§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
I have not the slightest doubt that many of us are now thoroughly refreshed after the long interval between the Second Reading Debate and the Third Reading, but it is not my intention in my remarks to presume upon that to any extent. There are a few things which I wish to say in connection with this Measure and first I draw the attention of the House to a phrase which appears in this Bill. It is:shall‥have effect as if the Act of 1927 had not been passed.That is what we have been striving for for a great number of years—to get back to the position as it would be if the Act of 1927 had not been passed. We have nearly reached our goal. That 1927 Act was intended, in our opinion at any rate —and I do not think it was objected to by the other side of the House although they criticised some parts of it—as a reprisal for the action taken by the trade unions in 1926. It is not my intention to review those proceedings, or to debate the action taken, except to point out that since 1927, the political and industrial organisations of the workers' movement of this country have, year after year, pressed for some repeal, or later for some amendment of that Act. I was one of the members of a trade union delegation which 1113 went to see the late Mr. Chamberlain when he was Prime Minister in the early days of the war. We came to ask him once again—we paid almost an annual visit to one Prime Minister after another for some amendment of the Trade Disputes Act—to amend the Act and his reply was, in effect, that we should wait until the war was over and then it would depend upon our action during the war. Those are not his exact words, but they represent in effect what he said. I have not had time in the interval since this morning to look up the actual words.
We thought then as we have thought since that we were entitled to repeal on the merits of the case—and we have merits despite what the critics say—and not on whether we were going to be good boys (luring the war. That question was raised time and again during the war and ultimately we decided to take the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). His advice was to go to the electorate and act upon their decision. We have been to the electorate. I do not wish to call it a mandate which we received. I prefer to use the word "directive." That has been given and now we are acting upon it. I think that the decision of the General Election showed that the community in this country appreciated the value of trade unions, not only to the members, to whom they are of great value, but also because of the results of the trade union movement in the life of this country. Apart from that, the trade union movement in many ways encouraged the workers during the war to do everything they could to help the war effort and to set aside their hard-won regulations and liberties for that end. The trade unions have also in many ways given great service to local authorities and Government committees of all kinds and during the last eight or nine years—years of which I have personal knowledge—there has hardly been a committee set up by the Government for any purpose to which the trade union movement has not been asked to send one or two members. Whenever a Royal Commission, a committee, of inquiry or a judicial committee is appointed to investigate some of the circumstances existing in our country we find the trade union movement asked to appoint its representatives. We feel that 1114 the country has said to us, "You have done a good service and we will support your claim that the Act, which was passed as a punishment, should be repealed." In other words, it seems that we have clone 20 years' hard labour, and it is now pretty nearly time that there was a revision of the sentence—for we are not prepared to accept a life sentence.
I want to emphasise this point. Although the old Act deals with intimidation, political levies and so on, I feel that the greatest value in the Bill is that part which gives the Civil Service unions their undoubted right to associate with their fellows in other walks of life in the active industry of the country. Time and again they have come to us and asked for our assistance. They have ever obeyed the law, and we have had to shut out their delegations from our Trades Union Congress. But we always had as honoured guests upon the platform, representatives of the Civil Service, who, at any rate, formed a slender link which the passage of this Bill will forge into strong bonds of unity such as existed before the passing of the 1927 Act and will exist in the future. The Civil Service is a part of the same community with us in the working class movement, seeking remedies for similar problems and, with us, endeavouring to move to a more enlightened future. They share with us the idea that the old parties in the State who thought that they were the governing classes, born to rule, have got to realise that a new governing class had arisen, a governing class which intends to rule.
Many matters have been dealt with during the Committee stage of the Bill. In fact, I never fully appreciated the Attorney-General's reference to the ninepins method of argument until I saw hon. Gentlemen opposite conduct the Debate in Committee. Especially was that so in regard to some of the legal provisions. The ninepins were set up only to be skilfully knocked down again. There has been talk of intimidation, victimisation and coercion, and even the term "corruption "has been bandied about, and "swindling" was definitely mentioned. There is little evidence of that swindling and there was little evidence of any of the other things. Some of the statements which were made to the House have been swallowed by hon. Members opposite. I do not suggest that Members made such statements out of their heads, 1115 but some of them seem to swallow too easily the stories which are brought to them. During that Debate sentences were torn from their context and other methods were used to continue the attack upon this Bill. But in spite of the vigorous, skilful and in most instances, very well arranged attacks of the Opposition we have now reached the Third Reading stage. The Debate has on the whole been carried on with friendliness. There has been hard hitting on both sides, but there has not been—with one little exception, which I still resent—any hitting below the belt, and in a fight in which one wants to give the other fellow a black eye, one has to take the risk of getting a black eye oneself. I have heard somewhere a rhyme to the effect that the fellow is just who gets his blow in first. At any rate, this Bill is another milestone on the road to freedom—
§ Colonel Ropner (Barkston Ash)
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House how one can get a black eye, if hit below the belt?
§ Mr. Isaacs
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is just as late in that inquiry as he was in trying to explain the word "swindling" last night. There are many here who have lived long enough to recall the great day when the late Keir Hardie first came into this House to work on the Floor, and not on the roof. Some of us who have watched the growth and building up of the great trade union and Labour movement have longed for the day when we would see the party to which we belong given authority to take control of the State. The first milestone was the arrival here of Keir Hardie, and this is another milestone on the broad highway on which we are travelling towards the new freedom for which we have been longing. On that road we intend to travel side by side with those who have been shut out of our councils, but who will join with us now—
§ Mr. Isaacs
The hon. and gallant Gentleman will perhaps have an opportunity to make his own speech a little later. Subject to Mr. Speaker, and the rules of Order, I propose to make my own speech 1116 in my own way, and to say what I have to say about this Bill.
At the end of this morning's discussions an hon. Member opposite drew attention to the fact that the dawn of a new day was coming in through the window This is the dawn of that new day, and in the light of that dawn we shall march forward towards the things we have dreamed of for years past. We shall see that when this Bill gets on to the Statute Book the law will be operated with honesty and sincerity. I am confident that I can give a pledge that the fears of victimisation, intimidation, and prevention of the operation of conscience will not be realised as a result of any action by the trade unions. Our trade unions are big enough, powerful enough and honest enough to be able to put their case to the public and win their case on its merits.
§ Mr. Isaacs
The House may rest assured that the trade unions which have taken a part in helping to put the country on a sound economic basis, and in responding to the appeal from the Government for better production, co-operation and co-ordination will see that that is so. Those who have seen a publication of the Trades Unions Congress within the last day or two, will know that that great organisation, controlled by men of capacity, wisdom, sincerity and patriotism. stands for the kind of things which hon. Members opposite do not seem to recognise as residing in the breast of a worker. I would remind Members opposite of what was once said by the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), when he referred to patriotism by the Imperial pint. The trade unions, as I have said, will operate the provisions of this Bill, when it becomes an Act, fairly and honestly. They will see that there is no further justification for making attacks on them. It is in that spirit that I move the Motion for the Third Reading of this Bill. I am confident that when it becomes operative it will be another move towards that understanding which will bring about prosperity for our nation.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
I think I can congratulate 1117 the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour at least on this: that despite the comparatively short interval since we were all here together he has all his usual vigour, and the hon. and learned Attorney-General next him shows his characteristic youth. I hope that notwithstanding my lack of sleep I may do justice to our case on this subject. I have no doubt at all—and, possibly, this is one of the few points on which the right hon. Gentleman may agree with me—that this is one of the most fateful Measures which has come before this House for many years.
§ Mr. Strauss
That is a very interesting view. I have always had a great deal of interest in this subject, and that is why, when I learned that it was proposed, in this present Session, to repeal the Act of 1927, I endeavoured to write a book on the law of the subject in the hope that it might be made a little more comprehensible to laymen. My motive was that I was absolutely convinced then, as I am today, that if the issues involved in this Bill were generally understood the opposition to it would not be in the least confined to my own party, but would excite the enthusiasm of democrats in every party.
The greatest asset in this controversy which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have is the extreme difficulty of trade union law. There may be many points in my speech on which I shall no doubt find myself in conflict with the learned Attorney-General, but I think that on this, possibly, we can agree. It is possible to concern oneself with the law of a subject without becoming a less keen politician. The fact that one is inevitably concerned with the law on a question of this sort does not mean that one attaches less importance to those questions and aspects which concern non-legal people. When I think of the really great issues involved in the repeal of the 1927 Act, I am a little astonished at the cheap and foolish jeer, twice repeated by the Lord President of the Council, that this Bill is unworthy of long consideration because it contains only one Clause.
That seems to me to be treating the subject with a frivolity which will be resented by an intelligent electorate. [Interruption.] I can only say that it 1118 helped me a great deal. [HON. MEMBERS: "How? "] Hon. Members I may say that I was at the top of the poll while the candidate who expressed most general and universal sympathy with the Government was easily at the bottom, apart from the candidate who forfeited his deposit. [Interruption.] I cannot catch the shafts of brilliant wit from opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "You were at the bottom."] Hon. Members opposite show a great knowledge of the subject. I have always stated my views On the Bill, and I would point out that my Party has no doubt of the vital importance of the issues it raises. I know that hon. Gentlemen who are Members of the Labour Party also believe it to he so overwhelmingly important that one in 20 actually mentioned it in his election address.
We regard it as important because some of the greatest principles in which we believe are directly involved—the principle of the rule of law, the principle of the supremacy of Parliament and the freedom of the individual citizen, both in politics and in industry. All those principles are involved in this repeal. The chief support for the repeal is based on a myth, on the elaborate misrepresentation over a period of years that the Act of 1927 was rushed through on the morrow of the general strike. A year elapsed after the general strike, and, so far from being rushed through, the Act occupied 23 clays of Parliamentary time in the House of Commons. [Interruption.] I cannot quite gather the remarks from opposite, but possibly the hon. Member may have an opportunity of intervening more intelligibly later.
The right. hon. Gentleman who moved the Third Reading mentioned the question of civil servants—quite rightly in my opinion—as being in the forefront of what excited his enthusiasm. I agree with him that that is the one point on which honest differences are obviously possible. I will try later to explain why I think the provisions of the 1927 Act dealing with them are right, and why the repeal is wrong. One looks in vain through the rest of the 1927 Act for the slightest trace of anything that any just man can call vindictive. I was unable to hear from my present position the speech made by the Attorney-General on the Second Reading, but I assure him that I studied it with 1119 interest in HANSARD and with sincere admiration for the forensic skill shown in some places on an impossible case. I was much struck by one passage in which the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of provisions in the 1927 Act which caused "resentment, rightly or wrongly, on the part of a large section of the population." Does he think that it does not matter whether it is rightly or wrongly? I think this indifference between right and wrong falls rather badly from the first Law Officer of the Crown. In my opinion it makes a great deal of difference whether this alleged resentment is right or wrong, and if it is wrong it should not have undue influence on this House.
I have a good deal of sympathy with the Attorney-General when I think of the difficulty he must have had as a new boy, in trying to teach the elements of the subject to the Foreign Secretary. What enormous difficulty he must have had in trying, quite unsuccessfully, to convince the Foreign Secretary that to repeal a very important Act does, in fact, make a change in the law. The Foreign Secretary committed himself to the view—and it is a statement which defies parody—thatThe trade union law of this country up to 1927 evoked no complaint, and there has been little difference since. It is the stigma we arc endeavouring to remove, not the law." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1946: Vol. 419, c. 406.]I have no doubt that the Attorney-General tried to explain to him that it really did make a difference to the law, but obviously he failed. It would be difficult and interesting to find out what is the stigma under which the Foreign Secretary thinks he is labouring, and still more difficult to imagine how on earth he thinks it is being removed by this Measure. What does this Measure of repeal achieve? First, it repeals those provisions which introduced some degree of certainty into the law regarding general strikes. The ordinary summary of the first principle in the Measure is that a general strike is illegal and that no man shall be penalised for refusal to take part in one. I say that another equally simple and accurate way of putting the problem is "Who is to rule? "Is it to be a Government responsible to Parliament and a House of Commons elected by the whole people, or is it to 1120 be an outside body not so elected? The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour spoke of a new governing class. I do not want a new machine to supersede the House of Commons, whatever name or alias it is given. I say that it is vital to the survival of Parliamentary institutions that no outside body whatsoever should have power to coerce the Government or override the will of Parliament. If an outside body can obtain that result by a general strike that would be the end of Parliamentary Government. It was not a Member of my party but a person whose name, I think, commands respect in all quarters of the House—the great Lord Oxford and Asquith—who truly observed that, if the general strike of 1926 had succeeded, Parliamentary Government would have been at an end.
A general strike is not something of which we have had no experience. In the numerous allusions that have been made to it in the course of these Debates some hon. Members on the other side of the House have spoken as if all those on this side who condemned it were alleging that there were no fine or generous motives in any of the strikers who took part. That, of course, would be quite false. Equally, it is quite false to suggest that the widespread sympathy with the miners at that time provided any justification whatsoever for the strike. What are the facts which make us on this side of the House say that it was wrong and to be condemned, and quite different from all those other strikes which—whatever hardship they caused and whatever we may think of their wisdom—were undoubtedly lawful? The distinction between the general strike of 1926 and the other type of strike is perfectly simple. It was not a strike to compel employers to do anything at all, but a strike to compel the Government and Parliament to continue a subsidy.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am sure hon. Members opposite wish me to develop my argument and to have an opportunity of replying.
In 1925 when a stoppage in the coal industry was imminent the Government of the day granted a subsidy in order that the Samuel Commission might report 1121 on what was required for the industry, and the Government fixed a period of time—nine months—in order that the Commission should have time to report without too much hurry and that Parliament and the industry should be able to consider what should be done in the light of the report.
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not see why I should give way. I would remind the House that the Commission did report early in 1927 and made various recommendations for the reorganisation of the industry. Some, it was said, would take a period of months —others needed years—and they made proposals to deal with the immediate situation.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am really getting a little puzzled. The hon. Member is going into the past on the Third Reading of a Bill.
§ Mr. Strauss
With respect, I will not elaborate that point. I want to say what the point was I was proposing to develop.
Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas
On a point of Order. The hon. Gentleman is developing a line of argument, the validity of which you have questioned, Mr. Speaker. If he persists in a line of argument, which you, Sir, say is out of Order, will it be in Order for me or any other Member to put questions on the lines of the argument he was developing?
§ Mr. Speaker
That was exactly why I rose to interrupt the hon. Member. He is bringing coal into a Debate which is not concerned with coal. We should really stick to what is in the Bill, and not go into past history on a Third Reading.
§ Mr. Strauss
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I think I am right in developing the point to this extent. I am entirely in your hands. What I wish to do is to show the origin of the general strike—it needs very little more development—so that we may know whether the repeal of this Measure will make a repetition of the general strike legal or not. That has occupied a great deal of the time of the House on Second Reading and the Committee stage, and—while I follow the indication of your Ruling and shall cut short the part which you have questioned—I think I can keep myself within order 1122 and deal with the subject which, I am sure, is vital to Sections I, 2 and 7 of the 1927 Act which this Bill seeks to repeal. It is on those grounds that I submit it would be in Order on Third Reading.
§ Mr. Speaker
That as all right, but I must warn the hon. Gentleman to keep the House off the coal Debate.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am sorry, Air. Speaker, if I went too far. The general strike was to compel the Government, and not the owners, to do something. It will be sufficient to quote the leader in the "Daily Herald" on the day the strike began:At midnight tonight, unless the Government changes its position on the mining lockout, a great national stoppage of industry will begin.
§ Mr. Strauss
Yes, there is no dispute about that. I do not think any point arises on that. If we are to argue whether the coal stoppage resembled a strike or a lockout, I always thought that "lockout" was the better expression and I have always called it that.
§ Mr. Strauss
I have always called it so, and so have most of my hon. Friends. The question which is directly raised by Section 1 of the 1927 Act and by this Bill which seeks to repeal it, is this. May I set it out in two sentences? Is a general strike to coerce the Government and override the will of Parliament to be lawful or unlawful? Secondly, if it is to be unlawful, is it to be known to be unlawful by everyone in advance, and is there to be machinery to prevent it? I will address myself to these questions. There is no doubt that, on the evidence, the general strike of 1926 was to compel and coerce the Government to do something which the Government and the House of Commons bad refused to do. In case that is disputed by anybody—and there was a good deal in the Foreign Secretary's speech on Second Reading which seemed to give another version—I think I ought to remind the House, not what was said 20 years afterwards by the leaders who participated, but what was said at the time by one of the principal people who took part—the Industrial Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen, Mr. C. T. Cramp, who was 1123 one of the small body of people running the strike and giving his orders through the "British Worker," the organ of the T.U.C., on the conduct of that strike. These were his words on 28th August, 1926:In order that the general strike might be successful, it was necessary to enforce the resignation of the Government. In spite, therefore, of the General Council of the T.U.C.'s denials made during the strike, and obviously for the purpose of reassuring the timid, the issue was a Constitutional one. If successful, it did involve a revolutionary change in their methods, and it was as well to face the fact. In the circumstances prevailing during the general strike, there was no half-way house between the ballot box and the machine gun. Whereas we expected food supplies to grow scarce in a couple of days, and business to come to a standstill, nothing of the kind took place.That was the same Mr. Cramp who in the "British Worker" of 5th May gave these instructions to the railwaymen:You must handle no traffic of any kind, foodstuffs or otherwise.The question I put to the House in deciding whether or not they wish to repeal the Act of 1927 is this—When that Act of 1927 has been repealed, will such a strike be lawful or unlawful? The answer—scandalous and incredible as it may seem—is that the Government does not know and does not care. Let me give the authorities for the rival views as to the legality. There is the well-known judgment of Mr. Justice Astbury in deciding a case just before the end of the general strike, in which he held that it was illegal. That view was, of course, as the hon. and learned Attorney-General knows, supported in an article by a distinguished jurist, the late Sir Frederick Pollock.
The opposite view that it was legal was expressed by no less a legal authority than the present President of the Board of Trade at the time when he was Solicitor-General in 1931. Speaking and advising the House as a Law Officer of the Crown, he expressed the view that, in the then state of the law, the general strike was lawful, and the view of the present President of the Board of Trade, then Solicitor-General, is taken by another distinguished jurist, Professor Goodhart, well known both at Oxford and Cambridge as a professor of jurisprudence and the learned editor of the Law Quarterly." So there is a fine 1124 conflict of judicial authority on whether that strike at that time was lawful or not. That is the law which is about to be restored—utter doubt as to whether that strike is legal or illegal. We on this side of the House say that such a strike ought undoubtedly to be illegal. I can understand some communists saying it ought to be legal. Until the present Government brought forward this Bill, I had never met anyone so lunatic as to think that nobody ought to know whether it was legal or not.
Who will benefit by this doubt? Is it suggested that trade union leaders or trade unionists benefit by such a doubt? Let me remind the House of a few more things which the President of the Board of Trade, then Solicitor-General, said on that subject in 1931. He said that in his view the primary object of the general strike of 1926 was not the furtherance of a trade dispute. He held that it was not illegal at that time, but since, in his view, the primary object was not the furtherance of a trade dispute, it would have been illegal under the terms of the Socialist Bill which he was then presenting to the House. In other words, he said that the law ought to be such that such a strike would be illegal. In his view it was not illegal at the time, and though it ought to be illegal, it will not be illegal if the Government carries the present Bill to the Statute Book.
I am not sure which alternative the hon., learned and ingenious Attorney-General will choose on this occasion. If he says that such a general strike—and I have read Mr. Cramp's description of its objects and intentions—will not be illegal after the repeal of this Measure, then at least we know the position in which the Government means to place this country. If, on the other hand, he chooses the other alternative and says that, in his view, notwithstanding his difference from his colleague the President of the Board of Trade—also a very eminent lawyer—such a strike will be illegal, then I ask what method will be available against it?
I heard in the early hours of this morning a vehement discussion between the hon. and learned Attorney-General and a lawyer on this side, in which the Attorney-General claimed that he was misinterpreted and my hon. Friend did not think he was misinterpreting him. All I can say is that I will do my best not to 1125 misinterpret the learned Attorney-General, and if I do, I am sure he will correct me.
The question is, what methods should be available against an illegal strike, if you hold that it is illegal and presumably wish to stop it? The hon. and learned Attorney-General pointed out the great weakness of relying on criminal procedure alone, and on that I am inclined to think he is right. My own view, for what it is worth, is that we ought to be able to rely both on criminal and on civil law. The hon. and learned Attorney-General mentioned the Emergency Powers Act of 1920 which, as he rightly observed, remains and will remain on the Statute Book, but referred to action under that Statute as executive action. So in a sense it is, but of course it is armed with all the resources of the criminal law, prescribing, as it does, criminal penalties for the breach of any regulations made under that Statute.
