933 STANDING COMMITTEE C Wednesday, 17th December, 1919

[MR. MOUNT in the Chair.]

WAR EMERGENCY LAWS (CONTINUANCE) BILL
[OFFICIAL REPORT.] THIRD SCHEDULE.
PART I.
REGULATIONS CONTINUED FOR TWELVE MONTHS AFTER THE TERMINATION OF THE PRESENT WAR.

Number of Regulation. Subject Matter. Limitations, Qualifications, and Modifications subject to which extension is made.
51 Powers of search To be exercisable in England and Wales only with the consent of a Secretary of State, and in Scotland only with the consent of the Secretary for Scotland.
55 Powers of arrest So far as relates to offences under Regulations continued by this Act, and as if in proviso (6) the words ".and in any case "forthwith after the termina-"tion of the present war" were omitted.
55 A Power to create special police areas. So far as relates to existing orders issued thereunder.
55 B Power to provide for co-operation of fire brigades. Except so far as relates to air raids.
59 Saving of powers.
60 Publication of orders, &c.
61 Production of permits.
62 Definitions AS if for the words "acting in "naval or military co-operation" there were substituted the words "which have acted in naval or "military co-operation."
63 Citation and construction.
66 Effect of revocation.

934 935
PART II.
REGULATIONS CONTINUED FOR SIX MONTHS AFTER THE TERMINATION OF THE PRESENT WAR.

Number of Regulation. Subject Matter. Limitations, Qualifications, and Modifications subject to which extension is made.
2 N Penalties for damaging crops and fences of allotments, &c. As if in paragraph (a) for the words "under the powers conferred by "Regulation 2 L" there were substituted the words "such "possession having been origin-"ally taken under the powers "conferred by Regulation 2 L."
8 AA Power to restrict establishment of new retail businesses.
9 A Power to prohibit the holding of meetings and processions.
10 B Power to restrict hours in the evening during which business may be carried on.
14 Power to prohibit persons residing in or entering certain localities. So far as relates to existing orders made thereunder.
27 Penalty on spreading prejudicial reports, &c. Except paragraphs (a) and (b).
27 B Powers of prohibiting importation of newspapers, &c, containing false and seditious reports, &c.
39 C Regulation of traffic at ports … As if the words "whereby the "successful prosecution of the "war may be endangered" were omitted therefrom.
39 CC Restrictions on power to purchase ships.
42 Prohibition on causing mutiny, &c. As if for the words "successful "prosecution of the war" there were substituted the words "in "connection with the demo-"bilisation of the forces."

Note.—For the purposes of this Schedule "existing" means existing and in force at the date of the passing of this Act.

A quorum was not formed till fifteen minutes after Eleven o'clock.

Amendment proposed [16th December]: In Regulation 51, column 3, at the beginning, to insert the words "As if for the words 'these Regulations,' wherever they occur, there were substituted the words 'Regulations 18 A and 33.'"—[Sir F. Banbury.]

Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

Sir F. BANBURY: We have come to an arrangement as to this Regulation. There- 936 fore, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment in order that the Solicitor-General may move his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Ernest Pollock): I beg to move, in Regulation 51, column 3, to leave out the words "To be exercisable in England and Wales only with the consent of a Secretary of State, and in Scotland only with the consent of the Secretary for Scotland," and to insert instead thereof the words: 937 "As if, as respects Great Britain, for that regulation the following regulation were substituted— If a justice of the peace is satisfied on information on oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence against these regulations has been or is about to be committed, he may grant a search warrant authorising any constable named in the warrant to enter at any time any premises or place named in the warrant, if necessary by force, and to search the premises or place and to seize anything found therein which is evidence of an offence against these regulations having been or being about to be committed or with regard to or in connection with which he has reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence against these regulations has been or is about to be committed. Where the alleged offence is an offence under Regulation 18 A, and it appears to a superintendent of police or any person upon whom the powers of a superintendent of police are for the purposes of this regulation conferred by the Secretary of State, or in Scotland by the Secretary for Scotland, that the case is one of great emergency, and that in the interest of the State immediate action is necessary, he may by a written order under his hand give to any constable the like authority as may be given by the warrant of a justice under this regulation." I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend for having withdrawn his amendment. Since we met the last time I have had the assistance of hon. Members who were good enough to come to my room to discuss the questions that were before the Committee at the last meeting. Every Member of the Committee is anxious that we should have the powers which are effective in the case of spies, and which are dealt with under a Regulation which we have already passed, 18 A. The question is, how can we exercise the necessary concomitant powers, taken under Regulation 51 the power of search, and Regulation 55 the power of arrest. Hon. Members will be glad as far as possible to maintain the provision that the power should be vested in the magistrate before whom a warrant for one or the other purpose can be obtained. Then one has to deal with a difficulty which arises from the fact that the magistrate's powers are circumscribed territorially. You cannot ask a magistrate to act except in his own territorial jurisdiction. That creates a difficulty. In regard to certain cases we have the provisions of the Official Secrets Act. There we have in Clause 9 the power as to search warrants: 938 "If a justice of the peace is satisfied by information on oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under this Act has been or is about to be committed, he may grant a search warrant authorising any constable named therein to enter at any time any premises or place named in the warrant, if necessary by force, and to search the premises or place and every person found therein, and to seize any sketch, plan, model, article, note or document, or anything of a like nature or anything which is evidence of an offence under this Act having been or about to be committed, which he may find on the premises or place or on any such person, and with regard to or in connection with which he has reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under this Act has been or is about to be committed." Sub-section (2) provides that— "where it appears to a superintendent of police that that case is one of great emergency and that in the interest of the State immediate action is necessary, he may by written order under his hand give to any constable the like authority as may be given by warrant of a justice under this section." Take the case of spies. You want to search and you want to arrest. There may be cases in which the spy moves his quarters rapidly from the jurisdiction of one magistrate to the jurisdiction of another. If in the matter of arrest one has to wait in order to get a warrant from the right magistrate you may be placed in a difficulty. Supposing the spy is immediately leaving these shores, and you are not quite certain from which port he will depart. You have to arrest him and you may have to secure a warrant from a magistrate in Kent. If he suddenly goes by a different route you may have to obtain a warrant from a magistrate in Hampshire if he leaves from Southampton, or you may have to obtain a warrant from a magistrate in Essex if he leaves from Harwich. In these cases—and they have happened—great difficulty occurs. I will give one illustration. In Scotland it would be necessary to get a warrant from a procurator fiscal. One important spy was nearly lost owing to the fact that on a Sunday it proved impossible, except within an hour of the actual departure of the spy, to secure a warrant from a procurator fiscal. A whole list of procurators fiscal had to be gone through before we could find one who could sign the warrant. These are difficulties which we want to meet. It is in the sense, therefore, of using the powers of the magistrates as far as we possibly can, and using the precedents of the Official Secrets Act, that I have brought up this Amendment which hon. Members to whom I have had the opportunity of showing it agree will meet the case. 939 I am not trying to force upon the Committee the fact that this is an agree Regulation. I have specially stated to the hon. Members who were good enough to help me, that they can reserve their right of criticism on Report, and they do not need to feel themselves in any sense bound. Some of the hon. Members said to me, "If you get this, will you, like Oliver Twist, ask for more on the Report stage." I was able to say to the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) who put this point, "No." I feel myself bound by what I am asking for to-day. If we lave these powers we shall secure what is absolutely necessary in the public interest. It is in that state that I commend this proposal to the Committee. It means that you may wipe out the whole of Regulation 51 and put in the words I now propose. The powers go further than the powers which are given in a number of Acts which I have before me, which begin with the Vagrancy Act, 1824, and come down to the Official Secrets Act, 1911. I have about twenty such Acts here. This Amendment gives the ordinary power to the magistrate, if he thinks fit, to grant a warrant upon proper evidence in matters relating to these Regulations. I ask for the minimum, and I cannot ask for less, in view of the importance of safeguarding the powers of the country in respect of 18 A. We had a very useful discussion yesterday. I hope that those Members of the Committee who were not able to be present will accept from me the assurance that this Amendment is an effort to meet the views of the Committee, and I hope it will prove acceptable.

