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Commons Chamber

Volume 66: debated on Wednesday 26 August 1914

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 26th August, 1914.

The House met at a Quarter before Three of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

Private Business

Blyth Hall (Transfer) Order Confirmation Bill,

"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Blyth Hall (Transfer)." Presented by Mr. MCKINNON WOOD; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered To-morrow.

Coatbridge Drainage and Burgh Extension Order Confirmation Bill,

"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Coatbridge Drainage and Burgh Extension." Presented by Mr. MCKINNON WOOD; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered To-morrow.

Dumbarton Burgh (Water, etc.) Order Confirmation Bill,

"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Dumbarton Burgh (Water, etc.)." Presented by Mr. MCKINNON WOOD; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered To-morrow.

North British Railway (Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway Vesting) Order Confirmation Bill,

"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to North British Railway (Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway Vesting)." Presented by Mr. MCKINNON WOOD; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered To-morrow.

Superannuation Act, 1887

Copy presented of Treasury Minute, dated 15th August, 1914, granting a Retired Allowance to Mr. J. O'Farrell, Second Division Clerk, War Office, under the Act [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

Flax Mills And Linen Factories (Departmental Committee)

Copy presented of Minutes of Evidence taken before the Departmental Committee on Humidity and Ventilation in Flax Mills and Linen Factories [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Irish Land Commission

Copy presented of Return of Advances made under the Irish Land Purchase Acts during the month of January, 1914 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Dublin Metropolitan Police

Copy presented of Statistical Tables of the Dublin Metropolitan Police for the year 1913; to lie upon the Table.

Local Contributions (Ireland)

Return presented relative thereto [ordered 10th March; Mr. Ginnell]; to lie upon the Table.

Intermediate Education (Ireland)

Copy presentde of Unemployment Inscribing an Alternative Work in Junior Grade Programme in English for 1915 [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

Unemployment Insurance (Regulations)

Copies presented of Unemployment Insurance (Supplementary) Regulations, 1914, made by the Board of Trade under the Act [by Act]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 456.]

Colonial Reports (Annual)

Copies presented of Reports Nos. 807 (Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, Annual Report for 1913) and 808 (Sierra Leone, Annual Report for 1913) [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

War In Europe

Territorial Force

Vaccination Regulations

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War a question, of which I have given him private notice, namely: Whether, in spite of the assurance given in 1908 that there are no Regulations enforcing the vaccination of officers and men of the Territorial Forces, orders are being issued to Territorials to be vaccinated; whether these orders are issued from headquarters or by commanding officers on their own authority; whether a memorial protesting against such an order, signed by 109 members of one company of the Somerset Light Infantry, has been presented to the officer commanding; and whether, in view of the importance of preventing any deterrence of recruiting, and of the conscientious objection to vaccination of many probable recruits, he will cancel any such orders and prevent others from being issued?

I have no knowledge of the particular incident referred to in the question. A circular has been issued recently informing general officers commanding that members of the Territorial Force who have conscientious objections should not be vaccinated. It is considered that the danger of an outbreak of smallpox among a body of insufficiently vaccinated troops is a very real one, and every effort is consequently being made to persuade men to undergo vaccination, and those who object are being informed that unless they submit to vaccination they are not likely to be of service in the field.

National Insurance Contributions

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War whether Territorials who are exempt from National Insurance contributions in civil life are liable to pay contributions whilst embodied; whether rates of contributions for National Insurance for Territorials embodied are the same as Army rates, and, if so, whether fresh insurance cards are to be provided; and whether he will consider if it is possible to exempt, whilst mobilised, Territorials from any payment towards National Insurance without loss of benefits on return to civil life?

Embodied Territorials are under the same rules as Regulars as regards insurance, and the rates of contribution are the same as Army rates. Army cards will be used instead of civilian rates. The exemption of Territorial soldiers from payment of contribution has not so far been considered. If it were considered in the case of Territorial soldiers, it would have to be considered in the case of Regulars and Special Reservists also.

Do I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that those who are not insured now in civil life are bound to be insured whilst they are embodied?

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the first part of the question which I put down?

If the hon. Gentleman had really put it down I might have been able to give a more considered reply, but there has been a great deal of difficulty in getting these answers in so short a time.

Death Duties (Allowances To War Victims)

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the question of an allowance on the Death Duties in the case of men losing their lives on or through active service, and whether he Can make any announcement on the subject?

Yes, I am considering that question, and I shall be in a position to submit certain proposals to the House to-morrow.

War Office Contracts

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether, in order to facilitate business, he can arrange to expedite payment in respect of works under contract for the War Office?

In order to assist contractors for works services in the present financial emergency, the War Office is prepared to make payments on account of work done at intervals of a fortnight instead of a month, and to consider applications for a reduction in the "reserve" withheld until the accounts for a service are finally passed, if it is shown that this exceeds any probable liability of a contractor.

Service Revolvers (Prices Charged)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether Messrs. Webley and Scott, a firm of War Office contractors, have not increased their charges for Service revolvers by 100 per cent.?

I will repeat it tomorrow, when I shall put two other questions, of which I have given notice.

Captures At Sea

Prize Court Sittings

asked the Attorney-General why the advertisements of merchant ships captured during the war and to be adjudicated upon by the Prize Courts, of the sittings of which notice has been given, are inserted in the "Times" only among morning newspapers; whether this preference to a single newspaper is justifiable or necessary; whether there is any ground for such official recognition of the "Times" newspaper for this purpose to the exclusion of its competitors; and whether it is not desirable that important public information of this sort should be published in other papers?

It is for the Prize Court to decide what advertisement of pending causes is necessary. I have ascertained from the Registry of the Prize Court that in addition to inserting notices in the "Times," notices are also inserted in "Lloyd's List," "The Liverpool Journal of Commerce," and "The Shipping and Mercantile Gazette."

Lord Kitchener's Army

Public Meetings In Constituencies

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the uncertainty which prevails in many parts of the country as to the causes of the War, and in view of the importance of a proper proportion of men volunteering for the defence of their country, he and the Leader of the Opposition will ask Members of this House to arrange for meetings in every constituency throughout the British Isles, so that the public may be enlightened?

Most excellent service has been rendered by Members of this House and by local political organisations in the work of giving information and arousing public attention to the necessity of raising recruits. I trust that there will be no slackening in these patriotic efforts, and that they may be carried on on a much more extended scale in the near future. My Noble Friend Lord Kitchener needs all the recruits that he can obtain.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is some misunderstanding owing to the terms of the notice calling for recruits as to the number which are required? There is a prevalent impression that 100,000 men are required, and that when they are obtained more are not necessary. Will the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to dispel that impression?

That is a mistaken impression. I hope it will not get abroad. We want all the recruits we can get.

Recruits (Voluntary Dental Treatment)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the large number of men who have failed to pass the medical examination on account of bad teeth, although fit in every other respect, and whether he can take some steps to arrange for these men to be looked at by a proper qualified dental surgeon, so that in cases where the defects are slight and can be easily remedied good men may not be precluded from joining the Colours?

Instructions have already been issued to all medical examiners of recruits that no man who is organically sound is to be refused on account of bad teeth, unless his appearance leads the medical officer to believe that the loss of teeth is a distinct cause of the man's malnutrition. Many highly-qualified dental surgeons and well-known dental institutes throughout the country are in communication with our recruiting officers, and are patriotically giving their services for the free treatment of intending recruits whose acceptance for the Army can be assured provided their dental defects are first remedied.

Enlistment In Particular Regiments

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary for War whether a man of suitable age and fitness who desires to enlist in a particular regiment can be so enlisted at any recruiting station at which he may apply; and whether he will give instructions to all recruiting stations that this practice should be followed?

The hon. Gentleman only put the question into my hand as I came into the House. As he and the House will see, it cannot always be possible to do what he asks. You cannot enlist in a particular unit beyond a certain establishment, but where it is possible to do it instructions shall be given that it shall be done.

Extended Age For Emergency Service

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the seriousness of the tremendous struggle in which the country is now engaged, it is not in the interest of national safety and the discharge of international duty to permit men between the ages of thirty and forty years, who are sound in health and anxious for service, to enlist in the Emergency Army now being created to support the Regular forces during the present War?

This is a point which will not be lost sight of by the Government.

Re-Enlistment Bounties

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that men in Class I. of the National Reserve who have re-enlisted on the first call for the new Army are being refused the £10 bounty which others in the same class of the National Reserve who have joined later on being called up are receiving, and whether he will take steps not to penalise those who re-enlisted without waiting to be called up?

The bounty of £10 for general Service (like the bounty of £5 for home Service) was intended for those National Reservists who registered their names in Classes I. and II. before mobilisation in order that they might be at the disposal of the military authorities when their services were required. It is only given to men so registered who are called up by proper authority as their services are required from time to time. As a concession, men so registered up to 10th August, inclusive, have been made eligible for the bounties. It does not appear, therefore, that any penalty is being placed upon those who sprang to arms at the earliest moment.

Does the right hon. Gentleman say that these men who were registered in Class I. of the National Reserve and who re-enlisted without waiting to be called up will also get the bounty?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries quickly, as it is causing great dissatisfaction?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a great many of the men in Class III. of the National Reserve were, through no fault of their own, unaware that they might re-enlist, and will their ease be considered at the same time?

Ex-Soldiers

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War whether ex-soldiers under the age of forty-two who have served with the Colours and who belong to the National Reserve, are eligible for enlistment in Lord Kitchener's New Army at their option in their former regiments; whether such men are entitled on enlistment to a bounty, and, if so, of what amount; and whether full instructions on this subject have been sent to all recruiting stations?

I have only just received the question, but the answer to the first paragraph is in the affirmative. They are eligible. I do not think it possible, as I said in answer to a question, for any recruit to have it at his option in what unit he shall be recruited. As far as possible their wishes will be respected. As to the bounty I will inform the hon. and learned Gentleman later. I have not the figures by me. As to instructions to recruiting stations, no doubt recruiting officers are fully informed as to what the Regulations are.

Army And Navy Reservists (Separation Allowances)

I beg to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that in the case of the wives and families of Army Reservists a separation allowance is given, and if he can state if a separation allowance is or will be granted in the case of the wives and families of Naval Reservists, and if it be possible to grant similar allowances to the wives and families of all naval ratings?

I fully appreciate and sympathise with the spirit which has inspired this question. But I must point out that the conditions of service in the Army and the Navy are dissimilar, and a comparison of the benefits received cannot properly be made in respect of one item alone. In the Navy there is considerable opportunity for earning non-substantive pay—in point of fact, roughly one out of every two of the seamen is in receipt of such daily extra pay, varying from 2d. to 1s 7d. a day. I must point out, further, that in the Navy the proportion of higher ratings to the number of men engaged is considerably larger than in the Army.

