HC Deb 08 May 1939 vol 347 cc45-167

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [4th May], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

Which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: whilst resolutely determined to take all necessary steps to defend the country and to fulfil its international obligations, and confident that the necessary man-power can be provided by voluntary recruitment, this House regrets that His Majesty's Government, having grossly mismanaged foreign policy, exhibited grave incompetence in organising the national resources for defence, and failed to limit profits or prevent the amassing of large fortunes, have now, in violation of repeated pledges, introduced a Measure of conscription."—[Mr. Lees-Smith.]

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

3.54 p.m.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

The Amendment which I rise to support covers a number of grounds on which we object to this Bill, but it will be observed from the Debate that there is complete unanimity in all parts of the House and in the country on this, that we are as anxious as any, deeply anxious and concerned, that our country should be made strong to maintain the ideals for which it has always stood. If I may return a compliment which is sometimes condescendingly offered to us from the other side, we believe that hon. Members opposite are quite as patriotic as hon. Members on this side. The reason advanced for this Bill is that the country finds itself in a serious situation, and that certainly is true. For the purposes of comparison, I will take the short period of the last two years, taking the time from when the Prime Minister assumed control of State affairs. Two years ago, speaking of ourselves and our friends and allies, France had a peaceful frontier on the Pyrenees, she had free access for her soldiers to her North African territories, our own rock of Gibraltar was safe and unthreatened, there were no bases for possible hostile submarines in Spanish ports, in the centre of Europe a peaceful, democratic and friendly State barred the way to aggression, she had arsenals not only for the supply of herself but for the supply of her friends, and Geneva was still, if not alive, at least not dead, All that has altered in the last two years. The situation certainly has become serious, and it is not sufficient to say that those resources are absent, for many of those forces have passed over to the service of our potential enemies.

I must, in speaking of the state of insecurity of our country and of our allies, say a word about the Soviet Union, because I believe that the anxiety of the country is very great about our relations with the Soviet. Five years ago the Russian Government made a remarkable change in policy. When the Germans adopted conscription, the Russians decided to join the League of Nations, and from that date onwards, by their official organs, by the mouth of M. Litvinov, by the mouth of M. Maisky, and even by the mouth of M. Stalin himself, came repeated pleas for an effective system of co-operative collective security. To all of this hitherto we have turned a deaf ear, and as far as we know from the Prime Minister's speech to-day, we still turn a deaf ear. We understand that Portuguese susceptibilities make it difficult for us to consider a trifle like the 12,000,000 of the Russian Army. Some say that there is mistrust of this country in Moscow. If one casts one's eyes over the last few years, it will be seen that they have not much to thank us for. We made a naval treaty with the Germans which gave them predominance in the Baltic; we went to Montreux and did our best to thwart Russian plans and to force German ships into the Black Sea; we went to the Brussels Conference and froze the Russians out of the committee which was dealing with relations with China; we persuaded M. Benes to abandon his alliance with the Russians; and we excluded Russia from the Munich Conference. We have not exactly, as you might say, been very matey with Moscow. And we do not think this is an accident at all. We think it is because, behind the Prime Minister, sit men who are determined that we shall not be friends with the Soviet Union.

I need only take words from so weighty lips as those of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, in speaking of this matter, said, "With a squeamish face that we do it, but we do not like accepting this help, but we are constrained to do so," or words to that effect. When the Government of the Prime Minister was strengthened, it was done, not in the way which had been canvassed or suggested from so many quarters, but by the addition of the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and Haddington (Captain McEwen), who was, I believe, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Conservative party. I have only heard him speak once, and now his lips are sealed for ever, for he has become a Whip. The only remark that he made was to get up in his place there and say, "Is not the Prime Minister aware that many of us would rather have Russia as an enemy than as a friend?" Therefore, we are entitled to say that there is great concern, not only among Members of our party, but throughout the country generally, as to whether the safety of the country is not being endangered by the reluctance of the Government to come to an understanding with Russia, and whether perhaps this Measure is not intended as some sort of counterbalance to the absence of an understanding with Soviet Russia. And there is this very ominous thought: there is another choice open to the Kremlin. The Treaty of Rapallo reminds us that they need not confine their attention to democratic States.

It is in this grave situation that the Government come forward with their Bill, their considered proposals, fully considered, fully planned. They have been explained to us already by the Secretary of State for War and by the Prime Minister. What are their proposals? They are that by the end of this year we are to have 150,000 boys trained, in addition to what we have at the present time. There are 310,000 in the age class, but we have to deduct those who are engaged in reserved occupations, the conscientious objectors, and also those who are unfit which—it is a national shame—some authority has put as high as 50 per cent. of the number who will be called. My right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) asserted the other day that these boys could easily have been secured by voluntary means if the Government had offered favourable terms and pay and provided for them in a proper way. I heard the speech of the Minister of Labour, but he never dealt with that point, any more than he dealt with other points. I say that as long as no one will answer this question, "Could you get these boys by offering them decent terms and inviting them to join voluntarily?" then that principle holds the field as far as this Government proposal is concerned.

We are told that we must accept this Bill because foreign opinion, especially French opinion, demands it. If we are a little tardy in accepting a revolutionary change in our national practice, we have at least this excuse, that we are following the Prime Minister. He gave the most explicit all-in pledge to France and yet he remained a voluntaryist. We were pledged to the hilt to put all our resources at the disposal of France. We were told that the French Ministers had made no suggestion for conscription. The right hon. Gentleman said that our pledges were to be met by the voluntary system, and, as far as I am aware, only 10 days or a fortnight ago Conservative candidates and Members were going to their constituencies and saying that the voluntary system was fully able to supply the needs of National Defence. But it is said that Continental opinion, and more particularly French opinion, demands this change. I would like to put a question to those who say that. I will put it to the right hon. Member for the St. George's Division (Mr. Duff Cooper). He made a speech in Paris. He told the French that he thought a revolution was coming in this direction in this country. His prophecy has been fulfilled. I ask him, will he be prepared to go back to Paris and say to the French, "We shall have 150,000 half-trained boys ready by Christmas. We have fulfilled our pledge?" Of course not. What a ridiculous thing it would be to offer that when the French say, or the Continental nations say, "We would like to see conscription in England." They are thinking of conscription in their sense of the word—a massed rising of millions of men under arms, and of all age classes. To offer them this Bill is either deceiving them, or else this Bill is not all; it is the beginning of something else.

Mr. Duff Cooper

The right hon. Gentleman has asked me a question. I am going back to Paris next week, and I shall say, not that we have fulfilled our pledge, because we never gave a pledge, but that we have shown that we are prepared to revolutionise our whole policy by adopting a principle which we were all against for generations, and that we do so in order to prepare ourselves for an emergency and to give them our full support.

Mr. Benn

I never would accuse the right hon. Gentleman of cowardice. I am sure he will go back to Paris, but I am equally certain that French public opinion will not be satisfied with 150,000 men this year and then 800,000 at the end of three years. Is he going to tell the French that this is a temporary and partial measure? Of course he will tell them nothing of the kind. He says it is a revolution. How can you have a revolution which is going to re-revolve?

Again, I do not believe that this is the full truth about Continental opinion. I do not believe that opinion on the Continent, even in the highest quarters, is instructed as to the contribution made by the British Navy and Army and Air Force and the money power and the manufacturing power of this country; it thinks merely in terms of millions of conscripts. Nor is that the whole story. We must all be guided by personal experience, and I will say something of my own. Formerly I have spoken to audiences in Eastern Europe for the British Council. What was the reaction of those intelligent audiences? It was this: "First of all we love Great Britain because we believe the British have no axe to grind so far as we are concerned; and, secondly, we wish to see Great Britain strong because we think that potentially she is a friend of ours and a friend of justice." One was constantly given warnings as to what one might say and might not say, but at the same time there was no doubt about the audiences. What the audiences wanted to hear was that Britain was free. That is the thing that binds the Continent of Europe to this country. At Zagreb I was even asked the question whether other States might be admitted to the British Commonwealth. Why? Because we are free. Take the case of Greece. Everyone knows that Greek public opinion is like that in Yugoslavia and in other countries. We are loved and admired because we are free, and if we sacrifice our freedom, pro tanto we diminish the influence of our country.

Mr. Anstruther-Gray

Is not France free?

Mr. Benn

So far as that question is relevant I answer it by replying, yes. I may be asked, what did strike a blow at our influence on the Continent of Europe? My answer is, Munich. That was the thing that chilled the hearts of the friends. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Of course. Every little country knew that it was not safe, because a country specially protected by alliances and friends had been betrayed. Of course, it was Munich that diminished the influence of this country abroad.

The fact of the matter is that this Measure is proposed in order, as has been said, to get a principle accepted. What are the circumstances of the change? It is all done in a hurry. The House was suddenly told, "There is the Resolution on the Paper. It must be accepted by Thursday night." Lord Stanhope, in one of his speeches not subject to a D notice, told us that it was because Herr Hitler was going to make a speech. We were time-tabled here by what was happeneing at the Kroll Opera House. We could not even suspend the 11 o'clock Rule. All was hurriedly done and a momentous decision was made, at the instigation of a group of Members who, for years, have been pressing for this thing. Can anyone say that it was the promise to Rumania and Greece that made the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) into a conscriptionist?

Mr. Amery

It was the sheer necessity of the case.

Mr. Benn

This necessity has existed, in the right hon. Gentleman's judgment, for at least 10 years.

Mr. Amery


Mr. Benn

Can the right hon. Gentleman compromise on eight years?

Mr. Amery

I pointed out during the Debate on Munich that this would become necessary.

Mr. Benn

Then I see, this is one of the fruits of Munich. For the Fifth Column, Britain's extremity is their opportunity. They have seized it. They have compelled a supple and harassed, and possibly frightened Prime Minister, to turn Britain, a free country, into a conscript country. They have done it because they say it is fair, because they say the principle is so fair. I would like to know what fairness there is in an assemblage of elderly gentlemen, not one of whom is going to be affected by this Bill, not one of whom has a voter who is going to be affected by the Bill, passing such a Measure. I say it is disgusting.

Captain Sir Derrick Gunston

I and many other hon. Members on this side of the House have sons who are 20 years of age and who have expressed their willingness to serve.

Mr. Benn

I, too, have a son. My son said to me, "I want to be a volunteer." Am I going to sit here to-night and send boys into the Service without being able to go myself, on the ground that it is fair and just? It may be necessary in an hour of national extremity, but no one can claim that it is fair for us to sit here and force other people.

Mr. Anstruther-Gray

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is sitting here and sending children compulsorily to education?

Mr. Benn

The hon. Member is a most obliging interlocutor. The question he puts is easily answered. The answer is in the affirmative. Have hon. Members thought of the position of the boys themselves and how they stand in their opportunity for employment? Let me read a letter put into my hands by an hon. Friend of mine. It is as follows: Dear Sir, it seems that I am a victim already of the conscripton scheme. I am just turned 20 and have been working for about three years. My work has always been found satisfactory, but to-day the foreman came to me and asked my age. Soon after I was discharged without being given any reason. They know that shortly I shall be called up to do six months' service, and sooner than wait till then and risk a fine they sack me now. This seems a very despicable trick. What firm will employ me now, knowing that I am 20? So I must hang about for some months until I am called up. And after that, what? Can anything be done?

Hon. Members

Give the name of the firm.

Mr. Benn

I cannot do that without consulting the parties concerned. I am making a general proposition, and it is that boys who are verging on 20 will find it very difficult to secure employment. That is true in the general application. It is said that the voluntary principle is unfair and that the principle of conscription is the only principle that is fair all round. Yet we are to maintain the voluntary principle in the recruitment for our major forces; therefore, the recruits for our major forces will be volunteers suffering under this sense of unfairness which is supposed to characterise the voluntary system.

The fact of the matter is that if this way is taken it will drive out the free offering of service. Bad money will drive out good money. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, it will make the Territorial Force in a few years' time, with few exceptions, a conscript force. So really what we are adopting is not a temporary and partial Bill at all. It is a Bill which will, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Westminster, rightly said, revolutionise our attitude to national defence. The point of view from which we approach it is this. Will it give us the best for the protection of our country? Men's bodies are not everything; there are manufacturing power, brains, good will and ideals. All these things are necessary in the national defence. Take the question of brains. You cannot conscript brains. You may conscript a man who has brains, but you cannot conscript brains. Take, for example, the men who are of importance for national defence, namely, those who are manufacturing the means of defence. You cannot conscript them. You must have the voluntary system for the whole of the munitions organisation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spark-brook says that everything must be docketed, ticketed, ordered and arranged. Can he conceive taking a dozen engineers and saying, "You are called up to make so many parts at so much a day"? Of course he would not get the results, because you cannot get the results once intelligence and good will have to be conscripted. You cannot get the results unless they are offering their services freely. There is a type of mind which thinks simply in terms of numbers and thinks that if only you can get sufficient men on the parade ground, with "the middle finger resting lightly on the seam of the trouser," the safety of the British Empire is complete. We all know this type. Anybody who served in the War knows the type and knows what a public danger it is. Every hon. and gallant Member who is in contact with a Territorial unit to-day must know, unless experience has vastly changed in the last 20 years, what I am speaking of and the waste that it causes.

In my own squadron in Egypt there was a man doing some trifling job—a mess orderly or something of that sort—who was a professor of mathematics. He had been enrolled by some unimaginative commanding officer. My Noble Friend, Lord Addison, gave me a very good example of this waste. Once you get the recruiting sergeant on the job his idea is to get his man. He does not care what sort of man. The story which Lord Addison told me was that in the middle of the War there was a strike in a munitions shop, and he found that the men were out because the key man had been taken. He insisted on the return of the man, and they found him—this key man of a Sheffield factory—duly arrayed in khaki and with a stick with a point on it picking up pieces of paper on Wimbledon Common. I am speaking quite sincerely when I say that if we are to mobilise the full strength of this country in defence of our ideals it cannot be done on this mechanical system. Well I remember the Anzacs at Suvla Bay. They were splendid fellows and hard working. Certainly they were not very respectful; they would call one "Cocky" although one had two pips on the shoulder straps. How they worked and made roads and piers, and how they fought! I shall never forget what my dear old General, now with God, said about them—"They are magnificent fighting men, but you will never turn them into soldiers."

Sir Edward Grigg

Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten that the Anzacs were the product of compulsory military service?

Mr. Benn

I have not forgotten that the Australian Government polled the Anzacs who were volunteers, and the majority voted against conscription. Lest I should be unwise or extreme in anything I might say, let me read the opinion of the man who had actual experience in putting through the only scheme of conscription we have ever had in this country: With, perhaps, more knowledge than most of the working of conscription in this country, I hold the fully matured opinion that, on balance, the imposition of military conscription added little if anything to the effective sum of our war effort … If I were Chief of Staff of a foreign Power contemplating war against this country, I should spend money lavishly to stimulate British 'patriotic' societies to demand conscription. Those were the words of Sir Auckland Geddes. In a word, what Briand said is true—" War is too serious to be left to soldiers."

Finally, the objection we feel to the Bill is this. It is a substitute for a cause. You can have a nation in arms if you will make the right appeal. If you have this scheme you need not make any appeal at all. You need only send out a million Belisha post cards. Napoleon said that in war morale was to physical strength as three to one. Old Bill had the same idea. The people of this country do respond to ideals. "This chap Hitler has got to be stopped" represents a great philosophy for very many people. We want the cause put before the country. Then we shall get the men. It seems very irksome, however, for this Government to state any case at all. In order to test whether the strength of the country depends on the cause presented to it, I will take the most difficult case of all, that of the Irish. The Prime Minister has rightly left Northern Ireland out of this Bill for it would, no doubt, have made great difficulties for him. The Irish are a wonderful race and have a marvellous record in our military history. Is it necessary for the estrangement to continue? Let me read what happened in September last when it was believed that this country was going to champion the cause of a small democracy in Central Europe. This is from the "Times" at a moment in the Czech crisis when it was believed we were going to make a stand. The Dublin correspondent of the "Times" wrote: For the first time on record the common people of this country feel themselves absolutely at one with Great Britain. … If war should break out in Europe at present, large numbers of young Irishmen would flock to join the British Army, and while most people here would prefer that they should serve in their own Army, public sympathy for once would be on the side of those who join the British forces. That is the effect of presenting a cause to the people. To-day the Government try to impose this mechanical system and they are met with the dangerous difficulties which have necessitated Clause 15 being left out of the Bill. I do not wish to speak with too much feeling, but I do feel very deeply, that this Bill is an insult to this country. We believe that if you give the people an ideal to fight for they will fight. We must all go by our own experience. Up there on those benches there sat the Irishmen—rebels who were here to destroy the operation of this Parliament and who prided themselves in being rebels. They saw a cause to fight for. Where the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) now sits there sat Mr. Redmond who went out, a middle-aged man, and died. There, too, was Tom Kettle, another rebel. He volunteered and he died. He wrote a book about the War and he put in it an inscription which I have never forgotten: Know that we fools now with the foolish dead, Fought not for Flag, nor King, nor Emperor, But for a dream, born in a herdsman's shed And for the secret scripture of the poor. Yes, and Rupert Brooke's: Now God be thanked who has matched us with this hour. That is what you are killing by conscription. The most that we can hope for from this Measure in Europe is the uneasy equilibrium of rival chain-gangs. You are destroying, as I believe, the spirit of these people. You are thrusting your clumsy fingers into the main springs of human action and damming the richest source of the nation's power.

4.30 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

We have listened to a very vivacious, far reaching and I think I may say, enjoyable speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn). That it should be far-ranging was inevitable in view of the fact that two-thirds of the Amendment he was supporting is composed of matter extraneous to this Bill, such as foreign affairs and other considerations, and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman had to devote a certain measure of his time to matters which it is difficult to regard as being strictly relevant to the Question before the House. I think the conclusion at which he arrived was that by introducing this Measure of compulsory military training we were killing idealism. Is there no idealism in France, in Holland and in the other democratic countries of Europe which have been under a compulsory system for many years and yet have been the homes of some of the most forward and idealistic conceptions that have ever been preached in Europe? It cannot be said that a Measure of this sort can have those far-reaching effects. To my mind, it will have just the very opposite effect in this country, and outside it.

I am not going to follow the right hon. Gentleman into the realm of foreign policy. There have been many occasions for debating those matters. No amount of iteration and assertion and cross-assertion across the Floor of the House will finally decide that matter, but I think a great number of people in this country do feel that the fact that we are at peace to-day is the best justification of the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government. Those of us who have heard debates on the subject and have heard counsels put forward by the other side, put forward honestly and sincerely, which would have had a different effect, who have heard my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Government denounced for not taking certain forward steps as they were called at that time—when all these things are considered I feel that the country is quite able to make up its own mind on the Government's foreign policy.

The right hon. Gentleman seemed to find some difficulty in voting in a Measure of this character. It seems to me that when the right hon. Gentleman feels a tenderness at voting on a matter of this sort, and yet has had no hesitation in urging causes which would have precipitated war earlier, he is straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. I think the best thing I can do for the House is to try to run over some of the arguments which have been put forward against the Bill being now read a Second time and in support of the Amendment. I am sure that I am right in saying that the first point on which hon. Members opposite and the House require enlightenment is the necessity for this Measure. That is an issue which I propose to face and to give the reasons why I think it is necessary. I will deal, first of all, with home defence, not that home defence is the sole consideration for this Measure. We have recently entered into a number of commitments which make the matter important from every point of view as well as that of home defence. We have had a number of interesting criticisms. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) and others have all founded their criticisms—first of all—on an assertion with which it is not possible to disagree, namely, the great success which the Territorial Army has had in recruiting and the way in which men are nocking to the Colours. They point to the vigour and strength of the voluntary principle in this country and say that, therefore, all we have to do is to sit back and depend upon the voluntary principle—

Mr. S. O. Davies

Why not equip them first before you sit back?

Mr. Morrison

—which in itself would be quite sufficient for the problems of home defence. I join with hon. Members opposite in saying that the world ought to know how great is our achievement in voluntary recruiting. There is probably nothing quite like it in the world, and we ought to acquaint the world with the fact that we have this large and growing Territorial Army; but before we can be satisfied that the mere numbers and valour of the Territorial Army can secure us in present conditions other factors have to be taken into consideration. We have to examine the nature and the constitution of the Territorial and other auxiliary forces, and to take into account, also, the whole domestic background of the ordinary Territorial soldier. Until we have done that, and satisfied ourselves that that force is adequate to meet present conditions, we have not given an answer merely by proclaiming—quite properly—the extent to which the recruiting has been triumphantly successful.

Let us look at the men of the Territorial Army. They are men who are undertaking the task, the privilege, of training themselves for the defence of their country, perhaps the only male privilege left, but on top of that they are following their ordinary avocation. The fact that they are going to drills and training at night does not relieve them from the burden, common to most of us, of providing by their exertions for their dependants. With that point in mind, it is just and inevitable that the contract of service which these men have with the State should take account of their other obligations and the whole background against which they serve. In the past it has never been thought just by Parliament to ask them to give up their work and their homes and become full-time soldiers except in what is called a state of emergency, when a Proclamation has been issued by His Majesty declaring that a state of emergency exists. This Proclamation, when it is made, is made at a time when war is imminent, and carries with it many other implications additional to the embodiment of the Territorial Force. The responsibility of advising His Majesty to make such a Proclamation is a very grave one, and it is not one to be lightly undertaken. Our methods of mobilisation are well known abroad, and such a Proclamation, coming at a time of tension in international affairs, if wrongly timed might have the effect of precipitating grave events which otherwise might be avoided. And yet without it the Territorial Force cannot be embodied. The first point, therefore, that I would make is that we cannot simply take the total of the Territorial Army and the vitality of that patriotic fervour which is urging men to enlist to-day and say that that force is sufficient for our present defensive needs until we have examined the speed with which it can be mobilised and the background of the men who compose it.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Are you not speaking of to-morrow's Bill?

Mr. Morrison

No, I am coming to that. The fact is that the Territorial Army is an instrument which was framed in times when we could expect comparatively long notice of any attack upon this country, but we have seen recently sudden attacks, unheralded, which have extinguished the independence of countries. Those countries were smaller and less formidable than our own, but, still, it is evident that to-day we must take account of the new element of speed of attack, and must ask ourselves whether this instrument, created under different assumptions, is adequate for the task we have to face. What I have said about the necessity of speed in mobilising might appear to be more germane to another Bill than this, but in reality the two work together in a coordinated and concerted plan of defence. Suppose we have some easier method of calling out the auxiliary forces and suppose that a time of tension is prolonged and we call up under it some part of the Territorial Army. That means that we are asking men to leave their homes and their work and to accept a soldier's life not in time of war, when they have bargained to do so, but in times technically described as peace times.

In war, of course, the situation is different. The right hon. Gentleman made a point about this, but I think it will be clearly appreciated that if there is a war the whole atmosphere is changed, because then all of us would be asked to do our part in securing victory; but in times like the present, when ordinary pursuits and pleasures are uncurtailed, it would seem to be asking of the Territorial soldier something for which he never bargained if he should be called up and other people are to go free. This country cannot rest its defence upon an unfair assumption that men who have volunteered for something so different should bear this burden alone. The real problem of home defence in the times in which we live seems to be this: in recent years we have always proceeded on two assumptions, first, that we are secure from invasion because of our sea power and our command of the sea, and, second, that we shall always have adequate and reasonable notice of the possibility of any attack. Neither of those two assumptions is as true as it used to be. Our Navy holds the sea as never before, but the aeroplane is a new and a swift weapon. Recent experience has shown how swiftly attacks can be launched. There is need to-day, in these conditions, for a force which can be permanently on duty if we are to be satisfied with our defences.

But these two factors are only new on a very short view of our history as a nation. Our nation has made headway and preserved its peculiar liberties on an ever-broadening basis through years in which it was never possible to say that we were absolutely secure from invasion or that we should always have knowledge of attack. From the days of King Alfred, to go no further back, right up to the Battle of Trafalgar, we were never sure for long that we should be free from invasion, but all the time when that danger did exist in one form or another the obligation of compulsory service with the Militia was a part of the constitution of this country. I hope hon. Members will not press me to say how far back into our history the conception of the Militia goes, but in all times of danger when invasion was possible one of the mainstays of the security of this country and one of the best guardians of its liberties has been the Militia.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is old enough to remember the obloquy with which Militiamen used to be discussed up to very recent times?

