HOUSE OF COMMONS:
From 1st JULY to 26th NOVEMBER, 1919.CONTENTS. ALIENS RESTRICTION BILL. COMPENSATION FOR SUBSIDENCE BILL. COAL MINES BILL. POLICE BILL. MERCHANT SHIPPING (WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY) BILL. TRADE MARKS BILL. PATENTS AND DESIGNS BILL. COURTS (EMERGENCY POWERS) BILL. NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (CHURCH OF ENGLAND) BILL. LAND SETTLEMENT (SCOTLAND) BILL.
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HOUSE OF COMMONS.
STANDING COMMITTEE A.
ALIENS RESTRICTION BILL
The Committee consists of the following Members:—
Mr. W. Nicholson (Chairman).
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-
Billing, Mr. Pemberton
*Butcher, Sir John
Cecil, Lord Hugh
Cheyne, Sir William Watson
Coates, Major Sir Edward
Collins, Colonel Sir Godfrey
Cowan, Sir William
Davies, Sir William Howell
*Greene, Colonel Raymond
*Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar (Under-Secretary of State, Home Office)
Guinness, Lieut.-Colonel Walter
Hall, Captain Douglas
Harris, Sir Henry
Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Samuel
Hopkinson, Mr. Austin
Jones, Mr. Haydn
Jones, Sir Edgar
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Lowe, Sir Francis
Lowther, Major Christopher
*Marks, Sir George Croydon
McNeill, Mr. Ronald
*Nield, Sir Herbert
Norris, Sir Henry
Palmer, Major Godfrey
Pearce, Sir William
Richards, Mr. Thomas
Rogers, Sir Hallewell
Shaw, Mr. Thomas
*Shortt, Mr. (Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Taylor, Mr. John
Walters, Sir John Tudor
Warner, Sir Courtenay
*Wild, Sir Ernest
Williams, Mr. Aneurin
*Wilson, Mr. Tyson
*Yeo, Sir Alfred
Young, Mr. Robert
Mr. JOHNSON, Committee Clerks.
Mr. WILLIAMS Committee Clerks.
* Added in respect of the Aliens Restriction Bill1 STANDING COMMITTEE A Tuesday, 1st July, 1919
[Mr. WILLIAM NICHOLSON in the Chair.]
The CHAIRMAN: Before we begin the Bill I desire to ask the Committee whether or not they wish the proceedings officially reported? May I take it that the Committee agrees to that proposal?
HON. MEMBERS: Agreed!
The CHAIRMAN: I take it then that the Committee wishes to adopt the suggestion?
Lord HUGH CECIL: I myself do not see any advantage in an Official Report if there is any pressure on the official reporters.
The CHAIRMAN: The reporters are here and can take the Report, but Mr. Speaker wishes to leave the matter to the decision of the Committee.
Sir COURTENAY WARNER: I think we might take the opinion of the Committee. There are a good many of us who think it is unnecessary to have the Committee reported.
The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Shortt): I thought the Chairman had taken the opinion of the Committee.
The CHAIRMAN: If hon. Members would like to have the matter put officially in the proper way I will put it.
Sir COURTENAY WARNER: I suggest that we take a vote.
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I beg to support that suggestion.
Sir FRANCIS LOWE: Perhaps we might have the opinion of the representative of the Governemnt?
Sir HERBERT NIELD: I do sincerely hope that in the matter which has raised such controversy—
Mr. SHORTT: That is just what I was going to say.2
Sir H. NIELD:—and in which so many of us are pledged, that we should have the proceedings of this Committee made as public as they possibly can be. Otherwise there will be allegations against us—not that I care about that!—that we are endeavouring to hush things up. Whatever may be the result of the work of this Committee, do, at any rate, make it public.
Mr. SHORTT: I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. It is not so much the importance or the non-importance of the Committee itself, but it is that we have, must have, regard to the importance that was attached to this during the elections. Therefore, as far as the Government are concerned, we should like the Committee to be reported.
The CHAIRMAN: May I take it that is the wish of the Committee?
HON. MEMBERS: Agreed!CLAUSE 1.
(1) The powers which under Sub-section (1) of Section one of the Aliens Restrictions Act, 1914 (which Act, as amended by this Act, is hereinafter in this Act referred to as the principal Act), are exerciseable with respect to aliens at any time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign Power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen, shall, for a period of two years after the passing of this Act, be execiseable, not only in those circumstances, but at any time; and accordingly that Sub-section shall, for such period as aforesaid, have effect as though the words "at any time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign Power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen" were omitted.
(2) Any Order made under the principal Act during the currency of this Section shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat after any such Order is laid before it praying that the Order may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Order, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
Provided that this provision shall not apply in the case of an Order the operation of which is limited to a time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign Power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen.
Sir H. NIELD: I beg to move, in Subsection (1) to leave out the words "two years" 3 [for a period of two years"] and to insert instead, thereof, the words "one year." If I may make a preliminary observation in moving this Amendment it would be to express regret that owing to the working of the system of Grand Committees we have been compelled to wait half an hour to get a quorum—and have got it after great difficulty—because many of us have taken the trouble, not merely on our own account, but as delegates for a good many other Members of this House, to prepare Amendments. These Members are not able to be here this morning for, various reasons connected, with the business of this House. The Ways and Communications Bill, although, it is passing through a crucial stage, in, view, of the proceedings in Committee, is accountable for the absence of two or three of our members, who are very keen upon this matter. With that observation I move this Amendment, which I think will be accepted in the view of the undertaking which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the House.
Mr. SHORTT: I promised on behalf of the Government that we would accept this Amendment, and Task the Committee to agree to it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 1, as amended, agreed to:
Clause 2 (Extension of Powers), agreed to.