Whilst there is no provision for legal deductions from the pay of the sailor for the maintenance of his wife and family, it is the fact that the very great majority of the men make regular monthly allotments. Before war was declared the number of allotments paid monthly to wives or other dependent relatives was 73,000. Since mobilisation, about 40,000 new allotments have been declared, largely by Reservists, and at the close of the month we shall send out something approaching 120,000 allotments. Further, a great many of the sailors favour the policy of forwarding remittances during the month, and remittances are now being sent out from the Admiralty—apart from those sent direct by the men by postal orders—at the rate of something like 500 a day, as compared with the usual rate of 200 a day. The information available up to the present shows that, in the very great majority of the cases, the wives of the seamen either are or will immediately be receiving assistance from their husbands.

Dockyard Reservists

I beg to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if all ranks and ratings of Reservists recently serving or still serving in the dockyards will receive half the dockyard pay on being called up?

All dockyard employés, whether on the established or unestablished lists, whose service is not intermittent but quasi-permanent and regular, will receive while called up the difference (if any) between their civil pay and their naval or military pay. In the case of commissioned officers the actual amount of pay and extra pay drawn will be deducted from civil pay, allowances being ignored. In cases of all below commissioned rank the amount to be deducted from civil pay will be 7s. a week in respect of naval or military pay, plus separation allowances where payable.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to make that answer known in the dockyards, because, unfortunately, it is not known?

We have already communicated to the dockyards the Treasury Minute some time ago.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have just come up from the dockyard?

Compulsory Service

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether it is not now necessary, in order to secure the safety of the United Kingdom, that some measure of compulsory service should not be brought into force?

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, under the circumstances which have arisen, the Government intend to introduce a measure for compulsory service?

The answer is in the negative. I would refer the hon. Members to what my Noble Friend the Secretary of State for War (Lord Kitchener) said yesterday in another place.

Atrocities By German Troops

Official Inquiry By Belgian Committee

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether the statements of German atrocities issued through the British Press Bureau, and drawn up by the Belgian Committee of Inquiry, are true, and, if so, what action His Majesty's Government propose to take to protest against so flagrant a violation of the rules of civilised warfare?

The statements are the result of inquiry by a committee constituted and presided over by the Belgian Minister of Justice and composed of the highest judicial and university authorities of Belgium, and have been officially communicated to His Majesty's Government by the Belgian Minister at this Court. His Majesty's Government understand that the Belgian Government are taking all the necessary steps to bring the facts established by their official committee to the knowledge of the civilised world.

War Risks (Insurance)

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the instructions to the War Risks Insurance Committee cannot be so modified that insurance of cargoes can be granted in cases where the ships are properly insured against all war risks outside clubs, and whether he is aware that the Committee is refusing to insure such cargoes on the ground that their instructions do not permit them to do so?

My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. I am aware that there may be some hardship in the case of vessels which were fully covered before war broke out, but it is an essential principle of the scheme that Government insured cargo can only be carried in Government insured ships, and it would not be possible to depart from that principle.

Would it not be possible in cases where the Government can be satisfied that the ship is fully insured? Surely it reduces the liability of the Government and does not increase it?

No, Sir. I am afraid the hon. Gentleman has not appreciated the point of connection between the two forms of insurance. If a vessel is privately insured she is not subject to the same conditions as to prohibitive and non-prohibitive voyages as if she were insured under the Government scheme. I am advised by the Advisory Committee that they cannot see their way to depart from the scheme without making a great leak in it.

Must that apply even if an undertaking is given to observe exactly the same conditions with regard to prohibited voyages as apply to Government insured ships?

I am afraid we should have no means of controlling the vessel even if the undertaking were given. The matter has been inquired into again and again, and I cannot promise any amendments.

Marriages Off The Strength

Widows' And Orphans' Pensions

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War whether a decision has yet been arrived at on the question of granting widows and orphans pensions to the wives of soldiers married off the strength?

National Reserve

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War if it is intended to call up the National Reserve, and at what date?

Such members of the National Reserve as are required by the Army Council have already been called up. They include:—

  • 1. Ex-Regular non-commissioned officers of Classes I. and II. under forty-two for service as non-commissioned officers in the new Army.
  • 2. All National Reservists of Classes I. and II. under forty-two for enlistment with Reserve units.
  • 3. Such National Reservists of Class II. who are required and who have been called up by officers commanding Territorial Force units to complete establishment of their units in accordance with paragraph 18, National Reserve Regulations.
  • National Relief Fund

    I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that it is proposed to devote part of the money subscribed to the National Relief Fund to assisting the widows and orphans of soldiers killed on active service; and whether, in view of the large amount of unemployment and poverty caused by the war, the Government will take steps to see that the dependants of those who have died in the defence of their country should be adequately maintained out of public funds, so that the whole of the money subscribed for national relief may be devoted to relieving those cases for which no other provision is available?

    I understand that there is no decision to devote part of the National Relief Fund to supplement systematically the pensions of widows and children of soldiers, though arrangements have been made to assist the Royal Patriotic Fund in making temporary payments to obviate distress until pensions can be paid.

    May we take it that the policy of the Government will be to provide for the widows and orphans of soldiers and sailors out of public funds, and not by private charity?

    Municipal Elections

    I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether the Government proposes to take any action with regard to the postponement of the municipal elections which are due to take place in November?

    The Government have considered the question of introducing a Bill to postpone the municipal elections which would in ordinary course take place next November, but have decided that there is no sufficient reason for such legislation. Local arrangements can be made by agreement to avoid party contests in those elections, and the House will no doubt agree that in present circumstances such arrangements should, wherever possible, be made.

    Exchange Of Prisoners Of War

    I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if it is not possible to effect an exchange of prisoners without long delay in the case of men over the combatant age, and who are known to be close to the Dutch frontier?

    Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the matter is a very pressing one, owing to the failing health of several of the men so interned, and do his best to expedite an interchange?

    Yes, I will take any steps which are possible. It is obviously a matter that cannot be settled very quickly.

    Land Valuation (Notices Of Objection)

    I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to Section 27 of the Finance Act, 1910, whether, in view of the facts, that, at the expiration of sixty days, provisional valuations are in default of objection confirmed as the original total values and original site values of land for the purposes of the Act, and that many owners of land are now absent on Active Service, and that the staffs of many of those responsible for considering such valuations are for the same reason too reduced to deal with them adequately, he will temporarily suspend the service of provisional valuations on owners of land, or, failing that, will extend the period within which objections may be made to six months?

    The Commissioners of Inland Revenue recently decided to extend the time for giving notice of objection in the case of all provisional valuations served within sixty days prior to the date of mobilisation or served after that date, until sixty days subsequent to a date to be notified hereafter. This decision was announced in the Press on the 15th instant and appears on all copies of valuations served since that date.

    Special Reserve (Re-Enlistment)

    I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will cause a special Press notice to be issued stating in clear, simple language upon what terms N.C.O.'s and men of the Special Reserve can rejoin their regiments, and particularly what bounties they would be entitled to on rejoining?

    Foot-And-Mouth Disease

    I beg to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, in view of the clean bill of health in Ireland, whether he will consider, in the interests of this country and Ireland, the advisability of modifying the Regulations with respect to the importation and transport of cattle?

    I have only just received notice of this question. I hope to be able to give the hon. Member an answer to-morrow, after consultation with my Noble chief.

    German Shareholders Companies Registered In United Kingdom

    I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether it is proposed to grant licences to trade to companies recently registered in England the shares of which are held by Germans living in Germany, and which companies are merely a change of name from the original German firms or companies, the ownership being the same, namely, German?

    I am at present causing inquiries to be made on the subject of such companies as are referred to in my hon. Friend's question. I can assure him that the matter will have my very careful consideration.

    Employment Of Married Men During War

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make representations to employers of labour throughout the country suggesting to them that when engaging men, during the continuance of the War, they should give preference to married men?

    I agree with the hon. Member that it is desirable that for ordinary industrial employment married men should, so far as practicable in this emergency, be given a preference over equally qualified unmarried men who have no people dependent on them, and I will not lose sight of this point in any representations that may be made to employers in regard to the engagement of labour.

    British Expeditionary Force (Casualties)

    I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War what steps are being taken to relieve the suspense and anxiety of those who have relatives serving in the British Expeditionary Force?

    That is an absurd question to ask. Sir John French has reported that, owing to the extended front on which the operations took place, it is difficult to compile a list. It would be most cruel to issue one that is imperfect.

    Notices Of Questions To Ministers

    May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, in the exceptional circumstances of the present sittings of the House, notice of oral questions of one day, instead of two days, might be accepted, so that the large number of private notice questions might be diminished?

    The Standing Order says that there must be two days' notice, but I dare say that in the exceptional circumstances in which we meet it will be the general view of the House that questions handed in at the Table, say, to-day, might be answered next day, and that questions handed in on Thursday might be answered on Friday.

    May I ask whether, in cases when the House rises suddenly, it would be possible to hand in questions up to six or seven o clock, or an hour after the House has ceased to sit? I think that would facilitate what everybody wishes.

    I am in the hands of the House. I think it would be breaking into the rule, which is very well established, that you cannot hand in a notice when the House is not sitting. The difficulty can always be met in the case of urgent questions, which can be taken after a, quarter to four. I shall be prepared to maintain an open mind as to questions of urgency.

    Sympathy With Belgium

    Prime Minister's Promised Tribute

    "That a humble address be presented to His Majesty, praying him to convey to His Majesty the King of the Belgians the sympathy and admiration with which this country regards the heroic resistance offered by his army and people to the wanton invasion of his territory, and an assurance of the determination of this country to support in every way the efforts of Belgium to vindicate her own independence and the public law of Europe."

    Orders Of The Day

    War Loan

    Ordered, That the Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means may be considered this day as soon as it is reported from the Committee, notwithstanding the practice of the House relating to the interval between the report and consideration of such a Resolution.—[ Mr. Lloyd George.]

    Ways And Means

    Considered in Committee.

    [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]

    I beg to move, "That, for the purpose of raising the Supply granted to His Majesty for the service of the year ending on the thirty-first day of March nineteen hundred and fifteen, the Treasury may borrow in such manner as they think fit on the security of the Consolidated Fund, and may charge any expenses incurred in connection therewith on the Consolidated Fund."

    That Resolution, if adopted by the Committee, will be the basis of a War Loan Bill. It differs from all other War Loan Bills in two respects. The first is that the actual amount is not inserted in the Bill for this reason—the amount is conditioned by the Bill. It is to meet the sum of money which has been voted already by the House, but it is quite impossible for us to state at the present moment what the actual amount will be, because it will mean not merely the £100,000,000 credit, but also the sum by which the Revenue will be conditioned in consequence of the draft that always follows in the event of war. The second point in which it differs from other Bills is that it does not indicate the special method which we propose to adopt to raise the money, and I think the Committee will realise that is for the very good reason that at the present moment we are not in a position to come to a decision as to the best method of raising the money. Owing to the dislocation of the Money Market, we cannot judge at the time what will be the best way of raising the money. We might raise it in two ways until we are in a position to judge how the money could best be raised. The House might not be sitting at that moment, and we might lose lour market. Therefore, we propose to ask the House to give us power to decide for the time being, according to the condition of the market for the time being, what would be the best method of raising the money. We cannot at present raise a permanent loan. It would not be desirable. We have financed the war for the time being by means of Treasury Bills, but the time will come when we must come to a decision to raise the money by some more permanent method. That time has not yet arrived, and we hope that the House will allow us for the time being to get full power to raise this money by the means which we are advised for the time being are the best means of raising it.

