out of increased exports. That is putting a tremendous strain on the country. The question has come into my mind, whether it may not be possible that the effort to provide this mass of exports at the present day may not be beyond our strength as an industrial nation, and may not lead to the forcing out of exports at prices which cannot pay either the manufacturer or the working man. If it be true that we are getting to that state, it makes it all the more necessary to examine most carefully whether we are not entering on an economic stage where certain restriction of exports is necessary, both for the exchanges and for the welfare of this country. I think that is a field which is very well worth the investigation of all those who devote expert attention to it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Imports!"] No, exports. I hope hon. Members will not jump to the conclusion that I am trying to trick them in any way. I do want them to realise that this is a point of substance, and anyone who may be called to great office will have to deal with these matters. This is a position, the House must remember, that has never occurred before. We are in the same position the Germans would be forced into had they refused normal work. It is going to be 632 an extraordinarily difficult question for all the industrial countries of the world.
One or two words—and I apologise to the House for them—of a personal nature. I think it is only fair that I should make a statement with regard to the policy on which the Government went to the country. Responsibility for that policy was mine and mine alone. It was the decision of a united Government when we went to the country, but any report anyone may have read that. I was driven by anyone else—I am not quite so malleable as that— is entirely wrong. The more people advertise themselves as knowing, before as outsiders they make statements as insiders, the more they are suspect. I have myself and for myself no regrets. I have many regrets for those who fell in the fight. For myself I have a clear conscience, and I have the best friends that any man ever had. If I have any enemies, perhaps to have such enemies is as great an honour to me as the friendship of those who are my friends. What more can any man want?
I think I should say a word as to our attitude if the Division to-night result as we all expect. I said the other day that we should not indulge in fractious or factious opposition, but we shall be critical, as an Opposition should be, both of legislation and administration. It is difficult for us to say more, because we do not know any more than you know what the policy of the new Government will be. We do not know whether the Jacobins or the Girondins are coming in. Of this I am quite sure, that the hon. Member for Aberavon will not be able to build up yet a Socialist State on the shifting sands of about one-fifth of the national vote. And we shall all be ready at all times, as we have been in the past, to fight the policy which has been, not adumbrated, but blazed into the light of day on so many platforms throughout the country. I am not one of those who think that what is blazed on the platform is necessarily carried into effect in this House. We have all heard of 9d. for 4d., and we sometimes hear to-day even of a £ for 4d., but until I see it I shall be sceptical. We on these benches—I do not know whether hon. Members opposite below the gangway do—look to the future not only with no apprehension, but with confidence. The future lies between hon. Members opposite and ourselves. We are 633 not afraid on this side of the House of social reform. Members of our party were fighting for the working classes when Members or the ancestors of Members opposite were shackled with laissez Faire Disraeli was advocating combination among agricultural labourers years before the agricultural labourer had the vote, and when he first began to preach the necessity of sanitation in the crowded centres of this country, the Liberal party called it a "policy of sewage." We stand on three basic principles, as we have done for two generations past—the maintenance of the institutions of our country, the preservation and the development of our Empire, and the improvement of the conditions of our own people; and we adapt those principles to the changing needs of each generation. Do my Friends behind me look like a beaten army? We shall be ready to take up the challenge from any party whenever it be issued, wherever it is issued and by whomsoever it be thrown down.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Among those basic principles on which the Conservative party is now supposed to stand I miss the one on which the Election was fought, and I ask the Prime Minister why he did not mention Tariff Reform? Has the Conservative party abandoned the attempt to impose tariffs? That has been asked again and again during those recent days, and no reply has been made from those benches. Today we had an extraordinary offer from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) to my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) that my right hon. Friend should become Prime Minister, with the support of the right hon. Gentleman, and he is one who claims to speak for what used to be called the Unionist party. One would think that the only thing that divided them was Protection. I differ from that, and I also differ from the same remark which was made by the relative of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health (Mr. Neville Chamberlain). But has Protection been dropped by the party opposite? We have not been told that, and I suppose we shall not be told it, and I doubt very much if they know it themselves. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has given us any signs, even 634 apart from Tariff Reform, of the Liberal mind
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The Noble Lady agrees with me. She suffers from the same people as the right hon. Gentleman. The diehard tail would not permit him to apply his mind to the problems of the day. He and his Noble Friend (Marquess Curzon) made an attempt to stand up to France, which was demanded by men of all parties with the exception of the diehards and organs, in order that this country's dignity should be re-established among the people of Europe. A bold and able attempt was made by the Noble Marquess and the Prime Minister to stand up to France, but they were not permitted to continue by the hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) who speaks for the diehard party, and the next thing we find is the right hon. Gentleman closetted with M. Poincaré, and then we have the issue of that communiqué which has lost us prestige without measure abroad, and which, while not improving our relations with France, has estranged friends of ours in Eastern Europe as recent events have shown. Again the right hon. Gentleman wished to take a former member of my party, who is still a member of that party so far as I know, Mr. McKenna, as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Why did he not do so? Had he not more control over his own party than Sir Frederick Banbury, who has now been kicked upstairs to the great loss of all parties in this House, though he refused to accept a Peerage at that time. At the same time I admire the right hon. Baronet's persistence and his honesty. He was a Tory and was not ashamed of it. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman insist on a seat being found for Mr. McKenna? Then just before the Election the right hon. Gentleman was making one of these extraordinary agreements that are now being so much criticised, to bring in his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, and that other great hero of Tory democracy, Earl Birkenhead. I understand that agreement was reached and those who made it—
§ Mr. A. CHAMBERLAIN
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will permit me to point out that he is falling into the error, which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has described, of pretend- 635 ing to have information about interviews at which he was not present, and that he is exposing his complete ignorance.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Am I to understand that the letters which have been published do not represent the facts? I am basing my remarks solely on the public letters. From those letters it is obvious that the point was reached at which there was agreement, and we had "My dear F. E.," and the other phraseology, but in any case what had happened was obvious. Again the diehards objected to including Earl Birkenhead and he was passed over, but they were very glad of his assistance on platforms in Lancashire, and in other parts of the country, to make up for their woeful lack of debating ability on the platform, which was proved by the result of the Election. What I do object to most strongly at present is this. We have been told on the one hand that the only thing that divides us with the right hon. Gentleman opposite is this question of tariffs. Anyone who professes to be any sort of a Liberal knows that that is not so. After the War there was to be a new world. I have sat through most of the post-War Parliaments for nearly five years. I have sat opposite those who, I hope, will now be finally extinguished from political life of this country, the diehard element in the Tory party. We saw them representing the worst feelings and sentiments of the country, brought out by the War. That is what they have stood for and stand for now. Why should certain leaders, the right hon. Gentleman, or any member
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) tried again and again to do the right thing, and he was opposed by those with whom the Noble Lord is associated until his party threw him out.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
The party to which I belong helped in the work of settlement, but the friends of the Noble Lord resisted again and again. One of the most disgraceful spectacles which have ever been seen in this House was the 636/ case of a General in India who committed a crime which was equal to the worst deeds committed by any Turkish General in Armenia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member had better address me. I cannot hear a word of what he is saying.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am only following the argument of the new Leader of the Conservative party—Mr. Winston Churchill, who himself condemned General Dyer in India for a foul crime which will live in history to the disgrace of the British name and of the diehard party. One of the most able spokesmen of that party was the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne), whose present position in the Government escapes my memory for the moment. A vote was taken against the Government by that party and they were saved from defeat by the votes of Liberal and Labour Members, and we were fewer than one hundred in that party. I have seen this party in action. I have seen them and their Press supporting action which has disgraced the British name in Ireland in the most scandalous manner which it is possible to describe, and I have sat here and heard Sir Hamar Greenwood, who I am delighted is not in this House, cheered to the echo by the diehards opposite. They were many then, but they are becoming fewer now, and they defended a policy of bestial crimes by the Black and Tans in Ireland. I have heard this Conservative party jeer and laugh at the dying moments of Terence McSwiney, The Lord Mayor of Cork, when hon. Members on this side raised the question.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
And I am sorry to say we were badly disgraced by the action of the Government in Ireland, which was worse than that of the Turk in Armenia.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
The Noble Lord himself played a noble part in the controversy, but those who sit with him and with whom he will vote tonight did all they could to prevent the settlement. Again I refer to the hon. 637 Member for Eastbourne, who will not deny what I am saying now. We kept Egypt under martial law, and bombed the wretched native villages with aircraft. This was the Conservative party in action. [Interruption.] These were the people who come snivelling to us now for support. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) invited the right hon. Member for Paisley this evening to assume the mantle of Prime Minister, but in Egypt his party deported the national leader, Zaghloul Pasha, and nearly killed him, To-day he has swept the constituencies of Egypt and a British Government will have to deal with him. The party opposite have disgraced our name in Ireland, in India and in Egypt. They have disgraced our name in Russia and wasted £100,000,000 of our money. Mr. Churchill, in his mad and unsuccessful policy in Russia, was supported by the overwhelming Conservative majority in the 1918–1922 Parliament. The Conservative party had a declared majority over all other parties in the House, including the National Liberals, at that time. They supported that policy and they cannot escape responsibility. They hampered every attempt at social reform made by tale Coalition Government and its successors. The hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) the other day, in a, letter to "The Times," reminded its readers of the action of the Conservative party in regard to some Bills which she has promoted.
Not all the Conservative party. All parties have got those sides of whom they are ashamed.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
This section of the Conservative party was in the ascendancy. It has remained in the ascendancy and will remain in the ascendancy. One of them is Sir George Hamilton, who resisted the attempt of the Noble Lady to pass a Bill for the protection of young children—a Bill to raise the age of consent of young girls and to protect them from indecent assault. That was resisted by several hon. Members, including Sir George Hamilton, who was then Mr. George Hamilton. The Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party made him a knight and invested him with one of the orders for chivalry for his services. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] Honours given when the 638 Conservative party were in office were naturally given on the recommendation of the Conservative Prime Minister. I repeat that the Conservative party represent the worst feelings aroused in England during the greatest war in history. Who were their leaders in the Parliament of 1918–1922? Colonel Claude Lowther—no longer with us—Lord Carson and Mr. Bottomley—also no longer with us. They led the reactionary policy supported by the Conservative party.