Mr. T. GRIFFITHS: The Solicitor-General has covered the ground which he covered yesterday. He has simply dealt -with the question of spies. This Amendment can be extended to people who are not spies. There are only a few spies so far as this country is concerned. We want to protect the working people of the country and to see that their liberty and freedom are not interfered with. The Solicitor-General gave an illustration of a spy going from one port to another. Let us assume that a trade union leader has a leaflet or some literature printed, and it was discovered by some, secret method in his home, and that man was leaving to go" to work in some other part of the country, leaving the leaflet at home. Under this Regulation you could have this man arrested, without any evidence against him.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I appreciate the hon. Member's anxiety, but that which he fears 940 could not happen. If he will follow the second part of the Clause, he will see that it is closely, completely and accurately confined to an offence under Regulation 18 A. It is so expressed in terms, and it has been drawn most carefully in order to ensure that. The misgivings of the hon. Member, which I had in mind, are safeguarded.

Mr. GRIFFITHS: After that explanation I shall not oppose the amendment, but we do feel strongly on this point, owing to the tyranny and the persecution that took place during the period of the war. Perhaps on the Report Stage some of the older Members of the Labour Party may have something to say on the point.

Amendment agreed to.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I beg to move, in Regulation 55, Column 3, to leave out the words "So far as relates to offences under regulations continued by this Act, and as if in proviso (b) the words 'and in any case forthwith after the termination of the present war' were omitted," and to insert instead thereof the words "As if, as respects Great Britain, for that regulation the following regulation was substituted— Any person who is found committing an offence, or who is reasonably suspected of having committed or being about to commit an offence under Regulation 18a, may be arrested without warrant by a constable or by a person authorised for the purpose by a Secretary of State, or in Scotland by the Secretary for Scotland." This is in place of Regulation 55, which comes out altogether. Then we deal with this in the same manner that it is dealt with in Regulation 18 A. I had in mind the very case that the hon. Member (Mr. Griffiths) mentioned. If upon the Report stage he still feels any misgiving, if he or any Member of his party will come and see me, and discuss the matter with me, I will be very glad to do so, and, in any circumstances, I do not suggest at all that he is any way bound by the fact that he has consciously allowed me to take the amendment so far.

Amendment agreed to.

Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS: I beg to move to leave out Regulation 55A. My object in moving this is to get from the learned Solicitor-General an explanation. I understand it is a very minor point.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I am obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend. The Committee 941 will see that in the third column this Regulation 55A is only continued "So far as relates to existing orders issued thereunder." The power creating a special police area was found to be necessary in a particular case where the Order had been issued and that was Gretna Green, part of which lies within the jurisdiction of England and part within the jurisdiction of Scotland. That created a very great and cumbersome difficulty, and, under the circumstances, we have put in force a special police area for Gretna Green in order to unite the jurisdictions. We only desire to continue it for that purpose. We ask for no more, and I think the Committee will agree that that difficulty ought still to be overcome.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir F. BANBURY: I beg to move to leave out Regulation 61. I should like to have an explanation of this Regulation.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I think this is a necessary Regulation to maintain in the interests of the public and of our liberties. It only provides that any person who is claiming to act under any permit or permission must, if he be so required, produce the permit or permission under which he is acting, and I think any qualified person is quite entitled to say, "Show me your authority." That is what this Regulation does, and, in the interests of ourselves at large, I think it is right.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir F. BANBURY: I beg to move to leave out Regulation 62. I do not find the words "acting in naval or military co-operation" in the Regulation. I have no doubt they are there.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I am not surprised that my right hon. Friend has had a little difficulty. Perhaps I may bay that I shared his difficulty, because I studied this matter some time before I came on the words. If hon. Members have the same Regulations as I have, they will find at the bottom of page 90 the words "For the purposes of these regulations reference to Allies and States in alliance with His Majesty shall include States acting in naval or military co-operation with His Majesty in the present war." All that this Clause deals with is interpretation. It is the common interpretation Clause we have in every Act of Parliament. We have made an alteration here, that instead 942 of these words "acting in naval or military co-operation" we put in the words "which have acted in naval or military cooperation" because, inasmuch as these Regulations are to be continued until 31st August, it would be inapt to say they were now acting in naval or military co-operation. What we want to do is to make the words more precise and true by saying "have acted".