    The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman to leave open the manner in which the money is to be raised is most excellent. It could not be done in any other way, as it might be necessary to postpone for the moment deciding the method to be adopted, and, therefore, I shall have very much pleasure in supporting this proposal. I would like, however, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be possible to put in the amount dealt with. I do not press this in the least, but I think that it would be in accordance with the precedents.

    When the hon. Baronet sees the Bill he will find that the amount is determined by the amount of money which has been voted by the House. The actual figure we could not possibly at the present moment determine, because we are not in a position to say what it is.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Resolution reported, and, pursuant to the Order of the House this day, considered, and agreed to.

    Bill to provide for raising Money for the present War ordered to be brought in by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Attorney-General and Mr. Montagu. Presented accordingly; read the first time; to be read a second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 391.]

    Currency And Bank Loan (Amendment) Bill

    Order read for Second Reading.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

    There are two points as to which I would like information. The first is: Whether it is proposed to take the Committee stage to-day? A second point is this: Sub-section (6) of Clause 1 of the original Act provides that for the purpose of meeting immediate exigencies all postal orders issued either before or after this Act are legal tender. The result of that has been that the Post Office has forced into currency an immense number of postal orders, the necessity of which I am wholly unable to see. I think that they are a very unpopular and a very inconvenient currency. I would like to know what ground there is for stinting the silver currency of the country. Great inconvenience is caused at present by the scarcity of small silver change. As I understood, when this subject was debated before, the Government intended to coin silver freely. There is no scarcity of silver. I do not see that the price of silver has risen since the war broke out. The Government makes a profit on every pound of silver coined. The public wants silver at the present moment. If you go into a post office and offer a sovereign for five shillings' worth of stamps, the post-office will refuse to give silver change, and insist upon your taking a number of postal orders. Is there any objection to or difficulty in the free coinage of silver, so that the public inconvenience, which is keenly felt in some districts owing to the great want of small silver change, may be removed?

    I understand that this small Bill, to which no objection can be taken, is a Bill mainly to assist the bankers. I would like to ask my right hon. Friend if he will see that some of the banks, especially those which give facilities for foreign business—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"]—and which have received such liberal assistance from the Government, especially from my right hon. Friend and from this House also, will take care that they give the facilities to the trade and to their customers which this House and the Government intend to be secured by their legislation. I cannot make that suggestion without stating that a great many of the banks, especially the largest and best known banks in this country, are behaving exceedingly well, and though they have, as they were entitled to do, taken advantage in a formal way of the moratorium, yet I think that in the matter of facilities to customers, discounting bills, loans, and everything connected with ordinary general trade, the great bankers, so far as my experience goes, and that of many friends whom I have consulted in the country, are behaving in a very liberal and fair way, and are endeavouring to carry the country through a great emergency. But there is another section of bankers. They are the bankers who facilitate foreign trade.

    It is exceedingly important that this section of our business should work easily, that bills should regularly be sold and bought in the foreign market from which we get food supplies, and seeing that the Government have not only assisted the bankers, but that we have authorised this system of national insurance, it is very desirable that, if possible, the wheels of commerce should run perfectly smoothly, and, above all, that these supplies of all kinds should come freely in. I am very sorry to say that in some cases these bankers, who are engaged in foreign business, are putting on great restrictions. They will not give the proper facilities; they will not purchase bills. This morning I had a telegram from a foreign market saying that no bills are dealt with, save under unreasonable conditions. I would be glad if my right hon. Friend would say a few words now giving an assurance that the Treasury are willing to hear complaints and to give assistance. It would be a great help to the trade of this country in the present emergency. I am sure that all the House recognises that it is the aim of the Government to give facilities so that our trade, the routes for which are being kept clear by our powerful Fleet, may go on smoothly during the continuance of the War, and also that the price of food may be kept down. This great end will not be secured, notwithstanding the efforts of this House and of the Government, unless the banks, and especially that section of the banks to which I have referred, will recognise their responsibility, and realise that the country and the Government have done something for them and that they ought also to fulfil their part of the bargain and give all possible facilities for trade, especially for the bringing in of foreign supplies.

    I do not propose to follow my right hon. Friend, though I think that what he has said with regard to the big banks of the country would require a little modification, as I do not think that they are giving satisfaction quite to the extent he has suggested. I do not propose to proceed to a general discussion now, but should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether this House will have an opportunity of hearing from him a somewhat full statement as to what is being done in these financial matters generally. We have heard nothing about the guarantee which is being given or the terms on which it is given. We none of us know much in regard to the conditions under which notes have been issued, and the great assistance given to the banks. I am not one of those who feel that they have responded as they ought to the assistance which has been given. I am afraid they have taken the opportunity to strengthen and protect themselves somewhat at the expense of the community. I think it would be well that we should have an opportunity to express some opinion in this House with regard to any suggestion for the extension of the moratorium. If there is to be an extension of such a moratorium as we have now got it would be extremely inadvisable, and ought not to be thought of. Something may be required to be done, especially in regard to foreign bills and mortgages, and various matters of that kind, in regard to which it is quite possible and proper that there should be an extension of the general moratorium, but I venture to suggest that it would be little less than a disaster, or would be very serious, to a large part of the trade of this country—important as is the position of the City of London, it is not the country at large—and therefore we trust that we may have a full statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I must say we all recognise, has done so much, and has done it so promptly. We shall be glad to hear an explanation from him when it is agreeable to him, and hope that we may have an opportunity of briefly saying something on these matters.

    I desire to join in the compliment paid by the hon. Member for the Spen Valley on the work done by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So far as the Scottish banks are concerned—I know there have been certain difficulties at first in regard to joint stock banks!—their action—from inquiries I have made of the managers of important Scottish banks—with regard to their customers has been marked by generosity. Facilities are given and have been given, where required, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows, and there has been no difficulty on the part of the Scottish banks at all. There is one point on which I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question. As I understand, the Treasury notes are issued on the payment of a certain percentage, 5 per cent., or whatever it may be. I believe a demand has been made by the Treasury to the bankers for payment of some percentage. I know that has been done in certain cases, although it was not persisted in. I only mention the matter now in order to make it certain that it shall be stopped where the bank is prepared to pay. Certificates, of course, are necessary in the case of deposit of bills or notes against the issue.

    May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will inform the House as to the amount of these notes that have been issued?

    May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the certificates referred to in Clause 2? Is it merely a note of a larger denomination which is issued by the Treasury for convenience, instead of, as the words limit it, in Clause 2, with a view to the issue of a number of notes for a smaller amount? If that be not the case, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain what is meant.

    I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the interpretation the Treasury put on the moratorium, where it is applied to contracts entered into before the 5th August, is correct? If so, the effect will be enormous. There are many contracts under which there are weekly and monthly deliveries of goods. If the moratorium is extended, and it applies to contracts before the 5th August, under which the contractors have to make one delivery of goods after another, there will be found an accumulation of credits, which must have most serious consequences.

    I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps will be taken to relieve the importers of foreign and Colonial raw produce, such as cotton, jute, seeds, and hides, who have at the expiry of the moratorium paid a draft to the Commissioners drawn against the produce for which they have received no payment; so that if the moratorium is suddenly dealt with before normal conditions are re-established, these firms, and many firms dependent upon them, would be practically confronted with ruin?

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer could not be expected to foresee that a question of that kind would be raised on this Bill, and the hon. Member should give notice of it.

    Shall I be allowed, under the circumstances, to put it down to-morrow, for, if the House rises suddenly, no opportunity would offer?

    If the hon. Member puts a question down to-day, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be in a position to deal with it.

    May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there will be any opportunity of seeing the actual one pound note to be issued in the Tea Room before it is issued? There are so many one pound notes, especially in connection with the Scottish banks, that it is material that this one pound note should differ in design from other one pound notes. I do not know how soon it is going to be issued, but is there any hope of putting one in the Tea Room, where it could be seen by Members of the House?

    Before the Chancellor of the Exchequer replies, I should like to ask whether the favour shown to bankers in the issue of certificates is to be extended to fire insurance companies and like companies, who, particularly in time of war, have a great many sudden payments to make, and therefore require favours of the same sort as those which are given to bankers?

    I desire to support the appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us an opportunity for the full discussion of the question of the moratorium, which may be an excellent thing, but which may be carried too far. After all, it affects very much what is the principal part of commerce, namely, bill discounting, and the effect of the moratorium upon it was to stop bill discounting altogether, and until the moratorium is restricted, and we get back more or less to the general flow, you will not have bill discounting, for you cannot get bills discounted, and you cannot carry on business. What happens is this: The bill brokers owe the banks a large sum of money, and the bill books are full of bills which come under the moratorium. Therefore the banks would not discount any more or lend any more to the broker. Thus the matter went through a rather unfortunate phase, and certainly for three weeks since the declaration of the moratorium there has been no bill discounting throughout the whole country. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer has relieved that position by what I am afraid will be a very costly operation. I hope when we come to discuss the moratorium it may be discussed carefully as to the resulting effects on the commerce of the country if it is not carefully restricted.

    With reference to what the last speaker has said, I cannot share his views. I think it is absolutely essential that the moratorium in some form or other should be extended, perhaps with modifications, and I think it is perfectly impossible for the moratorium to cease. I should like to join in what the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) said about the coinage of silver. There has been a difficulty in getting silver for wages since the outbreak of the War, and I cannot see why there should be any difficulty in turning out silver. The banks have great difficulty in getting silver, and surely it ought not to be impossible to get it. I wish, also, my right hon. Friend to consider a suggestion which has been made to me. Very large sums of money are owing by this country to Germany, and people in Germany are largely indebted to people in this country. I, at the present time, owe money to Germany, and, of course, I am not going to pay it. I would suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at all events, to consider the question whether it would not be possible to have some ratification between the sums owed by German people and those owed by people in this country. I put the suggestion to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who in the way he has handled all these difficulties, novel in many of their aspects, has dealt with them to the entire satisfaction of the whole of the trading community, and most certainly to the satisfaction of the bankers. So far as the large joint stock banks are concerned, I entirely differ from those of my hon. Friend who say that those banks have not given facilities. I believe the northern banks, or some of them, have not given facilities, but I believe the large London joint stock banks have. One of the directors of the London City and Midland Bank told me that they had not refused a single facility to a single customer, and that they had in fact increased facilities. The same applies to Lloyds Bank. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] The same applies to Williams, Deacon Bank. Therefore it is not quite fair to attack the banks, and say that they are not giving facilities. On the whole I think that the large London joint stock banks have behaved throughout this crisis exceedingly well. I would ask the Chancellor to consider the other question I have raised, and I hope that he will be able to find some solution of the difficulty. My right hon. Friend may also be interested to know that while some time ago he was the most hated man in the City to-day he is the most popular there.