The true Conservative spirit was shown to us very clearly by the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks). I take the opportunity of congratulating him on his speech in moving the Address. That was a non-controversial speech, but we heard the real Conservative speaking in the last Parliament when he spoke on the Kenya settlement. It is easy to quake speeches like that in this House; it is easy to get the applause of the Conservative party; it is easy to get the congratulations of Major Boyd-Carpenter and other leading Conservatives, but those speeches are welcomed by our worst enemies in India and used against us. We have seen the effects of that spirit in the Conservative party, whether shown in the Coalition Government or in the last Government. I tremble to think of what will happen if the Conservative party is given another lease of power, and I rejoice to think that the bulk of my party at any rate will help to send them tonight into the wilderness and, I hope to God! will keep them there.
§ Sir A. SHIRLEY BENN
I think we all realise we shall have continuous and progressive changes, and that we shall see many old-time customs giving place to others, perhaps more suitable for modern conditions. These changes will be obtained through peaceful evolution, but such can only come about by the will of the people. I claim it is not the will of the people that the Labour party, through the Division to-night, should be given the reins of government as long as it is working for the programme put by it before the people at the last Election. The result of the Election showed that the people do not want a capital levy. I, for one, am speaking on this subject from a commercial standpoint, and my great fear is that the credit of our country will be weakened if foreign countries imagine for one moment that a Government is coming in which is going to aim at and ultimately 639 get a capital levy. We all know that the greater portion of the food we eat and a large quantity of the raw material we manufacture have to be bought abroad and brought over here. If our credit is damaged, the cost of that food and raw material must go up enormously. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1922 gave an instance of the effect of a lowered exchange in America, and what it would mean to this country:—Our direct exports to the United States of America are comparatively small in proportion to our imports of raw material and food from that country. The dollar value of our purchases of foodstuffs and cotton alone from the United States during 1921 was approximately 461,000,000 dollars, representing at 3 dollars 20 cents to the £ a sum of £144,000,000 and at 4 dollars 40 cents to the £ the figure is reduced to £104,700,000, showing a difference of nearly £40,000,000. This question of the exchange and of its effects upon the fortunes of the country is a very interesting one, but it is not a matter which can be dealt with in a Budget speech."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st May, 1922; col. 1026, Vol. 153.]My theory is that if a Labour Government goes in we are going to find our credit injured. The whole trade of the world is carried on by credit, and the foundation of all credit is Britain. If anything happens to British credit it hurts not only British trade, but international trade, and I think this House, in whose hands the matter is, should consider most seriously what is going to be the effect on the trade of our country, and on the cost of the foodstuffs and other material which we have to bring in, before deciding to put a Labour Government in office. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) has told us that if Labour comes into power he will exercise a fatherly care over them and see that they do not inflict upon the country any legislation which he thinks is wrong. Those of us who have been in the House a few years cannot forget that when the right hon. Gentleman wanted to give Home Rule to Ireland he did it by destroying the constitution under which we live. He destroyed the powers of the House of Lords, but told us that the reconstruction of a Second Chamber was a necessary thing and would brook no delay. The right hon. Gentleman who occupies the proud position of having been Prime Minister of Great Britain has not made any effort, as far as we have seen, to get the matter made right, and it. 640 makes us feel that we cannot depend upon what he may promise to do in the future as regards a Labour Government. There are many other phases of this subject which should be most carefully considered. We all know that changes have to come and that we must march forward with the times, and all of us, no matter to whit party we belong, are keenly desirous of seeing the best done for the people as a whole. We are all brothers in this country, we are all Britishers; we want the best for our people, we want to see our country stand foremost in the ranks of the nations of the world, and leading civilisation, and we want to see her able to maintain her own position and feed her own people.
I do not propose to occupy many minutes of the precious time remaining, and I only rise to put two or three quite short and simple points to the House. Nearly all the speakers on the Liberal side have used language which indicates, I think quite properly, their desire to put themselves right with their constituents. That is a privilege which no one who has had experience of electoral contests can possibly deny to them. It is important for us at this minute to be extremely precise. We Liberals find ourselves as a party in a very peculiar position. While admitting that, I say it is not a position which we could in any way have foreseen. By a turn of the tide a little either way, the positions of the second and third parties in this House might quite easily have been reversed, and therefore, speaking on behalf of Liberal Members, I say they should not be hardly judged because of the complications of the position in which they find themselves. We are in opposition to two policies, both of which were strongly advocated by other sections of political opinion during the Election. We were as firmly opposed to Protection as we were to Nationalisation, and if we find ourselves returned here in the invidious position of holding the balance as to who will form the next Government, I think a certain amount of latitude and not quite so much sneering should have been accorded to Liberals who have been defending their position in this House during the Debate.
Liberals have been engaged in election conflicts of different kinds. There were straight fights, against Labour opponents: there were straight fights against Con- 641 servative opponents, and there were three-cornered contests. In each of the first two cases emphasis was thrown upon one policy or the other of the two I have mentioned, and in the three-cornered contests the Liberal candidate had to face representatives of both. Am I not entitled to say that if we are to be given an opportunity by the Labour Amendment of voting no confidence in the existing Government, then we are entitled to claim —if it can be obtained by Parliamentary and constitutional methods—an opportunity of registering our anti-Socialist feelings. [Laughter.] That suggestion is laughed at, but I do not think it should be laughed at quite so hastily. Most hon. Members read, on the day before yesterday, a very interesting contribution on this subject from a relation of mine who is not in Parliament now, and it has struck me that there is more in that than meets the eye from the Liberal point of view. I do not agree with the general criticism levelled at that letter. From the Liberal point of view, I think it definitely suggests to us a perfectly constitutional manner of making our position much clearer in the constituencies than one simple vote On the Labour Amendment can do. I therefore apply my mind to the question by what machinery and by what method can such an opportunity be afforded. It does not seem to me to be a very difficult procedure.
This Amendment is quite simple and I shall vote for it—I say so at once. I was returned against a Conservative opponent, and I was definitely pledged to record a vote of no confidence in the Government. The position is easier for me, perhaps, than for some of my Friends. But in doing so, I do not consider that I have discharged the whole of my duty. It is my duty to consider what political or Parliamentary means are available to record my anti-Socialist vote also. Now, to come to the method. It is clear that in a few hours Mr. Speaker will put the Labour Amendment from the Chair. It may not be necessary to move the Closure, but if the Closure be moved I shall vote for it. Then, I submit other Amendments on the Paper, which would give us this opportunity of which I have spoken, should he taken. If the Closure be necessary to bring the general Debate to an end, for one, certainly—having no other opportunity of recording a vote on anti-Socialist lines 642 —will vote, against such a Closure Motion. I have only one word more to say. I am under no delusions about the position, the strength and the prospects of the Liberal party. Everyone seems to hate them. The Conservative party want to kill them and say so quite openly. Speech after speech in this Debate has been levelled in that direction. I note, of course, that those speeches come from that element of the Conservative party which brought about the downfall of the late Coalition, but, one way and another, it seems to me that we are in a very unpopular position during this Debate. The Conservative party desire to kill us, the Labour party desire to eat us, and, if we do not take care, there will be nothing left of us. Therefore I urge that, on this occasion, which may possibly be the last on which we shall play a great part as a united party in this country, it shall be a very open and above board one.
If it be possible at this last stage in our political history to take a line which shall record our opinion in this complicated position as being both anti-Protectionist and anti-Socialist, I certainly think that some effort ought to be made to do so. My last word is this, that the opportunity of making our position better known is debarred to us by the Conservatives declining to let us continue the Debate after carrying the Labour Amendment.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)
No, the right hon. Gentleman has no authority whatever for saying that.
But the difference is this: Supposing the Closure is moved on this side, as it clearly will be, it will be up to the Conservative party to accept it or not, and if they support the Closure, they will be responsible for giving us no further opportunity of recording our anti-Socialist feelings. It is clear that only with their assistance can we get this opportunity, and I think it is an opportunity the Liberals should press for.
Sitting suspended at Thirteen Minutes before Eight o'Clock until Nine o'Clock.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
I have listened with very great care to the 643 9.0 P.M
Debate which has taken place on the Address, and on the Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). The longer the Debate goes on the more one seems to feel the confusion which exists in the ranks of the Conservative party opposite. I find it exceedingly difficult to understand what is the policy they would like the Liberal party to pursue and what is the policy they would like the Labour party to pursue. They applauded the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) when he said that the Conservatives would not welcome the union of forces between themselves and the Liberal party, yet ever since their enthusiastic cheers to that statement they have been endeavouring to persuade the Liberal party to support them in the Division Lobbies to-night. The dilemma they are in apparently is that if they amalgamate with the Liberal forces they strengthen the position of the Labour party, and if they do not amalgamate, they weaken the forces which are opposed to the Labour party.
I am bound to confess that not only is it difficult to understand the position of the Government and its supporters, but, having listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Guest) who spoke immediately before you, Mr. Speaker, left the Chair, it is exceedingly difficult to understand what he desired Lo happen. Apparently the hon. Member would wish that the Conservative Government should be turned out, but that the Labour Government should be refused an innings, and that then possibly the smallest party in the House should take office, which seems a most absurd constitutional position; for it is argued on the basis that the Liberals having no programme to be defeated on at the Election were the only party who were not defeated. An hon. and gallant Gentleman defends such a position. It is argued that his party does not wish the biggest party to come in; that it does not wish the next biggest party to come in; in fact, he tends to the position that used to be set before us in the philosophy of the late Mr. Albert Chevalier: "What's the good of anything; why nuffin."
There has been no suggestion of a Coalition between the two old historic 644 parties. I hope there will he no Coalition in the sense of the Coalition which existed after the Election of 1918. There is much to be said against a Government which is consistently bad. There is more to be said against a Government which wobbles from one policy to another, and is consistent in nothing at all: that, of all forms of Government, is probably the worst. Nevertheless we are getting some sort of agreement between the two older parties, and how is it? Before the last Election there were 9 Labour Members of Parliament for the County of London. In all those constituencies straight fights took place at the last Election, four were opposed by Liberals and five by Conservatives. I myself had the questionable blessing of a three-cornered contest. From the arguments which my Liberal opponent brought against the capital levy I find it difficult to understand where the party stands. The arguments were substantially identical with the arguments against the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in 1909. But the difficulty of the Liberal party—which they themselves will be the first to admit —and with the party opposite, too—is really that they expect to make the best of all worlds! The Members of the party opposite who have been returned to this House are now expecting that those Members of the Liberal party, whose return they opposed, should support them in the Division Lobby to-night.