(1) If any alien attempts or does any act calculated or likely to cause sedition or disaffection amongst any of His Majesty's forces or the forces of His Majesty's Allies, or amongst the civilian population, he shall be liable on conviction on indictment to penal servitude for a term not exceeding ten years, or on summary conviction or indictment to penal servitude for a term three months.
(2) If any alien promotes or attempts to promote industrial unrest in any industry in which he is not bond fide engaged in the United Kingdom, he shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
Mr. TYSON WILSON: I beg to move in Sub-section (1) to leave out the words "attempts or". I hope the Government will accept this Amendment. The words in the Clause are very indefinite, and if left as printed we shall have confusion as to what "attempts or" mean. I am also very much afraid that unless the Government accept this 4 and the following Amendment they will be playing into the hands of those who in this country are likely to cause sedition or disaffection. If ever it was necessary to guard against this tendency in legislation that time is now. Both these Amendments I have referred to have the same meaning and intention, and now that peace has been signed I think we may take rather a wider view than we have done in the past.
Lieutenant-Commander KENWORTHY: I am not quite used to the procedure of these Committees, but, I wish to associate myself most strongly with this Amendment. I am not a lawyer, but I. have had to administer the law under very serious conditions, and it seems to. me. that attempts to cause sedition or disaffection is putting the matter much told wide alto-gether. I would like to put the question the other way about Supposing a Bill was to be put through the House of Commons of which certain persons, supposed to be Conservatives disapproved, and there was a very legal and constitutional agitation against it. We might have in power a very Radical or even, Socialist government—I am looking ahead—and they might damp down all legitimate criticism by saying that attempts were being made to cause disaffection amongst people who were technically aliens. These words seem to me to give. too much latitude to the Courts.
Mr. SHORTT: I hope the Committee will reject this Amendment. The object of the litigation is not to catch people when they have done-something, but to prevent. them, from doing; it. As to what my hon. Friend has said about legal confusion, there is no better term, known to the law than "attempt," and there is hardly a single crime with which a man may be charged in regard to which he could not be charged with an attempt. The terms disaffection and sedition are well known, and therefore I ask the Committee to reject this Amendment.
Lieutenant-Commander KENWORTHY: I beg to move in Sub-section (1) to leave out the words "or does any act calculated or likely." I think some form of words might be inserted which would narrow this issue down somewhat. I think these words are giving too much power to the Executive in dealing with aliens, although I. agree 5 that the Executive try to interpret the law as fairly as possible in times of excitement to which all countries are liable, and to which this country may be especially liable in, the next few years. If these words are left in I am afraid some miscarriage of justice might result.
Mr. SHORTT: I have the same objection to this Amendment as I had to the last one. You do not want to wait until a man has succeeded in creating sedition and disaffection, but you want to prevent it, and if a man does something calculated or likely to do this, then that man ought to be dealt with.
Mr. WILSON: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "or likely." With regard to what the Home Secretary said about causing confusion in the Courts, perhaps I was wrong in using the word confusion, and I ought to have said that the Courts will give different decisions as to Whether a statement or speech is likely to cause disaffection. I think the word "likely" is extremely dangerous,. and may lead to trouble. Nobody knows better than the right hon. Gentleman the irritable spirit there is in the country at the present time, and a proposal of this kind is simply going to increase the spirit of unrest and disaffection that is growing. I believe the word "likely" was recently taken out of an Act in a Bill before the House, and it seems to me that in a Bill of this kind we ought not to put in words likely to cause bad feeling. I have no sympathy whatever with people who endeavour to cause industrial trouble or are trying to sow the seeds of unrest in the Army. What I have in view is to give satisfaction and keep in a state of contentment the great mass of the people. I am not thinking so much about the few people who may be endeavouring to cause sedition or disaffection in the Army, but I am concerned about keeping the great bulk of the people in the country quiet if we possible can. I am strongly of opinion that words of this kind will tend to increase disaffection and unrest.
Mr. SHORTT: I do not think the Committee will expect me to say much about this Amendment, but I feel that I must explain that these words have now become fully recognised and they are necessary. I ask my hon. Friend to recollect that we are dealing with aliens here 6 for mischief and not our own population, and I am sure the working men of this country will appreciate that fact.
Sir C. WARNER: I think we ought to emphasise the point which the Home Secretary has just put, before we water down any of these Clauses. May I point out that they do not refer to Englishmen. If there was any question concerning the Englishman in his trade dispute having his hands tied by such a Clause, I for one would have supported all these three Amendments, and I think there is that feeling throughout the Committee. I am afraid it has been lost sight of that this deals simply with aliens who come into the country, and they ought really not to be considered even in the great question of our political disputes, upon which they ought not to be given a word. I think we are quite able to manage our own political disputes.
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir Hamar Greenwood): They are not voters.
Sir C. WARNER: Anything that stops the interference of the foreigner in our own affairs ought to be put into this Bill. I think it is very important that it should be made clear that there is nothing here against the British working man or trade agitations in any way.
Mr. WILSON: I think the Committee is losing sight of the fact that aliens may come here who have the sympathy of a large number of British men and women, and I want to give them an opportunity of coming here. The Committee should remember that this applies to Americans, Frenchmen, Italians or Germans, and I think we ought to be careful before we do anything likely to cause industrial or political unrest.
Sir C. WARNER: It also applies to aliens who have sympathies the other way, who might just as well be kept out.