    Before I come to the very important questions which have been raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker), and afterwards by other hon. Gentlemen on both sides, I would like to deal with two or three of the subsidiary questions which have been raised. One of them was the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and afterwards by one or two other hon. Members, namely, with regard to the scarcity of silver. I do not know why there should be any scarcity of silver. The temporary scarcity of silver has not been because there has been any shortage in the issue of silver from the Mint, and I am afraid there must have been some hoarding of silver, a very stupid thing to have done.

    Yes, a slight increase. We rather hesitated to deluge, as it were, the public with silver, as it is not desirable from many points of view unless you are forced to do it. The reason why there was a shortage of silver two or three weeks ago was the scarcity of gold when silver was used to a point to which it is not generally used by the public you had people carrying about, say, forty shillings worth of silver for the simple reason that they could not get gold to pay either railway fares or for their dinners, and what not. As my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Simon) reminds me, very often the banks gave you £5 in silver in return for a £5 note. I hope that will be corrected without being forced to coin an excessive amount of silver. However, we have done our best to meet the difficulty within the last week or fortnight, but we cannot do it all at once. I hope that when the public get better accustomed to the 10s. and £1 notes that there will be less difficulty in that respect than is experienced at the present moment. I come to the question of the design on the note. My hon. Friend (Mr. J. Hogge) is very anxious to have a look at it. He suggests it would be sufficiently guarded. I think he also wanted specimens of other notes for the purpose of comparison.

    There is one thing he said with which I agree, and that is that we ought to have a note different in design from that of the Scottish notes, and very beautiful notes those are. I have been examining them repeatedly during the last fortnight, and I am afraid that the new design will not compare in artistic merit with those of the Scottish banks. I cannot hope for that. We have to consider a good many things, and the first is, in connection with a note, whether it is easily forgable or not. Then you have got to consider the watermarks. You have not merely to have the watermark there, but it must be easily seen and detected. Therefore we have decided to discard those very artistic designs for the very reason that if you have got a good mass of colour on your note it is not so easy to detect the forgery.

    4.0 P.M.

    I have been told by those who are experts in this matter—I am sorry to see the hon. Baronet set himself up as one of them—that the simpler the design is the more difficult it is to forge, and the simpler the signature is the more difficult it is to forge. Signatures with great flourishes are more easily forged. If you have a really simple signature, like that on a Bank of England note, it is the most difficult thing in the world to forge it. It is much more difficult to imitate simplicity than to imitate flourishes and special adornments. That is the principle on which we have proceeded in the preparation of these notes. We have a simple note, but it takes a very long time to prepare them. Therefore, I cannot hope to have them ready for some time.

    It has taken us a long time to come to a decision, but at last we have decided in favour of a simple note, which will not be readily forgable. I think that, once adopted, they may become very popular, and form an integral part of our monetary system. With regard to the certificate, the object is really to create credit without issuing the actual notes. We want the banks to feel that they are enabled to finance trade, and that when they want actual currency they can draw on the certificate. Supposing a bank has a certificate for £1,000,000: if it is short of currency, it may like to have £100,000 in notes. But it might not want to pay the interest on the whole £1,000,000. It would pay the interest on the £100,000 actually issued. The banks have the knowledge that they have that credit in the bank, without having to ask for the actual currency and pay interest on it. That facilitates trade. It is purely a certificate that they are entitled to so much credit. They need not draw upon it, but they can do so; and as long as they have so much credit in the Treasury, it enables them to make arrangements for financing the trade of the country. That is the real reason why we have inserted this for the first time. At present they have actually to draw their notes before they get any credit. I think it is very important to have the credit without having actually to draw the notes.

    Can they draw against that credit from time to time? In other words, they need not draw out the whole credit at once?

    Certainly not. They can present their notes from time to time. They can increase or diminish the amount of their notes from time to time. But if they want an increased credit they must make new arrangements with the bank. Then there is the important question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the Mansfield Division (Sir A. Markham) with regard to the clearing of German bills. That is a very difficult, delicate, and dangerous operation. I need hardly tell my hon. Friend that I have been looking into it for some time. The real danger is that somehow or other bills due from this country to Germany might be honoured, but that we might not get much out of bills due from Germany to us. We have to take great care that the transaction is not a one-sided one. For that reason we have to proceed very carefully. I am discussing the matter with a great many gentlemen who have been engaged in this trade, and I find it is a very difficult thing to do. I hope to be able, in the course of the next few days, to set up some sort of machinery that will attempt the operation; but we must take good care that in doing so we are not financing the enemy. We have had it in our minds for the last fortnight, but up to the present we have not found any scheme which satisfies us that we will be able to set these two transactions against each other without any money, somehow or other, percolating through to the enemies of our country. With regard to the certificate of insurance companies, insurance companies cannot get notes, and therefore the certificate will not apply to them. The certificate applies simply to the issue of notes by banks; therefore it would not cover the case of insurance companies.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman refer to contracts for goods where there are periodical deliveries?

    May I ask in regard to the issue of credit notes: I understand that interest is charged on notes so issued, but if you give a cheque for £100,000 to the Bank of England, you will of course be entitled to £100,000 of notes without any charge?

    Those are notes of the Bank of England. Those are notes given against credit.

    No; Treasury notes retained against the issue of notes of any bank of issue.

    I should like to know exactly what the point of the hon. Baronet is. Perhaps he will tell me later on. I am not sure that I know what the difficulty is.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what are the objections to increasing the amount of coinage?

    The general objection is that you do not want too much silver issued from the Mint. It might be found in a short time that there was more silver than was actually needed. There must be a limit to the amount issued.

    The old age pensioner much prefers two half-crowns to a postal order.

    As long as he gets the credit, that is all he requires. My right hon. Friend (Sir T. Whittaker) suggested that it was desirable that a statement should be made of the arrangements entered into by the Government with regard to the finance of the country. I agree. I hope it will be possible, perhaps on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House in the course of a couple of days, to do so. I shall be glad to have an opportunity, not only to make the statement, but also to hear what Members in all parts of the House have to say on the subject in the way of suggestions as to the course we ought to pursue. There are two or three very special difficulties on which personally I have not yet been able to make up my mind as to the best course to be adopted. The first is with regard to the moratorium. A number of hon. Gentlemen have expressed themselves very strongly on that question. They think the moratorium ought to be brought to a speedy termination. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!" and "No!"] That is an indication of the divided state of opinion on the subject.

    I will tell the House what has been done in the matter. I have issued a questionnaire to some of the leading traders in the country. I can assure the House that I have not consulted merely bankers in the City of London. I agree with my right hon. Friend that the interests of the City of London are not necessarily identical with those of the trading community throughout the country. It is a totally different business. It is a very important and very essential part, but only a part. There was a real danger no doubt that if you consulted financiers too exclusively you might not obtain the views of the trading community. I have been in conference with leading traders, and afterwards, by means of direct communication with some of the leading manufacturers and retail traders in the kingdom, to ascertain their views with regard to the moratorium and banking facilities. I will deal with the moratorium first. Up to three o'clock to-day we have received something like 8,000 replies to the questions which I put. They were in the proportion of something like 4,500 in favour of bringing the moratorium to an end on the 4th September, to 3,500 in favour of extending it. That shows how very divided the trading community are on the subject. The banks are almost unanimously in favour of extending it. The financial houses are in favour of extending it. Taking the retail traders, I certainly thought that they would have been overwhelming in favour of putting an end to it. But they were not. There was a majority, a substantial majority, in favour of bringing it to an end, but only a majority. The manufacturers, I should say, were two to one in favour of bringing the moratorium to an end. But still the remaining one-third represented very important interests in the manufacturing world, who were very much afraid that if we brought the moratorium precipitately to an end, we might have a crash in the manufacturing world.

    It is a thing you cannot decide altogether by a majority. You may have two-thirds of a particular interest whom it suits to bring the moratorium to an end, and one-third to whom the matter would be so serious that you might destroy the whole trade of a particular community by so doing. We have to take that into account. Merchants are in favour of an extension of the moratorium—both foreign merchants and, I think, those engaged in home trade as well. I think that represents the views of different sections of the community.

    Could my right hon. Friend, in looking through these replies, in any way separate the firms who are doing or are interested in foreign trade? They will be in favour of an extension, and if there could be a limited extension applying to those bills, it would very likely entirely alter the replies.

    You cannot really divide the manufacturers of this country into those who are doing foreign trade and those who are doing home trade. There are a great many manufacturers doing both home and foreign trade. But, after all, the foreign trade of this country represents a larger proportion of our general trade than that of any other country. That is why it is so important to us. I have tried to go through these very carefully. I have tried to consider whether it is possible to get the moratorium—a limited moratorium—which would protect these particular interests without interfering with those who would rather have no moratorium at all. It is a very difficult thing. With a limited moratorium we found ourselves in this position: You were protecting A against his debts; you were not protecting B, although B was dependent upon A to carry on business. That is the real difficulty. The difficulty is that if you protect a section of the community and leave others unprotected, you will find that these latter will be unable to finance themselves because the protected people are not paying them. That is one of the difficulties which we have to consider very carefully. The debates in the House during the next couple of days, if it can be arranged, would be exceedingly useful to the Government in coming to a definite decision upon the subject.

    About 10,000; but that does not really represent what has been done. For instance, take the drapers, the grocers, the butchers, and the great retail trades. Their own societies issued circulars, or took other steps, in order to find out what the opinion of their particular friends were. So I obtained the opinion of the retail traders very largely, not by direct questionnaires, but through their own associations. The result has been that we have really elicited the opinion of a very considerable number of traders in every branch of industry and commerce in this country, and the result I have indicated; that they are hopelessly divided upon the subject. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have taken the trouble to read the discussions which have taken place in some of the commercial papers they will find that same division of opinion there. It is a very difficult thing to decide. We shall have to come to a decision within the next few days, and I should like to hear from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen what their views are. I had a very good illustration of the matter at a meeting of traders held last week. I asked the leading trader there what was his opinion of the moratorium. That gentleman replied: "I am a colliery proprietor and a merchant: as a colliery proprietor, I should like to bring it to an end; as a merchant, I should like it to continue." That is really the position in which the community finds itself in regard to the moratorium. We have been told that the steps we have taken in regard to the discounting of bills involves risk. This is a time when we must take risks. We must keep up the credit of this country; for, after all, it is upon the strength of the credit of this country that the whole of the trade has been won.