They complain of the Socialism of the Labour party. They delight in calling us the Socialist party; so do their newspapers. The assumption of hon. Members opposite is apparently that Members of the Labour party are ashamed of the Socialism in which they believe. Those of us who sit on these benches have not obscured our Socialism. We have not been ashamed of our Socialism. I told my electors that I was a Socialist, that I stood for it, and believed in it, and that I believed it necessary if poverty and unemployment were going to be satisfactorily dealt with. Therefore, hon. Gentlemen opposite are only telling the electors of the Labour Members of Parliament something which they already know. They are trying to knock down something which is really not there to be knocked down.
It is extraordinary the way we get lectured on constitutionalism by gentle- 645 men like the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea, (Viscount Curzon). It is difficult to pick up a newspaper without reading that the Noble Lord has been in a police court for some offence against the law. He is consistently and regularly breaking certain laws or regulations made by the authority of Parliament, and for him to come along, a consistent and systematic law breaker, and preach constitutionalism to the members of the Labour party is on an equality with the effort of Sir Frederick Banbury, who is now threatening to lead the Coldstream Guards against Parliament if the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. MacDonald) becomes Prime Minister. There are other respects in which it is difficult to find the policy of the party opposite. After they have spent a good deal of time in complaining that the Labour party is too red and in warning the country against the dangers that are likely to come from a Labour Government coming into power by preaching that a Labour Administration means red ruin to the community in general, they make speeches in which they complain in this House, not that the leader of the Labour party is too red, but that he is too pink. Might we know from hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they would wish the Labour party to be too red or too pink? It is evidently difficult to satisfy the members of the Conservative party. One moment they are preaching that we are too dangerous and too revolutionary and the other that we are too mild altogether! One moment they are trying to persuade Liberal Members that it is their duty to vote against us because we mean insurrection and civil strife and the next minute they are trying to prove that we are even more mild than the Liberals themselves. One would take the hon. Members opposite and their party a little more seriously if they would only drop upon one story and stick to it all the time, instead of trying to tell half a dozen stories at the same time.
I can imagine that when a Labour Government is in power one of the tactics, one of the methods of hon. Members opposite, will be to endeavour to prove that they are more to the left than is the Labour party. We can watch for that time with great interest, but, there, they have been trying to prove that we are exceedingly revolutionary 646 and then they proceed to argue that there are points in the programme of the Labour party that the Labour Government is likely to deal with on which they themselves are as sound as we are. We have heard the Conservative candidates in the various constituencies stand for various social reforms which their Government opposes in this House. The King's Speech itself has quite a number of points which have been in the Labour party programme for a good time. After having tried to prove that we were very dangerous, they are now trying to prove that they stand for the same things as those for which we stand. It will be interesting to see whether the policy brought forward at the Election by the Government, and the programme adumbrated in the King's Speech, which hon. Members opposite are supposed to support when they are going out of power, will be supported by them when a Labour Government proposes to pass them. Throughout the Debate there has been an angling for position, and a subjection of public interest and policy, particularly by hon. Members opposite, to the immediate political needs of a difficult political situation. I think hon. Members opposite are thinking a little too much about the next Election and too little of the good of their country.
§ Mr. MORRISON
There has been in the Debate a good deal of angling for position, but I think it is time there was a new move in British polities, and we should begin to think less about political manœuvring and a little bit more about the good of the country. May I suggest in particular to hon. Members opposite, that it is really time they began to treat the electorate as educated and intelligent men and women. Really the way they bring posters out at Election time portraying hoary-headed, long-whiskered, red-faced people described as Bolshevists, and trying to prove that these people are identical with members of the Labour party—the way they dress up such bogies and, instead of appealing to the brains of the electorate, try to steal political victories out of the fears of nervous men and women, is disgraceful.
But the Labour party is making progress, and it will continue to do so. 647 because we are not appealing to the passions and the baseless fears of men and women, but we are appealing to the intelligence of the people, and consistently endeavouring to educate the people in political knowledge. I think it is time that electoral issues were settled by appeals to the intelligence of the people, and not to ignorance. The people vote for us, not because we are good tacticians, but because we are able to build up an electorate of men and women who believe we are right, and that is the kind of politics which is going to appeal to our people and determine political triumphs.
I believe that the power of the Conservative party, by appealing to fear and passion, is going to become less and less effective in the political world. I support this Amendment of no confidence in the Government because it has been proved conclusively that the present Government is composed of men, and supported by a party, who have shown themselves unfit to govern. The present Government has not pursued a consistent policy, for they have vacillated not only in foreign affairs, but in domestic affairs as well. I think it is time we had a Government that knows its own mind and the needs of our people, and I believe the coming Labour Government will prove superior in all respects to the Administration which will go out of office to-night.
§ Mr. AUSTIN HOPKINSON
There is a very pleasant convention in this House by which, when an hon. Member makes his maiden speech, the hon. Member who gets up next should congratulate him in set terms. I forget what those set terms are, therefore he may take the usual conventional compliment as paid. Having listened to the greater part of the Debate, and having very carefully read the OFFICIAL REPORT, the one thing which strikes me is the lack of seriousness of most of the speeches. That lack of seriousness was initiated by the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who, in a speech, in which I think political cynicism was carried to an extent to which this House has been a stranger in the past, laid down as the fundamental principle of his party that Liberalism consists in getting into office by any means, however precarious that office is rendered by one's personal friends with whom one has just effected a reunion. After that speech the 648 tone seemed set for the whole Debate. Most of the speakers—those, at any rate, who paid any attention to the circumstances under which the Debate is taking place—pointed out with extreme ingenuity the reasons why their consciences, and their consciences alone, forced them to vote either for or against this Amendment, as the cast might be.
Up to this point, I have merely done lip service to the unreality which has surrounded this Debate, and now we come to the really serious point which is the question of what is going to happen to the unfortunate people of this country as the result of this Debate? There are those who, like myself, and there are many others on this side, and a few on the opposite side, are engaged in endeavouring to provide a reasonable standard of living for the people of this country by means of industrial processes. Hon. Members will do me the justice of remembering that. I admitted that there were a few such men, even in the Labour party, engaged in that task. Those of us, I say, who are engaged upon this task have been finding t during the last few years an extremely difficult one. It is undoubtedly very difficult at present, in certain industries, to get anything like a satisfactory standard of living, even for those in the industry who are fortunate enough to have a job. Some of us, perhaps by good luck or through the willingness of the men we employ, and through their excellent work and common sense, have been able to build up and maintain a standard of living very much higher than what they had before the War. But these are only exceptional cases. Unhappily, in the great industry in which I play a very humble part, the engineering industry, the conditions are very bad indeed, as many of us knew only too well. The question is, is voting for this Amendment going to make it easier or more difficult for us to give a better standard of living to those engaged in industry in this country? I venture to say that, if we free our minds from any prepossessions or prejudices in this matter, we must agree that it will be more difficult—I do not say greatly more difficult—but slightly more difficult to provide that standard of living. It will be so for this reason, that hon. Members who have spoken from the opposite benches have all concentrated their attention on measures of social reform. They have pointed out there are 649 many defects in our educational system, that our methods of providing for those who have been unfortunate in the industries of this country are stingy and only provide a bare living for those who have to accept the assistance of the State or of the municipalities. In short, they advocate more expenditure.
Now, if we throw our minds back to the period after the War, we can see plainly mistakes on the part of myself and other employers of labour which have reduced us to our present unfortunate position. There is not much to be gained by pointing out that mistakes have also been made by those in receipt of weekly wages and by their leaders in the trade union movement. It always seems to me that even in a Parliamentary Debate we are likely to get more valuable information if each man endeavours to the best of his ability to criticise himself and to find out his own shortcomings, than by calling attention to the shortcomings of others. With regard to myself—and I am merely one unit among the employers of this country—I must admit that employers and directors of industry undoubtedly made very grave mistakes in the period immediately following the War. What did four years of war mean from the economic point of view. It meant the dissipation of the capital resources of this country, resources which had been built up by such gigantic efforts in the years preceding the War. If one thing is more certain than another it is this, that if one has a large population in a small island like this, with very few natural resources, it is absolutely essential that capital resources of one kind or another shall be very large, if that gigantic population is to be maintained on a reasonable standard of living.
The effect of the War was this, that a very large quantity of the capital of this country was dissipated. For four years the greater part of the efforts of the workers were devoted to the construction and manufacture of things which, when put into use, went off with a bang and there was an end of them. If we devote ourselves as workers to the construction of locomotive engines, then something is produced which represents wealth, but during the War we were producing something which was not wealth. We also lost nearly a million of the very best of our fellow countrymen. 650 I believe they were the best in the true sense of the word. In the strict economical sense they undoubtedly were the very best. They were men in the prime of life, at an age when they were able to produce more wealth than at any other period of their existence. Therefore it seems to me there was one policy—one sane policy only to be pursued immediately after the War. What was that? The object of those who were directors of industry and employers of labour should have been to reduce to the lowest possible point their own expenses and then to build up the capital fund without which a good standard of living for the workers is absolutely impossible. But the politicians told us immediately after the War that we were going to have the time of our lives. Bad conditions, such as the appalling housing conditions which obtained in many large towns, were to become things of the past. The old low standard of living which had obtained for unskilled labour was never to be known again. A generous State was going to provide everyone with every material benefit by some wonderful operation whose secret was held in the brain of the then Prime Minister. Thus misled, we went on dissipating our capital resources. It was owing to inflationary methods, owing to mistakes largely on the part of those who conducted industry, mistakes too by the bankers, that we were enabled to go on dissipating our capital after the War had ceased. A day of reckoning was bound to come, and our awakening has been a very bitter one, especially in the North of England, during the last two years.