Colonel GRETTON: It will require, I think, a little more explanation as to why it is necessary to continue naval and military co-operation a year after the Armistice. Naval and military authorities had during the war very considerable powers in excess of those exercised by the civil power, and, to some extent, superceding them in certain areas. That was very necessary and perfectly right during the war in connection with the detection of persons conspiring against the safety of the Realm, and matters of that kind. But I think, before the Committee agree to the inclusion of these very drastic powers in the Schedule, those responsible for asking for these powers should give some explanation why they are required to be continued even in the first eight months of the coming year.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I will gladly give the explanation, inasmuch as the hon. and gallant Gentleman was unable to be in his place yesterday. We have cut out a very large number of Regulations, so large that the numbers left which confer anything like what might be called the exercise of naval or military power are negligible. Yesterday we agreed to maintain Regulation 45 F, which was a provision to secure discipline of the Allied Forces in the United Kingdom, and that I pointed out to the Committee, who accepted my explanation, was necessary while we have the troops of America and Associated Powers in this country; that is, if and when they are here. I am not asking in this interpretation Clause that any powers should be continued. All I am doing is to use the ordinary interpretation Clause for the work already done and accepted by the Committee. All I am asking, particularly in regard to 45 F, which was passed yesterday, is that the words in the interpretation Clause should be suitable and appropriate for the provisions which have already been accepted by the Committee. If the alteration were not made, it would matter very little, but we all want to do the work as well as we may.

Colonel GRETTON: Are we to understand that the competent naval and military 943 authorities are acting only in garrison areas, and not in any wider areas?

Sir E. POLLOCK: I am not sure they are even acting at all in garrison areas. I am not sure to what Regulation the hon. and gallant Gentleman is referring. I am not sure that I have asked for any such power. AT I say is, please give to the Regulations such as the Food Controller, Shipping Controller and others have the interpretation they have hitherto had, and, in respect of 45 F, please give me a statement which is accurate in respect of that—that, and no more.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir F. BANBURY: I beg to move to leave out Regulation 66. This provision enacts that if an order is revoked, or if orders come to an end, as they do on 31st August, that is not to affect any proceedings which are being taken against a perison at that moment. If, for example, a man on the loth August did something against the Regulation, and the Regulation be withdrawn on the 31st August, proceedings may still be taken. That sort of thing may be all right in war. I do not want to press the Amendment, but I should be glad to hear what the learned Solicitor-General has to say.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I have no doubt that the fact that a Regulation has been withdrawn, and we have come to a time of peace, might have very great effect on the minds of the authorities who are carrying out these Regulations, but it is always necessary to keep these words in for the purpose of safeguarding authorities. If these powers were immediately revoked, the authorities who have exercised them might be placed in danger of being liable for what they have done. What we want to do is to say that, up to the time that these Regulations have been revoked, all that has been done under them clothes the authorities with the immunity with which they ought to be clothed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I beg to move to leave out Regulation 2 N. The words forming the heading of Part II now go out, because Part II is unnecessary. It was put in because the Regulations were continued for six months after the termination of the present war. What we have done in the main part of the Bill is to establish tinued shall only last until 31st August. We that the Regulations which have been con- 944 have made no distinction between 12 months and 6 months, and we are dealing with this part of the Regulation on the same basis. I may say, for the comfort of hon. Members, that I am only going to ask that three of those be continued.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: Leave out Regulations 8 AA and 9 A.—[Sir E. Pollock.]