Mr. Morrison

I do not remember that. When I was a boy there were many of my neighbours and friends in the Militia, and it was not regarded as a cause of obloquy. It was merely following out one of the primary duties when the need comes, to defend our country- It was only as late as 1921 that the obligation to ballot for the Militia was finally done away with by this House.

To put it in another way: To secure the safety of this country we have to mould our defences to meet modern conditions, and we can no longer afford to think of peace on the one hand and war on the other without making some preparation for a period of tension which may not lead to war, but which is not accurately described either as peace or as war. We are making that provision for our defences, and to meet that new problem, by creating a force in a form which has never yet failed to do its duty to the country in a time of danger to our liberties. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the Leader of the Opposition, have propounded other ways of meeting this difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley drew attention to our resources of ex-service men and suggested that we could call upon them to form this permanent-duty guard. I have every sympathy with such suggestions, and I have no doubt at all that if those men were called upon they would come; but two considerations seem to militate against the idea.

I suppose it is true to say that every man who fought in the last War feels today that if the necessity came he would do the same again, and I have no doubt that if matters came to the push these men would do so. We feel that we could drop back 25 years of our lives and again put ourselves to school to learn these new and strange weapons that have evolved since our day. There is no doubt that in any general trouble ex-service men would play a great part in the country's safety, but the idea of employing them for the purpose that has been suggested is chastened in my mind by the recollection of the, so to speak, affectionate pity with which, in 1914, we regarded those old dug-outs of 45 to 55 years of age, who so incongruously, as we thought in our ignorance, intruded themselves into our Tanks at that time; and however fit we may ourselves feel now, we must remember that we have 25 years less in which to be of service to our country than we had in 1914. The future is undoubtedly with the young men, and it is their valour and enterprise which will preserve our country after the right hon. Gentleman and I have suffered that imperceptible dissolution which, they say, is the not unhappy fate of old soldiers.

Mr. Attlee

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has quite addressed himself to one specific point that I put, which was that older men, apart from their fitness for general service, should do the more sedentary tasks associated with anti-aircraft defence.

Mr. Morrison

That was a point put by the right hon. Gentleman, but I am suggesting to him that we have not to ask for the older men to train for this new form of warfare with these new weapons. We have to ask the young to do so, because it is upon them that the duty of defending their country will fall in the future.

Mr. Lees-Smith

What about the ex-Territorials?

Mr. Morrison

Undoubtedly there are reserves of trained men there which can be used in an emergency, but it is wrong to face this position by asking those ex-Territorials to come up and stay night and day for this work when they are perhaps, as older men, responsible heads of families. I believe that there is no way which is both just and efficient of meeting this new problem save the one which we are proposing to the House.

I have dealt with the matter from the point of view of home defence, but that is only one side of it. I am not going to elaborate upon the other side because that has been put to the House very often. In regard to our difficulties in foreign affairs, the power to assist our friends is closely related to the problem of home defence, but our base must be secured if that power is to be brought into action. With regard to the effect abroad, there is no doubt that our proposal has done more than anything to remove doubts, induced perhaps by propaganda, that we mean exactly what our guarantee says and that all the other measures of a defensive character that we are taking are putting our country in a position to fulfil those pledges in the letter and in the spirit. It is right and proper for hon. Members to draw attention to the immense forces of other kinds that we have, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, but it so happens that in many foreign countries the touchstone of the real resolution of a nation to defend itself from aggression is taken, over most of the world, to lie in the question, "Are you prepared to subject yourselves to compulsory military training or not?" That is how the matter is regarded abroad, and we, therefore, cannot be surprised that this Measure has had the effect of encouraging and stabilising the determination of those who, with us, reject that impossible and intolerable conception of a world dominated by force or by threats of force. Surely a Measure like this, which I hope I have shown is necessary, and which has had a great effect in encouraging those friends of a just and fearless Europe, is sufficiently justified. I have no doubt that it has the support of the country as a whole.

Hon. Members


Mr. George Griffiths

We have been out in the country these two week-ends.

Mr. Morrison

I am sure that it has the support of the young men. Many a young men who will come up under this proposal would not have come up otherwise, although he may be as patriotic as any volunteer. Many a man says that as the Government have asked him to come, he is very willing to do so. The truth is that our voluntary system very frequently confronts young men with an extremely difficult conflict of loyalties in their own minds. They are as anxious to serve the country as anyone, but they have been brought up to have regard to other kinds of call upon their honour and their integrity, and it is very difficult for a young man sometimes to see which way his duty lies in a question of this sort.

I remember quite well during the War how sick I sometimes used to get at a lot of ignorant persecution by public opinion of the men who, in the voluntary days, did not clearly see their way to join up. It was very easy to criticise them, but unless you could get into their minds and see how they had weighed up one thing against another, you were in no position to judge them. I believe that such people often suffered agonies of mind, and when I put myself in their place I used to wonder whether, while it was very easy for me to volunteer, I should have acted in a different way if I had been situated as they were. I cannot say as to that, but I do feel that it will be rendering this country a very great service if the House says: "We desire to give everyone within the stated ages an opportunity to undergo military training. There will be no exceptions on grounds of wealth or any other distinction. We will look after your jobs and your dependants." I believe the House will in that way be resolving many a painful conflict of decision and will, curiously enough, make these young men free and equal to do what they want to do, which is to serve the country in its hour of need.

In the minds of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley and others there has been the fear that, somehow or other, the passing of this Measure would affect that code of civil liberties of which the position of the trade unions is one very important feature. I can well understand those fears, and I have done my best to appreciate the point of view that is put; but I am bound to express my conviction that there is absolutely nothing in those fears in regard to the present Measure. In general, authoritarian régimes abroad, and the consequent extinction of trade union privileges, have not risen as a result only of conscription; they have been the work of political parties, and very often with private armies to enforce their decisions. The danger to liberty and to the trade unions is not from the public army which is under democratic control, but is from the private army or the party army, and I, therefore, say to those who hold those fears that the arguments, when the matter is examined, seem to be all the other way. The stronger, in reason, the force under democratic control, the less chance there is for the private army or the party army to rear its ugly head in our country. Mutual good faith is the basis of our society, and is the only thing that tan make the force of democracy strong.

Owing to something, I know not what it is, in our nature, some trait of, individual reserve, perhaps accentuated by the intense specialisation of the arts and crafts of our complicated and complex civilisation, our education in each other's point of view—I have found this to be the case—is deficient, particularly in the years when lessons are most eagerly learned and when they are most vital. I can conceive of nothing better to fill this blank in our education than the Bill which is now before us, because it will bring together young men of the same age who will be treated in exactly the same way in regard to housing, clothing, and food. They will have ample leisure in which they can get to know each other, in that spirit of comradeship which never fails to animate a body of British men when brought together. That is most valuable in creating a keen spirit of mutual understanding of each other's point of view and respect for each other's opinions, and often of affection for each other, which is, after all, the basis of our nation. I hope that for these reasons I may commend the Bill to the House.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd George

It is with a feeling of personal regret that I find myself differing from my hon. Friends on this side of the House, but I have a deep conviction which is the result of a good many years' experience and represents a conclusion that I came to many years ago when I was a Minister of the Crown even before the last War. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House had constantly taunted the Government with shirking great responsibilities, and had urged the Government boldly to face those responsibilities what ever the consequences. I am one of those who took part in those reproaches. I do not regret them; I do not apologise for them; for my part, I am prepared to follow them right through to their logical consequences. We have repeatedly urged the Government to stand up to the marauding States that were tearing up and devouring independent and free communities which were friends of ours; and when they ask for powers and means which, in my judgment, are essential for that purpose, I feel in duty bound to support them.

I shall certainly criticise the Measure in detail. I have been firmly of the opinion, from the moment when the Prime Minister, in reply to my question, gave the actual numbers of those who were summoned, that it was grossly inadequate to the emergency. I am not sure that that will reconcile me any the more to the criticisms of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, but I am bound to express that opinion. So far as I have followed the discussion, there is no challenge on the principle; the challenge is on the question whether it is essential at this stage to put it into operation, and there is a very considerable challenge in regard to the method in which it was introduced. From all I have heard in the country—I am not quoting the fact that I have had communications from my own friends; they are pretty tolerant of one who has represented them for nearly half a century, and, therefore, I am not quoting my own friends, but I have heard from others—there is no strong feeling manifest. On the principle of the right of the State to call upon citizens to sacrifice wealth, property, comfort, amenity and even life when its honour was involved, or when there was a question of international right, freedom and the ideals of civilisation, there was no criticism of that right.

In the only case I have heard of where there was a very strong feeling of objection, it was on two grounds.

The first was that the method in which it was introduced involved a charge of breach of faith—that my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House had never been consulted before the decision was taken. Although they had been consulted before with regard to armaments, and appealed to to help in every way, as the representatives of trade unions in this country can, on this occasion they were never invited until the actual decision was taken. That was resented very bitterly, and I feel that it is a great misfortune that the Measure should have been introduced in such a way as rather to exacerbate a controversy which I believe would never have been seriously raised but for that. The second objection—it was rather an apprehension.—was that it would lead to industrial conscription. These were the two objections that I have heard.

As far as the principle is concerned, as the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out, every democratic country on the Continent of Europe has adopted it. It is not a Conservative Measure. The largest conscript army in Europe—in the world—is a Communist army. The French Army, which is probably the finest conscript army in the world, was more or less founded by Liberal statesmen, some of them moderate, some of them very advanced. They worked it up into the magnificent condition in which it is at the present moment. The army which corresponds most nearly to the one which will be created by the Measure of the Government is in a country which is un-challengeably democratic, which has had Socialist Governments, which had as its Prime Minister one of the greatest Socialists I have ever met, Mr. Branting, the Socialist Prime Minister of Sweden, and which, I believe, has a Socialist Government at the present moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] From such observation as I have been able to make, and such information as I have derived from the events of the last War, I do not agree that the conscript does not fight just as well as the volunteer. One of the greatest defences ever made in the world, the defence of Verdun, was conducted by a conscript army. It was an army mainly of conscripts that checked the terrific attack which the German Army made upon us in March, 1918. Many of them were raw recruits. My right hon. Friend was with me on the quay at Boulogne, where we saw a number of young fellows of 18½ marching to battle. They played a magnificent part in withstanding the victorious veterans of Germany, and they stopped them. It was a conscript army that stormed the Hindenburg Line, the most formidable fortifications ever erected on a battlefield. There is no justification for suggesting that conscripts cannot fight for ideals just as well as volunteers. Therefore, I take the line that it is my duty to support the Second Reading of this Bill.

You have to defend freedom, which has been challenged—the freedom of the world. We all accepted that statement, and we were very glad to hear it made; it was an acknowledgment and confirmation of the position we had taken up. But you cannot defend the freedom of the world to the limit of the Super-tax and then let it drop. You cannot even do it to the limit of those who are willing, unless you are going to abandon the part which a great country like this is bound to play in the civilisation of mankind. We have not voted against rearmament. From the moment that we accepted the position that it was essential, not merely for the security of this country but for the safety of civilisation, from the moment that we accepted the position that it was necessary for us to embark on the greatest programme of rearmament that this country has ever contemplated—from that moment we accepted also the necessity for taking measures to secure a sufficient number of men to handle those armaments. Voluntary effort could not do it; it certainly could not do it in time. One criticism of voluntary effort—it goes beyond this Bill—is that it is only successful after the emergency has arisen, when there is no time for training. In quiet times, you cannot recruit a sufficient number of men by voluntary means. Take what happened before, and even after, the emergency arose last year. The Regular Army was under strength, and the Territorials, even though their establishment had been reduced in comparison with the pre-war period—that is my recollection—were far below strength, and an adequate number of men could not be secured. It is only when a country is frightened that you can get a flow of volunteers to the flag, but it is too late then to train them.

I should be the last man in the world to disparage the part which the Territorials took in the last War. Their valour did them the utmost credit, considering that they were, on the whole, amateurs compared with armies that had received two years' training, and a good deal more. What was the result? Their chances of victory were halved, their casualties were doubled. They flung themselves with dauntless gallantry at barbed wire and deep entrenchments. They never failed, but a great many fell; and many more fell than would have been the case if they had had a sufficient training to take full advantage of what a trained soldier is educated to do. Take the battle of the Somme. We should not have dared to put the Territorials into the Battle of Ypres, which was the first great battle of the War. The Channel ports depended on the result of that battle. We had not enough men, and, luckily, the Germans had not. We fought each other to a standstill. But we could not put the Territorials in to fight; it would not have been fair. That was two months after the War began. The first great battle in which they took a considerable part was about 10 months after the War began. The first battle where the volunteers predominated over the old Army was very nearly two years after the War began. It is worth while considering whether, if the world is to remain in the threatening condition that it is in now, we ought not to reconsider altogether the policy of training for war. I put forward certain proposals in 1911. They were more or less on the lines of this Bill. They had the acceptance of the late Mr. Asquith, who was my chief then, and of the principal leaders of the Liberal party. With the consent of Mr. Asquith, I submitted them to Mr. Balfour, who was the leader of the Conservative party then. The whole story is told in the life of the Prime Minister's brother.

Mr. Benn

And it was totally unknown to the party itself.

Mr. Lloyd George

But the leaders of the party were consulted on the subject; and, with the consent of the Prime Minister of the day, I sent the proposals along to Mr. Balfour for consideration by the leaders of his party. At any rate then, they were favourably inclined, but unfortunately they consulted men who were very important inside their own party, but not outside—pure party men—and the result was that the proposals did not go through, but were referred back for further consideration. If they had gone through, we should have had 1,500,000 trained men in August, 1914, and rifles, the necessary officers, and guns. However, there it is.

It is now too late to effect any change in the military position. I wish it were possible to think that we had three years to spare for reconsideration of that problem. The issue will be decided, one way or the other, before that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said on Saturday: We must be ready in the first hour. When did he discover that? Since when has it been his policy? In September, the first hour of a terrific conflict very nearly struck. We were all expecting it. We thought it was inevitable. Were we ready for that first hour when it came? We had not the necessary aeroplanes to protect our capital from destruction; we had not the necessary pilots for those aeroplanes that we had; we had no antiaircraft guns, if we had had enough men. We could save the situation only by throwing the independence of Czechoslovakia into the works to prevent the clock striking.

It has been rather indicated that we were better prepared than in 1914. Let us face that issue, because it has a great deal to do with this Bill. In 1914 we had discussed with France, and, through France, with Russia—because they had military arrangements between them—the part we were to play. I heard that part expounded before the Committee of Imperial Defence in 1911, three years before the War began. We were contemplating a war with Austria and Germany. The French Army was to tackle Germany on the eastern boundaries of France. We were to send an expeditionary force, which was to number 150,000—that is all. Russia was to put 800,000 on the other front of Germany. Every detail was worked out three years before the War.

Mr. MacLaren

The cats are coming out of the bags to-day.

Mr. McGovern

Did you know that Belgium was to be invaded?

Mr. Lloyd George

That did not make any difference. It was a question of war against Germany if she were to attack on her western front. Not only that, but the expeditionary force was ready. When the clock struck they went across the seas; they were not a moment behind. The same could not be stated about the position five or six months ago; there were no preparations then. In 1914, we were to take command of the seas. That was left to us, with such support as the French Navy could afford to us. We discharged our obligations in every particular, and a great deal more. When Belgium collapsed, when the French Army also collapsed and was overthrown, then we had to reconsider the whole man-power problem; but we had Russia there, holding the fort until we were ready.

I should like to know—and I think the whole of the present situation depends upon this—upon what basis of assumption the Government have put these figures into their Bill? I know quite well that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious that we should not discuss foreign affairs, and I believe, if I may say so, Sir, that it would be quite out of order to discuss the merits of our foreign affairs. But foreign affairs are essential as a basis of any plan of operation. To that extent, we are entitled to discuss them without discussing the merits. I am going to ask, what is the assumption upon which we are framing our plans. It is vital that we should know. In 1914, we knew what forces were marshalled on both sides. Turkey had not come in on one side; Italy had not come in on our side. They came into the war later. They disturbed the calculations; but the calculations upon which all the Governments on both sides had framed their plans, their schemes, and their estimates was that the Central Powers would be confronted by France, ourselves and Russia. We had the command of the Seas: we had a dominant Navy; we had a small Army. The others were quite satisfied with that. France and Russia between them had a greater number of trained men than the Central Powers.

What is the position now? I am taking it exactly as it is, Russia being out. Russia is out. The Prime Minister and his Government have guaranteed to go to the aid of Poland, Rumania and Greece. If Herr Hitler were to strike to-morrow, what would be the forces ranged on both sides? I ask the House in all gravity to consider that situation. We should have France ready, with a very great Army, highly trained, well equipped, brilliantly led. Then there would be Poland. I do not want to disparage the Poles, but nobody will say that theirs is as good an army, even in quality, as the French. Their equipment is not as good as the French. Ourselves, I doubt whether we could send to the Continent the same force as we did in 1914: certainly not more, when we have to take into account the reserves we have to keep at home to fill up the gaps. What have you got on the other side? You have got the immense army of Germany. You have got the Army of Italy which, according to all accounts—and I have asked French officers who have seen it—is twice as powerful an army as it was in 1915. It is more numerous, better disciplined, better trained, more experienced, and its equipment, which was not good then, is infinitely better now.

That is not the end of it. I do hope that the Government have taken these facts into account. Germany and Italy have not merely completed a military alliance: they have announced it. It is a challenge. Their staffs have been meeting. That is not the first meeting of their staffs. There have been others. One or two have been announced. They have got their plans made. Then there is Spain. We were told Spain would have nothing whatever to do with the Axis, that she will be seeking the finance of Great Britain, that she will be more friendly to us. She has joined the Axis. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] She has joined the Axis and has announced it like the others. Take the first two nations. They have concluded a military alliance. The number of men at their disposal is twice that which France and Poland and ourselves could put into the field. If Spain does not come in actively, is there a French Minister that would dare treat her as if she were a friendly or even a reliable neutral? Is there a French general who would not, in the arrangements of his forces, have to take into account that there was a potential enemy on the Pyrenees, even if Spain did not actively come in? France would have to defend herself on the Italian frontier and get considerable forces to protect her on her southern flank, and she would only have 150,000 men to support her attack on Germany to relieve Poland.

And Russia is out. I ventured a short time ago—I am sorry to say that it annoyed some of my Friends opposite, but I felt bound to do it—to say that without Russia that was an impossible guarantee. Without Russia those three guarantees to Poland, to Rumania and to Greece are the most reckless commitments that any country has ever entered into. I will say more. They are demented pledges that cannot be redeemed with this enormous deficiency, this great gap between the forces arrayed on the other side and the forces which at the present moment we could put in. What do we offer? To build more armaments, and to provide 200,000 conscripts in leisurely instalments of 50,000. It is madness. I now challenge the Secretary of State for War—[An HON. MEMBER: "Leave him alone!"] I challenge the Secretary of State for War to tell the House this: Did the General Staff advise the Govern- ment before they entered into these commitments that they were safe, that they were redeemable and that there was the slightest chance of achieving victory? If they ever did, they ought to be removed from the War Office and confined to a lunatic asylum. They are utterly impossible without Russia.

We are not at the end of the things that we have to consider, and I invite hon. Gentlemen opposite to treat this with the seriousness which they may discover it is worthy of receiving. We leave out the East as if it will not count in the least in our computations. Japan has said, "We are not concerned with Europe. We are not going to send forces to help the Axis. All we are interested in is the East." This was hailed with great glee by people who never gave a thought to what it meant. I ask those who may have a spare moment and would like to study what I am saying to them now to take down a map of Asia. I will tell you what they will find. Let them follow through the Japanese march from the north, pointing like a spearhead down towards our frontiers. They have marched, since the present Government came into power—I do not mean merely the right hon. Gentleman but I am talking about the reign of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—nearly 2,000 miles towards the frontier of India. They have got the Yangtse. It is navigable hundreds of miles beyond the point which they have reached. They are not so far away.

Their only interest is in the East. They do not want to help Germany or Italy. What do they care about Poland? They are one of the dictator countries, referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, who are out for dominance, and they mean to dominate the East. The last time we were at war we had the reinforcement of one million from India. We were practically able to leave to them the defence of our interests in Egypt, in Palestine, and in Mesopotamia. As to the French, the Japanese are within a few square miles of their frontier. Nobody is taking much notice. The French last time had half a million men from their Indo-China Empire helping them. How are you going to fill these graps? Russia out, and Japan out, an enemy marching straight down in that direction. It is the greatest menace we have ever had to our Empire in the East. How are we going to fill that gap? By a conscript army of 200,000 men which you will start calling up in a short time in packets of 50,000. I beg of the Government—I did it once before—to remember that in a great war it is a question of arraying on your side as many forces as you possibly can from every quarter of the globe. My hon. Friend behind says they do not want them.

Mr. G. Griffiths

I said: "They did not want them."

Mr. Lloyd George

You need Russia, but you do not want Russia. Without her, there are two alternatives. If you are called upon to redeem these pledges, maybe in a few days or perhaps in a few weeks, you have two alternatives—to face certain disaster or to skulk from your pledge as you did before. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] The pledge to guarantee the frontiers of Czechoslovakia. Have you already forgotten Munich, which was said to be a great triumph for the Government? Why all this tarry when the hour may arrive immediately? Why do we linger? Why do we loiter? Why do we chatter as if we were in a bazaar, when the need is so urgent? Why, I ask?

The right hon. Gentleman behind me, in his speech the week before last, talked about dawdling. Yes, they are dawdling. They dawdled over the rebuilding of our Air Fleet and over armaments. They dawdled with the Ministry of Supply, which everybody realises is an essential part of any great scheme of rearmament. They dawdled for three years before they accepted it. They are dawdling now over Russia, and yet they could not spare one day to consult men who had been supporting them loyally in their programme of rearmament. My hon. Friends below the Gangway at any rate represent 1,750,000 voters. The Government had no time. They broke the pledge without even discussing the matter, when it was important to get real national unity and to secure behind them those powerful interests which I know from experience could in the last War have wrecked our efforts if they had legitimate ground for disgruntlement. The Prime Minister could not spend a day on that. But he flew to Berchtesgaden. He flew to Munich, but he had no time even to consult Czecho-Slovakia whether she would like to be exterminated. To adapt a phrase used about a Prime Minister of the eighteenth century he is "Often in a hurry, always late, and entirely inadequate." His own supporters have driven him out of the position that he has stubbornly defended.

I cannot see any sign at the present time that the Government have worked out this problem. Who is with them? What force can they put into the field? How can they get them there? What would happen if the Straits of Gibraltar were blocked? On the other side they know exactly how we are situated. Hitler and Mussolini have never been taken in by the optimistic slosh which has been ladled out for several years and accepted by hon. Members in this House as satisfactory. They know all these facts. I ask the Government now whether they will complete the only combination which would give us a chance of triumph, which would give us a chance of carrying out the engagements the Government have entered into; a combination which would secure a triumph if it were effected wholeheartedly, and without the sort of suggestion: "Well, we rather dislike having anything to do with you."

The Prime Minister is very critical when he is questioned. The time came for the abandonment of appeasement; but there are signs of a resurrection and not a glorious one. The "Times" has once more been mobilised. Letters are coming in, preaching appeasement. My old friend, Sir John Marriott, with ingenuousness, makes it quite clear that he has written a letter at the request of private friends. There are other appearances of the usual work-up. Had we not better carry through our engagements and take the necessary measures to do so effectively? The Prime Minister is very angry when questions are put. He is petulant and, as far as I can see from reading his answers, he is rather peevish. He has no right to object. He attacked me for even asking a question about the numbers to be conscripted. I am a little personally offensive myself at times, and I am the last one to complain of the right hon. Gentleman; but he reminded me that it is a very long time since I held office, and suggested that that may have affected my views. Well, the public memory is notoriously short, and the Prime Minister has good reason to congratulate himself that there has been enough time to forget our respective contributions in the last great emergency.

I can assure the Prime Minister that when my hon. and right hon. Friends behind me ask questions, they represent a good deal more than their own party. They represent a very deep anxiety in the country. They represent a very deep dubiety. There is not quite the same confidence in the Prime Minister as a man who gets things done, as there was before. He has no diplomatic triumph in his record but he has several very bad failures, and when we ask questions on behalf of millions of very anxious people in this country let him remember that this country is ours as well as his.

5.50 p.m.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes

I followed the speech of the right hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) with great interest. I wish I had his eloquence to tell quite a different tale. I should like to tell him that for the last 30 years I have been an ardent advocate of compulsory national service and training for young men. I followed the speech of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), and I would say at the outset that he will be remembered in history for the determination and will to win which he displayed in the last years of the Great War. I believe also that he will be remembered in history for what will be regarded as the very dangerous speech he has delivered to-day. If that speech means what he undoubtedly intended it to mean, it is an argument for conscription on a far wider scale than is intended in this Bill.