The present provisions which this Bill is repealing certainly provide criminal penalties, not for the man who merely ceases work but for those who instigate and further illegal strikes. There are also very useful civil remedies available under the Act of 1927. First of all, acts done in contemplation and furtherance of an illegal strike or lock out will no longer be protected under Section 3 of the 1875 Act, and Sections I, 2 and 3 of the 1906 Act. The learned Attorney-General may point out that, assuming Mr. justice Astbury's decision to be correct, that will still be the case even after repeal. That again, I think, is right. But there are two other useful provisions in the 1927 Statute which will have gone for good. The only circumstances in which a trade union can lose the absolute immunity for its funds granted by Section 4 of the Act of 1906 is in the event of action in furtherance of an illegal strike or lock out. That is a most useful deterrent. It did not, as a Socialist suggested it would during the debates of 1927, lead to any litigation from that day to this, but it has been a great help in preventing hotheads from even seeking to produce an illegal pike or lock out, since that was the one way in which trade union funds could be endangered.
There is another point, and that was put by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) in his intervention last night on the 1126 Question, "That Clause 1 stand part." I am bound to say that, if the Attorney-General fully understood the point, I think his reply was a little incomplete and disingenuous, because my right hon. and learned Friend pointed out that under Section 7 of the 1927 Act the Attorney-General could move the court to restrain the use of trade union funds in pursuance of an illegal strike or lock-out even if there was no member of the trade union sufficiently concerned, sufficiently interested, or sufficiently patriotic to do so. The hon. and learned Attorney-General replied, accurately in my opinion, that there would be the possibility of the same action that was taken in the case of the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union v. Reed. Of course there would, but that was not a case brought by the Attorney-General. That case we owe to the patriotism of the late Mr. Havelock Wilson. Are we to rely entirely on the patriotism of members of the trade unions?
Let me say at once that I think it will often be sufficient so to do. I agree with what was said about the patriotism of trade unionists by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. They are a very patriotic body of men, but I think it is wholly improper to leave the entire risk of stopping a national disaster to the chance of somebody being sufficiently patriotic to move the court. The principal Law Officer of the Crown must not be debarred from having the power to do so. It follows that even if certain strikes remain illegal, as the Attorney-General suggests they do—I do not know whether he would put a strike of the type of 1926 into that category—he will have deprived himself of the principal civil remedies for stopping such a strike though he himself has proclaimed the difficulty of relying on the criminal law. Realising the difficulty of relying on the criminal law alone, he cuts out the support that the civil law at present gives him. I know it was said on Second Reading, by the learned Attorney-General and others, that you cannot legislate against revolutions. That statement, though of course in a sense true—that is to say that an Act of Parliament will not of itself necessarily prevent a revolution—seems to me to be wholly unfair to the patriotism and the decency of the ordinary trade unionist.
The argument that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour used 1127 about the patriotism of trade unionists is against him on this point, because he is asking the House to say that it makes no difference to patriotic men to know that at present certain actions are illegal, and that it will make no difference if in future they do not know whether they are illegal or not. Any of us who have the pleasure of knowing many trade unionists know that a great many would hesitate to indulge in an activity which they knew was against the criminal law, though they might follow leaders who might be foolish, if they thought that the advice given was not illegal. The Attorney-General treats that as extremely funny, I do not know why.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)
Let me assure the hon. Member I was not laughing at what he said, but at something quite different. I was listening to what he said, but an incident, which occurred on the other side of the House, caused me to laugh.
§ Mr. Strauss
It is unfair to the patriotism of trade unionists to say that legislation on this subject, determining what strikes are illegal, makes no difference. It is also flying in the face of facts. Let me remind the House of three dates. I do not think it is conclusive, but it is suggestive. The general strike begins on 4th May, 1926, on 11th May a High Court judge declares it to be illegal, and on the following day the T.U.C. calls it off. It may be mere chance but it at least suggests that disrespect for the law is not so widely shared by trade unionists as in some more august quarters. Whoever else is entitled to say that the law makes no difference the last people who ought to do so are hon. Members of the House of Commons. The last people who ought to invite the House to do it are those on the Government Front Bench and the last man on the Government Front Bench who should do it is the principal Law Officer of the Crown.
I dare say it will be said that these arguments are a little academic because now the leaders of the T.U.C. are so eminently respectable that they would never dream of indulging in another general strike. If that were the case, nothing would have been easier than for them to say so. I do not believe it would be a good argument for repealing the law on the subject, but, unfortunately for any 1128 such contention, Sir Walter Citrine, who is always frank and honest in these matters, gave an interview published in the Labour Press Service on 9th January, 1946 in which he dealt specifically with the position which would result from the repeal of the 1927 Act. He did not say there would not be another general strike. He said nothing of the kind. He said that in future there must be no law against it, that there ought to be a brake, but no law against it in the future. He said that the trade union movement had a sense of responsibility and would only indulge in it in the most exceptional circumstances. Let me read the exact words:I am convinced that the responsibility devolving on the Trade Union Movement when faced with a contingency like a general strike"—That is rather good, "faced with a contingency," when they invented it—is so great that only in the most exceptional circumstances, and when no other remedy appeared possible, would such a method be likely to be employed.That is very different from saying that there will never be another general strike. Of course there will not be another general strike while the trade union movement is confident that it has a very obedient Government in power which takes more notice of its secret deliberations than the public deliberations of the House of Commons. But, if at any moment the House of Commons, or the electorate, prove recalcitrant, then this admirable weapon of the general strike remains in their armoury. Let me read what was said by a trade union leader in this House on the Committee stage of the Bill. Let me quote a sentence from the hon. Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. Haworth):I can visualise circumstances which might justify or necessitate a stoppage of labour by the trade union movement even against the Government of the day, and if those circumstances arise—a change of Government, a declaration of war against Russia, for instance—it might be necessary to call a stoppage of work. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1946: Vol. 419, c. 1789.]So now we know what is meant by the "most exceptional circumstances" in Sir Walter Citrine's statement. I leave the question of the general strike, although I am convinced, and make no apology for having dealt with it, that it is the most important issue raised by this Bill. The 1129 folly of the Government in repealing these provisions which protect our Parliamentary institutions, and protect the community, will be remembered long after all their other work is forgotten.
On intimidation, I propose to say little because we debated it yesterday. I would merely call the attention of the House to this. In Section 3 of the Act of 1927, there are four Subsections. It is only to the definition of intimidation in Subsection (2) that the Socialists in the past have exressed any opposition. I am not going to argue whether their objection to Subsection (2) is right or wrong, because, if they thought it wrong, nothing would have been simpler than to introduce an Amendment on that Subsection, and if that Subsection goes, we return to the position that results from the courts' interpretation of the Act of 1875. But what about Subsections (1) and (4)? Is there an hon. Member on the other side of the House, who objects to anything in Subsection (1)? I do not suppose there is. The law as set down in Subsection (1) will remain because that is a statement of the law as it results from the previous Statutes. The only thing is that that convenient statement will no longer be available as an authority for pickets, and those who instruct them. But it is pitiable that we should be invited today to do away with Subsection (4) which protects the home.
I do not need to repeat arguments used yesterday, but I would remind hon. Members in all quarters of the House of one very significant observation when a lawyer on this side was developing the case against allowing watching and besetting of the home, which we believe will be greatly facilitated after the repeal of this Subsection. There was a cry from the opposite Benches "You are eager to protect blacklegs." I do not know whether it is unworthy, or unchristian, to think that the wife and children even of a blackleg should be protected in their own home, but, if so, I unhesitatingly declare that I am in favour of such protection. But, as a matter of fact, there is no reason to suppose that the man concerned would be a blackleg, even in the vocabulary of hon. Members opposite. If it happens to be an unofficial strike, the so-called blackleg, obeying the orders of the official trade union leaders, should he protected from the pickets of the unofficial 1130 strike. Hon. Members opposite are doing the greatest disservice possible to the reputation of the great trade union movement in this country by saying that it is necessary for that movement to retain the right to picket the worker's home.
To turn to the political levy, again we had a Debate on that subject yesterday. I do not want to repeat arguments that are so recent. I would only remind hon. Members that on that particular issue, taking the Members of this House and the number of electors they represent, there is an actual majority of electors against the course which hon. Members are taking. Let us first consider this: I can understand it being said that contracting out would be a more convenient method than contracting in and, therefore, preferable, if it could also be said that in the result it made no difference. Once you admit that it makes an enormous difference then you are giving away your whole case for asking for the change. I have taken figures from an answer given by the Minister of Labour in the present Session and by the Lord Chancellor when he was Attorney-General in 1931. Taking these two figures together we find that the number of those paying the political levy in the registered trade unions in 1926 was 77 per cent., and in 1943 the percentage was 43. The doctrine of hon. Members opposite appears to be that persuasion cannot reverse these figures, but legislation can. They have had a pretty good success with peaceful picketing; they will now resort to peaceful pocketing.
Hon. Members opposite sometimes use the argument, "What about a club? Surely, when a majority of a club have decided on something, the minority must fall into line? "The parallel is not a very close one. I do not know of any club to which one is compelled to belong in order to earn one's livelihood. Secondly, if this particular form of club is under a slight disadvantage, that is compensated for by most elaborate privileges, unique in the legislation of this or any other country. I have sometimes heard the example used of what a corporation can do, and have heard the question asked, cannot a minority be bound if the memorandum and articles of association so permit? I am not impressed by that argument, and shall not be, until the trade unions show some willingness to be incorporated. If they decided on incorporation, with all the benefits and all the dis- 1131 advantages, I do not think that it is on this side of the House that they would meet with any opposition.
I pass to the Civil Service. Here, I agree, is far the most arguable case in the whole of the 1927 Act. For many years I have enjoyed the friendship of many civil servants, and still more so since I had the privilege of being a Minister for three years, and many years ago I was, for some years, a temporary civil servant myself. I realise that a civil servant feels at times that he is debarred from certain things which, if he were not a civil servant, he would be able and allowed to do. The question is whether that deprivation is necessarily involved in preserving what is of great value to the reputation of his profession, and to the confidence which it enjoys among the general public. In arguing this matter with civil servants I have found that, when the matter has been put before them, a great many have come to the point of view that there are great advantages in these limitations, in the interest of the reputation of the Civil Service and in the confidence that the public has in it.
On this particular issue of whether the Civil Service should owe undivided allegiance to the Government I would say that that is quite as much to the advantage of the Socialist Party or the Liberal Party as it is of our party. It is of enormous advantage to every party in the State, and when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest that there will be no risk to the Civil Service in doing away with these safeguards, I ask them to consider this: Does anyone deny either of these two facts? First, that the T.U.C. frequently discusses matters on which differences between it and the Government of the day are possible? Secondly, that bodies affiliated to the T.U.C. owe a considerable measure of loyalty to the T.U.C.? Once one admits both those facts, and I have not heard anybody dispute either of them, one is driven to the inevitable conclusion that affiliation to the T.U.C. will subject those in the affiliated unions to divided loyalties.
It is not only civil servants who are under these disadvantages, if they are disadvantages. Exactly similar limitations apply to the police. I do not know whether the Government propose to pro- 1132 ceed later to relieve the police of these alleged disadvantages. Of course, the repeal of the 1927 Act will only benefit the Civil Service unions if the new Civil Service regulations are quite different from the present ones. Why will the Government not tell us what the new Civil Service Regulations are to be? I put this question to them: Have they made up their mind what the new Regulations ought to be? If they have not, are they not slightly deceiving the Civil Service unions, in letting them believe that they are to have increased freedom? If, on the other hand, they have made up their mind, have they decided not to tell the House what they intend to do? I hope that these questions will be answered in the course of the Debate.
I wish now to deal with local and other public authorities. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) yesterday could not understand why we wished to retain Section 6 in the law, and yet he himself said that he was against the trade union being chosen by the employer and not by the man himself. Our doctrine on this side of the House is quite simple. Whether a man joins a,trade union, and whether, if he does, he joins one trade union or another, is a matter for the man himself, and not for his employer. If hon. Members, especially the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, care to look up the case of the Attorney-General v. Birkenhead Corporation, they will know that that corporation, until it was restrained by the Act which is now being repealed, was favouring one particular trade union as against another.
On the subject of lightning strikes, the Attorney-General said that he could not understand why this prohibition was limited to local and other public authorities. I should have thought that the short answer is that it is on them that the State has, in the public interest, placed a statutory duty for the maintenance of health and many other statutory duties. If there were a defect in the law in that some kinds of private concerns with similar duties were omitted, the remedy was suggested by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hill-head, namely, to include such further provision, but not to sweep away this existing protection against lightning strikes.
1133 I thank the House for the patience with which it has listened. I believe that the greatest of all injuries which this Bill is doing to the State is the injury that it is inflicting on this honourable House. I believe no one can be a Member, as I have been for 10 years, without realising that there is something about the traditions, the procedure, and the methods of this place which makes even ordinary men and women in all parties sometimes rise to greatness on great occasions. I think those conditions are worth preserving. I believe this Bill is a threat to the supremacy of Parliament, a threat to the rule of law and to our liberties. I say that when it is carried the resulting state of the law will be unworthy of this House, arid unworthy of a great political party. After six years of war an heroic and civilised people deserves something better.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Ruģby)
I must say that I do not take quite the same view of the Bill, in the form in which it has emerged from the Committee, as the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). I think his view of this Bill is coloured by bad history and groundless misapprehension. A combination of bad history and groundless misapprehension is not a good basis on which to judge the merits or demerits of any Bill. I might add that it is always possible to make history fit one's own view, if one has complete freedom as to the date on which one starts the history. We have had that pointed out to us in discussions on foreign politics in this House. Although I am not going to discuss the merits of the general strike of 1926, I can perfectly well understand that if my hon. Friend started his history from nine months before the date of that strike, he might draw one conclusion. But if he looks, as I think he ought to look, at the whole history of the coal industry and at the responsibility of employers and Governments for what happened in the industry over many decades, then he may well take a different view of the history of the general strike. Therefore, I begin by dissociating myself from the wholesale condemnation of the Bill which has been expressed by my hon. Friend.
Nevertheless, I wish to repeat briefly what I tried to say both on the Committee stage and on Second Reading, that I profoundly regret that a magnificent oppor- 1134 tunity of statesmanship has been lost, in my opinion, in the manner in which this Bill has been brought to us. It is true that the quickest way of getting rid of the matter from the Government point of view, is a one-Clause Bill which undoes everything that was done in 1927. If there is a one-Clause Bill, and an overriding Government majority in the House, they can drive that Bill through in a comparatively short period of time. But I have seen enough of Parliament and of the trade union movement to believe that what is best is what is built best, and that a shoddy building run up in a hurry, is not nearly as good as a building, put up at greater leisure and at a great expenditure in time, but with better lasting qualities.
§ Mr. Brown
I am a man of exemplary patience, but Members opposite must learn that barracking is no substitute for argument. I hope never to have to speak to them again on this subject. If the Government wanted—arid in my opinion it would have been wiser if they had—a settlement which would last not only through this Parliament, and perhaps the next, but as long ahead as we can reasonably foresee, they would have done better to have spent more time upon the matter. I want a settlement which will last, because trade union legislation has been the battledore and shuttlecock of party politics for decade after decade. Nobody knows that better than my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. The desirable thing in my opinion is a settlement that will endure, even if that settlement gave less than one could get by the automatic exercise of an overwhelming Parliamentary majority in a particular House at a particular time. Therefore, I think it would have been better if the Government had 1135 done one of two things. One was to produce their conception of what trade union law ought to be, and give the House the opportunity of discussing it issue by issue, which I agree would have taken more Parliamentary time. The second alternative, if they had to have a one-Clause Bill of the kind they have produced, was to allow reasonable discussion on particular Amendments to that Bill. I must say, and I say this with regret as a trade union leader myself, that they have taken neither of those courses. They have not produced a reasoned Bill on the one hand, and it would be a mockery of truth to say that we have had adequate opportunities to discuss Amendments to this Bill on the other hand.
The attitude appears to have been "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." That incites strong opposition from the "Bill" who sits here. As a result of this attitude, what have we done? We have repealed the provision about the general strike. That is good. I think it ought to go. We have declined to consider any Amendment on the subject of watching and besetting. That, I think is a mistake. I am not going to argue the extent of this. We had a bit of an argument about it yesterday. What I would say is that trade unions are so strong in these days, that they could afford to put themselves completely beyond any kind of suspicion in regard to that particular point. It would have been good politics to have done so.
What have we done with regard to political funds? What is really happening is that the Government are going to collect the financial increment of inertia. Indeed, they have not waited for the collection to begin; they have already had conferences on how the spoil is to be divided. The sum is a substantial one of £100,000; the claimants are many and vociferous, and already the discussions on the share-out have commenced. I wonder whether five years hence hon. Members opposite will take quite the same view about that Section? Unless a party bases its decision upon what is right, it can always be outbid by somebody on the Left. In view of things that are happening, which we all know of, in the Labour movement, such as the steady penetration of the trade unions by the Communists—that is a fact; we all know it—I wonder who will be collecting the increment of inertia five 1136 years hence It may not be the Labour Party. It may be the Communist Party. It might have been as well to have left it to the clear, conscious decision of a man that he would contract into his political fund, rather than to have restored contracting out. I doubt whether we shall be so pleased about that Clause a few years hence.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Will the hon. Member allow me? He can surely understand how the working-class movement has been built up in this country. The trade unions are affiliated to the Labour Party, and there is a consequent relation to a political affiliation, but there is no such thing, and there can be no such thing, as affiliation to the Communist Party.
§ Mr. Brown
It is almost with affection that I listen to the hon. Member, but if there is anything more adaptable, adjustable and reversible than Communist Party policy, then it is Communist Party machinery. We know that the present constitution does not admit of affiliation of the unions, but that is a matter that could be put right tomorrow. They need not even have a conference to do it. King Street can give an order and the thing will be suitably arranged. I am glad that Section 5 has gone, because I think it ought to go, and I do not share the apprehensions of my hon. Friend behind me who wants to know what regulations are going to be made about Civil Service unions. I do not know why he raised the point. As I understand it, repeal of this Section will restore the position as it was before 1927. There were no regulations then governing the conditions of the Civil Service trade unions. They were not governed by regulations at all, but by tradition and practice. And the tradition and practice of the Civil Service unions were such that there were no worries about their loyalty to the Government of the day. I see no reason to think that these will arise in the future.
1137 I regret that we have knocked out Section 6, because I have a passion for freedom for its own sake, and not necessarily only for those who agree with me. Freedom for me, is not freedom to do what hon. Members opposite want me to do, but freedom for me to do what they do not want me to do. Unless we are quite clear about that profound difference, we do not begin to understand the meaning of freedom.
§ Mr. Brown
On this issue of local government authorities, I regard it as a monstrous thing that a local government authority should have the right to tell any man that he should not be a member of a trade union. I regarded it as monstrous, in the early days in the Civil Service trade union movement, when there was a refusal of the Government to recognise trade unions. But I also regard it as monstrous that local authorities should have power to tell a man that he must be a member of a union, whether he wants to or not, and as still more monstrous, that they should not only be able to tell him that he should be a member of a union, but should even specify the union to which he must belong. It is just as much tyranny in the one direction as in the other, and I think it is a great pity. I am opposed, from a trade union point of view, to the closed, shop." [An HON MENIBER: "What about the open shop? "] I would rather have an open shop with 70 per cent. of the men in the unions because they wanted to be in, than have a closed shop with 100 per cent. in the unions only because, otherwise, they would not get a job at all. I think we ought to approach all these things on the merits of the case, and have a reasonable argument about them. We have not done that. We have had an automatic closure forced through by an automatic Government majority, with the result that I have had to vote against the Government seven times in the last 24 hours—not because I wanted to, but because I thought they were wrong in resisting Amendments and relying upon their automatic majority.