But I ask hon. Members opposite to believe me when I say that there are many of us at this date, both employers and directors of industry, who really are thinking as we never thought before as to the best way in which we can help the worker in the crisis through which we are passing. Those to whom the Government of the country will in all probability be entrusted after to-night will be doing a very great injury if, when they put into practice any theories which they have hitherto preached up and down the country, they do not watch very carefully the result of each step they take. I am quite willing, as an employer of labour, to show every possible patience and not by making a noise to render their task a little bit more difficult, but I ask them 651 to try their experiments carefully and slowly, and if they find that their theories do not work as they anticipate, I ask them to watch well the results and pull up before irreparable injury is done. Indeed, they have had an experience during the past few years, not confined to this country, which may well give pause even to the most convinced Socialists; but, after all, in this country we had a very large degree of Socialism during the War, and I, for one, quite admit that, when a country like ours is engaged in a European war, there must be a large degree of Socialism in its government, because—and here I am afraid my hon. Friends opposite will not agree with me—Socialism is the easiest way of getting at capital resources and rendering them available for immediate spending—[Interruption.] As I anticipated, that theory does not receive their support, but I think that, making some allowance for my perhaps rather paradoxical way of putting it, and thinking the matter over carefully, they will find that there is a grain of truth in the paradox.
That is the situation before us. Our capital resources are seriously reduced, and we find it extremely difficult, with all our exertions, both as masters and men, to provide anything like a decent standard of living. I think we can trust our friends opposite to regard the matter somewhat on the lines I have suggested. We have among them, now, at any rate, a number of fairly responsible people, and I must admit, as I think many of us on these benches must admit, that, although there may be members of the coming Government whom we regard with suspicion, whose intelligence we regard with suspicion, yet there were plenty of members of the late Government on this side whose intelligences we regarded, not with suspicion but with a convinced disapproval, which has been again and again justified. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] I have named them in the course of the Election. If we regard the position of the late Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—the present Government as it is now, the late Government as it will be—in the summer of last year, I venture to say that there was no Prime Minister of modern times who had so completely the confidence of all sections of this country as the Prime Minister had in the summer of last year, and I speak particu- 652 larly for the industrial community of this country. We at last thought we were going to see the end of all the jiggery-pokery and tomfoolery which had been practised by the Coalition Government. We thought that at last we should be able to come down every morning to breakfast and take up the paper without finding, as we had found for so long, some devastating new piece of legislation. Business and industry are impossible under such conditions as were brought about by the Coalition Government, and we did think that, at last, we had got a Government which would mind its own business and allow those of us who were engaged in industry, whether as employers or as wage-earners, to pull industry out of the Slough of Despond into which it had fallen. Then, for no reason on earth except the reason that quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat, this trusted, this loved Government, I think I may say, suddenly commits suicide, just as a Conservative Government had committed suicide a political generation ago, and the whole thing was, if I may use a vulgarism, thrown into the soup again. Confidence disappeared. A Cabinet Minister managed to put down the sterling exchange on New York by 20 cents in a fortnight—[HON. MEMBERS: "More!"]—or was it 25 cents—and, generally speaking, we felt that, even if the horrible terror of a Socialist Government were not to come upon us, at any rate we should get a Government almost as bad, worked by the same people that ran that rotten Coalition Government.
After what I have said, I think hon. Members opposite will give me credit for not being in a panic. I am not Lord Rothermere. I am not even Lord Beaver-brook. But I must say that speaking for myself I fear nothing from a Labour-Socialist Government, because the deeper that Government goes into Socialistic practices the more powerful will it make the capitalist section in this country. [Interruption.] That has been the lesson of the history of all Socialistic experiments, whether these have been socialistic experiments of Government or those of Socialist communities such as those which so many times during the 19th century were put into being in the United States of America and elsewhere—in every case the power of the capitalist has been immensely increased by the practice of 653 Socialism. Unhappily, however, the capitalist is not the only person concerned. There is the unhappy worker, and, in every case where Socialism has been put into practice by a Government, the position of the manual wage-earner has been infinitely impaired. Therefore, although, as I have said, I feel no panic from the selfish point of view in regard to a Socialist Government, I do feel that it is rather a danger—although not nearly such a danger as the papers make out—to the interests of the workers. But there, again, the cloud has a silver lining, and, perhaps, the workers will abandon the false leaders, who have led them astray in the past, and will seek leaders among us, their employers, who are, after all, their natural leaders. I venture to say that in the case of those whom I employ, there is no trade union in this country that can give them anything like the trade union benefits that I myself am able to give them at the present time. I have deliberately entered into a competition with the trade unions; but, mark you, a competition in which I hope to goodness they will beat me by giving their members a better time than any employer can give them. At present I have won, but I hope to goodness they will beat me in the end.
Let me now turn to the strictly political side of the question. Members of the late lamented Conservative party have from these benches announced their determination that, as the mast of the Conservative party slip is no longer visible, they will nail Protection to the keel, which is the only bit of the ship that can now be reached, and that is what they, like all weak men, call courage. I was very much struck with the Prime Minister's speech this evening—very much struck with his courage and his cheerfulness, which were enormous. In essence what he said was, "Lo my army is defeated, my hosts are practically exterminated"—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—well, perhaps I exaggerate— "my hosts, at any rate," if I may use a vulgarism, "have taken a very nasty knock indeed, and are suffering very severely. The battle is completely lost"—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—"and yet my courage stands as high as ever, and my cheerfulness is still higher." I do think 654 the Prime Minister might have thought a little more about his army and about those who stand to suffer from his defeat, the damage from which may extend to very many more than his own army. But this, at all events, we must keep before us—we must really get down now, once for all, to the basis of a true Conservative party We have been playing the fool too long. [Interruption.]
There was a Socialist gentleman in the 19th century called Mr. Disraeli who, with a view to performing the delicate political action called "dishing the Whigs," introduced Socialism into the Conservative party, and there are still remnants of that Socialist spirit in this party. Certain young gentlemen, whose confidence in themselves is probably rather greater than their experience, are already beginning to move in what they call a Tory democratic direction and are suggesting that safety and honour and power in the future will be obtained for the Conservative party if it starts in the great competition, the great auction of Social Reform, with the Labour party and the Liberal party. They think they are going to get back to power in this way. They are going to tell the electors, "We Conservatives are really Socialists. We. are quite willing to make laws by which each of you is to have half a crown a week at the expense of your richer neighbours. That is what we call social reform." It never seems to strike them that if they go to the country with a bribe of half a crown a week they have got to compete against the Liberal party with a bribe of 5s., and the Socialist party with a bribe of anything you jolly well like. Therefore I and those who act with me—and they are not a small number by any means—are quite determined that, as far as in us lies, we are not going to allow the Conservative party to become a half-baked Socialist party, such as the Liberal party has already become. We hope that party is going to get back on to some principle beside the great political principle of seeking office. We hope possibly it may get back to what in the old days were termed Conservative principles. Those Conservative principles I will state briefly.
Perhaps the greatest discovery of modern times was the discovery of the Liberals in the 19th century, gentlemen like Cobden, John Bright, Gladstone and 655 others, who would positively turn in their graves if they could see the election manifestoes of their successors to-day—men who were individualists and sound economists, which is more I think than we can say for the Liberal party at present. They were individualists and nothing else. They thought that free competition, non-interference by the State, and the Devil take the hindmost, were going to produce not only a prosperous, but a contented and happy country. The idea worked all right; but it seems to me that we did not get much further in the way of happiness or contentment. It is all very well adopting a party view, which the Liberal party did, based upon sound economics which makes people year after year get a little more prosperous and increases the population in proportion, until at the end of 100 years you double or treble your population and your standard of living, but does not really get anyone any further forward, and certainly does not lead to contentment or happiness. It seems to me the only way in which the Conservative party of the future can successfully claim the consideration of the people of the country is by superimposing on the old traditions of the past some form of idealism which will give hope to the workers of a better and happier state of affairs. The idealism is surely this: that in opposition to what the Socialist party is putting before the people at present, in opposition to the idea that by means of State action we can bestow endless material benefits on the workers, in reality there is no way of bestowing those benefits except by those of us—and there are many such on this side—who are in a position to do so, deliberately setting out to carry out our own duty as individuals and not to endeavour by collective action through the State to shirk those duties ourselves. Thus and thus only, it seems to me, is there any possibility of building up a strong individualist party in this country.
Mr. J. RAMSAY MacDONALD
The hon. Member who has just sat down is always most interesting when he is most irritating. I thought, as he approached the end of the first part of his speech, I was going to finish what he had to say by saying for him that therefore he was going to vote for the Amendment, but he went off, first of all against us, and then a few minutes afterwards he went off at a 656 still more painful tangent against the colleagues with whom he is associated. It is a most melancholy thing for hon. Members opposite, whose one cry against us is the parrot cry of Socialism, to be assured by a colleague of their own, who at any rate knows something about economics, that the greatest of all modern leaders, the Earl of Beaconsfield, was as a matter of fact very badly tainted with the Socialist faith. It is perfectly true. The hon. Member is perfectly right. What is the use of hon. Members opposite delivering speeches like that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain), in which he held up Socialism as a hard-and-fast doctrine with a great gulf fixed between it and the doctrines of any party in the State? There is no hard-and-fast line like this which can be drawn. Politicians who approach the problem of Socialism under the impression that society is a mere machine really have to learn not only the elementary facts of life, but the most elementary frame of mind.
I accept the frame of mind of my hon. Friend and of the hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Sir M. Conway), who, however adverse his conclusions were from those I should have come to, at any rate did put himself in a position to make a real examination of our position, and to direct arguments against us which were really worth listening to and replying to. May I say about the speech which has just been delivered that I am not at all sure but that I agree in practically everything the hon. Member said in the first part of his speech, except in one thing, and that was where he informed us that Socialism was interested in finding an easy way of getting hold of capital in order to spend it. Exactly the opposite. The hon. Member knows, I know, and I think my friends around me know, that the man or the nation that finds an easy way to lay hands upon capital in order to spend it is going into the Bankruptcy Court. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite do not seem to be aware that that is an argument we are always using against them. We may be wrong. I am not going to say that now—it is not my business here to-night—although I should delight in pursuing the argument. That is the argument we use against them, and apparently it is a discovery for them. 657 Capital that is used for anything except for the specific economic purpose for which capital ought to be used—renewing capital, expanding capital, expanding the effective capital force of the country—is being misused. That is a firm, sound, fundamental Socialist attitude in regard to capital. [Interruption.] I am very much amused at the protests of hon. Members opposite; they prove what I have always suspected, that if they would read one tithe of what they speak about Socialism, it would be far more worth our while listening to what they have to say. That is not what is before us to-night.