Sir F. BANBURY: I beg to move to leave out Regulation 10 B. I had a letter from the Showmen's Guild in which they object very strongly to this Regulation, and I think their grounds for doing so are very reasonable. The Regulation permits the authorities to limit the hours during which shops may be open in the evening. That may or may not be a good thing, but there is a Shop Hours Act which enables local authorities, with the consent of a certain number of shopkeepers, to regulate the opening hours. During the war, because, I suppose, the number of assistants was restricted and lighting and fuel were expensive, it was decided to close shops earlier. I never could quite see what that had got to do with the war, unless for the reasons I have stated; now that the war is over, why not leave the Act regulating the closing of shops to be administered as before? If that Act be wrong, and personally I do not think it is, the proper thing to do is to bring in a Bill to repeal or amend it and not proceed by Regulation, which ought not to be taken advantage of to put forward legislation which has nothing to do with the war and which merely ensures a little less trouble than putting forward a Bill. I think this is the most flagrant example of endeavouring by these Regulations to continue restrictions on personal liberty and the carrying on of business, which, if we are to recover our old financial position, should not be done. What is necessary is that everybody should work as hard as possible. I have no doubt these Regulations, saying that people may only work for a certain number of hours and that shops may not open after certain hours, are popular amongst some of the people concerned, but we are here to legislate for what is right, and I think we ought to have this Regulation out.

Sir E. POLLOCK: I am quite in agreement with my right hon. Friend that it would be quite wrong to continue this Regulation for anything like a serious period of time, but it must be remembered that its validity will only remain until August 31st. 945 I quite agree also that if it be desired to continue the Regulation, the matter ought to be dealt with by legislation, and the Home Office take the same view. It is quite true that we have the Shop Hours Act of 1912, but the methods of procedure under that Act are rather cumbrous. You have to deal with the matter locally after enquiry, and a very large number of orders have to be made. Although the right hon. Gentleman may wish to go to shops at a later hour than eight o'clock, all that we have done is to require, subject to certain exemptions, shops to close in the country at eight o'clock during the week and nine o'clock on Saturdays. As a matter of fact we have been asked to continue this Regulation because, on the whole, it works for the benefit of the people. They are very glad to be able to shut at nine o'clock on Saturdays and eight o'clock on other days. The number of customers who come after eight o'clock is not found to be large. On the other hand, in competition, unless you have a general order, it is very difficult for competing shops to close if the competitor does not close too. I am not going to press this, and if it is thought it is a serious interference with the liberty of the subject, then let it go. All I can say is I am standing here on this occasion, not on behalf, so to speak, of a Government department which is exercising tyranny. I have been asked to move this in the interests of people who are satisfied that this method of closing shops at eight o'clock leads to their comfort and good health and convenience, and at nine o'clock on Saturdays. Legislation must be introduced to meet the case. I do not think we need waste very much time on it. It is a small matter. It has been found to meet the convenience of the community, and if the Committee share that view, perhaps they will let the Regulation stand, subject to the undertaking that there must be legislation in future; but if there be a strong feeling that this is in an act of tyranny, why then I am in the hands of the Committee.

Sir SAMUEL SCOTT: I hope that the Committee will retain this Regulation. It has worked well during the war and it affects a very large number of people, and a very hard working class who very often had to stay up to eleven and twelve o'clock, which was bad for their health and bad for trade. During the war people have got used to shopping between the hours of eight and nine o'clock. Before the war, when the Regulation was not in force, in certain dis- 946 tricts in London, and amongst them a certain portion of my constituency, people used to put off shopping to the last minute. They went to the theatre first, and during the theatre hours the shops were empty and the assistants had nothing to do. About half-past eleven o'clock or twelve o'clock there was a continuous rush and a mass of customers, which was bad both for people shopping and the shop assistants. I therefore hope the Committee will approve of the Regulation.

Mr. GRIFFITHS: I hope that the Committee will retain this Regulation. I am sorry to differ from the right hon. Baronet on this occasion, because he believes in the liberty of the subject, but I believe we are dealing with the same thing collectively in this Regulation which affects thousands of people. One of my chief objections to this proposal to omit the Regulation is that you have some of these shops open on Sundays and a lot of young boys go to them and gamble for cigarettes and various other things. I would limit it all day if possible. If you limit it to eight or nine o'clock it is bad enough, but if you allow these people to open to ten or eleven or twelve o'clock they will take advantage of that, and you will have the boys degraded instead of being brought up in a high moral atmosphere. I hope from that standpoint that the Regulation will be continued.