I believe that this Bill will be a landmark in the history of our people, and that when they see how greatly the young men benefit in body and spirit by training and discipline, it will dawn on the nation that national training is an obligation that should be shared by all the community. When this state of emergency has passed, I hope the value of the proposition which I made in this House some time ago will be recognised, namely, that on leaving school every boy who has not gained his proficiency certificate in an officers' training corps should be given six months' physical and military training before entering civil life. This would provide a splendid groundwork for intensive military training, should it be necessary to call upon them to defend their country in case of emergency. Whether they subsequently wish to join the Army or to go into civil life, they will have benefited greatly by the training, and will be far better equipped than they otherwise would have been.

I welcome the Bill as a first step towards real national training and service on the basis of equality of sacrifice for all. Since it establishes an obligation on the part of every youth of 20 to 21 to fit himself to fight for the security of his country, if need be, the principle of national service for all citizens is accepted, and I hope that a national register will now be undertaken in order that men and women may know what they will be expected to do if they are called up for service in time of emergency, and so that they may be trained as soon as possible for the duties they will have to perform. During the past two years the Government have made great efforts to restore our defences, but the building of ships and the production of aircraft, guns, mechanised weapons and munitions are not enough unless the whole manhood of the country is organised to provide the necessary trained men and women for our defensive forces, our civil defence services, our mines, our agricultural and other essential industries.

There is no dearth of excellent men for the Navy and the Royal Air Force, but it is necessary to have a Territorial Army for home defence, a Regular Army for the defence of our outposts, and since, with the approval of the whole country and the loyal support of the Opposition, we are pledged to carry out the guarantees that we have given, against aggression, we need an expeditionary force, with adequate reserves. Some hon. Members may recollect the great difficulty we had during the South African war in providing enough troops to bring that war to a successful issue. They will remember the expedients to which the Government of the day were forced in order to raise sufficient troops. Regiments of yeomanry, consisting of immature boys and young men, were raised and went out to fight alongside Regular seasoned soldiers, who received one-third or one-fourth of the pay which the Yeomanry were receiving. That was not satisfactory. After the South African war a Royal Commission was appointed and it is appropriate at this present juncture that I should read an extract from the report which was laid before both Houses of Parliament in 1904: The principles which have been adopted, since the distressing failure of older methods, by every great State of the European Continent, are, that as far as possible the whole able-bodied male population should be trained to arms, and that the training should be given in a period of continuous service with the Colours, not necessarily in barracks. Later on the Commission say: We are convinced that only by the adoption of these principles, an Army for home defence adequate in strength and military efficiency to defeat an invader can be raised and maintained in the United Kingdom. If that was necessary then, how much more necessary is it now when we have given guarantees to Continental nations which we are in honour bound to fulfil? There is no doubt that immunity for generations from defeat on sea has bred in our island a sense of security which the advent of air power has undoubtedly dispelled. Down the centuries Great Britain has almost invariably been drawn into a Continental war. Lord Roberts, alive to the lessons of history, spent the last years of his life in advocating compulsory national training for young men. How infinitely better we should have been if our rulers in those days had also had the vision of the danger of war which nearly overwhelmed us in 1914. If our young men had been trained, if we had had armies to take the field at once instead of having to devote several months to their training before they were fit to go to the assistance of the hard-pressed little army which, short of guns and ammunition, was almost overwhelmed in the first months of the War and which suffered incredible hardships as a consequence, how much better prepared we should have been.

Compulsory military training had to be resorted to many years ago by Continental nations after the distressing failure of older methods in order to protect their frontiers. After a long period of immunity, thanks to our insular position and to our sea power, we are now being driven by modern and swift methods of warfare to adopt the principles recommended by the Royal Commission in 1904, if we are to survive and preserve the freedom and liberties which the people of this country enjoy to a greater extent than any other European nation. It is difficult to understand the attitude of the Socialist and Liberal Oppositions. Ever since I have been in the House they have talked about collective security and advocated action which could only lead to war, in which a weak Britain could not have collected any armed allies. Until last year they resisted rearmament with which our fighting services could have fought a war only under terrible disadvantages. I am reminded by an hon. Friend that Members of the Liberal party did not resist rearmament, but certainly the Socialists did. Now, when we have collected allies, they are resisting and impeding the only possible way to make rearmament effective, the only way in which to convince our allies and our enemies that Great Britain is prepared to play her part in collective action, and be able to take action immediately, instead of being ready only some months after the declaration of war and after those countries in the neighbourhood of the aggressors had been overwhelmed and destroyed.

At a time when France was apparently torn with internal strife Signor Mussolini threatened her, and made outrageous claims upon her. But France, seeing the red light of danger, swept aside all political differences and took steps to organise her industries and man-power, which fortunately for her had already been trained under conscription, to defend France and enable her to fulfil her guarantees. Is it surprising that we should be expected to implement our guarantees by introducing compulsory military training, or that some of the small nations, whose man-power is conscripted and who live in mortal fear of their aggressor neighbours, should hesitate to link their fate with ours until we are in a position to go to their help before they are overwhelmed? I am surprised that the Opposition cannot realise what a sorry spectacle they are presenting to the country and to the world by opposing this essential Measure. They tell us that all the men we require can be got by the voluntary method. If that is so, I ask is it fair? I have the greatest admiration for those young men, thousands in number, who volunteer to give up a few hours for training in a week and a few days in camp, mostly at the expense of their employers, but is it fair to regard these men so trained as fit to meet the highly trained troops of Continental nations until they have undergone some months of intensive military training such as will be provided by the Bill? Would it be fair to them or to their employers if 200,000 Territorials were called up and the shirkers and conscientious objectors got their places? I do not think so. At least the Bill makes that impossible.

We would have had a few hundred thousand trained men to-day and be in a much safer position and would probably been spared some bitter humiliations if the Bill had been passed a year ago, immediately after Herr Hitler annexed Austria and when it was obvious that he intended to go forward step by step until he had completed his programme as set forth in "Mein Kampf," or even after Munich, when was was narrowly averted, and when we were in a state of emergency and the country ready to make any sacrifices. After Herr Hitler annexed Czecho-Slovakia and plundered her gold and armaments and threatened Rumania and Poland, it was obvious that there was much more to come and the Prime Minister's statement on 31st March was admirably supported by the Opposition and had the wholehearted approval of the country. It was a declaration of war against aggression. There are certain immutable principles in the conduct of war, and a swift counter-attack was inevitable. It was certainly not the moment for the complacent optimism which prevailed. The declaration of 31st March should have been followed immediately by precautions and preparations for war. These could not be put into effect under the voluntary system, which the Prime Minister considered himself pledged to maintain in peace time.

We are now no longer in a state of peace with aggression and, therefore, I think the Prime Minister should have been absolved from his pledge in order to introduce compulsory national training at once. Everyone knows, however, that it was the Opposition's hostility to any form of compulsion and their threat that it would interfere with the production of munitions by trade unionists and thus stop the progress of rearmament, which was responsible for the Government's hesitation to undertake a step which would be imperative and inevitable if war came, but which would certainly be far too late under the swift and ruth- less methods of war as conducted by the dictators. Each of Herr Hitler's strokes has been preceded by a treacherous and lying declaration that he had no designs at all on the country he was about to invade. Signor Mussolini followed Herr Hitler's technique very faithfully before he annexed Albania. There was a period of calm optimism before the next act of flagrant aggression became a fait accompli, which we were powerless to avert. I saw in a Sunday newspaper Herr Hitler's technique described as "lull and grab."

Mr. Ellis Smith

You encourage them on your side.

Sir R. Keyes

No, by supporting this Bill we shall make him think twice, because I hope the Bill is the beginning of a much wider form of conscription. The next act of aggression by the dictators may come as a surprise, we may find ourselves at war at very short notice. Yet, five weeks after Great Britain has declared that we will go to the assistance of certain nations to resist aggression, we are still debating a measure which is a vital essential to our being able to resist such aggression, and the Opposition, or at any rate their leaders, are impeding and resisting the only possible way of giving security to our own country and of honouring the guarantees we have given towards collective security for which they have always been pleading but which until these guarantees were arranged was nothing but a catchword.

We were unprepared at the outbreak of the last Great War, but thanks to the sacrifices of our Regular Army and the ability of the Navy to command the seas, we had six months' grace during which men could be voluntarily trained and munition factories organised. But the flower of our manhood suffered terribly before conscription was introduced to bring in the less willing. Imagine the feeling of a man who came back from the filth and horror and risks of the trenches, or a man who came back home from a patrol in the mined waters, finding men and women earning 10 and 20 times as much pay as he did, and striking for more and holding up supplies. Why should some be conscripted to fight and others not compelled to work in the same cause?

Mr. Neil Maclean

Were you conscripted?

Sir R. Keyes

I have been in the Navy since I was 12½ years of age, and my sons of 20 and 21 are both in the Service. [Interruption.] I know that many hon. Members opposite really share my views.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

You do not share your wealth.

Sir R. Keyes

I have very little capital. The greater part of my wealth is a pension I get for having risen to the top of the tree in the Navy after 52 years of service. It is a fraction of the salary which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition gets for making the position of the Government, in their negotiations with Russia and other countries far more difficult, and for opposing a Bill which he knows in his heart to be necessary.

Mr. Butcher

May I be allowed to say that part of my hon. and gallant Friend's wealth is the respect with which people in this House and outside regard him for his services to the country at a time of great danger?

Sir R. Keyes

There is no more rigid form of compulsion than that which is exercised by the trade unions, which compel men to join them, or start strikes in order to prevent men who do not join them from working. The trade unions compel men to pay from their wages a levy which is used for political purposes.

Mr. Maclean

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it not the case that an Act of Parliament was passed which made it impossible for anyone to pay a political levy, and is it not the case that it is only voluntary payments that can be made to maintain the Labour party?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Clifton Brown)

It is true that such an Act was passed, but the hon. and gallant Member is now getting very far from the subject under discussion.

Sir R. Keyes

I was developing my argument, which is that the Socialist party object to compulsion for military training, but exercise compulsion in the trade unions. I repeat that they take a levy from trade unionists and use it for political purposes in connection with which the individual members have nothing to say.

Mr. T. Williams

On a point of Order. Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman entitled persistently to declare that the trade unions are enforcing a political levy, when it is well known to him and to every other hon. Member that no trade unionist can be compelled to pay a political levy, unless he definitely expresses his willingness to do so, and signs to that effect?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I said before that I thought the hon. and gallant Member was getting very far from the Bill.

Mr. Silverman

Further to the point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. and gallant Member, when he has made a misstatement, to persist in that misstatement after he has been corrected from the Chair?

Mr. Marshall

Further to the point of Order. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has said something which is really a travesty of the position. I think that in the interests of truth he ought to withdraw.

Sir R. Keyes

I have simply stated what I have been told by a great many of my friends in the trade unions. Having raised and taxed a large army, they appear to be unable to discipline it. For example, the Siemens' strike—a strike in which the men went against their leaders—held up a vast quantity of electrical equipment required for armament purposes. I think that was an outrage.

Mr. Maclean

Was it not an outrage when seamen trade unionists were used by the Coalition Government to prevent MacDonald from going to Russia?

Sir R. Keyes

I have the greatest admiration for the vast majority of the trade unionists. I have many friends among them. I know that they are loyal and patriotic people who are spoiling to see aggression defeated, and a great many of them would willingly see some form of national service made compulsory. They consider that it would be the fairest arrangement. For instance, a friend of mine came back from France, badly wounded, and rejoined his trade in a certain district in which he is now leader, and he told me that he found that men who were shirkers or conscientious objectors had joined the union and were stirring up strife in that district and spoiling the game for the regular trade unionists. If hon. Members opposite say that there is going to be trouble in the trade unions, then my answer is that it is up to them to stop it, for they have practically unlimited power. The trade unions could withdraw their ticket from disloyal and unpatriotic members. I am sorry to have fallen foul of the Opposition, but I am trying to put the point of view of hundreds of thousands of their own supporters, who agree with me. As a result of my personal experience in going about towns in industrial areas, I think I represent their views more faithfully than do hon. Members opposite.

In conclusion, I welcome this Bill, which I think will be a turning-point in our national life. I think a far wider form of national service will be accepted as part of the life of our country. Conditions now are entirely different from what they were in the old days when our sea-power protected us against invasion. We have to realise that there are three powerful aggressive nations which are determined to get what they want by war or the threat of war, and we must be prepared to resist them with all the strength we can accumulate. We cannot afford to wait as we did in 1914. The whole country must be organised. I believe that if the Government went much farther than they have done in this Measure and introduced really national compulsory service, it would be welcomed by the vast majority of the people of the country.

6.24 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Macdonald

I was somewhat impressed in listening to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Sir R. Keyes). They played a great part in the last War, one of them on the civil and administrative side, and the other as the greatest sailor produced by this country in this century. I felt that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was suggesting that if the Government had come to some understanding and agreement with Russia, there would have been no need for this Bill. In the first part of his speech, he spent much time in supporting the Bill, but I felt that what he said in the second part proved quite conclusively that if the Government had had the good sense to come to a definite understanding with Russia, Russia would have provided all the men needed, and this Bill would have been unnecessary. The hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth understands the Navy far better than he understands the trade unions. As a trade unionist, I should never think of vying my knowledge with that of the hon. and gallant Member on naval matters, and if he will accept a suggestion from a younger Member, he will in future leave trade union matters to those who understand them.

The question we have to ask ourselves is whether this Bill is designed to achieve its own purpose. We are told that its purpose is to call a halt to aggression; we are told that we must pass the Bill in order to discourage Hitler and Mussolini, and in order to preserve peace, or, failing the preservation of peace, to win a war. Will the passing of the Bill do any of those things? Could we not achieve the same purpose without passing the Bill? I am opposed to the Bill for three reasons. First, it has not had the approval of the country. It is no use supporters of the Government continuing to tell us that the country is behind conscription. That is the sort of thing that is done by the dictators, who always feel that they know the minds of the people better than do the people themselves, and that they have no need to consult the people. I hope that supporters of the Government, when they think a policy is justified, are not going to pursue the line of saying that the country is behind that policy. If the electorate of the country had approved of a period of conscription, I should not consider it my job to oppose it in the House, for I am sufficient of a democrat to accept the decision of the electors. If the electors had supported conscription—if the matter had been put before them, as all questions are, and they had decided by a majority that they wanted military conscription—I should not have risen to oppose this Bill.

We have heard a great deal about unredeemed pledges and broken promises. It is very easy to try to justify the breaking of a promise by saying that one would have kept it if things had remained just as they were when the promise was given. Last Thursday, at Question Time, I called the attention of the Prime Minister to the pledge given by his predecessor. About a week before the last General Election, the late Mr. Morgan Jones mentioned to me that he had heard rumours that there was a possibility of the Conservative Government bringing in conscription in peace-time. At that time, the then Prime Minister was consulting me regarding mining matters, about which there was a little uneasiness, and he mentioned to me that he would deal with this matter at Wolverhampton on the following Monday, when opening the General Election campaign. At my own adoption meeting, I put a direct question to the Prime Minister—would he, in order to exclude conscription from the election campaign, state definitely whether it was his intention during the lifetime of the new government to introduce conscription? In his own blunt and bluff way, he made a clear and definite statement that that was entirely out of the question.

The Prime Minister now says that he agrees that his predecessor gave such a pledge, but that things have changed since then. It will be a dangerous thing if we are going to claim that we can make a promise and then, when there is an alteration in circumstances at a later date, say that as things are not quite the same as they were when the pledge was given, we are not called upon to redeem it. That is not a good thing for democratic government. I can understand the Prime Minister's point of view in one sense. I should not advocate a General Election at the present time. I think it would be unwise for this country at the present time to indulge in three weeks of discussion in the country. I do not think we could trust the Axis Powers not to take advantage of such a situation. I am certain they would do so. But surely things are not as urgent to-day as has been represented. Surely we could have afforded to make one further mighty effort to meet all our requirements by voluntary service.

The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for War never tire of telling us that the response to the appeal for voluntary service has been magnificent and beyond all expectations. With the help of leading members of every party could not a further effort have been made? The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) seemed to criticise our party because we believed voluntary service to be best and were prepared to use it, in order that the country's requirements might be met. I am satisfied that time could have been used and wisely used in order to achieve, by voluntary effort, all that we require in the way of man-power. As I say I do not suggest that there should be an election now, but I think a bigger effort could have been made to redeem the pledge previously given on behalf of the Government.

We are told by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that we must now broadcast abroad what the voluntary system has done, and tell the world how our young men responded to the call. I hold that we could have got as many by voluntary service as we shall by this Bill. We could have strengthened the Army to an equal extent without this Bill. I do not say that we should have got the same results numerically. We might have got fewer numbers but, in spite of what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, I maintain that we could have strengthened our Army by the voluntary system as much as we shall do by this Bill, if indeed we could not have done even more. On what grounds do hon. Members opposite support the Bill? I see the hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) in his place. In justice to him I must say that he has been an advocate of conscription for a long time, but I notice that those who support the Bill are not doing so because of what is in the Bill, but because of what they think the Bill will lead to. The hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth, with all the frankness of the sailor, told the House that he believed in universal conscription. He went even further because he said that he would advocate, not only military but industrial conscription.

Sir R. Keyes

For men of the same class, certainly.

Mr. Macdonald

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that the introduction of this Measure in this way will have the same great effect on the Continent as if it were being introduced as the result of a General Election? If the Bill were introduced as a result of the electorate having voted for it, it would have a still greater effect on the Continent. My second reason for opposing the Bill is that it is unnecessary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) put the case for the Government with his usual powerful eloquence in a previous Debate. On the following day I heard one of my hon. Friends say that if the Prime Minister had spoken in the same way as the right hon. Gentleman, there would be unity in this House. I would not go as far as that, but it would have made a vastly different impression on this side of the House, from that which was made by the Prime Minister. What is said to be the greatest need for the Measure? To get man-power. I think it has been shown that it is questionable whether we could not have secured an equal number of men, without it. I admit that that is doubtful. It is a question upon which we cannot dogmatise but, for myself, I doubt whether the Bill is necessary. I think a fine appeal such as that indicated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton (Mr. W. Benn), an appeal to the country by this House, including the leaders of all parties, would get a similar response.

But, we are told, another reason for the Bill is the uneasiness among our friends in Europe. I am not surprised that there should be some uneasiness in Europe. I think the vacillating policy of the Government is such as would create uneasiness anywhere. Certainly there is uneasiness, not as regards our ability to carry out our obligations but as regards our determination to go on with our policy. What is worrying Middle Europe to-day is this: Having let down Czecho-Slovakia in the way we did, for what nation, it is asked, shall we stand? What country will trust us? That is what is troubling the Continent. I do not think there is any uneasiness as regards Britain's readiness to throw in her lot and do her full share if the need should come. I think the Prime Minister might have emphasised to the Continental Powers that we can do much in other than the military sphere which they cannot do. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) in a previous Debate outlined what this country could do with the Navy, and in producing materials and in finance. He showed clearly that Great Britain's contribution in any state of emergency will be equal if not superior to anything which can be done by any country on the Continent. I see no reason to be modest about it. If we are making our contribution in those ways, why should we not say so. As I say I am not satisfied that the need for this Bill has been shown.

My third reason for opposing the Bill is that I fear the consequences of this legislation. I am a trade union leader. Luckily for myself I am connected with the miners and possibly this legislation will affect my people to a comparatively limited extent. The industry cannot afford to lose young men of 20 to 21. They are badly needed. It is not because of its effect in my own industry that I fear the consequences of this legislation. But what argument can be used for military conscription which cannot be used also in favour of industrial conscription? There is no use pretending. We know in the industrial sphere that any argument of a convincing character as regards military conscription, can be used with equal force as regards industrial conscription. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs asked what was the use of supporting a rearmament programme and then denying the country the men to use the weapons that were being produced. But one could carry that argument a step further and ask what was the use of keeping men in the Army without having the men to produce the equipment which they will need.

We fear that this is the thin end of the wedge. We cannot see how it is possible for an Army, one section of which is recruited by compulsory methods and another section by voluntary methods, to continue very long. I believe that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrincham, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) and others are supporters of out-and-out conscription. The Prime Minister has brought in this Measure in this modest way, believing that as a result of its modesty we will accept it. All I have to say is this. If anybody will convince me that we could not stand up to Hitler without this Bill, that the only hope of preserving peace was this Bill, I should, without hesitation, be speaking for it to-day. It is because I am satisfied in my own mind that there is no need for it, in order to achieve that purpose, that I oppose it.

I pass to a few observations on the Bill itself. I would ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office to take note of a few questions. First, can we be told why this age group has been singled out for inclusion in the Bill in preference to any other age group? I should have thought that men of 26 or 27 would have been better in physique, would have made better soldiers and would have discharged this duty more efficiently. Why, then, has this age group been specified? Reference has already been made to the fact that the members of this group are below the voting age. In my own division I met boys who asked why they had been called up, and was it because they had not votes. A boy of 19é told me he had a brother of 23 who was stronger in physique, better educated and better qualified for this service. "Why," he asked, "am I being dragged in, while he is being left out?" The Government ought to tell the country their reasons for selecting this group. My right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton spoke of safeguarding employment for those whose training period is over. More will need to be done in this Bill with regard to that matter than is proposed at present. We shall also require that much more should be done in this respect regarding those who are approaching the age at which they will be called up. The case which was put from the Opposition Front Bench is one which can be multiplied. There is danger in that direction.

As regards conscientious objectors, I would make this point. During the War it was not so difficult for men of 25 to 30 who had developed conscientious objections to military service to state their case, but I see a danger of the boy of 20 not being able to put his case properly to a tribunal. Doubt will be cast upon his case because of his age, especially if he has not shown himself to be a member of some religious body which objects to war. In such a case a boy of 20 will have difficulty in satisfying a tribunal on this issue. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman to see that in selecting these tribunals he gets the right type of men, men who will approach this question with some sympathy. I must say that I did not like the reference to this matter which was made by the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth. I felt that his was an insulting reference to conscientious objectors. The Prime Minister was far more gracious in the reference which he made. I am not one of them, but there are people who have a conscientious objection to being involved in war—in killing. All I ask is that consideration should be given to the case of the boy of 20 who, because he is not a member of any religious body, may have difficulty in satisfying a tribunal that he has such conscientious objections and that proper treatment should be meted out to the young fellows who claim to be conscientious objectors.

Finally, I ask hon. Members opposite to believe that when we were asking that commitments should be made and undertakings given, we did not intend withholding the power to carry out these commitments and undertakings. It is our intention on this side that the country should be in a position to carry out any undertaking which we pressed the Government to give. It is because we do not think the Bill necessary for that purpose that we oppose it.

6.43 p.m.

Sir Edward Grigg

The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) has stated with great sincerity and force the reasons which induce him to oppose the Bill. He issued a challenge to supporters of the Bill to state their case for it more fully, and I shall endeavour to meet that challenge, particularly as I want to reassure him about the motives of hon. Members on my side. We have no ulterior motive in supporting this Measure, as I hope I shall be able to make him believe. Before coming to his argument, I should like to make one reference to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). I do not think that support of the principle of this Bill could have come from a more important and convincing quarter than from the oldest Member of the House, who bore the chief responsibility in the last War. It seemed to me when he stated the case which he made in 1911, with his colleagues, he was saying something which we would do well to bear in mind at the present time. He painted a very dark picture and he is a master of colour. He was making a case—to my mind an unanswerable case—for the Bill. But I do not think that, as a matter of fact, he painted the European situation which confronts us quite fairly to ourselves. There are on the other side many factors which should be taken into account, and Russia or no Russia, if we are challenged, I have no doubt whatever we shall give a very good account of ourselves.

That, however, does not alter the strength of the case for the Bill. I think the hon. Member was mistaken in supposing that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs would in any way have accepted an alliance with Russia as a substitute for this Bill. If that was the case, why did he recommend compulsory service in 1911? We had the Russian understanding then, and even then he was recommending strongly a measure of compulsion in this country. That is an argument, I tell the hon. Gentleman frankly, that I greatly dislike. Are you going to say to Russia, and much more to the other democracies, "We know that you have conscription, and, therefore, we need not have it here?" That is the form in which that argument is put over there, that we have got the Russian alliance, and now we are going to save our own skins. That is not a light in which this country ought to be presented in other countries, and I hope the hon. Member will not again use that argument.