This House to-night is going to take a step which will be marked, I hope and believe with all my heart and soul, in the history of this country for good. It is rather strange for us to sit here, as we have been sitting, and to wonder almost where we come in. Beyond the parrot cries about Socialism, which have no meaning behind them, the attack from the other side has not been upon us, but upon right hon. Members who sit on this bench and upon hon. Members below the Gangway. I found myself rather, if I might use the illustration, during this Debate, somewhat in the position of Rebecca in "Ivanhoe," with an enemy and a champion. She looked on, and a knight came from that end of the lists and a knight came from the other end of the lists; they fought, they knocked each other on the head, they unhorsed each other, and, as a result, she became free. My hon. Friends opposite look really already beaten. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Ah, hon. Members opposite have not had the advantage that we have had of sitting here, and observing them.
I must say this, and I say it quite seriously, that I am rather sorry that the inquest has dragged out so long. We have had some admirable maiden speeches. There was a great speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith)—great speeches belong not to a party but to the House—and we had a speech this afternoon from my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), who enjoys the position of being the Father of the House, who, with his long experience of men and parties in this House, has told us sincerely and definitely that he welcomes into power the Labour party 658 and the men who lead the Labour party. What more need I say? The nation calls somebody to work. You may speculate, you may have great orations, you may indulge in all the forms of wisdom such as we had this afternoon from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain), but what happens at the end of it? Someone has to govern. Some body of men have to take upon themselves the responsibility of carrying on the King's Government and the work of the nation. I am bound to confess that, from the point of view of the needs of the nation, my conviction is that we have been wasting time in these Debates. Let us get on with the work.
The Prime Minister says that he is leaving no outstanding problems. In my heart I never like to disagree with my right hon. Friend. I wish I did not disagree with him in regard to that statement. No outstanding problems! [HON. MEMBERS: "except!"] Let me work it out. "No outstanding problems," and he had no sooner said that than, after a pause, he said "except." What were the exceptions? Reparations. How reparations have baffled him! The position of France. How the position of France has baffled him! Unemployment. Unemployment has smashed his majority, broken his Government, and put him into the position he is in to-night; and yet there is no outstanding problem left by him as an inheritance for whoever takes his place. No man has ever stepped into the position now held by my right hon. Friend who is less in the position to be envied than the person who will succeed him in office if he is defeated.
May I appeal to this House? One hears about Guy Fawkes plots, gunpowder conspiracies, and about the rules and the forms of this House which are going to be used in order to delay, in odder to hamper business, and in order to go on with useless Debates. I heard of these, things. I appeal to the House to-night, if this Amendment is going to be carried in a decisive Division, to let us have the Address through, and let us meet the new Government. A Labour Government may create many fears. I will go further, a Labour Government may be bad, but I will tell hon. Members what. is still worse than a Labour Government, especially one coming in under the conditions that this one will come in. It is to degrade this 659 House, bring it into a deadlock, produce a sort of stalemate, and make our constituents laugh at us for our incapacity to govern: that is a far greater menace to Parliament.
I do not expect my right hon. and learned Friend to take any notice of it unless he desires, but I do ask what is the Government view if I may venture to do so. Some of the speeches made by the younger Members expressed concern about the social programme attached to the King's Speech. I heard a Noble Lady one day appeal to us to stand by certain items in the King's Speech. The Noble Lady has not been long in Parliament or she would know that these items are borrowed from ourselves. These items are our items, these items we moved again and again before Parliament. It is not to us that the appeal should be made. The appeal that should be made is this. Hon. Members having committed themselves to them in the King's Speech should stand by them when we propose them from that side of the House, and they are sitting on this side of the House. We have all known the picture of a patient beast of burden harnessed to a cart laden with mighty weights. The poor beast had neither the life nor the heart to carry it, but it was moving it because there was some shoulder pushing behind. That is our position. That has been our position. The beast of burden that could not pull has been the Tory party. It was harnessed to the cart, it had got pledges, it had got the King's Speech, and had there been no Labour party or no Liberal party behind it would have stuck in the mud, and never moved forward.
Another item. Great concern is expressed as to what would happen to agriculture if a Labour Government came into power. I say this, that for the first time, with a Labour Government in power, you will have agriculture looked at from the point of view of both town and country. What is the problem of agriculture? Agriculture in this country will never be considered so long as the agricultural interest is divided from the town interest. You divide your agriculture, you divide your villages, you divide your fields from your streets, divide Essex from London, divide the Carse of Gowrie from Glasgow, divide 660 the Laigh of Moray from Aberdeen, and you can produce your agricultural schemes, and you can offer your inducements to the farmers to vote for you, and, in the end, nothing will be done because the very first essential of a good agricultural programme has been over looked, namely, to get the town and the country united together in a national policy which will include the well being of agriculture. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"] Before hon. Members are one-tenth of the time in office that has been enjoyed by hon. Members opposite we will tell you what it is. I will tell the House how we mean to get it. The very first thing that must be done in order to devise this scheme is to bring into actual personal contact the leaders of the town movement and the leaders of the agricultural movement so that they may consider the whole matter. I will take up as much of the King's Speech as I believe in and I will give my right hon. Friends a chance of trudging into the lobby. I suppose it would be called wangling into the lobby. Eight hon. Gentlemen will have many an opportunity if the Labour party is in office of fulfilling the verbal pledges they have given in actual voting in the House of Commons, far more frequently than if they had stayed themselves in office.
I will not go over foreign affairs again. My right hon. Friend said the position has improved very much. It has. I am not sure I should say "very much," but the position is improving. No one who keeps in close contact with the Continental Press can deny that. The chief reason why it is improving is that there is a change in Government. One of the greatest of the Continental diplomatists said the other day, "Since you had your Election in England the ice that has got thicker and thicker round about us is beginning to break." I replied, "We shall do our best to keep it broken so that there is freedom of movement," and that is exactly the situation. I must just in a sentence refer to a certain use the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs made of a phrase I used at the Albert Hall. I regret very much that he did it, because it has done harm, and I am sure he never intended to do harm. I had in my mind smouldering embers. I said so. I had in my mind the ordinary thing one does when there are smouldering embers round about and they become dangerous. You stamp 661 them out. The simile is a perfectly simple one that ought not have been misunderstood, and one that certainly ought not to have been applied in the way the right hon. Gentleman applied it. That is not the sort of helpful thing for a man in his position to do.
I heard an interjection a few minutes ago when I referred to my difficulties, and referred to Reparation. Someone said that it may break us. It may. We will do our best so that it will not, but it may, and if we are broken, if we make mistakes, the place of the right hon. Gentleman is not opposite to us but beside us. After all that he has done, after such mischievous speeches as that which he made at Canterbury, when his Government was opposing France, and he said that he hoped that France was going to succeed, then, should we fail from the nature of the considerations to which he and his Government have condemned us, his place is side by side with us consoling us for our failures by reciting the colossal nature of his own. Hon. Members opposite have got a stock in trade word "Socialism." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham goes alternately into poetry and prophecy, and he excels in both. He spoke about Socialism. I want to know how long Socialism is going to be used as a mere partisan political asset of the nature of saying "boo" to a goose?
The frame of mind of my hon. Friend the Member for the combined Universities (Sir M. Conway) is the right frame of mind. But when we get the stilted mechanical argument that one thing is white and the other thing is black, and one thing is red, and the other blue, speckled blue or speckled something, that Society is moving and to-day we have had the last word, which the right hon. Gentleman has uttered about the organisation of Society, and all that, and he has got the conception that it is going to move and move, and become more and more in accordance with certain ideals and ideas, and that the moral nature of man is going to be sapped by gentlemen unfitted to be entrusted with the Government with which he was worthy to be entrusted, then the thing is absurd.
Then we have raised before us the prospect of fear. It is said that there is a tremendous amount of fear. I agree. So far as that fear 662 is well-founded, we shall do our best to allay it and dissipate it, our very best. But is it well-founded? Or is some of it manufactured? I will give the House an example of how it is manufactured. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) once wrote a book. If he had taken some of our advice he would not have clone so. He was a rash man. I wish to read an extract from that book. It is somewhat long, but the point, I think, is important. If Mr. Speaker and the House will allow me, I will read what my right hon. Friend wrote. He was writing about municipal banks, and this is what he said:Every city, every town, should have its own municipal bank. Imagine the position of a great municipality going to a firm of underwriters to beg for a loan. It is almost unbelievable, yet it is done to-day. Why should not the local authority be given power to take the savings of its inhabitants, those whose interests it has been elected to look after, and use them, paying, of course, a right and proper percentage, for such purposes as I have indicated. How better could the money of the people of Birmingham be invested than in the improvement of their water supply, and what better security could saving residents have for the interest on their money than their own corporation, which, after all, means their very existence. Under Labour the privileges of these corporations would be generously enlarged, and they would be able to become bankers, and with the invested capital of their own inhabitants have a balance for them which could be utilised for the improvements which would make for the well-being of all the inhabitants of the town.[HON. MEMBERS: "Voluntarily?" Voluntarily. I am prepared at this moment to receive all criticisms of this from the other side. Yes, quite dearly that statement means voluntarily. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am afraid some hon. Members know what is coming. Of course, it is voluntarily.Should be empowered to receive money.What are we doing? Are we stating facts or are we quibbling? I defy any right hon. or hon. Member opposite to say otherwise than that the meaning of this, as is perfectly clear from the context, is "Why should not the local authority be given power to have the savings of the inhabitants." [HON. MEMBERS: "To take the savings."] It means to take over the counter.