1138 I think this has been a magnificent opportunity for statesmanship, wantonly thrown away. If we are to have the politics of "tit for tat" in Britain, we had better look out. The Government have a giant's strength in this House, but it is a mistake to use it like a giant. They could have afforded to exercise it reasonably on this subject. I shall vote for the Third Reading of the Bill. I want the historic justification which the Bill gives, I want repeal of Section 5, and other alterations which the Bill will give us. But I regret that, in order to vote for some things which I regard as good, I am compelled to vote for many things which I do not regard as good. That would not have been the case if the Government had taken the advice which I gave them in the Second Reading Debate.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Popplewell (Newcastle upon Tyne, West)
I am glad of the opportunity welcoming the Government's attitude on-this Bill. I think the way in which they have dealt with this subject is very good indeed. The hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Mr. H. Strauss), in a speech, for which I give him all credit as the representative of a typical cross-section of the community, produced logic which, as regards the events which led up to this very harsh Act of 1927 being placed on the Statute Book, was very deplorable. The hon. Member admits the fact that this Act was brought about by the mineowners' lockout of the miners, but there his logic ends. When that lockout led to the general strike, the only thing that he could see was the wisdom of bringing in something to stop a general strike. He could not see the wisdom of any effort by the Government to bring something into operation that would stop the lockout. That is the difference between us in our approach.
We know the actual set-up that led to the 1927 Act being placed on the Statute Book. It was, I think, rightly described as a miners' lockout. Now, we are suggesting that it was wrong altogether to pass that Act to penalise the general strike which arose from that source. We feel that the Government of the day would have shown more statesmanlike qualities in their 20 years of power, had they attempted to deal with the actual seeds that led to the trouble originally in the same way as, I am pleased to say, this 1139 Government are now doing by taking control of those industries which are calculated to be likely to lead to general strikes in the future. We on these Benches are not ashamed to say that we are working in close association with the men engaged in the productive side of industry. The difference between us, and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, for many years has been that they have been working in active association with those people whose primary interest in industry has been the profit that could he derived from it. Consequently we have those two different methods of approach. We get our approach in connection with the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act of 1927.
The hon. Member for the Combined Universities stressed the fact that he had in his election address emphasised the repeal of the Trade Disputes Act, and suggested that Members on this side of the house made very little reference to it in their election addresses. If he took the trouble to read our addresses, he would find that 90 per cent. of the Members on this side of the House are pledged to the repeal of this Act. Furthermore, not only are we pledged to it in our election addresses, we are pledged through that little document that has been quoted so often, "Let us Face the Future," which has established a fresh record in electioneering promises. [Laughter.] Wait for it—we are actually living up to the promises contained in that document, whereas hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were very glib at promises in days gone by, completely forgot those promises as soon as they were returned to power. If any further witness is needed in corroboration of my statements, the House need only take the promises of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) as far back as after the last war, when in his Dundee electioneering speeches, he promised, if returned to power—
Mr. Quintin Hoģ ģ (Oxford)
On a point of Order. I had been under the impression that we were discussing the Third Reading of the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill. I do not understand how that can be related to a discussion of the election promises of various distinguished statesmen during the last 20 years. I submit that it is wholly irrele 1140 vant, and amounts to wearisome repetition.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
Much that hon. Members say is not strictly relevant, but perhaps we might allow the hon. Member to continue, and we will see.
§ Mr. McAdam (Salford, North)
Is it not in Order for a Member to take up an interjection and reply to it in the course of his speech?
§ Mr. Popplewell
I am glad to hear that I am perfectly in Order. The right hon. Member for Woodford, having made certain speeches, when returned to this House did not attempt to put them into operation. We are now doing it for him in this nationalisation Bill. We are working in association with the people actually engaged in industry, and will see to it that no lock-out can arise because a certain section of owners do not play the game with their employees. Since the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act was passed, we in the trade union movement have been very emphatic and it is very interesting to see the interest taken by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in the trade union movement and to see that, although they profess to have such profound regard for it, they have not been able to quote a single trade union that does not ask for this Act to be repealed.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
The hon. Gentleman was not a Member of the previous Parliament, but is he aware that hardly one Member of this House, on any side, got any letters asking for the repeal of the Trade Disputes Act of 1927? It never was a public issue. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It never was an election issue, and as for the famous mandate, if everything in that mandate, every item, resulted in the election of the party opposite, it is like ordering one dish in the dining room and giving a verdict on the entire menu. That is what it amounts to.
§ Mr. Popplewell
We can quite appreciate that hon. Gentlemen opposite would not receive representations from trade unions, but had it been a question of concern to chambers of commerce, no 1141 doubt they would have been inundated. The trade unions preferred to pin their faith to the men who have been tried and trusted on their behalf for so many years. It was consequently rather absurd for hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that this was not an election issue. The Leader of the Opposition himself made it an election issue. He stated very definitely, when approached by the trade unions with regard to the repeal of this Act, that it must wait until such time as an election took place. Possibly the 1922 Committee was responsible for his reaching that verdict, but as he did so the election issue was very clear and definite, and on it a mandate was given. That mandate having been given, we are now to put it into operation, by removing the slur cast upon the trade union movement for so many years. Had hon. Gentlemen opposite been sincere in the lip service they have paid to the trade unions, because of the good work they say the trade unions have done during the war, they would have made the gesture that we arc now asked to make, and they would have suggested certain alterations in the trade union law that might have been beneficial according to their particular outlook. We on our side feel that if we return to the pre-1927 position, which gives to trade unionists as a whole freedom of choice. in every direction, it is quite satisfactory from our particular viewpoint.
I now turn to the actual Sections of the Act we are about to repeal. One deals with the illegality of strikes and lockouts. Strikes arise many times from lockouts; if we remove the causes that lead to grave unrest amongst a large section of the community by taking control of the industry and running it for the benefit of the country and not for private profit, there is not much danger of general strikes happening in the future. The working association between us and the people engaged in the industry will be great, just as is the working association between hon. Gentlemen opposite and the interest-receiving people who have been running industry in the past. They have not argued the point amongst themselves, one cannot blame them. They have worked in close association, and we on these benches will work in close association with the trade unionists and all men engaged in industry. Therefore, we are not disturbed about many of the grave fore- 1142 bodings which have been voiced by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches.
My second point concerns the protection of persons refusing to take part in strikes. As a trade unionist of many years standing, I have always had a very tender regard indeed for those people who have been content to work in an industry and receive all the benefits a trade union can get for them but who refuse to shoulder the responsibility when the call comes. Perhaps my regard for these people has not been quite so tender as that of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They are the type of people to whom the words of the hon. and gallant Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Ropner) applied, when he talked about swindling trade unionists, a phrase which he would not repeat last night when challenged on the point. I see that HANSARD reports him as saying:Further, I say that merely quoting cases of this sort does not serve as an excuse for swindling the trade unionists."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, IA April, 1946; Vol. 421, c. 894.]I suggest that the people I have mentioned, the blacklegs, are swindling trade unionists the whole of the time.
§ Colonel Ropner (Barkston Ash)
I would like to correct one statement which the hon. Member has made. I do not deny the words which he quoted, but he is wrong when he says that I failed to repeat and enlarge, later in the Debate, the accusation which I made.
§ Mr. Popplewell
HANSARD proves how far the hon. and gallant Member attempted to enlarge those particular words. It is possible that those are the the people for whom he had such a tender regard. I do not want to labour these matters unduly. Our minds are made up. No matter what may be said on either side, we know how the vote will go.
§ Mr. Popplewell
I come now to what I regard as the most important matter covered by the Bill, I refer to the trade unions' contributions to the political fund. It would be very difficult to find in history any action which was so much a matter of hitting below the belt by one political party against another as was committed in this respect in the 1927 Act. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are more 1143 concerned about this matter than they are about any other. We have all seen the growth of the working-class movement in its industrial and political spheres. There was the first attempt to set up a political party, there was further action in 1873, 1880 and 1890, until finally there was close working cooperation. The trade unionists in industry, realising that it was impossible for them to accomplish much as long as they pinned their faith in either the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party, decided to set up a separate political party and to contribute to it in a way which gives us pride namely, through their halfpennies and pennies. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have never asked the House to define what portion of the balance sheets of commercial undertakings and revenue producing units may be put to political purposes, as they ask shall he done in regard to trade unions. It is an open secret, of which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are not ashamed, that industry contributes to their coffers and assists their political machine.
We on this side are proud that the trade unions assist us in our political actions. We do not ask for action against industrial magnates to prevent them from financing hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, as they seek to curtail the political activities of trade unions. Every attack that has been made on the trade union movement throughout the years has ultimately rebounded to the credit of trade unionists. That applied so much in the case of the attack in 1927 that it has been a contributory factor—one of many—to these Benches being packed with working class folk today.
§ Mr. Popplewell
The hon. Members opposite have talked a great deal about freedom. The 1927 Act is the very negation of freedom. I wonder what meaning hon. Members opposite give to the word "freedom" when they ask for the retention of such Sections as Section 6, which deals with Civil Service unions. They attempt to bolster up their case on Section 6 by suggesting that local authorities will do certain things. The repeal of Section 6 will only put local authorities in the position that they may decide—not that they shall decide—to do 1144 certain things. It will give to local authorities the same rights as private employers have, namely; to make a closed shop if they feel it is advisable to do so. It is not suggested that the repeal of the Section will automatically bring about a closed shop for local government employees. Surely, hon. Members opposite ought not to say that a local authority or a public authority should be in any different position, as an employer of labour, from a private enterprise firm. The repeal of this Section will give equality.
The passage of this Bill will give extreme gratification to a tremendous section of the community. For 20 years the Act has been a source of grievance to that section of the community which has provided the vast mass of the Fighting Forces during the war. The trade unionists have willingly given up some of their hard won rights in order to contribute to victory in the war, and bouquets galore have been paid to them. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are sincere in what they have said about their regard for the trade unions, they should cease opposing this Bill. If this section of the community can accomplish what they have accomplished during these last six years, it follows that they have the ordinary common sense and intelligence to wield power, to see that freedom has expression, and to assist in guiding this country on the way to peace and prosperity.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
It is always a matter of deep regret to me that so much heat can be engendered in a discussion about trade union legislation. I have listened to nearly the whole of the Debates which have taken place on the Bill. I am reminded of the heated Debates of 1927, and even of 1913, when the same kind of phrases were thrown across the Floor of the House, and even the same words, in many cases. Surely, in a matter which affects the lives of so many people and the prosperity and welfare of the country, the only voice that should be heard is the voice of reason.
I would refer to one or two speeches that have been delivered this afternoon which I regard as exaggerated. First, there was the hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) who said that if the Bill were passed it would be a threat to the liberty of the House, 1145 to the rule of law, to freedom and to democracy itself. Does he really believe that? Can he really seriously put forward such a suggestion? On the other hand, there was the Minister of Labour who proposed the Third Reading of the Bill. In his peroration he stated: "This is a milestone on the road to freedom." He hailed it as "the dawn of a new day." Really, is that the language to use about a Bill which simply restores the position as it was in 1913? I should have thought that a milestone on the road to freedom would have to be a progressive Measure and that the dawn of a new day would not be a Measure looking back to a position 33 years ago. That is the kind of exaggerated language which has been used on both sides of the House.
I would express my deep regret that the Minister of Labour used one phrase. He said there was now a new governing class and that that class would now be governing. If there is one thing I hate more than anything else it is that in a democratic country there should be a class above or below another class. We need to regard ourselves as part of one great community and to make that conception work as fairly as we possibly can. I agree that in the past such words could have been used, but coming from that Bench they made me hope for a finer attitude. They were unfortunate words.
The speeches yesterday and today seemed to suggest that the Labour Party are not only the protectors but the creators of trade unions. I would point out that trade unions started long before that political party was ever thought of, and that they were protected by law long before that party began. I remember the first Measure which gave the protection which was not given to any other combination. It was passed by a Liberal Government as long ago as 1871. In 1875 came another Act. Possibly the then Government had learned from us, as very often happens in these cases. Outside the House, men whom I can recall with pride and knew as my friends were leaders of the trade union movement. They were men like John Burns, Ben Tillett, and, perhaps greatest of all and the founder of a great party, Keir Hardie. His friendship I also had. I am glad to set, his son-in-law in this House.
In 1906, the then Liberal Government actually risked splitting the party by bringing in an Act giving further protec- 1146 tion to the trade unions. Then came the Act of 1913 to which we are now going back. I do not think that by going back to 1913 there will be any risk to the freedom of this House nor to the sacredness of the rule of law or of democracy in this country. I say, on behalf of myself and my hon. Friends, that the Act of 1927 was brought in as a punitive Act. What it accomplished was not much. It never accomplished what hon. Members said it would nor did it carry out what the then Government thought it might. Some Sections, as the Attorney-General has rightly said, brought nothing really new into the law of the country. They were intended, and were thought by the Labour Party at the time, to rub the noses of the Labour Party into the mess which had been created in 1926. The Liberal Party in 1927 refused its assent to the Bill when it came before the House. I took up exactly the same position on behalf of myself and my colleagues on the Second Reading of this Bill.
May I now say how disappointed I am? I am disappointed with regard to two things, the first of which is the way in which this Bill has been introduced and carried through the Committee stage. I most sincerely ask hon. Members on the other side of the House to realise today, that democracy does not mean the rule of the majority, and that the minority must accept it. True democracy means the rule by all, for the benefit of all—the majority listening to such arguments as the minority can put forward, and respecting certain feelings which must always be respected on the part of the minority by the majority. Thy majority has no right whatever to press upon the minority, however small it may be, a loss of freedom or a loss of a personal liberty which each man regards as sacred to himself alone. The second thing is that the Party opposite were not elected to this House merely to act as a rubber stamp, and to get the machine moving. I am afraid that many of its hon. Members seem to be impatient, not merely of any criticisms that may be made, but even of criticism of speeches which seem to them to hold up the machinery. I deeply regret that time and again last night—every two hours or so—the Government sought to bring forward a Motion to closure the Debate and stop free discussion. On one particular occasion when I thought it a vital matter—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
This is the Third Reading of the Bill and the hon. Gentleman cannot discuss all these matters which have no relevance to the contents of the Bill.
§ Mr. Davies
I am confining myself to a criticism of this Bill and the way in which it has been introduced but, naturally, after your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will content myself by saying only that it has certainly affected my attitude very considerably. There were matters in the 1927 Act which I am glad are being remedied. I am glad that Sections 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 have gone and that civil servants will now have the same rights as they had prior to the passing of that Act. During the whole of the period when they could amalgamate with other unions, the country was just as well governed by the civil servants and they were just as loyal as they have been since this Act. There was one Clause which I and my colleagues thought was a far more democratic and fairer way of dealing with the political levy than the one which was brought in in 1913. I do not want to repeat my arguments, but I still think that was the better method of dealing with that situation. I admitted—as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour was kind enough to remark—that, under both, the greatest precautions were taken. I admitted that under both systems if there were any danger of any undue pressure being brought, it was just as great in respect to contracting in as to contracting out. I will limit myself to the one single point—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It would be out of Order for the hon. and learned Gentleman to pursue that point further. He must confine himself to what is in the Bill, not what he thinks ought to have been in it.
§ Mr. Davies
I am indicating now what effect this has had upon the arguments I put forward in the Second Reading and the position I am in today. What I regarded as fundamental for the future is no longer to continue. This Bill will restore the position to what it was in 1913, and the trade unions will then cash in upon the inertia of the movement. Nobody can say about me or my Party that we have not got the greatest respect and admiration for the trade union movement: some or my greatest and warmest friends are from among them. But I 1148 must register my protest against what has taken place, and the only way in which I can do that is in the Lobby.
Might I end by saying that in the Second Reading Debate I implored the Government—and I was followed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Willesden (Mr. Viant) on exactly the same lines—to agree that this Bill was not enough. I am not going to suggest what ought to be in the Bill. Surely, it is not enough with all the changes that are taking place in the affairs of the country, with all the new changes that are bound to take place owing to the legislation that this House is now passing and will pass in the course of the next four years, with the tremendous increase in the numbers and power of the trade unions, and with the changes that are also threatening the trade unions, to leave the matter in the position in which it was 33 years ago. I say to the Government, Introduce your new Charter; make plain what the position has got to be; try to do your utmost to create a machinery whereby we can all settle our differences without having to resort to strikes. As I have said before, nobody likes strikes, least of all the striker and his family. The time has come when I should have thought that from the Box opposite I should have heard: "We are proposing the Third Reading of this Bill, but we are telling this House that we are not content merely with this. We shall be bringing in shortly a new Charter for the trade unions of this country which will leave them in a sane, sensible and unassailable position." But, not hearing that, I repeat, with the deepest regret, that I must register my protest.
§ Mr. Alpass (Thornbury)
Is it a fact that the hon. and learned Gentleman is in favour of and supports the greater part of the Clauses of the Bill and yet, in order to show that he is not in support of the minor portion, he is going to vote against it?
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
I would like to say at the beginning of my very few remarks how glad we shall be to welcome the Leader of the Liberal Party in the Lobby tonight. We have missed him, not because of numbers, but because of quality. He used to vote with 1149 us, in the Parliament that was elected in 1935, but then he disappeared, and I make this prophecy that now he has put his foot into the water—just his toes—he will come right in with us. [An HON. MEMBER: "He will soon drown."]—and we shall say of him, as we so often say after a maiden speech, that we shall be glad to see him frequently in the Opposition Lobby.
I would like to make a comment also on the very amiable and admirable speech by the hon. Member for West Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Popplewell). He spoke like a true trade union delegate. It is true that this is the House of Commons, but we have to take men as we find them, and he spoke to hon. Members as an honest trade union delegate. If I may, I would offer one bit of kindly comment. He said, among other things, that the trade union movement was largely responsible for winning the war. The trade union movement took on a tremendous burden. Nobody is going to deny that. They did everything they could, they gave everything they could, but they themselves did not win the war. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, yes they did."] I think it is about time that we had the truth. The trade union movement supplied the greatest number of men, but why not accept that fact as it is, with all its grandeur? Why develop the thing beyond the sense of logic?
§ Mr. Alpass
Would not the hon. Member agree that it was a very material contribution to the war effort in producing munitions?
§ Mr. Baxter
Any hon. Member would admit that, but I would sometimes suggest to hon. Members opposite—
§ Mr. Popplewell
I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to misquote me. The remark that I made was that the trade unions provided a good proportion of the fighting men and of the men in industry. I will stick to that, for the lighting men are members of the community from which the trade unions are recruited, and, being in industry, the automatic consequence is that they are trade unionists.
§ Mr. Baxter
The statement is within the recollection of the House, and as a matter of fact, I think the adjective used was the "largest." However, I do not wish to pursue that point, and it is only because of the courtesy of the Party on this side of the House that I do not do so, because of the possible controversy that might arise. There is, however, one thing that ought to be said. In estimating the efforts made by different sections of the community, I suggest that it would be well for hon. Members to recall what was done by those boys who won the Battle of Britain. They came neither from the homes of the workers nor from the very rich. They came from a section of society which has now largely disappeared from England's face. We hear very little about it from hon. Members opposite, this great middle class. There is no legislation for the middle class. It is being legislated out of existence. But in giving credit for the war we forget those boys, who came neither from the cottage nor from the castle, but from the little suburban houses outside the towns. I make this statement, because I suggest that we should attempt to keep the trade union octopus in some kind of relation to the truth.
It seems to me that in passing this unfortunate repeal Bill, there has been a great deal of hypocrisy in general. We on this side of the House respect the patriotism of the trade unionists; in fact we respect it a little more than the wistful precocity of the Attorney-General who brings to our Debates in this House all the charm and essence of the Cambridge Union. But we do respect the trade union members for the sturdy way in which they put their case, arid also because we trust them. I would, however, put this question to them. Do not the trade union Members realise that the survival and the strengthening of the trade unions is essential to our conception of free enterprise? We are not your enemies. We cannot maintain the position of free enterprise and capitalism, in which we believe, unless across the Table there is the mighty trade union movement. Therefore our purpose is to strengthen and not to weaken that movement. If you like, it is for selfish reasons, but it is also for the broader national reasons which have made the Party on this side of the House always the supporters of the trade union movement.
1151 I think the Party opposite, or I should say the Government, have not realised the changing conditions under which we live. The election of July—while the trade union Members of the House may make noises indicating dissent, down in their hearts they know it is true—the election results of last July threatened the survival of the trade union movement. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nothing of the kind."] That was not a very loud cry of dissent, so down in their hearts hon. Members know it is true. It is not only that this Government have a very powerful majority, and majorities go to the heads of Ministers, particularly Cabinet Ministers—
§ Mr. Georģe Porter (Leeds, Central)
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Could we know just what this has to do with the Bill before the House?
§ Mr. Baxter
I will not keep the House waiting long to show hon. Members in what way I link that up with the Bill. It is that the Communist movement is gnawing at the vitals, not only of the Labour Party but of the trade union movement, and it is quite possible that this Government with their immense majority can only be regarded, in essence, as a "caretaker" Government. Sooner or later, perhaps sooner, this Government will have to change its complexion.