Mr. G. Macdonald

That is not quite fair. My point was that we should make a contribution to an emergency, when it comes, in a different way, and do as much in an emergency without conscription as any Continental country would do with conscription.

Sir E. Grigg

I apologise if I misrepresented the hon. Member in any way. I would like to come now to the contribution which we are to make. I presume the hon. Member does not mean that our contribution is to consist merely of a contribution on the sea and in the air and in production. I imagine that he accepts the fact that we have to produce manpower as well, and the point that I would like to make about man-power is that it is not man-power alone that matters; it is trained man-power. Man-power is nothing at all by itself; trained man-power is the thing that matters, and is what the other Powers in Europe, the other members of the peace front, are thinking about. Our provision of trained man-power in this country has become an immensely important consideration in Europe. How are we to provide it? Under our present system of military organisation apart from this Bill, there are only two ways. You can either try to increase the strength of the Regular Army, raising by voluntary appeal men to undertake service for 12 years, four to seven with the colours and the remainder in the Reserve, or, if you think that is too difficult and impossible, too expensive also, you must use the Territorial Force.

What is the objection to doing that? It is simply that the Territorial Force is a force which begins its intensive training only on the outbreak of war. Surely the right hon. Gentleman made that clear in what he said about our experience in the last War. You cannot produce trained man-power in the form which any European country will recognise as trained man-power by our present Territorial system—that is to say, spare-time training, week-ends, and a fortnight in camp—and you cannot, in my opinion, do it even if you extend it to the utmost limit of training allowed by the Territorial Army Act, that is, 30 days. Real training means a minimum, if you are to make a contibution equal to what our friends are making, of six months, and in order to justify that opinion I will not quote any authority in support of our view of the case, but I will quote the military correspondent of the "Manchester Guardian." He says: In the ordinary course of events the statutory number of drills required of a Territorial soldier each year is designed to meet leisurely conditions, when it does not much matter whether a man becomes an efficient soldier this year or next. Six months' intense training with the Regular Army would be of more value than several years under the old conditions. That quotation from the "Manchester Guardian" is, I think, unanswerable. There is one other point that I would make about the necessity for six months' training. Hon. Members above the Gangway are all very anxious for what they call the democratisation of the Army; that is to say, they want officers and noncommissioned officers chosen as widely as possible from the ranks. I agree with them about that—I agree that that is necessary—but you cannot get that under the Territorial system, because there is no adequate opportunity for judging merit under that system, with your night drills, your week-ends, and your fortnightly camps. You must have men serving for a longer period in order to pick out the natural leader, and this system of six months' training seems to be an absolutely essential condition for the democratisation of the Army which hon. Members want. I have always argued that, and I hope there will be no concession made whatever to the appeals which are being made for special consideration for boys who have been through the O.T.C. They will get quite enough consideration from the fact that they have been through the O.T.C, and I hope tie Government will see that they go into the ranks and justify themselves, and that there is no question whatever of promoting anybody to commissioned or noncommissioned rank unless they have proved their capacity in the ranks of the militia.

Given those two argument for six months' training, I come to the hon. Member's further point, a point which was made by the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), when he moved the Amendment to the Motion, and, I think, by the right hon. Member who spoke first for the Opposition to-day. They admit the necessity for six months' training, but they ask why that six months' training cannot be got under the voluntary system and by extending the Territorial training. I think I put it fairly. This is the answer: Consider the character of the Territorial Force. It draws on all ages from 17 to 38, and tradesmen it draws up to 45. I think you must rule out at once the 17 to 19 group, because they are too young, if you are talking of going immediately into the field on the outbreak of war. I know it was not so in the last War, but I can remember the boys of 18 coming out to France, and I know that one of the most terrible things that happens to boys of that age is that they cannot keep awake—the physical strain is almost more than they can bear—and I should be very sorry to see anybody going out, if we could help it, before the age of 20, certainly before the older men go. I rule out, therefore, the 17 to 19 group in the Territorial Force. I am prepared also to rule out tradesmen between 38 and 45. That leaves 19 years, and, really, four-fifths of those 19 years consist of men who are already settled in life; that is to say, they have got settled in professions or jobs, they have houses and very likely wives and families, they have become men who have got to carry on in a certain way because they have taken on those responsibilities and cannot get rid of them.

The Territorial system, as it is, suffers greatly from the fact that masses of people consider it unfair. I have been doing my best in the National Service Campaign to secure recruits for the Territorials, and at one of the meetings the other day a woman came up to me and said, "I liked your speech, but I won't let my man go." I said, "Why not?" She replied, "I do not see why I should be the first widow in our street." That is the kind of thing that works against the voluntary Territorial system. Many people are nevertheless prepared, because of their patriotism, to take the risk to life, so long as what they are giving, as now, is only their spare time and so long as that does not involve any hardship to their family, but if you call for six months' training from this wide range, from 23 to 38, you are really calling on men not only to give their own services, but to inflict very great hardships on their families. You cannot imagine any system of pay or allowances which would make up, in the case of the great majority of men who would be called on to do six months' training, for their loss of income. The only men who could do so without inflicting hardship on their families would be men not earning more than the pay and allowances they would get in the Territorial Force, or else the men rich enough to be totally indifferent. For that reason, I do not believe the voluntary appeal would be fair or could possibly have succeeded. I hope the hon. Member feels that I have made an attempt to state the case fairly as I see it.

After all, there is no time to go on with many more of these experiments. I thought, when the Government said they were trying to bring up the Territorial Army to war strength, and then to double it, that already they were leaving the thing extremely late. My view was that this form of compulsion should have been introduced immediately after Munich. I believe the country would have accepted it then, and certainly there is no time to waste on further experiments now. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs surely made it plain that the necessity is terribly urgent. Let me then deal with one or two other objections which I have heard. It is said that women are against compulsion. All that I can say is that last Friday I attended the annual meeting of the women's association in my constituency. It was a very large meeting; women of all ranks were there, and they were absolutely unanimous in support of this Bill, and not only unanimous, but enthusiastic. [Interruption.] They are part of this country, and it is no good hon. Members above the Gangway shaking their heads and saying that a gathering of women of all classes is not representative. That, at any rate, was my experience, and I promised them that I would state their views.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

When the hon. Member says he has addressed women of all classes, has he ever spoken before an audience of Co-operative women, and does he know that 80,000 of them have recently demonstrated against conscription?

Viscountess Astor

May I say that the Left Wing has got hold of the co-operative party?

Sir E. Grigg

I have never, so far as I know, addressed a meeting consisting solely of Co-operative women, but I have addressed very large numbers of open meetings at which there were Co-operatives, Socialists, and others, and I have not found any such opposition to compulsion.

Mr. Lansbury

I have.

Sir E. Grigg

No doubt the right hon. Gentleman excites it, and I excite the other thing. I have not found any opposition where the case has been stated.

Mr. Lansbury

I always state your case, and they do not agree with it.

Sir E. Grigg

I have been asked whether I have consulted young men of 20 years. I was talking last night to such a gathering, and I found exactly the same thing. Another thing that is said is that under compulsion you only get unwilling recruits, and the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), in a speech which he made last week, described the difference which he had found in the War between men who were volunteers and men who were conscripted. I saw a good deal of compelled men in the War, and I think that, as a matter of fact, there is no difference, although, of course, I do not question the hon. Member's own experience. But, after all, what happened in the War is not a fair example, because we had already sent enormous numbers to the front, and when compulsion came in it was really beginning to comb out the people who were unwilling anyhow. Therefore, that is not a fair example as to what would happen under a compulsory system started as this is being started now.

There is another point that is made, however, with which I feel very much sympathy, and I would like to deal frankly with it. Many hon. Members have said, "Why the 20-years-old only?" The hon. Member for Ince said it. I am bound to say that when this Bill was first introduced, I felt the very greatest regret that it was not calling out, at any rate, a much larger number of annual classes. If it was a question of 200,000 men being needed I would much rather have seen one-fifth of them taken from each of five annual classes so as to make up the number than to see the whole lot taken from one class. I regret that this burden has been placed on one annual class. But, going into the practical difficulties, I do not see how the Government could have done otherwise. If you take a quota of a fifth from five annual classes you have to go in for a system of exemption, which is bound instantly to be attacked and to arouse every kind of charge of unfairness. That seems to me quite inevitable. And whatever system you had adopted, even if you went back to the old English system of a ballot, I think there would have been a great deal of trouble about selecting a small quota from a large number of an annual class. For that reason I think it was essential to take only one class.

And if one class is going to be taken, I do not see that the Government could have chosen a better class than the 20-year-olds. I believe most of them are those who are getting to the end of their apprenticeships and are not yet settled in life. There are objections to every year, but on the whole there seem to me to be fewer objections to this particular year than to any other year. Therefore I hold that in this matter the Government was right. But I do feel this—and I hope my right hon. Friend whom I see on the Front Bench opposite will be able to give us some assurance on this before the right hon. Gentleman winds up to-night—I do not think we should call on the 20-year-olds in this country to come forward and train under compulsion for six months unless all classes and all ages in this country are prepared to accept liability in case of war. I think that declaration should be made at once. We should all put ourselves on a par with those who are now to be called up. I therefore suggest that the Government should bring in now a Measure pledging this country by Resolution of this House to universal liability to service in case of war, and that they should compile at once a National Register. I apologise for always bringing in this King Charles' head, but it seems to me to be an absolutely indispensable thing when you are placing this burden on our young men. I hope to-night we may have an assurance on that point. I believe that it would add greatly—and this is a matter of great importance—to the moral effect of the decision we are taking to introduce compulsion.

I maintain that this Measure is a democratic one. The hon. Member who spoke first for the Opposition to-day quoted poetry, and we can all quote poetry, but I feel most strongly that the case he made was an implied insult to the other democracies whom we are calling upon to make a peace front with us. How can you say that the Swiss people or that the French people are not free? It is an insult to them to say that because they have accepted the principle of compulsory service they are not true democracies. And if you are going back in history, Switzerland was the country which one of our greatest poets, Wordsworth, coupled with this country as one of the two great voices of freedom in the world: Two Voices are there; one is of the sea, One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice. They were thy chosen music, Liberty's. At the time when Wordsworth wrote that Switzerland had universal compulsory military service, and she has had it ever since. What is the use of saying that you have sacrificed your freedom when you have adopted compulsory service?

The real trouble is the fear that this Measure is going to lead to something else, and that brings us back to the old difficulty that exists in this country, very well described by Disraeli when he spoke of "the two nations." We on this side, I think improperly, are supposed to represent the anti-revisionists, the people who are in favour of the status quo, who have got the comforts and the wealth; and always when any Measure of this kind is proposed there is a feeling that the people who are in favour of the status quo are going to use it as a weapon to strengthen their position and prevent the revisionists from getting something they would otherwise get. How is one to set that kind of anxiety at rest? I can only say this, that so far as a General Election is concerned to ascertain the opinion of the country, everybody agrees it is impossible. I am not in the least afraid of a General Election myself, only while you are holding it you would destroy the peace front in Europe. What would happen, supposing that the Government were defeated in a General Election, and the Opposition came into power? What would they do? The very first thing they would have to do would be to reassert the imposition of compulsory military service in this country, because there would be no peace front in Europe.

Mr. Gallacher

Do you ask me that question?

Sir E. Grigg

I was addressing my argument to the Socialist Opposition. I think we have to recognise that the die is cast, and that this Measure is about to become the law of the land, and it cannot be reversed without sacrificing all we stand for—in all parts of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), I think very patriotically, said that he would give the Measure his full support when it became the law, so did the hon. Member for Ince, and so did other hon. Members. The only thing I can do to remove their anxiety—and I do not suppose I shall go far towards doing that—is to say I have fought as hard as I could for this Measure, not because I want to detract from the liberties of the people, but because I think it was essential to their preservation. I still believe that, and I do not believe there is any hope of preserving the liberties of Europe, or our own liberties, without a Measure of this kind. But I give this pledge, that if at any time it becomes clear that this Measure is being used to reduce or to compromise the liberties of the people of this country, then I will work as hard to undo this Measure as I have worked to place it on the Statute Book.

7.9 p.m.

Mrs. Adamson

I rise to oppose the Military Training Bill and the principle of conscription. When the Prime Minister made his statement in this House 12 days ago it was one of the most momentous statements that had ever been made by any Premier in peace-time, because it broke with tradition, and it broke the pledges in regard to conscription that had been given to the electorate, to Parliament, to the Labour party, and to the trade unions. Those pledges had been re-affirmed as recently as 29th March. We have heard a great deal in the Debate from various speakers about public opinion. How can any Member of Parliament judge public opinion on any vital issue such as this. We can only judge by our post-bags, by our contacts in our constituencies, by our contacts with the general public, and by the meetings which we address in different parts of the country. We have heard the voice in this House of the soldier, the sailor, and the representatives of different kinds of industry. I want to state the point of view of the mother, and I hope I shall not be misrepresented in what I shall say. Because I am not a pacifist, I come from a fighting family, a family that has done its bit in the days that are gone to fight for religious freedom in my beloved Scotland; and during the last War my eldest son, who was a mere lad, was in the Merchant Service and ran the gauntlet of the submarine menace in order to bring food to the people of this country. He still follows the tradition of the sea, and if this country were in danger again he would do the same thing, because he could do nothing else.

But I want to express the point of view that is held by women all over the country. I have given a life-time of service to the Labour movement in a voluntary capacity, and spoken practically all over Great Britain, and I receive a great many letters from women in different parts of Great Britain. I think I express the point of view of the mothers when I say that they are fundamentally opposed to this Military Training Bill and to the principle of conscription. It may be that mothers are fundamentally pacifists. They detest war. They detest it because it means slaughter, and they detest the militarisation of their sons. Their whole experience in life is to protect and preserve human life. We women go down into the jaws of death to bring life into the world. We in the working class have to make tremendous sacrifices for our children, and we do sacrifice to give them a better chance in life than we have known ourselves and, just as our sons attain the golden age of manhood, we do not like to think that they are going to be conscripted and trained in the art of war. We know only too well, because of our experience in the last War, that when hostilities break out our sons are expected to go forth to destroy the sons of other mothers in other countries, who love their children just as much as we love ours, and sacrifice for them too.

And perhaps it is because we women know at what cost human life is brought into the world that we place a higher value upon it than the politicians, the statesmen and the war-mongers. We believe with Ruskin that there is no true wealth but life. And my experience, since the Prime Minister made this momentous statement, is that the mothers of this country have had sad hearts, and are not in favour of conscription. I could show hon. Members letters which I have received. I could cite the case of a mother whose only son enlisted under age in the last War and was killed when he was only 19 years of age. So she adopted a boy who is now between 19 and 20, and she asks me whether this boy, for whom she has sacrificed to give him an apprenticeship in engineering, is to be caught up in this net of militarism and whether she must undergo the same sorrow as she did with her only son.

I hope that the Government will not measure the opposition to conscription by the number of conscientious objectors. Some of the women whose husbands were conscientious objectors in the last War know of the persecution which they and their menfolk underwent because of their opposition to war. They know of the loss of jobs and of the scorn and suffering that ensued. I have been speaking to a mother whose husband was a conscientious objector in the last War. She has two sons and she told me that, after careful thought and consideration to this problem, she advised her boys, much against her will, that because of her experience in the last War she does not want her sons to undergo the same experience. She has, therefore, said to her boys, "Go through with it and get it over as quickly as possible, and every night I will pray God that my sons will come out of the Army with no deterioration of their manly principles." This is what the womenfolk are saying. We shall get by this Measure unwilling conscripts. During the last War we were always told that one volunteer was worth 10 conscripts. The lads will go if they can go willingly. I heard an ex-Service man who is now a Member of this House tell the story at a public meeting of a deputation of ex-Service men which he led to a certain Cabinet Minister after the War in order to plead for justice and fair play for the men who had done their bit in the War. When they expressed their disappointment at the answer, one of the deputation said, "If the circumstances arose again we would not do what we did before and go forward willingly to play our part." The Cabinet Minister was reported to have replied, "There won't be another war for 20 years, and when that time comes a new generation will have grown up that has not known war and it will go just as readily as you have done."

I find a great deal of opposition to this Bill not only from women who take the pacifist point of view, but from women who are prepared to make a stand against Fascist aggression. Those women belong to that body of public opinion which believes in the League of Nations and the principle of collective security. They believe in the establishment of an international police force and in the combination of peaceful powers to meet Fascist aggression. They knew when they took up that standpoint that there were risks, not that they believed in the inevitability of war. There are more ways of dealing with aggressors than by war and bloodshed, but they know what Fascism means. We as democrats know and have seen what it means to our friends in countries abroad. We know all about the horrors of the concentration camps and the risks of shots from the Fascist firing squads for all liberty-loving people. The womenfolk know that they have more to lose by Fascism than even the men have. We have seen its effects in Fascist countries, where women have lost their status as industrial and professional workers, and I say with a full responsibility of what my words mean that Fascism means the moral and spiritual degradation of women. We do not need conscription in this country to safeguard our liberties here and to take part in a fight against Fascism.

I want to emphasise the point that was made by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald). It has been put to me at meetings in different parts of the country. Why single out boys of 20 to 21? I had a deputation of young men of military age from my constituency, and they said, "We have no votes and we are not responsible for the composition of a House of Commons that imposes conscription upon us. We are not citizens and why single us out?" I came across a quotation from a colonel in Cromwell's Army: The present he that is in England hath a life to live as much as the greatest he, and a man is not bound to a government that he has not had a voice to put himself under. Serious consideration will have to be given to the problems that will arise as the result of the selection of boys of 20 to 21. Many of them are finishing their apprenticeships in industry and commerce and many are finishing their training in colleges and universities. This means a dislocation of their lives which may have serious repercussions on their future careers. I hope that the Government spokesman will give clear answers to some of the questions that have been put during this Debate, and that we shall particularly get answers to the questions that were put by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) last Thursday. I trust that we shall make effective the penalties against employers. I was interested to hear the letter that was read by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn), because I, too, hear of the dismissal of lads who will shortly be conscripted. Some of the unscrupulous employers evidently look upon this Bill as a unique opportunity to get cheaper labour. I hope that we shall tighten up the regulations and impose heavy penalties for what I hope all Members are agreed is an undesirable practice and an evasion of the law.

I hope, too, that we shall tighten up the provisions to ensure re-employment after Service. It is all very well for hon. Members to make high-sounding speeches on these points, but some of us remember what took place after the last War. We could give a great many of our own experiences as we travelled about the country, of employers who had pledged themselves to the reinstatement of the men who had done their bit. When the men came back they were reinstated, but in many cases they were reinstated for only a few weeks and then turned adrift. In my association with the engineering industry I have heard that there is a move—I hope it is not true, but I want the Government to make a note of it—on the part of the engineering employers to introduce women to take up the jobs of the conscripts. Women are, of course, always paid lower wages, and I object to the exploitation of my sex in industry. I am one of those who believe in equal pay for equal work.

Lieut.-Commander Agnew

May I ask whether the hon. Member has read Clause 6 of the Bill, because if she has the last part of her speech has been entirely unnecessary and a complete waste of the time of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!" "Withdraw!"]

Mrs. Adamson

I am stating my point of view as it has been put to me by people who are employed in the engineering industry. I have read the Bill and I hope to take part in the discussions on the different Clauses in it. I am in order, I think, in raising these points at this stage. I object to the exploitation of my sex and to women being used as cheap labour. I would like to see equal pay for equal work. The basis of payment should be for the job done and not sex. We ask for the fullest investigation into these statements, and I warn the Government that if the statements are true there will be serious trouble, because the workers are not in the mood to permit the lowering of their standards of wages and conditions in the workshops. I hope, too, that some consideration will be given to the cases of men who are in the reserved occupations. I have a letter which has been sent to me by a young man in my constituency. He says: In five weeks time I shall be 21 years of age, and, therefore, as far as can be ascertained, I am in the age limits. I am employed locally as a skilled laboratory assistant and was placed on the reserved occupation register, and am also still on the revised list published since the Prime Minister's announcement on Wednesday last. I, therefore, have had no choice to volunteer my services if necessary for my country, as a person under the reserved occupations should take on no part-time duty which would mean full-time work in war time. I am, therefore, conscripted without ever having the chance to volunteer. Further, if I am trained for military services and my employers claim me in the event of war, I think it is wasting public money. Another point concerning a fellow worker. He is a laboratory assistant, like myself, aged 19. Therefore, he is on the reserved occupation register and cannot join the Territorials. The War Minister stated that a young fellow under the age of 21 could join up and the time served up to the age of 20 would be deducted from his three and a half years on the Reserve. Why should my fellow worker be penalised and not be able to take advantage of this, as I suppose conscription has come to stay and he will be affected soon. He adds: I have tried to join up as a volunteer but I am afraid they are not in a position to accept me. I hope we are going to have equality in the interpretation of the Bill and in the treatment of many of the cases which are put to us as Members of the House. I hope that the responsible Minister will give careful consideration to all these points. We do not want them to be swept aside as they were last Thursday by the Minister of Labour, who seemed to occupy his time in boasting of his two years' barrack life and the benefits of military training. We believe there is no need for conscription. There had been a splendid response to the appeal for volunteers. I believe it is true to say that there was such a large number of volunteers that there is a shortage of equipment. I know it is stated that local authorities are seriously embarrassed to secure the necessary equipment for the Civilian Defence volunteers, and we trust that the Government will do its best to remedy that state of affairs.

I believe that there is a muddle in our national as well as in our international affairs. I believe that there is fear in the hearts and the minds of the people, and I think that the large number of Members who petitioned the Prime Minister to introduce conscription believe that now is the psychological moment to put the shackles of conscription on our boys. Somebody said that it was the thin end of the wedge, and we have heard a clamour during this Debate for an extension of military and industrial conscription. We are always told that we ought to fight Fascism abroad. I think the democracy in this country realises that all the Fascists are not abroad, but that there are some at home as well, and when we have got conscription what is the difference between Fascism and democracy? I think the Prime Minister must have a poor opinion of the mentality of the Members of this House or of the country, because in his statement on conscription of wealth he simply said that we had it to a large extent at the present time. When that is repeated at public meetings the audience enjoys the joke. I hope that a serious attempt will be made to limit profits and deal drastically with the profiteers.

What we really need is a change of Government. We want a Government that is prepared adequately to defend the nation, to pursue a foreign policy that will promote harmony, peace and good will and get down to the removal of the causes of war which are very largely economic. In my judgment we can do that by common sense and reason. I am one of the few Members of this House who have a mandate on this question of conscription. During my by-election campaign in the month of October and early November I drew the attention of my voters to the fact that practically all the Tory organisations and associations in Great Britain were sending resolutions to the Prime Minister demanding National Service, and I said that when the Tories talk about National Service they mean compulsory military and industrial conscription. I found a great deal of interest was taken in developments at that time. Moreover, I ask the House to remember that mine was the first by-election after the Munich Agreement in which Labour had a straight fight against the Government. I raised this question of conscription at every meeting and I claim that I converted the electors in my division to my point of view. They have not had long to wait before conscription was introduced. I feel that I have a mandate from the electors in the Dartford Division to vote against this Military Training Bill. I will honour my election pledges. I believe this Bill is a blow to freedom and liberty, and in the interests of my constituents and of the people, particularly the mothers of this country, I oppose the Measure.

7.37 p.m.

Mr. York

I feel that I owe an apology to the House for being the third new Member to address it in this Debate, but, nevertheless I do ask for the indulgence of the House on this occasion, the first on which I have had the honour of addressing it. I do so because—according to hon. Members opposite—I am one of those curious beings on this side of the House, an anti-conscriptionist. Although at this time I follow, and follow sincerely, the lead of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, nevertheless at heart I believe that conscription has only been brought to this country by the necessities of the foreign situation. I believe that voluntary service would be the very best answer that this country could give to the foreigners, if it were successful. But despite the fact that it has been undoubtedly successful we are still reaping the scorn of the dictators for our puny efforts. I feel, therefore, that some stronger gesture is now necessary. What greater measure could we adopt to show our determination to warn aggressors, to help our friends and to carry out our pledges, than to throw overboard this, perhaps the dearest of our possessions—voluntary service?

There has been a great deal of talk about the pledges given by my right hon. Friend. Far from condemning him on this point I would commend him for having the courage to take this step in face of the known attitude of the Opposition in Parliament and of the trade union leaders, and at a time when he is precluded from going to the country to ask for a mandate. I believe that if the Government did go to the country they would be successful. But if they did decide to go to the country, the Opposition would hold it against them at the following election, and in the interval, that they had been successful only because they went to the country on a patriotic issue.