If the hon. Member will only read it again he will find that nothing of the kind is in the mind of my right hon. Friend. It is perfectly clear that it is a deposit bank that is considered, and, as a matter of fact, he is referring to the Birmingham Municipal Bank, which is in existence at the present time and takes the savings of the inhabitants of Birmingham in precisely the way that my right hon. Friend has suggested. One hon. Member in particular to-day has been detailing figures of 5,000,000 votes were and so on. How many of the 5,000,000 votes were got by a gross misrepresentation of the extract I have just read? I will read it. Hon. Members know it:Another Labour party attack on savings.That is the heading to a leaflet circulated by the million during the Election, and issued by the National Unionist Association. Here is the leaflet:The Rt. Hon. J. H. Thomas, until recently Socialist Labour party Member for Derby, in his book 'When Labour Rules,' suggests another Labour party grab for savings. He writes:Then follows the extract:'Why should not the local authority be given powers to take the savings of its inhabitants'"—The words "take the savings" are underlined and printed in italics, which is not the case in the book.—"'and use them, paying, of course, a right and proper percentage.' "So the man who has saved to buy a house to live in, or to purchase a small business, or for old age, is not to be allowed to keep his savings and to use them as he likes. They are to be taken from him, and local councils, with, of course, Socialist majorities, are to make use of them. The return on his savings will not be what he can get, but what the Socialists think right and proper. We well know what that will be. Vote Unionist, and keep your savings safe.Then hon. Members come here and say the nation is afraid of us. Who is striking the nation, who is destroying its credit, who is robbing thousands and thousands of people of their savings by depreciating the stock in which they have invested them—my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, who wrote that, or those who scoundrelly misrepresented what he said and issued the leaflet I have just read? I could say the same about Capital Levy too, but one crime at a time 664 is quite enough for hon. Members opposite. There it is. I must give way to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. All I say is this: Whatever may happen now, within the course of a brief hour, no one can envy the position of whoever takes my right hon. Friend's place—no one; but with what has happened, the record of the party opposite, our action in the last Parliament, the way in which the General Election was created, as I have said already, how can we begin where we left off? It is impossible. There is no Parliamentary man on the other side but knows that it is impossible, and that it was the duty of this House, it was my duty and my hon. Friend's duty, to arraign the Government at the very first opportunity, and to ask a verdict against it, in the interests of sound political policy and in the best interests of our nation.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
It is, I think, only a little over a year ago that I made my maiden speech from this box, and I shall always remember with gratitude the indulgence with which that was received, not only by my own party, but by hon. and right hon. Members opposite. This evening it would not be reasonable for me to ask for any such indulgence. Since then, I have taken, and, I hope, given, some pretty hard knocks, but I do ask hon. Members opposite, speaking as I am, we are told, for the last time for this Government, at least to give a patient hearing to what I have to say.
In approaching the Division which is to take place in just over half an hour, it is necessary, I think, for hon. Members, before they cast their vote, to make up their minds what is the real question which is before the House. In form of course it is, and quite properly, a Motion of No Confidence in the present Government. Of course, also, we have to approach that Motion in the light of the circumstances which we all know exist to-day. We have on this side of the House no majority, but a larger proportion of the House than any other party. We have two other parties represented, neither of them able to govern by their own strength; so the real question which the House has to decide is this: Given the fact that no one party can govern by its own majority, 665 does the Liberal party prefer the administration of the affairs of this country to be in the hands of a Conservative or a Socialist Government? The hon. Member for Aberavon said that he felt like Rebecca watching the two champions exchanging blows that she might go free. But the reason for that is, we do not expect confidence from his party. We are out against all that his party stands for. [HON. MEMBERS "King's Speech!"] I am coming to the King's Speech. But the Liberals, at any rate before the Election, were as anxious as we were to expose all the elaborate fallacies of Socialism such as capital levy and other proposals made by hon. Gentlemen opposite. And therefore it is the Liberals at whose attitude we are a little surprised. [An HON. MEMBER: "If you had known them better you would not have been surprised at anything."] If I had known them as well as some hon. Members opposite nothing would have surprised me.
True it is, as has been said more than once, that the King's Government has to be carried on. But the question is, by whom is it to be carried on; and although I quite accept and I can well understand that any Member with the sense of responsibility shown by the Leader of the Opposition—although I quite well understand that any Member approaching the possibility of having to carry on that. Government—speaks with restraint and with anxiety in the task that lies in front of him, I cannot help wondering, when last month we saw such fiery indignation by the Socialist party when they thought that they were not to have a chance to be invited to govern, whether that anxiety was so much whether the King's Government should be carried on, or whether it should be carried on by a Socialist Administration. If one were approaching this problem with an unbiassed mind, presumably the first question to which one would address himself is, what are the two competing programmes which the Conservatives and Socialists respectively propose to lay before Parliament if they are in office? One would expect to hear from the Liberals that the programme which we outlined in the King's Speech is one which meets with their unqualified censure, since they are so anxious to prevent it coming into effect. But, in fact, so far from that programme meeting with disapproval, the two sections of the 666 Opposition have been competing with one another as to which one of them should be entitled to the credit of claiming it.
The Leader of the Opposition, when he spoke on Tuesday, and again in his speech to-night, claimed that we were masquerading in borrowed plumes and wearing what he described as "stolen clothes." I am not concerned at the present moment to discuss how far that charge is well founded. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), when he spoke first for the Liberal party, claimed that this was his programme, that it was, as he called it, not at all a bad programme, and really a re-hash of the Liberal manifesto. If they both think it so good, why are they so anxious to prevent our legislating? Nobody suggests—at any rate I have not heard anyone suggest—that we cannot claim the merit at least of sincerity. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I am surprised at that. I should have thought that when hon. and right hon. Members opposite for a week past have been taunting us because we have deliberately, as they say, flung away office, flung away a safe majority, risked our position and power rather than go on carrying on the Government of the country without the power to do something which we believe is in the interests of the working classes—I should have thought they would at least have recognised that our sincerity stood beyond challenge. One hon. and gallant Member of the Liberal party interjected the other day that it was not our sincerity which they challenged, but our capacity, and therefore, presumably, a vote in favour of substituting a Socialist administration for our own is based upon the theory that their record is better than ours. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to hear that that meets with the approval of hon. Members opposite.
I had proposed discussing in some little detail what it was that we had achieved during the last 14 months. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ireland!"] Yes, the first thing that our Government did was to give to Ireland a measure of Dominion freedom which every party in the House admitted was rightly and properly given. Indeed it was very remarkable to notice that when the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy)—whom we are all glad to see able to resume his seat in this 667 House—framed his indictment of the Government proceedings, the things of which he accused us were none of them things that we had done at all. He went back to the story of Amritsar, to the story of the Black and Tans under Sir Hamar Greenwood, to the story of the bombing of some Egyptian villages, I know not how many years ago, and he accused us as being unworthy of the confidence of the House, because the Coalition which we turned out was responsible. If that is the worst they can say of us, it looks as if our record were not so bad; but, indeed, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said—and it cannot be challenged—that no Government in recent times has succeeded in so fully redeeming its pledges as our Government did during the last 12 months.
I am not going into detail, because time will not allow, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health told us last week how the great problem of housing had been so effectively grappled with by him and by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we have been able, in five months, to do more towards dealing with housing—nobody suggested it could be solved in a month—than any Government has ever done, and we have to-day more houses approved than have ever been built in any year since the unfortunate and disastrous experiment of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs.
Look at the other great social problem of unemployment. We do not claim to have solved it. I would to God we had! I am quite sure hon. Members opposite would be as thankful as we would be. But it cannot be said that we did not try to remedy it. We offered a remedy to the country, but unfortunately the country has rejected it. I am not arguing whether that was right or wrong, but even, given that refusal, it is a fact that to-day, in spite of the trade depression which has taken place, in spite of the industrial unrest and political complications, in spite of depreciated currencies and loss of purchasing power abroad to-day, we are glad to know that there are something like over a quarter of a million less people unemployed than 12 months ago. That is not so bad for the Government which is considered to be moribund!
Let us look at foreign affairs, the subject upon which we have been bitterly 668 attacked. When we took office in 1922 the French were on the eve of invading the Ruhr. Again I am not arguing whether this is right or wrong. We did not think that the move was calculated to achieve the end that we and they both claim to have in view—to obtain reparations from Germany. Neither of the opposite parties, at least, complained of that action. We protested, but we could not stop an independent friendly Power from doing something which she was determined to do. We had the choice when the French went info the Ruhr either of maintaining friendly relations with them in the hope thereby to do the best we could to solve the problem with them, or by breaking with them to destroy our chance of influencing their action in the future. I am not ashamed to think that this Government, in the face of bitter opposition from hon. Gentlemen opposite, has maintained our friendly relations with France, and, as a direct result of that, we have been able now, with her assent and co-operation, and with the assent and co-operation of that great country the United States, to set up Committees, which at least mark a definite step forward towards the solution of the problem of reparations, which, we hope, may be able to report upon what everybody is agreed must be the first step in the solution of the question, namely, reorganising and balancing the Budget of Germany.
When we are asked to contrast what we have done with what the Socialists would have done, which do the hon. Members of the Liberal party prefer, a record such as I have given, or that of a party which claims that their governing principle is the establishment of a Socialist Commonwealth, and that the class struggle is their means of realising that end? The hon. Member for Aberavon, with obvious sincerity, complained somewhat bitterly of what he said was an encouragement of class hatred from some members of the Conservative party. But at least we can claim this: that it is no part of the constitution of the Conservative party to stir up class struggle and class hatred. [An HON. MEMBER: "More than any other party!"] An hon. Gentleman opposite says, "More than any other party." Does he know that the Socialist parties and the Labour parties of this country 669 are allied with the Socialist International? Does he know that the Labour and the Socialist International is a union of such parties as accept the principle—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is an invention."]—I am quoting from a document which is familiar to hon. Members, published by the Labour party at 33, Eccleston Square. I daresay some of the things they publish have been proved by hon. Members opposite to be inventions, but I think this is official:The Labour and the Socialist International is a union of such parties as accept the principle of the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth as their object, and the class struggle as a means of realising it.I have quoted that passage because some hon. Members opposite profess to be surprised to know that the principle they have accepted is the class struggle as a means of the establishment of a Socialist Commonwealth. We, like they, are anxious to improve the condition of the working classes. I do not dispute that they are quite as sincere as we are, and they believe their means are the best, as we believe that ours are the best, but I say to the Liberal party, What do you think about it? Do you believe in the class struggle, and their programme of social advance, and the establishment of a Socialist Commonwealth by a class struggle, or do you believe with us in the co-operation of all classes in the State? If you ask which is most likely adequately to represent us in foreign affairs, are we, who at least have no entanglements with foreign countries, most likely to be able to carry out a British policy, or is a Government more likely to attend to British interests when it accepts the resolutions of the International as a self-imposed limitation on its autonomous organisation. The hon. Member for Aberavon said that our relations with France improved when they knew there was a chance of a change of Government. I wonder whether the French would prefer to negotiate with the Government which was bound to accept the resolutions of an international body which meets at Hamburg, and which has a German name?
