§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Major Milner in the Chair]
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman. I wonder whether you would give the Committee some guidance at the commencement of the proceedings as to the Amendments on the Order Paper. The general form of each of the Amendments is to propose in effect that Clause I should stand part of the Bill except the references to Sections 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, and so on, of the old Act. It would be quite out of Order for any hon. Member to put all those down in one Amendment, as that would be outside the long Title and scope of the Bill before the Committee. I submit that none of these Amendments is in Order, in view of the fact that we had a full Second Reading Debate lasting two days, during which the Attorney-General, the President of the Board of Trade and other hon. Members on each side referred to the original Act Section by Section. I think there is no precedent for such a complete repeal of such a dastardly Act of Parliament.
§ The Chairman
I would remind the hon. Member that it is not the practice of the Chair to give any indication of what has been decided in reference to Amendments on the Order Paper as a whole, and I cannot accept the general contention of the hon. Gentleman. I have made a selection of the Amendments on the Order Paper on their respective merits, and I propose first to call the first Amendment on the Order Paper, which stands in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden).
§ Mr. Naylor (Southwark, South-East)
On a point of Order. Like my colleague the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) I fail to understand how these Amendments can be in Order. The situation is a very peculiar one, and has no precedent for many years. Yesterday, I took the precaution of consulting that well-known authority, Erskine May. I find that there has been a decision that would apply to the situation which now faces the Committee. With permission, I will 1760 read that decision, which occurs in Erskine May, on page 405:The Chairman, in the case of an amendment offered to a Bill that was limited in scope to the repeal of a clause in a statute, ruled that the amendment was out of order because its object was the continuance and extension of the clause to be repealed.He went on:The Committee could not insert a clause which reversed the principle which the Bill, as-read a Second time, sought to affirm.The next quotation which I wish to make is this:An amendment which is equivalent to a negative of a Bill, or of the clause under consideration, is out of order.It seems to me that those decisions apply-to this case and while. I realise that you have nothing to learn from me, Major Milner, I submit that they have a direct bearing on the situation which now faces the Committee.
§ Colonel Ropner (Barkston Ash)
Further on that point of Order. As the Committee is no doubt aware, it is necessary to go back for a number of years before a precedent can be found for the Bill now before the Committee. If the Committee will refer to Vol. 251 of Parliamentary Debates, 1880, c. 1134, they will find that there the Chairman of Committee, one of your illustrious predecessors. Major Milner, uttered these remarks:He was bound to say that he had considered with very great care the question submitted to the Committee in that Amendment, and it appeared to him that the effect of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Swansea, if it were adopted, would not merely be to annul the object of the Bill; but that, practically the ultimate effect of it would be to reverse it.He went on to remark that as it was within the Rules of Order to pass a Bill Clause by Clause, it could not be in Order to reverse the Clauses. If I may be excused for reading from one more sentence, I would add that he went on to say:It was open for them to modify the propositions contained in the Bill, or to annul them…but not to reverse them. I submit that we are not endeavouring,-by any of the Amendments on the Order Paper, to reverse the effect of the 1927 Act. We intend, with the leave of the Committee, to amend the Bill which is before us.
§ The Chairman
I am obliged to both hon. Gentlemen for calling my attention 1761 to the points they have made, and in reply I would say that I have considered them, and have come to a decision. I have selected various Amendments which, in my view, are in Order, and will enable the Committee to discuss the Bill. I do not think I can say more than that at the present juncture.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
Is it in Order for two supporters of the Government to raise points of Order, the sole object of which is to prevent any discussion on the Committee stage of a Bill?
§ The Chairman
I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that it is in Order for any hon. Member to raise a proper point of Order.
§ CLAUSE 1—Repeal of 17 and 18 Geo. 5,c. 72, and restoration of law in force before that Act.)
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hill-head)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, at beginning, insert "With the exception of Section one."
The effect of this Amendment would be that all parts of the 1927 Act would be repealed with the exception of Section I, which would remain in operation. The Committee will remember that SectionI1 contains a number of points, of which the most important is the declaration that certain strikes and lock-outs are illegal. A strike is illegal if ithas any object other than or in addition to the furtherance of a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the strikers are engaged; andis a strike designed or calculated to coerce the Government, either directly or by inflicting hardship on the community;If a Government or anyone else is setting out to draft a Bill with the object of improving the law, it is usual, first, to make up one's mind what the law should be. There is here, of course, a test to which these matters always come back at the end of the day—the general strike of 1926. Therefore, the obvious test, the obvious point to which anyone promoting a Bill must apply his mind is, "Do you want to make a strike resembling the 1926 strike, legal or illegal in future?" Or, to put it even more broadly, "Do yon regard a strike like the 1926 strike as a right thing or a wrong 1762 thing?" because on that must depend one's course of action.
Accordingly, I start with this question: Is it the view of the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite that it would be right or wrong to promote a strike like the 1926 strike, if corresponding circumstances should occur in future? The learned Attorney-General seems to think it would be a wrong thing, because he said this, with reference to the time when the 1927 Act was passed:People were, very properly, naturally and rightly anxious to ensure that there should he no repetition of a general stoppage of that kind in this country."—[Official Report, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 196.]Therefore, he must be of opinion that a repetition of these events would be wrong. Theright hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade took the same view. He did not go into this matter particularly in the Second Reading Debate on this Bill, but he did go into it in detail in the Second Reading Debate on the 1931 Bill promoted by the Socialist Government of that day. Before T come to read what he said, I think I should put this as a fair statement, as I see it, of the position which he took up. He took the view that, as the law stood in 1926, and as it will stand if this Bill passes unamended, the general strike was legal. He said, however, that in his view if the 1931 Bill had been law in 1926, the general strike would be illegal. Therefore, he must have thought that the general strike was a wrong thing; because he supported a Bill the main object of which was to make illegal a recurrence of that strike.
We have the right hon. and learned President of the Board of Trade and the hon. and learned Attorney-General, both of the opinion that a recurrence of a general strike would be wrong. I am not at all clear that that is the view of their trade union colleagues. I listened to the Foreign Secretary, the Minister of Labour and to the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. G. Hicks) and, so far as I could gather, they all thought that the general strike in 1926 was a right thing. I observe an hon. Member nods his head. Therefore I asume that if corresponding circumstances, or circumstances which seemed to them to be corresponding, ever occurred again, then another general strike would be regarded by them 1763 as a right thing. That seems to follow inevitably and logically from what they said the other night in the Second Reading Debate. There does seem to be a very sharp division of opinion.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
As I understand it, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is saying that the President of the Board of Trade and the Attorney-General indicated that they disagreed with the general strike, that they thought it was wrong. He gave as an illustration the fact that the President of the Board of Trade was supporting the 1931 Bill, and was thereby stating expressly that he did not agree with the general strike. Was it not in fact the case that what the President of the Board of Trade said then was that as the Labour Government at that time was a minority Government, they were seeking to introduce a Bill which was a compromise and that it had nothing to do with any view that the President of the Board of Trade would have expressed if he had had a majority behind him? Therefore, is not what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now saying a definite misrepresentation of the position?
§ Mr. Reid
I am afraid the hon. Member takes an unduly low view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade because, whatever we may think about his politics, I am sure there is not a Member of this Committee who does not think he is a transparently honest man. I cannot imagine any man of honour promoting a Bill with the object of making illegal something which he believed to be right. The President of the Board of Trade undoubtedly promoted a Bill to make illegal a recurrence of the general strike. I cannot imagine a man of his upright morality doing that, if he really believed that the general strike was right. That is my answer to the hon. Member.
I repeat what I said before I was interrupted, that there does appear to be a sharp cleavage of opinion between the right hon. and hon. and learned Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite and the trade union leaders. In those circumstances, of course, there might have been-some embarrassment in reaching a common policy, but someone discovered a convenient new doctrine which made it unnecessary to resolve that difficulty. 1764 That convenient new doctrine was that it is futile or wrong—I think somebody said "wrong" but certainly it was futile—to legislate against strikes As a result, hon. and right hon. Members need not make up their minds whether a strike is wrong or right. The view that legislation is futile was based, if I understood the learned Attorney-General and the right hon. and learned President of the Board of Trade aright, on an appeal to war legislation and war experience.
§ Mr. Reid
I will deal with this first because it was partly based on this; I will deal with the broader aspect later. In so far as it was based on that, it was based on a misapprehension of the situation, because there are two essential differences between the war position and the position under the 1927 Act. The first is that the war legislation was aimed at the strikers themselves. The offence under the war legislation was to strike Under the 1927 Act, the offence is very carefully made not to strike, but to instigate or promote. The two things are very different. One cannot argue from one to the other. The second difference was that almost all—I might almost say all—the strikes in the war, were promoted by persons who carefully kept out of the public eye.
It was extremely difficult, and generally quite impossible, to discover who were the instigators of these unofficial strikes. I know that, because I had a good deal to do with matters of this kind. Of course one cannot effectively use the law, if one cannot discover who the chief culprits are, but nobody would say in the ordinary way, as a general statement, that it is futile to legislate because, in certain cases, one cannot find the offender. We all know there are many cases where the offender cannot be found. Nobody has put that forward up to date as a reason for not having a law on the subject.
I come to the Attorney-General's second and perhaps his main reason for not legislating. I do ask the attention of the Committee to this because this is a very far-reaching argument. The Attorney-General at Col. 193 said this:If this country should ever be faced—and I hope it will not—with the misfortune of a recurrence of a general strike, then at least this Bill will avoid a conflict with the law which, in existing circumstances, the law 1765 would inevitably lose…. "[Official Report, 12th Feb., 1946; Vol. 419, c. 193.]If that argument proves anything, it proves far too much, because everybody agrees that there are certain strikes which always have been, are now and always should be illegal, namely, the strikes which are clearly political or subversive. Everybody agrees with that. If the learned Attorney-General's argument is right that the law will inevitably lose, when we are dealing with something like the 1926 strike, will it not also inevitably lose if we are dealing with the political or subversive strike? 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Reid
Then we get this very odd statement from the hon. and learned Gentleman whose duty it is to be the guardian of the laws of England—that he admits that the law will not operate. If it is the view of the Government that it is bad to have laws on the Statute Book which cannot operate—in which I entirely agree as a general principle—then this Bill ought to go much further than it does, and all laws against strikes ought to be removed. The learned Attorney-General really cannot argue, first, that the law will inevitably lose, and, secondly, that we ought to retain the law against political strikes. If the hon. and learned Gentleman says, as he says now, that the law will always lose whether it is confronted by a legal or an illegal strike, I would ask him what he means when he says:That is not to say, of course, that it is not the duty of the Government to deal with any strike situation that may arise.We must either deal with the matter in a legal manner, or in a manner outside the law. Those are the only two possibilities, and, if the learned Attorney-General says that we cannot deal with the matter within the law, because the law will always lose, then we have the very odd doctrine coming from the leading lawyer opposite, that we are to deal with this situation in an extra-legal manner. I should have thought that, when dealing with a dangerous situation of this kind, it was always at least a good thing to have the law on your side and not to have to come to ask the House of Commons later on for a Bill of Indemnity, which is, apparently, what the learned Attorney-General has in view.
§ The Attorney-General
I am very loath to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but, if he does quote passages from my speech on Second Reading, I am sure he will be only too willing to quote the whole thing.
§ Mr. Reid
I will read the whole paragraph, and the Committee will be able to see whether I have been unfair to the learned Attorney-General. He said:Of course, I do not want to suggest for a single moment that any Government in their senses would attempt to suppress a strike by means of a criminal prosecution. Mr. Baldwin's Government in 1926 did not do so. They had no doubt the strike was illegal; they did not attempt to suppress it by the processes of the criminal law. Looking back on it now, it is difficult to imagine anything that would have done more to exacerbate the situation. You cannot settle these great human movements wrong and misguided as they may be,"—and I call attention to that—
§ Mr. Reid
That seems to me just a little legal hedging from the hon. and learned Gentleman. However, it is off the point I am making—by putting a few people into prison. That only makes martyrs of those people. That is not to say, of course, that it is not the duty of the Government to deal with any strike situation which may arise "—of course, it is—and it is a duty which the present Government will loyally discharge. In 1920, in contemplation, as a matter of fact, of the possibility that a general strike situation might arise, Parliament passed the Emergency Powers Act of that year, giving the Government all necessary powers to deal with any such situation, short of this: that the Government were not to be allowed to declare that the strike itself was illegal. Those powers were operated in 1927, and they continue to exist. If the Government of the time, faced with any emergency of this kind, found that their existing powers were not adequate to deal with the situation, then they could come back to Parliament and ask for whatever additional powers were necessary in the circumstances of that situation."—[Official Report, 12th February,
§ The Attorney-General
There is not a word there about operating outside the law, or coming for an Act of Indemnity.
§ Mr. Reid
No, but there is a word about coming back to Parliament, and I say to the hon. and learned Gentleman that things are apt to happen very quickly. Several right hon. Gentlemen seem to have in mind that the hon. and learned Gentleman is going to find the existing powers under the 1927 Act rather in adequate, and the hon. and learned Gentleman himself envisages, in the last sentence I have read— if it means anything at all—at least the possibility that the powers under the 1927 Act may be in adequate. Then, he says: "Well, what then? We will come back to Parliament and ask for more." But things are apt to move quickly at times, and it may well be that something will happen and that he will have to act before he has got his additional powers. I think, there fore, that I was fully entitled to say that there was—
§ Mr. George Hicks (Woolwich, East)
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman, for the benefit of the Committee— I am sure he is capable of doing so if he is willing—define what he means by a general strike?
§ Mr. Hicks
I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not want to misinform the House, but the Trades Union Congress, which had charge of the calling-out of the men, left hundreds of thousands of workers in employment when other workers were asked to come out, and it was not a question of not being able to bring them out.
§ Mr. Reid
What happened was quite clear. The vanguard, led by the Minister of Labour, came out 24 hours before anybody else. The hon. Gentleman says the next wave then came out, but the third wave never came out, because the whole thing collapsed. Does anybody suggest that the strike of 1926 was not promoted as a general strike? [Hon. Members: "Yes."] Of course it was. At any rate, 1768 do not let us argue about words. What I am talking about is a strike on the lines of the 1926 strike, and, if it annoys hon. Gentlemen opposite that I should call it a "general strike," then, in future, I will call it a 1926 type of strike, and we shall know what we mean. I submit to the Committee that the arguments of the learned Attorney-General on this matter will not hold water, and that it is quite impossible to say that war experience proves his case. He admits that. He also says one can never take legal action against a strike at all, but he contradicts that by saying that, of course, political strikes must remain illegal. The two things will not stand together. Accordingly, if those two arguments disappear, and if we all agree that political or subversive strikes should and must remain illegal, then it becomes a pure question of degree—where to draw the line between the revolutionary, subversive or political strike, on the one hand, and the industrial strike on the other.
§ Mr. Stubbs (Cambridgeshire)
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain to the House when a political strike is not an industrial strike, and vice versa
§ The Chairman
I think we are getting a little wide of the point, and that it would be just as well if hon. Members allowed the right hon. and learned Gentleman to proceed.
§ Mr. Reid
I am only too willing to enlighten people who want enlightenment. I propose to give, and would have given, an answer to the point just made, but it will come quite soon. To resume, I was saying that it becomes a question of degree where you draw the line between the two classes of strikes that have been recognised in all quarters in this Debate and in 1931 as quite distinct—the political, subversive or revolutionary strike, on the one hand, and the purely industrial strike on the other. Where will that line be if Section I goes? We all agree that purely industrial strikes should be, and are, legal. We all agree that purely subversive strikes—subject to the learned Attorney-General's argument—should be, are, and will remain illegal, but what about the large intermediate class of which the 1926 type of strike was an example where there is a mixture between industrial and political motives? That 1769 was dealt with at great length in 1931, and I entirely agree with the President of the Board of Trade that it all depends on the meaning which one attaches to the words "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute." Those are the difficult words.
They occur first in the 1875 Act, Section 3, where conspiracy as a criminal offence was abolished in the case of a strike or action "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute." In any action not "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute," the old law of conspiracy remains. Those words occur again twice at least in the 1906 Act, in regard to the liability of individuals who conspire together to pay damages to the person whom they injure. If their acting together is in furtherance of a trade dispute, then they are not liable to pay damages. The words occur again in Section 3, where the old law was altered, and it was no longer a subject for claiming damages when a person induced somebody to break his contract. If a person does that outside the area of a trade dispute, he is liable for damages as are all other people who induce persons to break their contracts But, as I have said, if it is done inside a trade dispute, there is immunity. All these depend on the same phrase, and the question is, What does that phrase mean?
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ There are three possible meanings that have been canvassed before. I was a little puzzled why the learned Attorney-General said this was a pure question of fact because, before you get to the question of fact—which I agree must arise in every case—you must determine which of the three meanings you attach to the words "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute." The first is that an act is "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute "if there is any element of trade dispute about it, although there may be a much greater element of politics about it. That was the view of the President of the Board of Trade in 1931, and, I suppose, is still his view. If you could find any substantial element of trade dispute about it, the fact that there was, over and above that, a much greater element of politics did not take it out of 1770 the immunity. For that reason the President of the Board of Trade said that the 1926 Act was, in his view, legal.
Then there is the second criterion which was incorporated in the 1931 Bill. In that you had to weigh up the two motives, the industrial as against the political, and see which was the primary motive. The President of the Board of Trade again came to the conclusion, knowing all the facts, that in 1926 the primary motive was political and not industrial. That was his deliberate opinion in 1931. He said that if the 1931 Bill were law, the 1926 type of strike would be illegal. There is the third possible interpretation which is incorporated in Section 1 of the 1927 Act, with which we are dealing at the moment, namely, that if there is any substantial element of the political motive then it is an illegal strike. That, I think, is a fair statement of the three alter natives. Before you ever come to your question of fact, you must decide which of those three alternative tests you are going to apply to the facts. We are entitled to know which of those three tests is the right one in the view of the Government, and we are further entitled to know which of the three will be the law in the future. We should not be left in the state of uncertainty which the law was in 1927 and into which we will be thrown back if this Bill is passed. There was a broad division between lawyers who were Labour and those who were Conservative, with a certain amount of over lapping. For example, Professor Good- hart, I think, supported the Labour view and Sir Frederick Pollock supported the view then put forward from the Government benches but there were two quite distinct bodies of opinion. I should hesitate at this time of day to choose between those great men who fought in those days, but there were those two quite clear trends of opinion, neither would give way to the other, and if this Bill is passed we shall be back in the same confusion. In 1931, everybody agreed that whatever we did, we should not return to that confusion, and that was the main object of the 1931 Act. It may interest the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) if I indicate the way in which it was put by the principal speaker for the Liberal Party at that date, Mr. Birkett. This is what he said:
'' The position plainly is this: No one wants a repetition of the offence of 1926, but I think
that the country wants to be assured that if you are taking upon yourself to put a Statute on the Statute Book, you should make it plain, if you can, that that situation is unwanted and is prohibited."—[Official Report, 22nd January, 1931; Vol. 247, c. 432.]
§ He went on to say that he did not like the terms of the Bill or the terms of the 1927 Act, but, at least, he made it plain that the Liberal Party of those days stood for clarity, and I hope the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery and his supporters also stand for clarity in this matter. This is one of the most important matters which we can discuss in Parliament, because it affects every man, woman and child in the country, and it is quite unfair to the ordinary man that he should be left in doubt as to what the law is. The people of this country are a law-abiding people. They want to obey the law, but before one can obey the law, one must know what it is. They want to know what the law is. and I think it is more than a coincidence that in 1926 the collapse of the general strike followed the very next day after the declaration by Mr. Justice Astbury that the general strike was illegal.
§ Mr. Reid
There is nothing more likely to bring the law of this country into disrepute than if it is deliberately vague for political reasons. Whatever else may be said about the 1927 Act, it was not vague; it was clear. The learned Attorney-General and the President of the Board of Trade both devoted a considerable degree of ingenuity to discovering respects in which Section 3 was vague, but neither of them was able to, or, at any rate, did suggest any vagueness in Section I. No one gave any instances of Section I being difficult to interpret. It is true that the President of the Board of Trade said it was too wide; he did not tell us how, but he did say that a lot of things which were and should be legal were brought into the ambit of illegality. It would have been interesting to have had from the President of the Board of Trade some details about that, because he seemed to be entirely at cross purposes there with the learned Attorney-General. This is what the Attorney-General said; I do not wish to read the whole paragraph again. 1772 but perhaps the learned Attorney-General will tell me if I ought to. I will read the part which I think is relevant, and perhaps he will tell me if he wants me to read any more. With regard to this particular Section we are discussing, he said:It had no practical effect whatever on the exercise of the right to strike—not a scrap. It imposed some inconvenience on the organisation of the trade unions.He went on to say:… it did nothing to prevent the trade unions and the Labour Party going on from strength to strength "—[Official Report. 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 194.]If that is so, if in fact in nearly 20 years there has been no single instance where this Section did anything to hamper any trade union, it is a little difficult to see that any case has been made out for altering the Section, once it is agreed that the law should take a hand in the matter at all. But it is always well to meet trouble before it arises, and if the learned Attorney-General or anyone else is able to put forward a hypothetical case which would be caught under the 1927 Act, and which should be free, let us deal with that and let us make the law clear. It is, however, a very curious way to deal with that type of objection, to make the law more obscure, which is what this Bill is doing. Therefore, I say if there is anything in this line of argument—there is nothing in it in past history because no argument has arisen—the course to take is to propose an amendment to Section I which would remove the difficulty, but that is not being done.
But there is a good deal more in Section I than merely the definition of an illegal strike. I would ask the Committee to look at the subsidiary provisions of Section I, because it is a great pity to lose some of them. The second Subsection, as I have already stated, contains a proviso under which no person is to be deemed to have committed an offence by reason only of his having ceased work or refused to continue to work, so that mere striking is not an offence under the 1927 Act. It is not too clear—the learned Attorney-General will perhaps be able to help us here—that if we repeal this provision, and an illegal strike does occur, the ordinary striker will not be caught by the law as it will now be. It may well be that in an illegal strike the ordinary striker, as distinct from the instigator, will be considerably worse off if this Section is repealed than if it remains standing. 1773 Therefore, I think the Government ought to think twice before repealing that proviso. There is in the third Subsection another safeguard which ensures that prosecutions shall not be brought without the assent either of the Attorney-General or the Director of Public Prosecutions, or, in Scotland, of the Lord Advocate. I speak, perhaps, with some prejudice in this matter, coming from a country where central control of prosecution has been the rule for centuries. In my view, central control of prosecution is a very considerable safeguard for the individual. Therefore, I think it a great pity to repeal this provision and thereby abolish that safeguard for the individual in this connection.
§ 4.30 p.m
§ Finally, there is Subsection (4), which deals with the 1906 Trade Disputes Act. That Act, contrary to the recommendations of the Royal Commission to which Mr. Sidney Webb was a party, and contrary to the original proposals of the Liberal Government of the time, introduced immunities in favour of trade unions and their officials, which took them right out of the ordinary law. The 1927 Act did not repeal those immunities. What it did was to say that those immunities shall not apply in the case of an illegal strike.
§ I think this is a very good instance for testing the validity of the argument that the 1927 Act was inspired by some vindictive spirit. If there had been any spirit of vindictiveness, what would have been easier than to say, "We will follow the recommendations of the Royal Commission "—to which Mr. Sidney Webb was a party—" and we will put the trade unions and their officials back under the ordinary law of the land." But that was not done. They were left with all their immunities, unjustified though many people thought them to be at the time, and unjustified though many people have since thought them to be. They were left with all their immunities for all strikes which were legal, for all industrial strikes. That seems to me to be a pretty significant fact. Is it really to be said that in the case of illegal strikes, plainly illegal strikes, subversive strikes, the immunity of Section 4 of the Trade Disputes Act is to remain? I know Section 3 is in a slightly different position, but I should have thought that was a very peculiar line to take. However, that is the line 1774 we are now being asked to take. Therefore, I say altogether apart from the definition part, the main part of Section I, there is a great deal of value to the ordinary rank and file in industry in the rest of Section 1and it should not be repealed now whatever else is done.