I should like to say a word or two about the re-employment conditions in Clause 6, because I am not altogether happy in my own mind that they are strong enough. We are legislating not for the good employers, not for employers such as a firm in my home town who have already made it clear to every man who goes, that his job is waiting for him when he comes back—and they employ several thousand workmen—but we are legislating for the bad employers, and we cannot be too hard upon them. I would make one suggestion on this question of re-employment. After his six months' training are up a man will, of course, be given a paper upon which will be his instructions for the future, and I suggest that on that paper should be written down the place to which he could go straightaway in the event of his being unable to return to his old employment. There may be some delay between the time when a man goes back to apply for his old job and the time when he is able to apply to a certain authority to inform them that he has been unable to get that job back.

I view with very great concern the effect which this Measure is going to have upon the agricultural industry. There are about 130,000 men under 21 engaged in that industry at the present time, and the present Measure will affect somewhere about 20,000 men in the current year. There is an intense shortage of agricultural labourers, particularly in the mixed-farming areas, and if under this Measure we have three or four boys going from each village it will make a very serious difference to the farming economy of that village. In the matter of employment and unemployment the agricultural industry is unlike every other industry, because undoubtedly in the mixed-farming areas there is no unemployment, and with all due deference I should like to put forward the following alternative for the consideration of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War.

There is no period of six months in the year when a farm labourer can really be spared, but nevertheless no farm labourer or farmer or, in fact, anybody in the agricultural community wants in any way to sabotage or criticise the principles of this Bill nor to try to whittle it down. There are, however, two ways in which the training could be made much easier. In the first place I suggest that the period of military training should be spread over two years, being split into two three-monthly periods. I do not know whether the military authorities would be able to work in their training in this way. If that were not possible, would the right hon. Gentleman consider delaying the calling-up of agricultural labourers until November, at any rate, and if possible until December? As those who live in the country realise, many farmers keep men on, who are doing very little work all through the winter months in order that they may have them during the busy months—which may be said to count from June to the end of November—and if it were possible to keep back the agricultural workers in the present age groups until next November it would have an incalculable effect upon the farming community. I hold strongly that the home production of food is infinitely more im- portant to this country than military service. I know that view will not be popular in certain parts of the House, but nevertheless it is a fact. Before any army can go abroad we must make certain of our food supplies in this country.

I should like to say a word upon conscientious objection, because liberty of individual thought and toleration should be preserved on all occasions. I believe that conscientious objectors would be segregated by the Clause which puts them in that particular category, and as conscientious objection is in part a religious scruple, or at any rate a quasi-religious scruple, I feel that their religion must lead them to wish to serve the community. There is one way in which they can serve the community without becoming involved in the war machine at all. There are the women and children, who have to be fed. Why not make these conscientious objectors register in a land workers' register and send them to work on the land in time of war?

This great effort on our part will do an enormous amount of good in the world at large. I think it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) who said that in the last War the conscripts were not as good and did not have the same effect as did the voluntary forces that went before them; but I feel that that is the strongest argument in favour of conscription at the present time. My reason is that now you are going to mix the good and the bad and send them out together. The people who, like those who went out first in the last War, will be going out, if there is another war, with the new people. You will, therefore, be able to strengthen those latter ranks. I further believe that the young men of to-day—I speak as one myself, just over this military age—will be improved. I believe that this Measure will give to the world the supreme proof of which it is in need that there are no limits to the sacrifices that we are prepared to make. I sincerely hope that it will not be necessary to show a division of opinion which may, to some extent, make that sacrifice seem a little less real than it really is.

7.47 P.m.

Sir Stafford Cripps

I am sure that Members on all side of the House will desire me to congratulate the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) on the very fine contribution he has made to our Debate. It is one to which, I am sure, we have all listened with interest, especially in view of the point of view from which he obviously had started, on this subject matter. I am sure, also, that the House will be anxious to hear him again on future occasions contributing to our Debates.

Many Members have given their account of the reactions they have felt in the country to this Measure. I have had an opportunity this week-end of addressing a large number of meetings, and I should like to add my quota of testimony that I found universal objection to a conscription Measure introduced by the National Government. I emphasise those words, "introduced by the National Government." I would be very largely—I think entirely—in agreement with the very remarkable presentation of the case which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) at the beginning of this Debate. I do not want to repeat arguments which have already been made if I can avoid doing so, but I would offer two observations in regard to the question of need. The other day when the Prime Minister was speaking it seemed to me that he completely answered himself as regards the need for man-power, because directly he approached the question of Northern Ireland he announced that Northern Ireland was to be omitted from the Bill, but that, he told us, would not in any way diminish the availibility of the forces. Indeed, he said that he believed they would get as good a result, if not a better result, such was the loyalty of Northern Ireland, if conscription were not applied in Northern Ireland. I do not know what the Prime Minister's constituents in Birmingham will think of that argument.

Sir Ronald Ross

If I am fortunate enough to be called upon to speak in this Debate I shall take the opportunity of pointing out that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was wrong in the assumption he made, and of giving my reasons.

Sir S. Cripps

No doubt the hon. Gentleman will be able to prove that Northern Ireland is not really so loyal as the Prime Minister indicated.

Sir R. Ross

I think it would be better if the hon. and learned Member used arguments rather than insults.

Sir S. Cripps

If the hon. Member believes that there is not sufficient loyalty in Northern Ireland to provide by means of volunteers the number of troops required, then he must say that that is the case. However that may be, from the point of view of the Government, whose case the Prime Minister was putting forward, it is clear that it is regarded as unnecessary to impose conscription upon a loyal population. So far as Bristol is concerned, I venture to say that we are every bit as good as Northern Ireland. Anyway, we have never yet organised a rebellion against an existing Government.

Now let me say a word on another aspect of need, which is, the effect upon foreign countries. There was a time when the word of the British Government was sufficient in itself as regards an undertaking, but, during the last eight years, that has ceased to be so in the international life of the world, and now the Prime Minister cannot merely make a statement, because nobody believes him. He has to implement it by some deed or action in order to show that he really means what he says. That is what he tells us, anyway, about the need, so far as foreign countries are concerned, for conscripting 200,000 boys in Great Britain. I suggest that he would make a much more effective gesture to the world if he were to enter into an agreement with Russia forthwith. Whatever the valour and effectiveness of 200,000 boys, for whom we have no equipment, may be, the effectiveness on our side of the vast resources of Russia would be infinitely greater and infinitely more terrifying to those who were likely to undertake fresh aggression.

In fact, what the Prime Minister and the Government are doing to-day is to repeat the policy which they tried to carry out regarding Mussolini and Abyssinia. They are just wanting to make a gesture which is ineffective as a gesture to stop aggression, but may be sufficient to cause irritation. That is precisely the line they followed when they applied the mild sanctions and failed to apply the effective ones. So to-day they are applying the mild sanction of a slight measure of conscription in Great Britain while neglecting the effective measure of sanction, which is a firm agreement with Russia. That is a policy which will lead this country into the maximum of danger. It is a pity, if the Prime Minister was looking round for troops to help him, that he did not think of some of these things a little longer ago when he might have had 1,500,000 Czechoslovaks and 2,000,000 Spaniards, well-trained men, on the side of this country in order to defend Democracy in the world. [Laughter.] The hon. Gentleman laughs, but is it better that those 2,000,000 Spaniards should be under Fascist control?

Sir Arnold Wilson

I laughed merely because the hon. and learned Member seems to assume that the troops to which he referred were prepared to fight for us. There is no reason whatever to suppose that they were.

Sir S. Cripps

I understand that the policy of the hon. Member is to defend democracy and freedom in Europe; not here only, but in Poland, Rumania, Greece and other countries in Europe. I am certain that the Czechoslovaks would have been prepared to enter into an alliance with such a group if Russia and France had been there. I do not think that anybody can conceivably doubt that proposition. Instead of that, we find ourselves deprived of that assistance, very largely because of the action of the Prime Minister.

Sir A. Wilson

Mr. Benes himself made it quite clear that he was not prepared without reservation to enter into any such alliance.

Sir S. Cripps

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. Mr. Benes never said anything of the sort. He made it quite clear that, given the support of Russia, France and Great Britain, he would have been prepared to enter into an arrangement for collective security. However, those assets have been converted into losses, and they are now on the other side of the balance sheet. It seems rather a hopeless gesture to try to counterbalance those losses, for which the Government are responsible, by this measure of conscription. Indeed, if there were any reality in the intention to make an impression upon the aggressors in Europe, this would have been a Measure of conscription not for 200,000 youths in one age-group, but an all-in measure of conscription. Probably the hon. Gentleman will agree with that proposition. Therefore, it seems quite clear that that cannot be the real purpose with which this Measure is brought forward, and that, on the ground of need, no justification whatever has as yet been brought forward to prove that this conscription is desired.

I wish to stress another aspect of this question. I think everybody will agree that in the last resort the defences of this country, whether by means of the armed forces or in the factories, will fall largely upon the working classes. That is bound to be the case because of the numerical strength of those classes. Hon. Members will, no doubt, agree equally that if that is so, those people are entitled, as a condition of giving their service, to make demands as to the circumstances in which those services should be given. I want to put forward what seem to me one or two elementary demands in this connection. I would remind hon. Members that to-day we have not a National Government; we have in this country a class and a party Government.

Viscountess Astor


Sir S. Cripps

It sounds like the Noble Lady the Member for Berlin who is making that interruption.

Mr. McGovern

Go and tell it to Ribbentrop.

Sir S. Cripps

I believe that the conditions entitled to be demanded are, first, that everything shall be done to minimise the risk to life of those who are asked to serve. Obviously the first requirement as to that is that the safest foreign policy should be pursued. At the moment, the general opinion among the workers of this country is not only that the foreign policy of the Government is not the safest possible but that it is about as dangerous a foreign policy as could possibly be pursued. The Prime Minister hurriedly, and apparently without any consultation even with his General Staff, after Czechoslovakia was overrun by Hitler, entered into certain commitments in Europe. In my view, those commitments were wholly unjustified unless there had been, first of all, some arrangement, which we knew would make sure that Russia would be on our side if we were called upon to implement those commitments. Merely to have those commitments without any form of guarantee from Russia is to increase the danger to this country, and not to minimise it. It is bad enough to be at the mercy of the Prime Minister of this country so far as war and peace are concerned, but it is much worse to be at the mercy of Colonel Beck in that matter, especially when we know that we have no really overwhelming force behind the commitment. Therefore, I think the workers are entitled to say, "Before we will consider any Measure which is going to compel us to give our services we demand that there should be carried through a foreign policy which is going to leave us less open to risk than any other."

I believe that the vast majority of this House agree that, in order to secure the safety of the country, an immediate agreement with Russia is necessary. I am equally certain that in the course of the next few days we shall be told by the Government that of course they would have been very willing to enter into an agreement with Russia, but those wicked Russians would not do so; and the reason will be because the Government have refused to accept the reciprocal liability which is an essential part of any such agreement. As it was put rather naively in one of the Sunday papers yesterday, it might be that this would turn out not only to be an asset but also a liability. I have always been taught as a lawyer that one of the fundamental principles as regards a contract is that no contract can be good unless there is consideration for it. If we are to expect to gain an increase of safety from Russia, we must expect to give some consideration for that increase of safety, and possibly it is on that point that the negotiations are at the present time breaking down.

Mr. Marcus Samuel

May I ask the hon. Member for Moscow whether he received any consideration?

Sir S. Cripps

I am so sorry, but I could not even hear what the hon. Member said. The second point, which seems to me to be a perfectly good point, and one which can be and should be made by those who are asked to serve, is that, if lives and bodies are to be conscripted, money and wealth also must be conscripted. The way in which the Prime Minister dealt with that point was rather remarkable. He explained to the House that his pledge was not to introduce conscription during a time of peace, "But," he said, "this is not really a time of peace at all; we are, indeed, so near to war that substantially one can treat this as a state of war." But when he came to the conscription of wealth, he said, "We can have conscription of wealth in time of war, but, as we are now in a condition of peace, we must not, of course, have conscription of wealth now." I am not prepared to accept the Prime Minister's pledge in that regard any more than I am prepared to accept any of the other pledges which he has so freely broken in the past. Therefore, I think it is a perfectly legitimate demand that, before any Measure of this sort is brought forward, there should first be a measure for the conscription of wealth.

Mr. Boothby

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman explain what he really means by that?

Sir S. Cripps

Certainly: a capital levy; a levy upon all capital in the country. That seems to me to be a very small sacrifice to ask of people compared with the sacrifice of a life, which most of us regard as more valuable even than stocks and shares.

Mr. Butcher

May I ask how a shopkeeper, whose capital consists of stock and goodwill, can pay a capital levy?

Sir S. Cripps

He can give a charge, which is a perfectly satisfactory way of doing it, and which is frequently done in favour of the banks. There is another demand which seems to me to be of importance, and one which the people who are asked to serve are entitled to make. That is that the Navy, the Army and the Air Force should be democratised—that they should cease to be class forces and become truly democratic forces. The old assumption is still made—because, of course, we have a class Government—that all the officer posts in our armed Forces must necessarily go to people who wear the old school tie. That, of course, is a grave cause of inefficiency, but it is also a grave cause of protest by the masses of the people of this country who have to serve in the Forces, and I believe they are entitled to demand that measure of reform before they give their service in those Forces.

Lastly, it seems to me that they are perfectly entitled to say that they want an absolute pledge—though perhaps it is not of great value in view of the source from which it would come—that in no circum- stances will these measures of conscription be utilised in order to diminish trade union rights to any extent whatever, including specifically the right to strike, because that, after all, must be the ultimate defence of the workers through their trade union organisation. I am not suggesting that it should be widely used, but that ultimate sanction is the one power which they have in resisting the great economic power of the employers. There should be specific statements and guarantees that that right will not in any way be interfered with by these measures of conscription. There are, of course, many other demands that one could elaborate, and different people would probably think of many different demands. One might even say that those who are asked to defend this land of ours should also own this land of ours. That would not be a very extravagant demand.

Mr. McGovern

Would it be better than a capital levy?

Sir A. Cripps

It would be better in some ways, but not so good, perhaps, in others. There are many people who own wealth which is not at the moment in the land.

Mr. MacLaren

Where does it come from?

Sir S. Cripps

There are especially those who during the last few months have been busy transferring it to America. These four demands, I believe, are very genuinely made by those of the working class in this country who are going to be asked, first between the ages of 20 and 21 and then, of course, as we all know, in expanding groups subsequently, to serve this country. No Government that is not a democratic Government has the right to say, "We do not care what the common people think about this; we are proposing to impose it upon them, whatever they think about it, and, as times are so urgent, we do not propose to consult them on the point, because we cannot have any more general elections until after the next war." If the Government refuse to give way on these quite legitimate demands, I believe that, in the circumstances, it is right for the people to create conditions outside this House which will compel the Government to give way. Otherwise, we shall be accepting a dictatorial Government in this country which just treats the people like robots to be ordered here and there despite what those people may think. No Government, in my submission, has the right to utilise critical circumstances as this Government is doing in order to put into operation things which it may consider convenient from its point of view—which is a class point of view—but which are not considered convenient by the great mass of the working people.

Mr. Sandys

Is the hon. and learned Member inciting the people of this country to defy the will of Parliament?

Sir S. Cripps

I am certainly inciting the people of this country to put pressure on this Government, and to do what the hon. Member, if he had had the "guts," would have done some time ago, namely, to vote against the Government. As he and those who think with him have not had the courage to do that, it becomes necessary for the people outside—

Mr. Sandys

I think that the Opposition as a whole, if they support what the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said, and his gibes at me and other Members who have taken the same line, must recognise that we have achieved by our attitude more results than the Opposition have by theirs.

Mr. Gallacher

Bad results.

Sir S. Cripps

The hon. Member is perfectly right. He has achieved the result of Austria and Czecho-Slovakia being overrun, of Spain being sacrificed, of Memel going, and Albania; and, if he is lucky, he will achieve the result of Poland going soon. If he is proud of that, he is entitled to his pride.

Mr. Lipson

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us what form of pressure he suggests that his friends outside should exercise?

Sir S. Cripps

It should take all the ordinary forms of popular pressure upon representatives in this House, and all the forms of industrial pressure that are open to the workers to use. If those are not permitted, what is the position? We have a Government which says that it will not take the opinion of the people, that there shall be no General Election, a Government which, according to the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, would say, "The people must not protest if they do not like what we do." That is precisely what Herr Hitler says. I suggest that this claim by the Government to put forward policies upon which it will not test the opinion of the nation cannot be made by a Government which is not a Government of national unity. There might be some argument in its favour if there were such a Government, which there is not in this country. A Government which rigidly sticks to its own position even with its own party, which promotes gentlemen who make the most adulatory speeches of the Prime Minister but who are not necessarily the most efficient, which refuses to introduce into the Cabinet members of its own party because Herr Hitler does not like them—a government of that type is not entitled to make these demands upon the common people of the country. It is for that reason primarily and chiefly that I oppose this Measure, and I hope that the widest opposition will be organised outside, so that pressure may be brought to bear to change the government of the country, because in that change alone, in my view, lies any possibility for the safety of our democracy.

8.14 p.m.

Sir A. Wilson

It is a heavy responsibility to follow the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). He referred, in a spirit, I doubt not, of light bandinage, to the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) as "the Member for Berlin." Having regard to the tenor of his speech, it would make matters even, perhaps, if I suggested that he might be regarded as the Member for Moscow. I make that very obvious point, for the whole tenor of his speech suggested that all that was necessary was to send a reply paid telegram to Moscow, and that the inevitable answer would be, "Delighted to accept your invitation." A great part of his speech was clearly directed to matters not directly relevant to the Bill. He cited the electors of Bristol, but he represents only a part of Bristol, and the representation of Bristol in Parliament has gone through some strange vicissitudes. It is just over 100 years since a large part of Bristol was burned down at the instigation of certain vagabonds. I hope a similar fate will not overtake the city of my birth as the result of the hon. and learned Gentleman's exhortations. His speech has been in what I hope I may describe, without impertinence, as his Olympian or White City manner. It seemed to me at certain points that he was adopting a tone more suited to his supporters outside this House than to a serious debating assembly. He claimed that strikes are a proper and legitimate means of bringing influence to bear on the Government. I was reminded of Kipling's epitaph on gunners killed because their battery had run out of ammunition: If any mourn us in the workshop, say. We died because the shift made holiday. [Interruption.] Yes, many died in the last War because the shifts in this country made holiday.

Mr. Davidson

A lot died because of the rotten, lousy officers.

Sir A. Wilson

I will not discuss the character or habits of the hon. Member's friends.

Compulsory military service is part of the common law of this country. That was laid down by Lord Haldane on 8th January, 1915, and on an earlier occasion in the House of Commons when he was War Minister. Speaking in the House of Lords he said: By the Common Law of Engand it is the duty of every subject of the realm to assist the Sovereign in repelling the invasion of its shores and in the defence of the realm. That is a duty which rests on no Statute but is inherent in the Constitution of the country. Any subject at a time of emergency may be asked to give himself and his property for the defence of the nation…Given a great national emergency it is your duty to resort to compulsory service. The hon. and learned Gentleman has spoken as if the whole of the Socialist party were opposed to compulsory service on principle. But on 3rd April last the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Sanders) made it clear that he had no objection to compulsory service on principle, though he did not admit its necessity at the moment. He said: I, personally, have no prejudice against national military training—none at all. I have seen little Switzerland, a country which is as free as ours, saying to its young men, 'You have got something worth fighting for in your freedom. Come and be military-trained,' and they come."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd April, 1939; col. 2525, Vol. 345.] He also said: For many years I was the secretary of the British section of the International Socialist movement of the whole world, and there was never a country connected with that association, from Switzerland to Russia, that did not believe on the Socialist side in compulsory military service or military training, on the ground that it was the duty of a Socialist to defend his country if his country was attacked."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd April, 1939; col. 2522, Vol. 345.] I prefer to accept the decision of the Government, with such facts as are at their disposal, to the theory that it would have been possible, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) said, to induce the Territorials to come forward in larger numbers. It would have involved, as my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) said, calling up men of mature age with heavy responsibilities. The best alternative of the many from which the Government had to choose is this.

I want to say a few words about conscientious objectors; and what I have to say may not be entirely palatable to everybody. To make the path of the conscientious objector too hard will arouse a sense of injustice. To make it too easy will arouse a fiercer sense of injustice. In the words of Mr. Sidney Webb, now Lord Passfield, written during the War: It is even easier to pretend to a conscientious objection than to sciatica. The dictates of conscience are not admitted in any court of law, as, for example, in the case of so-called "mercy murders." In the words of a great judge in the reign of Henry VIII: The mind of man is not triable. We are endeavouring in Clause 3 of the Bill to try the mind of man, and I foresee, as in the last War, great difficulties.

Mr. T. Johnston

Is the quotation from Lord Passfield complete? Was there not something more?

Sir A. Wilson

It is, as far as I can make it, complete, in so far as Lord Passfield refers to the difficulty of proving whether a man is a bona-fide conscientious objector or not. It is from a magazine article published in America during the War, and I shall be glad to send it to the right hon. Gentleman. Do not let us assume that all the conscience is on one side: that it is the conscienceless man who serves and the man with a conscience who does not serve. There is a place in life for the conscientious objector, but I hope that any Civil servant who at 20 years of age has a conscientious objection to serving will be invited to earn his living elsewhere. To my mind the Civil service to-day is no place for a man who limits his allegiance to the Sovereign or his obligations to the State.

Mr. Lansbury

If what the hon. Member has said is morally right, was it morally right for Privy Councillors and others, because of their conscientious objections to the Home Rule Act, to put a pistol to the head of the Government of the day, and compel that Act to be held up before they would give their services in the War?

Sir A. Wilson

My answer, quite frankly, is in the negative.

Mr. Lansbury

It is a pity you were not there to say that to Carson.

Sir A. Wilson

The dilemma is as old as Plato, who said: None may yield or retreat or leave his place in battle or in any other place, but must do what his city and his country order him. We give every Athenian the right, if he does not like us, to go—and take his goods with him. He who remains has entered into an implied contract to do what the city and country order him to do. Garibaldi put the case of military service in a sentence: Libertá non tradische i volenti. Freedom will not betray those who serve her willingly. Volenti does not mean as a volunteer; it means willingly. These men will serve the State all the more willingly, because they know there will not be a minority holding back sheltering behind them.

When Sir Christopher Wren was rebuilding St. Paul's, he asked three men the question, "What are you doing?" The first said, "I am getting 18s. a week." The second said, "I am carrying stone; can't you see?" The third man said, "I am building a cathedral." If these men look only at the money they get, that is all they will gain; if they look only at the work they have to do, that is all they will have; if they will realise that they are playing their part in building up the defences of Europe and the liberties of this country, as free men should, they will gain manhood and self-respect and they will emerge better able to serve their own country, and with a fresh idea as to what citizen service and the service of the State really mean, with new friends, wider vision and a better sense of values.

It has been suggested that, as they are not 20 and they have not got the vote, there is something unfair. I should like to amend this Bill to make it quite sure that they have the vote. Under the Representation of the People Act, 1918, every man of 19 years of age or upwards who was serving at the time was entitled to vote, and I can see no serious objection to-day to giving these men the vote, if they are in khaki at the time, or if they have served their time.

Mr. G. Griffiths

Give them the vote before.

Sir A. Wilson

I think that the suggestion I have made deserves the serious attention of the Government. I hope that the Hardship Tribunals will be provided with a code of published instructions which will enable us to judge on what principles they work. I have in mind, for example, the one-man business and the employé who is already fully occupied with one particular and highly technical job, who cannot easily be replaced, who himself wishes for exemption, and whose employer desires that he should be exempted. All these cases should be dealt with on their merits, but also on principles which the Government should lay down in a definite code. As for the tribunals which will deal with conscientious objectors, it is even more necessary for them. I do not think that there is any other solution for the conscientious objector who objects to military service than to have, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. York), in his excellent maiden speech said, a land workers' corps in which they should serve for six months on the same pay as if they were under arms, working as hard, as laboriously and as long, under precisely the same conditions, on some work of national importance, which would involve as hard physical labour as that of any soldier. Whether it be drainage or whether it be land reclamation they ought to be put into uniform and made to do manual labour, otherwise we shall have the bitterest feelings aroused. It need not even be work of "national importance." It should be "socially necessary" work, and I fancy that there would be very few conscientious objectors who would have any conscientious objection to doing socially necessary work, that is, work which would not have been done unless it could have been done by them.