    We have got to keep the machinery of trade, commerce, and industry going, so that we shall not find ourselves at the end of the War without the important business that we have been transacting for the whole of the civilised world, it having passed away to some other country. That is really what we have got to see to. It may be necessary to take stronger action. A good deal depends upon the banks. I think we have done for the banks as much as ever they could have expected of us. We did not do it in order to strengthen their position or to increase their dividends. We did it in order to enable them to finance the trade of the country during a difficult period. If the Government and the country are prepared to take risks, they must take risks as well. I agree with what has been said by some of my hon. Friends that a very considerable number of banks have behaved admirably. It may be necessary to name the banks which have not behaved admirably. I do not think it would be desirable to do it now.

    I have no right on behalf of the House of Commons and the Government to pledge the credit of the country to support the banks without seeing how they use that credit placed at their disposal. Some banks have not behaved well, and I think that it is better that that should be said. I think we must take it that this has been due to timidity, and a good deal to over-caution. They have had to think about their own depositors. I do not think they were considering their own shareholders. I do not believe that they were considering the price of their shares. They were considering their depositors. They considered themselves to be trustees of their depositors, and that they were not entitled to take very great risks. I think the time has come that they really ought to do so, with the credit of the State behind them. I called their attention last week to complaints which have come to me. I said that it would be my duty to report to the House of Commons that unless the trade of the country received the usual facilities for its performance, and even greater facilities in the special emergencies, then I had no doubt at all that the House of Commons would take some action which would place behind the trade of the country the necessary credit in order to enable it to carry on.

    I am very glad to be able to say that the banks, after careful consideration, have come to the conclusion that they can finance business much more liberally than they were in a position to do during the first fortnight. I hope that in the course of the next few days we shall receive reports showing that this more liberal policy is having an effect in certain areas and in certain trades where the restrictive action of the banks has acted undoubtedly very prejudicially to business. I do not think it would be desirable for me at the present time to say anything further. One hon. Gentleman on this side of the House called attention to the fact that the foreign exchanges had broken down, and that the bridge had not yet been quite repaired. That is quite true. It has been a very sudden breakdown, a snapping of the communications. The cords have been repaired, and I hope that every day will show an improvement. But if it be necessary to take any further action in order to expedite matters then I may have to come to the House of Commons. I do not think it is. I think that the discounting of bills has had this effect: that the banks will find it to their own interest to use the liberated cash for the purpose of financing trade. There is no other way to use the cash to their own advantage. I hope in the course of a couple of days to be able to make a full statement showing what has been done. I shall be very glad if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will, by means of discussion in this House, offer such suggestions to the Government as their experience shows will be helpful.

    I do not desire to add much by way of comment to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said. He has done me the honour of, from time to time, calling me into consultation with him. It must not be supposed by anyone inside or outside the House that I can, or do, in any way share the responsibility which falls upon the right hon. Gentleman, or that I can relieve him of his burden, but it does make my position a little difficult—I will not say that—but a little acute, for there are things which I might desire to say in the House if I had not free access outside to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the same time if I urge reticence on my hon. Friends behind me they may naturally reply: "That is all very well for you who have access to the Chancellor of the Exchequer elsewhere, but it does not suit us who perhaps cannot meet the Chancellor on such familiar grounds." My hon. Friends may be inclined to discuss anything that I say in praise of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done because they may think I am somewhat responsible for it, being more in consultation with the right hon. Gentleman than they; but at least they will know that it has not been my habit to lavish unmixed praise upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I hope they will give me credit for sincerity when I say that I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has handled a very difficult question with great tact, great skill, and great judgment. I have, for instance, had the opportunity, through the Chancellor's kindness, to examine the rather full summary of returns of those 10,000 inquiries to which he referred.

    I can absolutely confirm what the right hon. Gentleman has said as to the conflict of evidence as to what is best to be done amongst those who have replied, either in London or in the provinces, or in almost any trade or industry. Each man can give an answer to his particular case if it is a simple one. There are only a comparatively small number of people who, like the gentleman quoted by the Chancellor, replied for themselves in two capacities. "Aye," as a colliery proprietor, and "No" as a merchant. Amongst traders in some classes there is an extraordinary diversity of opinion which, no doubt, the special circumstances justify, but which makes it very difficult to draw conclusions from as to what is best for the interests of the country as a whole. I would like to say this—and I say it not merely because it is due to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but because I think it is in the interest of the country that it should be said—I have had a good deal of correspondence from gentlemen who think they have complaints which they wish me to bring before the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The most familiar form of complaint is for the writer to say, "That the Chancellor of the Exchequer forgets us small men whilst ho is thinking altogether of the great banks or the great financial houses, or the great credit institutions." That is very shortsighted on the part of the small men. I can say, from my personal knowledge, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his advisers have been thinking of the little men just as much as they have been thinking of the big men or the big institutions. The little men are not so independent of the great credit institutions as they sometimes fancy themselves to be, and it is in the interests of the public as a whole, of small men just as much as big men, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken the steps he has taken to relieve the situation of the discounting houses, of the banks, and of great institutions of that kind.

    I do not, under the present circumstances, want to add anything to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said about the banks. I think the evidence goes to show, as you might expect, that some institutions have been more generous than others, that some institutions have done all they could be expected, and that some have not done all that could be expected, in view of the assistance which has been given to them. I think I can say that whilst all of us who have any real knowledge of the problem as a whole will make allowances for the difficulties that undoubtedly exist, all of us also will desire to strengthen the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in re-establishing the machinery of commerce and of trade, and we shall not feel great sympathy with any institution which, without justification, withholds facilities that it is in its power to give. I do not think it is desirable to say more than that. I would not even say that without saying that many of these institutions have done their very best—perhaps people little realise how much it was safe for them to do—to meet the emergency with which we are all concerned. But I am quite certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is wise in proceeding gently, and I am sure that the House would not be wise to attempt to hurry. I am equally sure that if, after full inquiry, the Chancellor of the Exchequer feels it necessary to propose further steps, either to stimulate or to assist these institutions to carry on trade or to provide means for trade to be carried on which they are unable to provide, he will have the sympathy of all parties in the House in the efforts he may make.

    I hope I may be permitted to say one or two words upon this subject. In my own personal experience I have come across cases of persons who, as far as I can judge, are perfectly solvent people and people of the highest reputation, but who are taking advantage of the moratorium, and I cannot help thinking that that is done because of the very low rate of interest at which they can renew their bills. Under the moratorium they can renew their bills at ½ or 1 per cent. So that taking advantage of the moratorium in the existing circumstances becomes the cheapest way of borrowing money. I do not think anybody ever intended that. I do not think that people should take advantage of the moratorium, not because they cannot pay, but because it is the cheapest way of borrowing money to carry on ordinary trade operations. I hope, if the moratorium is extended—and personally I am not one of those who are against that extension, because I am ready to believe there is a good deal to be said on the other side—but I hope, if it is extended, the terms of interest will be of such a character that people will not avail themselves of it if they can afford it. If you want to put pressure upon people not to avail of the moratorium, I suggest it should be made plain that under any extension of the moratorium the terms of interest should be less favourable than they are at present, so that people able to meet their obligations shall not be allowed to levy compulsory loans upon somebody else. The moratorium, if one is able to pay, is nothing more or less than a compulsory loan upon another person. If you levy a compulsory loan upon another person you ought to pay a handsome rate of interest, and you ought not to be placed in the position that your own money can be borrowed against your will through the moratorium, while you have to go to the bank and repay that money upon higher terms. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if he wants to get over the difficulty about the moratorium, one of the best means of getting over it would be to see that the rate of interest is of such a character that no person can take advantage of the moratorium who can afford to meet his obligation.

    I am full of admiration for what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done, and I, for one, would support him in any measure he brought forward to clear the air. I think he rather misunderstood the feeling upon this side of the House when he thought many of us were asking to bring to an abrupt conclusion the moratorium. I think what my right hon. Friend the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir Thomas Whittaker) wanted was some modification of it. That is the feeling that prevails all through the country. We know perfectly well and can realise that if the moratorium was brought to an abrupt conclusion, I do not say now or in a month or six months' time, it would disorganise business. We want it gradually removed, not only by such suggestions as were made by the last speaker as that of increasing the interest so as to make it very expensive for people to avail of it, but that there should be some condition that capital debt should be paid off, say, at 5 or 10 per cent. at the end of each month, so that it should not be an absolute moratorium but should gradually die out and leave us free from the debt hanging round the trade of the country, which is stopping so much the growing of trade which would take place if the moratorium was cleared out of the way.

    I want to ask one or two questions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. First, whether he could publish something in the nature of a White Paper, giving the exact nature of the guarantee he has given to the Bank of England in regard to pre-moratorium bills. If the House is going to be asked by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take some share of the responsibility taken by the Chancellor alone at the present moment, we should have some more information. I gather from his speech that he is going to ask the House to advise with him, and to take upon ourselves the burden not alone of following his guidance, but of sharing responsibility with him, and I think before we can do that we must have a few more facts. We must know the exact nature of the guarantee he has given to the Bank of England regarding pre-moratorium bills. We should also have an estimate of the extent of the liability the State has incurred in regard to those bills. Then with regard to the moratorium and the statement he has made in reference to the replies by ten thousand people, I think we should get a copy of the exact question he submitted to those people, and we should know how they were selected out of the hundred of thousands of people concerned, and from what list they were taken. I want to ask this further question: Whether he has considered at all the question of raising the amount of the small debts in the further moratorium indicated? The present moratorium provides that it shall not extend to debts under £5. I think the way to relieve the pressure would be gradually, from month to month, to raise that limit to £10, £20, or £30. I think that would be a convenient way of getting out of the difficulty the moratorium inflicts upon the small traders. I am not making any attack of any kind upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer: I am merely asking whether he would consider that that also might not be taken into account.

    I should like to support the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham. I know that there is an objection to raising the rate of interest under the moratorium, namely, that it might bear with undue hardship upon debtors. What I would like to point out in regard to the proposals that the rate of interest should be considerably raised is this. If you raised the rate on the one hand you have the disadvantage of the debtor paying a rather higher rate of interest than otherwise he would have to pay, but that is a very small matter compared with the other item which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed, namely, keeping the business of the country going. It is much more important to the traders—and I am speaking as a manufacturer and a large employer of labour—to be able to meet the difficulty of providing wages while there are large sums of money we cannot get in. We have to rely upon the help of the banks. I am speaking as a practical man, and I say it is very much more important to the country to keep our industries going and to be able to pay our people their wages every week than it is for a debtor, however hard pressed, to pay a somewhat higher rate of interest.