§ Mr. Baxter
This repeal Bill is getting ready for the incoming Communist administration of this Government. I think that that comment is entirely in Order, but, unfortunately, I shall run into more controversy if I continue the argument, instead of dealing with the hard facts which was my original intention. Last night when we were not being sat upon and told to stop talking, the Attorney-General stated, as did other hon. Members opposite, that allowing the Civil Service unions to affiliate with the T.U.C. could not possibly result in divided allegiance. That was said over and over again, until even we on this side of the House understood it. It is also within 1152 the recollection of the House that the Foreign Secretary, speaking on the Second Reading of this Bill, rather excited as he was, said it was a big thing in his life to be making the speech he did make on that occasion after waiting 20 years. Being emotionally roused, the right hon. Gentleman perhaps used some language to which he had not paid careful attention. But he did make the statement that the civil servants, in the months before the general strike, instead of settling the coal strike, were getting ready to break the general strike when it came.
That is within my recollection, and it is within the recollection of the whole House. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by that? That they chose their loyalty to the country, their loyalty as civil servants, before their loyalty to the trade unions? That was when they were not affiliated. [An HON. MEMBER: "They were affiliated."] If that is true, when the Civil Service Union becomes affiliated to the T.U.C., what is going to happen if another general strike is called, not by the present leaders of the unions, but perhaps by other sources, or inflamed by other sources, inflamed by the shop stewards, who are against the union? What is going to happen when the double call goes out to the civil servant to stand true to his duty to the State and true to his duty to the T.U.C.? If the repealing of that Section has any meaning at all, it is to bring the civil servant under the influence and virtual control of the T.U.C.
§ Mr. McAdam
The hon. Member is making a statement in respect of the position of the Civil Service prior to the general strike, saying that they owed loyalty to the State and also owed loyalty to the T.U.C. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that prior to 1927 the civil servants were affiliated to the T.U.C.?
§ Mr. Medland (Plymouth, Drake)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at that time the civil servants—and I was one—were affiliated to the T.U.C., and were refused permission to come out on strike by the trade unions, and were ordered to stay in?
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
That is why they did not strike—because the T.U.C. did not want them to.
§ Mr. Baxter
The very fact that the hon. Member said that in 1926 the T.U.C. ordered the civil servants to stay at their posts—
§ Mr. Baxter
I must be allowed to go on. That very statement puts forward the opposite point of view, that there will come a moment when the T.U.C. will order them out. The hon. Gentleman cannot at one moment—
§ Mr. Medland
The hon. Member misrepresented it. They asked to come out and were ordered to stay where they were.
§ Mr. Baxter
Either the hon. Gentleman's interruption has some meaning or it has no meaning. The very fact that he says the civil servants were told to stay at work, must show that there was also the power to take them away from their work. In the Second Reading Debate on this Bill the Foreign Secretary blamed the civil servants for preparing to break the general strike.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Members cannot speak unless the hon. Member who is addressing the House gives way.
§ Mr. Baxter
I am being assisted in a most kindly way. The hon. Gentleman opposite said it was not the civil servants whom the Foreign Secretary blamed but the Minister for using the civil servants. The blame has now passed to the Home Secretary, who is responsible for the safety of the Realm, for using what? For using the Civil Service. What should he use? Some Gestapo? Is he to have storm troops? The Debate which we 1154 had yesterday, in rushes of two hours at a time, with a momentary halts when the axe came down, may yet take on an historic significance. Listening last night, as the hours went on, I was greatly struck by what was said by one of my hon. Friends as we went out through the Lobby for the twelfth or thirteenth time. He said "We are seeing the end of the Brüning period of this Government." We are moving towards the corporate State. After that one party: one party in power and one party in gaol. The repeal of this Bill is a definite move towards the corporate State. We saw that while discussing it last night. If the learned Attorney-General, who was not here very long last night, who has not even been in this world very long, has not seen a steady lowering of the dignity and importance of Parliament since last July, then he is even blinder than he looks. This is happening on every side.
§ Mr. Baxter
Last night we heard the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) making his nineteenth short speech in the Debate. He said that the Opposition were fortunate to have been allowed four hours to debate the Committee stage. I must say the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) expressed not only what we feel, but what the whole country feels today. The Government are being bemused by their immense dumb majority.—[Interruption.]—I used the word "dumb" in its electoral, not its aural sense. The hon. Member for West Newcastle-upon-Tyne said, in a moment of boredom during his own speech, "Our minds are made up," and he virtually said "I am only doing this, because I happen to be here." Our minds may be made up on the broad principle of things, but in my eleven years in this House I have seen Bill after Bill improved beyond knowledge by Debate on the Committee stage. I would say to hon. Members opposite, with their desire to get things through without discussion—
§ Mr. Baxter
—that they are paving the way for the corporate State. If that is democracy, I say to the Party opposite—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Before he concludes his speech, I hope the hon. Member will come to the subject under discussion.
§ Mr. Baxter
By a strange coincidence, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I was just coming to it. I may say, your patience has been very great. I think I might now consider bringing this speech to a close. [HON. MEMBERS: "Carry on."]' I merely want to say this in conclusion.
§ Mr. Baxter
I do not think we should allow encores here. Over and over again in this Parliament, as today when considering the Third Reading of this because that is the only subject which interests me—we have heard the phrase, "It was in the mandate." We hear such things as, "It was in the mandate we had from the country, and the country returned us to do away with the Trade Disputes Act." I suggest it is as though "The Scout" in the Daily Express "tomorrow offered every runner in the Lincoln and said, "Pick out one and If somebody picks out the winner all the rest lose." The mandate offered to fix up housing in three weeks. [Interruption.] Hon. Members know what I mean. The impression given in the mandate was that houses would be built very quickly. The mandate included a good many things offering a warm and happy future for all concerned. It was a very good document indeed — [Interruption]. It must have been to get this crowd back. Yet the party opposite picks out a single item and says, ".We were sent back with 57 varieties. This is only No. 3. We were sent back to nationalise the Bank of England "—
§ Mr. Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? How long does he think the Second Reading of this Bill should have taken? How long does he think the Third Reading should have taken? Is he aware we spent in Committee 23 hours on what was—
§ Mr. Baxter
The Act of 1927 was debated in Committee on the Floor of the House for 24 days, because the Socialist Party were in Opposition and the Tory Government wanted to give them every opportunity to improve the Bill. I conclude with this remark. The Government, in their wisdom, and out of a sense ofamour propre,have done away with this Act, which has not agitated the public at all from 1927 until 1945. I put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite who sat in the last Parliament, I put it to them as men of honour: Did they get an appreciable number of letters at any time asking for the repeal of this Act? I will give way to anyone who can say that. I got none, and none of my hon. Friends on this side did.
§ Mr. Wells
No. But I should like to say that during the July Election I received more letters asking me if I would support the repeal of the Trade Disputes and Trades Union Act if returned to this House, than on any other subject.
§ Mr. Baxter
I want to bring my remarks to a close. I asked any hon. Member who was a Member of the last Parliament if he could say he had had an appreciable number of letters at any time asking for the repeal of the Act. We did not have one who answered.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman may invite Members to address the House, but it is the Chair that selects.
§ Mr. Baxter
I am ignorant of my offence, but I apologise all the same. There were a good many things talked about during the General Election. There were the position of the friendly societies and the question of spinsters' pensions, for example. There were other matters more urgent than this. My last sentence is this. In its wisdom, guided by the hon. and learned Attorney-General, this Government, conscious of the fact that the trade union movement is sound and loyal—as it is—conscious that the Government itself and the Government party are honourable men mostly, conscious that in everything they do well they can have the solid backing of the Opposition, have chosen to 1157 repeal an Act making way for the day when the Communists will once more be at their heels. Either that, or this Government will have been driven from the corporate State, to being the National Socialist Party of Britain.
§ 5.57 P.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
Tempted by the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter), I should like first to deal with the point he was making towards the end of his speech. It is not clear to me whether he was saying that the repeal of the Act of 1927 was or was not an issue at the General Election. I will give him the opportunity of answering that question if he wishes.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Then, for the satisfaction of the hon. Member let me say at once that one of the reasons I welcome this opportunity of addressing the House on the Third Reading of this Bill is the fact that, in the electoral contest I fought in East Islington, not only was it quite definitely an issue, but it was one of the most dominant issues of the Election. It was in the forefront of my election address. It was discussed at practically every public meeting I addressed. It was a matter on which I received deputations, and it was a matter which has been of very considerable concern to my constituents for a very long time. I am sure that that experience has been shared by other hon. Members on this side of the House, and it is for that reason that I am particularly glad to be able to contribute a few words in support of this Bill on Third Reading.
The House will appreciate the difficulty which any hon. Member finds in saying anything that is both new and relevant on the Third Reading, after the very long Debates which we have had in Second Reading and in Committee. May I try to sum up the significance of this Bill, as I see it, taking a long view of the history of the trade union movement? I do not propose on this Third Reading Debate to deal in any detail with the debateable refinements of the law as produced by the various Sections of the Act of 1927. The essential reason why this Bill is brought forward, and is brought forward in this form today, is that the Act of 1927 was an act of social injustice.
1158 Indeed, one of the reasons why the Labour Party was returned to power was that the Labour Party is identified in the minds of the electorate with social justice. It is on the broad basis of social justice that this Bill sets out to repeal the vindictive Act of 1927, which was a reactionary Measure, in the sense that it was deliberately calculated to injure and weaken the position of the trade unions.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Fortunately it did not. It failed in its major object to weaken the trade unions and render then impotent. But it introduced discriminating legislation. The pernicious Section 5 of the Act introduced a novel and unjustifiable discrimination against established civil servants, and their freedom to join trade unions affiliated to the Trades Union Congress. The objectionable Section 6 introduced discriminatory legislation against the rights of local and public authorities compared with those of all other employers throughout the country. These two Sections did not fail in their objective; they succeeded in producing a very considerable sense of injustice and frustration that has rankled ever since. I can readily imagine that the Government, when they came to consider this Bill, were faced with the alternatives of either abolishing Sections 5 and 6, or making a clean sweep of the Act of 1927. I am sure that Members, taking a dispassionate and detached view of the Debate which has taken place, would agree that ultimately it is much better to have a clean sweep than to attempt to reform the Act of 1927.
Let it be remembered that prior to 1927 there had been worked out, in the Acts of 1875, 1906, and 1913, a code of trade union law with regard to trade unions, strikes, lockouts, and contracting in and contracting out, which code, broadly speaking. had become acceptable to all sections of the community. It was not ideal, but the trade unions have had a long, chequered and unfortunate legal history, which has been full of anomalies, because, being neither corporations nor limited companies. they do not fit easily into the structure of our legal system. They were the sport and plaything for over a century of doubtful legal doctrines, with regard to conspiracy, restraint of trade, combination, and so on, and on more than one 1159 occasion they have suffered injuriously from totally unexpected and—I was going to say capricious—legal decisions such as the Osborne decision. The trade unions have had to fight a very uphill battle for the rights which they ultimately acquired and enjoyed prior to the Act of 1927. That Act was not a result of any discussion which had taken place at the preceding general election. It was the result of the general strike, which in turn was the result of the unfortunate return to the gold standard The Act of 1927 was an opportunity seized by the Tory Government for political motives to injure the trade unions, and to weaken their position under the trade union code which more liberal-minded Governments had built up prior to that date. In every Section this Act breeds a spirit of injustice, unfairness and social discrimination, and this House is now called upon to purge and purify the Statute Book by removing an Act which is a disgraceful piece of vindictive legislation.
I do not wish to go into details on any of the particular Sections, but I should like to refer to Section 1 and the question of a general strike. It is conceded, with a certain amount of truth, that the law on the subject, in 1926, was not renowned for its clarity, and the Act of 1927 did little if anything to clarify the position. In certain realms of the law, in matters of everyday importance to the community, clarification, precision and exact definitions are essential, but when we come to consider whether a general strike is legal or illegal, I submit that there is not the same need for absolute clarity, nor is there the same possibility of obtaining it. A general strike is an event in a lifetime. As the Attorney-General has said, it is not a matter which can be dealt with by criminal law, and, in my submission, the question of whether a general strike is legal or illegal is irrelevant to this Debate. It is as little relevant as the question of whether the revolution of 1649 was legal or whether the revolution of 1688 was legal. Matters of that kind are dealt with by their success.
Section 4 deals with political funds, and was designed to deprive trade unions of the ordinary rights enjoyed by a majority over a minority in any corporate body. Although that Section was intended to weaken and hamper the trade union move- 1160 ment, it must be a source of great satisfaction to Members on this side of the House, to reflect that in spite of those hindrances and drawbacks the trade union movement has gone from strength to strength since 1927, and the Labour Party has been able to build up this electoral majority of 1945 which enables us once and for all, to remove this pernicious act of social injustice from the Statute Book. I regard this Bill as by no means the least important of the many Bills which have been introduced by the Government in this historic session of Parliament.
Finally, may I say this—is it too much to hope, now that this Bill will shortly be passed by a large majority in this House and will be acclaimed by the country outside with calm satisfaction, that these controversies, which are really controversies of 20 years ago, can now be forgotten, and that in trade union matters we can get back to the atmosphere which prevailed under the code established before this Act, leaving the trade unions. free to continue to perform their historic functions as a great humanising and stabilising factor in the industrial life of the community? Their notable services to the country during the war have earned the approbation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). Is it too much to hope that with the passage of this Bill these controversies of a bygone age may now be buried?
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr.Marlowe (Brighton)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) asserted that the passing of this Bill, bringing with it the repeal of the Trade Disputes Act, 1927, would be acclaimed by the great masses of the people. I personally do not believe that in the "pubs" and places where people gather tonight a great cheer will go up when the news comes out. The hon. Gentleman also described the Act of 1927 as one which had as its objective the making of the trade unions impotent. They do not appear to be very impotent to me, at the moment, and if that was one of its objects it has obviously lamentably failed. It depends on what sense you use those words. If they mean that part of its object was to make one section of the community not in a position to make war against the rest of the community, I agree that it was desirable in 1161 that sense to make that section impotent. The hon. Gentleman also said that it was an act of social injustice. I do not know what the hon. Gentleman's standards of social justice are, but I do not regard it as an act of social injustice to leave an Englishman free entry for his wife and children to and from their house. I do not regard that as an act of great social injustice, although the hon. Gentleman opposite appears to do so. He also said that it was an act of discrimination. I do not know who was discriminated against. The hon. Gentleman did not explain that. These arguments do not carry any weight at all.
The truth about this Bill we are discussing today is this: What is behind this Bill is that the 1927 Act followed the 1926 strike. The 1926 strike showed that in the position of the trade unions, an ever growing and developing formation, there were certain defects in the law and the relationship between the trade unions and the State, and this had to be put right by legislation. There is nothing novel about that. All legislation in this House is something that we learn from experience as we go on. The experience of 1926 showed the desirability of the Act of 1927. Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman opposite chose to regard the Act of 1927 rather in the same spirit in which Hitler regarded the Treaty of Versailles. He took the view that it must be torn up and so today hon. Members opposite are tearing up this Act. That is really all that there is behind the Bill, and it is not surprising that they are using Reichstag methods.
§ Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)
The hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) made the offensive suggestion that the Party on this side of the House is guilty of Reichstag methods. Is that kind of thing at all in Order in this House, Mr. Speaker?
§ Mr. Marlowe
I am glad to see that the learned Attorney-General is here. The House will recall that earlier in these discussions the Attorney-General hoped that this Debate would not be made a lawyer's holiday. I make no apology for being a lawyer, but attending to this matter is 1162 not a holiday task. I am not surprised that the Attorney-General wanted to keep the lawyers out, because his own law on this has been so bad that I have no doubt he did not wish it to be commented upon too much. The learned Attorney-General put as his main plank that you cannot legislate for a number of people who are affected by that legislation if they strongly disapprove of it. It would be just as logical for the Attorney-General to say, "I am going to repeal the Larceny Act because it has proved very unpopular among the burglars." That is the logic of the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument. I am not going to take up the matter further because the hon. and learned Gentleman gracefully withdrew yesterday the observation which he had made earlier with regard to the courts of this country. Perhaps it is not necessary to rub his nose further into that now. I am bound to say that it did remind me of the rather self-important young man who was playing bridge at his club with an eminent Lord Chancellor, and when the Lord Chancellor rebuked him for his play the young man replied, "You cannot talk to me like that; you are not in your miserable little police court now."
I shall only occupy the time of the House for a few moments more. The House will recall the speech of the Foreign Secretary on the Second Reading of the Bill when the right hon. Gentleman, perhaps feeling that the approval of the Tory Party for his foreign policy was too much of a handicap in the House of Commons stakes, descended to entering himself for a selling plate. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman made some references, in connection with the 1926 strike, to what he called the "Daily Mail" incident. I should like to have the opportunity at some time of dealing with that in detail, but I understand that I have not that opportunity now. If I may have the indulgence of the House, Mr. Speaker, to say one sentence in relation to it, it is this. It was my father who wrote the article in question, and he was the Editor who refused to surrender the freedom of the Press to dictation. I can only say with regard to the Foreign Secretary's account of what took place then, that his version bears not the remotest resemblance to the facts. He says that he has been 20 years waiting for his opportunity. I can only suggest that in those 20 years he might have better employed 1163 himself learning what the facts were, or at least in using his imagination in devising a better story than that. Mr. Speaker, I will go no further in that matter and I am most grateful for your indulgence. But when people are no longer alive someone must defend them if a false account of their actions is given. The Minister of Labour said today that this Bill was the dawn of a new era—the dawn of a new day, I think he said. It is going to he a rather ironical dawn when the sun rises and discloses that the party of progress is in a procession headed by a banner which bears the slogan, "Back to 1913."
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Shawcross (Widnes)
I am going to take a somewhat different line from that followed by the speakers I have so far heard in this Debate, or in the other Debates which preceded it on this Bill. The purpose of my brief remarks will be to try to persuade hon. Members opposite to come into the Government Lobby tonight to vote for the Third Reading of this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: Tell us why."] I hope to achieve that purpose by persuading them that it will be in their own interests to do so. One very useful object which has been achieved by this Debate is that it has shown to the Members of the House on this side that the Tory Party is not yet dead. I think hon. Members on this side will let me remind them that because the Tory Party stinks, it is not yet a rotting carcase. I hope that that will not 'b., regarded as unparliamentary language, because I wish to refer to it again. Another matter in which hon. Members on this side might take some comfort is the fact that the writhings and convulsions of a dying reptile only serve to hasten its end and the stale venom ejaculated into the Debate by the hon. Member for Greenford—
§ Mr. Baxter
I am constantly being referred to as the Member for Greenford. I am the Member for Wood Green.
§ Mr. Shawcross
The hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) and the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) who sits beside him, by their ejaculations of stale venom, only serve more rapidly to weaken the present state of the party opposite, while the argu- 1164 mentative antics of almost every hon. Member opposite who has spoken in this Debate will serve the supreme purpose of demonstrating to the public at large that if the Tory Party is not yet dead it is condemned to a swift and certain demise. I think there is one matter about which we are entitled to know. What became of the campaign of public protest which was started by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler)? As long ago as the beginning of February there was a column in one of the evening papers announcing that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden was about to stump the country, assisted by right hon. and hon. Members opposite speaking at large mass meetings of protest. One of those meetings was reported as having been held at the Constitutional Club, and during its course it was stated that once the trade unions got to know what was the real intention of this Bill, they would be very angry about it, or words to that effect. With the sole exception of that report I have mentioned, not one word appeared in the Press about that campaign. Is the House not entitled to know what was the result of the meetings, what were the resolutions passed by them if any resolutions were passed?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think the hon. Member is getting a little outside the scope of the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. Shawcross
I, of course, accept your Ruling, Sir, but I was merely referring to an argument used by an hon. Member opposite that the public did not want this Bill. I would pass from that and deal with certain aspects of this Bill, which I hope will persuade hon. Members opposite to vote with us. In the Debate on the Bill of 1906, Mr. F. E. Smith, as lie was then, said that the opinion of anybody but a lawyer on whether the funds of a trade union could be made liable for damages was not worth a brass farthing. Yesterday we had advice from the Opposition Front Bench and also from our own Front Bench in the opposite sense, but I would suggest that the opinion of lawyers on this. matter is worthy of some consideration, at any rate as far as the lawyers on this side of the House are concerned. Why do I say that? I say it because however eminent, however excellent, a lawyer may be, and of however high an 1165 order his brain may be and his powers of oratory, his opinion is not worth two-pence unless he has been properly instructed as to the facts. How can hon. Members opposite be properly instructed?
§ Mr. Marlowe
Surely that is a very gross affront to the trade union to which the hon. Member belongs.