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words, "or amongst the civilian population." I press this Amendment for two reasons. One is that there is in our great cities, in London and Manchester in particular, a large population of aliens, mostly of the Jewish faith, who are engaged in certain. industries such as tailoring. They are not 7 naturalised. They are law-abiding and, on the whole, peaceable and sober. These people are engaged in the sweated industries particularly. I have in mind the East End Jew tailors. They are cheap alien labour, if you like, and it is very unfortunate that they should be depressing wages. Most of them are more at home in their home languages than they are in English. It may be a fact that there are alien compatriots of theirs who are endeavouring to get them to organise. If this cheap sweated labour can be organised, the Committee will admit that it is a good thing because it will raise their standard of life. The mere fact of organising them might be interpreted as disaffection when applied to the civilian population. We know that forty or fifty years ago a mere attempt to form a trade union was regarded as sedition, treachery and everything else. These are dangerous words and should be left out. Another reason is that I consider these words are an affront to Englishmen. The ordinary English working man is not going to listen to any alien agitator. His own trade union officials and labour leaders will be the first to tell you that they have the greatest difficulty to get him to listen to them. When the working man has a grievance, he will soon make it known. Every responsible trade union official would tell the Committee that when there is a legitimate cause for striking or for refusing work, it is very hard to prevent the English working man from taking it. On the other hand, if he does not see a real reason, you may try to get him out on political questions but he will not go. You may call to the deep and the deep will not respond. Every experienced trade union official will bear me out in that. Therefore it is not necessary to put in these words. I do not believe that the English working man is going to listen to any foreigner on any political question. He will simply laugh at him, therefore these words are quite unnecessary.
Mr. SHORTT: I hope that the Committee will not accede to this Amendment. It is really just as important that the people we are aiming at should be prevented from stirring up sedition among the civilian population as from stirring it up amongst any other class. I am glad to hear from the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the fears of the working man resenting this 8 Bill are groundless and that they do not care in the least about that sort of thing. But I would remind the Committee that the danger of stirring up the civilian population is just as great when you consider the methods of some of the men who are aimed at here as it is among the Army and Navy. You have only to consider what was done across St. George's Channel to see what can be done among the civilian population. The same thing might be attempted in this country. We do not want armed risings of civilians any more here than we do in Ireland.
Sir JOHN BUTCHER: I cordially agree with the Home Secretary. I cannot imagine why these words should be left out. What we are aiming at here is preventing an alien who comes into this country from stirring up or attempting to stir up sedition and disaffection. We are all agreed that he ought not to be allowed to do it amongst the troops. Why he should be allowed to do it among the civilian population passes my comprehension. The offence of a man who attempts such a thing as the stirring up of sedition and disaffection amongst the civilian population—the man being an alien—is just as great as stirring them up in the Army and Navy.
Sir H. NIELD: No question could arise in the Jewish alien population in the east of London which could possibly be brought by any stretch of imagination within this Sub-section. They have a Trade Board. My hon. and gallant friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) may not know what a Trade Board means. Under the Trade Board Acts a minimum wage is fixed, therefore a good many of the difficulties which generally result in strikes are avoided by the existence of the Trade Board. As one who has intimate knowledge of the neighbourhood to which he has referred, I say it is most desirable that we should not have that combustible material set light by aliens coming in for the express purpose of making trouble, even amongst a population which is alien in the sense that it is not naturalised but which has been here for a great number of years. I can tell him from my own experience that these people are remarkably cute. They know perfectly well what is lawful. They know where the border line comes as well as any British subject. I hope that for these reasons the 9 Amendment will be rejected. No justification has been shown for the omission of these words. We desire to have the protection which these words alone can give us.
The CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman wish to press his Amendment?
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: Yes. As regards the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) I look upon the whole panic about alien legislation as a bogey. Let us be quite plain about the matter. People have Bolsheviks on the brain. Some time ago they had Huns on the brain.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member must keep to the Amendment.
Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY: Thank you, Sir. I see no reason at all for protecting the British working man in the mass against Russians or Poles or Germans or any other agitators who try to seduce him from his loyalty to the Crown. It is a sign of weakness. It is a pure sign of weak panic. There is no danger of it. These words might lead to hardship in certain cases where a mistake has been made. The Home Secretary will admit that there have been one or two cases already of quite innocent people being suspected of being dangerous and may have since been released. I admit that the mistakes have been made honestly and that it is impossible to avoid mistakes being made. I press the Amendment in order to show that we are not afraid of these people.
Sir H. NIELD: I beg to move in Subsection (1) to leave out the word "three" ["terms not exceeding three months"], and to insert instead thereof the word "six." In any prosecution that is undertaken in which a conviction follows in a Court of summary jurisdiction, what is the reason for limiting the sentence of the stipendiary or petty sessional Court to three months?
Mr. SHORTT: It gives the man a right to a jury.
Sir H. NIELD: Is there any reason why he should not have that right. Where, under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts, the Court has power to impose a term of six 10 months, it does not mean that a sentence of six months is necessarily passed. Many a magistrate binds over or fines or gives seven or fourteen days, although he has at present under the law a right to give six months' hard labour. When this offence is brought home, surely a discretion to give up to six months is none too much to give to the Court of summary jurisdiction, and so bring the offence into line with a large number of other offences. I think it is the exception rather than the rule to prescribe a minimum of three months. Taking the Summary Jurisdiction Acts as a whole, the sentences which is open to be given by a Court of summary jurisdiction are in 98 out of every 100 cases up to a period of six months and the maximum need not be given. This is such a serious matter that I think the Amendment should be made. If, as I am reminded, the words of the Sub-section would give the right to a jury, I see no reason why that right should not be given. If there is any suggestion that a sentence or a conviction in the Court of summary jurisdiction was improper, then by all means do not let it be said in any country in Europe that we have so arranged our judicature with regard to aliens that we give that sentence up to three months in order that they should not have the right to go to a jury. I would rather see them have that right and have the possibility of testing the law in any Court to which it is reasonable that they should have access. It does not involve any increase at all in the sentence the magistrate may pass, except the circumstances demand it. Remember that the alternative is that the man is liable on indictment to penal servitude for a term not exceeding ten years, which is a very substantial thing. If the more serious aspect of this crime is liable to be punished by ten years' penal servitude on indictment, it is not to much to give the magistrate the opportunity of giving five or six months and avoiding committing the man. I do not know whether these cases would go to the Sessions because I think that sedition has always gone to the Central Criminal Court or to the Assizes. It is reasonable, in the interests of the men themselves, that this Amendment should be made.