This Bill was presented to us by the Attorney-General as "a modest little Bill." I thought the words were peculiar at the time. I wonder whether he had then had his attention directed to a statement made by Sir Walter Citrine, which was published in the Labour Press Service on 9th January, 1946. If he had, I do not think his expression was very candid, because this is what Sir Walter Citrine said when asked whether the new provisions should not contain a brake on the possibility of a general strike:
I think a brake is necessary but I do not think it should be a legislative brake. My view is that self-government within the trade unions is as important as in any other sphere. I am convinced that the responsibility devolving on the trade union movement when faced with a contingency like a general strike is so great that only in the most exceptional circumstances, when no other remedy appeared possible, would such a method be likely to be employed I believe the restraint and the brake is to be found within the trade union movement and in its own sense of the responsibility which devolves upon it. At the same time I think it is incumbent on the trade union movement to state unequivocally to its membership what the repeal of the Sections dealing with the general strike and the large-scale sympathetic strike really mean. In other words the unions are being entrusted by Parliament and the community with a very great power, and they must show that they can exercise that power with judgment and restraint.
§ Is the entrusting of the trade unions with a very great power to coerce Parliament, to upset the decisions of the democratically elected persons who sit in Parliament, really "a modest little Bill "?
§ The Attorney-General
I am again very loath to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and I hope he will forgive me for doing so. Perhaps he would point out some passage in my speech on the Second Reading in which I suggested, for one moment that that was being done. What I said was exactly the opposite, that a revolutionary strike was illegal, always had been illegal and would remain illegal.
§ Mr. Reid
I do not want to go back on that, as disagreeing with the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman that 1775 strikes should never be illegal. I agree he said that. However, there is a considerable lack of liaison between the Front Bench opposite and Sir Walter Citrine. If the hon. and learned Gentleman has inside information about Sir Walter's meaning, I shall be very glad to hear it, but on the face of it, Sir Walter is saying that this Bill is going to confer upon trade unions a very great power. If the hon. and learned Gentleman says he is wrong, then let him argue it out with Sir Walter. As yet, I am inclined to think that Sir Walter is right and that the hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong, and that this Bill is, in effect, conferring on trade unions a very great power, because if you make the' law so uncertain that nobody can really discover what it is, then you give the person who wishes to promote a 1926 type of strike a long start. Therefore you do confer very great power on them, although perhaps the law may ultimately dub the strike an illegal one.
It was suggested in the course of the Second Reading Debate that this Bill would make strikes less likely. That does not seem to be Sir Walter's view. He keeps it in reserve. If ever the House refuses to obey the behest of the T.U.C., the general strike is in reserve. Unless this declaration means that it means nothing. Let us face it There are on the other side of the House large numbers of trade unionists whose sympathies may be with the T U.C. as against democracy. On the other hand, there are a great many Members of the House who are not trade unionists. Do they approve of giving Sir Walter Citrine and the T.U.C., a very great power to act in the way in which action was taken in 1926? Apparently, in the eyes of those who would want to use it, such a power is being conferred, and I ask those hon. Members who are not closely associated with the T.U.C.: Do they really want to confer a power on that body to take action to attempt to coerce the Government and Parliament either directly or, in the words of this Section, by inflicting hardship on the community? If we repeal this Section that is what we are doing, and that, I think, is unjustifiable.
If the Government had any desire to improve the law, if they could agree on what they wanted the law to be, and if they were prepared to maintain the rights of the House as the elected representatives 1776 of the people against a demand by their Socialist paymasters for power to coerce the House, then the Government would amend but not repeal the Act of 1927, and in particular, this Section. If their motive is purely political, then one can understand the form of this Bill. I think the real reason for this Bill was made clear by the Foreign Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman was not interested in the law. He was fighting to remove the stigma which the Tory Party put on him in 1927. The right hon. Gentleman has done, and is doing, a great work for his country, and if it were possible to gratify him by a present of what I might call a "Bevin Destigmatisation Bill," particularly as the stigma is imaginary in any case, I would be very glad to make him such a present, if it could be done without injury to the rest of the community. But in our view it is too large a price to pay for that, if we are to throw the law into uncertainty, and thereby encourage those who may wish to take advantage of the resulting disorder.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
My hon. Friends and I feel that, as the right hon. Member for Hill head (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) has spoken so brilliantly for his party, it is perhaps right that I should endeavour to express the Liberal attitude to the general question. Let me begin at the beginning, namely, at the general strike. It has been made apparent this afternoon that a great many, if not most, hon. Members opposite think that the general strike not only was not illegal, but was not improper. At the end of all these years, hon. Members opposite, in looking back upon the general strike, think that it was a perfectly proper thing. [Hon. Members: "Hear, 'hear."] I note from the support which this statement receives, that that view is still held by the Labour Party. Let me make it abundantly plain what the Liberal view was at that time, and still is. Who was entitled at the time of the general strike to speak for Liberal opinion? Clearly Lord Oxford was. On the day after the general strike was declared, on. 4th May, in a speech made, I understand, after consultation with his colleagues, after a meeting of the Liberal "Shadow Cabinet," and after most careful consideration, he said:A general strike has been declared, and declared by the responsible and representative councils of all the great trade unions of the 1777 country. There is a very broad and obvious distinction between a general _ strike and particular strikes or lockouts in various industries, which from time to time take place, and which have been painfully frequent in our industrial annals. What distinguishes a general strike from all others, is this, that it is a blow not struck by one combatant at another, but directed, whether in intention or not in intention, by its inevitable results, at the very vitals of the whole community.He went on to say:I do not see how it was possible for any Government not to take up, and to take up promptly and effectually, a challenge so given.meaning of course a challenge to the sovereignty of Parliament. Therefore, the Liberal Party, through the mouths of all its leading spokesmen, except one— and I think I may say that Mr. Lloyd George was in an impish mood at that time and regretted his attitude afterwards—condemned the general strike. I say that Liberal opinion today, and I believe national opinion, would still condemn a repetition of the general strike. [Interruption.'] From the interruptions I am entitled to say that upon this issue the Labour Party and ourselves think different things altogether. Hon. Members opposite justify a general strike. Presumably, they would do it again if they got the chance. Would they?
§ Mr. Stewart
All right. With the same provocation they would do it again. We regard that unfortunate incident as having been improper and wrong, so wrong that it ought, if possible, to be made plain on the Statute Book that it is an illegal proceeding.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr, Prescott (Darwen)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the present Minister of Fuel and Power expressed a similar opinion at that time?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Will the hon. Gentleman also tell me how many Liberal Members of Parliament there were in those days, and how many there are now?
§ Mr. Stewart
May I give a little friendly advice to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)? He had better not crow too soon. Greater majorities than that of the Labour Party now have disappeared like the clouds in the morning.
§ Mr. Silverman rose—
§ Mr. Silverman
May I assure the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) that I had no intention of crowing? The point I was trying to bring out was that when Lord Oxford expressed that opinion, he might have had some right to think it was the opinion of a large section of the community, but clearly that right has now disappeared.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think that remark is so stupid as not to be worth referring to. The first stage, then, was that the considered opinion of Liberals in 1926 and 1927 was that a general strike was an improper thing. I pass to the next stage. In 1927 a Bill was introduced, which later became an Act, attempting to declare in plain terms that a repetition of such a strike was an illegal proceeding. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) quite properly pointed out on the Second Reading of this Bill the Liberal Party opposed the Second Reading of the 1927 Bill, because they thought that the words used to describe an illegal strike were not good words; and therefore, on the Committee stage, the Liberal Party, by unanimous vote, put down the words which they thought ought to be in such a Bill. I will quote the words which they suggested should be in the Bill of that day, words which I and my hon. Friends propose later on to put forward in a new Clause to this Bill, although I have very grave doubts whether the Chair will feel that it is within its powers to call that new Clause. I think it is in Order for me to point out that, on that occasion, the Liberal Party proposed the following words:Notwithstanding anything in the Trade Unions Acts, any combination of employers or of persons employed, the main object of. which is to coerce the Government or Parliament, as distinguished from trade disputes, by means of concerted and simultaneous refusal to continue employment or work, is an unlawful conspiracy.Those were the words the Liberal Party endeavoured to put into the Statute that made that point plain. Why did they do it? I think it is clear to everybody that the legal situation in 1926 was doubtful. I think everybody agrees that it was doubtful. The Attorney-General has said so, and everybody has said so. [Hon. 1779 Members: "No."] All the lawyers have said so. I accept that it was doubtful, and my party accepted it at the time. They therefore said, "Let us endeavour by a declaratory law to dissuade men from participating in unwise courses." The party opposite might very well heed Lord Oxford's speech which I have quoted, in which he said that this was not a question of leaders of the trade union movement being disloyal. That never entered anybody's head. Those leaders were unwise. Our view at that time, as it is now, was to prevent the repetition of an unwise act.
We are here as lawmakers. We are paid our salaries to make law. It is the only thing we are engaged upon this afternoon. It is no good lawmakers like the Attorney-General saying that it does not matter what laws are passed. It matters very much what laws are passed, and what words are contained in them. If I understood properly what the Attorney,-General said upon the Second Reading, it was that history has shown that it is a delusion to suppose that you can stop a revolution with laws. That is not the material question with which we are confronted today. The material question is this: Is the Bill something which tends to encourage, or tends to discourage, things which ought to be resisted and condemned? That is the material question. On behalf of my hon. Friends I suggest, with all the seriousness I can command, that it would not be wise and prudent to displace from the Statute Book words which discourage a repetition of wrong Acts. We were told by the Attorney-General that in all such questions it is necessary to establish the facts, and he indicated that the best way to do that was to put them before a jury. Surely to say that is to miss the very essence of the danger of a general strike. It is arranged more or less suddenly, and it paralyses almost at once the life of he community. It is therefore a blitz measure which, at one fell stroke, places the whole community in peril. You cannot cope with such a situation by the slow, ponderous processes of the law. We must have something in addition to those processes.
Hon. Members opposite are as loyal as we are. Of course they are. There has been a lot of silly talk about loyalties in these matters. The Foreign Secretary 1780 made an outrageous speech suggesting that some of us had doubted his loyalty. Such a question had never arisen in the mind of any sensible man, and it does not arise in anybody's mind now. But I suggest that we, as loyal citizens, should recognise the devastating and immediately paralysing effect of a general strike, and should take steps accordingly. We may improvise services, as was done in 1926, but how long does that take? Many days. In the course of that time, thousands, tens of thousands, of people suffer increasing hardship which they cannot possibly stand for long. I, therefore, plead for a declaration in plain, simple words, apparent to all, setting forth the proper legal position in regard to that state of things.
If Section 1 of the Act of 1927 has done no harm, what is the objection of hon. Members opposite to it? Let us see what harm it has done. I would put one or two questions to which I hope the Attorney-General will reply. Is it not a fact that not a single dispute has been interfered with under the Act of 1927? That not one person who participated in any of the disputes has been prosecuted or penalised in any way under the Act? Has any strike, primary or sympathetic, been stopped under the Act? No. I am bound, therefore, to draw the conclusion that the Act has proved, and particularly the terms of Section 1, to have had the deterrent effect which it set out to provide. [Hon. Members: "No."] This is only one other consideration I would put to the Committee. We Liberals are left here as the honest defenders of old-fashioned individual liberty. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but I say that the liberty of the individual was undermined and nearly destroyed as the result of that unfortunate strike of 1926. On the fundamental ground of individual liberty we feel it right to maintain on the Statute Book of the country such deterrents as now exist to prevent a repetition of that invasion of individual liberty which we saw in 1926.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Haworth (Liverpool, Walton)
I want to comment upon the classic assumption that has been made both by the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) and by the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Stewart), that the people who were responsible for 1781 the so-called general strike of 1926 were the trade unions. That is put forward as an argument for the retention of Section 1 of the 1927 Act, and with the object, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, of preventing a repetition of the 1926 type of strike. I suggest that the right way to prevent a repetition of that kind of strike would be to prevent a Government acting so supinely, and neglecting its duties so much, as to allow in the country a state of things such as that which made the 1926 stoppage of work necessary. If anybody is to be taken to task for the position which arose in 1926, it is the Government of that day, which neglected its duty so much. They had 12 months' notice to try to prevent the trouble happening in the coalmines, and instead of devoting that period to trying to create a state of peace in the coalmines, they devoted it to having labels printed and getting motor cars and lorries ready in order to try to break the trade union movement. If legislation is required to prevent a state of things like that, it is not legislation against the trade unions, but legislation to try to drive intelligence into the minds of Members of the Front Bench.[Interruption.] I am stating the position; Members may apply it to either side, I do not mind in the least; I shall come to something that will apply to this side in a few minutes. I am suggesting that the proper policy to pursue is to have a Government who are in touch with the feelings and necessities of the day, and the Government of that time were not in touch with the situation of the day.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead said that there had been no spite in this Act. Surely any honest-minded Member of Parliament will admit that the whole Act was spiteful, and Section I was the pretext on which was hung the whole of the legislation which Members opposite had been trying for years to have put through the House of Commons. Did not Stanley Baldwin make that famous appeal, "Peace in our time, O Lord," in 1925, pleading with the Tory Party of the time not to use their big majority to hamstring the trade unions? That was twelve months before this strike occurred, and gave them a golden opportunity to try to break the trade union movement. They did not succeed. The hon. Member for East Fife said, as evidence of the success of this Act, that no similar occurrence had taken place since 1927. I submit that 1782 that is a tribute to the sense of responsibility of the trade union leaders, not to a Section in the Act. Section 1 has never been necessary because those conditions have never occurred, and, as I said in a speech the other week, I do not think they ever will occur, because my imagination boggles at the lack of statesmanship shown at that time by the then existing Government Front Bench. I do not think it can happen again.
I protest against the calm assumption that there are two peoples in this country, the trade union leaders on one side, and the people on the other. We are the people. If anybody can claim to be the people of this country it is those who do the work of the country, and they are represented by the trade unions. May I put this question to hon. Members? If circumstances should arise of such a nature, in the view of the trade union leaders, that it was necessary to call out their membership of 4½ million, does it not strike hon. Members that they would have to convince those 4½ million people that the cause for which they were called out was worth while? They are not blind people, who obey every call that is, made. We have the duty—I am patting myself on the back and calling myself a leader at the moment—the leaders of the trade union movement have the duty, of convincing their people before they can call them out on any strike, even a small industrial strike, and still more on a big strike such as occurred in 1926. The mere fact that it was almost 100 per cent. strong in 1926 should, surely, convince hon. Members that there was something very exceptional about that period. I do not believe it will ever occur again.
Here is where I come up against my own Front Bench. I represent Walton, which was at one time represented by a notorious gentleman from whom I differed in every respect except one—he always used to think for himself. I believe that Lord Birkenhead did believe in thinking for himself, and loyal member of the Tory Party though he was, he was prepared to take a line of his own. I, too, claim that I am going to do my own thinking. I hope I am a loyal member of the Labour Party, but I want to say that I cannot - accept the Attorney-General's definition of the difference between a sympathetic strike and a so-called general or political strike. I can visualise circum- 1783 stances 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. I do not know. It is problematical. But I do want it to be understood here, so far as I personally am concerned, that I do not accept this narrow definition, namely, that you can only come out on strike in the furtherance of an industrial dispute.
Make it illegal by all means; I am not pleading for a strike like that to be made legal. But what I am saying is that we can pass laws here until we are blue in the face but, if the people are not with us, they will not take any notice of the laws which are passed. That is the thing we have to bear in mind. In 1926, I was a member of the Council of Action in Liverpool, and we had people on strike there who had documents a yard long, with sixpenny, 2s. 6d. or 5s. stamps on them, predicting all kinds of penalties, loss of superannuation, loss of their hard-won rights, if they came out on strike. But they took not the slightest notice of those things. If laws are' against public opinion, they will not count.
I would like to quote one case to hon. Members opposite which will, I hope, help them to appreciate that it might be right even to be unconstitutional. I do not agree with the incident at the Curragh Camp, but there are many Members opposite who do. There were the generals, loyal Army officers, who were so full of their subject—their love of Ulster—that they were prepared to break every legal obligation to stick up for what they considered to be right. Will hon. Members opposite try to give us credit and realise that we, if necessary, are prepared to break legal obligations if we feel sufficiently strongly in our hearts that the step we feel compelled to take is for the benefit of our own people? We may be compelled. I do not know. I hope we never shall be. But I suggest that if we are to be prepared to back up our people, we may have to take steps of that kind. I oppose the retention of Section 1 of the 1927 Act. I think it was unnecessary. I think it was a spiteful Measure. I hope it will vanish for ever, 1784 and I am certain it will never need to be re-enacted.
§ Colonel Ropner (Barkston Ash)
It seems only a very short time since we heard the hon. Member for Walton (Mr. Ha worth) making his maiden speech, and I remember how well deserved were the congratulations which were offered to him upon it. He has already grown into an old campaigner, and the only inhibition from which he suffers is that his imagination boggles. It is still fairly fertile, and I do not think the boggling need worry him very much. It was informative to hear an hon. Member on that side say that he was prepared, if circumstances persuaded him to do it, to break the law. It has been said by more than one hon. Member opposite. It is a somewhat solemn occasion to hear that opinion, that determination, reinforced; but, at least, we on this side of the Committee feel that an hon. Member should know what law he is breaking, and it is our submission that in the proposed state of the law he would be in doubt. Men and women in this country recognise that the trade union leaders in 1926 blundered in committing their followers to the general strike, and the very best excuse the trade union leaders might give is that they could not foresee that this would be considered a challenge against the authority of the State. At the worst, they must admit that they knew what they were doing, and that it was with their eyes open that they threw down the gauntlet.
I think all the trade union leaders of that time, including my hon. Friend the Member for Walton, will admit that they lost a very great deal of prestige among the rank and file of the trade union movement when the strike collapsed, as it inevitably had to do. It was in an effort to restore prestige, that representatives of the trade union movement in this House, in 1927, raised a smokescreen of misrepresentation around the provisions of the 1927 Bill, and made the most fantastic statements on what the provisions of the Bill were intended to do. I remember one—a right hon. Gentleman, I think— said that it would prohibit all strikes. I remember another—I think that he was a right hon. Gentleman, too— said that all strikers in any strike would become criminals if the Bill became law. Of course, we can now, in the light of experience, see how absurd 1785 those statements were, but once again hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are, in my submission, attempting to fog the issue in this Debate by misrepresentation of the 1927 Measure; and I believe that it is their desire that the country should not know what the Bill is actually intended to do. The 1927 Act casts no stigma or slur or insult on the leaders of the trade union movement. [Hon. Members: "It did."] If there is any stigma or slur attached to the incident of 1926, it arose from the criminal folly of the trade union leaders themselves, and nothing this House can do can remove the slur or stigma which is the result of what they did in 1926.
§ Mr. Hicks
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman be good enough to give way? I think he referred to me in his comments a moment or two ago. Will he agree there were no bad manners about the men who came out on strike in 1926, that there was no churlishness on the part of the men; and that they were not against the State but on a sympathetic strike in the cause of a million miners? Would he not further agree with me that, if we remove the causes, the effect will not be there?
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Colonel Ropner
The hon. Gentleman has asked me so many questions I cannot remember the catalogue he has listed. I have a recollection of a journey I made in the mining area of Durham during the general strike, and my recollection certainly is that the behaviour of the trade union movement, not only there but throughout the country, was, on the whole, exemplary during that time. But the hon. Member has misunderstood me if he thinks I am now casting any slur or stigma or insult on the rank and file of the trade union movement. I do not now blame and I never have blamed the rank and file of the movement for allowing themselves to be misguided by their leaders in 1926.
I said earlier in my remarks that the fears which were expressed in this House as to what the 1927 Act would do, were proved, by experience, to be completely unfounded. I reminded the Committee that hon. Members are endeavouring to hide the real purpose of the Bill by making equally fantastic statements either against Members on this side or concerning what they still fear the Act of 1927 might do. What does the repeal of 1786 Section 1 of the 1927 Act entail? Or if hon. Members like, if this repeal becomes law, what freedom would be restored to trade unionists or anyone else? Certainly not freedom to strike, for that freedom has not been touched by the 1927 Act. [Hon. Members: "Yes, it has."] The Attorney-General, whom I am glad to see in his place now, in discussing the 1927 Act during the Second Reading Debate on this Bill, said—I think he has already been reminded of his remarks— that the 1927 Act had no practical effect whatever on the exercise of the right to strike—not a scrap. I believe those remarks are correct. I believe it has been proved by experience that such is the case. So it is not the right to strike or the freedom to strike, that hon. Members opposite are trying to restore to trade unionists by recommending this Bill.
In another, I think, unguarded moment, the Attorney-General gave us the reasons why Section I was inserted in the Act of 1927. He said that 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. Therefore, in my submission— I would like the Attorney-General to correct me if I am wrong—in so far as we attempted by the 1927 Act to prevent a repetition of the general strike of 1926, we were doing what the people wanted. So far as the general strike was concerned—I think an hon. Member opposite called it something else, but we will, for the sake of convenience, continue to refer to it as a general strike—the Minister of Labour said the other day that experience had taught us that general strikes were silly things.
Are we repealing a Bill to stop trade union leaders from doing silly things? Do right hon. Gentlemen opposite really want to do that? Obviously, if the Minister of Labour thinks a general strike is a silly thing, he should at least be prepared to endeavour to persuade trade unions not to commit that act. What possible objection can there be to doing what, on the admission of the Attorney-General, the people want the Government to do, and, on the admission of the Minister of Labour, doing what trade union leaders should want them to do. The 1927 Act attempted to define a general strike. I use the word "attempted" advisedly because I think that it is possible to argue that the wrong words 1787 were used. I never shut my mind to discussion of an attempt to redefine a legal and an illegal strike, but by repealing the Act of 1927, we shall go back to the uncertainty of 1926. We have had the benefit, through all these discussions, of a large amount of advice from hon. and learned Members, but even after we have heard one legal speech after another, all most able, there is still uncertainty as to whether the general strike of 1926 was legal or not. The President of the Board of Trade—I am sorry he is not here this afternoon—at the time gave if as his opinion that the general strike was legal. But speaking the other day on the Second Reading of this Bill, the President of the Board of Trade said that the trades union movement of 1926 decided to challenge the power of the Conservative majority.
The Conservative majority in the Parliament, at that time, formed the Government, and there is no difference, to my mind, in challenging, for instance, today, the Labour majority in this House and challenging the Labour Government. The two are the same. When the President of the Board of Trade admits, as he now has done, that the trades union movement was challenging the majority of the Members of this House, that is tantamount to confessing that the strike was a strike to coerce the Government. Whatever may have been the interpretation of the law in 1926—whether we say the general strike was legal or illegal—in the ordinary laymen's point of view there is this wretched, miserable uncertainty which should not continue. The 1927 Act was an effort to get rid of that uncertainty.
The hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) said, the other day, that he thought we, on these Benches, were on the horns of a dilemma, because he contended that if we say the strike was legal we have to throw over the advice of our legal advisers, and if we contend that the strike was illegal under the old law we ought to be satisfied now because the law is clear. In making these remarks the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith entirely misunderstood the views which we were expressing, and why we are opposed to the repeal of Section I of the Act of 1927. We submit that in this great realm of strikes of one sort or another the country ought to know what is legal and what is 1788 not. In. particular, the rank and file of the trades union movement ought to know. If they are once again asked by their leaders to come out on strike, they ought to be able to tell them whether that strike would be legal or not, but by the repeal of the Act of 1927 uncertainty will again arise as to whether a general strike which attempts to coerce the Government is legal or not. The Attorney-General, the other day, said this:This Bill will legalise nothing that was illegal in 1927.But what was legal in 1926 or 1927? The Attorney-General has been reminded this afternoon that he attempted to describe what he considered would be an obviously revolutionary strike. I do not think that there is any difficulty in describing a revolutionary strike. He then turned to the other side of the picture, and described what he thought would be an industrial strike, or a legal strike under the 1927 Act. He then turned to the intermediate field. I would like the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman for one minute because this is what he said about the law as it will be when this Bill becomes an Act. With regard to strikes in the intermediate field, he said that the sooner we got rid of the 1927 Act, the clearer the law would be. Almost immediately afterwards—I must confess somewhat to the astonishment of Members on both sides of the House who were listening to him—he said:From one point of view it is quite academic to discuss what the law will do in regard to this matter… Let me say at once, quite frankly, that it is a matter which is not free from doubt.This is the clear law to which we are going back, which is hot free from doubt. A few minutes afterwards, with all that charm for which he is so justly famed, in order to emphasise how clear the law would be, and to show, moreover, the clarity of his own mind, he clinched his argument by saying:My view may very easily be wrong…"—[Official Report, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 193-202.]What is the good of the right hon. Gentleman pretending we are going back to crystal clear law when his own view of what that law may be will very likely be wrong. Why go back to 1926? I would like the right hon. Gentleman to answer that question, if he would be so good when he replies.
§ 5,30 p.m.
We also had a speech from another Member of the Government. He was even more frank. The Foreign Secretary spoke in the Second Reading Debate. We on this side of the Committee appreciate that the Foreign Secretary has been losing a good deal of his popularity with hon. Members opposite. We know that he has very largely forfeited the support of the Labour Party. [An Hon. Member: "Who told you that?"] We have every sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman in his difficulty, and we appreciate that when we heard him talk the other day, he was trying to stage a come-back. He spoke from that Box, but the voice was certainly not the voice of a statesman. It was the old trade union boss, who pulled out of his pocket a dirty bit of paper on which 20 years ago he had written a speech which contained grievances, which he had nursed, magnified and distorted over a period of 20 years. Among the recriminatory details of the history of 1926 the right hon. Gentleman who was presumably speaking on behalf of the Government said:
It is the stigma we are endeavouring to remove, not the law."—[Official Report, 13th February 1946; Vol. 419, c. 406.]
That is precisely what this Bill does not do. No Bill can remove the stigma, but, certainly, this Bill is removing the law which the Foreign Secretary says he does not want removed. Even at this comparatively late stage in the history of the Bill, I appeal to the Government to accept the Amendment, which we are considering this afternoon. If the definition of a general strike, as is contained in the 1927 Act, needs amendment let us consider it on its merits. I can only speak for myself, and, speaking for myself, I can say that I will co-operate in every way to try to make the new definition of a general strike meet the feeling of all the members of this Committee and the feeling of the country. I want to remind the Committee of something which was said by the Minister of Labour. He stated:
It never was in the minds of any one of us that it was "—
It was the general strike to which he was referring—
an action that challenged the power of the Government. I am telling hon. Members what was in our minds; they need not believe it.… I was talking about the rank and
file with whom I was associated."—[Official Report, 13th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 303]
I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should think that we would doubt his word. I accept completely the statement he has made, and it is because I accept his statement, and because I believe that the rank and file did not know the law, that it is necessary to clarify it. I would ask the Government to accept this Amendment, and to co-operate with His Majesty's Opposition in framing a new definition of a general strike if it is needed. If the Labour Party desire to legalise a general strike—and really I do not think they do—let them say so. If they are not satisfied with the present definition of what is a general strike let them say so, and let them co-operate with us in finding a new definition. It is reactionary to go back to the chaos of 1926. The Labour Party has prided itself, rightly or wrongly, on being a party of progress. What progress is there in going back to the muddle of 1926.
§ Mr. Sparks (Acton)
I listened very attentively to the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) and I must confess, although I am not a lawyer, that what he had to say was very far removed from reality. I have been a member of a trade union, the National Union of Railwaymen, for 28 years and I have given a lifetime of service to that union, not in any official capacity, but as an ordinary member. I was one who took part in what is generally called the general strike of 1926. Those who are in active contact with the trade union movement and endeavour to subscribe to its ideals realise that that movement is based upon a fundamental moral principle. It is the principle that we are gathered together in order to help each other and to protect each other's standard of life. The general strike of 1926 was no exception to the general principle, which has always animated the trade union movement. The trade union movement was in existence for a very long time before 1926, and men have always taken action similar to what they took in 1926 during the long history of the trade union movement, but in a smaller and a lesser degree.
It has always been an accepted principle in any trade union that, if attempts were made to depress the standard of life of one section, and the members felt that 1791 the threatened depression of the standard of life was unfair and unjust, the whole of the members in that trade union, irrespective of whether they were platelayers, engineers, drivers, porters, or guards, were under an obligation to their trade union to make a stand in defence of the standards of life of the section attacked. Therefore, 1926 was but the principle of trade unionism carried to its highest conception, and when an hon. Member opposite says that 1926 was a cold, calculated attempt on the part of the trade unionists or their leaders to usurp the authority of this House, and to dethrone the Government of the day, with all respect, that is, in my view, unadulterated nonsense. I do not believe that any trade unionist or any trade union leader whatsoever had any thought or intention in his mind of wanting to usurp the Government of the day and overthrow it. We must preserve some measure of sense in relation to this matter.
I believe that, if you attempt to restrict the liberties and the freedom of the average man who goes into a trade union to try to defend his rights, and if you deliberately impose upon him laws which make it difficult even for him to defend that liberty, you will be asking the people to be contemptuous of this House and of its responsibilities to the people. As I said just now, I am not a lawyer, but the law which we are now proposing to remove from the Statute Book says:It is hereby declared that any strike is illegal if it is a strike designed or calculated to coerce the Government either directly or by inflicting hardship on the community.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I am sure he does not want to misquote the Bill. That is exactly what it does not say.
§ Mr. Sparks
I read the words as they appear, and it would seem to me that any strike which attempts to coerce the Government by inflicting hardship on the community is regarded as an illegal strike
§ Mr. Sparks
That is my point. That is one factor which I am emphasising, and it is one which is unfair because we cannot have an industrial dispute without inflicting hardship on the community. If it is regarded as unfair, unjust and unlawful to inflict hardship on the community in respect of a strike there is an obligation on the Government of the day not to inflict hardship on the community through the legislation they contemplate. For instance, there is an obligation on the part of mineowners not to inflict hardship on the community. In the case of the miners' lockout the whole of the mineowners came together—call it a conspiracy, if you like—and decided that they would attempt to coerce the miners into acceptance of a standard of life which the miners themselves, and others, regarded as unjust. By attempting to coerce the miners by the threat of a lockout, indeed an actual lockout, they provoked a revulsion of feeling throughout the whole of the trade union movement which rallied in defence of the miners. When we talk about general strikes inflicting hardship on the community, and an attempt to coerce Governments, we must understand clearly that, if there is to be no coercion and no infliction of hardship on the community the Government must recognise that as the first principle.
But when the Government look on and see mineowners attempting to coerce miners by the infliction of a lockout, and depressing their standard of life, without taking any action whatever to protect the people they are supposed to represent, that causes a revulsion of feeling among the people of the country. The failure of the Government, in 1925, to take any Positive action to prevent hardship to miners and others was responsible for the accumulation of the great moral feeling among the rank and file of the trade union movement, which said that the time had arrived when they must make some demonstration because they refused to accept the lowering of the miner's standard of life. The Government were not willing to take action to prevent hardship to a substantial section of the community. I believe the general strike could have been avoided if the Government of the day had acted in the best interests of the community. The fact that they sat tight, and did absolutely nothing,: was responsible for the feeling which provoked the general strike of 1926.
1793 Whatever we may say about that strike, a great responsibility rested on the Government of the day, because they failed in their duty to prevent a social upheaval which they knew was coming, which they prepared for, and which they attempted to impose on the country by the power they possessed in this House. Their action and policy were wrong. The Government of that day contributed substantially to the situation that arose in 1926. I hope we shall remove this Section of the Act from the Statute Book, because I believe it is a grave insult to the intelligence of every man and woman to suggest, as some Members opposite have seemed to suggest, that we are all like a lot of sheep who are led by a few leaders at the top. I am really appalled—and I say this in all sincerity—at the ignorance which exists on the Benches opposite about the actual conduct of trade union work and administration. Trade union leaders do not always get their own way with their members. They have to fight for and make good their case; if they do not serve their members properly then their members are after them.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ The trade union movement is a democratic organisation, and I do not accept the view that the average trade unionist is a fool and that he is led by the nose by anybody who likes to shout at him. There is a great deal of common sense and intelligence among trade union members, and I think this House would be unwise if they thought that those members were sheep who were led by the nose. Trade unionists resent the stigma in the Section that because they are anxious to improve their standard of life they must be guilty of illegal action, and that it is necessary to impose a law upon them because we cannot trust them, are afraid of them, and think they are dangerous. That psychology is all wrong, and I hope we shall remove this Section from the Statute Book, so that we can show to trade unionists that we appreciate that they are honest and intelligent men who will not take irresponsible action which is detrimental to the country, but will act only if they are moved by serious moral issues, when the welfare of themselves and their children is seriously assailed.
§ Major Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
The hon. Member for Acton 1794 (Mr. Sparks) is, of course, quite entitled to give an exposition of the technical difficulties of trade union leadership, and to give his own opinion, however ill- founded, upon the historical and tragic events of 1926. But as he was good enough and courteous enough to taunt Members on this side of the Committee with ignorance, perhaps I might be allowed, without any lesser degree of courtesy, to suggest to him that it is expedient to read a Bill before making a speech upon it. The hon. Member, no doubt perfectly sincerely, appeared to be under the impression that Section 1 of the 1927 Act had only one condition to make a strike illegal. I do not know whether the hon. Member has a copy of the Act, but—
§ Major Boyd-Carpenter
The compartment of the hon. Member's mind which is in operation at the moment is, of course, a domestic matter, but for a proper discussion of a serious and important Bill, I suggest that it is not quite fair, that it is not treating Members of the Committee with complete sincerity, to make the observations which the hon. Member did make, and then to seek to justify his remarks by saying that he was thinking of only one Section of the 1927 Act. To prevent the slightest possibility of a recurrence of any such misapprehension among Members opposite, I will read the relevant provisions of that Section. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] It seems that Members opposite will welcome that as a new experience. The Section reads as follows:It is hereby declared—
- (a) that any strike is illegal if it—
- (i) has any object other than or in addition to the furtherance of a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the strikers are engaged; and
- (ii) is a strike designed or calculated to coerce the Government either directly or by inflicting hardship upon the community;"
§ Mr. George Porter (Leeds, Central)
May I call the attention of the hon. and gallant Member to the fact that paragraph (i) says what it says, and paragraph (ii) says something entirely different?
§ Major Boyd-Carpenter
I will of course accept from the hon. Member the proposition that paragraph (i) says what it says. The hon. Member has, no doubt, a delicate intuition, because it so happens that in a moment or so I was going to invite the attention of the Committee to the following paragraph (b). I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for eliminating any risk that by losing my notes I might fail so to do. But at the moment I am dealing with the first provision.
It is surely elementary on a matter of this kind, the repeal of an Act of Parliament, that there is an obligation or an onus upon those who desire to repeal it to show that the present law is unsatisfactory. I do not know from the variety of speeches delivered opposite, whether it is seriously contended that from the trade union point of view Section I of the Act of 1927 is unsatisfactory. I suppose that there is no hon. Member with greater authority to speak for the trade union movement than the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, and I doubt whether there is any Member on the other side of the Committee who would challenge his primacy in that respect. Apparently there is not. I invite the attention of the Committee to what was said on the Second Reading by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary on this point. It is a passage immediately preceding that which was quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Ropner):The trade union law of this country up to 1927 evoked no complaint, and there has been little difference since."—[Official Report, I3tb February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 406.]It would appear that in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman there had been little difference since 1927 and that the law. as existing then, evoked no complaint. If that be so, then why is it necessary to repeal this Section?
§ Major Boyd-Carpenter
The hon. Gentleman puts a perfectly fair question. Why is it necessary, if that law is satisfactory, to waste Parliamentary time— [lnterruption]-Hon. Members are so adept at wasting Parliamentary time that of course I accept their comments. But the fact remains that the position as between the hon. Member and myself is, "Why have the Bill? Why not?" If the position is "Why not?" it is a waste 1796 of time and effort in these days to repeal this Section of the Act.
There is one other matter to which my attention was invited by an hon. Member earlier, and that is Section 1 (1, b) of the Act of 1927 which, if this Amendment is unsuccessful, will also be repealed. We have had no mention whatever this afternoon, to the best of my recollection, of this particular part of the Section. It provides that any lock-out is illegal if it fulfils the two conditions of illegality applied by the previous paragraph to strikes. Are hon. Members opposite, who are so jubilant about this Bill, really conscious of precisely what it is they are doing? If they reject this Amendment they are providing for the removal of a prohibition upon illegal lockouts designed to coerce the community. Do they want to remove that prohibition? Is that their intention? If such a situation should arise—and in these difficult days there is no situation which I suppose is impossible—would hon. Members opposite be very proud of themselves when they recollected that they had removed a legal prohibition from that action, even in the flush of triumph? If the argument which was put on the Second Reading, that they have a mandate for this Bill, is stressed, I would challenge them to say where, in their mandate "Let Us Face The Future," there is any pledge on their part to the electorate that they would remove a prohibition from an illegal lockout.
§ Mr. Glanville (Consett)
On the second page of "Let Us Face The Future" it says that a Labour Government in a position will repeal the 1927 Act and free the trade unions.
§ Major Boyd-Carpenter
"And free the trade unions," yes—not free any one who wished to indulge in an illegal lockout. That, as the hon. Member is perfectly aware, is a different point. There is one further point. As has been so well said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Barkston Ash, whatever has been the effect of the legal argument as to whether the 1926 strike was or was not illegal, the one contribution that the repeal of this Section will make will be to increase and augment uncertainty. We have a matter on which it is sufficient to say that the learned Attorney-General himself has indicated that it is possible that he may be wrong. We may have a situation, in which a general strike is imminent where 1797 millions of men may have to make up their minds what they are going to do. They may have to decide the somewhat awkward question whether they are going to back the unions in possible illegality, or refuse to back the unions and risk losing their accumulated benefits. This is a difficult decision. Is it really a contribution to industrial peace or security to put the law back into a situation in which every one of those men will have to decide for himself a question upon which the Attorney-General of England has admitted that he may be wrong? I ask whether that is a contribution either to good feeling or to security. I would say rather that it is part of the famous mysticism of Socialism, beginning in mist and ending in schism.
§ The Attorney-General
I confess that I find myself in a difficulty which the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Major Boyd-Carpenter) and indeed all hon. Members on the opposite side of the Committee have not allowed to impress them in the contributions which they have made to this Debate. That is the difficulty of avoiding repeating arguments which were developed on one side of the House and the other at some length in the Second Reading stage of this Bill.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
If the hon. and learned Gentleman would forgive me, would he not consider, on reflection, that that remark might apply to Members on his side as well?
§ The Attorney-General
That is, I am afraid, the unfortunate and perhaps unavoidable result of the Amendment put down by hon. Members opposite as apparently part of a carefully considered and concerted plan. The difficulty is a very real one. On the Second Reading Debate we discussed, very amicably, I think, in considerable detail, every matter of substance and of principle involved in this Bill. The arguments used then will perhaps not gain much added weight or cogency from being repeated in this Com- 1798 mittee. I am one of those who realise— because I think it may be that in past Governments there have been Ministers who have viewed the work of committees on Government Bills with a certain amount of jealousy—the vitally important work which can be done, and is done, in committees of the House, whether it be upstairs or on the Floor, in detailed examination of Bills and in improving the machinery of Bills in order that they may the better implement the general principles adopted by Parliament on Second Reading. But that is not the kind of matter we have in hand before this Committee this afternoon.
Exactly a fortnight ago, after a very full discussion of all the matters of sub stance and of every principle involved in the present Bill, this House, by what I believe was one of the largest votes recorded in this Parliament, decided to repeal the notorious 1927 Act; to repeal it, not to alter it, not to repeal part of it not to amend it, but to get rid of it, lock, stock and barrel so as to remove—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. The noises made from the other side [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I wish to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, to consider whether anything yet uttered by the Attorney-General is in Order on this Amendment. [Hon. Members: "Oh."]
§ The Deputy - Chairman
If I had thought the learned Attorney-General was out of Order.. I should have called him to Order. The Attorney-General.
§ The Attorney-General
The House decided then to remove from the Statute Book completely this piece of vindictive and futile legislation which had so disfigured it since 1927. Hon. Members opposite must recognise that, even if the Government had no view about the merits of this matter—and we have a very strong view about it—we could not in loyalty to the decision of the House a fortnight ago, and in loyalty to the decision of the country a few months ago, accept this Amendment or, indeed, any of the other Amendments put down on the Paper with a like purpose. If we 1799 were to do so, the effect would be to restore to the provisions of the 1946 Bill every. provision contained in the 1927 Act.
§ The Attorney-General
That is a course we do not propose to take, either in regard to this Amendment or to the other Amendments which follow it, and which are part of the concerted scheme of hon. Members opposite. I referred to the decision of the House and to the decision of the country, and as one hon. Member opposite a few minutes ago referred to this question of mandate, I shall say a word about it. I quite understand and fully appreciate that hon. Members opposite do not like this question of the verdict of the people, if I may use that phrase.
§ Squadron - Leader Sir Gifford Fox (Henley)
On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. Is it in Order to talk about the mandate of the people at this stage?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I shall not attempt to anticipate what the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) may say. Until he has said it, I shall refrain from giving a decision.
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I would like to ask you, Mr. Beaumont, was the hon. Member in Order in putting that point of Order, inasmuch as it was a reflection upon the Chair?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
May I suggest that if the conduct of the Debate is left 1800 in the care of the Chair, everything will be all right?
§ The Attorney-General
I do hope hon. Members will not take it amiss, or think that I am attempting in any way to transgress the rules of Order. What I am doing, I am doing out of courtesy, since it was one of the hon. Members on the Benches opposite who raised this question of mandate. It was only in the desire to follow him and put before him and other hon. Members our views on this question of mandate that I entered into the matter at all. I was saying that I fully recognise that, perhaps not with every hon. Member, but with some hon. Members opposite, there is a certain uneasiness, a certain dislike, and a certain restiveness on the Benches opposite when we talk about the verdict of the people. I understand it and sympathise with it. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) and hon. and learned Members opposite will on many occasions have had exactly the same experience about this that I have had. One sees, perhaps after a great conspiracy trial, where people in the dock have been found guilty by the verdict of the jury, protests on the part of the people in the dock. I have heard them make comments in the most disparaging terms about the indictment upon which they have been tried, and about the competence of the jury to give a verdict about it.
I agree very largely with what the hon. Member for Oxford said in the course of the Second Reading Debate about this question of mandate. I think it can be overdone. In an assembly such as ours, consisting of representatives and not of delegates, one can overdo the question of mandate. One must not always be looking to see whether a mandate exists to do or not to do a particular thing, but this question of the 1927 Trade Disputes Act stands on an entirely different basis.
I am a very junior Member of this House and I hope hon. Members opposite will not think me guilty of impertinence when I say that I have rather come to the view that it is sometimes necessary to say a thing not once, not twice, but four times before it penetrates the minds of hon. Members opposite. What I am going to say now, at the risk of repeating myself for the fourth time, is that it was not the choice of the Labour Party, or, at all events, not of the Labour Party alone, to submit this ques- 1801 tion of repealing the Trade Disputes Act to the verdict of the people. In reading one of the penny newspapers in which, as occasion offers, the hon. Member for Oxford expresses his views about Members of Parliament to such of the readers of the newspaper as consider the matter important, I was a little surprised to see the other day what appears to me to be a scarcely veiled attack on the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). The hon. Member referred to this question of seeking the verdict of the people and referred to it in the most disparaging terms.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sorry if i transgressed. I dealt with the question of the mandate because it was raised on the other side of the Committee when you were not in the Chair, Major Milner, and I followed the argument. I am quite content to accept your Ruling that it is outside the scope of this Debate, and will pass on to other matters
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
Before the hon. and learned Member leaves that point, at the risk of repeating the thing once or twice, or three or four times, might I try to get inside the impenetrability of his mind, by pointing out why we take exception to the constant repetition of the mandate?
§ The Chairman
If we cannot have it from one side of the Committee, we certainly cannot have it from the other.
§ Mr. Nicholson
We have had it from one side, and I thought that perhaps on the well-known principle about two wrongs making a right
§ Mr. Hogg
This was a point I raised, Major Milner, when your predecessor was in the Chair. I asked when the Attorney-General was developing these points for the first time, whether, when he developed the argument we should be able to answer it. I make no reflection on anyone in the Chair, but it would be an injustice to us if, after the Attorney-General has been speaking for 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour on this subject, we should be ruled out of Order if we referred to the matter.
§ The Chairman
I understood that the Attorney-General was replying to remarks from the Opposition side.
§ Mr. Turner Samuels
Can you give the Committee guidance on this, Major Milner? If Members on this side of the Committee are to refer to the arguments used on that side, it is impossible to avoid going wide of the mark.
§ The Attorney-General
I shall endeavour as carefully as I can to confine myself—and will be extremely short in regard to it, because as far as I can, I wish to avoid repeating arguments put before the House on many occasions before—to the legal aspects of repealing Section 1 of the 1927 Act.
I am not going to allow hon. Members opposite to lead me into any lengthy or academic discussion of the law, because I do not think there is any great dispute about the legal position as it is now, or as it will exist when in the due course of time this Bill has been enacted and has received the Royal Assent. A revolutionary strike is illegal, always was illegal, always will be illegal—there is no doubt about that, and no disagreement about it. An industrial strike, having no kind of political objective, although it may be on a considerable scale, and although it may, as most strikes in large industries now inevitably must, inflict hardship on the community, was legal before the 1927 Act, is in some circumstances illegal under the 1927 Act and will become legal when the 1927 Act has been repealed. Where I ventured to suggest a possibility of doubt arose, was in what I described as the intermediate field. I do not think that the doubt in that field is really a doubt as to the law which is applicable to the matter. I think that it is a doubt as to the facts and it is a doubt which arises because hon. and learned Members who have spoken about the matter have approached it with different views of the facts. I may be wrong about it, but I am one of those who think it is not a good thing to substitute lawyers for juries as the tribunal of fact.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid
This is a matter where a judge must give a direction as to the law to a jury, before the jury can make up its mind. I put to the Attorney- 1803 General three possible interpretations of the words which occurred in the Statutes. It is of vital importance which of these three, if any, is the proper interpretation of the words, and we should know what the view of the Government is.
§ The Attorney-General
Certainly, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. Reid) will allow me to develop my argument, he will find, in a very short time, precisely what I desire to say. It is undesirable that lawyers should be substituted for juries as the tribunal on (facts. When the facts are found, the lawyers will not have much difficulty in applying the law to them. I hope that, in time, we shall find it possible to get back to all the rights of trial by jury which we have hitherto enjoyed in this country. I believe that is one of the fundamental protections of the liberty of the subject. Perhaps I ought not to say it, as a lawyer myself, but I think lawyers, perhaps by our training and tradition; living as we do surrounded by our law reports, the precedents of a hundred years ago; immersed in memories of cases past and dreams of briefs to come, become a little detached from the real living realities of everyday life. We sometimes tend to look at the facts of a particular situation, through—I will not say rose coloured, but rather legalistic spectacles. These great issues of facts are best left as they have been left in our historic practice, to the common sense of twelve men in the jury box. So I would say, on the issue of fact, that is a matter for the jury.
When I am asked by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hill-head what direction is to be given by the judge to the jury in order to enable the jury to decide whether the activities of the persons who come before them have been illegal activities or not, I say I accept the view of a Lord Chancellor of this country, Lord Loreburn, which seems quite good enough to me. In either case the direction I would give is this: If looking at the substance of the matter you find that what these men have in hand here, was not a trade dispute, but that they were using the existence of a trade dispute for some sectarian or political end intending to coerce the Government, then that is illegal.