The hon. and learned Member should wait and hear to what I am referring. I will assert that none of my hon. and learned Friends opposite has had any instruction as to the facts, because they have not one ounce nor one moment of practical experience in the working and in the organisation of a trade union.
Sir William Darlinģ (Edinburgh, South)
I should like to correct a misapprehension of the hon. Gentleman. I have been the President of a trade union.
Again I would apologise to the hon. Member, but I was not aware that he was an hon. and learned Member. I am glad to know we are in such good company. Was it not obvious today that hon. Members opposite did not really know what they were talking about, because they kept referring to the general strike as if the general strike were something illegal in itself? The fact of the matter is that what they meant was that a political strike would be illegal, and was not that very well demonstrated by the facts of what occurred in 1926 when some Members of the Party opposite, who are still here, denounced the legality of that strike and when Sir John Simon, as he was then, spoke on behalf of the Tory Party—[HON. MEMBERS: No, no.''] He spoke in a sense which helped the Tory Party because he expressed the very firm and emphatic opinion that the leaders of the movement responsible for the strike were liable to damages to the uttermost farthing of their possessions—a piece of intimidation if ever there was one, I suggest. Not one farthing was recovered or attempted to be recovered. Not one single proceeding was taken against any of those leaders. I suggest that that disposes once for all of the suggestion that the 1926 strike was illegal.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I do not think the hon. Member can dispense with the question of the legality of the general strike in that fashion, because a High Court judgment Tail down that it was illegal.
§ Mr. Shawcross
I was referring to a higher authority, if I may say so, in the sense of knowing facts which were not before the court as to whether the strike which we experienced was illegal or not. The proof of the pudding I suggest is in the eating. I am in some embarrassment, because I have mislaid my blue book from which it was my intention to quote throughout this speech, but if hon. Members turn to their copies they will find on page 8 a statement to the effect that in 1875, the first legislation towards organising a trade union was passed by a Conservative Government. I believe that was one of the occasions when that great leader, the only really great leader which the Party opposite has ever had and upon whose reputation it has been living ever since, stole the clothing of the Whigs while they were trying to clean themselves. If hon. Members go a little further they will see that the resolution, according to page 8, which was passed by the T.U.C., was so fulsome in its praise of the Conservative Party that there were one or two isolated protests against the excess of the language. I want to remind hon. Members opposite of that. Let them think what was the position of their Party then, and what it will be today if they vote against the Third Reading of this Bill.
May I strengthen that argument by referring to an opinion of a prominent member of that party, who, I am sorry to say, is not in his place at the moment, the hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples), who has stated in public what should now be the policy of that party in regard to the trades unions. He spoke in his constituency a few days ago, and a report appeared in the local Press. The report is headed this way: "Change the word Tory '." "'It stinks ' says Captain Marples." The report says:An outline of the policy which he considered should be adopted by the Conservative Party was given by Captain Marples at a meeting of the students' branch of the Liverpool University Conservative Association yesterday. Sooner or later, the Conservatives would have "—
§ Mr. Shawcross
I am trying to condense my remarks. I am quoting from this 1167 document to show hon. Members opposite what their true policy is and how, to pursue it, they must vote in favour of the Third Reading of this Bill. The report continues:Sooner or later, the Conservatives would have to merge with the Liberal Party, he said. They would have to consider changing their name, as the word ' Tory ' stank in the country.…They would have to broaden the composition of the party. There was a feeling that the Conservatives represented the upper classes and Labour the lower classes. The Conservatives should include more trade unionists and members of the working classes.…They must also improve their propaganda and build up their front and hack benchers.I will not finish the quotation. If I did, it would clearly appear from other passages that that is a complete answer to the suggestions made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, time after time, that we are only repealing this Bill in order to serve the political needs of the Labour Party.
§ Mr. Shawcross
The hon. Member says "So what?" I hope I have explained that hon. Members, in their own best interests, must vote for the Third Reading of this Bill. I do not want to say, in conclusion, more than that hon. Members opposite are quite mistaken in their attitude to the political levy and the political fund. I would refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Brown), who mentioned what he regarded as the infiltration into the trades unions of the Communist element. We think, and other hon. Members opposite will think so also, if they reflect, that the weaker the trade unions are made politically, the more likely it is that the Communist element will gain power.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown
Has the hon. Member pondered on the alternative possibility that the richer you make them, the more the Communist Party are likely to go after them?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Will there be any opportunity for me to say a word in personal protection against very stupid attacks, which are being made by hon. Members who seem to have no understanding of the nature of the trade union and working class movement? I want a chance.
§ Mr. Shawcross
The hon. Member for Rugby will hear the answer if he listens a moment.
Hon. Members opposite who have been arguing on this matter are quite mistaken. I must convince them on this matter, because it is absolutely vital. They are against strikes, particularly against political strikes, and yet they want to have power to keep in its present weak condition the political fund of the party. Can they not see that the more that trade unions can devote from their funds to legitimate political activities, the less likely they are to indulge in political strikes? It seems so obvious to me that I cannot understand why hon. Members opposite have argued, in speech after speech throughout these Debates, that the political levy is something which should be kept very tight, by contracting in and so on. The exact opposite is the case from their point of view. But looking at it from any point of view, why should it be that at this date in 1946 this absurd discrimination should be continued against these great organisations? Why should they not be allowed to do what they like with their own money? Why should they not, if they desire to do so, and decide by a majority decision to do so, have no separate fund, and no separate contributions. There is absolutely no reason, and not a single one has been advanced except the academic one I have mentioned, which has been used by hon. Members opposite. On reflection hon. Members opposite will see that what they regarded as their very strong point goes completely, and that in order to carry out their own policy they must come into the Government Lobby tonight.
To sum up, this Bill is good but it does not go quite far enough. It is good for the time being and hon. Members will go to vote for the Third Reading tonight, but there is no doubt that further legislation will be required sooner or later to remove the absurd discrimination which I have just mentioned and to make impossible the illegal actions which occurred in 1926, the criminal actions—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member must confine himself to the Bill under discussion, and must not deal with further legislation.
I accept your Ruling at once, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I may deal with the matter in this way, and make 1169 just one more point to demonstrate to hon. Members opposite that the general strike of 1926, so far from being illegal, was the direct result of the criminal action of others—the lock-out by the mine owners and the activities of the Tory Government at that time. In particular, I would remind the House of the Economy Bill, passed a few weeks before, which was one of the most monstrous pieces of legislation which has ever been passed through this House, and was directly designed to impoverish 15,000,000 people in this country for the relief of the Surtax payers.
§ Mr. Shawcross
That being the real background behind the 1926 general strike, I suggest that hon. Members on both sides of this House, at this date in 1946, will go unanimously into the Government Lobby to pass the Third Reading of this Bill so that at last the British trade unionist, who since the Trades Union Act of 1913, to which we must now revert, has fought and worked so well in two wars, will receive this small repeal which, by his sacrifices and sufferings in the intervening years, he has earned so richly and so well.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Briģadier Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
I cannot help agreeing with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) when he says that a lot of hon. Members opposite seem to be labouring under severe misapprehensions with regard to the real nature of the trade union movement.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I was not referring to hon. Members on this side of the House but to those on the other side, and particularly to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown).
§ Briģadier Maclean
The hon. Member for West Fife, to whom I personally would attribute a superior knowledge of these matters, interrupted an hon. Member on that side of the House which led me to suppose that he was seeking to correct those who sat on the same benches as himself. If he was not, in fact, correcting hon. Members on that side, perhaps I might now do so. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour said earlier today that the conduct of the trade unions was and would remain in the future the same as in the past. I suggest that 1170 that statement leaves out of account the present trend of events. I should have thought from their behaviour that hon. Members opposite hardly needed reminding of a very important event that occured last year, namely, the return to power with a large majority of a Socialist Government.
That event has had a fundamental effect on the trades union organisation in this country, which is closely associated with one political party, the Socialist Party. When the Socialist Party comes into power, the functions and status of the trades union organisation change. From being the enemies of established authority the unions become its servants; from championing the demands of the workers, they become the instrument for curtailing those demands. The result is that the workers have the choice of accepting proposals put forward by the Government and backed up by the trade unions, or, if they strike at all, of striking unofficially. That is exactly what they have been doing in recent months, and weeks. There have been large numbers of unofficial strikes and as the result, the Government and the trade unions find themselves faced with a labour situation which is repeatedly getting out of hand. How do they deal with it? They deal with it by rushing through Measures, of the kind now under discussion, tending to strengthen the hands of the trades union leaders and to increase their hold over their members.
§ Mr. Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Will the hon. and gallant Member tell the House how many unofficial strikes took place before the Labour Government came into power?
§ Briģadier Maclean
That seems to me to be beside the point. First of all, it is not a point of Order, and, secondly, I am not prepared to be interrupted in the short time at my disposal. It is, in any case, common knowledge that during the past six months there have been a considerable number of unofficial strikes. But, to return to the methods employed by the Government in dealing with them, and the resultant weakening of the whole of the trade union organisation, they are, first of all, rushing through Measures of the kind we are discussing today. Secondly—
§ Briģadier Maclean
—they are introducing a number of Measures tending to the nationalisation of industry in this country.
§ Mr. Speaker
We are not discussing the Government programme. The hon. and gallant Member must confine himself to the contents of the Bill.
§ Briģadier Maclean
I was endeavouring to show how the Measure now under discussion was being employed by the Government to meet the very difficult labour situation with which they are faced.
§ Briģadier Maclean
The present Measure and other Measures which are being introduced at the same time tend to the establishment of a Socialist State.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is right outside the scope of this Debate, which is for the purpose of discussing what is in the Bill and not what it may be intended to do. A discussion of that kind has to take place on the Second Reading. Here we have a Bill which we have discussed and to which we have given a Second Reading, and we can now only deal with what is in the Bill.
§ Briģadier Maclean
The present Bill is designed to strengthen the hands of the Government in dealing with this situation and, in order to achieve that end, they are resorting to Measures which savour, as I have said, of the Socialist State, in which trades unions occupy an entirely different position from that which they occupy here.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Behold the enemy behind the arras ready to pounce when the political levy is gathered in. I like the source from which that comes. I am prepared, in considering this question of the political levy and our attitude towards it, to have my finances compared with the finances of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) Or the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter), and see who is after the cash. The ignorance that is displayed in connection with this question is simply amazing—and 1172 from the hon. Member for Rugby, who is such a clever lad. Would I say he is conceited?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Never have I seen anything like it in all my life. Sir Oracle is an apprentice compared with the hon. Member for Rugby, telling the Front Bench what is going to happen if they pass this Bill, and the political levy. Is there no intelligence applied to this question at all from the other side? The Labour movement has a history associated from the beginning with the trades unions. It was a terrific fight in the trades unions to get them to build up a Labour movement. All the principal trades unions are affiliated to the Labour Party, and because they are affiliated, they pay the political levy. And that will go on unless somebody is prepared to suggest that the trades unions should withdraw from political activities. Utterly absurd. But the hon. Member for Rugby says that the Communists change their policy. What about the hon. Member for Rugby? Who is he to talk about anybody changing? He was in the Labour Party, then he ran around with Mosley, and look where he is now—in his solitary state, but all the time balancing between these Benches and the Tory Benches. Change of policy and change of organisation But if the Communist Party changed its form of organisation, it would cease to be the Communist Party. The Communist Party is a party composed of Communists— [Interruption]. If the Communist Party decided to invite the trades unions to affiliate, obviously, it would not be a party of Communists. What a lot of nonsense. I warn the Government that the Tories are using that bogy of the Communists on this particular question. They are using it on other questions, and while the Government and these benches are not falling for it this time, there is a danger that they will fall for it in other directions. Be very careful. [An HON. MEMBER:" We will."] But the hon. Member for Rugby says this Bill interferes with—
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Members for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) in the Bill?
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. Member for Rugby is very much concerned about the 1173 Bill. Whether he is in it or out of it, he is very much concerned about it, and so am I. I think it is a good Bill. I like it, and I am all for the Bill, and I am only sorry that it does not go the whole length, to the pre-Osborne period. We are told from the other side that the provision, dealing with local authorities having the power to force men to go into the union, is an interference with freedom. The hon. Member for Rugby says, "Do not tell me what to do. Tell me what I should not do, and that is a thing I will do." If the hon. Member for Rugby is working on that principle, I hope he will remain long here.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown
I am delighted T stay here indefinitely with the distant hope of ultimately hearing something about the Bill.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I thought when I expressed that hope that it might be sufficient to induce the hon. Member for Rugby to exert his desire for freedom and leave us to carry on with our work. Members say that this Section dealing with local authorities and their power to make men join a particular union, is an interference with freedom. Whose freedom are they thinking of? Here we have men and women, year after year, generation after generation, paying their subscriptions, building up an organisation in order to raise their standard of life and to bring themselves up as far as possible from the lowly conditions that were imposed on them in the past; and, to please the conscience of the hon. Member for Rugby, they are to give up their freedom and let other people come in and destroy all that they have worked for and built up. If the employers can get sufficient men, without joining a union, sooner or later the unions can be destroyed and all the conditions broken down. That is what the Tories and the employers have always been looking for. We have seen it working. When there is unemployment, we have seen the victimisation applied to trade unionists in order to keep as many as possible that are not trades unionists in the job. Men and women who have fought for freedom, and built up an organisation and raised themselves out of a depth of poverty into something like a decent life, have a right to maintain that freedom, and those who work with them must contribute their share. That is the 1174 freedom for which I and all trades unionists stand.
The hon. Member for Rugby says that if the Government do not watch and they carry through this Bill, there is going to be a penetration of the Communists. He says there is a great penetration of the Communists just now. If the leader of a trade union movement is half Tory and half Labour, he is independent, but if the leader of a trades union becomes a Communist, it is penetration. That is nonsense. I do not want to go any further and take up more time, though there are many points with which I would like to deal. The arguments of the hon. Member for Rugby are—[AN HON. MEMBER:" Rotten."]—rotten. That is one thing on which I agree with the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Shawcross), and I am sorry that he was led astray by the hon. Member for Rugby.
I agree with what he said about the Tory Party, that the arguments in connection with this Bill on the Second Reading and this evening are simply appalling. They do not understand anything about the development of the working class movement in this country. I am glad the Government have taken the necessary steps to get rid of the legislation passed in 1927, and that the trade unions will now have an opportunity of building up great political funds and taking a greater part than ever in building up a labour movement and putting an end for ever to Toryism in this country.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
It is noticeable that both the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. C. Shaw-cross) have taken excessive pains in attacking the Opposition, obviously to win the favour of their newfound friends on those benches. I thought the hon. Member for West Fife made the better job of it. He had an arrangement with his hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) to start off well, and he almost succeeded in convincing us that he was indeed a very good Labour man, and did not think a great deal of the Communists at all. The truth is that neither of those hon. Members seem to recognise the gravamen of the charge which we make against this Bill and against the handling of it in Debate. It has to be put on record that not one 1175 single Amendment has been accepted by the Government of all the Amendments on the Order Paper. Why? Let it be recorded that this is the first Bill in my 14 years' experience in the House—with the exception of the emergency Bill we passed at the time of Dunkirk—that has not had a Report stage. Is this what is to happen in the future?
§ Mr. Stewart
May I finish my sentence? Is it the intention of the Government to drive through every Bill this way? Is it the Government's idea and hon. Members' idea that because they have a majority the minority does not count at all? I ask hon. Members who were not in the last House to read some of its history. From 1933 onwards there were excessive efforts to meet the wishes of the Labour Opposition because they were a minority. Those of us on the Government side complained, Sir, as you may very well remember, often to the Chair and to our leaders because the other side seemed to get far too great a share of debate and far too much consideration on Amendments. If this is an indication of how this new Labour Government, with its "new freedom," is to handle Parliamentary business, then it is a bad lookout for this country.
§ Mr. Haworth
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to put a question on his statement that this is the first Bill without a Report stage? Does he know of any other instance of a Bill which is a flat repeal of a previous Act?
§ Mr. Stewart
I would have to look that up. It is one of our charges against this Measure that it is such a Bill. There was, as the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) has said, a case for amending the 1927 Act, if one did not like this Clause or that Clause. The Liberal Party in years past clearly said that it did not like this Clause and that Clause in the 1927 Act. I am speaking tonight as a Liberal and I say that I would have been ready to consider Amendments to this Bill. Instead of that, you have this Juggernaut car system of abolishing the Act altogether. You get a single Clause Bill so that the big political bosses may drive it through this Parliament. 1176 [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but perhaps they will not laugh as heartily in five or 10 years' time when the boot is on the other foot. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will you be here? "] Yes, I think I shall still be here to see it.
The Minister of Labour in his opening speech today, which, if I may say so, was not quite such a cheap-jack performance as his last night's effort, explained to us that this Act was being repealed because it was regarded as a reprisal against the trade unions. Well, we all have our views. I am speaking tonight for Liberals and I say that in our view the principal feature of the 1927 Act was undoubtedly the Clause relating to general strikes. Without any doubt that is the chief Clause. We look upon the 1927 Act rather as a reassurance that such an outrageous attack on the State as we had in 1926 will never happen again. That it was regarded as an outrage by the public at the time was proved by the state of opinion in every section of the community. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rot."] It is no good saying "Rot," I can prove what I have said. Not only were speeches made by prominent political leaders but, as everyone here will remember, hundreds of thousands of men and women of all ages and classes in 1926 rallied to serve those great industries which the Trades Union Congress had brought to a standstill. They rallied in support of the Government, in support of constitutional methods, in opposition to the unconstitutional and irresponsible actions of the Trades Union Congress.
§ Mr. Stewart
May I just finish? That was an indication of the state of public opinion then. It was regarded as an outrage.
§ Mr. Stewart
There is no doubt how the public felt about it and I think no one epitomised their feelings in fewer words and with more clarity than Lord Oxford when he said that the strike was:a blow not struck by one combatant at the other, but directed, whether in intention or not in intention by its inevitable results at the very vitals of the whole community.1177 That was why the whole community rebelled against it and will always rebel against it.
§ Mr. Stewart
If there was one thing which brought about the end of the general strike it was that public opinion rose and killed it. That is the truth about it, and I think it would be the same on another occasion.
But that is not all. The strike was confessed to be a mistake by the leaders of the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress themselves. I do not think the House can have recollected the terms of the agreements signed by the trade union leaders in the railway industry, the industry of the Foreign Secretary and others. This is what the railwaymen's trade union leaders, whose names I have here, signed on behalf of their union on 14th May of the year of the strike:The Trade Unions admit that in calling a strike they committed a wrongful act against the Companies,And later on the unions undertook:Not again to instruct their members to strike without previous negotiations with the Companies;
§ Mr. Stewart
May I finish the quotation?To give no support of any kind to their members who take any unauthorised action;
§ Mr. Balfour
Does the hon. Gentleman know that there was a strike subsequent to that when the railwaymen refused to accept that ruling?
§ Lord John Hope (Midlothian and Peebles, Northern)
Do you look with favour, Mr. Speaker, upon hon. Members 1178 rising to points of Order in order to get in statements which are not points of Order at all?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am afraid that happens occasionally. Hon. Members cannot ask questions by merely saying "On a point of Order."
§ Mr. Stewart
The trade union leaders at that time admitted that it was a mistake. The same sort of document was signed by the Foreign Secretary. I have it in front of me and he said that his union undertook:
In other words, not to do the very things they had recently been ordered to do by their leaders. So that it was a confessed mistake.
- " (a) Not in future to instruct their Members to strike either nationally, sectionally or locally for any reason without exhausting the conciliatory machinery of the national agreement".
- " (b) Not to support or encourage any of their members to take individual action contrary to the preceding clause (a)."
§ Mr. Balfour
Does the hon. Member know that that was repudiated by the men, that strikes took place afterwards, and that the terms laid down by the companies were rejected by the men?
§ Mr. Speaker
In any I am wondering what this has to do with the Third Reading Debate. Earlier I informed an hon. Member that we could not discuss the coal stoppage as that would be out of Order, and it is quite out of Order on the Third Reading of this Bill to discuss such matters.
§ Mr. Stewart
The essential feature of this Act which we are taking from the Statute Book, was the provisions dealing with the general strike. It was condemned by the public, and by the trade union leaders themselves. For that very good reason it seemed to the Liberal Party in 1927 and seems to my hon. Friends now, right and proper to insert in the Act a Clause to clarify the position and to make it plain beyond all doubt that a political or general strike was wrong, illegal, and unconstitutional.