Sir F. BANBURY: I quite agree that there is a good deal that goes on that ought not to go on, but I do not think by sitting here passing Acts of Parliament that we can make people good if they are not inclined to be good. We have the pleasure of having a representative of the Home Office here, and may I ask whether he would undertake, if this Regulation be continued, to leave it in exactly the same position as it is now? What I am a little bit afraid of is not so much the Regulation as it stands as that possibly some very zealous and reforming Home Secretary may choose to close shops at three or four o'clock in the afternoon, or do something of that sort. If my hon. Friend will say that all that is required is that the existing Regulation shall be continued without change, then under the circumstances I shall be satisfied.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Major Baird): I am perfectly ready to give that undertaking. It is only to keep the thing going as it is until legislation is to be introduced.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

947

Amendments made: Leave out Regulations 14, 27 and 27 B.—[Sir E. Pollock.]

Sir F. BANBURY: I beg to move to leave out Regulation 39 CC. This Regulation provides: "A person shall not without permission in writing from the Shipping Controller, directly or indirectly … purchase or enter into or offer to enter into any agreement, or any negotiation with a view to an agreement, for the purchase of any ship or vessel." Why should he not purchase a ship or vessel? I thought what was wanted was to encourage trade. If people buy a vessel they have to get it built. My hon. Friend (Mr. T. Griffiths) will agree that that would provide more work for the working classes, because they would have to be employed if a ship were built. Why should not people be engaged to build it?

Sir E. POLLOCK: It is not in the least intended that we should interfere, nor do we interfere, with ordinary transactions between genuine British shipowners. The reason why it is asked that we should continue this Regulation is to prevent the control of British ships passing into the hands of foreign-controlled companies, or, indeed, of Colonial companies. What we want to maintain is the home-carrying trader. While there is a free market and every transaction between proper and ordinary British owners is sanctioned and, indeed, encouraged, what one does not want to happen is that a foreign-controlled company carrying on business here should come in and compete against our own purchasers. That is the real point of the Regulation. There has been a number of cases of shipping companies controlled in America and elsewhere. One wants to be able to try to help our own people to keep the tonnage which is now being built on the stocks. The Regulation does not relate to British ships already at sea and registered, because we can deal with them in the matter of registration under another Regulation we already have. We do not want a foreign-controlled company going to Glasgow and buying ships on the stocks.

Sir F. BANBURY: They must be English people.

Sir E. POLLOCK: The company may be registered as an English company, but it may be controlled by a foreign control through the ownership of the shares.

Sir F. BANBURY: There is no prohibition against selling a ship here.

948

Sir E. POLLOCK: We do not need that, because the Regulation dealing with registration will meet that case.

Sir F. BANBURY: Therefore the only people the Regulation can affect must be a company registered in England.

Sir E. POLLOCK: Or foreign controlled.

Sir F. BANBURY: But it must be somebody here.

Sir E. POLLOCK: Yes.

Sir F. BANBURY: You have no power over a foreign company registered abroad, which can purchase what it likes. Suppose I own a ship and sail it to some foreign port. There is nothing in this Regulation to prevent my selling the ship to a foreigner at. that foreign port. I feel that the Regulation is unnecessary. It is a perpetuation of all those things under which a man has to get a licence from the Shipping Controller or the Board of Trade or the Ministry of Food or some other official. I dislike all the provisions which require people to get licences. I do not say that there is favouritism or corruption in regard to the getting of licences, but it is much easier for a man who knows somebody to get a licence than it is for one who does not Unless the Regulation is very necessary it might be omitted. I have been extremely reasonable over the last Amendment; therefore we might have a little concession made