That, I believe, is the law of this country, was the law of the country 1804 before the 1927 Act was passed, and will again become the law of the country when this Bill becomes law. That, I believe, is an entirely satisfactory position: There is no doubt about a revolutionary strike, no doubt about a purely industrial strike, and it is for twelve honest men to decide, in the intermediate field, whether or not what has been engaged upon has been, in substance, an attempt to coerce the Government, to overthrow the Government, to upset the Constitution, or has been in substance an industrial dispute, although it may have caused hardship to the community, and also may, as one recognises strikes nowadays are bound to, have political repercussions of one kind or another. That is my view about the law.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
The Attorney-General will recollect the point I put to him on that very matter. If one were to accept his explanation of the law does he not agree that a strike of the kind he means, a general strike, originally a trade dispute but with political application, has a blitz effect, a paralysing effect, on the community, which must be dealt with immediately, and with which a jury and the long process of the law would not deal?
§ The Attorney-General
The reason that the hon. Member gives, that a general strike may, as he puts it, have a blitz effect is no reason why one should dispense with the ordinary processes of justice and law. I do not know whether the hon. Member is suggesting that under the existing law, as established by the 1927 Act, a situation of that kind can be dealt with. But how can it? You may go to a court, and after the filing of affidavits, and after giving opportunity for counter-affidavits to be filed in reply, you may get a declaration from a court that a particular strike is illegal. But no one who really tries to bring his mind to bear on the problem with detachment, without prejudice, imagines for a moment that a declaration by some comparatively unknown judge, sitting in some obscure court in the Chancery division, is going to nip a great human movement like this in the bud. Of course it is not. Anyone who imagines the decision of Mr. Justice. Astbury, in the interlocutory judgment he gave, had the slightest effect on the development of 1805 the general strike in 1926, is completely deluded.
It may be said, of course, that not only can a declaration be obtained from a court that a strike is illegal, which will frighten every one so much that they will not dare to strike at all; it may be said that the union funds can be impounded, that a declaration can be obtained from the courts- forbidding them to use their funds, forbidding them to pay out strike pay. What could have been better from the point of view of the unions in 1926 than that there should have been such an injunction against the use of their funds? They would have had their strike, and their funds too. Is it supposed that an injunction forbidding the use of funds will stop a great movement like this, the success of which, if it is to succeed at all, depends on speed and on the community giving way in the space of a few days. Funds are not in point here. The miners' union in 1926 had funds to go on for about six weeks or rather less, I believe; they went on for six months. Lack of funds will not interfere with a general strike if the economic and industrial circumstances exist which give rise to a movement of that kind.
I have said, and I do not resile for one moment from the position I have taken up in regard to the matter, that a general strike cannot be prevented, cannot be stopped by seeking to operate the processes of the criminal law, or by rushing off to a Chancery judge and getting an injunction or declaration. These are not the methods by which these movements, misguided though they may be, are to be stopped. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead referred to an observation I made in regard to the 1926 strike. He said that I observed that people at that time very rightly wanted to avoid a repetition of the 1926 strike. He deduced from that, with a logic which I am quite certain he would not attempt to use in the law courts of this country, that I therefore thought that the general strike was wrong. What I think is wrong, what I believe has to be prevented, are the circumstances and the causes which give rise to general strikes. I do not intend to talk about the industrial, economic and social causes now. I content myself with saying that we may succeed in preventing general strikes, apart from those condi- 1806 tions, by the machinery of arbitration and conciliation. They will never be prevented, and never have been, by seeking to enforce the processes of the criminal law.
During the Second Reading Debate I ventured to say, I said it sincerely, and I repeat it now because I believe in it profoundly, that I. am second to nobody in my respect for the sovereignty of Parliament, and for the reign of law in this country. I believe it is vitally important for the future of this country that we should uphold and maintain the respect in which our laws have hitherto been generally held. But I believe also, and I believe profoundly, that the great writers on jurisprudence, the great authorities on our Constitution, have not been entirely wrong, and have not been entirely misguided when they pointed out, as I have ventured to point out, that if we are to secure respect for the law, if we are to secure the maintenance of the rule of law, if we are to uphold the sovereignty of Parliament, we must not go too far; we must make sure that the laws we pass are such as command the confidence of the great mass of the people, and are such as are not, by past experience, manifestly unenforceable. I will not read passages from Dicey, the great authority on constitutional law, on what he calls the external limit of sovereignty—
§ Mr. Prescott (Darwen)
Will the Attorney-General say whether the 1927 Act has ever caused any hardship?
§ The Attorney-General
I am not dealing with that aspect of the matter. I am saying that the 1927 Act has certainly aroused resentment amongst a very large section of the community, because one must recognise that however much one may deplore the fact that people belong to trade unions, as hon. Members opposite do—
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General
—they have large families, and they represent a considerable and important section of the community. Anybody who has listened to the Second Reading Debate on this Bill, anybody who addressed meetings in the constituencies at the time of the 1807 General Election, must know that the existence of the 1927 Act upon the Statute Book was a source of the greatest resentment. [Interruption.] Under the Ruling of the Chair, I must not go into that aspect of the matter, and I shall not do so, although I hope on some other occasion I may have an opportunity to develop it. As the hon. Member puts it to me, I merely say this: There can really be no doubt that among a large section of the community—because we on this side of the Committee do represent a large section of the community—there is great resentment against the Act. It may be right or it may be wrong; it may be unjustified, but I am not saying that. It is an Act the existence of which is resented. It is, moreover, an Act the operation of which is manifestly incapable of achievement. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead referred to the wartime legislation. He said one could draw no analogy from that. I take it when he referred to that matter he was suggesting that the advantage of the 1927 Act was that it enabled one to go to the Chancery Court, and get a declaration, or an embargo on the funds. All one can say about the matter is that under any Act, whether it is the wartime legislation, the 1927 Act, or the law as it stood before, no Government has ever been able effectively to stop or to prevent a strike. There have been prosecutions. During the war, there were hundreds of them, possibly thousands of them. People were fined and people were sentenced to terms of imprisonment but the fines were incapable of enforcement, or collection, and the prisons were incapable of receiving people who have been sentenced to go there.
That is not the way to maintain the rule of law in this country. It is not the way to increase respect for the rule of law. I believe profoundly, as I have said, that the way in which we should seek to maintain the respect which our law has hitherto enjoyed is to ensure that the laws which we put upon the Statute Book, or the laws we retain upon it, are not only enforceable in practice but are such that they retain the confidence of the great mass of the people. In regard to this Section we, therefore, propose to restore the provision as it stood in 1927, and as it had stood for a score of years without disadvantage or 1808 disaster until in 1926 the Conservative majority in the House of Commons lost their grip and, in 1927, lost their heads.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
I am no lawyer and, if I answer the learned Attorney-General, I am sure the Committee will pardon me if my arguments have not that smack of law which one associates with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) and with the hon. and learned Attorney-General himself. I do not propose to follow the hon. and learned Attorney-General into the whole of the political section of his remarks. I know that prior to your advent to the Chair, Major Milner, the learned Gentleman enjoyed himself, with his followers, in a manner we learned to admire during the Second Reading Debate. I propose to address myself to the legal position as left by the Attorney-General after his speech. What is the position? The position is that the learned Attorney-General has told us that we should ensure, when we make laws, that when they are passed they command the respect of the country.
If that be the view of the Government, they should have come down to this House earlier and produced for us a Measure, which, in fact, with their colossal majority, according to their point of view would have made law which they regarded as being respected by the country. Instead of doing that, out of sheer political spite and in a desire to attribute to us motives that we certainly have not got, the Government have put us into the position, thanks to the Bill they have provided and the manner in which they have provided it, of being in Order only if we move Amendments of this sort. ' Then, when we move Amendments of this sort to certain Clauses, the hon. and learned Member, who rightly says he has little experience of this House, tells us that not one of our Amendments is even to be considered for acceptance. That is not the way to treat the Opposition. The hon. and learned Member will find out we are as sincere as he is. We have no desire for a quarrel, butt if he wishes to pick a quarrel with us, we on this side of the Committee will acquit ourselves nobly in the battle.
The hon. and learned Attorney-General made an assertion which is totally unjust and totally untrue. He said that many on this side deplored the fact that men 1809 belonged to trade unions. That is a false statement. The Attorney-General should be given an opportunity to withdraw it. I give him an opportunity now if he cares so to withdraw it. [Hon. Members: "Withdraw."] The hon. and learned Attorney-General appears to base his case, as he bases his law, on false premises. I can assure him that sort of statement, which is utterly false and is repudiated on this side of the Committee, will stand him in no good stead in the remainder of the discussion we shall have on this Measure.
I want to address myself to the learned Attorney-General's view of the law. The Attorney-General has made matters even worse confounded in regard to the law. I thought when he got up that he might be able to make the law a little more clear, but far from it. He has quoted Lord Loreburn in favour of the view that the 1926 strike was, in fact, illegal. That presumably may be held to be his view. If that is his view—
§ The Attorney-General
I am loath to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I said no such thing—nothing of the kind.
§ The Attorney-General
The right hon. Member will see it in the Official Report tomorrow. It was perfectly clear. I made no kind of suggestion which bears the faintest resemblance to that which the right hon. Gentleman has at the moment attributed to me.
§ Mr. Butler
Perhaps the learned Attorney-General would explain what he did say? [Interruption.] In that case I can only say that that is the impression I gained from the hon. and learned Attorney-General's remarks.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sorry. I am only too anxious to help. I give the facts, and my view of the law. I give the statement which was made by a learned Lord Chancellor, but I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman the capacity to understand.
§ Mr. Butler
I understood, and I think others on this side of the Committee understood, that the Attorney-General was quoting Lord Loreburn in favour of the view that, in the circumstances of the 1810 1926 strike, that strike would have been illegal.
§ The Attorney-General
I was referring to a decision given scores of years before—I have forgotten how long before—the general strike.
§ Mr. Butler
I realise the date of Lord Loreburn's statement because we were endeavouring to trace it when the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted it, but the implication we derived from that is that the strike of 1926 would have been illegal.
§ The Attorney-General
If the right hon. Gentleman will permit me, I will tell him exactly what I intended to convey about that matter. I said that was the direction which the judge would give to the jury which was dealing with the matter. The jury would be told to consider, in regard to the activities of the men who were then before it: Was their purpose in substance an industrial purpose or were they using a trade dispute as a cloak for political or sectarian ends in order to coerce the Government? I said I would not care to substitute myself for the jury in regard to that matter. I content myself with saying that, remembering what Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, said about the matter, that the great mass of the strikers in 1926 were actuated by a genuine motive of sympathy for the miner, and remembering the statement which was made the other day by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in regard to the circumstances of that strike, I should hesitate myself, if I were one of the 12 men on that jury, to come to a conclusion that a crime had been committed.. That would be a matter for the jury. What I attempted to do was to explain to the Committee the legal directions which would be given to that jury by the judge. I suggested that the judge would use the words laid down by Lord Loreburn.
§ Mr. Butler
The hon. and learned Attorney-General refused to explain what he meant. Now that he has explained it with clarity, the matter is very much more clear to Members on this side of the Committee. He has used very cautious language, but if I were a member of the jury in these circumstances, I should be in an awful fog what to decide about legality or illegality, and that is really the position that the layman is in. I have now followed the learned 1811 Attorney-General, who has now explained rather more fully what he had in mind.
I think, on the other hand, of the opinion of the President of the Board of Trade, who took an opposite view that the general strike of 1926 would have been legal under the existing law. Whether the learned Attorney-General accepts that argument or not, he cannot deny the argument which he himself used on Second Reading, and which was used by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead this afternoon, that there is a conflict of legal evidence as to what the law will be relating to the legality or illegality of a general strike if Section 1 of the 1927 Act is totally repealed. There is the view of Astbury, on the one hand, and the view of Good-hart on the other. These are the views of eminent legal experts. The fact is that, however the learned Attorney-General shakes his head, the action of the Government, in refusing to accept an Amendment of this sort, indicates that they are going to make the legal position with regard to the illegality of a general strike directed against, the Constitution worse confounded than before, and it is not a position in which the Attorney-General of England ought to place himself or in which a responsible Government should be placed.
I maintain that the learned Attorney-General is in some dilemma, as, in the course of his Second Reading speech, he said at first that he is not going to invoke the law to stem a great human movement, and he then said, in answer to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead, that he does not wish to rely upon direct action, and I am very glad to hear it. He does not wish to rely on legal methods, on the one hand, or on extra-legal methods, on the other, and yet he says that he desires to deal with a strike when it arises. Where does the hon. and learned Gentleman stand? He does not desire to clarify the law, or to use extra-legal methods, but he says categorically that he proposes to deal with the general strike. He said, in. his Second Reading speech, that, if his powers for dealing with a general strike were not sufficient, he would come back to Parliament. The real truth is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot escape from that dilemma. 1812 He has been given a brief by the Government of which he is a distinguished member, and has advocated that brief with his usual skill, but it is not the brief which he ought to have accepted. The brief he should have accepted is the one in which he defended the majesty and sanctity of the law and tried to make it better.
That brings me to my original statement, which I took from the learned Attorney, and in which he said that we should be sure to pass laws which command respect. I suggest to the hon. and learned Gentleman that, if he had used his influence and stood up to the political clamour for repeal of the Act, he could have made a good job and given us the chance of making constructive suggestions in this Debate. It is clear that the Government rely, in fact, upon the law to deal with these matters, and all that the Attorney-General says does not ring true. If the Attorney-General's view is true, why is it that the Government have deliberately decided to continue Regulation 52 (A), for the purpose of dealing specifically with strikes and lockouts? Why is it necessary to have this Regulation:(b) for prohibiting, subject to the provisions of the order, a strike or lock-out in connection with any trade dispute;Why have they made an order under that Regulation for the purpose of explaining how they propose to prohibit strikes or lockouts in connection with any trade dispute? I maintain that what the Government are doing is really going behind Parliament, through a regulation, to achieve the same things which they know they ought honestly to have done by improving the law. If the Government act like that, they will not be upholding the majesty of the law in the way they ought to do, or carrying out the traditions of Parliament.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Chairman
The right hon. Gentleman is going rather wide of the mark, and I hope he will not continue to discuss regulations in detail.
§ Mr. Butler
I am sorry, Major Milner, but, as we have to consider what the law is, now that the repeal of the 1927 Act is being effected, I should have thought it was legitimate to mention the fact that there is an order which the Government 1813 have deliberately brought in for this purpose behind our backs.
§ Mr. Butler
I must, of course, bow to your Ruling, Major Milner, but I think I only read the order and have not dilated on the argument which I would have liked to submit. In view of your Ruling, Major Milner, I cannot pursue that course. It does seem to me very peculiar that the Government are ready to amend the law to a certain extent in regard to a general strike, while taking this other power behind the scenes, and I think that blows sky-high the Attorney-General's view that the law is of no account In fact, we are dealing here with a sham fight. We are dealing with an Attorney-General who, instead of influencing his own Government to amend the law and make it better and give an opportunity to the Opposition to move Amendments which could make the law better, has confronted us, at the opening of the Committee stage of an important Bill, with the statement that he will pay no attention to our Amendments, and is not himself willing to clarify the law or amend it in any degree.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
The learned Attorney-General in the course of his remarkable speech, began apparently, by complaining that there had been a Debate upon this subject at all. I rejoice that this Debate has taken place. The Act of 1927, which it is proposed to repeal by this Bill, dealt with a variety of different topics. It was obviously unsatisfactory, I thought, that they should be jumbled together in a Second Reading Debate, and that they have not been selected separately for discussion in the course of a proper Committee stage, and I am bound to admit that, when I saw this Measure, I conceived that it had been devised for two purposes. The first was to deceive the people as to what was really intended and the second to muzzle the House from discussing this particular provision. I thought I traced a little pique in the Attorney-General's speech at the failure of a carefully laid scheme, which came to grief under your Ruling, Mr. Chairman, and I rejoice that this Debate has been possible.
There is also the second reason that the Attorney-General was not wholly 1814 justified in complaining that we were to some extent repeating Second Reading arguments. The reason is perfectly simple. It resides in the extraordinary divergence of opinion in the ranks of the Government and their supporters on the subject of a general strike. What is the view of hon. Members opposite on what strikes will be illegal after this Bill is passed? What is the view of hon. Members opposite on what strikes ought to be legal after this Bill is passed?
§ The Chairman
I must point out that the question here is what is the legal effect of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Hogg
The effect of the Amendment is to retain, as an exception inside this Bill, Section 1 of the Act, which will otherwise be repealed, and the argument I am endeavouring to advance to the Committee is that this will make it plain that certain types of strikes which ought to be illegal will remain illegal, notwithstanding the general repeal of the Act. I am pointing out that the reason why we find it necessary to move this Amendment, and to insist upon it, resides in the fact that there is an extraordinary divergence of opinion in the ranks opposite, as to what will be the effect of excluding Section 1 of the Act of 1927, the whole purpose of which it is the intention of this Amendment to retain.
Supposing the Amendment is rejected, are we really doing what Sir Walter Citrine says and putting a tremendous weapon into the hands of the trades unions which, of course, we understand, they will exercise with the greatest responsibility, or are we, in fact, doing what the learned Attorney-General says and retaining as illegal two branches of strikes, one the revolutionary strike and the other a certain class of intermediate strike to which I will refer in more detail in a moment? It is vital that the Committee should know what it is supposed to be about in rejecting this Amendment, and we have not been told. The Foreign Secretary has come down to this House, beating his breast and hammering the despatch box and has assured us that what took place in 1926 was a perfectly legal and constitutional act, although what he said at the time to the special Trades Union Congress summoned for the purpose was divergent from what he told us the other 1815 day. The learned Attorney-General leads us to suppose, for a reason I am about to give in some more legal detail, that such a strike will still be illegal when we have passed this Bill.
We find it a little difficult to cope with this Amendment because we find such a remarkable divergence of opinion opposite. On the other hand, we see grave danger in rejecting this Amendment precisely because there is such a divergence of opinion. If it be the case—and it is now a matter within the recollection of the whole House—that every non-legal Member of the Party opposite believes that the trade unions will be free to repeat the wickedness and folly of 1926, and if it be a fact, as the learned Attorney-General quite rightly leads us to suppose, that it will still be illegal, I can conceive of no decent legislation and only a state of law which is liable to lead to doubt and disorder in the country at some future date which may well be when the Labour Government are striving to repress and restrain the too exuberant activities of the friends of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). What puzzles me about the learned Attorney-General's attitude in this Amendment is the difficulty I find in defining any difference between what he now says is the law and what my father said was the law in 1927, and in defining any divergence whatever between the learned Attorney-General's present definition of what would be illegal and what is declared to be illegal in the Act of 1927.
The learned Attorney-General has specified certain strikes which he says would be illegal. The first is the revolutionary strike. I do not define that any more precisely, although I share the difficulty of some hon. Members on both sides of the House in seeking a definition. That was the learned Attorney-General's own phrase and I do not wish to go behind it. Then he says there is another kind of strike which is illegal. I am afraid it will be necessary to read quite a large paragraph' of what he has been saying, particularly as he rebuked my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) for failing to be sufficiently full the last time it was attempted. He says:Let me repeat that I am only putting forward my own view; I am very conscious 1816 of the fact that lawyers may take different views and my view may very easily be wrong, but I am putting it forward for what it is worth. It is when we get into that intermediate field that I think some doubt arises, because it is a question of fact in each case. If, examining the circumstances of a particular strike, you find, as a matter of fact and looking at the substance of the matter, that the real object of the strike is not to further a trade dispute—and I am using now the language which Lord Loreburn used in one case—but that the trade dispute is being used as a kind of camouflage or cloak for sectarian or political ends, then, in my view, the protection created by the legislation of 1875 and 1906 goes, and the ordinary law as to breach of contract, and so on applies to the matter.Then the learned Attorney-General goes on to say that that factor does not of itself make the strike illegal. He says:That is not to say that the strike is illegal, far less that it is criminal, but that is the first stage. If, after that first stage, looking at the actions and intentions of any particular body of men involved—the leaders perhaps or any other men taking an active part in it—you find, again as a question of fact, that the object is to overthrow the Government, to coerce the Government, or to obtain a change in the law by unconstitutional means, then I think that an indictment lies against those men for criminal conspiracy."— [Official Report, 12th February. 1946; Vol. 419, c. 202.]That is the view put forward by the learned Attorney-General as to what will be the law when this Section is passed. The difficulty I find is to compare that definition of the learned Attorney-General with the definition we are now discussing in this Amendment. Hon. Members will be glad to see my compendium again because it contains so much that is of advantage in this matter. I am about to quote from the Act of 1927.
§ Mr. Hogg
From page 69 of that document. I am bound to say I had hoped that my father's drafting upon which such scorn was passed in the Second Reading Debate was a little fresher in the learned Attorney's mind, but I am glad to see he has it in front of him now, perhaps for the first time: 1817Illegal strikes and lockouts: It is hereby declared—It is true that that definition is not quite so long as that the learned Attorney-General gave in the Second Reading Debate It is also, perhaps, a little less flowery, but it seems to me to represent exactly the two factors of illegality which he put before the House. The first—and I am now using the language of Lord Loreburn—that a trade dispute is being used as a kind of cloak or camouflage for sectarian or political ends, and the second, that the object is to overthrow the Government or to coerce the Government. It seems to me that the learned Attorney-General is reproducing in his present view of the law, only in a slightly less compendious form, what my father drafted in the 1927 Act and declared to be illegal. I respectfully agree with the learned Attorney-General that that is the position.
- (a) that any strike is illegal if it—
- (i) has any object other than or in addition to the furtherance of a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the strikers are engaged; and
- (ii) is a strike designed or calculated to coerce the Government either directly or by inflicting hardship upon the community;…"
§ 7.0 p.m.
But how different is that from the account of the 1927 Act as an injurious and vindictive piece of legislation which he, in deference to his supporters, has permitted himself to give in this House, or the account of the matter which Sir Walter Citrine apparently nourishes in his bosom, if we are to judge by the interviews which he has given to the Press. If the learned Attorney-General says, as a great many of his supporters have said at one time or another during the past 20 years, "How can we find out which strikes are not coercing the Government? "to use my father's phrase, or "What strikes are being used as a mere camouflage?" to use the Attorney-General's, the hon. and learned Gentleman provides his own answer. He says:
These are questions that, according to the great and very wise and safe tradition of English law, are best submitted to the good judgment and commonsense of the 12 men of the Clapham omnibus."—[Official Report, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 202.]
Having reached that stage in the discussion, it becomes obvious that this Section is being insisted upon by the Government not for any rational consideration at all,
but in order to satisfy people who will not understand that no real change is being proposed, but only that certain subordinate protections to the country are being taken away, some of which are protections which are devised for the advantage of people who are certainly not leaders in the strike movement but are rank and file workers. I think it will be agreed that any Amendment which may hereafter stand upon the Order Paper in relation to Section 2 or Section 7 of the Act would fall if this one fell Therefore, I think I am justified in referring to both those and to the Subsections of this Section. Under Subsection (2) it is provided that a person who refuses to take part in an illegal strike shall not be victimised. That will fall if this Section falls Yet it might well be that during the war, in a community where a proportion had come out on an illegal strike, there were numerous loyal trade unionists who stood behind particular leaders and who might now be victims as a result of the introduction of this legislation. There is the provision in Subsection (2) of this Section' under which it is provided that a mere participation in an illegal strike is no longer a crime. That is to be removed too. The whole force of the law of conspiracy will be brought to bear on the individual striker.