Sir J. BUTCHER: Before the Home Secretary replies, perhaps I may be allowed to support the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend. The offence aimed at by this Clause is a very serious 11 one. The stirring up of sedition or disaffection among His Majesty's troops is one of the most damnable offences that could be committed. Here are our splendid troops who. have done such splendid service in the War. They come back, and the event contemplated is that some alien attempts to undermine their loyalty, to break up, if he can, our community and cause disaffection and sedition amongst our troops. I cannot imagine, apart from the graver offence of murder and things of that kind, an offence which we ought to deal with more firmly. It is made all the worse by the fact that such an offence is committed by an alien. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) says that we are in a panic about aliens. Perhaps he has not been in this matter as much behind the scenes as have many others. If he had been in the Secret Service Department of the War Office, the police or the Home Office, he would know that there were aliens in this country; who did their utmost during the War to bring us to destruction and that there are still aliens in this country who would do the same if they had half a chance. Therefore, when he asks us, with almost tears in his eyes, to be kind to these nice friendly people and tells us that we are in a panic about them, well, I know he is a gallant man and I have no doubt that he would fight and shoot them in the field. We are preventing them from committing crime, and so long as I am a Member of this House, I will protest against any Member of this House putting forward in public or in private sympathetic utterances towards men who try to bring our country to ruin, and I regret very much that an hon. and gallant Member who has served in His Majesty's Army—
An HON. MEMBER: Navy.
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: And Army.
Sir J. BUTCHER: And Army—it makes it all the worse—should express this public sympathy with aliens who, according to the case supposed, are trying to bring our country to destruction. It is a grave offence, and still graver because committed by an alien. The Home Secretary recognises it, and gives penal servitude for ten years on indictment. 12 And then comes a bathos—this penalty of three months. I do urge the Home Secretary to reconsider this. We know that before the magistrates men are continually coming up for trial and getting six months for what, relatively to these offences, are almost insignificant offences, and we know that magistrates exercise a very just discretion. They do not give the full penalty in a case which does not require it. In this case I say that the magistrates ought to have power to give at least six months, and, if he does, of course the man can appeal, but to say to the magistrate that he must on no consideration give more than three months, although the judge of an Assize can give ten years, is really not a wise provision.
Mr. SHORTT: I am afraid the object of putting in three months, accompanied in the same Clause by a provision for a penalty, on indictment, up to ten years, has not been appreciated, but I must say I am surprised, having regard to the speeches, that six months should be proposed as the alternative to three months. If three months ought not to be the penalty, six is equally ridiculous. The point of the whole matter is it is an extremely serious crime, but there are very few instances where it is criminal. The intention is that where it is sufficiently serious to require a jury, the proceedings should be on indictment, and punished accordingly. You do not get that in a Police Court where six months is imposed. By limiting it to three months it prevents a person demanding a jury and so on. That is done in scores of crimes in this country. It is as common as possible to limit the penalty to three months for that reason. The magistrates or stipendiary are then able to try a trivial matter and give fourteen or twenty-one days, or whatever the sentence may be, but if the crime is serious, then it proceeds by indictment, which is the intention, and that it should be thoroughly and soundly punished. If the Committee are of opinion that even the relatively serious cases should be dealt with by summary jurisdiction, then I ask them not to make it six months but very much more than that. Six is open to just the same criticism as three. The object of the three is to enable trivial cases to be dealt with without the procedure of a jury and so on, and to force any cases which are really serious to be treated on indictment, and punished accordingly.13
Sir H. NIELD: May I remind the Home Secretary that in ordinary cases the penalty under criminal statutes is either penal servitude or imprisonment, with or without hard labour, not exceeding two years. Under those statutes it frequently happens that Courts of summary jurisdiction are able to pass a sentence, if they think the case is met by it, of six months' imprisonment with or without hard labour.
Mr. SHORTT: Not if a jury is demanded.
Sir H. NIELD: That may be, but I repeat that I think it is undesirable to allow an alien to say that, by the law of this country, made under an Aliens Eestriction Act, the sentence shall be so framed as to prevent an appeal to a jury if a fitting case presents itself. There is no statute which allows imprisonment with hard labour for longer than two years, and a sentence of two years, or even twenty months, is regarded by many judges as being more severe than a sentence of three years' penal servitude, because the sentence is different and the sustained labour acts differently on the prisoner. But no magistrate administering the law of summary jurisdiction can give more than six months, whatever be the penalty prescribed by the statute. Therefore, I venture to think we ought to mark our appreciation of the seriousness of this offence, when it is proved, by giving discretion up to six months, and let the right of going to appeal take care of itself.
Mr. SHORTT: Not appeal; there is always the right of appeal.
Sir H. NIELD: To be tried by a jury.