Sir E. POLLOCK: I hoped that the right hon. Baronet was going to say that it was so near Christmas that he was going to make me a Christmas present and give me this Regulation. Do not let us forget that all the questions between British companies and owners are safeguarded. We have the case which is put to me of tonnage now being built in which you might find a British registered company controlled abroad coming in and being purchasers of these vessels. I leave the matter entirely to the Committee. If hon. Members think it is an unreasonable Regulation to ask for, then let it go. I am not going to insist. It is not a question of my acting in tyranny. All I can say is that, so far as I am able to advise the Committee, my advice is that it has been found necessary and will be useful in the case of tonnage on the stocks. Perhaps the Committee would now come to a decision one way or the other, as I hope that hon. Members will enable us to finish the Bill.

Colonel GRETTON: I have been spending a good deal of time in investigating the 949 Ministry of Shipping on behalf of the Committee on National Expenditure. I believe that, so long as control is exercised in any degree over British shipping, some Regulation of this kind is quite advisable. There is a s ystem of licensing in operation—I believe it is reasonably administered, so far as I can ascertain—which applies to vessels employed in bringing wheat, sugar and other commodities purchased on behalf of the Government and which are controlled. The effect of these licences is liable somewhat to reduce the value of British ships. I suggest that this power is extremely gently exercised. We were informed during the course of our inquiries that vessels of an old type or old date were allowed to be sold quite freely to foreign countries, and that good prices were obtained for them. Those vessels were replaced by new vessels on the stocks sold to British owners. The Solicitor-General has explained that many of the vessels under construction are being built for British owners. There is great competition at the present time by foreigners to get into the trade and acquire the command of trade routes which were formerly worked by British owners. I suggest that this Regulation is quite necessary as a complement to the powers which the Committee has already decided to maintain. So far as the investigations made by myself and those who have been associated with me have gone, we have found that there has been no hardship in-

Division No. 15.] AYES
Baird, Major Gretton, Colonel Scott, Sir Samuel
Cockerill, Brigadier-General Henry, Mr. Denis Stephenson, Colonel
Colvin, Brigadier-General McCurdy, Mr. Sykes, Colonel Sir Alan
Dennis, Mr. Pollock, Sir Ernest White, Lieut.-Colonel Dalrymple
NOES
Banbury, Sir Frederick Griffiths, Mr. Thomas Jones, Sir Evan
Cape, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Wood, Major McKenzie
Davies, Mr. A. (Clitheroe)

Amendment made: Leave out Regulation 42.—[Sir E. Pollock.]

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

950

flicted upon anybody by the exercise of this control, which is only used in extreme and necessary cases.

Major M. WOOD: I am not convinced of the necessity for this Regulation at all. Let me give this instance: Suppose I wished to acquire a ship from Germany; it might be that on account of the exchange I could make a very good bargain indeed. This Regulation would prevent me from doing that. [Hon. Members: "No."]

Colonel GRETTON: You could obtain a licence.

Major WOOD: The Regulation says that a person shall not without permission in writing from the Shipping Controller enter into any agreement or any negotiations with a view to an agreement for the purchase of any ship or vessel A Regulation of that kind must be a very serious restriction on the powers of people who desire to acquire ships from Germany or any other country. I suggest that there is a very real likelihood that British shipowners would desire to acquire ships from Germany and that at the present time they would get very good terms. The retention of this Regulation, therefore, would militate very seriously against our trade, and I would oppose it.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 12; Noes, 7.

Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported to the House.

The Committee rose at 10 minutes after 12 o'clock noon.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE: —

Mr. Mount (Chairman).

Baird, Major.

Cape, Mr.

Cockerill, Brigadier-General.

Colvin, Brigadier-General.

Dennis, Mr.

Gretton, Colonel.

Hacking, Captain.

Hancock, Mr.

Henry, Mr. Denis.

Jones, Sir Evan.

McCurdy, Mr.

Pollock, Sir Ernest.

Scott, Sir Samuel.

Stephenson, Colonel.

Sykes, Colonel Sir Alan.

White, Lieut.-Col. Dalrymple.

Williams, Colonel Penry.

Wood, Major McKenzie.