Hon. Members opposite throughout the Debate, have, with complete justice, spoken of the great part the trade union movement played in this country. They are right. In the speech I made on Second Reading I took the opportunity to pay tribute to what the trade unions 1179 have done. We put an Amendment on the Paper expressing our thoughts on the trade union movement and seeking some legislative recognition of their responsible position in the State. I accept completely the assurance of the Minister of Labour that he will see that the trade unions will not carry out any form of intimidation. None of us has any fear of the recognised, authorised trade union leaders. What we are concerned about—and I should have thought what the Government should have been concerned about—are the new leaders who are coming up from behind the accepted trade union leaders and causing all the trouble. It is no use pretending that that does not matter. I am sorry the Minister of Labour is not here tonight, because I wanted to say something on his speech.
§ Mr. Stewart
It has to do with the Minister's speech in moving the Third Reading. I was trying to deal with things he said today. I was going to say that the Minister must recall that in recent months his chief concern has not been with established trade union leaders, but with those other leaders who carry through unofficial strikes. I put it to the Government, and to the trade union leaders, that it is incredible that they should seek to destroy this Act of 1927, which gives them the power and authority to curb revolutionary movements within their own organisations. If there is a weakness in the trade union movement, it is the weakness in their own body. The Minister of Labour himself called these strikes illegal strikes a few weeks ago, and was calling upon the House to give him support in condemning their action. I should have thought that the Act of 1927 gave him strength in that process.
He spoke of the road to freedom, and followed that up by explaining that this was a "new freedom." It is indeed a "new freedom "—it is a freedom which is going to make it very difficult for a man if he wants to contract out from the political levy to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Intimidation? "] It is no use hon. Members minimising intimidation. I have been in political life since 1923, having fought English constituencies and constituencies in Scotland throughout the years, and I can assure the House that up to the time of the Act of 1927 constant 1180 representations were made to us, with the most complete evidence, of intimidation suffered by men who were not themselves Socialists. It was a subtle intimidation. Nothing criminal was done but it was an intimidation from which these men suffered cruelly. The Act of 1927 did a great deal to ease that.
The political levy is to be restored. It is a somewhat indecent piece of work on the part of the Government. As an hon. Member said last night—in the midst of these trying, difficult, dangerous, times the Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council and other Members of the Cabinet have thought fit to set aside the greater part of a day to consult with trade union leaders on the division of the booty. That is what it means. There is £100,000 going; Cabinet Ministers spent their time discussing who is to get the "swag." It is only an increase of money because it is extorted from Liberals and Conservatives. If the Labour Party are so assured of the great enthusiasm of the people, why do they object to the system of contracting in? It is an admission that enthusiasm is not there if the funds have to be extorted.
On the question of civil servants, suppose a Labour Minister finds himself advised by a leading civil servant who has taken a prominent part in a Conservative conference. Will the Minister have confidence in that civil servant? Suppose there is a change of government and a Conservative Government follows, and the Minister finds his chief adviser is the leading man in the Trade Union Congress. Is there confidence between the Minister and the civil servant? It is undermining the historic traditional confidence between civil servant and Minister.
One other point. My hon. Friends and I stand for a Liberal democracy. I do not regard this Bill as democracy. Indeed, I regard the method by which it has been put through the House as the antithesis of democracy. It invades the liberty and freedom of the subject, and my hon. Friends and who opposed the Second Reading, and who marched against the Government in all the divisions on the Committee stage, propose to oppose them on the Third Reading, because we regard this Bill as an illiberal Measure.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
I had not any intention of intervening in this 1181 Debate but, having listened to certain Members of the Opposition, I felt I had to get to my feet and deal with some of the points that have been raised. Members opposite have said that the Government have not given sufficient time for discussion of this important Measure. I listened particularly to the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter)—I am sorry he is not here—and I would like to suggest to him that since the time available was, from his point of view, so short he might have used the period he did occupy to deal with points which were pertinent to the Bill, instead of dealing with points that were outside it. The hon. Member suggested that this Measure was the beginning of the corporate State. The hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) suggested that we were carrying out Reichstag methods, and the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Stewart) said that the Government were adopting juggernaut car methods. I can recall the time when Members on this side of the House, and those who supported us in the country, were the only people who objected to Reichstag methods and the corporate State, in countries against which we had to wage war not so long ago. Members on the other side were the people who held out the hand of friendship to those countries.
Far from this Measure having anything to do with the Reichstag, or the corporate State, or juggernaut car methods, it is a Measure which will show to the people of Great Britain, who voted solidly for us, that the Government intend to remove one of the grave injustices from which they have suffered for a long time. It has been suggested that people in the country were not really worried about this issue. I made a statement in my Election address. At every one of the 28 different meetings I had in my constituency I was asked a question about the Trade Disputes Act. Every worker wanted to know whether the Government intended to carry out what they had always promised to carry out, the promise to repeal the 1927 Act. Before I came to this House, I was a member of the teaching profession. There was put in front of us the suggestion that we should become civil servants. That suggestion was bitterly opposed by many of us. Why? Because we said that immediately we became civil servants, we would lose those rights of citizenship which we prized so 1182 dearly. This Bill, when it becomes an Act, will make civil servants, in very truth, real citizens again. They, combined with every manual worker who has suffered from the 1927 Act, will undoubtedly welcome this Bill.
The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) was called to Order when dealing with what he termed political intimidation. I did not agree with, his description. He referred to the Report of the Sankey Commission. It was because the Party opposite failed to carry out one part of the Sankey Commission's Report that the general strike and lockout of miners followed. Every miner in my constituency, every civil servant, who gave us that great mandate in July will welcome the passing of this Bill tonight.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Lord John Hope (Midlothian and Peebles, Northern)
Throughout the passage of this Bill nothing has been so impressive as the absolute lack of concrete argument, as opposed to sham argument, in favour of the repeal of the 1927 Act, except in one significant respect, to which I shall refer in a few moments. Nothing has been said by Members opposite to show that the trade unions have been harmed by the 1927 Act in any way whatsoever, except in one respect. I refer to Section 4 of that Act and the substitution of contracting out for contracting in. The different reasons given throughout the proceedings on this Bill for the very remarkable decline in the extent of the political levy struck me as very significant.
I asked the Minister of Labour last night or, possibly, early this morning— I have forgotten which—whether he would tell me to what he attributed this decline, whether he attributed it, as the Attorney-General did, to inertia. I asked him, if he did, would he comment on the question which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) raised as to the right to capitalise that inertia? In reply, the right hon. Gentleman said that if the Government pursued the form of victimisation which had been alleged there would have been hundreds more members paying contributions. However deeply the right hon. Gentleman may have felt what he said, that was no sort of an answer to my question. One may well suspect that those who do not 1183 give a straight answer to a question have not got an answer, or have only an answer that is convenient to them to give. The right hon. Gentleman might just as well have told me what he had backed for the Grand National, because what he said had nothing whatever to do with the question I asked.
What, in fact, is the reason for this decline? Was it inertia, as the Attorney-General seemed to think, or was it something quite different? I believe it was something quite different and I do not believe that the figures, which Members opposite have not denied, can be said to point to inertia. They are much too significant. Perhaps the reason was not inertia. The hon. Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. Haworth) asked if any Member knew of any other organisation where, after having voted and decided on a course of action, it was necessary for every individual to take steps to confirm that action. He asked why it should be, if we were people who believed in democratic rule. If that argument is pursued to its logical conclusion in this instance it means nothing unless it means that hon. Gentlemen opposite who hold that view think that the majority political view should weigh with the political feelings of the minority. I suggest that is absolutely unconstitutional. Nevertheless, it is a menace of the future which will have to be watched.
I cannot close without a brief reference to the hon. and learned Attorney-General's treatment of the law. To a layman it was a shock, to say the least of it, to hear the Attorney-General pour scorn on the law of England as a sanction against the commission of crime. I quote these words from the Attorney-General's speech in the Second Reading Debate:People were, very properly, naturally and rightly anxious to ensure that there should be no repetition of a general stoppage of that kind in this country, and, accordingly, the Conservative Government at that time took the view, rather I suppose on the King Canute principle, that the proper way to prevent a general strike occurring in future, was to prohibit it by Statute, by an Act of Parliament.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, C. 196.]No one would deny that one cannot prevent a man breaking the law if he really means to do so. As has been pointed out already today, on that argument, we might as well have no laws at 1184 all. I cannot refrain from suggesting to the Attorney-General that to remove a stigma from the Foreign Secretary of England and to attach that stigma to the Statute law of England is a disgrace. As the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) said very well last night, the learned Attorney-General spoke with two voices, when he got in a mess as to how and what treatment would be meted out to those who cause a general strike in the future. I would, in conclusion, recall to the hon. and learned Gentleman some wards of the poet, J. K. Stephen. I think they sum up very clearly the attitude adopted by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite throughout the passage of this Bill. I make one change in order to meet my point, for which I crave the indulgence of the House:Two voices are there, one is of the deep, And one is of an old half-witted sheep Which bleats articulate monotony, And, Hartley, both are thine.
§ 7.34 P.m.
§ Mr. Walker (Rossendale)
I rise to take part in this Debate, as an old trade unionist, one who has been secretary of his branch for a quarter of a century and spent 12 years on the executive council of his union. I joined the union as a young man because I understood, quite rightly, that the fundamental principle of trade unionism, its main object, and its foundation policy, was to raise the standard of life of the worker. Trade unionism has been fighting and striving to improve the economic position of the workers of this country, and in consequence they have gone against all those capitalist forces, all those sections of employers and wage payers who desire to get their work done at the cheapest possible figure.
In the very early days, in order that they might secure the aims for which they were striving, they had to introduce into this House of Commons their own representatives. Therefore, they had to resort to means whereby their early representatives could be supplied with the wherewithal to pay their expenses while they were fighting on the Floor of this House, for better conditions for the members of the union. I have been struck by the very free admiration for trade unionism that has been expressed by hon. Members opposite. Throughout my lifetime the chief hostility towards trade unionism that I have encountered has been from 1185 Members of the party opposite. It has been forthcoming on every conceivable occasion. I look upon all this admiration and these nice things they have said about trade unionism during this Debate, as just a lot of humbug and hypocrisy. I suggest they have their cue from one of their leaders, the man who was really responsible for bringing about the general strike. I refer to Mr. Stanley Baldwin, who is now Lord Baldwin—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
The hon. Member must not go into details about what happens in another place.
§ Mr. Walker
I am going to give the opinion of Lord Baldwin on trade unionism. Perhaps Members opposite may be very interested to know what he said about trade unionism. He said—
§ Sir P. Hannon
I rose on a point of Order. The hon. Gentleman was quoting from Lord Baldwin. I suggest it is not proper to quote from a speech in another place.
§ Mr. Walker
My quotation comes from the Noble Lord when he was the right hon. Stanley Baldwin and it is only in that connection that I am going to quote it. He said:Trade unionism is a peculiarly English growth …
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member made it clear that he was not quoting the Noble Lord as having spoken in another place.
§ Mr. Walker
This statement was made by Mr. Baldwin long before he went to another place. It is:Trade unionism is a peculiarly English growth. This country is the native soil in which such democratic institutions are indigenous. They are an integral part of the country's life, and they are a great stabilising influence. A free trade union is a bulwark of popular liberty. If trade unionism were 1186 destroyed you would be a long way on the road to Communism and via Communism to Fascism. Let anyone who has any knowledge of industry in the industrial regions try to imagine what industry today would be like if there were no unions. There would be absolute chaos, and chaos that would lead to disaster.A great deal has been said by hon. Members opposite about the danger of Communism. My reply to that kind of talk is this. If we want to save this country from Communism, or any other "ism," we must have a strong, healthy trade unionism established in our midst. The party opposite had their chance to avoid all this discussion in the House this week, had they not been so absolutely stupid and stubborn in the days gone by. The trade unions' General Council, quite early during the war, appealed to Mr. Chamberlain to give them some kind of recognition. Mr. Chamberlain appealed to his party and asked for co-operation and collaboration with the trade unions for waging war to success. Later on, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was appealed to by the General Council and was asked if he would, as a compromise, allow Sections 5 and 6 to be 'deleted from the malicious Act of 1927, and he would have granted that request had it not been for hon. Members opposite, who stubbornly refused to agree to that compromise, in order to reach some kind of understanding on this great question. All this has gone on, until today we are faced with this particular trouble. Speaking as a trade unionist, I say that I do not care two hoots about the political levy one way or the other. This party to which I have the honour to belong can spin its own top, and find its own finance without any political levy. But what I do say is that I am not going to stand quietly on one side, and see members of trade unions being stifled and smothered by an Act of this description.
Now I want to refer to the civil servants and Post Office workers. These people have been actually deprived of their citizenship. During my election campaign, I asked a very loyal supporter belonging to the Post Office workers to come along and help me in my campaign. What happened? The man who was his superior official had given a warning that the men must not take part in any efforts connected with the General Election, and what is that but depriving individuals of 1187 their citizenship? It is because of that fact, and also because hon. Members opposite, in their Tory partisanship, refused to make any compromise whatever with the General Council, that we have decided that we will bring this Act to an end. We now have the opportunity of ending an Act passed by hon. Members opposite in 1927 in an attempt not merely to smash the trade unions but the Labour Party. I do not mind that a bit, because I am here, with all my colleagues, to smash them, and, if you think you are stronger than we are—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman cannot use the word "you," which has reference to the Chair. He must also keep his remarks to what is in the Bill now being read for the Third time.
§ Mr. Walker
I am very sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but the temptation is too strong. I was arguing the point that hon. Members opposite could have made a compromise during the days of the war had they so wished. They fully understood, right from those early days up to the present moment, what were the intentions of the party on this side of the House. They knew perfectly well, right through the General Election campaign, that, if we were returned to power, as we have been, this Bill would go west. So we have been discussing this matter for two days, and, when the vote is taken, there will be a substantial majority to repeal this pernicious and wicked Act, which was passed by those people in an attempt to break the trade unions and the Labour Party. We were aiming, in those early days, to build up the British workers, give them a good standard of life and make them into decent, self-respecting citizens. That is still our main idea, and no matter what hon. Members opposite may bring out to remove or upset that idea, it is still our sole purpose. We believe that, in developing that idea, in working for it and in passing this Bill, we are going to lay foundations on which we can build up a citizenship in this country of which not only we ourselves, but the whole world, can be proud, until, in the words of Mr. Baldwin, it becomes a power in the world to fight against all those forces which, in the past, reduced the standard of citizenship of this country. Therefore, I support the Bill, the whole Bill and 1188 nothing but the Bill, and I hope that, when the Division takes place, we shall end this miserable business and never hear of it again.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
This is the first time I have spoken on this Bill, and I do so now with some trepidation, because I have always to keep an eye, and a very wary eye at that, upon the Government Chief Whip. I have a feeling that, deprived of any solid argument in favour of this wretched Bill, he will fall back on the Closure once more and that I will find myself on my seat without having released those thoughts in my mind which have crowded on it during the last few days. There are three charges that I make against this Bill, and, incidentally, I would like to take up a point made by an hon. Member opposite in which he referred to the General Election and the fact that he had received many requests on the question of this Bill. I have been in this House for 21 years. I have fought five General Elections, and I have never, in all that time, received one letter about the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927, and the matter has never once been referred to during any Election.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Hackney, Central)
May it not be, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the trade unionists in the hon. and gallant Member's constituency regard him as completely hopeless?
§ Sir T. Moore
I do not think I am called upon to reply to that. I have three charges to make against the Bill. The first is that it recreates the vacuum which the 1927 Act filled. The second is that it has not been introduced to benefit any of our people in this country, for the care of which this Government is supposed to have been elected, but it has simply been introduced for the purpose of whitewashing the trade union members of the present Government who were responsible for the general strike. The third charge is that it is a corrupt Bill, because it seeks to augment the political funds of a political party by political methods, and that, I hold, is a charge that every decent trade unionist would find it bitter to have to meet and impossible to answer. Amongst the many things which this Bill does, it re-introduces the nasty, unpleasant ques- 1189 tion of intimidation, and I seek the attention of the House for one minute in order to read two letters that were received by a Bevin boy of my acquaintance from the Branch Secretary of his union. The first one said:Dear Sir,—Do you know that this pit is 100 per cent. unionism?My Committee have instructed me to inform you that if you do not join the Union at once, your name will he posted as a Union defaulter it the Branch Frame.My Bevin boy took no notice of it, because he has some quaint ideas about British freedom, and he reckoned that he had as much right as anybody to join or not to join, but in a few days he received another letter. This is headed with the words "Warning—Nationalisation is nearly here "—like a two-line Whip. That was supposed to put the wind up him all right:With you—one of the few—not in the union—take notice that I have been instructed to inform you that non-unionism at this pit—I am not going to mention the name, but I will give it if necessary—is no longer going to be tolerated. In future, if you wish to avoid any unpleasant decision, or action being taken against you, join at onceIf that is not intimidation of the worst type, I do not know the meaning of the word. I would ask hon. Members opposite, Do they think that that is British freedom? Do they think that that is real, honest-to-God living as we want to live ourselves, and as we want to see others allowed to live? As far as I can see the effects of this Bill, judged by those two notices, it is a case of "Join the party and get the pickings, or do not and beware of the consequences."
My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was criticised for his radio speech during the Election, but it seems to me that never was a warning more justified. We already have our Ministry of Food provocatcurs, we have our snoopers from the Board of Trade, now we are to have our trade union bullies. These, it seems to me, are the vanguard of those vicious Nazi pimps they claim to hate. Hon. Members opposite are always harping on the word" mandate." How can any party that secured only a 48 per cent. party vote out of a 76 per cent. national poll claim a mandate for anything, since it has less than a 40 1190 per cent, vote of the total electorate? The only mandate the Government got out of the last General Election by the vote I have just quoted, was a mandate to guide the country as smoothly as possible from a wartime economy to peacetime prosperity. If this Bill is passed, then, indeed, Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" will have been written in vain. By this Bill the Government are again inviting malcontents in industry to embark on their anti-social activities, of which we have seen quite a lot in the last few months. They are giving a clear indication that they are also making the road to political strikes open and easy. They are attacking the sanctity of family life. I predict that from a disgusted and disillusioned people they will get their general strike. It will be a general strike led by the housewives of this country which will drive them from office—and the sooner the better.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Proctor (Eccles)
I can see that the best way of dealing with a question such as this would be for both sides to state their case logically in front of an impartial tribunal and abide by its verdict. We did that in July of last year. Every member of the Labour Party made it perfectly clear that this was a part of our programme, and the verdict was given. We are here this evening, and we have been here for several days, asking the representatives on the other side if they can show us any good cause why that verdict should not be carried out? So far, I have not heard one argument that could logically be said to be an argument against the proposals of the Government.
I would describe this Bill as a Bill to clarify the law with regard to strikes. We have a pretty good understanding of what the law was in 1913, but I have yet to hear any lawyer tell us what is the legal position of a trade union with regard to a strike under the 1927 Act. If take my own union, which is the National Union of Railwaymen, I do not think there is a lawyer in this country who would advise us that we could legally strike at all under that Act. Take Section 1, and remember that the railways of this country, despite the fact that our friends opposite, who believe in no control whatever, have had power for so many years, are absolutely bound up with the machinery of Government and 1191 are controlled from start to finish. They cannot alter the conditions of the railwaymen unless they can persuade the Government to alter some control or other on the railways. Therefore, any strike by railwaymen could be legitimately described as having an object other than that of a trade dispute, and would be definitely an illegal strike. That is the interpretation that could be placed upon it under the legislation passed in 1927. What happens next? The Attorney-General could go to the courts and could deprive us of the protection of the provisions of the 1906 Act, and the whole of the funds of the National Union of Railwaymen would be subject to sequestration by the State. That is the position; that is an open interpretation of the legal position at the present time.
Now it is suggested that the legal position of the general strike is in doubt if we wipe out this legislation. I have pointed out that the legal position with regard to an ordinary strike is not in doubt, but I am not so much concerned about the future of a general strike, because I see no sign of the people of this country sending back a Government which would deliberately foment a position such as was fomented in 1926. We are drawing down the curtain tonight on the second greatest political and industrial conspiracy in history. The Tory Party decided, back in 1925 or 1926, that whilst the power of the State was in their hands they would smash the trade union workers in this country industrially, and having smashed them industrially they would next use the 1927 Act to cripple them politically. The scheme has gone wrong, like many other great political and industrial conspiracies, notably the one on which the curtain is being drawn in Nuremberg. It has ended differently from what the conspirators thought.