§ There is provision in Subsection (3) by which the Attorney-General, and not any mere vindictive employer, or any member of the community who happens to harbour a grudge against a particular group of strikers, must be the prosecutor in the case. That will go by the board if this Section goes. These provisions may not, of course, appeal to the Attorney-General, but I suppose they will appeal a good deal to the people whose position is now being put in jeopardy as a result of the proposed action of the Government. The truth of this matter, of course, is that the political reasons for producing this Bill are not the same as the legal justification which is now being put forward by the Attorney-General. If the legal justification remained by itself, what would be proposed would be a dangerous, foolish and, at the best, superfluous Measure when, in fact, the political reasons behind it are those which have animated numerous hon. Members opposite and Sir Walter Citrine in his Press conference. To them the general strike 20 years ago 1819 was the most glorious moment of their existence. They told us so. To them the general strike was something which was perfectly lawful and legal, though it might have been a camouflage for political objects. To them this is something which may occur again, and they believe, although the learned Attorney-General may tell them 20 times that it is not so, that that sort of action will be legalised once more should this Act be once more considered to be the law.
§ One cannot forget that, as a matter of fact, the general strike was not merely a weapon which was taken out of its scabbard once in 1926. It was a weapon which has been rattled in its scabbard on a hundred different occasions in the history of the party opposite, and I am only going to give one example of that now. At the Labour Party Conference in 1933–10 months after Hitler came into power—it was proposed and passed by a Resolution that the movement pledged itself to take no part in war, to resist it with the whole force of the Labour movement, and to seek consultation forthwith with the trade union and co-operative movements with a view to deciding and announcing to the country what steps, including a general strike, were to be taken to organise the opposition of the working class movement in the event of war or threat of war. That was 10 months after Hitler came into power. So far as the party of which I have the privilege to be a Member is concerned, there can only be one answer to threats of that kind. We believe that in a democracy where there are periodical elections, and where there is universal suffrage, an attempt on the part of a corporation, however numerous and powerful, to usurp the functions of war and peace is a deliberate conspiracy against the State.
§ The learned Attorney-General in his opening speech in the Second Reading Debate said those who claimed that the legalisation of the general strike was the purpose of this Measure were saying something which was not merely untrue, but which they knew to be untrue. I agree with the learned Attorney-General that that will not be the consequence of this Act, but I repeat, with the utmost confidence and sincerity, that it is the purpose which the political advisers associated with this despicable piece of legislation have in their minds, and for that reason 1820 the legalisation of the general strike is indeed the real underlying motive behind this legislation.
§ Colonel Ropner
On a point of Order, Major Milner. May I ask whether it is the fact that after the termination of the discussion on this Section, and if the Amendment is defeated, there will be no discussion on Section 2 and Section 7 of the 1927 Act? I rather gathered from the remarks made by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) that during the remainder of this Debate you would allow discussion to range over the matters dealt with in Sections 2 and 7 of the Act.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member for Oxford was in Order in referring to the consequences of a rejection of the Amendment now before the Committee of Sections 2 and 7 in certain events, but only to that extent can I permit that discussion. It is, of course, true that discussion of Sections 2 and 7 of the 1927 Act will be affected in the event of this Amendment not being carried.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I would not have spoken in this Debate but for two speeches which have been delivered. Prior to the last speech, if I had intended to intervene, I would have been congratulating the Committee upon the quiet manner in which they were approaching this matter and arguing it on its true merits, so different from the atmosphere in which the Act of 1927 was discussed in this House.
It was not until I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) that I realised that once again passions might be aroused over this matter. We can well understand and respect his filial devotion, but from the very words that he was using it appeared as if he had not only read the speeches of his noble father but had read and marked the speeches which were made in opposition, because some of the phrases he was using were the very phrases that were then being used against the Bill of 1927. That Bill was brought forward for no rational purpose whatever, but for an ulterior and a different purpose. It was not brought forward for any legal reason; it was brought forward for a political reason and for none other. Those were the very words that were being used not only by Members of the Labour Party but by Members of the Liberal Party, because 1821 the Liberal Party, in the same way as the Members of the Labour Party, thought that that Measure was not only untimely and unwise but punitive in its effect.
I will refer briefly to the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Oxford. I wonder whether he yet realises, because of his continual references to "general strike," that in the Act of 1927 there is no reference to or definition of "general strike." Under that Act there were two purposes, which were declared by the then learned Attorney-General; one a declaratory one, to make certain beyond a peradventure what the law was and, in addition, they added a great number of other matters which were certainly punitive. I think there never has been any real dispute as to the law. The learned Attorney-General was quite right in all his quotations.
I am perfectly satisfied with the definition which he has given, which was repeated by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. The size of the strike matters not, whether there is a large or a small number involved. The question is: What is the purpose of the strike? If, in substance, the purpose of the strike is a revolutionary one, one to overturn the Constitution, and those taking part be large or small in number, be two or two hundred thousand, it is and always has been illegal.
If, in substance, the purpose of it is in furtherance of a view they take on an industrial dispute, and that is all they are anxious about, then again it matters not whether the numbers are few or large; that has been legal under the Acts of 1871, 1875, 1906 and 1913. Where you get into difficulties is in determining whether the matter is an illegal one or a legal one after the facts are presented. That can only be a question of fact, as the learned Attorney-General has already pointed out, and that is a matter which can only be tried by a common jury. It is not a matter for anybody else. As he very rightly pointed out, that is the real bulwark of liberty in this country.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ There is one other matter which was raised by the hon. Member for Oxford and the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart). They said: '' Are you going to wait before you take action until the matter can be brought before a 1822 judge and jury? Are you going to wait until that direction is given?" Certainly not. They did not wait in 1920 when this matter was being discussed and when there was a general threat much more specific than the one of 1926.
§ What happened then was that emergency powers to deal with the situation were taken by the Government so that the business of the country could be carried on. If such a situation arose again I have not the slightest doubt but that the Government of the day would ask for such powers, and that the House would grant them in protection of the Constitution and the liberty of the people. That is the remedy we always use. There was never any doubt about that position amongst my predecessors representing the Liberal Party.
§ I am glad the hon. Member for East Fife has made his researches into the speech of Lord Oxford and Asquith. I commend him to read more. He will learn the great distinction that there has always been between the views and principles of the Liberal Party and those whom he has now joined. I also suggest to him that the Liberals as such usually do not require any other adjective. In my researches I have been looking at a book which I think preceded Dodd, in which you will find the record of the House and the parties to which Members belonged. I came across one description which I commend to my hon. Friend. It was the description "C.L.," and I had to turn to the back of the book to find out what it was. In 1832 there was such a person as a "Conservative Liberal."
§ We objected to the Bill which was introduced in 1927. The hon. Member is perfectly right in saying that the Liberal Party, in opposing the Bill when it came to the Committee stage, put forward an Amendment, the Amendment which the hon. Member himself has put down on the Order Paper today. It will be observed that it was an attempt to use clearer language than had been used in the Bill itself, and it was confined to one thing, the illegality of a strike aimed at coercing the Government and the overthrow of the Constitution. It was declaratory because that was the law and it was not necessary but it was certainly a great improvement upon that which we are now discussing. That Amendment was moved and received the full support 1823 of the Liberal Party, but the Tory Party and the Government of the day voted against it. I put that to the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. Reid). We desired to have clarity, but the Conservative Government did not want clarity—they wanted a punitive provision.1824
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Whiteley)rose in his place, and claimed to move, " That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 334; Noes, 155.1827
|Division No. 89.]||AYES.||[7.21p.m.|
|Adams, H. R. (Balham)||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Hubbard, T.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hynd, J. B. (Atte cliffe)|
|Allighan, Garry||Deer, G.||Irving, W. J.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Delargy, Captain H. J.||Janner, B.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Diamond, J||Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)|
|Austin, H. L.||Dobbie, W.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Dodds, N. N.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Donovan, T.||Jones, Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Douglas, F. C. R.||Keenan, W.|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Kenyon, C.|
|Balfour, A.||Dugdale, J. (W.Bromwich)||Key, C. W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Dumpleton, C. W.||King, E M.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Durbin, E. F. M.||Kinley, J.|
|Barton, C.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Battley, J. R.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lang, G.|
|Bechervaise. A. E.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lavers, S.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Lawson, Rt. Han. J. J.|
|Bellenger, F J.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Benson, G.||Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)||Leonard, W.|
|Berry, H.||Ewart, R.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Fairhurst, F.||Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.|
|Bing, Capt G. H. C.||Farthing, W. J.||Levy, B. W.|
|Binns, J.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Blackburn, Capt. A. R.||Follick, M.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Foot, M. Ms.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Forman, J C.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Boardman, H.||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Bottomley, A G.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Logan, D. G.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Longden, F.|
|Bowen, R.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Lyne, A. W.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||McAdam, W.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Gibbins, J.||McAllister, G.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gibson, C. W.||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gilzean, A.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mack, J. D|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Goodrich, H. E.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Bruce, Maj. D W T||Granville, E. (Eye)||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Buchanan, G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||McLeavy, F.|
|Burden, T W||Greenwood, A W. J.||MacMillan, M. K.|
|Burke, W A.||Grenfell, D. R||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Byers, Lt.-Col. F.||Grey, C. F.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Callaghan, James||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, J P. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Champion, A. J||Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Chater, D.||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Mathers, G.|
|Clitherow, Dr R||Gunter, Capt. R J.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Cluse, W S.||Guy, W. H||Medland, H. M.|
|Cobb, FA.||Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Messer, F.|
|Cocks, F S.||Hale, Leslie||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Coldrick, W||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.|
|Collick, P.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Monslow, W.|
|Collins, V. J||Hardman, D R.||Montague, F.|
|Colman, Miss G M||Hardy, E. A.||Moody, A. S.|
|Cook, T. F||Haworth, J||Morley, R.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Henderson, J (Ardwick)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Herbison. Miss M.||Mort, D. L.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hicks, G.,||Moyle, A.|
|Daggar, G.||Hobson, C. R||Murray, J. D.|
|Daines, P.||Holman, P.||Nally, W..|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H||House, G.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hoy, J||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Sargood, R.||Tolley, L.|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Scott-Elliot, W||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|O'Brien, T.||Segal, Sq.-Ldr. S.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Shackleton, Wing-Comdr. E. A. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Usborne, Henry|
|Orbach, M.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Paget, R. T.||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)||Viant, S. P.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Shurmer, P.||Walkden, E.|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Walker, G. H.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Parker, J||Skeffington, A. M.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Skinnard, F. W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)||Watson, W. M.|
|Pearson, A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Peart, Capt. T. F.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Weitzman, D.|
|Perrins, W.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Piralin, P.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Solley, L. J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Sorensen, R. W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Popplewell, E.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Sparks, J. A.||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Stamford, W.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Price, M. P.||Steele, T.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Pritt, D. N.||Stephen, C.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H||Strauss, G. R.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Randall, H. E.||Stross, Dr. B.||Williamson, T.|
|Ranger, J.||Stubbs, A. E.||Willis, E.|
|Rankin, J.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Rees-Williams. Lt.-Col. D. R.||Symonds, Maj. A. L.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Woodburn, A.|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Taylor, R. J (Morpeth)||Woods, G. S.|
|Rhodes, H.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Wyatt, Maj. W.|
|Richards, R.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Yates, V. F.|
|Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Thomas, l.O(Wrekin)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Robens, A.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Younger, Maj. Hon. K. G.|
|Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. Emrys (Merioneth)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thorneycroft, H.|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Thurtle, E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Tiffany, S.||Mr. Collindridge and|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Timmons, J.||Mr. Simmons.|
|Royle, C.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Aitken, Hon. M.||Duthie, W. S.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Eccles, D. M.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Lucas, Major Sir J.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||McCullum, Maj. D.|
|Birch, Lt.-Col. Nigel||Gage, Lt.-Col. C.||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (l. of Wight)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Galbraith, Cmdr. T D.||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.|
|Boothby, R.||Glossop, C. W H.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Bower, N.||Glyn, Sir R.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Bracken, Rt Hon. Brendan||Gridley, Sir A.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)|
|Braithwaite. Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Grimston, R. V.||Marsden, Capt. A.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Hare, Lieut.-Col. Hn. J. H. (W'db'ge)||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)|
|Brown, W J. (Rugby)||Harris, H. Wilson||Maude, J. C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T.||Haughton, S. G.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Carson, E.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morris-Jones, Sir H.|
|Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Channon, H.||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hope, Lord J.||Nicholson, G.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Howard, Hon. A.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Hulbert, N. J.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hurd, A.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||Hutchison, Col. J. R (Glasgow, C.)||Orr-Ewing, l. L.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Osborne, C|
|Darling. Sir W. Y.||Jennings, R.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|De la Bère. R||Keeling, E. H.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Digby, Maj S W.||Kendall, W D.||Pickthorn, K|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W H.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A (Penrith)||Lambert, Hon. G.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||Langford-Holt, J.||Prescott, W. R. S.|
|Drewe, C.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Ramsay, Maj. S.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Reed, Sir S (Aylesbury)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)||Sutcliffe, H.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Ropner, Col. L.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P'dd't'n, S.)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Ross, Sir R.||Teeling, William||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Sanderson, Sir F.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Scott, Lord W.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Shepherd, Lieut. W. S. (Bucklow)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N||York, C.|
|Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.||Thorp, Lt.-Col R. A. F.||Young, Sir A. S L. (Partick)|
|Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||Touche, G. C-|
|Smithers, Sir W.||Turton, R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Snadden, W. M.||Vane, Lieut.-Col. W. M T.||Mr. Mott-Radclyffe and|
|Spearman, A. C M||Wakefield, Sir W. W||Commander Agnew.|
§ Question put, accordingly, "That the proposed words be there inserted."1828
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 151; Noes, 3391831
|Division No. 90.||AYES||7.34 p.m.|
|Aitken, Hon. M.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Prescott, W. R. S.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Birch, Lt.-Col. Nigel||Hope, Lord J.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Howard, Hon. A.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Boothby, R.||Hulbert, N. J||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Bower, N.||Hurd, A.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Boyd Carpenter, Maj. J. A||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Jeffreys, General Si- G||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Jennings, R.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Keeling, E. H||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W H.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Shepherd, Lieut. W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Butcher, H. W||Langford-Holt, J.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Carson, E.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Smithers, Sir W. '|
|Channon, H.||Linstead, H. N.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lucas, Major Sir J||Stanley, Rt. Hon.O.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon.O||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O E.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||McCullum, Maj. D.||Sutcliffe, H. -|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (l. of Wight)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.||Teeling, William|
|De la Bère. R.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Digby, Maj. S. W.||Maclay, Hon J. S.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. (Penrith)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Touche, G. C.|
|Drewe, C.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Turton, R. H.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Vans, Lieut.-Col. W. M. T.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maude, j. C.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Eccles, D. M||Mellor, Sir J.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Molson, A. H. E.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Fletcher, W (Bury)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C P. (Stone)||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gage, Lt.-Col. C.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T D||Nicholson, G.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Nield, B. (Chester)||Wintarton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||York, C.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Nutting, Anthony||Young, Sir A S. L. (Partick)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, l. L.|
|Hare, Lieut.-Col. Hn. J. H. (W'db'ge)||Osborne, C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harris, H. Wilson||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Mr. Mott-Radclyffe and|
|Haughton, S G.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Commander Agnew.|
|Adams, H. R. (Balham)||Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Baird, Capt. J.|
|Adams, W T. (Hammersmith, South)||Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Balfour, A.|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L||Attewell, H. C.||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Austin, H. L.||Barstow, P.G.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Ayles, W. H.||Barton, C.|
|Allen, Soholefield (Crewe)||Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Battley, J. R.|
|Allighan, Garry||Bacon, Miss A.||Bechervaise, A.E.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Gibson, C. W.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Gilzean, A.||Mathers, G.|
|Berry, H.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Beswiek, Fit.-Lieut. F.||Goodrich, H. E.||Medland, H. M.|
|Bing, Capt. G. H. C.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Messer, F.|
|Binns, J.||Granville, E. (Eye)||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Blackburn, Capt. A. R.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.|
|Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Greenwood, A. W J.||Monslow, W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Grenfell, D. R.||Montague, F.|
|Boardman, H||Grey, C. F.||Moody, A. S.|
|Bottomiey, A. G.||Grierson, E.||Morley, R.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Bowen, R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J||Mort, D. L.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Moyle, A.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gunter, Capt. R. J.||Murray, J. D.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) '||Guy, W. H.||Nally, W.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Haire, Fit.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Naylor, T. E|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hale, Leslie||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)||Nichol, Mrs. M.E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Bruce, Mai. D W. T.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Buchanan, G.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||O'Brien, T.|
|Burden, T. W.||Hardman, D. R.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Burke, W A.||Hardy,E. A.||Oliver, G. H|
|Byers, Lt.-Col. F||Haworth, J.||Orbach, M|
|Callaghan, James||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Paget, R. T.|
|Castle, Mrs. B A||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Champion, A. J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Chater, D.||Hicks, G.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.||Hobson, C. R.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Clitherow, Dr. R||Holman, P.||Parker, J.|
|Cluse, W. S.||House, G.||Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hoy, J.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hubbard, T||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Pearson, A.|
|Collick, P.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Peart, Capt. T. F.|
|Collins, V. J.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Perrins, W.|
|Colman, Miss G M.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Piratin, P.|
|Cook, T. F.||Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe)||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||lrving, W. J.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||lsaacs, Rt Hon. G. A.||Popplewell, E.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Janner, B.||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Daggar, G.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Price, M. P.|
|Daines, P.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jones, D. T (Hartlepools)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Jones, Asterley (Hitchin)||Pursey, Cmdr. H-|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Keenan, W.||Randall, H. E.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Kendall, W. D.||Ranger, J.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, C.||Rankin, J.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Key, C. W.||Rees-Williams, Lt.-Col. D. R.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kinley, J.||Reeves, J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kirby, B. V.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Deer, G||Kirkwood, D.||Rhodes, H.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lang, G.||Richards, R.|
|Delargy, Captain H. J.||Lavers, S.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Diamond, J.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Robens, A.|
|Dobbie, W.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Leonard, W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Donovan, T||Leslie, J. R.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||Lever, Fl. OR. N. H.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Levy, B. W.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Royle, C.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Sargood, R.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lipson, D. L.||Segal, Sq.-Ldr. S.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Shackleton, Wing-Comdr. E. A. A.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Logan, D. G.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Longden, F.||Shawcross, C N. (Widnes)|
|Evans, E. (Lawestoft)||Lyne, A. W.||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) '|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McAdam, W.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Ewart, R.||McAllister, G.||Shurmer, P.|
|Fairhurst, F.||McEntee, V. La T.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Farthing, W. J.||McGhee, H. G.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mack, J. D.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Follick, M.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Foot, M. M.||McKinlay, A. S.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Forman, J. C||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||McLeavy, F.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||MacMillan, M. K..||Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Smith, T (Normanton)|
|Gallacher W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Solley, L. J.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gibbins, J.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Sparks, j.A J. A.||Tolley, L.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Stamford, W.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Steele, T||Turner-Samuels, M.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Stephen, C.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||Willey, O G. (Cleveland)|
|Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)||Usborne, Henry||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Strauss, G. R.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Stross, Dr. B.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Stubbs, A. E.||Wadsworth, G.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Walkden, E.||Willis, E.|
|Symonds, Maj. A. L.||Walker, G. H.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)||Woodburn, A.|
|Taylor, Dr. S (Barnet)||Warbey, W. N.||Woods, G. S.|
|Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Watkins, T. E.||Wyatt, Maj. W.|
|Thomas, l. O. (Wrekin)||Watson, W. M.||Yates, V. F.|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Thomson, Rt Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)||Weitzman, D.||Younger, Maj. Hon. K. G.|
|Thorneycroft, H.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Thurtle, E.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Tiffany, S.||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Timmons, J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Mr. Collingdridge and|
|Titterington, M. F.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Mr. Simmons.|
§ Colonel Ropner
On a point of Order. No doubt you will correct me if I am wrong, Mr. Chairman, but you were most kind to the Government Front Bench when they asked for the Closure, and it is no reflection on the Chair that you accepted—
§ Colonel Ropner
It was not my desire in the least to have an inquest. I wished to ask whether, at this juncture, the Government would state how far they intend to go tonight.
§ The Chairman
There is no Motion before the House on which that question can be raised. It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I state that the Amendment I propose to call next is the one standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), and I suggest to the Committee that it might be convenient if that. Amendment and the following Amendment, also in the name of the right hon. Gentleman, were discussed together, on the understanding, of course, that, if desired, there could be two Divisions.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Further to that point of Order. We purposely placed these two issues, namely, Subsections (I), (2) and (3) of Section 3 and Subsection (4) of Section 3, separately on the Order Paper because they raise separate issues. It is relevant to note that the last issue raised, namely, Subsection (4), was one which was dealt with by the 1931 Bill, whereas the others are not. We thought that the Government might be more inclined to be 1832 sympathetic to one than to the other and, as we desire to improve the Bill, we therefore purposely separated the two issues, in a sincere attempt to put them to the Government. It will be regrettable if we have to discuss them all together. A very serious issue has arisen. We did not devote our arguments to discussing Section 2 or Section 7 of the 1927 Act in the last discussion, and we have only discovered, at the end of the discussion before the Closure was put, that those matters were being ruled out of Order by the Chair. So, if I may put it in familiar language, we have been caught, without being able to discuss Sections 2 and 7 of the 1927 Act, because the Closure was moved. We therefore want to see that we are not caught again, having been ruled out of Order, but that we are able to have a free discussion on these two aspects of intimidation.
§ The Chairman
I am not very happy about the right hon. Gentleman's remark about having been caught. He appears to associate the Chair with the phrase.
§ Mr. Butler
No, Major Milner, I purposely did not do that, and if I may say so with the utmost respect, I apologise for my familiar language. But I think frank language is appreciated on the other side and we were caught by the circumstances of the case, in particular by the moving of the Closure by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. That is what caught us, and I trust it will not happen again.
§ The Chairman
While the right hon. Gentleman moved the Closure, it is entirely within the discretion of the Chair whether the Closure is accepted or not, and, therefore, by inference the right hon. Gentleman does reflect on the Chair.
§ Mr. Butler
If so, I would express my deepest apologies. There was no desire, Major Milner, to reflect on your impartiality in the Chair at all, but I did not know how otherwise to express, in familiar and homely language, the position in which the Opposition finds itself.
§ The Chairman
By reason of the Committee having taken its own decision, it is probable that discussion on the two following Amendments on the Paper may not be possible, but that is the result of the decision of the Committee. With regard to Amendments in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), I am entirely in the hands of the Committee, but I must point out that, if the Amendments are discussed separately, the discussion on each will obviously have to be of a much narrower nature. The discussion on the first must be limited to the question of picketing at work, and the discussion on the second to picketing at a man's home.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg
My understanding is that it would be in Order to discuss the meaning of the word "intimidation," because the first Amendment, unless I am mistaken, is to restore Subsections (I), (2) and (3). Subsection (I) is a long Subsection
§ The Chairman
I cannot allow the hon. Member to discuss the matter now, but he will be in Order in discussing the question of intimidation on the Amendment.
§ Mr. Hogg
I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, at the beginning, insert:With the exception of Subsections (1) (2) and (3) of Section three.This Amendment would restore the first three Subsections of Section 3 of the Act of 1927. We know the Attorney-General has already indicated that however much he may be overborne by argument, he proposes to reject anything which is said. I cannot help asking him to reconsider that decision as not being in the best interests of Parliamentary discussion. I had hoped that this and other Amendments would be dealt with on their merits, and not ruled out of Order. I had hoped we should deal with these questions against a background of reason, and though we know perfectly well the Government have their legions to put into the field, we had hoped they would rest instead on the strength of their 1834 case. Let the Attorney-General not be unduly embarrassed by the undertaking he gave to listen to no argument but to reject everything; but let him take counsel with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance on how to forget what he has previously promised to do; and let him, therefore, consider the question of intimidation on its merits
Here it seems to me that we have an issue upon which the Government could well afford to give way. We on this side of the Committee have often been puzzled to discover the difference between a Socialist Government in office and a Socialist Government in power. Apparently, the Socialist Government in office in 1931 thought it imprudent to tamper with Section 3 of the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927, which forbids some of the viler forms of intimidation, and makes the law a great deal clearer than it was before. Apparently, the Socialist Government in power is taking a different view. Its plan is to legalise some of the viler forms of intimidation, and it would make the law in other respects less clear than it was before. I cannot help thinking that the learned Attorney-General would be well advised to modify his Party's views and attitude upon this matter. I cannot help thinking that it would be wise to make it plain that whatever else the Labour Government stand for they do not stand for intimidation of one man by another, or practised by one man on another man's wife.