    I am speaking with considerable knowledge, because I have had conversations with my own bank, which is one of the largest in the country, and they have behaved very liberally. But more or less selfish traders—men in a large way of business—in order to save ½ or 1 per cent. for a few months, are keeping people who, perhaps as manufacturers, have to distribute large amounts of money every week in wages but of their money. I have had this brought to my knowledge: I have been told by bankers, who know what their own clients are doing and see it from their own books, that many of these people are keeping back money that they could well afford to pay. I put it very strongly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, although I agree that the moratorium should not be entirely suspended, it wants to be modified very considerably if it is to go on. May I put this also to the House? A great deal of mischief is done in this world by panic as in matters of food and currency. The public at large take an exaggerated view of matters when they do not know the details, and a great deal of panic and mischief is created by people in authority not taking the public into their confidence. The conclusion the public always arrives at is that things are worse than they are, and that is why I should like to see the present moratorium considerably modified. The more it is modified and the sooner we can put an end to it the better. The rate of discount on bills now is dropping almost every day. That is a good sign. If we could modify the moratorium so that it should merely apply to those who need it, I am sure we should do a good thing for the trade of the country, and we should make our policy aim at that end as soon as possible.

    I am asked to inquire from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether something could not be done to prevent unscrupulous lessees making use of the moratorium in withholding rents from lessors while insisting upon the payment of rents from their own tenants. The result is, in some cases brought to my notice, that certain poor people for whom trustees are acting and who ought to receive those rents are deprived of the whole of their means of subsistence owing to their inability to obtain rents from quite well-to-do persons while these lessees are demanding the whole of the payment of rents from their own tenants. It seems a most unfair use to make of the moratorium, and I venture to hope the Government may take some steps to prevent injustice in this matter.

    There is one point which I should like to put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I should like to hear from him what it is possible to do in the matter. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman has heard of the case of a certain penny bank. I am not going to suggest that the Government can do anything in this matter, but I wish to mention the sort of criticism which is taking place. People say that it looks as though the Government have rendered assistance to the ordinary capitalist to carry on his business, and have rendered him every assistance to get over his serious financial difficulties, whereas in the case of such institutions as the penny banks, which are devoted especially and almost exclusively to the thrift of the poor, no assistance whatever is being rendered to them. There are one or two institutions in a rather peculiar position, and the criticisms made upon this subject outside has been very severe. I dare say the Chancellor of the Exchequer can justify his action, and if he does then everybody will understand the situation. But unless some statement is made on the subject an entirely false impression may prevail. The attitude taken up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be everything that is desired, but I have frequently heard these criticisms calling attention to a difference in the treatment meted out to large banking institutions, and to those institutions in which the working classes are particularly interested. We do not want our people to be under the false impression that institutions connected with the wealthy are protected and are prevented from becoming insolvent, whilst those concerned with the savings of the poor have no attention paid to them.

    While the Chancellor of Exchequer is dealing with the question of moratorium relating to persons who belong to the commercial classes, will he consider and come to a definite conclusion as to what he considers the duty of the Government and the State with regard to those suffering through distraint for rent at this quite exceptional time?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman going to deal with hire and purchase agreements?

    Yes. I can assure the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) that there has been no discrimination in this matter of the moratorium. I would rather not go into the case of the particular institution which the hon. Member mentioned, because I do not think it would help that institution. May I point out, however, that it suspended payment before the war, and for reasons which have nothing whatever to do with the War. The hon. Member for Wilton (Mr. C. Bathurst) put to me a question which illustrates the difficulty of a partial moratorium, and my hon. Friend behind has already pointed out one of the dangers. This is one of the things that makes it exceedingly difficult to give any moratorium at all unless it is a general one. That is the best I can give to the hon. Member. We had a limited moratorium, and the result is that one person takes advantage of it for his own protection, and then presses those who are not protected by it for debts due to him. That is what I am afraid would happen. The hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) has asked that hon. Members should be supplied with the questionnaire. I think it is very desirable that hon. Members should have that information not only in regard to the questions, but also with the figures showing how the voting has gone, and also the character of the assistance and the conditions under which assistance has been given to discounting houses and banks. I think that is perfectly reasonable, and I hope I shall be able to do that to-morrow. Another hon. Member suggested that the amount of the debt protected should be increased, and that is one of the suggestions we have had under consideration. I think there is also a good deal to be said for the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt), and we are also considering that point. I am not so sure that it would be quite effective, but at any rate it might be one of the forms that a limited moratorium would assume if we come to the conclusion that a limited moratorium is the best in the interests of the public.

    Under an unlimited moratorium it could be done with a higher rate of interest.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for to-morrow.—[ Mr. Gulland.]

    Special Constables Bill

    Order for the Second Beading read.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

    There is a point in regard to this Bill which I think the Home Secretary should clear up, because there is a discrepancy between what I heard the right hon. Gentleman say and what he is reported to have said. He actually did say that—

    "Among other provisions it also proposes to extend the Police Acts so far as they need extension, by Order in Council to Special Constables, and in particular it is proposed that the allowances to constables on duty should be given also to Special Constables."
    The word "injured" is omitted from this Report, and questions have been raised outside as to whether special constables should be paid. There is already provision to pay them under the existing law by orders from justices, and if this machinery is to be set on foot certain difficulties will arise. In the first place, it is desirable, if possible, to recruit the force by voluntary service, and I fear the words of the Home Secretary, if not corrected, will create a very false impression throughout those parts of the country where the special force has been enrolled.

    With regard to this Bill, I would like to have some definition of the phrase "during the present War." This is very drastic legislation, and although one does not wish to offer any undue criticism, I think some definition of this phrase is necessary in the interests of the country. I wish to ask what interpretation is put upon this phrase by the Government. Does it mean so long as we ourselves are in an actual state of war, or so long as any of the Powers are at war? It is quite conceivable, seeing the number of Powers now engaged in war, that in any settlement some Powers might cease to be at war and yet the War might go on with some of the minor Powers.

    I wish to ask the Home Secretary whether or not this Bill would apply to the special constables raised in the City of London? I am informed that there is some doubt upon this point. I would like to say, in answer to the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth), that a very simple Amendment such as "during the present War in which this country is engaged," or "during the War in which this country is at present engaged," would meet his point.

    As I understand this Bill, its object is to extend the existing law in cases where there is no provision as to riot or disturbance. Under the existing law there is power to compel men to act as special constables, and under this Bill, Subsection (d) of Section 1, there would be power to compel service as special constables during the War in the absence of any expectation of riot or disturbance. In point of fact, compulsion is now being exercised throughout the country in this matter. I have in my hand a letter from a gentleman who has been compelled by a letter from two justices to give service in that capacity. My correspondent in no way objects in principle to serving his country, nor have I any objection to compulsion if it be necessary to secure such service, but my correspondent points out that he is not at all qualified for the duties which have been imposed upon him of guarding telegraph posts, bridges, and so forth. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered whether compulsion is necessary to secure an adequate number of special constables, and, if it is necessary, has the right hon. Gentleman considered whether the country is likely to get the services of the most competent men in this way? Under voluntary service men will only offer their services when they feel that they are reasonably competent to perform those duties, but if two justices throughout the country are to be allowed to write, such letters calling upon any tradesmen or other gentlemen to give their services in this way, it is possible that we may not get the right class of men.

    5.0 P.M.

    I would like to ask a similar question as that put by the hon. Baronet with regard to the special constables who have been sworn in in the City of London. There are many places in the country—at all events I know of some: Lancashire for instance-where a considerable number of special constables have already been sworn in. Many of them are being paid, but, on the other hand, many are acting voluntarily. This Bill proposes to give the Government power to make regulations. Is it proposed that the regulations shall apply to those who have already taken upon themselves voluntarily the burden of acting as special constables? They have been sworn in on special terms, and it seems to me of considerable importance that we should know whether those special constables are going to be subject to the regulations which will be made in the future, under the conditions of which they did not enter the service, and under which they might not have been willing to enter the service. I should like to have an answer to this question, because I know some people who have already taken upon themselves the burden of being special constables under special conditions made perfectly clear to them, and their position might be considerably altered if they were made subject to these further conditions.

    Might I ask why in Clause I Sub-section (1), paragraphs (b) and (c), special constables are referred to as "which"? I should imagine it desirable that even in the most serious times special constables should continue to be of the masculine gender, and I think, therefore, the word "whom" should be substituted for the word "which."

    I will reply to the various points that have been put to me in the order in which they have been raised. I am greatly obliged to the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. James Hope) for having called my attention to a mis-report in yesterday's OFFICAL REPORT. I certainly said at the time, or meant to say, that the Bill was intended to enable an allowance to be paid to special constables injured on duty in precisely the same way as the law now permits an allowance to be paid in the case of ordinary constables.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) asked what interpretation was to be put upon the words "the present War." I assume that any Court which was interpreting the words would take them to mean the present War in which His Majesty's forces are now engaged, and I observe that in other Bills passed at the same time the words used are:—

    "The Bill shall have effect whilst the state of War in which His Majesty is engaged exists."

    I think that as the instructions to both draftsmen were precisely the same, and they have each rendered the instructions in those alternative words, we may safely assume that the alternative words mean the same thing. I see that the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson), who is an expert lawyer, agrees with me on that point. The hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) and another hon. Member raised the same point. This Bill will apply to the City of London, and consequently the force which is in course of being raised there, will come under the terms of this Bill. The hon. Member for the St. Augustine's Division (Mr. Ronald M'Neill) asked me whether under this Bill special constables could be compelled to serve. That is so. They could be. The application of the existing law to special constables enrolled under this Bill is quite general, and therefore there is no doubt that compulsion could be used, but I think it ought to be clearly understood that in asking the House to assent to this Bill we do not mean to use compulsion. We do not think, unless there is a fear of tumult or riot, that compulsion should be used, or that it will in fact be necessary.

    We find already that volunteers are coming forward to serve as special constables all over the country in large numbers, and I can only express my surprise that any two magistrates should have thought it necessary to have exercised compulsion—at the time it was illegal—in endeavouring to obtain special constables. I have asked whether we have any information from the Home Office as; to any other case, and I am told that we are unaware of any compulsion having been used in any part of the country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Sanderson) asked whether the regulations under which special constables had volunteered, and to which they have sworn, might be altered under this Bill. It is quite true that regulations may be made by Order in Council under this Bill, and it is conceivable that they might not be the same as those under which special constables have already volunteered to serve, but I can assure him that every effort will be made to see that nothing inconsistent with existing practice is done, and I think he may accept it, inasmuch as all these special constables will be under the control of the police authorities, that steps will be taken to secure that there is complete harmony. So far from extending the powers of police authorities, it is intended simply to enable them to raise special constables who will come under the control of the police authorities instead of having loose, disorganised bodies of men, raised by unauthorised persons, who would purport to act as special constables without any authority of the law behind them.

    Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman what steps the Home Office has taken to secure uniformity of practice throughout the different areas of the country?