Lord H. CECIL: There really does not appear to be so much substance in this Amendment as my hon. and learned Friend imagines, since the Bill enables, in any case, the trial of a serious offence before a jury and the imposition of a heavy sentence. The general principle of laws for the maintenance of order is that you should give to the Executive Government such powers as they ask, but it is usually unwise to try to force upon them powers larger than they think necessary to maintain order. As there does not seem any substantial distinction between the Amendment and the Bill, I should think it would be wise for the Committee to reject the Amendment.14
Sir H. NIELD: Has it escaped the attention of the right hon. Gentleman's advisers as to whether the words "liable on. conviction on indictment to penal servitude for a term not exceeding ten years" ought not to be followed by words such as "or imprisonment with or without hard labour not exceeding two years"? Otherwise it looks as if there is no alternative.
Mr. SHORTT: The Penal Servitude Act provides for that. Where you provide for penal servitude there is, always power to give imprisonment instead.
Sir J. BUTCHER: Hard labour?
Mr. SHORTT: There is no real difference now between imprisonment and hard labour.
Sir H. NIELD: I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. WILSON: I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (2). In my opinion this is an extremely dangerous Sub-section to have in the Bill. For instance, at least once a year, and sometimes twice, we have delegates coming from America to attend the Trade Union Congress and if any one of these men makes a speech which in the opinion of somebody is likely to cause industrial unrest in this country he can be proceeded against. A man who is an alien and a member of the Transport Workers' Union can make a speech as strong as he likes in connection with his own union, or to the members of his own union, but if he makes the same speech at a miners' meeting or engineer's meeting he can be proceeded against. I do say again that provisions of this kind in a Bill are likely to cause serious disturbance in the minds of the members of trade unions. We must not forget that we have some large unions in this country that have a considerable number of alien members affiliated with them, and if you are going to put in a farcical Clause like this, whereby a man can make a speech, at one meeting and cannot be proceeded against, but if he makes it at another meeting he can be proceeded against, what effect is that going to have on the minds of members of trade unions? We put alien members on the Miners' Association. Suppose action is taken against 15 one for making a speech at a railway-men's meeting, and he is imprisoned, has the right hon. Gentleman asked himself what is going to happen, and, if so, what reply has he given to himself? He will have an extremely rude awakening if he legislates on these lines. This is panic legislation pure and simple, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment. I am quite satisfied that, under the present law, men who make speeches which are likely to cause serious disturbance in any part of the country can be proceeded against, but to make special provision in a Bill of this kind, which is going to cut right across the rights and privileges of members of trade unions, is going to have serious effect on the industrial life of this country.
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I would like to support this Amendment. Whilst speaking on another Amendment to this Clause my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) introduced the subject of His Majesty's Forces, and I think I am in order—
The CHAIRMAN: I must point out that it is not in order to refer to any Amendment that has been passed. I must ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to confine himself to the Amendment before the Committee at the moment.
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I should like to remind my hon. and learned Friend what his state of mind would be if an English trade unionist went abroad to an international labour conference, and possibly made himself unpleasant to the powers that be in that country—we will say Germany—and was locked up by the German Government. I think the first person in this House to rise up and demand justice—and quite rightly—and whose patriotic feelings would be immediately stirred up to demand the immediate release of this honest English trade union official would be my hon. and learned Friend.
Sir J. BUTCHER: I would first consider whether he was an honest man.
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I hope the hon. and learned Member would demand for an Englishman in Germany the same rights as a German in Germany has, and if we proceed with this Clause as 16 it is in the Bill it seems to me we leave ourselves open to reprisals abroad. As my hon. Friend says, the law of the land enables proceedings to be taken against anyone who stirs up sedition, and to pick out aliens who happen to be trade unionists, taking part, it may be, in an international trade union conference—and such conferences are bound to increase, and I think one of the protections against labour in this country being undercut lies in international labour action—I think that is dangerous, is not required, and might leave us open to reprisals.
Mr. SHORTT: I hope the Committee will not accept this Amendment. The Clause is so framed that no bond fide trade unionist who is engaged in his own trade union, in connection with his own industry, in doing that which he legitimately and properly ought to be able to do, will be touched. Indeed, the opposition to this Clause, and to much of this sort of legislation, is only supported by conjuring up pictures of exactly what the Act will not do at all. This Sub-section is aimed, not at a man who is speaking at an international meeting, and could not touch a man speaking at an international meeting. It refers to the causing of industrial unrest in any industry. It is not dealing with the general conditions of the workers of the world, but it is dealing with a strike in an individual industry, and we know perfectly well—and I think my hon. Friend knows too—that one of the weapons which the Germans have tried to use against us, has been the weapon of the strike and industrial unrest. We see it on all sides. We have got to protect ourselves against that, and a man who is here bond fide engaged in a trade, and bond fide a member of a union would be just as likely to lead a strike of his own trade as any Englishman would be. What is the complaint—that he cannot go and lead a strike in some other place? We have to protect ourselves. It may be that so long as he remains an alien, and there are other aliens like himself, but not such good men and true as he, that he may have to suffer. But if a man is big enough in the labour world to be called upon, being a railwayman, to go and fight the battle of the railwaymen, or being a transport worker, is to be called upon to fight the battle of the transport workers—being in the trade union world in such a capacity—he can very easily become a naturalised British subject. If he does 17 that, this does not affect him. If he chooses to remain, an alien, it is absolutely necessary in this country to make certain restrictions to restrict the conduct of aliens. So long as a man remains an alien he must be subject to them.
Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY: Will the Home Secretary assure us that this Clause cannot be used against a delegate from an allied trade union?
Mr. SHORTT: To a congress here, you mean?
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: A man who comes over to take part in an international trade union congress? Could this be used against him? I should like an assurance on that point.