Mr. Davidson

Will the hon. Gentleman agree also that from that type of work absolutely no profit should be made?

Sir A. Wilson

I need hardly say that there should be no profits whatever made, and drainage, embankment of Crown lands are notoriously undertakings from which no profit can conceivably be made. That is absolutely necessary, otherwise we shall have very large numbers of persons having a conscientious objection to military service. We must have a landworkers' corps or public service corps ordered to take them, and from the very beginning they ought, as far as may be, to be under officers who were also conscientious objectors. That is the best guarantee that they would be treated fairly.

The final arguments against the Bill are based largely on matters of expediency, and my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham has dealt with them so fully and conclusively that I have no more to say, but I do wish to say one thing in reply to the hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Harvey), to whose speech last Thursday I listened with great interest and attention. He hinted at the end of his speech that there was something in the Christian faith which was inconsistent with the profession of the soldier, and that the dogmas of Christianity gave a certain justification to conscientious objectors and, by implication, made it difficult for a soldier to regard himself as equally true to the Christian faith. I should not like to sit down without having expressed my own conviction. It is very easy indeed to quote texts—and my hon. Friend has never attempted to do so—from either side, but for every text on one side there is a text on the other. What matters to a Christian man is the intention with which he acts and the spirit in which he does every deed. The parable that I should like to bear in mind myself when I go to war is the parable of the Wolf and the Shepherd—the shepherd who lays down his life for the flock, exemplifying the obligation of the strong to protect the weak, even at the cost of their own lives. That, to my mind, is a Christian principle not less compelling than any other.

I regret profoundly the omission of Northern Ireland from the Bill. I regret it the more because it is freely stated that the omission was not on the merits, but owing to considerations which have arisen altogether beyond these shores and the United Kingdom. I hope that we shall not live to regret it, but as far as its effect in France is concerned, and in Europe generally, I believe this is a thoroughly sound Measure in principle, and I only hope that it may become, within the strict limitation laid down in the present Bill, a permanent part of our military system. I believe that it will do good to all concerned, and it is no small gain to democracy that there should be at least six months in a man's life in which he should be rubbing shoulders with men from every part of the country and from every walk of life, with men from the workshops, the universities, the factories and from public schools. That will be a stage on the road towards that great national system of education of which many people talk, and for which a very few are working. As an instalment towards that dream, this Bill has my cordial support.

8.34 p.m.

Mr. Maclean

The speech to which we have just listened, while delivered with a great deal of sincerity, is just the kind of speech for which we can look on a Bill of this kind from a supporter of the Government. Members, such as the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, have for a long time regarded the purpose of this Bill as being the real purpose of their lives as far as military service is concerned. I can remember that not very long ago the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), when speaking on a national service motion, made a speech which I regarded as an argument for conscription to the full extent that any hon. Member could take it. When I challenged him with being a conscriptionist, he said that he was not advocating conscription for military purposes abroad but simply conscription in Order to preserve order among the civil population at home in case disorder should break out during a period of war. To-night he has been speaking and rejoicing in the fact that this Bill contains what he has been working and striving for for a long time. He, at least, is frank. Other members of the Government or supporters of the Government in this House have been insidiously carrying on the campaign which the hon. Member for Altrincham has been carrying on openly and avowedly. They have now won their way, and the Government have brought in this Bill in violation of the pledges made at two succeeding elections.

We are told that it is not right for us to hold the Prime Minister to his pledges when the circumstances have changed. It is true that circumstances do change and, consequently, we must make allowances; but we must also take into consideration the fact that when circumstances change the Prime Minister is not to be permitted to shelter himself behind the changed circumstances in doing things that suit him and his party, unless we on our side have also the right to insist as to the direction which circumstances shall force him and his Government to take. We insist that the changed circumstances have not altered his outlook as to the methods to be employed for bringing about a peace bloc in Europe in such a way that would make it necessary for this conscription Bill to be introduced. Since September we have been able to trace the circumstances which have led up to this Bill. There was Munich, the umbrella waving, the display of paper brought to this country as the signed word of Herr Hitler, and the statement that consequently all was well. Those pledges were broken immediately afterwards. The freedom of Austria and Czecho-Slovakia has gone by the board, and latterly, that of Albania. The Secretary of State for War, inadvertently or callously, openly and frankly admitted the trend of events which have led up to the bringing in of this Bill. The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Sir V. Warrender) looks rather questioningly at that statement, but if he will look at the latter part of the speech which the Secretary of State for War delivered on 27th April he will find that he gave part of the reasons why this Bill has been brought forward. He used these words: It was following upon this declaration that we announced our plan for 19 divisions. That was after the taking over of Czecho-slovakia. The Secretary of State for War announced the formation of 19 divi- sions that could be employed for service overseas. He went on to say: Since then, our fate has become inseparably associated with the independence of other European countries. The Germans moved into Bohemia and Moravia on the 15th March, and in the ensuing fortnight international tension increased. It was in these circumstances that the Polish guarantee was given and we stated that if Poland 'considered it vital to resist with their national forces. His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all the support in their power.' By the time this pronouncement was made by my right hon. Friend, we had undertaken the doubling of the Territorial Army. That was the second military implication. Albania was occupied on Friday, 7th April, and again my right hon. Friend pledged this country, stating that: 'His Majesty's Government attach the greatest importance to the avoidance of disturbance by force or threats of force of the status quo in the Mediterranean and the Balkan peninsula.' And he gave a formal assurance to the Greek and Rumanian Governments that we would lend them, in certain contingencies, all the support in our power. This series of declarations does not leave Britain where we stood last year … We are now asking Parliament, which endorsed our new commitments, to give us the required authority to take the necessary steps… Military implications have ensued upon international commitments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1939; That is the history of events leading up to this Bill. What was the guarantee that we gave to France when we induced France to break her agreement with Czecho-Slovakia, as a result of which Germany invaded and annexed Czechos-lovakia?

Sir A. Wilson

Can the hon. Member give any authority for the statement that we induced France to break her agreement.

Mr. Maclean

Although the hon. Member said things with which I fundamentally disagreed, I did not ask him any questions. If he has noted what I said and he realises that I was asking a question of the Government, which I expect them to answer, perhaps he will repeat my question to the Government and ask them to answer him. I would ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office to tell the House what was the guarantee we gave to France. Was not part of that guarantee the 19 new divisions to be employed abroad, if the case arose? Was it not an argument used by France that voluntary service was not sufficient, that the 19 divisions and the doubling of the Territorial Army were not sufficient as a guarantee for this country to give to the peace bloc? France wanted this country, Rumania wanted this country and Poland wanted this country to conscript some of the manhood of the nation because they were conscriptionist countries. Is not that the guarantee that this Government gave to those three countries? Is not that the price that we are paying for the betrayal of Czecho-Slovakia by the Prime Minister? You betrayed Czecho-slovakia, but you are not paying the price yourselves. You are asking the mothers to part with their sons, 20 years of age. The mothers of this country are going to pay the price by sacrificing their boys of 20 years of age, because of the broken pledges and promises, and because the Prime Minister has betrayed his own country as well as having betrayed Czecho-Slovakia. I see hon. Members opposite smiling. Is that the way in which they regard this Bill and the effects of this Bill? Is it a smiling matter to them? If it is, it is a heartbreaking matter to thousands of women who will see their young lads of 20 going into the Army.

The whole purpose of the Bill is to place this country in the same condition as other countries in Europe, and while this is being done the strongest nation in Europe is being cold-shouldered by the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister have assured us that there is no objection to Russia on ideological grounds, but they are not doing anything to hasten an agreement or get a treaty signed. They are skirmishing around. The Prime Minister could fly to Munich and sign an agreement with Hitler much more quickly than he can with the representative of Russia. He was in a great hurry to get Hitler to sign an agreement, but these conversations, this exchange of notes, have been going on for month after month with the representatives of Russia; they have been going on since last September, and we are no farther forward now to the signing of any treaty or alliance than we were then. Herr Hitler could be asked to sign in 48 hours, and did so. Perhaps the Prime Minister agrees with the ideological ideals and form of government of Hitler. That may explain the rapidity with which they both signed an agreement and the delay which has happened in signing an agreement with Russia. An ex-Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), spoke at that Box this afternoon. I was present in the House 21 years ago when he stood at the Box on the Government side introducing the Peace Treaty. He said he had brought peace for democracy, everything was finished, peace was established in Europe, there would be no more war. He now stands at the Box on this side of the House and asks for the conscription of young men again. He talked peace 20 years ago. He spoke then of the glorious conditions which were going to prevail for all of us. I remember when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking of the Kaiser a Tory Member interrupted him and asked, "Will he be tried in London?" and the ex-Prime Minister said, "Yes." The Kaiser is the only one who seems to have profited out of the War. He is free from worry, he has married again and he had only the other day a birthday on which he received congratulations, some of them from this country. He seems to be living a very quiet and respectable life with none of the worries of a crowned monarch upon him. And 21 years after we are discussing what we are going to do because of the evils which have arisen out of the Peace Treaty which was produced at that Box in May, 1919. We are being asked, after a War which was to end war, a war for democracy, to vote for young lads of 20 years of age to be conscripted into the Army to fight another war. For what? To end Fascism? How do we know that we are not going to establish Fascism in this country? We are rapidly going towards that.

Hon. Members opposite tell us that we ought not to say this and that and the other thing, that we ought not to provoke disorder. The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) was asked what he was going to say to the people outside, what kind of methods he was going to invite them to adopt in order to carry out his opposition to the Government. The insinuation was that he was going to incite people outside. If we try to teach people outside, to convert them to our views, it is incitement, according to hon. Members opposite. They can go out and talk conscription and organise their Fascist ideas, but that is in no way against the Constitution, because to them anything that they do is supporting the Constitution, but anything we do is quite evidently fighting the Constitution. This Conscription Bill is a Bill which I for one shall advise every young man of 19 and 20 to refuse to accept. The Government may pass it with the biggest majority they have ever got in this House, but that will not deter me, and I speak for myself alone, although I know that others of my colleagues will do the same thing in their constituencies. I shall do my best to frustrate everything that this Bill is intended to do. I shall advise mothers not to allow their boys to go, and I shall advise the boys not to be conscripted. I defy this Government to put any conscription upon me or on my tongue in advocating and continuing to advocate the liberty which I would have everyone possess in this country, that is, the right and freedom to do what his conscience may dictate.

8.54 p.m.

Mr. Hamilton Kerr

The hon. Member has claimed, as have other hon. Members before him, that the voluntary system would meet the present emergency perhaps more efficiently than the limited measure of conscription we are now bringing in. I believe that he and his friends overlook one all-important factor, and that is the speed with which modern war breaks out. Up to 1914 it was possible for a citizen army to recruit its strength whilst the battle fleet stood at its station in the North Sea. Nowadays we know from bitter experience that sirens may be sounding in our cities a few moments after the outbreak of war, and that bombs may even have begun to fall before the Ambassador has received his passport, that is, before a formal declaration of war. It is merely common sense and common wisdom to have a buffer which can receive the first shock. The French, who have an apt genius for coining phrases, call this buffer the "armée de couverture"—the covering army—which holds strategic positions behind which the nation mobilises its resistance. Surely, it is only wisdom on our part that our military authorities should know at a given moment that there will be several hundreds of thousands of men at their positions ready to man the anti-aircraft defences, or to go abroad should necessity demand it.

Hon. Members opposite have likewise referred to the fact that we have brought in conscription because pressure from abroad has compelled us to do so. Let us put ourselves frankly in the position of a Frenchman. If I were a Frenchman, engaged in war, I might well ask myself why I should send my sons or brothers to the battlefields of Poland or Roumania while across the Channel there were able-bodied men not wearing the King's uniform. Hon. Gentleman opposite claim that that is an unjust accusation, and that people on the Continent do not realise the vast war effort we should be putting into any conflict; but propaganda, always unscrupulous, would make tremendous play with such a charge. If murmers ever broke out in the trenches, a great rift might develop between our ally and ourselves. Again, if I were a Pole or a Roumanian, at the present juncture, I should feel fortified by the fact that there was conscription in this country. It may be true, as hon. Members have said, that sea-power is decisive in war, but the naval weapon of a blockade, although terribly efficient, is nevertheless slow. It does not provide dramatic headlines for newspapers with which to cheer up the morale of the country. It shows itself only after many months in the pinched faces of the food queues in enemy cities. It would be a reassurance, I believe, to our new allies to know that they would have the visible support of khaki columns marching through their villages, perhaps to share in the defence of their country.

Lastly, I believe also that it is necessary, to deter any possible aggressor and to inspire confidence in our policy, to plate all our resources as far as possible on a war footing. The Germans, if I may say so without offence, are psychologically an undeveloped people. They often believe that the symbol is more important than the idea which it represents, and therefore, they very often wrongly conclude, if there is no physical expression of force, that there is no force available. We know that powerful and influential voices in Germany have been raised again and again, in most important quarters, saying that England can be discounted because she has not introduced conscription. This policy to which we are now bringing material reinforcement cannot in any possible circumstances be called a policy of encirclement. It is not a policy of encirclement against any one nation, but only against a possible aggressor. A burglar might as well com- plain, if he came to a house and found the windows and doors shut, that a policy of encirclement was being carried out against him by the householders.

I believe that, at the same time as we press ahead with this material reinforcement of our policy, we should launch a co-ordinated propaganda campaign. We should make it plain, as we have done in the past, that what we deny to force we do not deny to legitimate German economic ends. We should make it plain that there can be work for German factories, wages in German homes, money in the German housewife's purse, on one condition—that the German commercial traveller takes the pistol out of his pocket. It is to our interests to have a peaceful and prosperous Germany, but if the rulers of Germany discount this appeal and believe that a policy of force will pay them, then they will find mobilised against them the ideals and passions of mankind. It will be nothing less than a crusade against the law of force. I believe the Measure we are now bringing in will receive a response, because it always has, in the course of our history, received a response when the objective and ideal have been good. It has always been so, from the days when the beacons gave a warning of the arrival of the Spanish Armada off the Lizard to the days when German troops entered Belgium in the last War. I believe that the Measure we are discussing to-day will prove that the thin red line will stand as firm in an emergency as it has done in the most glorious annals of our history.

9.2 p.m.

Mr. McGovern

I oppose conscription. I can claim to-night that I may be in a special position in regard to what is termed the defence of the country. I have heard so much in this House about the patriotism of various individuals in it that I am driven to Dr. Johnson's definition of patriotism—that it is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Although all who profess patriotism are not scoundrels, it is true that very often the flag and patriotism are the cloak behind which a large number of exploiters in this country hide themselves. With regard to the Bill, hon. Members may remember that in February, 1936, I asked the then Prime Minister, now Lord Baldwin, whether he would pledge his word that conscription would not be introduced into this country as long as peace prevailed. On successive occasions, I asked for a renewal of that pledge, and on three occasions I was told both by the former Prime Minister and the present Prime Minister, that conscription would not be introduced in peace time. I am not annoyed about the breaking of this pledge, because I never expect capitalist politicians to keep any pledges when it suits them to break them.

I was apprehensive three or four years ago about what I believed to be the ultimate aim and goal of this country. When the country decided to embark on a huge armaments programme, I could not see myself backing that programme. In common with those hon. Members who are associated with me, I have refused, even under pressure, to ask that armament work should be started in our divisions, because I believe that ultimately the common people will have to pay a terrible price for this policy and for the building up of these vast armaments. In attempting to be as logical as possible, in an illogical world and an illogical House, we tried to see the road that was being prepared, the lair that was being devised, the trap into which the common people and the working-class movement were to march; and we saw it step by step.

The armament programme was advanced as something which would bring work to the workers, but, in spite of the sugar coating on the pill, we realised that if we accepted the armament programme, we were bound, in the end, to provide the men who were to be used to defend what were called the interests of the country. We saw collective security as a means to an end. We had no doubts as to the aims of the ruling class of this country, or any capitalist class. They do not seek to use these weapons in defence of working-class rights, those rights which have been torn from the ruling classes by suffering and by resistance to deportation, the prison cell and the firing squad. Inhuman treatment and economic starvation have been the lot of the worker all along the road of social progress. When the bait was being used that these weapons were for the defence of democratic freedom we were under no illusion about the freedom for which hon. Members opposite stand and the freedom for which we stand. Therefore, we refused to support that programme.

Pledges have been given on this subject from time to time. When the Conscription Act of 1916 was introduced I followed events very closely from outside this House, and I remember the attitude of the late Herbert Henry Asquith, a very wily Liberal politician, as most Liberal politicians are—always balancing themselves on the wall and never knowing on which side they will come down. He said that the Government were not seeking to bring within the ambit of that Measure the widow's son, or the married man. He quoted poetry: Go cruit me Cheshire and Lancashire, And Derby hills that are so free, No married man or widow's son, No widow's curse shall go with me. In spite of that pledge, he came back to the House very soon with a proposal to conscript the married man and the widow's only son and, without a blush of shame, national necessity was advanced as the excuse. One would think from the Debate to-night and that of Thursday last that this country had been generous in its treatment of conscientious objectors in the last War. If one did not know the facts, one would imagine that the country had honoured its pledges, even to those men, but here are some facts and figures. There were 6,312 conscientious objectors who resisted military service. Of these, 5,970 were court-martialed; 655 were court-martialed twice; 521 were court-martialed three times, 55 were court-martialed five times and three were court-martialed six times. The number who served over two years in prison was 816, while 69 died after arrest and 10 died, having been retained in prison even when they were very ill; 39 became mentally deranged and had to be put into lunatic asylums and between 3,000 and 4,000 accepted combatant service.

Thousands who refused to bear arms served with non-combatant corps and with the Friends' ambulance units and other units. But 39 were taken to France, in spite of the fact that they were technically free. They were taken by the military. The Government of the day could not prevent them from being taken by the military authorities to France, and they were sentenced to death. They were placed in an open field under Field Punishment No. 1—under crucifixion. Their hands were handcuffed behind their backs. They were nut out in open fields even on stormy nights and ultimately sentenced to death for insubordination and disobedience, although they had real and substantial conscientiousobjections. Sir Douglas Haig confirmed the death sentence, but ultimately the sentence was commuted to 10 years penal servitude. That is part of the history of the conscientious objectors in the last War.

Do not let us have any hypocrisy about the country having been generous in its treatment of men with consciences. I remember, myself, going before a tribunal. Of course we all know that you form tribunals and we are told that you are going to appoint a High Court judge. I think you generally appoint a man without a conscience to look after those men who have consciences, and then he is so angry and annoyed that anybody should have a conscience when he has none, that he will wreak his personal spite on the individual. I remember the petty little grocers and other tradesmen who formed the Tory party in Glasgow and the questions which we were asked when we went before them such as, "What would you do if the Germans attacked your mother-in-law?" [HON. MEMBERS: "Mother-in-law?"] Yes, mother-in-law. That was the sort of stupid question that was asked. Have hon. Members not heard the story of the fellow who replied, "You do not know my mother-in-law. God help the Germans, if they attacked her." Having asked every kind of stupid question, they decided that you did not conform to the conscience clause, no matter what your answer was. They would ask, "Do you object to taking life?" And if the answer was, "Yes," then they would say, "But you are are wearing boots and they come from an animal." Unless you were going about in bare feet and without any clothes, as a nudist, you were taken to be a man without a conscience; but if you had gone about in that way the city would have had a conscience, and you would have been placed behind prison bars.

I am not going to exaggerate the power which I have. I cannot bring the workers of the Clyde out on strike. I cannot bring the workers of any industrial works out on strike. I am not going to exaggerate the power of the youth of the country in connection with this Bill. But I say this, that as far as one man can, I will appeal to the youth of this nation to consider their position and to realise that they are pioneers in this struggle for conscience and against war. What are you considering in this Bill? It is not that you are going to take men for six months' service to improve their bodies and their minds, because if you wanted to improve their minds, military or naval service is the last thing you would give them. I was a short time in the British Navy and I was glad to get out of it. I say it is a cesspool of human iniquity and mothers and fathers in this country, if they knew the demoralisation of the youth of the country in that service, would not allow their sons to go into it for a single minute. I challenge any person in this House to deny that. If they do, I will go more fully into the subject.

In regard to the Bill, I say that if we were taking these individuals for six months' training to improve their physique and to improve their minds, I could subscribe to that, but you are taking them to teach them the art of murdering other human beings. That is what you are organising them for, and the State has no more right than has the private individual to organise men for the purpose of murdering and destroying human life. I refuse either to be organised or to be silenced in my description of war as the murder of human beings. I remember during the War reading in the "Glasgow Herald" despatches that came from the front, and I remember one description by Philip Gibbs, now Sir Philip Gibbs, of the battle of Loos, where there were 10,000 dead lying in a small area. He said that one could not take a single step a foot square on ground, but that one had to march from body to body in order to get over the area. He also said in that despatch, "If I thought that a child of mine was likely to endure this suffering and cruelty, I would be tempted to take that child from its cradle now and dash its brains out." I remember the battle of Verdun, in which 300,000 lives were lost. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was describing that battle to-day as if it were some glorious thing, but he did not tell us some of the facts as they were described in the despatches. About 10,000 shells per hour were fired on the defences of Verdun, and ultimately it was mostly the bodies of men that were barring the way to the continual mass formations of troops that were being pressed forward. In those despatches we were told that while that assault was going on, for weeks, after nightfall men, mostly young men, lying in the open, could be heard screaming in agony and pain because no mortal could help them, either to kill them or to take them out of the place, and they were crying out in their various tongues for their mothers, for the ones they loved dearly, until after a period silence reigned, and they died in their agony. There was something of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross that was enacted tens of thousands of times in that struggle on the Western front, on the mountain slopes of Italy, on the plains of Mesopotamia, and in other places. The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter)—I think he is ill at the moment, for which I am sorry—made a statement during the last War analysing arguments whether he could serve or not, and here is a quotation from that statement: Look! Christ in khaki, out in France, thrusting his bayonet into the body of a German workman. See! The Son of God, with a machine gun, ambushing a column of German infantry, catching them unawares in a lane and mowing them down in their helplessness. Hark! The 'Man of Sorrows' in a cavalry charge, cutting, hacking, thrusting, crushing, cheering. No, no! That picture is an impossible one, and we all know it. That settles the matter for me. I cannot support war, even on its defensive side, and I cannot, therefore, advise anyone else to enlist or to take part in what I believe to be wrong and wicked for myself. A country, as an individual, must be prepared to follow Christ if it is to claim the title of Christian. That was the quotation given by the hon. Member. I think it is telling and effective and that it answers this Bill and the general question regarding war, so far as I am concerned. Continually put up to us is this argument: "Would you defend your home?" Of course, I would defend my home. I would defend my wife, I would defend my family, but I can best defend them by being there at home to do it. I do not require to leave the shores of this country. It is a different thing defending your kith and kin and being organised to go out to France and to seek other workers, standing face to face with other workers, against whom you have no grievance, who also are organised by their ruling class for the purposes of murder, pillage, and loot. Therefore, I refuse to encourage the youth of this nation to pro- ceed to the battlefield to seek out other men in order to destroy them. I remember a very effective little poem that we had in the last War, which went something like this: Two babes were born one Summer morn; They came of love divine. Hearts were glad by the River Thames, And hearts were glad by the Rhine. These children grew so brave and true, Each mother said, 'How fine,' And a mother smiled by the River Thames, And a mother smiled by the Rhine. On one sad day, so people say. Their rulers tried to shine, And one lad heard a call by the Thames, And the other a call by the Rhine. Two noble sons shouldered their guns, And they marched in martial line, But a mother prayed by the River Thames And a mother prayed by the Rhine. On the battle plain where the bullets rain, Their aim was really fine. But a mother weeps by the Thames And a mother weeps by the Rhine. Two noble sons fell by their guns; And their names in glory shine, But a mother weeps by the River Thames, And a mother weeps by the Rhine. The Thames so fine and the River Rhine, Flow into one great sea, And each seems to say, as they kiss in spray, 'Would that men were as wise as we.' That expresses my attitude towards war. I refuse to disembowel, to blind, to hack, to tear asunder, and then wipe my bloodstained hands on the folds of a flag and call myself a patriot. It is done in every country in the world where capitalism reigns. I cannot support this Measure or do anything in any way to encourage it. This Bill does not apply to Northern Ireland, and the youth of Northern Ireland should be delighted at that. The youth of Northern Ireland can look upon Mr. de Valera as their friend, and they can look upon Lord Craigavon as their enemy. Lord Craigavon comes to this country and pleads that the youth of Northern Ireland should be sent to the battlefield, an old man coming over here—I think he is between 80 and 90 years of age—and pleading to have the youth of Northern Ireland conscripted and sent to the battlefield. Well, he is the master of his own mind and his own conscience, but if I were a young man in Northern Ireland to-night, if I were the father or the mother of a son there, I would look upon Mr. de Valera, with the action that he has taken, as being worthy of the young men of that country. I say this further, that I wish the trade unions and the Labour movement would use their power as effectively as Mr. de Valera has done, for then there would not only be no conscription, but there would be no National Service and no war.