I have known the right hon. and learned Gentleman so long that I am sure he does not want to state anything which is not in accordance with the facts. The body of which he has 670 spoken does not meet at Hamburg, and it has not a German name. The body he has referred to is not the body which would be responsible for the Government of this country.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL
Of course, I accept any statement made by the hon. Gentleman. But I notice that the body is said by this Labour publication, which is the annual report of the Labour party, to have been meeting at Hamburg in 1923 when this resolution was adopted.
May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if the Conservative headquarters are at Plymouth, seeing the party had a meeting there the other day?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Not only was it meeting at Hamburg in May of 1923, but I observe that there were at that meeting nine delegates from Great Britain representing the Labour party and the Trade Union Congress, and ten more representing the Independent Labour party. Of course, if that is a misprint I will accept a correction, but if it is not a misprint I do not think I shall be very much astray when I say that the Labour party which accepted this constitution is a party bound to accept the decision of the Labour International. I even observe that the first delegate for Great Britain on the list is a Gentleman who is described as having the name of MacDonald. I should be surprised if he is not known here as the hon. Member for Aberavon. The second representative is named Thomas. I expect he is not a very different person from the right hon. Member for Derby. The third representative for Great Britain is named Henderson, who, I think, at present is the chief Whip of the Labour party. That is the choice which the Liberal party have to make. The hon. Member for Aberavon said it was no good calling out "Socialism." It was like calling "boo" to a goose. I should never have called the hon. Member anything so disrespectful. But if it is really a meaningless phrase, that must have brought consolation to the mind of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), because whereas he is only against Socialism as described in the Motion which the so-called Labour party supported last summer to-day he was telling us that, although he objects to 671 Socialism as a formula, of course when it came into practice bit by bit very likely he might be able to support it.
The hon. Member for Aberavon told us that really there was not so much difference between us and them and that there was nothing really to be frightened about in their taking office. Socialism, he said, was really a phrase. But I notice that only in June last a resolution was passed at a meeting of his party at which it was described as the fundamental difference which separated the Labour party from either of the older parties. It really passes my comprehension how what was a fundamental difference in June last can now be said to mean hardly anything at all. I have no doubt, however, that the Liberal party will have no difficulty in reconciling that statement. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley told us this afternoon, and as I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) told us in that delightful speech of his last week, there was really a great deal in common in the present position of the two parties—that they occupy, as I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley said, a great deal of common ground. Before the Election the Liberal party occupied a good deal of common ground with ourselves, though some of them seem to have evacuated that part of the country. Well, Sir, I had rather face an open enemy than a false friend. [Interruption.] But the view that the right hon. Gentleman expresses about the large amount of agreement between the two is not a view which the Socialists share. I have had looked up for me one or two expressions of opinion on the part of responsible men who are now Members of this House, and I find that the hon. Member for the Shettleston Division of Glasgow (Mr. Wheatley) on the 9th December, after the Election said:The fundamental political principles of Liberalism and Labour were as wide apart as the poles.I find the hon. Member for the Gower Division of Glamorgan (Mr. D. R. Grenfell) saying:Liberalism was a sham and a fraud. It was no friend of the workers, but a clique or organised group of certain interests who met to oppose the interests of another group. He said there that night that within two 672 years Liberals would be advocating the capital levy and the nationalisation of mines and railways, and they would claim the credit for it. They had stolen this manifesto, and they would steal other things.Another hon. Member, the Member for Consett (Mr. Dunnico), said:The Liberal party is a fraud and a sham. I would rather have a Tory as opponent than a Liberal who was a false friend.Another hon. Gentleman, now representing Huddersfield (Mr. Hudson) said:Liberals were infinitely more deceiving than modern Tories. Tories said where they were, but these people came with a lie on their lips.I will give one more quotation before passing on, and this, at least, will be recognised as being, not merely from back-bencher, but as really an important pronouncement:The country knew what was the policy of the Tory party; what about the Liberal party? What was the use of re-establishing humbug? Liberals would remember the old Gladstonian days, and the pride with which they called themselves Liberals. It meant something in those days. Where was that to-day? There was miserable time-serving and speechifying, studying one side and then the other; and then the speaker said they were the great moderate party. He was disgusted with that sort of political work.That was the hon. Member for Aberavon. [Interruption.] That, Sir, the Liberal party will be glad to know, is the real opinion held of them by the man whom they are going to put in power.The Liberal party"—he went on—was occupied, not with a political principle, but with mere expediency.My time is nearly up. [Cheers.] In answer to those cheers, I would say I am not ashamed of the use I have made of it. To the Socialists I would say that if in truth, as seems to have been indicated, they are going to try to put in practice those measures which we have set out as our programme of reforms—I am not quibbling as to where they started—if in truth they try to build on the foundation which we have tried to lay, they will meet with no such factious opposition as we for 12 months had to fight last year. But if, on the other hand, they are not satisfied with practising what we have preached, if they try to put into practice the principles in 673 which they profess to believe, of Socialism and nationalisation and a capital levy, whatever may happen to right hon. and hon. Members opposite who only regard politics as an expediency, we at least can promise that we will meet those principles with the most unrelenting and bitter opposition which we can set up. To the Liberals we say, it is not a fact that we are seeking to give you advice. We agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) when he said it would be a bad thing for the Conservative party if the Liberal party were killed. We have heard a great deal about suicide during this Debate. We believe this act which most of you are promising to do this evening is an act which is going to destroy your party. It matters not to us whether history will record it as felo de se or whether it will merely say, "suicide during temporary unsoundness of mind." To my own friends, I would desire to say there is no reason either for panic or for discouragement.
We have deliberately risked everything for a principle. We have heard it said:
what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
If we go into opposition believing in the principles for which we have risked everything we are free to advocate them, and we are confident that when next an Election comes we shall be able to say to the people of this country that we have not broken our pledges of resisting Socialism, and that we have stood firm for the principles which we have put before the people
rose in, his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
Question put accordingly, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 328; Noes, 256.677
|Division No. 1.]||AYES.||[11.3 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Cluse, W. S.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Gray, Frank (Oxford)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Greenall, T.|
|Alden, Percy||Compton, Joseph||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester. S.)||Costello, L. W. J.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Alstead, R.||Cove, W. G.||Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Groves, T.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Crittall, V. G.||Grundy, T. W.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Darbishire, C. W.||Guest, Capt. Hn. F.E.(Gloucstr., Stroud)|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Davies, David (Montgomery)||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)|
|Baker, W. J.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Banton, G.||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Dickle, Captain J. P.||Harbison, Thomas James S.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Dickson, T.||Harbord, Arthur|
|Barnes, A.||Dodds, S. R.||Hardie, George D.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Harney, E. A.|
|Batey, Joseph||Duffy, T. Gavan||Harris, John (Hackney, North)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Dukes, C.||Harris, Percy A.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Duncan, C.||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Birkett, W. N.||Dunn, J. Freeman||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)|
|Black, J. W.||Dunnico, H||Hastings, Patrick|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)|
|Bonwick, A.||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Haycock, A. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Egan, W. H.||Hayday, Arthur|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Hayes, John Henry|
|Briant, Frank||Entwistle, C. F.||Hemmerde, E. G.|
|Broad, F. A.||Falconer, J.||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Bromfield, William||Finney, V. H.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Henderson, W. W. (Middiesex, Enfld.)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Hillary, A. E.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Foot, Isaac||Hindle, F.|
|Buchanan, G.||Franklin, L. B.||Hirst, G. H.|
|Buckle, J.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Hobhouse, A. L.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Hodges, Frank|
|Cape, Thomas||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Hogge, James Myles|
|Charleton, H. C.||Gillett, George M.||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie|
|Church, Major A. G.||Gorman, William||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Clarke, A.||Gosling, Harry||Hudson, J. H.|
|Climie, R.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Isaacs, G. A.|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Murray, Robert||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Jewson, Dorothea||Murrell, Frank||Stamford, T. W.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Naylor, T. E.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Nichol, Robert||Stephen, Campbell|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Nixon, H.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)||O'Grady, Captain James||Stranger, Harold|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Oliver, George Harold||Sullivan, J.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Sunlight, J.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||O'Neill, John Joseph||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Owen, Major G.||Terrington, Lady|
|Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Paling, W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Kedward, R. M.||Palmer, E. T.||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Keens, T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Thomson, Walter T. (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Kennedy, T.||Parry, Thomas Henry||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Thorne, W, (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Perry, S. F.||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Phillipps, Vivian||Thurtle, E.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Pilkington, R. R.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Lansbury, George||Ponsonby, Arthur||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Laverack, F. J.||Potts, John S.||Toole, J.|
|Law, A.||Pringle, W. M. R.||Tout, W. J.|
|Lawrence, F. W. P. (Leicester, W.)||Purcell, A. A.||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Raffan, P. W.||Turner, Ben|
|Lawson, John James||Raffety, F. W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Leach, W.||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Varley, Frank B.|
|Lee, F.||Rathbone, Hugh R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lessing, E.||Raynes, W. R.||Vivian, H.|
|Lindley, F, W,||Rea, W. Russell||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Linfield, F. C.||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Rendall, A.||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Loverseed, J. F.||Richards, R||Warne, G. H.|
|Lowth, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Lunn, William||Ritson, J.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|McCrae, Sir George||Roberts. Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Webb, Sidney|
|M'Entes, V. L.||Robertson, T. A.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Macfadyen, E.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||Weir, L. M.|
|Mackinder, W.||Romeril, H. G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Rose, Frank H.||Westwood, J.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Royce, William Stapleton||Wheatley, J.|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Royle, C.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Madan, H.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.||Whiteley, W.|
|Mansell, Sir Courtenay||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Wignall, James|
|March, S.||Scrymgeour, E.||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Scurr, John||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Marley James||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen. J.E.B.(I. of W.)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough E.)|
|Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Sexton, James||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B. (Kenningtn.)|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Maxton, James||Sherwood George Henry||Willison, H.|
|Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Shinwell, Emanuel||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Middleton, G.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Millar, J. D.||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)||Windsor, Walter|
|Mills, J. E.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Mitchell, R.M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Simpson, J. Hope||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Mond, H.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Montague, Frederick||Sitch, Charles H.||Woodwork, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Morel, E. D.||Smillie, Robert||Wright, W.|
|Morris, R. H.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, R'hithe)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Morse, W. E.||Snell, Harry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mosley, Oswald||Snowden, Philip||Mr. Spoor and Mr. Frederick|
|Moulton, Major Fletcher||Spence, R.||Hall.|
|Muir, John W.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Barnett, Major Richard W.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Barnston, Major Harry||Briscoe, Captain Richard George|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W. (Glas. C.)||Becker, Harry||Brittain, Sir Harry|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Beckett, Sir Gervase||Buckingham, Sir H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Apsley, Lord||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Bullock, Captain M.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Berry, Sir George||Burman, J. B.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Betterton, Henry B.||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Butler, Sir Geoffrey|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Caine, Gordon Hall|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Blundell, F. N.||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Cassels, J. D.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Brass, Captain W.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt.R. (Prtsmth.S)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Pleiou, D. P.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ralne, W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm.,W.)||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk Peel|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Moseley)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Howard, Hn.D.(Cumberland,Northrn.)||Romer, J. R.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hughes, Collingwood||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Huntingfield, Lord||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Cope, Major William||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cowan Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Russell Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Jephcott, A. R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Savery, S. S.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lamb, J. Q.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Lane-Fox, George R.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sinclair, Col.T. (Queen's Univ.,Belfst)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Smith-Carrington, Neville W.|
|Deans, R. Storry.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)|
|Dixon, Herbert||Lorimer, H. D.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Stanley, Lord|
|Duckworth, John||Lumley, L. R.||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lyle, Sir Leonard||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lynn, R. J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton|
|Ednam, Viscount||M'Connell, Thomas E.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||MacDonald, R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Elveden, Viscount||McLean, Major A.||Sutcliffe, T.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Ferguson, H.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Marriott, J. A. R.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Meller, R. J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, W. F. (saffron Walden)||Waddington, R.|
|Gates, Percy||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Ward,Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Moles, Thomas||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Gould, James C. (Cardiff, Central)||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wells, S. R.|
|Greaves-Lord, Walter||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A.C.(Honiton)||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Joseph||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Norton-Griffiths, Sir John||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, west|
|Harland, A.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wragg, Herbert|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Pease, William Edwin||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Harvey,C.M.B.(Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Pennefather, Sir John De Fonblanque||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Commander Eyres-Monsell and|
|Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Perring, William George||Col. Right Hon. G. A. Gibbs.|
|Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Philipson, Mabel|
§ Words there added.