§ Mrs. Braddock
Can I say that for a long time I have been awaiting an opportunity to tell the hon. Gentleman, that I very often feel very tempted to grab him by the back of the neck
§ The Deputy - Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
I really cannot see that anything of what the hon. Lady has said, either concerns the Amendment or the Clause. Neither do I find anything there about a pin-up girl.
§ Mrs. Braddock
On a point of Order. I think I ought to be entitled to make some reference when the hon. Gentleman opposite, whose political views are entirely different from mine, refers to me as his pin-up girl. I think I am entitled to say something about it, and I should very much like to.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Lady must restrain her urges until another time. It would, I think, have been more proper for the Labour Government to make it plain that if there was one place which should be free from intimidation it should be a person's home, and that it was no part of the policy of the Labour Government to practise mass intimidation, or to leave any doubt at all of their attitude to the practice. Unfortunately, if this Section is retained in the total repeal of the Act the opposite will be the consequence on all these matters of great moment. So far from it being illegal to indulge in intimidation which does not stop short of actual violence, whether it be against a man—or the threat of it— or against a man's family, it will be actually legal; and it is, I think, a great pity, that one of the first acts of a Labour Government should be to legalise matters of this kind.
I should like to reassure the Attorney-General upon one or two points that seem to be troubling him in regard to other parts of the Act. In the first place he need not be afraid that any stigma attaches in this Section as a result of what was done in the general strike. No stigma attaches to the trade unions in this respect. On the contrary, the object of this Section is to protect the loyal trade unionists from being interfered with by wicked, illegal trade unionists who disregard their trade union leaders—to protect them against intimida- 1836 tion. It is an object that is needed sometimes at the present time. In the second place I am sure there can be no difficulty here on the question of mandate. I should have thought that whatever else was true about the last General Election, it certainly was not true that everyone who voted for the Labour Government necessarily voted for the removal of Section 3 of the Act of 1927. We were sometimes assured that they were animated by broader considerations. I like to think that that was so. Otherwise, I tremble to suppose what would be the lot of the unfortunate elector who happened to think that it was wrong to intimidate a man in his home, but, on the other hand, wanted the nationalisation of the coal mines. He would be debarred in this House from any adequate discussion of his own view-point.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ I hope that the Attorney-General will not consider the general objections to any form of modification of total repeal, which, he has urged on us earlier in the evening, will apply to this particular Section. Nor, I hope, will the Attorney-General rest upon the argument based upon the drafting of Section 3 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1927. It is true that, owing to the form in which this Bill is cast—deliberately by the Government in order to muzzle discussion in this House—any form of Amendment that is proposed has to take the drafting form of the re imposition of certain provisions of the 1927 Act. That cannot be helped, and the fault for it rests fairly and squarely upon the Government. That being so, I think that I speak for those who sit around me when I say that, if the Government will concede our point of principle, we are not wedded to any particular form of words. Let them have their total repeal if they like, let not a single syllable of the 1927 Act remain, let the stigma, always imaginary, be removed by the removal of the hated enactment from the Statute Book, but let them concede our point of principle on the question of intimidation, either by way of undertaking or by way of any Clause or Schedule they desire to introduce into any Act of their own. So let us not hear any question of the drafting, although the form in which I am compelled to move this Amendment involves the re imposition of the 1927 Act and will. 1837 in fact, include a justification of its exact terms.
§ It appears to me that the Attorney-General was a little less than clear in the Second Reading Debate on this whole matter, possibly because he felt a certain uneasiness himself on the subject. I do not feel that it would be out of Order, and I think it would be helpful, if I described, in brief, what in my own humble way I conceive to be the effect of the removal of Section 3 from the present law and, therefore, the state of the law which will be brought about as the result of this Bill in respect of the first three Subsections of Section 3. The position is, as the Attorney-General rightly said in his Second Reading speech, that the word "intimidation" is and has been at least since 1875, and perhaps before that, forbidden by the law. It is illegal to intimidate a person in order to compel him to do or to abstain from doing anything which he has a lawful right to do. That is forbidden by the law. But, unfortunately, the courts have taken a rather narrow view of what the word "intimidation" includes. The word "intimidation," according to this narrow construction, is limited to physical violence or the threat of physical violence. [Interruption.] The hon. Lady must not intimidate me by her looks. It is limited to physical violence or the threat of physical violence; and excludes the finer forms of intimidation, the refinements of mental torture, and the kind of thing which the Attorney-General has frequently, or might have been frequently, prosecuting in his less prosperous days under the name of blackmail.
§ All these things are not included within that narrower construction of the word "intimidation," and that, in itself, renders the law of 1926 open to a good deal of objection. But, unfortunately, the objection did not stop there. There was a good deal of doubt, partly owing to the difficulty of construing this Section, and partly as a result of the enactment of the Statute of 1906, as to what was and what was not included in the phrase. It was very generally thought, although, as, I believe, the Attorney-General will agree, mistakenly thought, that the word "intimidation," as construed in the Act of 1906, did not forbid acts done in furtherance of a trade dispute, because it was believed, as I think wrongly, that the protection afforded by the Act of 1838 1906 upon an act done in furtherance of a trade dispute was sufficient to take it out of Section 7 of the Act of 1875. That was the experience of the Home Office, and of the courts, during the long and painful stoppages of the year 1926.
§ The Attorney-General shakes his head, but we had the valuable testimony on Second Reading of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), who was at the Home Office at the time. The fact of the matter is that there were, during the painful troubles of 1926, between 6,000 and 7,000 prosecutions for intimidation. A considerable proportion of these related to people who thought that what they did was all right owing to the protection of the Act of 1906. It was obviously intolerable that people should labour under any such misapprehension, and the result was that Subsection (1) of Section 3 of the Act of 1927 did, what I believe was no more than to declare the law as it existed at the time, and make it perfectly plain that such acts were outside the protection of the Act of 1906, whether or not they were done in furtherance of trade disputes.
§ There were two other matters which were dealt with by that Section. The first of these two was also, I think, purely declaratory. It is obvious, when one comes to think of it, that the mere assembly of large crowds in certain circumstances might amount to a menace, and so might a certain manner accompanying the imparting of information. Subsection (1) declared it to be true that what was called "mass picketing" with the purpose, provided it were done in a certain way, of intimidating, which I will describe at greater length later—
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Member's methods of encouragement are peculiar and happily more common to the country of his adoption than to the country of his birth. Two purposes were decalratory and two alter the law. Of these, one, I think, dealt with home picketing, on which I understand a separate discussion is likely to take place. I should like to know from the Government what their view is, not upon the drafting of these proposals, as to which I am not wedded to any particular form of words, but as to the principles underlying them. What 1839 is the view of the Government on this matter? Do they see any object, and, if so, what object in a state of the law which makes threats illegal when they involve physical violence or the threat of it, but makes it perfectly legal to indulge in forms of threats which do not involve physical violence?
Do not they agree that the latter is as dangerous and objectionable as the former? They will hardly deny that it would be simple for the Attorney-General, and perhaps in a matter of five minutes when he is sitting on the Government Front Bench, to devise a form of words which would cover the latter as well as the former as clearly as is done in the law here. Yet they are proposing to introduce Statute law where that extraordinarily anomalous position will be re-enacted, and we ought to know why. What is their attitude towards mass picketing? What is the purpose of large crowds attending a man's home or wherever he happens to be to convey certain information, if it is not with the object of intimidating, or making a minority, to use the learned Attorney-General's own phrase, toe the line? What is the object of imparting information in a manner so as to intimidate if it be not to make a man do against his will that which he would not do of his own judgment and conscience? Why should the law be enacted in such a form as to leave any doubt whether that sort of thing will be legal or illegal? If it is intended to legalise it— and I like to think, at any rate, that that is not the intention behind this desire— why not do so in plain language? What is the purpose of abolishing an Act, which, as far as we know, simply declares the law without any ambiguity at all? What will the situation be when the Government have abolished it? Can it be that this, too, is something which is done with an ulterior motive and has no relation at all to the merits of the case?
The Attorney-General based his arguments in his Second Reading speech on the actual Section which is under discussion. I am loath to follow him the whole way because he himself descanted upon the evil which would ensue when a great. human and political question became a holiday for lawyers, but, at the same time, the Committee are entitled to know how far in this particular incident the Attorney-General managed to give the 1840 impression of what the law was under the Act it is now proposed to repeal. The Attorney-General gave three examples of what would be illegal and I am afraid I shall have to ask leave of the Committee to quote all of them: The first was this:Let me take a few examples of how I think the thing would work in practice, though it has not been much operated. Suppose you had a strike that made men stay out. Suppose one of the strikers going along to a friend; going along, at all events, in a perfectly-friendly and peaceable way to a man who had thought it right to remain in work; and suppose he said, ' Look here, Tom, if you stick it we shall be beaten, and if we are beaten they will bring all our wages down, and you will lose money in the end, the same as the rest of us.' Perhaps hon. Members may think there is nothing very terrible in that, but that is intimidation under the terms of the 1927 Act and that conduct would be punishable on indictment.That was his first example. Coming from such a source as the learned Attorney-General of England, it is a statement of the law which would be accepted at its face value by most people who were not in the legal profession. The second example is this: Supposing thesecretary of the union or an official of the union, goes along to see the non-unionist and says, in a perfectly friendly and peaceful way, ' Look here, Bill, come and join us,' and points out the advantages of trade unionism to the industrial worker, and says, ' Come along and join us, and become a member of the union, and if you do we shall refuse to work for old Tom Noddy, the employer, that would be intimidation.That is the second of the Attorney-General's examples and I pass now to an examination of the third. He goes on:I am not dealing with hypothetical matters.Why the Attorney-General should say that I am not quite clear.It is astonishing that it should be legal to strike about such a matter, and not legal to seek to avoid a strike by peaceful persuasion of a man. It is perfectly legal to boycott a man who is sticking out, and not striking with his pals, by refusing to speak and associate with him—leaving the pub when he comes in to have a drink and so forth. It is perfectly lawful to do that, but to go up to him beforehand and say, in a perfectly friendly way, ' Look here, George,'Apparently it is a different man in this case, because it is George.
§ 8.15 p.m.1841
§ Mr. Hogg
If you said that to me I might go and take the opinion of my trade union as to whether it was intimidation. The Attorney-General goes on:Look here, George, if you don't come in with your pals and join us in this strike, which is so vital to our interests; if you stand out against the lot of us, the result is going to be that we are not going to have anything to do with you; we shall no longer be your friends,' that may be an indictable offence at assizes under this law."—[Official Report, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 205-6.]I am bound to say that the language which is used by these hypothetical gentlemen is a little less plain that I should be obliged to use in similar cases, but I want to take the examples just as the Attorney-General gave them and consider for a moment whether any one of these hypothetical cases— because they were hypothetical—would be illegal under the Act which it is now proposed should be repealed. I am sorry to do it in legal form, because I agree that it is a great human question, but we must at least know what is the state of the law which we are going to create by passing this Bill at the present time in this Parliament. Therefore, it is necessary for a Member to make an examination in order, I hope, to persuade the Attorney-General who, perhaps, was nodding like Homer for a moment when he gave the House the benefit of his opinion on these three men. In Subsection (1) of Section 3 of the 1927 Act it is stated:It is hereby declared that it is unlawful for one or more persons (whether acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a trade union or of an individual employer or firm, and notwithstanding that they may be acting in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute) to attend at or near a house or place where a person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be, for the purpose of obtaining or communicating information or of persuading or inducing any person to work or to abstain from working, if they so attend in such numbers or otherwise in such manner as to be calculated to intimidate any person in that house or place, or to obstruct the approach thereto or egress there from, or to lead to a breach of the peace; and attending at or near any house or place in such numbers or in such manner as is by this Subsection declared to be unlawful shall be deemed to be a watching or besetting of that house or place within the meaning of Section seven of the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act, 1875.Up to that point I do not think the Attorney-General will say that any of his hypothetical cases were intimidation within the meaning of this Section.
§ Mr. Janner (Leicester, West)
Before the hon. Member goes further will he be good enough to tell us why he omitted reference to the words "one or more persons" and what he understands by the word '' calculated ''?
§ Mr. Hogg
I think the hon. Member perhaps anticipated part of my argument. I read the entire Section so that there could be no complaint about that. I left nothing out of it. The "one" refers to manner not numbers, because "one" cannot attend in any numbers, and I thought that would have begun to dawn on the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway even without the assistance of Counsel's opinion.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Does it not say here, quite distinctly, that if one person approaches another in a manner that is considered by that person to be intimidatory then he is liable to prosecution? Suppose the Attorney-General says to George, in the nicest possible manner, "If you do not come in we shall have nothing more to do with you," is the hon. Member suggesting that that can be construed by the individual to whom it is said as intimidation?
§ Mr. Hogg
I think the hon. Member has possibly misread the Section. The Section I have so far dealt with says nothing at all about somebody else thinking that it is calculated to intimidate, but that it must be calculated to intimidate. Left there, I think the argument would be incomplete, because the Attorney-General founded his own argument not upon Subsection (1) of Section 3, but upon Subsection (2) of Section 3, which deals with intimidation. That Subsection says:In this Section the expression ' to intimidate ' means to cause in the mind of a person a reasonable apprehension of injury to him or to any member of his family or to any of his dependants or of violence or damage to any person or property, and the expression. ' injury ' includes injury to a person in respect of his business, occupation, employment or other source of income, and includes any actionable wrong.1843 It is upon that that the guns of the Attorney-General were trained in his Second Reading speech. One would have supposed that there was hardly any other place where reasonable apprehension of injury could be caused except in a person's mind, but the Attorney-General, at any rate, seems to place reliance upon this Subsection. Let us compare this Subsection with Section I, which creates the offence. In each of these cases, does Subsection (2) make the smallest difference to the question whether intimidation is caused? What is done must still be done in such numbers and in such manner as to intimidate. The only possible effect of the Subsection is to extend the word "intimidate" into a reasonable apprehension of injury on the part of the person who is intimidated. That is a question of fact of precisely the kind which a jury is most apt to try, that jury of 12 men which has been extolled by the Attorney-General in the course of this discussion. The questions which the jury have to try are: Was the man frightened by the threat, and was the fear a reasonable fear? I suggest that they are questions of fact, the like of which are constantly being put before juries at every assize and quarter sessions.- Unless the Attorney-General were to argue that any form of blackmail other than physical violence cannot be legislated against, I fail to see what real abjection he could have in the words in this Subsection. Indeed, I feel such confidence on this point that it occurred to me that it must be because of Subsection (3) that the Attorney-General thought that his Tom, Bill and George were respectively intimidated. Subsection (3) of Section 3 says:'' In Section seven of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, the expression ' intimidate ' shall be construed as having the same meaning as in this Section.I should have thought that failing, as, I believe, he would have failed, to prove an offence under Subsection (1) of Section 3 of the Act of 1927, the Attorney-General would proceed to indict the person who had been talking to George, Bill and Tom under Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, as read with Subsection (3) of Section 3 of the 1927 Act. Does that serve him any better? The answer is that it does not, because in order to constitute an offence under Section 7 of the 1875 Act you have not merely to prove intimidation; you 1844 have to prove that the act of intimidation is done with a view to compelling any other person to abstain from doing, or to do, any act which such other person is ready to do, or abstain from doing wrongfully without authority. In none of the three cases which the Attorney-General gave us was there the breath of a suggestion that there was anything in the manner of the person talking to Tom, Bill or George that the numbers accompanying him were calculated to intimidate, not a syllable. In a moment of aberration I almost said, "not a sausage."
Is there anything to show that it was in order to compel against conscience? On the contrary, the whole case built up in these three hypothetical instances was that, so far from trying to compel a man to do something against his judgment and conscience, the interlocutor was trying to persuade him reasonably to act as a reasonable and a sensible man should act. I suggest that there was not the shadow or a scintilla of legal ground for the Attorney-General to tell the House, as he did during the Second Reading Debate, that under Section 3 of the 1927 Act these three hypothetical instances would amount to offences. I put that view forward for what it is worth, in the same way as the Attorney-General puts forward his views. I believe my view is shared by most Members on this side of the Committee, and that any tribunal of laymen, asked to decide whether the Attorney-General was far-fetched or not, would unhesitatingly decide in my favour.
The Attorney-General hardly strengthened his case by referring to what he described as the Chester case, on the ground that they ought to have thought of it. It will, no doubt, surprise the Committee to know that I made some researches into the Chester case, and that I inquired from the best possible source, which was the Solicitor-General's office. I found there that nobody had a copy of the Chester case. The only words they had, on which the Attorney-General placed his finely spun argument, were in a reference made in the Second Reading Debate in this House on the 1931 Bill, by the present Lord Chancellor, then Sir William Jowitt. That was the only foundation upon which the Attorney-General's argument was based. However, I tried to find out a little more about the extraordinary case which so misled the 1845 Attorney-General of England, and from what I could piece together the situation was this: The tribunal in whom the Attorney-General shows implicit and justified faith, found that there were menaces in that case. They found that the member of a breakaway union had been menaced, I understand, by an official of another union. It was a quarrel between two unions. The Recorder of Chester stated that the jury was entitled to take into account what the man had said, and the fact that he was a trade union official, in addition to any other aspects of his manner. I should have thought that a highly sensible but not a very far-reaching direction. And that evidently was the opinion of the law reporters, because there have been no official reports on the case, although I hardly think that justifies the learned Attorney-General propounding such an elaborate argument in this Committee.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Having dealt with the legal side of it, as I was bound to do, I put these issues simply on human grounds. There is no doubt whatever that trades disputes, whether they be strikes or lockouts, arouse deep-seated passions. Whether the trade dispute is official or unofficial, whether it consists in a claim for better conditions or not, whether it is supported by all the unions concerned or only by some of them, and whether it is lawful or unlawful, passions are aroused. And where passions are aroused, offences against order are the inevitable consequence, and I should have thought that it was in the interests of trade unionism itself to have it perfectly plain that, as I have never doubted to be the case, trade union officials, responsible people who have the conduct of such matters when they unfortunately occur, should be the last people to have allowed it to be suggested for an instant that either mass picketing or intimidation based upon the finer refinements of threat other than physical violence, or anything of the kind, was part of their programme at all. I should have thought it very much in their interest to join with us in asking that these things should continue to be illegal.
§ I should have thought that was even more so nowadays, when there are such things as illegal and unofficial strikes, and a trade unionist is obviously in a different position than he was let us say 1846 some 50 years ago. In those days it he failed to strike he might be called a blackleg toy his fellow-workers, and it may well have been that that was usually the case. In these days, however, a trades unionist may be subject to all kinds of conflicts of loyalties. He may foe encouraged to take part in a dock strike by unofficial leaders in his own locality, and one of the things which has certainly impressed hon. Members on this side of the Committee is the extent to which these unofficial leaders seem to have the obedience and respect of their men to the exclusion of the official leaders of the unions. The trade unionist in such a situation is subject to a sharp conflict of loyalty. He may want to stand by his neighbours and come out, or he may want to stand by the officially elected leaders of his union and stay in. In either case he might be subject to intimidation from people who were violently interested in one side or the other of the dispute, and what we on this side of the committee say is perfectly simple. It is that all forms of intimidation are objectionable. We do not think that it is in the interests of trades unionism to encourage it by any doubt or lack of clarity in the law, any more than they would encourage it by active speeches which, I am sure, would be quite repugnant to their nature. We do not think it ought to be encouraged by legalising any form of intimidation and we seek only a form of words which will satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite because it is their own form of words. Let them produce whatever form of words they choose, provided it meets with our point of view. [Interruption.] Hon. Members below the Gangway sometimes evince a totally different point of view from the responsible leaders above the Gangway. I think it was perfectly plain from what I said that the point of principle which I desired to be settled was that all these various forms of intimidation should be illegal. It is not just a question of deciding what is legally part of a trade dispute or strike, or of retaining the exact wording of this Statute or that. I do ask the Attorney-General, who has exercised so much ingenuity in trying to invent reasons why a perfectly good Statute should be repealed, to devote just five minutes of his time to consider today something constructive for a change.1847
§ The Attorney-General
The reference which the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) made to sausages inspires me to think that this might be an appropriate moment in which to address the Committee, particularly as I am still feeling a little shaky as the result of the intimidatory attack directed against me by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). It might be of interest to bear in mind that, apart from the protection which is given—and very properly given—to the right hon. Gentleman by the fact that what he said was said in Parliament, his remarks undoubtedly constitute the offence of intimidation under the law as it now stands, and in a few weeks' time he might, but for the fact that he made them in Parliament, have been in the dock, being defended by the hon. Member for Oxford and, ultimately, being sentenced to five years' penal servitude.
§ The Attorney-General
I fear that despite all the ability and eloquence which the hon. Member might bring to bear, despite all the persuasion he might direct to the jury, the jury would still be compelled, under the direction given to them by the learned judge, to find that what had occurred was a case of intimidation.
I have listened with a great deal of admiration and a great deal of envy to the hon. Member. He and other hon. Members on the opposite side of the Committee do seem to possess a tremendous capacity for working themselves up into a fervour of eloquence about matters which have no kind of relation to the facts at all. The hon. Member, and I dare say other hon. Members on that side of the Committee who will follow me when I sit down in a few minutes time, expended and will expend a great deal of eloquence in an effort to make our flesh creep about the possibilities of intimidation taking place in the future which has no kind of basis in any experience in the past. I venture to think that it is an effort which will be as ineffective in this Committee as it has been in the country outside, where, at recent by-elections, working people were asked to regard this Act as the charter of the working man in his home, a view which I am glad to say 1848 they have not had much difficulty in rejecting with the contumely that it deserves.
The real test, I suggest, of the need for strengthening our law in regard to this matter of intimidation, is to be found, not in the opinions of hon. Members on the opposite side of the Committee, however eminent they may be, but in the actions taken by those who were responsible to Parliament for maintaining law and order in this country and for protecting the freedom of individual citizens in the score or so years which elapsed after the 1906 Act, when the law was put on the basis on which it remained until the 1927 Bill was introduced. I reminded the House in the Second Reading Debate that during that period a number of strikes had taken place. I think it is right to say that many of those strikes were attended by circumstances of much greater bitterness and ill-feeling than attended the strike in 1926. Hon. Members opposite with longer memories than mine will be able to correct me if I am wrong. Some of those strikes in the years before the first world war were, if I am to accept what I read about them, strikes of a very grave kind. strikes in which there was great bitterness and ill-feeling on both sides, strikes in which we might expect, if we were to have it in any strike at all, that there would be grave instances of intimidation.
Yet, throughout that 20 years between 1906 and 1926, there were in the important office of the Secretary of State for the Home Department a succession of able and distinguished persons who were responsible to Parliament and whose duty it was, if they thought the existing law was inadequate to prevent intimidation, if they thought the freedom of individuals required additional protection, to come to the House of Commons and to say, "The existing law is not enough. People are being intimidated. These subtle forms of torture "—about which the hon. Member for Oxford became so eloquent—" are being directed against the unfortunate working man. We must have greater powers, we must improve the machinery of the criminal law, we must be able to deal with these cases in a way that we cannot deal with them now." That would have been the duty, and that was the responsibility of the holders of the office of Secretary of State for the Home Department during that score of years, but not once throughout that 1849 period did any Secretary of State come to this House and suggest that the powers he and the police possessed under the existing law were in any way inadequate to cope with the situations, far more dangerous than they were in 1926, which were taking place at that time.