    We hope under this Bill to secure that uniformity of practice which the hon. Gentleman desires. It will be observed we propose, as the Bill runs, that

    "His Majesty may, by Order in Council, make regulations with respect to the appointment and position of special constables."

    Then it goes on to say:—

    "And may by those regulations provide for the application to special constables, to which the regulations apply, of any of the provisions of the Police Acts, 1839 to 1910."

    That will introduce uniformity of practice and will bring the special constables under the control of the existing police authorities. Incidentally, I think it will do away with the necessity, or with the appearance of urgency in any person's mind, of recruiting on a semi-military or semi-police basis, unauthorised, unorganised bodies, with the intention of keeping the peace. We believe that under this Bill we shall have in the country a sufficient force, regular and special constables, to ensure the maintenance of peace and order, no matter what the circumstances may be in consequence of the progress of the War. I think that I have answered all the questions which have been put to me, except the one point as to whether the word used should be "whom" or "which," and I will submit that to the draughtsmen.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. McKenna.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee, and reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Isle Of Man (War Legislation) Bill

    Read a second time.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. McKenna.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee, and reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Defence Of The Realm (No 2) Bill

    Order for Second Reading read.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

    I want to ask the Home Secretary a question with regard to this Bill. There are some words of somewhat vague import in the first Clause—

    "or to prevent the spread of reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm."

    There is some uncertainty felt as to whether these words, taken in connection with the Bill in general and the Regulations to be issued, may not be capable of being interpreted by military authorities to prevent the expression in speech or in writing of any political opinions on the actions of the Government. I am not sure whether they could be stretched to cover that—and I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to reply—in connection with Section 13 of the Regulations which he has made under the original Act, and in which there are rather vague expressions used. Perhaps I might read to him the words. Section 13 of the Regulations runs as follows:—

    "Any police constable, officer of Customs, or any other person authorised for the purpose by the competent naval or military authority, may arrest without warrant any person whose behaviour is of such a nature as to give reasonable grounds for suspecting that he has acted, or is acting, or is about to act, in a manner prejudicial to the public safety, or the safety of the Realm, or upon whom may be found any article, book, letter, or other document, the possession of which gives grounds for such a suspicion, or who is suspected of having committed an offence under these Regulations."

    I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can give us any assurance that the Regulation and the new words he is proposing to insert will not be used for any such purpose as I have suggested?

    I can certainly give my hon. Friend the assurance for which he asks. Of course, he must understand that the Regulations under this Act have got to be read with the Act itself, and the Regulations are limited by paragraph (a) of Section 1. Although, as he read the words of the Regulation, they appear to be extremely wide, they must be read, and always would be read, in connection with the Clause of the Act, and I do not think that they would bear the interpretation which he thinks might be put upon them. Then with regard to the words contained in paragraph (a), Sub-clause (1), "or to prevent the spread of reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm," I do not think ray hon. Friend can have failed to observe the case of the man who was prosecuted for stating that the Black Watch had been cut up and the wounded brought home to this country. That man was convicted, not of the offence of publishing that most untrue statement, but because he was wearing a military uniform which he was not entitled to wear. It is most desirable that the spreading of false reports of that kind, which may cause disaffection and do cause alarm, should be punished, and it is obvious that it is only false reports of that kind which it is here proposed to make punishable. If my hon. Friend can suggest any words other than those contained here to cover offences of that kind, I shall be very glad to use them in lieu of these words. But it does appear to me that the actual language of the Clause is extremely reasonable, and I do not know of any Amendment that could better it.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. McKenna.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee, and reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Customs (Exportation Prohibition) Bill

    Order for Second Reading read.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—[ Mr. Runciman.]

    Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill will give a few words of explanation in regard to a point I wish to raise. Under this Bill, and under the Bill which it amends, there is power given to prohibit the exportation of certain articles from this country, and to prohibit also the exportation of articles containing more than a certain percentage of sugar. One, of course, can understand the object of that. But what I would like to know is this: Suppose a contract has been entered into by a confectionery firm for the supply of articles in the manufacture of which a considerable amount of sugar is employed. Suppose that contract was entered into by such a firm before the War broke out, and that the firm prepared and manufactured confectionery articles containing more than the given percentage of sugar, before the War broke out, for the purposes of complying with its contract, would the Department consider it reasonable, in such a case as that, to allow the articles so manufactured before the War to be exported, notwithstanding this Act? It does seem to me that articles so manufactured stand in a rather different position from articles manufactured after the War has broken out. The firm in the case I have put is presumably under a contract to deliver the articles abroad. It has already used the sugar necessary for the manufacture of the articles, and it would seem rather unreasonable to prevent it carrying out a contract entered into under such circumstances. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give some assurance that the powers conferred on the Board of Trade under this Act will not be used to prevent exportation in such cases as that I have named.

    The prohibition of the export of sugar is not covered by this Act. That is provided for in another Act. But I can assure the hon. Member, in regard to the special point he has raised, that where cases have been brought to our notice in which it is perfectly clear the contract was entered into for the supply of sugar articles, say, to Ceylon, before the War broke out, and they had been manufactured and are ready for sending out—in cases of that kind special licences have been issued, and every means has been taken to enable manufacturers manufacturing such articles before the outbreak of war to supply them to their customers.

    I should like to ask whether there are to be any restrictions on the exportation of feeding-stuffs for stock, and whether it is intended to use the Act to prevent the exportation of milling offals? As many hon. Members may be aware, the prices of milling offals were put up from anything from 10 to 20 per cent. at the outbreak of war, with the result that a large number of small stock-owners put immature stock on the market—a most undesirable thing to do at a period of national crisis. Since then I am conscious that these millers, some of whom have already made considerable profits as middlemen out of the national crisis, have used considerable pressure in order to induce the Government to allow them to continue to export milling offals, as they have done to a large extent in the past. I am sure the House will agree with me that, at the present time, it is just as essential to retain food for animals in this country as it is to retain food for human consumption, and I am confident the right hon. Gentleman will be meeting a public demand—not only amongst agriculturists, but amongst others—if he disallows the export of milling offals, whether bran, sharps, pollen, or middlings, from this country during the War. I hope he will be able to give me a satisfactory assurance on that point.

    I wish to raise a point similar to that which I raised in regard to a former Bill, and I do so now in the hope that I may get an assurance that an Amendment will be accepted in Committee. In the first Clause of this Bill it is provided that this Act "shall have effect while a state of war in which His Majesty is engaged exists." I am only a layman, but it seems to me that this Bill will be revived and come into operation again should another state of war arise, and the consequence will be that, while the other Bills we are passing to-day will expire when the present War terminates, this one will partake of the character of permanent legislation, and be brought into operation whenever a state of war may exist. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be prepared to consider this point when we deal with this Bill in Committee.

    I can only speak again by permission of the House. I may inform the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. C. Bathurst), that the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Trade have been in consultation on the very subject he has raised, and steps are proposed to prohibit the exportation if there is any sign of it increasing. But we are anxious not to put unnecessary obstacles, if they can be avoided, in the way of the trade. If this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament it will be possible at a moment's notice to put a stop altogether to the exportation of these stuffs. Meantime, these articles are not going out of the country at all. The danger has not arisen, but if it does arise we will immediately take action, because producers must realise while we have stock at home for which these feeding stuffs are required, we are not willing to allow them to be exported. In answer to the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth), I have to say that the phrase to which he has referred is also used in the parent Act, and it has been thought desirable to use the same phraseology in both Acts. The object of the Bill is to extend the power of the Act beyond military and naval stores. It was thought, necessary to make it apply to other commodities of commerce and industry, and, therefore, the same phraseology was used in order that the two Acts of Parliament might be in harmony with one another.

    Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.

    Bill read a second time.

    Resolved, That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill.

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee.

    [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]

    Clause 1—(Extension Of 42 And 43 Vict, C 21, Section 8)

    Section eight of the Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1879 (which enables the exportation of certain articles to be prohibited) shall have effect whilst a state of war in which His Majesty is engaged exists, as if in addition to the articles therein mentioned there were included all other articles of every description.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    I quite understand that this Bill should be consistent with the parent Bill, but I want to point out that it is totally inconsistent with the rest of the Bills we are passing to-day. I am not going, however, to delay proceeding with it. I will only put this question, whether, in the event of any future War occurring, this Bill will still be operative while the rest of the Bills we are passing to-day will not then be operative?

    Yes, I think that probably what my hon. Friend says is quite correct. But I may point out that in the event of a future War, the Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1879, would be operative, and it is with the object of securing conformity with that Act that we have introduced this phraseology into this Bill. It is desirable that the two Acts should be in harmony as far as their phraseology is concerned, and I hope that my hon. Friend will not insist on any Amendment.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill reported, without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Articles Of Commerce (Returns, Etc) Bill

    Order for Second Reading read.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—[ Mr. Runciman.]

    I take it that this Bill is intended to apply to both Scotland and Ireland, but England alone is referred to. I should like to draw special attention to Clause 2, which provides for fixing the prices of the articles taken—

    "by the arbitration of a judge of the High Court selected by the Lord Chief Justice of England."

    Judging from these words, it would seem that this Act has no application either to Scotland or to Ireland. If it is intended to have any such application, why is the jurisdiction for the appointment of the arbitrator confined to the Lord Chief Justice of England? Of course, under the circumstances, if the Government press this provision, I shall not oppose it.

    I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the phraseology adopted in this Clause has not been chosen with any idea of casting any slight on the Irish judiciary. The arrangement has been merely made in order that some impartial arbitrator may be appointed for the purpose of fixing the prices of articles which may have to be taken, and the only reason for appointing a judge of the High Court, selected by the Lord Chief Justice of England, was that it was thought it was the most convenient way of dealing with the situation. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Scotland?"] All these matters come under the Board of Trade, which has jurisdiction in Scotland at the present time.

    Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.

    Bill read a second time.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. Runciman.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee.

    [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]

    Cluse 1—(Power To Require Returns, Etc)

    (1) For the purpose of obtaining information as to the quantity in the United Kingdom or in transit to the United Kingdom of any article of commerce, the Board of Trade may by notice served by registered post or otherwise on any person require him to make a return to the Board, within such time as may be specified in the notice, giving such particulars of any article of commerce of which he is the owner as may be required by the notice.

    (2) For the purpose of testing the accuracy of any return made to the Board under this Section, or of obtaining information in case of a failure to make a return, any officer of the Board authorised in that behalf by the Board may enter any premises on which he has reason to believe that there are kept or stored any articles which have been or were required to be included in the return, and of which the person making or required to make the return is or was the owner, and may carry out such inspections of and examinations on the premises as the officer may consider necessary for testing the accuracy of the return or for obtaining such information.