There will be wars only while the men from the slums and the dens and the mean streets, with their low wages, are prepared to be drawn from their kennels and the back lands into the false and lying struggle for democracy and freedom—the democracy and freedom of Lord Hunsdon who said at a public dinner in London during the last War, referring to the miners, "I would starve them into submission, as we do the Germans."

That is the attitude of the ruling class to the workpeople. The worker is a man to be exploited, a man to make profits, to provide rent and interest for an idle class in society, who are prepared to use them in war time. They deny them the pensions they need when they have done with them after a war. In last evening's National Programme on the wireless an appeal was made on behalf of the disabled ex-Service men, and we were asked to give charity to the ex-Service men who stood between the Germans and the ruling class of this country, their possessions, their bank balances, their land and their profits. Then you treat them in that way. The Minister of Labour is aware of the tens of thousands of young men who have been chased out of their homes by a means test. I have often said that the day will come when the working class will have the power to hit back.

So far as we are concerned, there is no co-operation with any Government. We cannot say, as other parties say, that if there is a change of Government we are prepared to co-operate. We are not seeking only a change of Government, although that would be desirable; we are seeking a change of system, and then, when we get the common possession of the land, the banks, the railways, the mines and the possessions of this country and throughout the world, there will be no need for war. It will be a Red army, a Red army that will be prepared to defend the real interest of society, because it will be the collective interest of the whole, and not the interest of a few exploiters. Therefore, we reject this plea for national unity. There is a division, there are two peoples in this country—the poor and the rich; and if the rich want to defend themselves against Hitler and Mussolini and the ruling class of other countries, who seek to tear from them part of their colonial possessions, then let them get their uniforms on and defend those interests. We will remain behind, we will encourage youth to remain behind, we will encourage youth to resist, aye, even to the prison cell, this Government and this system that make war continually and exploit the fine feelings of humanity for the ulterior ends of rent, interest and profit.

9.29 p.m.

Sir R. Ross

The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) has told us what his feelings would be if he were a young man of Northern Ireland. That is not a matter of much interest, because he is not a bit like them. The young men in Northern Ireland are prepared to bear the burden as well as to obtain the privilege of citizens. The hon. Member is not prepared; he is more logical than many. He has made a personal attack on the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland because he said that our people should bear this burden. I would tell him, if he does not know, that Lord Craigavon as a young man went out to fight in the war in South Africa, and he had prepared himself as a member of the auxiliary forces to serve his country, if necessary, without being compelled. He also joined up well after military age, and if he had not been disabled by sickness he would, I believe, have served throughout the War.

Mr. Maxton

What about the Curragh?

Sir R. Ross

The Curragh incident was merely a question of people who were given the option of retiring from the Army and ruining their career or of attacking the people of Ulster, whose only offence was that they were determined not to be thrust out of the citizenship which they desired, and which they were determined to preserve.

Mr. Stephen

They did not believe in democracy.

Sir R. Ross

We did believe in democracy, and we would have got no democracy if we had been put under a Dublin Parliament. We only asked for the rights which hon. Gentlemen opposite enjoy. [Interruption.] I quite appreciate that hon. Members opposite individually have to make 25 per cent. more noise this week. There is one peculiar thing about the attitude of the Labour party, and that is the distinction they make between industrial and international disputes. If a workman does not join wholeheartedly with his fellow-workmen in a trade union in an industrial dispute and enjoys the fruits of that dispute, he is denounced as a blackleg and a scab, but apparently in the field of international disputes it is open to him to avoid doing his share, and hon. Members opposite support him.

Mr. Messer

Is not there a difference between an industrial dispute and compelling a man to kill his fellows?

Sir R. Ross

Those views are not mine; it is hon. Members opposite who hold them. The right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and the hon. Member who has just spoken are pacifists, and their position is different. But I cannot see how the Labour party's protection of the man who is rather a laggard in an international dispute can be reconciled with their views on industrial disputes. Up till now I have suspected hon. Members of being Socialists, but, of course, with their rugged stand for individualism in opposing conscription, I see that they are not Socialists. The State is not all to them: only those who feel inclined are to serve in war. Let hon. Members opposite be logical. They will have an opportunity on the Finance Bill. Why do they not take the same view of finance, and move that the social services should be paid for by public subscriptions and voluntary contributions? Why should not the principle which they apply to conscription apply to money? The logical conclusion of their attitude is that the social services should not be paid for by taxation, but by voluntary contributions.

Mr. John Morgan

Would the hon. Member suggest that a person who would voluntarily surrender £1,000,000 in aid of his country would be in a higher category than a person who had it extracted from him by taxation?

Sir R. Ross

I am not going to indulge in academic discussions. I am only saying that the voluntary principle, which hon. Members opposite in defence of their individualist views apply to the service of the country in war, can equally well be applied to the financial forces of the nation.

Mr. Silverman

The hon. Member complains that people who believe in Socialism seem to believe in individualism in the military sense. Why is it that the hard-bitten individuals of that side, the more hard-bitten they are the more they are in favour of military conscription?

Sir R. Ross

Because they are a patriotic party. [An HON. MEMBER: "It does not cost them anything."] It does, and there are many Members on this side who are affected by this Bill. I turn to a question which affects me as an Ulster Member more than other Members, and that is the question of the inclusion or exclusion of Northern Ireland. Up to the present we have had nothing about it from a Minister of the Crown, and I was disappointed when the Minister of Labour, in winding up on Thursday, did not allude to one aspect of the question which is particularly in his province. I refer to the flow of people, who will wish to avoid conscription in this country, which will almost certainly go to Belfast, the only part of the United Kingdom where there will not be conscription, and the only part where they cannot be conscripted and can yet still get the benefits of the social legislation, particularly as regards the unemployed. As a result, we shall have an increase in our unemployment and further competition with our own people. Will it be possible for people who have left Great Britain to avoid conscription just to go into the Employment Exchange, put their cards on the table in Belfast, and so increase the number of our unemployed?

I do not think hon. Members quite appreciate the position in which we as Ulster Members are in this House. The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland came over and made an offer of unstinted support on behalf of those he represented, and he stated his opinion as to what course should be pursued. That is all he could do because the authority responsible for Defence is the Government here. This was not a time to confuse the issue, and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland could not attempt in any sense to interfere with a Defence matter. He came only to offer his support and to give his opinion. If it was decided against him it was no fault of his, and even if it was in reverse of his advice or opinion, there was nothing he could do. Our position as Members of this Parliament is different because we are Members of the House, which is responsible for the Defence services and the Defence policy. We recognise, if anyone does, the difficulties of the Government, and we are anxious to help and not to embarrass the Prime Minister.

We feel obliged, however, to oppose a decision which we believe to be disastrous. We cannot shirk this responsibility, and we would not be doing justice to our country or to our constituents if we did not oppose it. Clause 1 puts Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom in the Bill as liable to conscription. We shall oppose its amendment, as we shall oppose anything which will draw a distinction between us and other parts of the United Kingdom. Clause 15, even if Clause 1 were amended to make it not applicable to us, would still enable the Government to apply it if the occasion was thought proper and it is now apparently even suggested that Clause 15 should be omitted. That, I think, is a great mistake. What is to happen to the Isle of Man? Are they to be relieved from the Bill because they happen to share Clause 15 with us? No one has spoken for that gallant island, and I see in the Press that they are indignant that any slur should be cast upon their manhood. That is a matter upon which not a word has been said. Members on all sides, and on this side perhaps most of all, must consider seriously whether this country is able to leave a population the size of New Zealand to which this Bill does not apply. The population of Northern Ireland is very much that of New Zealand. When through their representatives, elected in the ordinary way as other members are, it is said that Northern Ireland is prepared to accept this burden, are hon. Members able with a clear conscience to go and tell that to their constituents?

I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply, that Clause 15, even if it is not thought proper to apply this Bill at the present time, should be left in the Bill. The Clause is not mandatory; the Government need not hurry, but they should have the Clause there so that in case there should be a necessity which would justify the application of the Bill to Northern Ireland, it could be applied without further legislation. There was one matter which was mentioned in the speech of the Prime Minister. We were given an extra regiment, which is to be a light tank regiment. I would remind the Secretary of State for War that this regiment, in which I had the honour to serve for many years, has come to an end and has to be started afresh. If it is to be started afresh it is essential, not merely to give it two or three trucks, but to give it some real up-to-date equipment, because it is a much harder task to raise a regiment which has been allowed to disappear, which this has been than to continue a regiment which has been in being for some time.

With regard to the question of why there should be difficulties too great to extend this Bill to Northern Ireland, I would like to draw the attention of the House to one or two things. I agree that there would certainly be organised opposition, but there will probably be organised opposition over here. We have already seen some of it. I do not think that is an insuperable objection. I would remind the House that when the United States in 1863 proposed conscription, the Irish in New York rioted mightily in opposition to it and said they were not interested in the American Civil War. In July and the beginning of August, 1863, there were very bad riots and serious organised opposition on behalf of the large number of Irish in New York, but they were met by President Lincoln and they came to an end. I have claimed that our record in recruiting in the province as a whole, in proportion to all classes, creeds and political opinions, is as good as any, but the reply I got to-day showed that it was roughly one-third better than the average recruiting numbers for Great Britain as a whole, but that may have been accidental to the last three years. At all events, it has been quite as good.

It has been suggested that there are violent objections to serving by those who are sundered from us politically in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. I do not think that is so. The right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate mentioned the enthusiasm for service that was alleged to exist in Dublin during the September crisis. I am not quite sure of that, but I am sure about what was called the "suitcase brigade," who filled the trains from this country to Dublin at that; time. But undoubtedly there are Irishmen who are not of the same religion or political faith as myself who would serve and have served. Look at that fine Territorial Battalion in London which does such honour to one of our colleagues in this House. That is an Irish Battalion, and probably you will not find very many Ulstermen in it. What is the reputation as soldiers of my fellow-countrymen with whom I disagree? It is a fine reputation for courage; and how was it earned? Not in burning houses or in attacks on the police; it was earned under the British flag on a hundred fields; and I think that if it had been possible for these young men to have been enlisted under a conscription Act the vast majority of them would have come in.

The Prime Minister said he hoped that Ulster would make no smaller contribution to the Defence forces and the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), who is a very leading Member of that most bourgeois profession of which I have the honour to be a very humble member, picked upon that point at once. He asked why, if that be so, we should not have the voluntary system in England. Of course the position is not the same, because we shall have those who are of the same political faith as myself being told to bear the whole burden. They will see those who are opposed to them and who desire their political destruction under no obligation to serve. Probably they will see their jobs taken by people coming, perhaps from outside Northern Ireland, because that is what happened last time. People came up from the south and got into the jobs, and the extraordinary thing is that although in Eire Northern Ireland is described as a place where people of that type are oppressed, yet once they get into Northern Ireland they never seem to go out again.

At present there is a competition between Mr. De Valera and his Government and the Irish Republican Army as to who compelled the English to withdraw the threat of conscription, and I am very sorry that there is a third party and that, I regret to say, is the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. We are often accused of bringing religion into politics, but in this case no sooner had the announcement of conscription been made than, headed by a very great authority—an authority which people who do not live in countries where there are many Catholics do not appreciate, the Cardinal-Archbishop—the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Ulster issued a very marked political announcement to tell their people at all costs to resist conscription; not on any ground that they objected to the shedding of blood, because they certainly had no objection to matters being fought out to the last Protestant. The political aims of the Government of Eire and the Irish Republican Army are the same. They are both prepared to use force if they think it effective in order to compel us in Ulster, against our will, to be under a Government which deprives us of British citizenship. On 7th February, Mr. De Valera, the Prime Minister of that part of the country, said in the Senate: Force would be justified if there was any chance of its succeeding. —that is, force against us to drive us under his authority. At the present time his utterances are quoted with approval by Herr Hitler. He also said: If we had the backing of some Continental Powers I should say publicly what I have said privately, that I would feel perfectly justified in using force. With this threat of force how can we expect people willingly to leave their homes and join up when there is no such duty imposed upon those who hate them?

Mr. Logan

In view of the discussions now taking place, and in view of the agreement reached with Northern Ireland, does the hon. Member think it appropriate to be using this language?

Sir R. Ross

I think all my language is most appropriate.

Mr Logan

I wish I had the opportunity to reply.

Sir R. Ross

In conclusion I should like to say that I hope the Government have no illusions now as regards the attitude of the Government of Eire to the act of faith which the Prime Minister alluded to last May in the step he took to get their good will. That has failed. We know that the aim of the Government of Eire is to preserve their neutrality in time of war. The aggression of Mr. De Valera towards us is constant. I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply to the Debate to this point. We have told the British Government that we are with them without reserve. If the British Government have any reservations towards us we should be told what they are. My right hon. Friend the Member for Antrim (Sir H. O'Neill) made a very serious contribution to the Debate on Thursday. Nothing has been said about it. We are eager to help the Government and reluctant to embarrass them; we are friends of this country, but we are determined to maintain our citizenship; and we are ready to bear its burdens as well as its privileges.

9.54 p.m.

Mr. Attlee

I hope the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir R. Ross) will excuse me if I do not follow him into the domestic questions which he raised. I will only express my sympathy with him in one particular thing, and that is his difficulty in trying to get a reply from a Government spokesman. We are now coming to the end of two days' Debate, and the Government have not yet discharged their obligation to show the military need for this Measure, and to show beyond all question that the men required cannot be provided by the voluntary system. To change the long-established system of this country calls for very strong reasons. In this matter the Prime Minister gave a pledge to this House and to the country. It must, therefore, need really overwhelming reasons if a British Prime Minister is to break his pledge. It is not a light thing to do. In this world there is far too much breaking of the pledged word for far too light reasons. It is easy to kill faith in the words of statesmen and very difficult to re-create it. It is not enough to give reasons which may be valid at any time to satisfy a conscriptionist of many years' standing, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). It is necessary to convince those who have hitherto been against conscription.

There has been no explanation of the military reasons for this sudden introduction of conscription. One reason given is the need for the continuous manning of anti-aircraft positions. I agree that with the air menace as it is there is need for that continuous manning, but that need existed a year ago. It existed two years ago. It was put before the Government long ago. They cannot only just have had their eyes opened to it. That, therefore, cannot be the effective need for conscription. The next point given is that it would take the Territorial Army some time to train to be ready in case of need. Well, that is no new thing. That was so six months ago, a year ago, two years ago. It was so when the Secretary of State for War made his announcement with regard to the Territorial Army. It was so when the Prime Minister announced an increase in the Territorial Army. It is not some changed condition. That need for speed which was expressed by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Dodd) has been obvious for some time to any student of military affairs.

The next point put is the need for an increase of our land forces because of our Eastern European commitments. That is a most extraordinary illusion. The idea is that to meet our pledge to Poland we have to put in land forces, in order as some romantic Member said, that we should march to Poland's aid. Because we have a pledge to Rumania it necessarily means a large increase of our land forces is again an illusion. I do not think anyone in this House supposes that in the event of war we should be putting large land forces into Eastern Europe. Besides our Imperial commitments we should necessarily be engaged, as hitherto, in supporting the forces of the West. One of the alleged reasons for this Bill is the demand of our Western Allies that we should be able to put more troops into the field, but that demand again is not new. The alliance with France has existed for some time. Although the agreements with Poland and Rumania may increase the danger for us, they do not necessarily increase the need for the number of land forces. They do not affect necessarily the distribution of our effort.

The curious thing is that the alliances, as we must call them, with Rumania and Poland, are always taken as increasing our liability, but not increasing our strength. One would think that in the Great War when anyone joined the Allies we had to make a larger effort. I am not suggesting that we are going to shelter behind the forces of Poland and Rumania, but I say that it is impossible to contend that we necessarily need greater land forces. What we really need, and what we have not had from any Minister, is some exposition of the military ideas behind the Bill. One of the disadvantages of the vacillating policy of the Government is that in any attempt to find out what our needs are we are left in the dark because the policy of the Government is so vague. No one quite knows what is to be made of their approaches to the Union of Soviet Socialist Russia. No one knows whether you can count those forces on the side of the forces that are standing against aggression or not.

It is essential, when you consider not merely the defence of this country by its own forces, but actually any alliance with others, that you should be able to estimate those forces. Such an alliance should be based on some allocation of function. Countries that join an alliance are not similar, geographically, in their economy or in their military potentialities. If we are to overcome the kind of cheap gibe which is made at our fighting at somebody else's expense, there ought to be a proper examination, not in order that every country should give an identical contribution, but in order that every country should give that contribution which might most make for the strength of the whole alliance. Different contributions, not identical; different, but equivalent. The need for the Russian alliance was rightly stressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, but, as he does sometimes, he proved too much, because by the time he had finished he proved that without the Russian alliance nothing was any good at all. Although he demanded increased conscription he did not show that that would be any good in existing circumstances without the Russian alliance.

Indeed, except for what is considered the psychological effect on other countries, this proposal is not going to be effective immediately in the critical times ahead. The Secretary of State for War rather said the same when he said that National Service would not affect in the degree sometimes imagined our initial military effort. I do not think that this Measure is really directed to our immediate needs. I do not think it is a measure of military policy. It is a surrender to the conscriptionists at home and a surrender to a not-very-well-informed demand from abroad. It may be some slight satisfaction to us to surrender to those who are apparently our friends on the Continent, and not to our enemies. That is a change. I do not in the least doubt that our friends abroad, who certainly needed some encouragement from the Government, have some satisfaction; but the ultimate satisfaction is with the conscriptionists in this House and in the country.

There has been no real reply to the case that was put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith). The Minister of Labour made no reply. I rather doubt whether he understood the question at issue. His attitude was that of the old sergeant-major who said: "What are you asking me for? You take the facts from the sergeant." The rest of his speech was little more than reading the battalion orders of mobilisation. I do not think that the Chancellor of the Duchy did very much better. He did not deal with the claim that the necessary men could be found by a voluntary appeal—an appeal that could be made, not only for annual trainings, but for six months' training; and, on the question of the possible utilisation of older men, he rode off by suggesting that all the other trained men were old crocks like me and himself. That is not true. My right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley gave very careful figures showing the number of people that there are of comparatively youthful age who have had training in the Territorials, and who could be trained far more quickly and readily than these boys who have had no training at all. It is not true to suggest that all these people are old crocks. I remember that, at the beginning of the War, I thought all people over 40 were old crocks; but there were in my battalion plenty who joined up and gave false ages and showed as good staying power as a great many of the younger ones. The Secretary of State for War claimed that no other scheme could give such a rapid accretion of trained strength. I deny that. I believe that a voluntary scheme, with full-time service under proper conditions, would give it far more rapidly, and if it is the next few weeks or months that are critical, that is the thing to do.

I come now to the general point with regard to the advantage of conscription. I claim that the calling up of a whole age-class is not the scientific way of getting the men that are really needed for the Fighting Services. It has been stated, and I think it is true, that for every man in the fighting line there must be 14 or 15, or perhaps more, behind the line. In addition, there are the key men in industry and in the professions, and in any age-group that is called up there will be the trained or partly trained men in various crafts or skilled trades or professions, and you will in effect be training numbers of men whom you will not be able to use later if they go back to their trades—seamen, miners and so forth. It is, therefore, wasteful, and is not really a good way of organising the man-power of the nation. Further, it is not selective, because you do not get those who are temperamentally best fitted for a particular service. I admit quite frankly that our voluntary system, on which we relied for filling the Regular Army, has been largely a matter of the work of Sergeant-Major Unemployment, and not of Recruiting-Sergeant Enthusiasm. But that is not true of the Territorial Army. There the voluntary system does effect a great degree of selection.

I should be the last to deny the value of the services of many men who were conscripted in the last War, but I say that the volunteers were the better men. I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. I think there was a difference between the men with whom I served in 1914 and those with whom I served in 1918. It is wrong to think that this scheme will not interfere with voluntary recruiting. If the scheme continues for the 3½ years, or for longer—and I do not see any Conservative Government getting rid of it once they have got it—it will mean within a period the total destruction of the voluntary basis of the Territorial Army. In a few years' time all the Territorials will have entered through conscription, and you will have lost something of very great value to this country. The hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara) spoke truly when he was apprehensive that the spirit of voluntary service might be killed.

I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs went a good deal too far in suggesting that the Territorial Army took a very long time to get fit in the last War—that it was not until after about two years that they were really effective. I think he was wrong there. After a very few months the average number of trained men—long- service men—in any unit was not very great. The old Regular battalions were filled up with all kinds of people from the depots, some of them with hardly any training at all. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Territorial Army failed at the Somme because they were not properly trained, but it was not the men who failed—it was the generals. One reason against conscription is that it is very dangerous to give generals all the men they want. Experience shows that they waste them; they economise on thinking and waste life. French, German, British and Russian generals were all the same in this respect in the Great War, and we have to watch very carefully how we dispose of our comparatively limited man-power. It has been stressed already in this Debate that we ought to consider the proper direction of our efforts. I am sure it is not proper direction to think we are again going to put into the field a great Continental army.

We are told a great deal about this being a very democratic system. I agree that it is practised in some democracies, but that does not necessarily make it democratic. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite want to make it democratic, they must go a good deal further than conscription; they must democratise the fighting forces. Our Navy, Army and Air Force are officered on a class basis. It is true that exceptional men like Sir William Robertson get through, but the whole basis is a class basis; the ritual of the mess maintains it. That is not because good officers cannot be obtained from other classes. At the end of the War men from all occupations and classes were making admirable officers, and towards the end a good deal of democratisation was going on; but after the end of the War they slipped back into the class basis. I do not think we ought to hear quite so much of this plea for democracy unless it is going to be a great deal more thoroughgoing.

A number of points have been raised which are perhaps more suitable for the Committee stage, but I should like to refer to one or two of them. One practical point is, what is going to be done with these lads if the Bill passes? How are they to be trained? It is very important that they should not be just pushed into units and treated as a whole mass of raw material to be trained into soldiers. They should be specially treated, just as the young soldier was treated in 1917. You will want to have very specially selected officers and N.C.Os. to deal with these men. You are going to have the pick of the nation, many of them extremely able people, with the best brains in the country; and you want some well-brained people to look after them. I want to make one point with regard to the age of selection. It is an unfortunate thing that this age of selection will mean taking the son of the war widow and of the man who was injured or crippled in the last War. I have a letter here from a mother, who writes saying that she has had a terrible time ever since the last War. Her husband was crippled in the last War and has never got another job. They have two boys; and now these boys are going to be conscripted. It is a terrible thing that is going to happen to those mothers who suffered so much in the last War. There is another point about this. There will be a tendency for employers not to take on boys who are nearing the conscription age. That will mean that those boys will tend to enlist earlier on. The better-off boys who are going for continued education will tend to postpone enlistment. So you are going to get recruiting in two separate age groups, according to social classes.

Another point is the question of pay—1s. a day. I think it is very mean; it is very niggardly. I remember that in 1900 I was a schoolboy volunteer, and I went into camp for a fortnight at the time of the South African War. I then got the first money I ever earned. That was is. a day. If I had bought tobacco—I did not, because I was too young—it would have cost 4d., whereas now it would be is. 2d. These people are going to serve with other soldiers who are getting better pay. They are going to be cut off, I gather, from any additional pay for efficiency. They will get the bare is. a day. It is said that they are not going to have the obligation of serving for three or four years. That is true, but, on the other hand, they will not have the pension. Also, they are being put to a serious disadvantage at that time of life. I gather that the dependants' allowances, according to the Prime Minister, will be given only where need is established. We are going to have the means test applied. That means that the working-class family will pay, because where the son is assisting the family, unless they can prove that they absolutely depend on him, they are going to lose when he is called up. There is no equality of sacrifice. To suggest that there is, is just as much a mockery as to suggest that we are going to get any real conscription of wealth.