There was nothing in the strike of 1926 to justify any change in the law, as I understand it, and everybody is agreed about this. There were a lot of prosecutions, at least it sounds a lot when one refers to the number now—several thousands. It is a very small number when one remembers the multitude of people who were involved in the General Strike. There were a number of prosecutions under the existing law, but everybody who casts his mind back to the circumstances of the 1926 strike would agree with the words that were used by the hon. and gallant Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Ropner) this afternoon— "The conduct of the strikers was exemplary." There was nothing in the strike of 1926 to justify any change in the law, nothing in the experience between 1906 and 1926 which had led any holder of the office of Home Secretary to come to the House and say that his powers were inadequate and that they ought to be strengthened.
It was not until 1927, when the Conservative majority, elected, if I may venture to remind hon. Members, in part at least on the basis of the notorious "red letter," flushed with their own power, sought to use the occasion of the General Strike of 1926 for what was not a piece of anti-strike legislation but a piece of anti-labour legislation. They thought it right to throw in this provision about intimidation by way of makeweight and pretence in order to suggest that what they were really doing was to protect individual freedom. Of course it was nothing of the kind. What they were really intending and seeking to do, was to introduce a change in our law which had the effect of restricting the freedom of speech which individual citizens of this country had hitherto enjoyed. Indeed, so much is that the case that I believe, had a similar law been introduced in the United States of America, it would have been regarded as unconstitutional because it interfered with the personal freedom of speech. That is what this Section of the wretched 1927 Act was intended to do, 1850 and that is why we are proposing to get rid of it.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ The hon. Member for Oxford has expatiated at some length upon the legal effect of Section 3. I cannot help thinking that he is a little uneasy about the terms of that Section, drafted so carefully by those who were associated with his noble father—Lord Birkenhead and Sir Walter Greaves-Lord, lawyers of great eminence and distinction; a little uneasy whether, in connection with Section 3, they really succeeded in making a good job of it. Although Section 3 was put before the House of Commons at that time as the most carefully considered Section, he is prepared to abandon it provided we can have some discussion on some matter of principle which he wishes to put before the Committee; provided he can get something else which does something different in a different way, he is prepared to abandon Section 3.
§ The Attorney-General
I cannot help thinking that although that might be the intention of the hon. Member, the result would be quite different, because the hon. Member and I have the misfortune to disagree about what is the effect of Section 3 as it now stands. As a matter of fact, I had the advantage of seeing a copy of the shorthand note of the judgment in the Chester case, and so I know a little more about that case than the hon. Member, in spite of all his very proper researches.
§ The Attorney-General
That is the kind of interpretation one might expect hon. Members opposite to put upon what occurred, because they are not prepared to give Ministers on this side of the House the credit which perhaps it would be more proper to give them.
§ Mr. Hogg
Let me say at once to the hon. and learned Gentleman that I never 1851 wanted to take any credit away from him at all, but it seems to me odd that he should now twit me for not having a shorthand note when every endeavour was made to obtain one from the learned Solicitor-General's Department for the very purpose. It was he who twitted me and, I think unjustly. I certainly intended no imputation.
§ The Attorney-General
I really did not intend to twit the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member must not get cross with me. I have attempted to meet him in every possible way. I have discarded my red tie; at considerable personal trouble I have obtained a tie with blue spots on it. Not swastika spots, because it seems, now that the Labour Party have come into power, swastika spotted ties have gone out of the shops. He really must not be cross with me about this. I only obtained the shorthand note tonight, about 10 minutes ago. It was not in my Department but we managed, inspired by the hon. Member's own researches, to find one in another Department.
§ The Attorney-General
I am glad to find that the view which I expressed to the House about the Chester case seems to be adequately borne out by the view of the Court of Criminal Appeal before which the case eventually went. I will give one example of the operation of the present Act. What happened in that case—it is quite clear, there is no doubt about it—was that a member of the union went, as far as can be seen, in a perfectly friendly way to the member of the breakaway union in order to compel him—to induce him, use what words you like, those are the words in the Section— to come into the main union, and said, "Look here, Joe "—Bill or George or Quintin, or whatever his name was—[An Hon. Member: "Draw the line."]— "join our union; if you do not, we will have a strike and you will be sacked." Under the direction of the learned Recorder, the jury found, and had no alternative but to find, that, quite apart from any question of threat—and there is no question of threat in this at all—by the communication of that information with a view to compelling the man to do that which- he was lawfully entitled not to do, to join the union, an offence had been 1852 committed because that man had been put in reasonable fear of losing his occupation, if a strike took place and the employer was told the reason why the strike was going to take place. There could be a strike and the employer could be told there was going to be a strike unless he sacked Bill or George, but the man could not be told beforehand with a view to trying to avoid the circumstances of the strike. No doubt that is the kind of case at present hit at by Section 3, but we do not think this is convenient, desirable, or necessary.
I gave another case to which I noticed, the hon. Member for Oxford refrained from referring. It is an indictable offence under the Section as it now stands, quite apart from any threat, warning or promise. I mention these words because there seemed to be in the Second Reading Debate some confusion among hon. Members opposite who seemed to think that if something was promised or a man was warned about matters which might occur there was no offence and only if he was threatened was it an offence. That is quite wrong; there is not a word about warning, threat or promise but,"communication of information calculated to cause a reasonable apprehension of injury, including injury to a man in his occupation or employment.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid
If the learned Attorney-General has the transcript of the Criminal Court of Appeal, perhaps he wilt read it.
§ The Attorney-General
It says:Finally the learned Recorder summed up and said he would leave, and did leave, five questions to the jury. First, Did the defendant, that is the appellant, go to see Langley at his work, or the place where he happened to be? Was that going of a kind that you could call attendance—did he attend there? Again he asked: Was the defendant's attendance there with a view to compel Langley to join the defendant's union?Those were the words I used—to compel him to do or abstain from doing something which he was legally entitled not to do or do? Again, was the defendant's attendance for the purpose "—not of threatening, not of warning, not even of promising, but—was the defendant's attendance for the purpose of obtaining or communicating information or persuading or inducing Langley to abstain from working? Fourthly, did the defendant's attendance take place in such, 1853 a manner to be calculated to cause apprehension of damage in respect of Langley's occupation?
§ The Attorney-General
That is the Court of Criminal Appeal saying these are the questions which were put and these are the right questions. Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman like me to read the whole of it?
§ Mr. Reid
I am not asking for the whole of it to be read. One always finds in a judgment that there are a few crucial sentences. This is not published, and it is essential that we should have the crucial sentences of the whole judgment before the House, not the questions, but the sentences, the opinion of the court.
§ The Attorney-General
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks I have not conveyed the effect of the judgment correctly, I will give every word and he can pick it out at his leisure from the Official Report tomorrow. The exact words used were:Fourthly, did the defendant's attendance take place in such a manner as to cause reasonable apprehension of damage in respect of Langley's occupation? I say ' In such a manner.' It is quite true, as has been pointed out, if one looks at the transcript of this obviously imperfect note, it appears in one later passage on page 15 that the learned Recorder said: ' Did the defendant's attendance take place in such a manner or otherwise as to be calculated to cause reasonable apprehension '; but if one looks a little lower down, it is put quite correctly, ' Did he go and attend in such a manner as to be calculated to cause reasonable apprehension of damage? ' Two conjectures are possible, and one is that ' or otherwise ' in the first of these passages is a slip of the tongue. The other is that it is an error of the Shorthand Writer. Looking at the rest of this Shorthand Note, I have no doubt myself what the true explanation is. Afterwards the learned Recorder told the Jury that if they answered Yes to all these four questions, they ought to return a verdict of Guilty on the besetting count, that is to say, upon Count No. 2; but he said they could not convict on the intimidation count unless they answered Yes to those four Questions and also to a fifth Question, which he put to them in these terms, ' Did the Defendant, with a view to compelling Langley to join the Defendant Union, do the things referred to in the first four Questions and so cause reasonable apprehension of injury, that is to say, damage, to Langley in respect of his occupation and employment? The Jury found the Appellant guilty, and they took care to say that they answered all these Questions in the affirmative.1854It is a little difficult to perceive what precisely is the ground for this Appeal. The evidence in the Court below was all one way. It was in substance not questioned; it was not doubted. Once it is conceded, as it must be conceded, that the word ' injury ' in this context is suffiently wide to include damage in respect of occupation and employment, it is apparent that there was ample evidence here upon which the Jury might find as they did. For the rest, particular phrases are picked out of the Summing-up and observation is made upon those.—Does the right hon. and learned Member want the rest? That is one case in which, as I suggest to the Committee, the law about this matter is perfectly clear. I gave other cases, I reminded the Committee of the actual definition. I gave the political case and would like to remind the House about it because it is important that we should remember what this Section really does. I gave an instance from one of the broadcast addresses of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) quite seriously because I believe what was said on that occasion does amount to an indictable offence under this Act and comes exactly within the definition of this Act.
§ 9.0 p.m.
I looked up some of the other speeches that were made, that remarkable series of speeches made at the time of the General Election. I remembered particularly, and I think the House will always remember, that particularly interesting speech in which, perhaps unexpectedly, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford made the statement:
There is also a very good tale to be told about the milk.
In that speech about the milk he made reference to the Bank of England. After saying that the nationalisation of the Bank of England was a revolutionary aim, he said:
Let me tell you that once a Socialist Government begins monkeying with the credit of Britain, and trying, without regard to facts, figures or competence, to manipulate it to Socialist requirements, there is no man or woman in the country who has, by their thrift or toil, accumulated a nest-egg, however small, who will not run the risk of seeing it shrivel before their eyes.
That comes word for word within this Section. It is political canvassing. Two or three people going round to houses, trying to persuade voters to vote for the Conservative Party, pointing out the terrible results which will occur to the country if the Socialists are returned to power—that is intimidation within the
terms of this Section. I suggest that in this matter we really must go back to the rational, enforceable standards which existed before this Bill was introduced in 1927, and which were the result of the combined action of the Legislature and the judges in that period, when, between 1906 and 1926, there was so ample an opportunity for seeing whether the law was adequate and efficient, and when nobody for one moment questioned it in either respect. The Government are unable to accept this Amendment.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Colonel Ropner
The speech we have just heard from the Attorney-General was, at any rate so far as I am concerned, somewhat lost in a maze of legal arguments, which I confess I found it extremely difficult to follow. When he was not following his tortuous route along legal channels he was, I thought, being rather jocular in dealing with this most human subject, perhaps the most human subject which we shall be asked to consider when dealing with this Bill. I hope we may forget legal arguments and jocular terms for a few moments, and come down to ground, and consider what the Government are proposing in repealing the first three Subsections of Section 3 of the 1927 Act. 1 believe I am right when I say that if those Subsections are repealed all forms of intimidation will be legalised, so long as they do not entail actual violence or the threat of violence. That interpretation of the 1927 Act, and I do not intend to get into legal difficulties myself, was reinforced by the President of the Board of Trade during the Second Reading Debate a few days ago, when he said that intimidation always was, and always will remain, illegal.
But he went on to add, and I hope hon. Members opposite will notice this qualification that there has to be something concrete, something tangible. There has to be actual violence, or the threat of violence against a man or his family, or which is likely to cause a breach of the peace. I ask any right hon. Gentleman in the Government who is to speak on this Section, do the Government really believe sincerely that violence is the only form of intimidation? Does the Government desire to legalise again those oblique and sinister forms of intimidation which, as I shall show later, were current in cer- 1856 tain parts of this country before the passing of the 1927 Act?
An hon. Gentleman opposite in disclosing his views on trade union legislation said in 1926 they had certain liberties; in 1927 they were taken away; in 1946 they are going to restore them. What are the liberties which hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite now wish to restore? Are they the liberties to threaten a man or his wife and children at their work or in their homes, to make his home or his work a hell, to threaten his means of livelihood, to intimidate by those methods which the Communists in Russia, the Fascists in Italy, and the National Socialists in Germany, reduced to a fine and fiendish art? Those are the liberties which the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are going to restore.
The same hon. Member who spoke during the Second Reading Debate from below the Gangway asked, "Is there any oppression of the minority by the majority?" He then answered his own question and said: "Of course not." He" could not have been more mistaken. Where was he in 1927, 1926, 1925, and the years before? I know something from first hand of the intimidation which was exercised in some of the mining areas of Durham County.
The Attorney-General said this in discussing intimidation in the Second Reading Debate:There was not a shred, not a tittle or a rag of evidence to support the enactment of the new rules and the new definition of intimidation."— [Official Report, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 208.]I represented a mining constituency in the County of Durham in 1926. We all know that the vast majority of the miners of Durham, as elsewhere, are decent citizens of whom perhaps the chief characteristic is that they are generous and kind and men to whom anything in the nature of mental torture would be completely and utterly abhorrent. In all walks of life, however, there are men of a very different type to those I have just described and in the close-knit community of the average mining village or town a few men of the wrong type can make life hideous for their neighbour. The Attorney-General said:
The 1927 Act interfered with the law, which had been operated quite easily."— [Official Report, 12th February, 1946; Vol. 419, c. 204.]1857 Quite easily for whom? Not the minority in some of the mining areas. That is not the description that they would have applied to the law as it worked prior to 1927. I know, I know for certain the extent of the intimidation which was rampant before 1927 among some of the mining areas in this country. I have heard at first hand the most harrowing accounts of the persecution of men and their wives and their families. Fascism at its worst never devised more acute mental torture. Are these the liberties which hon. Members opposite wish to restore? All I can say is that, after the passage of the 1927 Act, I received many letters of thanks, which I treasure to this day, from men and women who suffered persecution, and also letters from men who were then, as they might still be, regarded as the hot-heads in the mining areas but who hated to see the sort of persecution to which some of their fellow men had been subjected. Throughout the passage of this Bill through its Committee Stage and Third Reading, I shall not forget those men and women, who appealed for my help some 20 years ago.
In the Second Reading Debate, the assertion was made that there has recently been a better atmosphere among the trade unionists of this country. I believe that to be a completely true statement, but the better atmosphere has come during the operation of the 1927 Act. Does the Government really want to go back to the atmosphere of 1927?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell me why he talks about the intimidation of miners, and why he does not talk about the intimidation of shipowners over seamen—a thing that he knows a lot about?
§ Colonel Ropner
I doubt very much it it would be in Order in this discussion but, if the hon. Member wishes me to say something about the alleged intimidation, or the actual intimidation, of employers and employers' associations, I will come to that in a few minutes. It has been rightly said, within the ranks of trade unionists, that a better spirit has actually come out of the provisions of the 1927 Act.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Colonel Ropner
Yes, but I think also during years preceding the war there had gradually come about a better feeling in the trade union movement. I ask the Government if they really want to go back to the sort of feeling that existed in trade and industry in 1926. Do they really wish to go back 20 years? I have already reminded the Committee that that is not the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. He, at least, wants the law to stay where it is.
I appeal to hon. and right hon. Members opposite to consider an Amendment to the definitions contained in the first three Subsections of Section 3 of the 1927 Act if that is what they are worrying about. I cannot believe they are really desirous of merely repealing the Section in toto. I for one, and I think all my hon. Friends on these Benches would be very happy to co-operate in redefining the extent to which initimidation should be prohibited So long as right hon. Gentlemen opposite persist in allowing the vilest forms of intimidation, so long shall we keep some element of bad block in trade and industry. If right hon. Gentlemen opposite would accept the offer which has been made from these Benches to modify the definition of intimidation, they would lose no support except, perhaps, of those who in any case will vote Communist as soon as they get the chance.
I will now deal with the question raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). Right hon. and hon. Members opposite appear to think that they can strengthen their case against any effort to prohibit intimidation within the ranks of the trade union movement by making accusations of intimidation against employers' associations or individual employers: The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour raked about over the last 10 years and finally found a case of what he considered to be victimisation. I must confess I simply cannot follow the tortuous reasoning which appears to presume that if you have victimisation among employers' associations that that justifies victimisation among the ranks of the trade unions. If the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour really believes that there is victimisation or intimidation on the part of employers, then I would suggest to him that he should bring in a Bill to- 1859 morrow to stop it. If he did that he would get the support of hon. Members on this side—[Hon. Members: "Oh."] Bring in the Bill and see whether it gets support or not. I have no hesitation—
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
On a point of Order. In view of the fact, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is asking for a Bill to be brought in to deal with the matter which he is arguing and which does not come within the ambit of this Measure, and also on account of the fact that he has himself said that if he followed this line of argument it would be out of Order, may I ask whether he is correct in continuing?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman was not attempting to explain what he thought the Bill should provide. Therefore he is not out of Order.
§ Captain Marsden (Chertsey)
Further to that point of Order. Is it in Order, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, for any hon. Member to presume to teach you your duty?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am prepared to consider friendly guidance from hon. Members and I am always willing to learn.
§ Colonel Ropner
I do not want to dwell on this point although I think it is one of substance. I am sure I am right when I say that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried to make capital out of the accusation that there is victimisation and intimidation by employers or employers' associations. That will not be denied by hon. Gentlemen opposite. What I was saying was that it is tortuous reasoning—if, indeed, it can be described as reasoning—to say that that action, if it exists, justifies intimidation within the ranks of the trade union movement. Indeed, I went further than that, and I will repeat what I said, in spite of the amusement displayed by hon. Members opposite. If there is victimisation or intimidation on the part of individual employers or employers' associations, let the Government bring in a Bill to stop it. That will receive my support.
We have been told by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) that there 1860 are in the Home Office records which show the extent of the victimisation and intimidation which was current before 1927. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General said that so far as he knew no action had been taken by Home Secretaries prior to 1926 to deal with this question. But hon. Gentlemen opposite are well aware that the whole question of legislation dealing with the trade union movement was one not only of the greatest importance but, if I may use a colloquialism, it was a very touchy subject. It was for that reason that Lord Baldwin asked my party to vote against the Bill which was introduced in 1924 dealing with the political levy. I do not think any hon. Gentleman who listened to the sincere speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities really doubted for one moment his statement that in the Home Office there are—I do not know whether he said a very large number or a considerable number, but some cases which show that the whole system of victimisation and intimidation was gradually growing in momentum, particularly in some localities up to the year 1926 or 1927. I do not believe it takes a very large number of cases to justify legislation against action of that sort. The Attorney-General said a few moments ago that he did not think 6,000 or 7,000 prosecutions throughout the length and breadth of the country after the general strike was a very large number. I do not think it was. I meant what I said earlier in the afternoon when I stated that the general behaviour throughout the country of those engaged in the general strike was exemplary.
But if there were one, two, three or a very few cases of real cruel, beastly victimisation and intimidation at the time of the general strike, or at any other time, which were legal and can be made illegal, then I say this House of Commons ought not to neglect a small minority, even though it is very small, if it suffers persecution of that sort. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite either accept or do not accept the statement that I make from my own past experience, and they either accept or do not accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities that there are in the Home Office records of cases of the sort of persecution that happened before 1926, and which ought to 1861 be stopped and have been stopped by the Act of 1927. That statement of the right hon. Gentleman, I submit, is further support for the already overwhelming case for the retention of this Section of the 1927 Act.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid
I rise chierly for the purpose of dealing with this Chester case which was apparently only discovered 10 minutes before the learned Attorney-General rose to his feet. Therefore, it is not very surprising that the learned Attorney-General was unable to give us at short notice a full account of the case. I think his lack of opportunity to study the case led him into some errors, because he did say that there was no question of a threat in connection with this case. Experience teaches me, as far as Scotland is concerned, that it is a good thing to look first at the terms of the indictment, because indictments are generally carefully drawn and the prosecutor never takes on himself a heavier burden than he need do. Although it was another part of the transcript which caught the eye of the Attorney-General I thought it as well to go to the indictment and I find this is what it says according to this transcript. It charged the man that,With a view to compel Langley to join a certain trade union which Langley had a legal right to abstain from doing he, the appellant, wrongfully and without legal authority oppressed and intimidated Langley by threatening to cause his dismissal from his employment and thereby caused reasonable apprehension of injury.Therefore, threatening was made of the essence of the indictment. This is the Committee stage, so the Attorney-General can explain it again. I turn to what is said on the next page, and this is the way in which the court summed up the evidence:The appellant further said that if Langley did not join the United Union he would bring the plasterers and also the painters and joiners employed by Walworth out on strike.If that is not a threat I do not know what is. What we are discussing at the moment is whether it comes under the 1927 Act if you merely go to a man and say, "This will happen if you do a certain thing. I am not taking any part in it, but I am warning you," or whether you must go further than that and say, "I will cause this to happen to you."
It is quite obvious this case is no authority for saying that going to a man 1862 and merely telling him, "Something will happen to you without my assistance," is any offence. The evidence on which the man was indicted quite clearly shows the accused did threaten that if Langley did not do as he was asked the accused would bring the men out on strike and thereby cause injury to Langley, because, of course, that would mean when the employer was told the employer would sack Langley in order to get the rest of the men back to work. This was quite plainly a statement that the accused person proposed to do something if his request was not acceded to. Accordingly, the Attorney-General's account of the case was not, if I may say so, wholly accurate.
§ Mr. Reid
I am not interested in the questions for the jury. What I am interested in is, what was the evidence as stated by the court on which the man was convicted, and what was the crime with which he was charged in the indictment. I am well aware that the system in England is different from the system in Scotland, but if the Attorney-General tells me it is irrelevant to look at either the evidence or the indictment I shall be very much surprised.
§ 9.30 p.m.
I will now make a few remarks on the more general aspect of this difference of opinion between us We have said that if the Attorney-General is in doubt as to whether this means what it ought to mean, what we think it means, let him amend it. I do not believe it is doubtful. We are now dealing with three Subsections, and it is 'the second to which the Attorney-General takes exception, and the second applies a definition of "intimidate" to the first Subsection and to the 1875 Act. According to the first Subsection, there must be attendance
'' in such numbers or otherwise in such manner as to be calculated to intimidate "—
which obviously means something more than merely telling a man that something is likely to happen if he does a certain thing. Obviously it means bringing to bear some force on the man's mind that the persons who are attending will cause something to happen if the man does not acquiesce. I should have thought that was clear, and I should have thought it was even clearer in the 1875 Act, where the offence
is to do something with a view to compelling some person to stop work. Obviously, if a person is trying to compel somebody, he does not compel by merely telling somebody that something will happen. He compels a person by telling that person, "I am going to do something." Accordingly, I think the Attorney-General is wrong in his interpretation of the law, but if he thanks he is right, then I say there is no reason for abandoning the whole principle, but that the matter should be put beyond doubt by an Amendment
§ There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. The Attorney-General said that the Section of the 1927 Act was unnecessary because it had not been introduced earlier. If one says that no Act of Parliament dealing with past events is ever necessary because, if it were, it would have been introduced earlier, I doubt whether more than 5 per cent of the Statutes on the Statute Book would pass that test. It may be true that the incidents which were the real cause of Section 3 of the 1927 Act had occurred earlier, 'but the Attorney-General has been long enough in Office to know that Government Departments have in pigeonholes a great many proposals which they cannot find time to bring forward and which they have to keep for a suitable opportunity. No doubt this was one of them. If we accept what my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) said, this certainly was one of them. Therefore, to say that we should not retain this Section 1 because it was unnecessary seems to me to be begging the question altogether. The Attorney-General has not said, and he will not say now, that there is anything vicious about the principle; he speaks of bad drafting. All he will say is that it is unnecessary because there is no proved need for it. I call in aid what my right hon. Friend said, and I shall be surprised if the Attorney-General will not accept that, coming, as it does, from a former Permanent Under-Secretary.
§ I should have thought that, above all others, this is a Section that the Government should retain. It has nothing to do with the general strike. It is in the interests of the trade unions themselves. The trade unions want some means of keeping their more unruly members in order, and this is a very good means. 1864 The proposal to repeal this Section can proceed only from a purely political propaganda idea that there must be a clean sweep, otherwise the Government will not satisfy a number of their rather unreasonable supporters in the country. If we are to conduct the business of this country on the footing that we must legislate by slogans—for that is what it is coming to—we shall never get anywhere. I beg the Government, when they are legislating, to try to legislate with reference to practical questions and not with reference to slogans of the historic past to which they feel themselves to be committed. If the Government work on that principle, they will get into an even bigger and quicker mess than is coming to them anyway.