Tonight we are going to reverse this Act and go back to the 1913 position. The 1913 position is a compromise; it is not all that the trade unions have a right to expect. The trade union position, logically and legally, should be taken back to the Osborne judgment, where we should be free to utilise our money in exactly the way we thought fit, where there would be no restriction on us that is not on a co-operative society, or on the board of directors of any company in the 1192 country. This Government are being very modest in repealing this Act and doing no more. Let us see what the position is, and what the principle is that we are asked to adopt as a final principle with regard to contracting in and contracting out. I submit that even under the Bill with which we are dealing tonight contracting out is still imposed on us. What would be the position of the Government if we adopted the contracting out principle here?
Suppose it were said that one could contract out of Income Tax in respect of the amount that goes to the social services, suppose that one could contract out of paying for the British Navy; what would be the position? It would be impossible to carry on. I say that it is not a fair position as far as British trade unionism is concerned, and we are entitled to go back to the Osborne judgment; but we are accepting this as a compromise.
Two notable speeches have been delivered today. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) reminded us that the Labour Party did not start the trade unions. I would remind him, although he is not present at the moment, that it was exactly the reverse. It was the trade unions which started the Labour Party, and they started it for precisely the reason which he indicated in his speech. I have heard the hon. and learned Member make every speech that he has made on this Bill. I thought what a fine, noble and almost religious oration he made on the Second Reading, but he ended up, as all Liberal promises have ended up from the working-class point of view, by telling us that he is going into the Opposition Lobby. That is the reason we have this Bill. The Labour Party is a party which the trade unions can trust. As the hon. and learned Member was speaking, I thought what a good thing it is that we are living in 1946 and not in 1929, when his decision to go into the Lobby against us would have meant that we would have lost the Division.
I turn now to the speech of the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). The hon. Member rebuked the Attorney-General for smiling during his oration. I thought there was no need for him to do that, because I never listened to a more grim 1193 enunciation of policy than was contained in that speech. The 1927 Act is an instrument which is capable of destroying trade unionism. I never heard an oration that showed me more clearly that if that instrument, in a time of crisis, were in the hands of the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities, trade unionism in this country would be destroyed. I hope that tonight we shall pass the Bill with a Socialist majority.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Maude (Exeter)
I wish briefly to follow the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) by saying that the legislation that will remain on the Statute Book will still be sufficient to do exactly what he fears. That is not understood. I oppose with all my heart and soul the passage of this Measure, and for the following reason, first and foremost. Early this morning, owing to exhaustion, there was a certain amount of laughter about Regulation 58AA. That is the proper designation of the regulation, and it is a regulation which it is extremely easy to understand. It says:With a view to preventing work being interrupted by trade disputes, the Minister of Labour and National Service may by order make provision … for prohibiting … a strike or lockout in connection with any trade disputc.Cannot hon. Members opposite understand that, having done away with all the things in the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927, many of which are safeguards for the trade unions, safeguards in that the employer is prevented from doing things that he should not do, they are leaving the Government with powers in the future to deal with strikes? if a strike is prohibited by the Minister of Labour, and if somebody is brought before the court, whether the summary court, the court of quarter sessions or the assizes, he will only be able to say, what hon. Members opposite would want to say —" Morally the strike is right; I know it is an annoyance to the Government, but morally I am right. I ought to have the right to strike. I may have struck hastily, but morally I am right." The magistrate will say, without any hesitation, "I cannot listen to that, because this has been prohibited by the Minister of Labour; this thing must be ruthlessly put down." Why cannot hon. Members opposite listen to those who have experience of these matters in the courts, and 1194 take heed of what they say? There is a real danger.
In conclusion, this Bill is a Micawber of administration. It is a sentimental Measure. Sentimentality is an attractive quality sometimes. But it is also an appallingly optimistic Measure. What the administration believes, surely, is that human nature has changed, and not merely the Members of the Government. It is absolutely fatal, to my mind, to abandon the safeguards which are to be found in the Act, and which are being destroyed by this miserable little Bill, a Bill which, though small, will have tremendous repercussions. Instead of coming to the House with a proper constructive Bill, which all hon. Members would have approved, the Government are sweeping away things which will leave the trade unions at the mercy of the Government, a position which they will not approve for very long.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)
The first day of the Committee stage of this Bill occurred as long ago as February. At the beginning of March, the Prime Minister made an appeal to the whole nation to recapture the Dunkirk spirit—an appeal for unity. I have always understood that the essence of success in such an appeal is that we should all try to avoid, as a minimum, Measures which are both unnecessary and controversial. I am glad to say that, for some time after that appeal was made, the Government had the decency not to proceed with this Bill. As the weeks passed, I began to think that perhaps they were paying some attention to the Prime Minister's appeal, but it turned out that that was too optimistic an idea on my part, and that they were delaying only because the Government had decided that 1st April was an appropriate date for resuming consideration of the Bill.
The first thing I wish to put to the House is the question: Why is this Bill being taken in the first Session of the new Parliament, a Session overcrowded with legislation, much of it necessary, and a Session, particularly, in which Ministers are facing vast problems of great complexity, some of them of their own making, but some of them, quite obviously, problems that would have arisen in any case? I cannot help saying that, 1195 in those circumstances, to proceed with this Bill at this time is a scandalous waste of the time and energy of Ministers and of the House. No instance has been quoted by any hon. or right hon. Gentleman throughout these Debates of any way in which the activities of any union have been hampered by the 1927 Act over the last 20 years.
The Attorney-General, in the course of his Second Reading speech, said that it had had no practical effect whatever in interfering with the right to strike. He further told us that, notwithstanding the 1927 Act, the trade unions and the Labour Party had gone from strength to strength, as indeed was obvious without his telling us. Accordingly, there cannot be, on the merits, any urgency about this matter. Why, then, is it being foisted on us? Because the trade unions want it. We know that the trade unions finance the Socialist Party, and that he who pays the piper calls the tune. The reason the trade unions want it is obvious from the statement of Sir Walter Citrine, which was quoted earlier in the day by my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). They want it because, according to Sir Walter Citrine, the Bill will give the Trades Union Congress very great powers. Those are his words. It is a little strange that the Trades Union Congress should think it necessary to have those great additional powers during the tenure of office of the Socialist Government. If the Government really have years of life ahead, what is all the hurry about? I am bound to say that it occurs to me that perhaps the T.U.C. take a somewhat realistic view of the matter, and it may mean that they are not so sure that this Government have a very long life in front of them. They may think it better to get what they are asking for while there is time.
In the past, Governments of all parties have produced legislation with one other of two objects: either to remedy a hardship or a grievance, or to improve the law. There is no hardship in this case. I have already said that no one has put forward a single grievance over the last 20 years. Of course, there is the stigma. We know all about that. We have heard a lot about it, but it seems to me to be nothing but the imaginative product of an inferiority complex
§ Mr. Sparks (Acton)
Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the Act of 1927 was promoted by the Conservative Party without consultation with any of the interests involved, and that fact alone is bound to cause a large percentage of the feeling that exists?
§ Mr. Reid
I cannot agree that an Act of Parliament, no matter what its merits, is not to be binding on anyone who was not consulted before it was brought into operation. That is a very odd constitutional doctrine. [An HON. MEMBER: "Remember that when the Health Bill is brought in."]
§ Mr. Reid
No, I cannot give way. Certainly the law will not be made clearer by this Bill. The Attorney-General, in a masterly understatement, told us that in future there would be an element of doubt. As we know, there was a rather violent controversy in 1926 as to what the law really was. That was not surprising, because earlier lawmakers never thought about the general strike when the law was being developed, and therefore the law had not been developed with that in view. No provision has been made for it. That controversy must now revive if the Bill passes. If the controversy revives, what matters will not be which side is right but what the leading trade unionists think is the right view of the law. On that view they will act. Those who have spoken in our Debates have gloried in the part which they took in the 1926 general strike. It looks to me as if they thought that the passage of the Bill would make it easy for them to stage another general strike, if they thought that was the proper thing to do. That is what Sir Walter Citrine said in his statement, and seems to be what is in the minds of a great many hon. Members opposite.
The Government have not helped us much in this respect. The Attorney-General has told us time and again that the revolutionary strike is illegal, but he has not said anything, or very little, about a strike where the motives were mixed, partly political and partly industrial. The President of the Board of Trade has put it on record that the 1926 strike was, in his view, a mixed strike in that sense, the political element prevailing over the industrial element. That has not been contradicted. We are left by the Government 1197 with an element of doubt whether a recurrence of the 1926 position would, or would not, be illegal. I pass from this branch of my remarks by giving a quotation from Mr. Cyril Asquith, as he then was. It seems to put the whole matter in a nutshell. He said:A country whose law gives no clear answer to the question whether a general strike is legal or not deserves a succession of general strikes to concentrate its mind.I say that the Bill is founded on no principle. I propose during the rest of my remarks to see how its terms and its effects will square with principles to which hon. and right hon. Members opposite are never tired of paying lip service. A principle which always comes first, is democracy. If democracy means anything in this country, it means that the will of the people, as expressed by their representatives in Parliament, shall prevail, and that if you do not like what Parliament is doing, you should try to make the existing Members of Parliament see your point of view and alter their tactics, or wait and turn them out at the next Election. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have done that."] Any general strike which is designed to coerce Parliament or Members of Parliament in any other way than that, is an anti-democratic Measure. Section 1 of the Act embodies the principle which I have just been stating. It is open to anyone to say that they do not like the drafting of Section 1. I have already said that if the Government had chosen to come to the House and say: "The drafting of Section I is unsatisfactory; we propose to alter it, but to maintain the principle," we could have co-operated in that project. When they come and say that there must be a total repeal and nothing be put in its place, I say that their attitude is not consistent with the maintaining of Democracy in this country.
I pass to another principle about which we often hear, and it is that we should maintain the rule of law and frown on power politics. That is a most admirable principle, but before we can maintain the rule of law we must know what the law is. It is a very strange prelude to the maintenance of the rule of law that, first steps are taken to make the law uncertain, and, having made it uncertain, it is then proclaimed in advance that it will be futile to try to enforce it. That is what the Attorney-General has said. I know there was an argument last night 1198 between the hon. and learned Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). Owing to the way in which the Government had insisted on our conducting our affairs—insisting on our corn-pressing two days' works into one—it was not possible to have a very adequate discussion on this point. It occurred to me that the ending of the discussion was not wholly satisfactory because, so far as I could see, the Attorney-General was reduced to a somewhat peevish silence. It would be a good thing if he tried again to expound what he has in mind. I am bound to say it seems to me, that what he has said is that the law is going to stand aside in this matter. If he has not said that, I do not know what he has said. He says it is futile to put the criminal law into operation and he has refused to retain those parts of the 1927 Act which give him a civil law remedy. Therefore, what kind of law he is going to operate, I really do not know. If the rule of law is put aside, one is left simply with power politics, and I know of no two words more apt to describe the statement by Sir Walter Citrine.
There is another principle which we are often told is beloved by hon. Members opposite—freedom. We were asked to pass this Bill in order to restore freedom to the trade unions. Freedom to do what? Section 3, or rather its repeal, tells us the answer. That Section, as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will remember, first extended the definition of intimidation to something wider than violence or the threat of violence. That extension has been taken way. It also prohibited the watching and besetting of a man's house. That, again, has been taken away, although it was kept by the Labour Party in 1931. They must have thought it was of some value then. I cannot go into the niceties of this question because there is no time, but, broadly speaking, I say that freedom ought to be freedom to argue and persuade. If this Section goes, there will be freedom to browbeat and freedom to overawe and bully. Is that the kind of freedom we have been fighting for? That is the kind of freedom the Government are trying to impose upon the people of this country.
What is the excuse? I presume the excuse is that of course this law will he operated in a good cause and that nobody 1199 is going to strike unless they are right. But that has been the excuse of every dictator in history at the beginning of his régime. Every time he encroaches on the freedom of the ordinary man, it is always in a good cause, and because he knows better than the other man what is good for him. I am bound to say it seems very odd to me that this definition of freedom should be introduced. Let me come to another thing which hon. Members opposite are supposed to dislike. They are supposed to dislike privilege, but only, apparently, when it belongs to somebody else. Let us see what happens here.
§ Mr. Reid
If the hon. Gentleman agrees with the Minister of Labour that what is being done by this Government is not to try to level out class distinctions, but to instal a new ruling class, then I understand his interjection, but I had not understood before that that was what Socialism meant. However, now we know. I come back to the question of privilege, and I must be a little more detailed here, in order to explain this rather difficult subject. In 1906, the trade unions were given, among others, two privileges quite unique. One was the privilege by virtue of which the funds of trade unions were exempted from all actions of damage. Another was the privilege by which officials of trade unions were exempted from liability if they induced other people to break their contracts. Those were very valuable and very extensive privileges.
What does the 1927 Act do? I think this is a very good test of the theory that the 1927 Act was vindictive, because, if that Act had been vindictive, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to withdraw those two privileges entirely. There would have been very good authority for doing so. Mr. Sidney Webb had recommended against this privilege and the present Lord Chancellor, while still a Liberal at about that time, certainly animadverted on the second of them. I will not give the passages because they will be well known to the learned Attorney-General. It would have been very easy to justify withdrawing those privileges completely, but what did the Act do? It only withdrew them in one respect. It enabled trade unions to keep 1200 those privileges so long as a strike was not an illegal strike in the sense that it was designed to coerce the Government. Trade unions were told that if they started a political general strike, those privileges would not apply.
Was that an unreasonable thing to do? If a trade union or any body of persons deliberately sets out to act in an unlawful way, is it wrong to say, "We are going to withdraw from you, in that event, privileges which you alone in the whole country hold at the moment "? I should have thought that that was a very justifiable thing to do. But this Bill restores to trade unions complete immunity of their funds, however revolutionary their actions may be. Is not that a very odd thing to do? The learned Attorney-General agrees that there are some subversive or revolutionary strikes and that they will be illegal, and that he must take all steps to cope with them. I am not sure what the steps are, but that is what he said. Then he turns round and says that the unions' funds must be completely free from any liability for what they do. Can anything more absurd be imagined? I do not know what the justification for it can possibly be.
I turn to another thing which hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike, or say they dislike—monopoly. I know they like State monopolies, but not others. We on this side do not like any monopolies if they can be avoided. How does this fit in with the present Bill? We had a considerable Debate on Section 6, which prohibits public authorities from imposing conditions on their servants about membership of trade unions. That goes. A public authority can impose any conditions it likes. (Interruption.) There is all the difference in the world between a public authority, a nationalised industry and a private employer. The former have a complete monopoly and anybody who works with them must be at a disadvantage because he has no alternative employer. I am perfectly willing to consider the point with regard to private employers, and it would be a perfectly fair thing to argue, but what is not right is that a public authority which is monopolistic over a very large sphere of the nation's trade, is to be allowed to dictate to every worker in that industry that he shall belong to a specific trade union. There was some questioning of that interpretation of the result of this 1201 Bill last night, but again, owing to the way the Government allocated their time, there was no proper opportunity for considering that question. I am bound to say that I do think that the Government have been extremely foolish in the way they have dealt with the allocation of time for this Bill.
§ Mr. Attewell
On a point of Order. Is it not a reflection upon the Chair to say that the allocation of time was dealt with as the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggests? I suggest that the point is made perfectly clear—
§ Mr. Attewell
The point that I want to make is that on 25th May, 1925, a Motion was moved in this House on that very point, and I would ask, Sir, if you would be prepared to look at that particular Ruling.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think that I shall be able to reply to that tonight, and I should remind hon. Gentlemen that time is marching on.
§ Mr. Reid
I must apologise to the Attorney-General for taking a little longer than I intended, but it is due to the various interruptions that have occurred, and I could not refuse to give way because there was a point of Order. I must, however, explain what I was saying. I was criticising the action of the Government last night in not accepting a Motion to report Progress sometime before midnight. If that had been accepted, then we could have discussed these matters under proper conditions, and we could have reached a conclusion about them. But thanks to the Government's attitude in steamrollering this Bill through the House, we have not had the opportunity of getting their point of view properly, and I have had to make my remarks somewhat in the dark. I am bound to say that I think for the Government to give us five days on this Bill, when the Conservative Government 20 years ago gave 23 to 25 days, is a pretty good reflection of the respect which this Government show to the requirements of democratic procedure. If this Government think they are going to get things through by curtailing discussions they will not only impair popular respect for this House, but they will seriously impair popular respect for themselves.
1202 If you are going to dictate in a whole industry to what union everyone is to belong, then you are creating a most vicious form of monopoly for one particular big union, and in consequence a most glorious vested interest for the bosses of that union. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are most happy to inveigh against the profit motive as the last word iniquity. What about Section 4? We have had a long specious argument that the unions are entitled to the benefits from human inertia. Everybody agrees that they are going to get some benefit and we have heard the figure of £100,000 mentioned and not denied. The hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks) was quite honest about this. He said "I want to see the money coming in." We know that the Party opposite get about four-fifths of their fees from the trade unions and we know they want more. [Interruption.] They say they have millions of enthusiastic supporters. Why cannot they pay? [HON MEMBERS "They do."] One would have thought that a Party which made that boast and believed in it would have had enough pride to see to it that they got their money from their announced supporters, and that they would have not tried to get it by some devious methods from other people. When it comes to getting money, apparently hon. Members opposite are quite content to pocket their pride. If this Bill does nothing else, it will convince the House and the country that the principles of the Socialist Party are most conveniently elastic. The Attorney-General in his Second Reading speech called this "a modest little Bill." I am bound to say that people's ideas of modesty seem to vary very much. I call this Bill the most shameless Bill that this Government have yet introduced.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)
We have had a long, I do not say a too long, yet a very ample and complete discussion on the principles underlying this Bill, and on the state of the law as it will be when the 1927 Act has been repealed. If I may say so as a very young and junior Member of this House, we are entitled to congratulate ourselves on the whole on the temperate and good-humoured way in which our discussions 1203 have been conducted. It was in marked contrast, if one can judge from the OFFICIAL REPORT, with the spirit of the Debates in 1927. There were of course at that time, though I am not going to reopen them, circumstances which led to tempers running high on both sides of the House. But those circumstances have changed now, and as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said in the speech which was referred to during the Committee stage this morning, the atmosphere now is very different from that which existed on the morrow of 1926–27. Of course Members of the Tory Party have known quite well for 20 years or so, that sooner or later the people of this country were going to insist on the repeal of the 1926–27 Act. Although they have done their best, as they were entitled to do, to oppose this modest little Bill, one cannot help feeling that they have not been able to work up any considerable enthusiasm about the matter.
Still, one can say of hon. Members opposite, that a good time seems to have been had by all, and not least perhaps by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hoģ ģ), who I regret to see is not at present in his place. When one hears these complaints being put forward, that not enough time has been allowed for this Debate, it is interesting to note on looking through the OFFICIAL REPORT up to 10 o'clock last night that the hon. Member for Oxford performed the action which is described in the words of the OFFICIAL REPORT as "Mr. Hoģ ģ rose—" not less than 27 times. The hon. and gallant Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Ropner) was a not very close runner-up; he rose 10 times. One sees that so far as hon. Members on the opposite side of the House are concerned, the Debate was largely confined to the same people getting up time after time, and, if I may say so, repeating in different language very much the same sort of thing.
§ Colonel Ropner
Would not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that if a speaker is courteous enough to sit down when he is interrupted, he must get up again? As hon. Members on the other side of the House know, when a speaker is interrupted, then, of course, as our record in the House must show, we rise to our feet again.
§ The Attorney-General
The hon. and gallant Member may take it that I made appropriate allowance for that. In going through the record in the OFFICIAL REPORT—which I did in the course of some speeches made from the opposite side of the House, which seemed to have little to do with the matter under discussion—I found that he rose on 10 separate occasions, but not because he had been interrupted. He rose, not perhaps to make 10 separate speeches, but either to make a speech directed or not directed towards this Bill, or to raise a point of Order. It was not because he had been interrupted and had to rise again. One felt sometimes that although hon. Members opposite were having a very good time, and enjoying themselves very much, judging by the rather extravagant arguments that they put forward, it might have been of advantage if, just occasionally, they could have infused some slight breath of the fresh air of reality into our discussions, if they could have made some slight attempt to get a little nearer to the atmosphere of the industrial towns and the mining villages, a little nearer to the thoughts and hearts of the people in whose interests we are legislating.