Mr. SHORTT: Absolutely no; it cannot! Take the American delegates to the Trade Union Congress here every autumn: this would not touch them. If they choose to go out of their way and go into some town deliberately to try to stir up strikes and do what no international delegate has ever been known to do in this or any other country, would bring themselves within it. So long as a man behaves as international delegates do it cannot apply to him.
Lieutenant-Commander KENWORTHY: I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "alien" ["if an alien"] to insert the words "other than a bond fide official of a registered trade union." This Amendment is designed to protect the Jewish tailoring officials and other alien trades in the big cities, and particularly in the East End of London. I had a letter from a very distinguished Jewish gentleman in Manchester who said it might be as well if we had some safeguard of this sort. These officials are, on the whole, quite a law-abiding lot, who have not proved a danger in the past and are not likely to do so in the future.
Lord H. CECIL: I hope this Amendment will not be pressed. Surely it is obvious that the remedy is for these officials to become naturalised British subjects! They should be encouraged to do this.
Mr. WILSON: I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give some consideration to this Amendment. There are some 18 aliens in this country whom we should not welcome as naturalised subjects, and some of these may be officials of the unions. We should not compel aliens to become naturalised; far too many have been naturalised in the past, and some of them are not too respectable. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to accept this Amendment so that the officials of trade unions may know they have some security if they happen to go and speak at a meeting of a trade union other than their own. It is not a question of leading a strike; it is a question of promoting industrial unrest. A speech delivered either by an alien or an Englishman might promote industrial unrest without a strike taking place. There are the Jewish bakers, the Jews engaged in the clothing trade, the Waiters' and the Waitresses Union, and others—
Lieut.—Commander KENWORTHY: Quite law-abiding!
Mr. WILSON: Organisations that cater particularly for foreigners in this country. The officers of these trade unions ought to be in a position to feel sure if they do make a speech at a meeting of the miners, railwaymen, engineers, or any other union, that they are not liable to be prosecuted. We have officials in the Railwaymen's, the Miners', and the Transport Workers' Unions, and these officials can say what they like—or almost—and cannot be prosecuted. Why should we interfere with the officials of the unions that cater for aliens and foreigners who may go to speak at a meeting of the union composed entirely of British subjects?
Mr. SUGDEN: I cannot quite follow the hon. Member who is pressing the Motion before the Committee. It appears to me that he is suggesting that it may be possible for an alien, a trade union official, to be of such a character that he cannot obtain naturalisation. I do not think it possible that any body of British working men will accept as a leader a man not of sufficient calibre, mental or moral, to receive naturalisation. I hope the Home Secretary will not accept the Amendment. The British working man is as patriotic as any of us. We are all working men. I do assert that the suggested criterion that we shall hall-mark the fact that it shall be possible for a trade union official to be not of sufficient calibre to be naturalised, is certainly putting an improper consideration on the loyalty of the working people.19
Sir J. BUTCHER: The hon. Gentleman opposite who supported this Amendment appeared desirous of protecting the alien who is a trade union official. He wants to enable him, being an official of one trade union, to come and interfere and stir up strife and so on—it may be in an industry of which he is not an official.
Mr. WILSON:. Not interfering, at all. But, the big trade unions have demonstrations, and at these a man may make a, speech which may be considered as stir-ring up industrial unrest, though not interfering with the work of the trade union.
Sir J. BUTCHER: I do not think the hon Gentleman has quite read the Sub-section which he wants to leave out or to amend—
Mr. WILSON: Yes!
Sir J. BUTCHER: Let it be granted that the Sub-section as drafted stands. The hon., Member wants to give special protection against the operation of this Clause to the alien who happens to be a trade union official; to say that, the Sub-section shall not apply to him. That is the whole object of the Amendment. I confess I have no sympathy with it at all. I do not see why an alien, who happens to be an official of a trade union, should be allowed to come here and promote industrial strife in. an industry with which he has nothing to do., That is not all. What is the magnitude of the grievance of the hon. Gentleman?. Perhaps he can tell us how many of these aliens there are in this country who are officials of trade unions?
Mr. WILSON: I said there were not very many.
Mr. SUGDEN: Then there is less need for this Clause.
Sir J. BUTCHER: Not very many: are there any?
Mr. WILSON: Oh, yes.
Mr. SHORTT: Why are they not naturalised?
Sir J. BUTCHER: If they are fitted to be trade union officials why should they not be naturalised? Have they tried to be, and been refused? Is there any trusted trade union official who unfortunately happens to be an alien and deliberately remains an alien? Or is there a case in the mind of the hon. Gentleman of a dis- 20 trusted alien trade union official who has tried to get naturalised and. has failed? Are there any cases of that sort? I do not know of any. There is really no substance in this Amendment, I hope the Committee will reject it.
Sir C. WARNER: I think there is a misunderstanding in the minds of some people in this matter. I have always been in sympathy with the great trade unions. I, think from their point of view they are making a mistake in fighting this Clause. It is not a question of whether this man or that is likely to do harm; but the question is as to these foreigners, who during the War did prove themselves most dangerous to the country, especially in one of the trade unions mentioned by the hon. Member the Waiters', Union, where, I believe, there were more spies than, in most places. They have proved themselves dangerous. I think it is; only, wise that the Government should have power to punish these people if, they do wrong, There will be nothing to prevent a man going to another trade union and making a speech even if he is an alien, so long as he does not stir up industrial unrest. I have been to a great many, trade union meetings in days gone by. As a rule I have not heard unrest stirred up. I have heard grievances put forward and discussed. But I do think it is a very unusual thing to find a speech that means stirring up unrest. It should not be possible for the trade unions to choose, men who are aliens to lead them. It is a great pity for any of them to have aliens to lead them, even though the bulk of the union may be of alien origin, like the East End tailors, and so on. If they are they must run the risk. If they are receiving the hospitality of this country it is eminently desirable that they should do nothing harmful to this country. That is all these words mean. I do not think we have any cause to be afraid of them. I am sure the working men of this country are not anxious to keep these foreigners in power. The bulk of the trade union organisations in this country are very strong against aliens. There cannot be any great feeling that it will make things unpleasant for the ordinary man that goes to a meeting out of courtesy to some other union and makes a speech; he is not the man that is going to stir up unrest. What we want to guard against is the men who have tried to stir up unrest, and there have been instances of it over 21 and over again during the War. There should be some, form of punishment for this, and, I hope these, words will, be retained.