§ Mr. Basil Nield (Chester)
I hope the Committee will bear with me for a moment while I endeavour to give my views on one part of the Amendment, namely, that to Section 3 (2) of the Act of 1927 I do not propose to deal with the Chester case, but with the question of intimidation. Hon. Members will appreciate that in order to ascertain the true legal position before 1927 it is necessary to look at two earlier Statutes, the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, and the Trades Disputes Act, 1906. Those two must be read together, when it will be found that it is made illegal in those Statutes to intimidate any person. The real point there is that the courts have defined the word "intimidate." Those Statutes have construed the word so narrowly as to indicate that only such threats as involve physical violence come within the meaning of the Section.
As hon. Members have pointed out most cogently, there may be several forms of threat not involving physical violence, but equally dangerous A member of a man's family may be threatened as to his employment. It is in such a way, and by subtle means, that a man may be threatened. Indeed, in order to protect the individual, it is necessary to produce a new definition of the word "intimidate." That was done in the 1927 Statute, and it is that definition which we on this side of the Committee feel should be retained.
There is no political partisan business about this at all. [Laughter.] Hon. 1865 Gentlemen laugh because they only see this as a political Bill from their own point of view. I am looking at the matter, I hope sincerely, from the legal point of view. I say to hon. Gentlemen that the law will be losing in its power if we remove the definition of intimidation. [Laughter.] Those hon. Members who laugh do not, I think, really understand the position. The question I would ask hon. Gentlemen to put to themselves is, Do they really seek to exclude threats other than by means of physical violence from being an offence? If they do, let them say so now, but it will not be the fault of hon. Members on this side of the Committee.
§ Sir John Anderson (Scottish Universities)
I had not intended to speak on the Amendment, but I have heard enough of the Debate to make me feel that I would like to submit, very respectfully and in all seriousness, a few observations for the consideration of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) said, a few moments ago, that the matter which we are discussing now had nothing to do with the other parts of the Act of 1927 which will come under consideration. There is no question here of stigma, unless it is the stigma involved in associating hon. Members opposite with a Measure designed to make it as difficult as possible to subject people who are going about their lawful occasions to any form of threat. That is the simple issue involved here. Do we, or do we not, think it right that people, whoever they may be, who are doing that which they are absolutely entitled to do within the law, should be subject to threats? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, on the Second Reading, said by way of criticism of Section 3 of the Act of 1927, that until that time, the law had worked smoothly and satisfactorily. I venture to say, with a good deal of practical experience, that the hon. and learned Gentleman was entirely mistaken in that respect. I commented, in the Second Reading Debate, on the fact that the Home Secretary was not present; I observe that he is not present now. This provision is a matter that concerns the Home Office very closely. It concerns the conduct of people during a strike—any kind of strike; it is 1866 not a question of a political strike, but of any industrial strike.
The hon. and learned Gentleman made an observation, by way of interruption earlier in this Debate, which was very significant. In another connection he said: '' The law would not be put into operation." I say very respectfully that the hon. and learned Gentleman disclosed, in that remark, an attitude which is not uncommon on the part of lawyers who have not, perhaps, had very much administrative experience. They think of the criminal law in relation to proceedings in the courts, and it is very natural that they should do so. But here we are concerned with a branch of the law, as I pointed out in the Second Reading Debate, which governs men's attitude and actions. The law operates automatically on people's minds, if people are, as fortunately the people of this country are, naturally lawabiding. To leave people who wish to keep within the law in any doubt as to what their rights are is a great mistake, and may prove to be a great misfortune. It is emphatically not the case that the law was working in this respect satisfactorily before the Act of 1927 was passed. It was working very unsatisfactorily. The records of the Home Office are full of instances of genuine misunderstandings on the part of strikers, particularly on the part of pickets, and also on the part of the police as to the precise effect of the law. Again and again, the police have remonstrated with people who were doing what they genuinely believed was legitimate. Again and again, a man has pointed to an armlet and said, "I am a picket" in justification for action which clearly involved a contravention of the law. That was the justification for Subsection (1) of Section 3; it was a clarifying Subsection. The significant words relating to picketing in the Section are:in such numbers or otherwise in such a manner as to be calculated to intimidate.The gates of a factory are crowded with people, a few of whom have an armlet. They are the pickets, the others are strikers. The whole atmosphere is intimidatory. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite really seek to contend that that sort of thing should be encouraged?
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Sir J. Anderson
I know that it was done. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite say it ought to be encouraged? Is that really the position hon. Members opposite take up? Are their resources so limited, are the arguments they can deploy in the case of a genuine trade dispute so weak, that they must depend upon intimidatory action? Are they going to pretend that a definition which confines intimidation to something which might involve a threat of physical violence is satisfactory? If they do, the declarations of their associates and of those still associated with them in the Government go in the opposite direction. It is, surely, generally admitted that many actions, which fall far short of a threat of physical violence, may be just as objectionable and intimidatory, in fact, as action involving a threat of violence. What argument is put forward? Not an argument that it is improper and undesirable. It is argued—it has been argued on the part of right hon. Gentlemen opposite—that it is difficult to make provision in the criminal law which will effectively prevent many things that would be admitted to be undesirable It was said by the then Attorney-General—the present Lord Jowitt—in the Debate on the 1931 Bill, that the criminal law cannot march abreast with the moral law, with morality. But, anyhow, Section 3 of the Act of 1927 made a considerable advance on the earlier law in the direction of clarification.
I have no hesitation in saying, with a good deal of experience, that the task of the police under the law as it stood before the Act of 1927, was much more difficult than it is at the present time; and it will be again made more difficult if Section 3 of the Act of 1927 is removed from the Statute Book. Let us consider only the genuine trade dispute where no political passions are aroused. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite really wish to multiply opportunities for conflict, not only between strikers and those who do not strike, but between strikers and the police? It is one of the best features of our social and industrial relations that during a strike, for the most part, the relations between the police and the strikers are relations of friendship and mutual helpful- 1868 ness. There is no doubt about that. It is, in fact, the case. [Hon. Members: "Of course, it is."] Even in the general strike of 1926, when passions might have been aroused very easily, we were all relieved and gratified to find that the number of clashes between the police and the strikers was very small indeed; and, surely, that is the situation that we should all wish to maintain.
The point I would make is that the relations were good in 1926, before the passing of this Act. The position will be far more difficult if we do not remove the Act.
§ Sir J. Anderson
The hon. Gentleman is woefully mistaken. During the strike in the mining industry, the number of cases brought into court—[Hon. Members: "Lockout."]—lockout if you like, or stoppage: I do not want to use prejudicial words—was very large indeed, and I venture to say that more than 90 per cent. of those cases were entirely due to a genuine misunderstanding as to the effect of the law. I say that without any hesitation at all. I challenge right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite to say whether they have in fact consulted the Home Office records, to see what the experience has been, because I know—I have no hesitation at all in saying this—that the records show how very unsatisfactory was the state of the law before the Act of 1927.
§ Mr. David Griffiths
Is it not a fact that the local police in the coalmining areas would have acted more satisfactorily if they had been left alone, and if the police from other areas had not been brought in?
§ Sir J. Anderson
That question is hardly relevant. There were a few instances in which the police had to be moved from other areas to deal with a situation which had developed, but, in my view, the situation would have not developed had the law been clear.
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman. I would like your direction on this: The right hon. Gentleman is giving the Committee the benefit of what he learned from confidential files at the Home Office when he was a very distinguished civil servant there. I suppose that if he had given 1869 that information outside this House, he could have been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. If that is so, is it right for him to give this information inside this House?
§ The Chairman
I am not sure whether the assumption made by the hon. and learned Member is a correct one or not.
§ Sir J. Anderson
Perhaps I may relieve the hon. and learned Gentleman's mind, if I point out that I was for ten years Under-Secretary at the Home Office, and that for 13 months I was Secretary of State, with access to all records.
§ Mr. Pritt
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he disclosed these facts out side the House to-morrow, he could be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act? If he says "I am not disclosing my recollection of affairs when I was Under secretary. When I was Home Secretary, I looked back and wiped them out of my memory, and then proceeded to re-inform myself as Home Secretary and now make the disclosures." [Interruption.] Surely, whatever the precise obligations of the Official Secrets Act are, they fall equally on the humblest clerk, on the most distinguished civil servant and on the Home Secretary
§ The Chairman
It is not part of my duty to interpret the law. The right hon. Gentleman must accept responsibility for his own statements.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
I wish to know whether it is in order for confidential, unpublished documents to be referred to here, when there is no opportunity on our part or, apparently, on the part of the Government
§ The Chairman
I do not think that is a point of Order. It may raise questions of propriety or otherwise, but it is not a point of Order.
§ Sir J. Anderson
I have referred to no document, no specific record, but to matters which are in my 'mind, and of which I cannot rid my mind. I do not think that I am guilty of any impropriety if I give the Committee the best guidance I can from such experience as I have had. I would have no objection whatever to repeating outside this House what I have said here. I do not shelter behind any 1870 privilege, and I say further that the experiences which I have recounted would be available to any hon. Gentleman who took the trouble to read the contemporary newspaper records, which are summarised conveniently in the Home Office files. Surely hon. Gentlemen opposite if they disagree with what I am putting forward can find a better reason than reliance on some technicality, and one which, in fact, has no substance. I do suggest, in all seriousness, to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen that if they feel that it is necessary to pass a Bill of this sort, in order to remove what they regard as a stigma on the Labour movement, that consideration has absolutely no relevance to the Amendment we are now discussing. I put it to my right hon. Friend, who succeeded me in the office of Home Secretary, that from the point of view of good administration in a matter of this kind, which unquestionably must govern the action of the police in the event of a trade dispute, there ought to be the least possible room for doubt or misunderstanding as to the precise effect of the law. I put it to my right hon. Friend who, I believe, has the interest of good administration always very much at heart, that he will find, if his experience extends sufficiently—as it may—that if this Bill is passed into law, the consequences, as far at any rate as this particular matter is concerned, may be in practice most unfortunate.
§ Sir J. Anderson
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman opposite, who has from his logical Scottish mind implied the suggestion in his interruption, that the scope of intimidation is capable of very great extension. I know hon. Gentlemen opposite have been unwilling to draw a distinction between a warning and a threat. There is a real distinction. We all know, as ordinary persons when a threat is being uttered, and we know that a warning is something quite different.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The right hon. Gentleman was talking about a mass gathering. If workers in large numbers gather near a factory to see which workers are going in, and which workers are not, and if they are not committing a breach of the peace or any obstruction, is that not a warning? It is not, by any manner of means, intimidation.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Sir J. Anderson
I should like to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite this. It is not a question for lawyers, but for ordinary people who can exercise their common sense. Is a gathering of people with angry looks on their faces not likely to degenerate into intimidation; and are hon. Gentlemen, who may be concerned in a trade dispute, so lacking in confidence in the validity of their claim, that they must supplement their arguments by a show of potential force? What do we stand for? What does our democracy stand for? Have minorities no rights? I suggest to hon. Members opposite that here they are on a very bad wicket indeed. I urge them to reconsider their attitude. If they think that Section 3 of the Act of 1927 was unsatisfactory in its wording, if they think it went too far, if they think that some of the references to actionable wrong, for example, went too far, let them look at the words again, but let them hesitate before they expunge from the Statute Book a provision which was intended to clarify the law. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] Yes, it was; it was intended to make clear the duties and obligations of strikers on the one hand, and those who want to go to work on the other hand, and the police, who want to be friends with everybody. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] Yes, indeed; their attitude is generally appreciated. Let Members opposite hesitate long before, by their deliberate act—they have the majority and the power—they re-
§ move this very salutary provision from the Statute Book. I earnestly make that appeal to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division.
§ Sir T. Moore
(Seated and covered): I want to raise a point of Order in regard to the Motion which has just been moved. It is the second or third time that such a thing has been resorted to as a method of gagging the Opposition. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] I have taken no part in the discussion on this Bill up to date, because it is a silly Bill, butI must protest against this gagging— [Interruption.] I have not yet completed my point of Order.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 329; Noes, 136.1873
|Division No. 91.||AYES.||10.2 p.m.|
|Adams, H. R. (Balham)||Bottomley, A. G.||Colman, Miss G. M|
|Adams, W T. (Hammersmith, South)||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Bowen, R.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Allighan, Garry||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Corvedale, Viscount|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Cove, W. G.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A|
|Attewell, H. C.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Daggar, G.|
|Austin, H. L-||Brown, George (Belper)||Daines, P.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Bruce, Maj. O. W. T.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Buchanan, G.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Balfour, A.||Burden, T. W.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. o||Burke, W. A.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Barslow, P. G.||Byers, Lt. Col. F||Deer, G.|
|Barton, C.||Callaghan, James||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Battley, J. R.||Castle, Mrs. B. A||Delargy, Captain H. J.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Champion, A. J||Diamond, J.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Chater, D||Dobbie, W.|
|Benson, G.||Chetwynd, Capt. G. R||Dodds, N. N|
|Berry, H.||Clitherow, Dr. R||Donovan, T.|
|Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Cluse, W. S.||Douglas, F. C. R.|
|Binns, J||Cobb, F. A.||Driberg, T E. N.|
|Blackburn, Capt. A. R||Coldrick, W.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Collick, P.||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Blylon, W. R.||Collindridge, F.||Durbin, E. F. M.|
|Boardman, H.||Collins, V. J.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Edelman, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Segal, Sq.-Ldr. S.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Logan, D. G.||Shackleton, Wing-Comdr. E. A. A.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Longden, F.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lyne, A. W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McAdam, W.||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Ewart, R.||McAllister, G.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Fairhurst, F.||McEntee, V. La T.||Shurmer, P.|
|Farthing, W. J.||McGhee, H. G.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mack, J. D.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Follick, M.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Foot, M. M.||McKinlay, A. S.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Forman, J. C.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||McLeavy, F.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||MacMillan, M. K.||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||McNeil, H.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Solley, L. J.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Gibbins, J.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mathers, G.||Stamford, W.|
|Gilzean, A.||Mayhew, C. P.||Steele, T.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Medland, H. M.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Messer, F.||Strachey, J.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Stross, Or. B.|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Monslow, W.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Montague, F.||Symonds, Maj. A. L.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Moody, A. S.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Grey, C. F.||Morley, R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Grierson, E.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Taylor, Or. S. (Barnet)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W-)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Thomas, l. O. (Wrekin)|
|Griffiths, Cap). W. D. (Moss Side)||Mort, D. L.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Gunter, Capt. R. J||Moyle, A.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Guy, W. H.||Murray, J. D.||Thorneycroft, H.|
|Hale, Leslie||Nally, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Naylor, T. E.||Tiffany, S.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Timmons, J.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Titterington, M. F|
|Haworth, J.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Tolley, L.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hicks, G.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Hobson, C. R.||O'Brien, T.||Vernon, Maj W. F|
|Holman, P.||Oldfield, W. H||Viant, S. P.|
|House, G.||Oliver, G. H.||Wadsworth, G|
|Hoy, J.||Orbach, M.||Walkden, E.|
|Hubbard, T.||Paget, R. T||Walker, G. H.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislchurst)|
|Hughes, Lt. H. D. (Wolverh'ton, W.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Parker, J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.||Watson, W. M.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Irving, W. J.||Pearson, A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Janner, B.||Perrins, W.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)||Piratin, P.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jeger, Or. S. W. (St, Pancras, S.E.)||Plaits-Mills, J. F. F.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Popplewell, E.||Wilkinson, Rt. Hon. Ellen|
|Jones, Asterley (Hitchln)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Keenan, W.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Willey,O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Kendall, W. D.||Price, M. P.||Williams, O. J. (Neath)|
|Kenyon, C.||Pritt, D. N.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Key, C. W.||Proctor, W. T.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Kinley, J.||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Williamson, T.|
|Kirby, B. V.||Randall, H. E.||Willis, E.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Ranger, J.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Lang, G.||Rankin, J.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Lavers, S.||Reeves, J.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Rhodes, H.||Woodburn, A.|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Richards, R.||Woods, G. S.|
|Leonard, W.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Wyatt, Maj. W|
|Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.||Robens, A.||Yates, V. F.|
|Levy, B. W.||Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. Emrys (Merioneth)||Younger, Maj. Hon. K. G.|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Rogers, G. H. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Royle, C.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Lipson, D. L.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Captain Bing.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Grimston, R. V.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Aitken, Hon. M.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Haughton, S. G.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Orr-Ewing, l. L.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Headlam, Lieul.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Osborne, C.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Birch, Lt.-Col. Nigel||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. O. C. (Wells)||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Boothby, R||Hope, Lord J.||Prescott, W. R. S|
|Bower, N.||Hulbert, N. J||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Hurd, A.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jarvis, Sir J.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Jennings, R.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ldn)||Keeling, E. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Carson, E.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W H||Ross, Sir R.|
|Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C||Lambert, Hon. G.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Channon, H.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Langford-Holt, J.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Linstead, H. N.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Snadden, W. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||McCullum, Maj. D.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (l. of Wight)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P'dd't'n, S )|
|De la Bère, R||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Teeling, William|
|Digby, Maj. S. W.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. (Penrith)||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Touche, G. C.|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Turton, R. H.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Vane, Lieut.-Col. W. M. T.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maude, j. C.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Mellor, Sir J.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Molson, A. H. E.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Morrison, Maj J. G. (Salisbury)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gage, Lt.-Col. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||York, C.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A G||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B|
|Gridley, Sir A.:||Nicholson, G||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Sir Arthur Young and Mr. Drewe|
§ 10.15 p.m.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
On a point of Order, Major Milner. At the beginning of the Division on the Closure Motion, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) raised a point of Order. At first you refused his point 'of Order as lie was not properly covered.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Gentleman cannot go into that question now. We must proceed to the next Division.
I was going to ask you whether as my hon. and gallant Friend was eventually completely in accord with the Rules of the House
I wish to ask you, Major Milner, whether it is not equally the custom, in an argument with the Chair on these occasions, to reply to a point of Order, seated and not standing?
§ Question put accordingly, "That the proposed words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 137; Noes, 329.1879
|Division No.92.||AYES.||[10.16 p.m|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Bennett, Sir P.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Aitken, Hon. M.||Birch, Lt.-Col. Nigel||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.;||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Bullock, Capt. M.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Boothby, R.||Butcher, H. W.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Bower, N.||Buller, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Carson, E.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Challen, Flt.-Lieut.C|
|Channon, H.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Jarvis, Sir J.||Prescott, W. R. S.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Jennings, R.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Keeling, E. H.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W H.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Langford-Holt, J.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|De la Bère, R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Digby, Maj. S. W.||Linstead, H. N.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Scott, Lord W.|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. (Penrilh)||McCullum, Maj. D.||Smithers, Sir VV.|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (l. of Wight)||Snadden, W. M.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H- R.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Duthie, W. S.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Erroll, Col. F. J.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Teeling, William|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N|
|Gage, Lt.-Col. C.||Maude, J. C.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Mellor, Sir J.||Touche, G. C.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G||Moison, A. H. E.||Turton, R. H.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Vane, Lieut.-Col. W. M. T|
|Gritnston, R. V.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Haughton, S. G.||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Head, Brig. A. H.||Nicholson, G.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Nield, B. (Chester)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nutting, Anthony||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hogg, Hon. Q.||Orr-Ewing, l. L.||York, C.|
|Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Osborne, C.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Hope, Lord J.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hulbert, N. J.||Pickthorn, K.||Mr. Drew and|
|Hurd, A.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E-.||Major Mott-Radc'yffe|
|Adams, H. R. (Balham)||Buchanan, G.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Burden, T. W.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Burke, W. A.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Byer's, Lt.-Col. F.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Callaghan, James||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Allighan, Garry||Castle, Mrs. B. A||Ewart, R.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Champion, A. J.||Fairhurst, F.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Chater, D.||Farthing, W. J.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)|
|Austin, H. L.||Clitherow, Dr. R.||Follick, M.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Cluse, W. S.||Foot, M. M.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs- B.||Cobb, F. A.||Format!, J C.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Coldrick, W.||Foster, W. (Wigan)|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Collick, P.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)|
|Balfour, A.||Collindridge, F.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Collins, V. J.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Colman, Miss G. M||Gaitskell, H T. N.|
|Barton, C.||Comyns, Dr. L.||Gallacher W.|
|Battley, J. R.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Corlett, Dr. J.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)|
|Belcher, J. W.||Corvedale, Viscount||Gibbins, J.|
|Benson, G.||Cove, W. G.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Berry, H.||Daggar, G.||Gilzean, A.|
|Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Daines, P.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Goodrich, H. E.|
|Binns, J.||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Gordon-Walker, P. C.|
|Blackburn, Capt. A. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Granville, E. (Eye)|
|Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Blyton, W. R||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Bottomley A. G.||Deer, G.||Grey, C. F.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Grierson, E.|
|Bowen, R.||Delargy, Captain H. J||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Diamond, J.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Dobbie, W.||Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Dodds, N. N.||Gunter, Capt. R. J.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Donovan, T.||Guy, W. H.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Douglas, F. C. R.||Hale, Leslie|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)|
|Brown, T J. (Ince)||Dugdale, J. (W.Bromwich)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Dumpleton, C. W.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Durbin, E. F. M.||Haworth, J|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Montague, F.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Harbison, Miss M.||Moody, A. S.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Hicks, G.||Morley, R.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Solley, L. J.|
|Holman, P.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|House, G.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Hoy, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Sparks, J. A|
|Hubbard, T.||Mort, D. L.||Stamford, W.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Moyle, A.||Steele, T.|
|Hughes, Lt. H. D. (Wolverh'ton, W.)||Murray, J. D.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Nally, W.||Strachey, J.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Naylor, T. E.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Strauss, Dr. B.|
|lrving, W. J.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|lsaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Janner, B.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Symonds, Maj. A. L.|
|Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Oldfield, W. H||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Oliver, G. H.||Thomas, lvor (Keighley)|
|Jones, Asterley (Hitchin)||Orbach, M.||Thomas, l. O. (Wrekin)|
|Keenan, W.||Paget, R. T.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Kendall, W. D.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.|
|Kenyon, C.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Thorneycroft, H.|
|Key, C. W.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Thurtle, E.|
|Kinley, J.||Parker, J.||Tiffany, S.|
|Kirby, B. V.||Parkin, Fit.-Lieut. B.T||Timmons, J.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Lang, G.||Pearson, A.||Tolley, L.|
|Lavers, S.||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Perrins, W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Piratin, P.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Leonard, W.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Viant, S. P.|
|Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.||Popplewell, E.||Wadsworlh, G|
|Levy, B. W.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Walkden, E.|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Walker, G. H.|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Price, M. P.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Pritt, D. N.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Proctor, W. T.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Lipson, D. L.||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Watson, W. M.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Randall, H. E.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Logan, D. G.||Ranger, J.||Weitzman, D.|
|Longden, F.||Rankin, J.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Lyne, A. W.||Reeves, J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|McAdam, W.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|McAllister, G.||Rhodes, H.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Richards, R.||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|McGhee, H. G||Robens, A.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Mack, J. D.||Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. Emrys (Merioneth)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Maclean, N. (Govan)||Rogers, G. H. R.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|McLeavy, F.||Royle, C.||Williamson, T.|
|MacMillan, M. K.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Willis, E.|
|McNeil, H.||Segal, Sq.-Ldr. S.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Shackleton, Wing-Comdr. E. A. A||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)||Woodburn, A.|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Woods, G. S.|
|Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Shurmer, P.||Wyatt, Maj. W.|
|Mathers, G.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Yates, V. F.|
|Mayhew, C. P||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Younger, Maj. Hon. K. G|
|Medland, H. M.||Simmons, C. J.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Messer, F.||Skefinngton, A. M.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Skinnard, F. W.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Monslow, W.||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)||Captain Bing.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Chairman to report Progress; and ask leave to sit again.—[Mr. Whiteley.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.—