§ The Attorney-General
As hon. Members know, as a rule I am as good as anyone can be about giving way. I generally do give way, but I am not proposing to do so more often than the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. Reid), who, very properly, gave way only once. I am sure everybody will acquit me of discourtesy if I do not give way on this occasion. I thought it was such a pity that the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) spoiled a most interesting and reasoned speech, by that extravagant peroration, which was not the less grotesque because apparently it was sincere. It really is grotesque, if I may say so, to talk about this Bill being an attack upon the constitution of this country, and to say that this is threatening the very future of Parliament; that this is an attack on the woman in the home; that this is a further step towards the totalitarian State; that this is something 1205 which is going to reduce the rule of law in this country to an absurdity. I would say this about the rule of law. The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities—and, it may be, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead—has been so steeped recently in studying the law relating to trade unions that he has forgotten the elementary principles upon which our law is founded. He has forgotten his Austin; he has forgotten his Dicey. He does not know what the rule of law means any more. He does not remember what Dicey described as the "external limitations to the rule of law." He does not remember that if we are to have a rule of law, we must not only have laws which are understood, but laws which commend themselves, not to everybody, not to every section of the community, but at least to the majority of the people. That is one of the reasons why the 1927 Act did so much harm to the rule of law in this country.
I am going to examine the various points which have been raised, and to see what this Bill really does, not what hon. Members opposite imagine it does, or try to persuade themselves it does. I am going to see what it really does in relation to the four propositions—I think somebody elevated them to the status of principles—which were enunciated, not indeed for the first time but a little more portentously than on previous occasions, by the hon. Member for Oxford and most appropriately, because they had been first enunciated by his distinguished father in the Debate on the 1927 Act.… a general strike should be illegal, and no one should be penalised for refusing to take part in it.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, C. 290.]That was the first proposition which is described as a principle. Of course, that was not the effect of the 1927 Act; not a bit. At that time the Tories, quite deliberately, set out to make a sympathetic strike, on any scale at all, illegal, although it fell far short of a general strike. The public were deceived into thinking that the 1927 Act was concerned only with the general strike which they had recently experienced. The fact is, of course, that the 1927 Act had very little to do with the general strike. We believe that a revolutionary strike, like any other kind of revolutionary action, should he, and is, illegal. Hon. Members opposite, as I 1206 ventured to suggest last night, should be the last to talk about revolutionary action, because, as far as I know, in the last 50 years, the only instances of revolutionary action in this country, of the threat of armed force against the State, have come, not from the working people, not from trade unionists, but from distinguished leaders of the Tory Party We believe a revolutionary strike, like any other kind of revolutionary action, should be illegal.
The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities made great play with what he said were differences of opinion amongst lawyers on what amounted to an illegal strike. He asked a rhetorical question, which he proceeded to answer to his own satisfaction, about the legality or illegality of the stoppage in 1926. I think it is right to say—and if any of the opinions that were given in regard to this matter at that time are examined it will be found that it is so— that the differences of opinion between the lawyers arose, because the lawyers were arrogating to themselves the functions of a tribunal of fact, and were taking different views about the facts. Before one can decide whether a particular strike is illegal or not, one must get the facts. I have said—and my view is set out in my Second Reading speech—that the issue of fact is one for a jury. If there is a borderline case, mixed industrial motive and political motive, it is for a jury to say whether, in that case, a criminal conspiracy has been committed.
I was asked how, if I thought the facts were such as to constitute a revolutionary strike, I should deal with the situation, and I was asked if I would make use of the machinery of the criminal law. My answer is this. Whether I should prosecute in such a case would depend entirely on the facts existing at that time. But I can imagine no greater folly than to have prosecuted and imprisoned the leaders of the strike in the face of the facts as they were in 1926. I agree with the action which was taken by Mr. Bald-win's Government. The then Prime Minister did not make use of the criminal law. He knew he had ample machinery at his side with which to deal with the situation that faced the country at that time. I am confident that under existing powers any revolutionary action, whether it be on the part of trade unionists or 1207 whether, more possibly, it comes from those whom hon. Members opposite represent, will be dealt with, and dealt with adequately and effectively. I do not believe that you can do anything to suppress an illegal strike, to make a revolutionary strike less likely, merely by passing an ineffective Statute which it is apparent can never be enforced.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman allow me? I am sure he wishes to address his mind to the problem. The question put to him from several Members on this side of the House, including myself, was that if he has this disbelief, with which I sympathise, in relying on the criminal law, why does he cut away all power of relying on the civil law? The general strike of 1926—
§ The Attorney-General
I think I have the point my hon. Friend seeks to make. I was asked and did not answer the point last night, because I did not make a note of it and forgot it. I was asked if the Attorney-General would have any power with regard to trade unions. He will not. I can imagine nothing more dangerous than that the Attorney-General of this country, holding a position quasi judicial, quasi political, as he does, should have this power of intervening in the use of funds of trade unions in the cases where trade unions are striking. I add only this. It is open to the members of a trade union to proceed against the trustees if they think the union's funds are being used in an illegal way. I merely say that if in such proceedings or in any others the courts impound the funds or grant an injunction against their use nothing, probably, could be more in the interests of the unions themselves. They would still have their strike and they would keep theft money. That point was considered on the Second Reading when the hon. Member was not here.
On the Second Reading I referred to what had been said in connection with the matter by Mr. Lloyd George, as he then was. Nobody imagined the trade unions and, in particular, the miners' union at that time had the money which would enable them to carry on a strike for more than a few weeks. In fact they carried on for six months. Anybody who thinks 1208 that the trade unions of this country, if their members got to such a pitch that they wanted to engage in a general strike, would be deterred from that by the fact that strike pay might not be available in the amounts that they anticipated, completely deludes himself.
Then it is said that intimidation should be illegal and no man should be compelled to abstain from work against his will. Hon. Members are being very obtuse about this. Intimidation, in the ample and sufficient sense in which those words have been understood and applied by the courts for scores of years prior to 1927, will remain illegal. What hon. Members opposite want, and what they are certainly not going to get from this or any future Government, is the power to deny trade unionists the right to canvass their members or others in regard to the circumstances of a general strike or of any trade dispute. The members of trade unions should be in exactly the same position in regard to this matter as, the members of the Carlton Club or the members of any other association, which has the right to be entitled peacefully to persuade others that some particular course of action is right or wrong. Beyond that they cannot go.
Hon. Members opposite yesterday suggested—I think including the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead—that I had been a little disingenuous in saying the law remained as it stood under the 1875 Act. I do not know whether a Third Reading means that one repeats a thing for the third time. But I am going to do that now. I am going to repeat for the third time the law relating to intimidation as laid down by Sir William Joynson-Hicks. We could not have a better authority. He dealt with this expressly. "Peaceful picketing for the purposes of peaceful persuasion or imparting information is permissible, and the Act of 1926 does not do away with the Act of 1875. What was illegal under the Act of 1875 is still illegal today, except in so far as it is modified by those quite simple words "—those quite simple words which the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir John Anderson) was not able completely to understand:for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information or peacefully persuading any person to work or abstain from work.1209 The Home Secretary of that date said:Under the old Act any form of violence or intimidation is illegal. If a man uses violence or intimidates a person who wants to work, or his wife or his children he is guilty of an offence. If he persistently follows such a person about from place to place, if he watches or besets the house or other place where such a person resides or carries on work, it is a criminal offence today.So it will remain when this ineffective part of the 1927 Act is removed.
Then it is said that no one should be compelled to subscribe to political funds against his will. I am bound to say one would consider that argument a little more seriously if hon. Members opposite would publish accounts of their own funds, would say where they got their money from, what they get it for, and how they dispose of it. So far as trade unions are concerned—I cannot speak for Conservative organisations or other associations of that kind—no one will be compelled to subscribe to political funds against his will. As I listened to the argument put by hon. and learned Members opposite on this matter I certainly thought they really did suffer from a particularly acute degree of mental myopia when they were talking of this matter.
When the Act of 1927 is repealed there will still remain two lists, a list of those who subscribe and a list of those who do not subscribe. Those who do not wish to subscribe will be entitled by the simple process of obtaining a form, either from the trade union or the registrar—and they can obtain their forms from either source —and sending it in to the union, to obtain complete and permanent exemption. No one will be required to disclose his political convictions, or reasons why he does not wish to subscribe. It may be he does not wish to subscribe because he is a Communist. He is not compelled to disclose it. It may be—and this is very much less likely—that he does not wish to subscribe because he is a Conservative. Nobody will compel him to disclose the fact, and nobody will wish to know. All he has to do is to get a form, by telephone, by sending a postcard, or getting it personally, and fill it in, and he is for ever relieved of his obligation to subscribe.
Members opposite made the point—and I readily accept at once that it was a good one—that in many cases, indeed, in all, as they said, ballots which had 1210 been taken by trade unions to decide whether or not political funds should be established had been taken a long time ago, so that the majorities who voted for them had, as it were, passed away. Let me concede at once that that is a sound point, if it were true. There is nothing, and there will be nothing after this Bill is passed into law, to prevent the existing members of a trade union, if they are so disposed, to hold fresh ballots. There are powers, in certain circumstances, by which they can be required to hold fresh ballots. In fact, a great many trade unions have held ballots in regard to their political funds since 1913, when this requirement was introduced into our law. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite will obtain any consolation from the fact—I have not been able to explore these matters fully—but quite casually today I came across two cases. One concerned the Durham miners. They have had two ballots since 1913, largely because of the activities of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who sits at the end of the Front Opposition Bench, the hon. Member for North Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Sir C. Headlam) who suspected that the political complexion of the members of the trade unions in that part of the country was not perhaps so Socialistic as it turned out to be.
The Durham miners held a ballot in 1929, and another in 1937. The second they were required to hold by the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and it turned out that in that ballot, taken under the direct supervision of the Registrar so as to ensure that everything should be fair, square, and above board, over 92 per cent. of the total membership were in favour of the political fund. If it is true, as Members seek to suggest, that there are cases in which a majority of the members of a trade union do not desire to have a political fund it is open to them, at any time, to ask for a fresh ballot to be taken. If it turns out that there is not a majority in favour of a political fund no political fund will there be. But if, on the other hand, it turns out, as we are confident from our actual experience of ballots which have been held, that there is a substantial majority in favour of a political fund, we think it right that those who desire not to fall in with their colleagues and comrades—quite properly, as they are entitled to do if they have different political views, or no political views—should 1211 at least go to the trouble of filling in a form in order to contract out. There are some who think—and one Member attributed the view to me, but I do not hold it—that the minority in these cases, as in normal cases of clubs, companies and other associations, should toe the line, that if the majority, 92 per cent., think there ought to be subscriptions to a political fund then the minority, the remaining 8 per cent., should subscribe to that fund. We are not suggesting that that should be done but we do say that where there is a majority in favour of a political fund the minority are the ones who must sign a form in order to get exemption. Those who say that this will result in intimidation, and in people having to disclose their political views, are saying something which they must obviously know to be entirely untrue.
Then it is said that every person entering the Civil Service must give undivided allegiance to the State. That is one of those platitudes which roll sonorously off the lips of hon. Members opposite, but which really mean very little at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Nobody really thinks that the 1927 Act was justified by any lack of loyalty or allegiance on the part of civil servants. If they do I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities, who has such special knowledge of these matters. I felt quite sure that nobody would suggest for a moment that there was anything in the attitude of civil servants during the strike of 1926 or at any early period—during which civil servants were entitled, if they so desired, to affiliate themselves to industrial organisations—to suggest that their loyalty had been in any way divided. What happened before the 1927 Act, and what has happened since has not suggested that there is the slightest foundation for this fear that the allegiance of the Civil Service might be divided or their loyalty undermined.
Their allegiance existed before, it existed after, it exists still. Some of us, as the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities has, if I may say so, very fairly said, have had experience of actual working in association with the Civil Service and know the loyalty and allegiance which can be expected from its members. Our view about the matter is that that loyalty is not going to be in- 1212 creased by imposing penal restrictions on their liberty, but that by giving them the same rights as ordinary citizens possess in regard to political or industrial affiliations we can still count with complete confidence on their undivided loyalty and service to the State. It really is complete flapdoodle—if that is a Parliamentary phrase—and complete bunkum if it is not, to suppose that by invading personal and private rights in the way the 1927 Act has done it is possible to compel an allegiance which did not exist before. That, of course, is the Nazi Fascist way of doing it—it is not the way we contemplate doing things. We think the measure of allegiance owing to the State is not in proportion to the degree of restriction placed upon the subjects by the State to whom it is owed.
I have little more to add. I shall not follow the arguments of hon. Members opposite which in some cases would appear to have been concentrated very largely on that device which I described of putting up their own ninepins and knocking them down. I am not going to follow their example either in repeating arguments which really do not gain much in weight by mere repetition. The plain fact is that this Bill is long overdue. It has been a permanent part of the Labour programme ever since 1927. At every election since that date the repeal of this Bill has been one of the things for which Labour candidates stood. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, in winding up the Debate on the 1927 Bill, threw out a challenge to the Labour Party as to what would happen if they were unwise enough, in his view, to make this an issue at an election. We accepted the challenge and made it an issue, and we accepted the challenge he threw out later on, in the early part of last year, when he invited us to submit this matter to the verdict of the people, and said that that verdict would govern the way this matter was dealt with in Parliament. I know that that phrase has been referred to many times in the course of this Debate, but I do not know what those words mean unless they mean what they say. I realise that the right hon. Member for Woodford is such a master of the English language that he has put himself very much in the position of Humpty-Dumpty in "Alice." There are other respects, incidentally, in 1213 which he resembles Humpty-Dumpty. Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall—When I use a word,' said Humpty-Dumpty" —and this must be what hon. Members are saying about these words that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford used in that letter when he said this matter should be submitted to the verdict of the people—' it means just what I intended it to mean, and neither more nor less.' But,' said Alice, ' the question is whether you can make a word mean different things. ' Not so,' said Humpty-Dumpty, the question is which is to be the master. That's all '.We are the masters at the moment, and not only at the moment, but for a very long time to come, and as hon. Members opposite are not prepared to implement the pledge which was given by their leader in regard to this matter at the
§ General Election, we are going to implement it for them. The people, having been asked for their verdict, and having given their verdict on this matter, are going to have their verdict put into effect by the representatives of the people upon this side of the House, and this wretched Act—because that is all it is—this bastard product of narrow legalism—[Interruption]—I am using the word that was so well used the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton); I felt I could not choose a more proper expression. This bastard product of narrow legalism and craven politics is now going to be swept for ever from the law of this country.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 349; Noes, 182.1217
|Division No. 125||AYES.||[9.14 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Chetwynd, Capt. G, R||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Clitherow, Dr. R.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Cluse, W. S||Gaitskell, H. T. N.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cobb, F. A.||Gallacher, W.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Cocks, F. S.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S|
|Attewell, H. C||Coldrick, W.||Gibbins, J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Collick, P.||Gibson, C. W|
|Austin, H. L.||Collins, V. J.||Gilzean, A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Comyns, Dr. L.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Cook, T. F.||Goodrich, H. E.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)|
|Balfour, A,||Corlett, Dr. J.||Grenfell, D. R|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Corvedale, Viscount||Grey, C. F.|
|Barstow, P. G||Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A.||Grierson, E.|
|Bartlett, V.||Daggar, G.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Barton, C.||Daines, P.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)|
|Battley, J. R.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden|
|Belcher, J. W||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Gunter, Capt. R. J.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Davies Harold (Leek)||Guy, W. H.|
|Benson, G.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Haire, Flt.-Lt. J. (Wycombe)|
|Berry, H.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hale, Leslie|
|Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Deer, G.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C.)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.|
|Bing, Capt. G. H. C.||Delargy, Captain H. J||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Binns, J.||Diamond, J.||Hardman, D. R.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Dobbie, W.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Blenkinsop, Capt A.||Dodds, N. N.||Harrison, J.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Donovan, T.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Boardman, H.||Douglas, F. C. R.||Haworth, J.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr H. W.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Dumpleton, C. W.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Durbin, E. F. M.||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Dye, S.||Hicks, G.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Holman, P.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Horabin, T. L.|
|Bruce, Major D. W. T.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||House, G.|
|Burden, T. W.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Hoy, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Ewart, R.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Callaghan, James||Farthing, W. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Follick, M.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Champion, A. J.||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Chater, D.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Irving, W. J.||Mort, D. L.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Moyle, A.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Janner, B.||Murray, J. D.||Stamford, W|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Nally, W.||Steele, T.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Naylor, T. E.||Stephen, C.|
|John, W.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Strachey, J.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Strauss, G. R|
|Jones, Asterley (Hitchin)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Keenan, W.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Kendall, W. D.||O'Brien, T.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Kenyon, C.||Oldfield, W. H.||Symonds, Maj. A. L.|
|King, E M.||Oliver, G. H.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Orbach, M.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Kinley, J.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Kirby, B. V.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Lang, G.||Pargiter, G. A.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Lavers, S.||Parker, J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon J. J||Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Thorneycroft, H.|
|Leonard, W.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Thurtle, E.|
|Leslie, J. R.||Peart, Capt. T. F||Tiffany, S.|
|Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.||Perrins, W.||Timmons, J.|
|Levy, B. W.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Titterington, M F|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Popplewell, E.||Tolley, L.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Porter, E. (Warrington).||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Porter, G. (Leeds).||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Lipson, D. L.||Price, M. P.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Pritt, D. N.||Usborne, Henry|
|Logan, D. G.||Proctor, W. T.||Vernon, Maj W. F|
|Longden, F.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Ranger, J.||Walkden, E.|
|McAdam, W.||Rankin, J.||Walker, G. H.|
|McAllister, G.||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Reeves, J.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mack, J. D.||Rhodes, H.||Weitzman, D.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Richards, R.||Wells, W. T (Walsall)|
|Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Robens, A.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Maclean, N. (Govan)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|McLeavy, F.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Wigg, Colonel G. E.|
|McNeil, H.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford).||Royle, C.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Scollan, T.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.).||Segal, Dr. S.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping).||Shackleton, Wing-Com. E. A, A.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Marquand, H. A.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Martin, J. H.||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)||Williamson, T.|
|Mathers, G.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Willis, E.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Shurmer, P.||Wills, Mrs. E A|
|Medland, H. M.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Messer, F||Silverman J. (Erdington)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Silverman, S S. (Nelson)||Woodburn, A|
|Mikardo, Ian||Simmons, C. J.||Woods, G. S|
|Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Skeffington, A. M.||Yates, V. F.|
|Monslow, W.||Skeffingtons-Lodge, T. C.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Montague, F.||Skinnard, F. W.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Moody, A. S.||Smith, Capt. C (Colchester)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Morley, R.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Mr. Pearson and|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Snow, Capt. J. W.||Mr. Collindridge|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Solley, L. J.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Bowen, R.||Corbett, Lt.-Col. U. (Ludlow)|
|Aitken, Hon. Max.||Bower, N.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Crowder, Capt. J. F E.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Guthbert, W. N.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Darling, Sir W. Y.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Butcher, H. W.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Byers, Lt.-Col. F.||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Carson, E.||De la Bère, R.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Challen, C.||Digby, Maj. S. W.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Channon, H.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Birch, Lt-Col. Nigel||Clarke, Col. R. S.||Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Drayson, G. B.|
|Boothby, R.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Drewe, C.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cooper-Key, E M.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Robinson, Wing Comdr. Roland|
|Eccles, D. M.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Ross, Sir R.|
|Erroll, F J.||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G.||Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P (Stone)||MacLeod, Capt. J.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Gage, Lt.-Col. C.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Grimston, R. V||Marples, A. E.||Spence, H. R.|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marsden, Capt. A||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Hare, Lt.-Col. Hon. J. H. (W'dbridge)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Maude, J. C.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mellor, Sir J.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Herbert, Sir A. P.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Sulcliffe, H.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Strauss, H. G. (Com. Eng. Univ'sities)|
|Hogg, Hon Q.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hn, W. S. (Cirencester)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C E.||Teeling, William|
|Hope, Lord J.||Nicholson, G||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Howard, Hon. A.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Nutting, Anthony||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Hurd, A||Orr-Ewing, I L||Touche, G. C|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.)||Osborne, C.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Vane, W. M. T.|
|Jarvis, Sir J.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G||Pickthorn, K.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Jennings, R.||Pitman, I. J.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Keeling, E. H.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Wheatley, Col. M. J.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig, O.||White, Sir D. (Farnham)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Raikes, H. V.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Ramsay, Maj. S.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K||Rayner, Brig. R||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J S. C. (Hillhead)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Renton, D.||Winterton. Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Linstead, H. N.||Roberts, Sqn,-Ldr. Emrys (Merioneth)||York, C.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Robert, H. (Handsworth)|
|Low, Brig. A R. W.||Roberts, Maj. P G. (Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Lucas, Major Sir J||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Sir Arthur Young and|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn|
|Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.|
|Resolved: "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]|
|Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-seven Minutes past Nine o'Clock.|