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I originally moved this Amendment, and there really has been some bond fide misunderstanding. I am attempting to put in a safeguard which will not weaken the Bill at all: to protect a very small, class, of aliens, to represent, not cases of the British working men's trade unions, but the down-trodden poor Eastern Jews, in the East End of London—
Mr. SUGDEN: Let them become naturalised!
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I understand there is an agitation in certain circles against making naturalization easy for these; the suggestion is to make it much stiffer I am looking ahead. The class is an unpopular one. It is a small one. I have no interest in them beyond that I am trying, to protect, them, because, I think that in this House Members ought to stand up for the rights of small, down-trodden, despised, even unpleasant minorities, who, it may be, are dirty in their habits. They came to this country, and we hope they will grow into decent citizens. I submit to the Committee with all respect and as earnestly as I can that these people will be allowed to come in. These words do not weaken the Billy but they protect people who for good reasons are not naturalised, and who are not officials of big unions but small groups af alien labourers in the East End. It may be that a man is the paid official of the Tailors' Union, and he may have a fraternal interest in trying, to help the Jewish bakers. I do not think we ought to allow any injustice to be possible under this Bill, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to accept this Amendment. There is a genuine feeling amongst these poor downtrodden alien people—
Sir J. BUTCHER: Why down-trodden?
Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: At any rate they were down-trodden in their own country. They come from Poland and Germany and include Polish and Russian Jews who came to this country for freedom, and to have a chance to live, and therefore they have a genuine grievance. I plead for this little concession which means a great deal morally to us.
Sir J. BUTCHER: I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "in, which he is not bond fide engaged." I am open to conviction on this point, and if the Home Secretary thinks these words ought to remain in I will not press my Amendment. The reason the Amendment was put down is that aliens come into this country and enjoy our hospitality. The policy of allowing them, in wholesale I am not going to discuss, now, but many people think a good deal too many come here competing with our own industries, and they lower wages. Let me assume, however, that they are here. Many of us think that being here enjoying our hospitality they ought not to be allowed to create industrial unrest even in their own interest, and they ought to avoid creating trouble in the country which deals with them hospitably. I think that point of view is intelligible, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that is not a principle which could be embodied in this Bill, namely, that if aliens come here they must not try to stir up unrest, and they must enjoy our hospitality without trying to create trouble.
Mr. SHORTT: The object of putting those words in was to protect a bond fide member of the trade union or a trade in which he is bond fide engaged, so that if there is a strike in that trade, that is a perfectly legitimate strike, a man may not be prevented-from taking part in it. It may be a union consisting entirely of aliens who may be perfectly law-abiding, and a man may be perfectly entitled, if a member of that union, to take his legitimate part, in any industrial strike they think necessary… I do not think there is any danger in these words. The professional alien disturber is, guarded against in the Bill as it stands, and I think it is only fair that if a man is a bond, fide member of the trade or a, trade union he should be entitled to exercise all the privileges any member of that union may have. These words merely prevent him going outside, although he might legitimately do so in the case of a strike. It is not necessary for the peace of the country that a man who is, for instance, a member of the Tailors' Union, should not be allowed to take his legitimate part in a legitimate strike.
Mr. STEWART: Can a man join more than one trade union? If so, a professional agitator might join half a dozen unions. 23 These words give him great elasticity, and you let him out by the back door when you are trying to close the front door against him. It seems to me that it would be wise to accept this Amendment, for at any rate by doing so you make a clean job of it, and there is no ambiguity.
Mr. SHORTT: It is quite possible for a man to be a paying member of a dozen trade unions, but he cannot be a bond fide member of all those trades.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sir J. BUTCHER: I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "is not," and to insert instead thereof the words "has not been". This Amendment is to ensure that the man who gets protection and is exempted from the penalties shall be really engaged in that particular industry. My proposal, and the next two Amendments, if carried, would make the Clause read: "If any alien promotes or attempts to promote industrial unrest in any industry in which he has not been bond fids engaged for at least two years immediately preceding in the United Kingdom, he shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months." The Object of that is that we do not want an alien coming here not engaged in any particular industry at all, suddenly throwing himself, with all his energies, into some industrial dispute. We want to ensure that the man who is allowed to promote industrial unrest is a man with some substantial interest in the trade. If a man sees a dispute going on and joins the industry for the purpose of promoting unrest, I do not think he should be protected. If he sees a strike coming on and joins up in order to take part in creating unrest I do not think he deserves our protection. The alien who deserves our protection, if at all, is the man who has been for some substantial time engaged in the industry and who has an interest in it, and is therefore entitled to be heard upon questions affecting that trade. To such a man I would give the right to promote industrial unrest, if that is the proper phrase, but I do want to secure that the man who promotes the industrial unrest 24 shall be really interested in it, and not a mere agitator who has perhaps joined the trade only a few days before it. I ask the Home Secretary to accept this Amendment as it stands, or else to insert words carrying out the same object, and to ensure that the man you are protecting is not a mere outside agitator, but is bond fide engaged In the industry, and has been for some time.