§ Main Question, as amended, proposed.
§ Several hon. Members having risen to speak,678 679
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I understand that on the Question that was put as to the Closure, a Division was not challenged. If the Division was not challenged, the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. MacDonald) has not the right automatically to the Closure at the present moment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) is quite mistaken. The Closure was moved, and assented to by the House. The Closure has been carried. Therefore, the Question can be claimed, and has been claimed, by the Mover of the Closure. That is the correct procedure of this House.
On a point of Order. Directly the result of the Division was made known, I, among others, rose to continue the Debate. I suggest that in doing so I was perfectly in order, and that the Debate should have been continued.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member was quite entitled to rise to attempt to continue the Debate, but that resulted in the claiming of the main question, and now, according to our Standing Orders, I proceed to put the main question.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Will hon. Members allow me to hear the point of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour)?
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I assure you that I have not the slightest desire to be in any way obstructive; but I wish to have this matter made clear. When a Question has been put at this hour of the night, and a Division has not been called on the Closure, is an hon. Member still precluded from calling a Division, or are the Opposition excluded from the right of claiming the Question? I only wish to be clear on that point of Order. I have no desire to impede the progress of business, or in any way obstruct our proceedings to-night.
On a point of Order. In view of the fact that the closure was not put—[HON. MEMBERS: "It was !"]—since the Division was declared, and that hon. Members rose in their place to continue the Debate, is it not a fact that the Debate should be continued?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is mistaken. He and one or two other hon. Members rose when I was proceeding to put the Question on the Amendment. Thereupon the Closure was moved, and it was carried by the House without a Division. Therefore it follows, from the Standing Orders, that the main Question can be claimed. The main Question has been claimed, and therefore I proceed to put the main Question to the House.
Main Question, as amended, put accordingly.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 328; Noes, 251.685
|Division No. 2.]||AYES.||[11.23 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Batey, Joseph||Cape, Thomas|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Chapple, Dr, William A.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Charlatan, H. C.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Birkett, W. N.||Church, Major A. G,|
|Alden, Percy||Black, J. W.||Clarke, A.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Bondfield, Margaret||Climie, R.|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Bonwick, A.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Alstead, R.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon, Charles W.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Briant, Frank||Collins, Patrick (Walsall)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Broad, F. A.||Compton, Joseph|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Bromfield, William||Comyns-Carr, A. S.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Costello, L. W. J.|
|Baker, W. J.||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Cove, W. G.|
|Banton, G.||Brunner, Sir J.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Buchanan, G.||Crittall, V. G.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Buckle, J||Darbishire, C. W.|
|Barnes, A.||Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Davies, David (Montgomery)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Rea, W. Russell|
|pickle, Captain J. P.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Dickson, T.||Kedward, R. M.||Rendall, A.|
|Dodds, S. R.||Keens, T.||Richards, R.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Kennedy, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Ritson, J.|
|Dukes, C.||Kenyon, Barnet||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Duncan, C.||Kirkwood, D.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Robertson, T. A.|
|Dunnico, H.||Lansbury, George||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Laverack, F. J.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Law, A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Egan, W H.||Lawrence, F. W. P. (Leicester, W.)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Royle, C.|
|Entwistle, C. F.||Lawson, John James||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Falconer, J.||Leach, W.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Finney, V. H.||Lee, F.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lessing, E.||Scurr, John|
|Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Lindley, F. W.||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Foot, Isaac||Linfield, F. C.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen. J.E.B.(I. of W.)|
|Franklin, L. B.||Livingstone, A. M.||Sexton, James|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Loverseed, J. F.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Lowth, T.||Sherwood George Henry|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Lunn, William||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||McCrae, Sir George||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Gillett, George M.||M'Entee, V. L.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Gorman, William||Macfadyen, E.||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Gosling, Harry||Mackinder, W.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smillie, Robert|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Smith Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Madan, H.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Greenall, T.||Mansell, Sir Courtenay||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||March, S.||Snell, Harry|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Snowden, Philip|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Marley James||Spence, R.|
|Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Groves, T.||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Guest, Capt. Hn. F.E.(Gloucstr., Stroud)||Maxton, James||Stamford, T. W.|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Middleton, G.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Millar, J. D.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Mills, J. E.||Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Harbison, Thomas James S||Mitchell, R.M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Stranger, Harold|
|Harbord, Arthur||Mond, H.||Sullivan, J.|
|Hardie, George D.||Montague, Frederick||Sunlight, J.|
|Harney, E. A.||Morel, E. D.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Morris, R. H.||Terrington, Lady|
|Harris, Percy A.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Morse, W. E.||Thomson, Walter T. (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Hastings, Patrick||Mosley, Oswald||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Moulton, Major Fletcher||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Muir, John W.||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)||Thurtle, E.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Murray, Robert||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hemmerde, E. G.||Murrell, Frank||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Naylor, T. E.||Toole, J.|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Nichol, Robert||Tout, W. J.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Nixon, H.||Travelyan, C. P.|
|Hillary, A. E.||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Turner, Ben|
|Hindle, F.||O'Grady, Captain James||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Oliver, George Harold||Varley, Frank B.|
|Hobhouse, A. L.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||O'Neill, John Joseph||Vivian, H.|
|Hodges, Frank||Owen, Major G.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Paling, W.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Palmer, E. T.||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Parkinson, John Alien (Wigan)||Warne, G. H.|
|Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Parry, Thomas Henry||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hudson, J. H.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Perry, S. F.||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Phillipps, Vivian||Webb, Sidney|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Pilkington, R. R.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Jewson, Dorothea||Ponsonby, Arthur||Weir, L. M.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Potts, John S.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Pringle, W. M. R.||Westwood, J|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Purcell, A. A.||Wheatley, J.|
|Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Raffan, P. W.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Raffety, F. W.||Whiteley, W.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Wignall, James|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rathbone, Hugh R.||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Williams, David (Swansea, E.)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Windsor, Walter||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough E.)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B. (Kenningtn.)||Wintringham, Margaret||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)||Mr. Spoor and Mr. Frederick|
|Willison, H.||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.||Hall.|
|Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||Wright, W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Dixon, Herbert||MacDonald, R.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Doyle, N. Grattan||McLean, Major A.|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W. (Glas.C.)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Edmondson, Major A. J.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Ednam, Viscount||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel|
|Apsley, Lord||Elveden, Viscount||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Marriott, J. A. R.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Meller, R. J.|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Ferguson, H.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Fitzroy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Forestier-Walker, L.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Frece, Sir Walter de||Moles, Thomas|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Gates, Percy||Morrison, Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Joseph|
|Becker, Harry||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Gould, James C. (Cardiff, Central)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Gretton, Colonel John||Norton-Griffiths, Sir John|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pennefather, Sir John De Fonblanque|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Harland, A.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hartington, Marquess of||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Harvey, C.M.B.(Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Perring, William George|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Burman, J. B.||Herbert Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Raine, W.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hoare, Lt.-Cot. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Reld, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Remer, J. R.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt.R. (Prtsmth.S)||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Howard, Hn. D.(Cumberland, Northrn.)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hughes, Collingwood||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Robinson, W. E. (Burstem)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Ropner, Major L.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Huntingfield, Lord||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jephcott, A. R.||Savery, S. S.|
|Cope, Major William||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cowan Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.)||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lamb, J. Q.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lane-Fox, George R.||Smith-Carrington, Neville W.|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Stanley, Lord|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Lorimer, H. D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lumley, L. R.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lyle, Sir Leonard||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Deans, R. Storry.||Lynn, R. J.||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Dixey, A. C.||M'Connell, Thomas E.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wells, S. R.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Weston, John Wakefield||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Croydon, S.)||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.||Wragg Herbert|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Waddington, R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Wise, Sir Fredric||Commander Eyres-Monsell and|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Wolmer, Viscount||Colonel Right Hon. G. A. Gibbs.|
§ "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament. But it is our duty respectfully to submit to your Majesty that Your Majesty's present advisers have not the confidence of this House.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors or members of His Majesty's Household.