We consider conscription to be a bad thing in itself, and its introduction has been done in the worst possible way. The Prime Minister, who is so tender about the feelings of foreign dictators, does not mind in the least the feelings of the British working man. He must have known perfectly well what would be the feeling of the trade union movement on this. He has flouted the feelings of the working people of the country. This thing was done extremely clumsily. Every now and again we get appeals for national unity. The Prime Minister, by actions of this kind, does all he can to break up national unity. He is regarded by large sections in this country with the utmost suspicion. He is not regarded as a friend of democracy, and the people behind him who push for conscription are not friends of democracy. The feeling behind this Bill is not the desire to meet the immediate needs of this country, but the desire for conscription. That desire will grow; it will not stop short of this demand. Behind it all looms the spectre of industrial conscription. In the name of defence of liberty our liberties may be destroyed, and the Members of the present Government are the very last people we should trust.

10.21 p.m.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

The right hon. Gentleman began his speech, which was a reasoned speech, by complaining of the difficulty of obtaining any reply from Government spokesmen. I do not think that the complaint was substantiated, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that it will be my endeavour to answer with particularity all the arguments which he advanced, and to answer, if I can, all the questions which he propounded. It it very striking to note the difference in spirit and in angle of view between the two speeches which have been made from the front bench opposite to-day. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) was not concerned with the military aspects of the problem—the military aspects of the problem which concern this country—so much as with what he thought to be the moral aspects of our proposal. So reprehensible did he find the principle of compulsion that he could prophesy with confidence that its introduction would destroy the spirit of the people and dry up the sources of the nation's power. For us to sit here and send other people to the front, was, he asseverated, unseemly, degrading and an insult.

But we are not sending these people to the front. We are proposing to give them training in order that, if the need should arise, they may be better able to defend both themselves and their country. The risk we run, and the risk that youth, owing to the accident of the time of its birth, runs, may be estimated by reference to the last Great War. That was made plain by the speech which we heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who, I think, somewhat detracted from the impersonal character of his advice by the personal character of his references to my right hon. Friend. He taunted my right hon. Friend with not having had diplomatic successes. I sometimes wonder whose task was the more arduous. The right hon. Gentleman's great work was done in conditions which were certain. The War had broken out and he had to mobilise the nation to win it. My right hon. Friend, on the other hand, is striving to avert war breaking out. He, therefore, operates in more uncertain and more arduous conditions and is entitled I think to some tolerance from the right hon. Gentleman.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said that the failure to introduce such a measure as this might mean that our chances of victory might be halved and our casualties doubled. It hardly lies with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton to say that it is unseemly, degrading and an insult to send other people to the front in the event of war, when he has urged a policy which might have sent not only these young men but many others to the front, and sent them unprepared and untrained. Let those whose slogan is "Stand up to the dictators," give us the trained men so that we can stand up to them.

It was interesting to have an account from the right hon. Member for Gorton of his experiences in Europe. He told us he had visited certain countries in Europe, that he had addressed audiences and had invariably found that what they wanted to hear was that Britain was free. Free, certainly, but I should have thought that they also wanted to hear that Britain was strong. His Majesty's Government have also heard from foreign countries. Message after message has reiterated to us that this is a Measure which, above all others, would give them hope and greater assurance in a cause which is common to us all. Therefore, what infringement is it of our freedom if we take steps to secure it?

The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken took quite a different line. He said that the Government had made no effort to justify the military need, and he complained that the speech of the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) had been unanswered. What did the right hon. Member for Keighley say? He said it was by its military results that this Bill must stand or fall. That is an acid and a forthright test and one which the Government are prepared to accept. This practical approach by the right hon. Gentleman tears away at once all those heavy political draperies appended to the Amendment, doubtless out of a sense of propriety to conceal the sparseness of its form. It tears them all away—the charges of mismanagement, incompetence, failure and dishonour. These flounces may be taken away and put back into the trunk for use on some other occasion.

We are left then with the foundation of the Amendment, which while asserting a resolute determination to defend the country and to fulfil its international obligations, affirms the belief that the necessary man-power can be provided by voluntary recruitment. No one has disputed that man-power can be provided by voluntary recruitment; indeed, the enthusiastic response of the past few weeks is ample evidence of that. The challenging questions are, whether in relation to our urgent needs we are making the best use of our man-power and whether in present circumstances you can achieve the same security as promptly and as efficiently by a sporadic enlistment of soldiers who can only give their spare time, as you can by a simultaneous assembling of predetermined numbers, who can undergo intensive and consecutive training. Those are the really challenging questions. The Opposition and the Government have a common interest and a common objective. What we have to do then is to examine whether the military results of our proposals are likely to be justified; whether they are likely to prove an effective reinforcement of our existing methods.

The Government scheme, said the right hon. Member for Keighley, is an amateur scheme. Let us study it and see whether it is more amateurish than the scheme put forward by the right hon. Gentleman himself. He made indeed a constructive contribution to the Debate and advanced the only alternative of which the House has heard. May I then in the first place explain our scheme. Some derogatory observations were made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and other speakers about the numbers we propose to summon for training, about 200,000 men. In no conscript country are they in the habit of calling up more than one annual class. The annual class in France for 1939 is 141,000 and in Germany 230,000. That is in a great conscript country, and we are calling up about 200,000, which is 60,000 more numerically than the strength of the whole of our Regular Army at home. Therefore, it is in no sense a derisory scheme, and is as much as the small Regular Army we have been in the habit of maintaining can be expected to cope with in the first year. We have provisionally apportioned to the several arms of the Service their quotas of the total of the militiamen likely to be available. The Ministry of Labour offices throughout the country will call up enough men for examination required in each area. Each man having been medically examined will be interviewed by a representative of the Army, who will check information as to his education and trade and report the arm for which he is most suited and consider any preference he may have for any particular unit. A military posting officer will then examine the data and in each case settle the final allocation, informing the Minister of Labour of the place at which militiamen are to join and the Ministry of Labour will then issue the necessary instructions.

I will now take two arms of the Service to illustrate the subsequent career of the militiaman. Those allocated to the infantry, like their fellows of the other branches of the Field Army, will be called up in bi-monthly batches. They will be trained in the first two months of their service at the regimental depots and pass their subsequent four months with the battalion. It is intended that recruits on joining shall be graded into a more or less advanced squad according to their special knowledge and intelligence, so that those who are more capable shall not be held back by those who are less apt. The curriculum laid down will thus only be a guide, and men who are above the average will be pushed on more rapidly. On leaving the depot and joining his battalion, the militiaman will continue his basic training for two months, and in his last two months he will be instructed in specialist duties. The pick of the batches who have gone ahead of the others will spend their last two months, not with the battalion, but in a section and platoon-leading school attached to the Small Arms School at Netheravon. From these will be selected those who, if they desire, will be available as officers for the Territorial Army, for the Reserve Militia or for further training in officer-producing units. Merit and not adventitious recommendation will be the claim to advancement under the scheme.

Some of my hon. Friends, in advance of knowledge of this plan, have expressed concern about the position of Territorials. May I put the essence of their case in the words of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara)? A man, he said, may join the Territorial Army at the age of 17, and by the age of 20 he may very well be a lance-corporal, a corporal or even a sergeant; and he felt some anxiety at the prospect that such a man, on entering on his Militia service, would have no notice whatsoever taken of his previous service. This is a consideration which my advisers and I myself have had much in mind. We do not wish to be impervious to argument, and our scheme, of course, is not so rigid that it cannot be adapted to give the greatest measure of satisfaction and consideration, within the limits of efficiency, to all concerned. The principle, however, to which the Government do ask assent is that every man starting his Militia service should start level with his fellows, his progress thereafter being determined solely by his own qualities. In any event, the point is not of immediate significance because no one who was accepted for the Territorial Army before 27th April last comes under the scheme at all. Those who were or are accepted after that and who will be presently liable to be called up, can hardly have acquired more than the elements of soldiering since that date, and are not likely to have secured non-commissioned rank. The boy of 17 whom my hon. Friend has in mind, joining now, and who in course of time may become a non-commissioned officer, will not be liable for three years, when the Act, unless Parliament otherwise determines, is due to come to an end. So there will be full opportunity to consider this type of case and any anomalies which may arise in the light of our experience.

Now, may I take the case of those who are going to perform anti-aircraft duties? They will be called up in batches of 22,000 in each quarter. They will remain in depots based on Regular antiaircraft units, and these depots will be situated in the various Commands. After three months at the training depot, they will form units which will man the permanent defences, guns and searchlights, being replaced in their turn at the end of three months, and so on, in such a manner that our Maginot line will always be served. All the men of the Militia, whether of the Field Army or the anti-aircraft units, will, after six months, pass as fully trained men either to a Reserve of the Regular Army, which will henceforward have at its disposal a more comprehensive reinforcement than ever previously, or to the Territorial Army, which will be brought to a higher degree of readiness and efficiency than ever before in its peace time history. I do not know whether the House realises what a fundamental change we are making in the state of preparedness of the Territorial Field Army. That Army was raised and has been maintained on the assumption—the only assumption you can make in the case of a citizen force so composed—that it can do its preliminary training up to a certain point in peace time, be given the foundation of the military art, and only after war has supervened can you, by concentrated effort, complete the structure.

Surely hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree that the greater the number of young men who have undergone training in peace time and who will, thereby, be ready for mobilisation, the better the position of the country must be in the event of the outbreak of war. That is our proposal. What is the counter-proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees Smith)? I will not subject his figures to too close a scrutiny but this is the proposal, as he made it. He said that in about three weeks we shall have 420,000 Territorials. We actually have 320,000. He said that in the last five years 120,000 men had left the Territorials. He said that, in addition, there were 250,000 men who had been in the Territorials and who were still under 40. He then added these past, present and prospective figures together and obtained a total of 790,000 and he said there was an indefinite number beyond that. All those men were to be invited to spend three, four or six months in camp, with their jobs guaranteed, with decent and reasonable pay and allowances, with their rents, mortgages and insurances guaranteed, and with no loss of their prospect in civil life. He said that 800,000 men could be called up under this system for three, four or six months—just once, as he put it, for this very short time.

It would, indeed, be difficult to find a proposal more calculated to abuse the voluntary system than that—the voluntary system which hon. Gentlemen opposite are so much concerned that we should respect. In private relationships it is considered unjust to take for granted the sacrifices of good-natured people and to presume upon their willingness, by wantonly imposing further burdens upon them. For a great, well-organised community like ours, to place the increased requirements of its defence solely upon those who have already done their share, would be contemptible. The right hon. Gentleman's plan is put forward as an alternative to compulsion on an orderly basis. The Territorial Army is based upon co-operation between employers, employed and the State. Under the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion those employers who have most encouraged the Territorial Army would be called upon to conduct their business, in some cases, deprived of almost the whole of their staffs, for a long period. That is an inverted form of conscription.

The organisation of this indeterminate number of men, of varying degrees of proficiency, into formations, and their equipment and training, would present problems far more complex than those which confront us in relation to this scheme. Even if the men responded, even if industry could bear the dislocation, even if arrangements could be improvised by the General Staff, what superior or indeed equivalent advantages would that scheme give over ours? You would not secure the permanent manning of your anti-aircraft defences. You would not have recurring and accumulating reserves of trained men to complete to war establishment and replace the wastage of the Regular Army in the technical arms in which it is now so short. You would not provide continuing re-inforcements of highly trained men for the Territorial Army. All these are the benefits of our scheme, and they are benefits which are furnished in an organised manner, with the minimum of disturbance to the ordinary life of the nation.

Lord Haldane, who founded the Territorial Army, understood well its present shortcomings as a military machine, shortcomings not in any respect owing to any lack of enthusiasm or application by the Territorial Army, but which are inherent in the conditions of its composition. He said in 1907, when he introduced into this House the Measure setting up the Territorial Army: We have thrown the war training on to the other side of the mobilisation, being enabled to do so as an island Power, instead of making it take place in time of peace, You could never get a large volunteer force to take six months' training in time of peace. Those words are as true to-day as when Lord Haldane used them, and they are the most effective answer to the right hon. Gentleman, as Lord Haldane had given more thought to this subject than any man who has held the office of Secretary of State for War before or since. Realising these shortcomings when reflecting upon his work at a later date, he said, in 1915, in the course of a Debate: Compulsory service is not foreign to the constitution of this country. Given a great national emergency, I think it is your duty to resort to it. I can conceive of a state of things in which you might have to resort to it. At a time of national necessity every other consideration must yield to national interest, and we should bar nothing in the way of principle if it should become necessary. Those were the words of Lord Haldane, who established the Territorial Army. Of course, under any system of compulsion you must assure that the treatment of all concerned is fair, and the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down raised the point of their pay and allowances. The Government, naturally, had to ask themselves whether they should pay the militiaman at the same rate as the Regular. It has to be borne in mind that the militiaman is only doing six months' continuous service, which is a brief interlude in his permanent occupation, which is statutorily preserved for him; whereas the Regular is following a military career and has to make his permanent arrangements on this assumption. The militiaman cannot be sent on foreign service in peace, whereas the Regular is liable to be sent anywhere, and he may have to participate in fighting even in time of peace. Is it fair, in principle, to pay as much to a man whose obligations are restricted, both in time and in character, as to a man whose obligations in both respects are more extensive? The answer is, surely, "No." Reference to the practice of foreign countries will show that such a differentiation is usual.

What one really has to have regard to in the case of a man who is temporarily withdrawn from civil life are his obligations, and it is in this spirit that the Government have sought the solution of an admittedly difficult problem. I think it must be admitted that there are few men of 20 in civil life who can allow out of their earnings 17s. to a dependant, when particularly no part of this sum has to be spent on the maintenance of the man, yet this is the rate on which the Government have determined, with additional sums for children, and as of right—

Mr. Attlee

Is not the 17s. applicable only to the special case of a wife and not to other dependants?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

That is perfectly true. I was dealing with the case of a wife; that is as of right. But if somebody is claiming to be totally dependent upon somebody else and asking the same money for that purpose, it is not unreasonable that he should make out his case. But in the case of a wife there is quite clearly a contractual obligation. The decision to give a family allowance to Militiamen at 20 threw into relief at once the contrasted position of the Regular sailor, soldier and airman, who only get an entitlement to that allowance at 26 or 25, as the case may be. Before the Bill was envisaged at all the Government was conducting an inquiry into this matter, and had resolved to reduce the qualifying age. It is now as a matter ct justice to be fixed at 20.

Some objection has been raised to this on the ground that men may be tempted to contract improvident alliances. Such misfortunes have not been unknown in other classes of the community. While there are those who hold that members of the Services, in view of the unsettled nature of their calling, should be kept free from marital obligations, there are others—and they are an increasing number—who are concerned with the conditions of the wives and children of those who in fact do marry, despite the Regulations. Reports on these conditions are most distressing, and all the Commanders at home in the British Army have represented that the age of qualification for marriage allowance should be lowered. A certain restraint on marrying for the sake of the allowance is imposed by the requirement that the 17s., which is paid directly to the wife, has to be supplemented by the soldier himself out of his pay when he is separated from his wife.

Mr. McGovern

What about the children?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The allowance is 5s. for the eldest child—5s., 3s., 2s., I think it is. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Wedgwood Benn) who opened this Debate, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition who closed it, took different points of view and spoke in a different spirit, I must place the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) in still a third category. He said he was not opposed to conscription, but he wished to make the passage of this Bill a matter of bargaining, and I must take exception to one misguided idea which possessed him, and which evidently animates others, namely that it is only people on that side of the House, or rather those whom they represent, who will have to do the fighting, and the more fortunate classes, as they hold them to be—although that is doubtful—will escape the liabilities of war.

He suggested that capital levy should be the price that others should pay in order that some might fight. But the scythe of war cuts down all classes equally. The second condition was that we should democratise the Army. How more speedily could you advance demo-cratisation than by passing a Measure such as this? If this Measure were permanent, which it is not, it would be possible to take every single officer of the future out of the ranks of the British Army. That is what right hon. Gentlemen opposite, apparently, desire. His third condition was that there should be no damage done to trade union rights. The Government have no intention of damaging those rights, and I think they are safely protected by the sagacious men who are trade union leaders.

I have endeavoured to show, what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked me to show, that there is a military justification for this Bill. There is a military justification and there is a military necessity. Having imposed that test upon the Bill, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be fair enough to reconsider whether the Opposition desire to vote against it. If we proceed to a Division, let us be sure what it is on which we are going to vote. The issue is not freedom versus compulsion. These two principles are interwoven throughout the whole texture of our national life. In order that justice may be done, all subjects of the Crown can, with certain qualifications, be compelled to serve on juries, but to administer the law we rely on the voluntary engagement of police. The State exacts taxes by compulsion to provide the social services, yet benevolent objects which make an equal claim upon our moral sense are voluntarily supported. In Defence, what is required must be forthcoming, and there is no impairment of our democracy if it should be obtained, as so many of our other requirements are, by a combination of the two methods together. We maintain our freedom to pass or not to pass this Bill in order that we may be protected from the loss of that freedom. By inserting now into our military system the strand of universal service we shall strengthen the fabric and show in a practical form, what the Amendment desires us to show, our resolute determination to take all necessary steps to defend the country and to fulfil its international obligations.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 387; Noes, 145.

Division No. 96.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Cranborne, Viscount Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Craven-Ellis, W. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Critchley, A. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.
Albery, Sir Irving Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Hepworth, J.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Cross, R. H. Herbert, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Monmouth)
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Crossley, A. C. Higgs, W. F.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Crowder, J. F. E. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.
Apsley, Lord Cruddas, Col. B. Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.
Aske, Sir R. W. Culverwell, C. T. Holdsworth, H.
Assheton, R. Davidson, Viscountess Holmes, J. S.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Davies, C. (Montgomery) Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Davison, Sir W. H. Horsbrugh, Florence
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) De Chair, S. S. Howitt, Dr. A. B.
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. De la Bére, R. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Denville, Alfred Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hume, Sir G. H.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Dixon, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. Hunloke, H. P.
Balniel, Lord Dodd, J. S. Hunter, T.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Doland, G. F. Hurd, Sir P. A.
Baxter, A. Beverley Donner, P. W. Hutchinson, G. C.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.
Beechman, N. A. Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Jarvis, Sir J. J.
Bennett, Sir E. N. Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Joel, D. J. B.
Bernays, R. H. Dugdale, Captain T. L. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)
Bird, Sir R. B. Duggan, H. J. Jones, L. (Swansea W.)
Blair, Sir R. Duncan, J. A. L. Keeling, E. H.
Blaker, Sir R. Dunglass, Lord Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Boothby, R. J. G. Eastwood, J. F. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Bossom, A. C. Eckersley, P. T. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.
Boulton, W. W. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Kimball, L.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.
Boyce, H. Leslie Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Bracken, B. Ellis, Sir G. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose) Elliston, Capt. G. S. Lancaster, Captain C. G.
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Emery, J. F. Latham, Sir P.
Brass, Sir W. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Leech, Sir J. W.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Entwistle, Sir C. F. Leigh, Sir J.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Errington, E. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Erskine-Hill, A. G. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Levy, T.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Everard, Sir William Lindsay Lewis, O.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Fildes, Sir H. Liddall, W. S.
Bull, B. B. Findlay, Sir E. Lindsay, K. M.
Bullock, Capt. M. Fleming, E L. Lipson, D. L.
Burghley, Lord Fox, Sir G. W. G. Little, Sir E. Graham-
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Fremantle, Sir F. E, Llewellin, Colonel J. J.
Burton, Col. H. W. Furness, S. N. Lloyd, G. W.
Butcher, H. W. Fyfe, D. P. M. Loftus, P. C.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n) Lyons, A. M.
Caine, G. R. Hall- George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Campbell, Sir E. T. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Cartland, J. R. H. Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) M'Connell, Sir J.
Carver, Major W. H. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. McCorquodale, M. S.
Cary, R. A. Gledhill, G. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)
Castlereagh, Viscount Gluckstein, L. H. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Goldie, N. B. McKie, J. H.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Rower, Sir R. V. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R. Macquisten, F. A.
Channon, H. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Magnay, T.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Maitland, Sir Adam
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest
Chorlton, A. E. L. Gridley, Sir A. B. Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Christie, J. A. Grigg, Sir E. W. M Markham, S. F.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Grimston, R. V. Marsden, Commander A.
Clarks, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Medlicott, F.
Colfox, Major W. P. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)
Colman, N. C. D. Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Hambro, A. V. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Hammersley, S. S. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Hannah, I. C. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Mitcheson, Sir G. G.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. {E'nburgh, W.) Harbord, A. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.
Cox, H. B. Trevor Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Moreing, A. C.
Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Ropner, Colonel L. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.) Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Tate, Mavis C.
Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Rothschild, J. A. de Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Rowlands, G. Thomas, J. P. L.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Munro, P. Russell, Sir Alexander Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Nall, Sir J. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Titchfield, Marquess of
Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Touche, G. C.
Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Salmon, Sir I. Train, Sir J.
Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Salt, E. W. Tree, A. R. L. F.
O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Salter, Sir J. Arthur (Oxford U.) Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Samuel, M. R. A. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Orr-Ewing, I. L. Sandeman, Sir N. S. Turton, R. H.
Owen, Major G. Sanderson, Sir F. B. Wakefield, W. W.
Palmer, G. E. H. Sandys, E. D. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Patrick, C. M. Schuster, Sir G. E. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Peake, O. Scott, Lord William Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Peat, C. U. Selley, H. R. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Perkins, W. R. D. Shakespeare, G. H. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Peters, Dr. S. J. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Warrender, Sir V.
Petherick, M. Shepperson, Sir E. W. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Simmonds, O. E. Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Pilkington, R. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Plugge, Capt. L. F. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st) Wells, Sir Sydney
Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Porritt, R. W. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Power, Sir J. C. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Smithers, Sir W. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Procter Major H. A Snadden W. McN. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Purbrick, R. Somerset, T. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hilchin)
Radford, E. A. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Raikes, H. V. A. M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. Wise, A. R.
Ramsbotham, H. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Rankin, Sir R. Spens, W. P. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd) Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Rawson, Sir Cooper Storey, S. Wragg, H.
Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Stourton, Major Hon. J. J Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C
Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Strauss. H. G. (Norwich) York, C.
Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead) Strickland, Captain W. F. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Remer, J. R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Captain Margesson and Lieut.-Colonel Kerr
Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Sutcliffe, H.
Adams, D. (Corsett) Day, H. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Dobbie, W. Kirby, B. V.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Kirkwood, D.
Adamson, W. M. Ede, J. C. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Lathan, G.
Ammon, C. G. Frankel, D. Lawson, J. J.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Gallacher, W. Leach, W.
Banfield, J. W. Gardner, B. W. Leonard, W.
Barnes, A. J. Garro Jones, G. M. Loslie, J. R.
Barr, J. Gibson, R. (Greenock) Logan, D. G.
Batey, J. Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Lunn, W.
Beaumont, H. (Batley). Green, W. H. (Deptford) Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. McEntee, V. La T.
Benson, G. Grenfell, D. R. McGhee, H. G.
Bevan, A. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) McGovern, J.
Broad, F. A. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Maclean, N.
Bromfield, W. Groves, T. E. MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Mainwaring, W. H.
Buchanan, G. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Marshall, F.
Burke, W. A. Hall, J. H. (Whiteshapel) Mathers, G.
Cape, T. Hardie, Agnes Maxton, J.
Charleton, H. C. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Messer, F.
Chater, D. Hayday, A. Milner, Major J.
Cluse, W. S. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S)
Cocks, F. S. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Collindridge, F. Hicks, E. G. Muff, G.
Cove, W. G. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Naylor, T. E.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Hollins, A. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Daggar, G. Jagger, J. Oliver, G. H.
Dalton, H. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Paling, W.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Parker, J.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Parkinson, J. A.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Pearson, A.
Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Sloan, A. Walkden, A. G.
Poole, C. C. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Walker, J.
Pritt, D. N. Smith, E. (Stoke) Watkins, F. C.
Richards, R. (Wrexham) Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) Watson, W. McL.
Ridley, G. Smith, T. (Normanton) Welsh, J. C.
Riley, B. Sorensen, R. W. Westwood, J.
Ritson, J. Stephen, C. Wilkinson, Ellen
Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey) Stokes, R. R. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Sanders, W. S. Summerskill, Dr. Edith Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Sexton, T. M. Thorne, W. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Shinwell, E. Thurtle, E. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Silkin, L. Tinker, J. J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Silverman, S. S. Tomlinson, G.
Simpson, F. B. Viant, S. P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Anderson and Mr. Whiteley.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Captain Margesson.]