Mr. SHORTT: I think that all my right hon. and learned Friend desires is obtained by the use of the words "bond fide engaged." I think it is better that you should not fetter the discretion of the judge. A man might be engaged for three years in a trade and still not be bond fide engaged in it, and the judge might find that he had been pretending to be engaged in it but for an ulterior motive. This was the case during the War with many foreign waiters who were here for spying purposes, and were not bond fide engaged. Take the case of a man who is the member of a trade union and engaged in the trade who goes to America, and afterwards returns here, and rejoins his trade union and his trade, and a strike occurs. That man will be perfectly bond fide engaged in the trade. He had been a member of the union whenever he worked at his trade, and I think there should be discretion left to the Court to say whether a person is bond fide engaged. I think the safeguard is quite sufficient without limiting it to two years. I think we should leave this matter to the discretion of the Court which is fully qualified to find out whether a man is bond fide engaged.
Sir J. BUTCHER: After that explanation I do not press my Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Sir J. BUTCHER: Before I move the new Clause (Deportation of former enemy aliens) standing in my name, I would like to ask the Home Secretary what course he proposes to take about this Bill. There is a very important measure under consideration in the House to-day, and I do not know whether it is convenient to hon. 25 Members to sit here this afternoon. If not I would suggest that before we embark upon the consideration of these very important new Clauses it would be as well for us to adjourn first to enable us to begin afresh. I do not know my right hon. Friend's opinion about this afternoon. It is obviously very difficult for us to be in two places at once. At any rate it is undesirable for us not to be in the House.
Mr. SHORTT: I trust that the Committee will sit this afternoon. We want to get this Bill through. Time is urgent. It is perfectly true that we are taking the Report stage of the Ways and Communications Bill this afternoon, but I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that there are plenty of ardent spirits in the House who will look after the interests he is concerned with during the two hours he is up here. We only sit from 4 to 6 o'clock. It is very important that we should get on with this Bill, and I hope the Committee will sit this afternoon.
Sir F. LOWE: I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would be present in the House this afternoon.
Mr. SHORTT: So I propose to be.
Sir F. LOWE: So that this afternoon we shall not have the assistance of his guidance.
Mr. SHORTT: I have complete faith and confidence in the wisdom of the Under-Secretary to the Home Office.
Sir F. LOWE: If my right hon. Friend is not going to be here this afternoon, that is an additional reason why we should not sit this afternoon. Some of us, like myself, were on the Committee which dealt with the Ways and Communications Bill. I took a certain active part on it, and I should very much like to be in the House on the Report stage. I should also very much like to have the Home Secretary's assistance in going on with this very important Bill. The new Clauses to which we are now coming are the gist of the whole thing. The whole of the discussion will turn upon them. The Home Secretary is the Minister who has charge of the alien question. We should like to have his opinion on these new Clauses and his ad- 26 vice as to whether they are practicable and can be carried out.
Mr. SHORTT: Of course, I am entirely in the hands of the Committee, and it is for them to decide the matter. I have expressed the view I hold. Personally, I do not think it is in the least necessary that I should be here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] While I particularly want the assistance of my hon. Friend (Sir F. Lowe) downstairs, there are several other members of the Committee who would be better employed here than on the Ways and Communications Bill.
Sir J. BUTCHER: Like my right hon. Friend, I have great respect and regard for the Under-Secretary, but we are coming to Clauses which really raise the whole question of the future treatment of enemy aliens and the fulfilling of pledges publicly given at the last election by the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor. It is a question of the good faith of the Government, and I very respectfully insist that the Home Secretary should be here.
Major WOOD: Are we to understand that we shall not sit this afternoon!
Mr. SHORTT: It is for the Committee to decide.
Major WOOD: I hope the Committee will so decide, whichever way the right hon. Gentleman decides.
Mr. SHORTT: I cannot decide. The Committee decides.
The CHAIRMAN: I think it is the general opinion of the Committee that they should not sit this afternoon.
The Committee signified assent.
Mr. SHORTT: I beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn until tomorrow at Eleven o'clock."
Lord H. CECIL: Is it impossible for us to have half an hour's discussion! That will enable us to dispose of the first new Clause.
Question put, "That the Committee do now adjourn till tomorrow at Eleven o'clock."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 10; Noes, 10.27
|Division No. 1.]||AYES|
|Butcher, Sir John||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Sitch, Mr.|
|Foxcroft, Captain||Lowe, Sir Francis||Wood, Major|
|Hinds, Mr.||M'Neill, Mr. Ronald||Yeo, Sir Alfred|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry||Shortt, Mr.|
|Greene, Lieut.-Colonel Raymond||Reid, Mr.||Warner, Sir Courtenay|
|Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Stewart, Mr.||Watson, Captain|
|Hopkinson, Mr. Austin|
Whereupon the CHAIRMAN declared him self with the Ayes.
The CHAIRMAN: I think we had better adjourn now.28
Adjourned at Six minutes before One o'clock till tomorrow, at Eleven o'clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE—
Nicholson, Mr. William (Chairman)
Butcher, Sir John
Cecil, Lord Hugh
Greene, Lieut.-Colonel Raymond
Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar
Hopkinson, Mr. Austin
Lowe, Sir Francis
Lowther, Major Christopher
M'Neill, Mr. Ronald
Nield, Sir Herbert
Norris, Sir Henry
Pearce, Sir William
Warner, Sir Courtenay
Wilson, Mr. Tyson
Yeo, Sir Alfred