    (3) If any person—

  • (a) wilfully refuses or without lawful excuse neglects to make a return under this Act to the best of his knowledge and belief; or
  • (b) wilfully makes or causes to be made any false return; or
  • (c) obstructs or impedes an officer of the Board in the exercise of any of his powers under this Act; or
  • (d) refuses to answer or wilfully gives a false answer to any question necessary for obtaining the information required to be furnished under this Act;
  • he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, or if the Court is of opinion that the offence was committed wilfully, to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a period not exceeding three months.

    (4) No individual return or part of a return made under this Act and no in formation obtained under this Act shall be published or disclosed except for the purposes of a prosecution under this Act.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    I notice that in Subsection (3) there is a definite penalty for this offence, but Sub-section (4) says—

    "No individual return or part of a return made under this Act and no information obtained under this Act shall be published or disclosed except for the purposes of a prosecution under this Act."

    But there is no penalty. I do not know why the Clause is in that form. What power is there to enforce Sub-section (4) without a penalty?

    This follows the precedent of the Census of Production Act, and I think the phraseology is almost identical with that Act. In that case it was not thought necessary to have a penalty, as this relates purely to Government officials. I believe that for Government officials to disclose a Departmental secret brings them under rather severe penalties.

    Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    Clause 2—(Power To Take Possession Of Articles Unreasonably Withheld)

    (1) If from any such return as aforesaid, or from any other source of information, the Board of Trade are of opinion that any article of commerce is being unreasonably withheld from the market, they may, if so authorised by His Majesty's Proclamation (made generally or as respects any particular kind of article of commerce) and in manner provided by the Proclamation, take possession of any supplies of the article, paying the owners of the supplies such price as may, in default of agreement, be decided to be reasonable, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, by the arbitration of a judge of the High Court selected by the Lord Chief Justice of England.

    (2) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the Board of Trade exercising their powers under this Section without having first obtained, or endeavoured to obtain, returns under this Act.

    I do not understand the explanation of the wording of Sub-section (1) which says—

    "by the arbitration of a judge of the High Court selected by the Lord Chief Justice of England."

    What High Court does that mean? As regards Ireland and Scotland, what High Court is indicated?

    So far as I know, there is no High Court in Scotland, but I understand the Court of Session is its equivalent. If it is necessary to put this Bill into operation—I hope it may not be—then the Lord Chief Justice will appoint a judge of the High Court of England and of the Court of Session in Scotland and of the equivalent Court in Ireland, if it is necessary. I hope it will not be necessary to do so, but the Lord Chief Justice no doubt will select the men most conversant, with the practice and conditions of the country.

    That may apply to England, but the proper authority in Scotland is the Lord President of the Court of Session, and I have no doubt there is a similar authority in Ireland. We ought to make that perfectly clear.

    I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to add the words, "in England, by a judge of the Court of Session selected by the Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland."

    It may be desirable to put the matter beyond dispute so far as Scotland is concerned by adding those words, and by the leave of the House I will move them. So far as Ireland is concerned, I cannot take it upon myself to say what the proper wording should be.

    Unless you are going to make a hash of the thing it is perfectly absurd to add these words. I suggest that we should put the Bill through now as it stands, and then postpone it until to-morrow on the Report stage. It is hardly worth while dealing with the Scottish case now and making the Bill right for Scotland without making it right for Ireland.

    We have no objection to that course. We have no wish to have trouble over this matter.

    I quite realise the hon. and learned Gentleman's object. What I suggest is that if we can pitch on the proper authority for Ireland—my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, I have no doubt, will be able to extemporise an Amendment right off—then we shall satisfy the hon. and learned Gentleman. We wish to get through with this Bill this afternoon, as we are anxious to start some inquiries which are necessary. If my right hon. Friend can make a suggestion, we might have the Report stage taken at once.

    I would point out, in answer to the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. M. Healy), that unless we make some Amendment here there will be no Report stage. If this Amendment is withdrawn there will be no chance of amending the Bill on Report. May I also point out that if you take the Lord Advocate's words, they, of course, put his own country right, but what becomes of the Isle of Man? You limit the Lord Chief Justice of England in his appointment to England, but there is no one to make the appointment in the case of any action taken in the Isle of Man. I think the words are unsatisfactory.

    Question, "That the words 'in England, by a judge of the Court of Session selected by the Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

    I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the words "and by a judge of the High Court in Ireland selected by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland."

    I move this Amendment in order to remove any possible hash.

    Is there any authority for using the expression "High Court in Ireland"?

    I do not think there is any authority for that expression. It should be the High Court of Justice.

    It should be the High Court of Justice, and I will move my Amendment including those words.

    I beg to thank the right hon. Gentleman. I desire to support the Government in a time of emergency like this.

    Question, "That the words 'and by a judge of the High Court of Justice selected by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in Ireland' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

    Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    What will be the authority with regard to the Isle of Man? We passed a special Bill to-day including the Isle of Man in a number of Acts already passed, in which it was made clear that the Lord Chief Justice of England would deal with any cases arising in the Isle of Man. With the Amendments we have passed to this Bill the Isle of Man would be ruled out. What will become of any case arising there?

    For the purposes of this Bill my hon. Friend can ignore the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is not an important part of the realm for the purposes of this Bill. There is very little likelihood of there being great stocks in the Isle of Man which are being withheld from consumption, and there is no likelihood of them being withheld for the purposes of extortion. Our purposes will be met by applying the Bill to England, Ireland, and Scotland.

    Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    Bill reported with Amendments.

    As amended, considered.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

    I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill whether, as I suppose, this Bill will cover the stocks of wheat and other human foods on farmers' premises, because in that case a single return would not be much guide to the Government as to what the stocks for the time being are? In order to get anything like an accurate return or an accurate assessment of such stocks in the country it will be necessary to have periodical returns, because the supplies of wheat, for instance, will unfortunately be steadily dwindling until next summer, and it is most important that during the present crisis the Government should be fully informed as to what stocks of that character there are in farmers' premises during the whole period of hostilities.

    Just as the Unreasonable Withholding of Foodstuffs Act which we passed a fortnight ago applied to farmers' stocks and to other granaries, so this Bill will apply to farmers' stocks. The Board of Agriculture have already made provisional arrangements which will enable them, I hope to ascertain without undue delay the exact amount of stocks held by farmers. No doubt that will satisfy the hon. Gentleman.

    Question, "That the Bill be now read the third time," put, and agreed to.

    Bill read the third time, and passed.

    Elementary School Teachers (War Service Superannuation) Bill

    Read a second time.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. J. A. Pease.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee.

    [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]

    Clause 2—(Application To The Isle Of Man And Jersey)

    Section three of the Elementary School Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1912, relating to the Isle of Man and the Island of Jersey (except the proviso thereto), shall, with the necessary modifications, apply to this Act as it applies to that Act.

    I notice that in this Clause, in addition to the Isle of Man, there is included the Island of Jersey. I presume that is because of the teachers' scheme mentioned to the House some time before, that the Island of Jersey chose to come into that scheme and that the other Channel Islands did not. Is that the reason for the special provision?

    That is the reason. There was a conference some years ago with representatives of the Island of Jersey, and they desired to come into the scheme. Therefore this Bill is drawn to include them as well as the Isle of Man.

    Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    Bill reported without Amendment; read the third time and passed.

    Education (Scotland)—(War Service Superannuation) Bill

    Read a second time.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. McKinnon Wood.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee. Reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Education (Scotland)—(Provision Of Meals) Bill

    Read a second time.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. McKinnon Wood.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee. Reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Police (Scotland) (Limit Of Age) Bill

    Read a second time.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Mr. McKinnon Wood.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee. Reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Naval Billeting, Etc, Bill

    Read a second time.

    Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[ Dr. Macnamara.]

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee. Reported without Amendment.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

    I rise to ask whether the Admiralty, if they make an Order under this Bill—I think they will admit that it gives them very drastic powers—will take care that it is generally or publicly known in some way. I do not object to the powers being given, but I think when they are given, if any Proclamation is made, the Admiralty should take great care that it is known to those concerned.

    We are simply adopting Section 108A of the Army Act, dealing with billeting in case of emergency, and Section 115 of the Army Act, which deals with impressment, and so on, because it may so happen that we may require for the time being to have officers and men on shore in headquarters, and we have taken power which the Army has under these two Sections.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill read the third time, and passed.

    Housing (No 2) (Extension To Ireland) Bill

    Considered in Committee; reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

    Local Government (Adjustments)-(Scotland) Bill

    Order for Second Reading read.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

    Where is the urgency about this Bill? What connection has it with the emergency Bills which are being taken at the present moment?

    I cannot say that this Bill has anything to do with the War, but it is a Bill which carries out the same object as was achieved by an English Bill of last Session. At that time the hon. Baronet (Sir G. Younger) asked me if I would introduce a Bill for Scotland. I replied that I would do so if I could obtain agreement between the counties and boroughs of Scotland. The matter has been considered by representatives of these authorities, and they have come to an absolute agreement. I believe this is approved by all Members for Scotland on both sides. It is an agreed Bill.

    I, of course, do not wish to hinder the progress of a Scottish Bill, but this is the opening of the fates which may lead to a great deal of legislation. One or two things went through yesterday and it was only by a stretch of the imagination that one could think they were justified in the present situation. The House is meeting under an exceptionally heavy strain, and the bulk of the Members did not expect to come to-day, even for non-controversial legislation which is apart from the subject which is absorbing our thoughts. I do not object to this, but if the idea gets abroad that while the understanding is that we are dealing with our one great and gigantic problem, the Government Department are going to slip through things they think are non-controversial, I feel sure that the harmony of the House will be disturbed.

    There is no question of slipping through anything here. This is a perfectly well-known Bill dealing with a very important matter. I am certain that no controversial Bill will be allowed to pass on this side in connection with Scotland.

    I do not wish to raise any objection to a particular Bill, but I rather make an appeal to the Government at a time when they are necessarily making great demands upon the House to pass with urgency and almost in silence measures which are specially required to deal with the emergency not to extend the practice of dealing with Bills of this kind just because, I fear, it will give rise to suspicion in the House, that the Government, or interests behind the Government, are not merely dealing with the emergency, but are using it for other purposes, and because it may disturb the harmony which it is very desirable that we should observe.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Ordered, "That the Bill be committed to Committee of the Whole House for Tomorrow."—[ Mr. McKinnon Wood.]

    Courts (Emergency Powers)

    I beg to move, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to give, in connection with the present War, further powers to Courts in relation to and remedies for the recovery of money, and in relation to other similar matters."

    6.0 P.M.

    This is an essential preliminary to bringing the moratorium to an end. Before the moratorium is determined, I think it is essential that during the period of the War there should be some provision against the harsh exercise of legal powers by creditors under certain conditions. First of all take the case where a judgment has already been obtained for a debt before the War, and a warrant of execution is asked for to sell up a man's goods and property. Another case is the case of a warrant for distress for rent. Another is the case of hire agreements and temporary failure to pay instalments. Another case has been pressed upon us by builders in respect of mortgages. In all these cases, with the exception of the first, the creditor can, without intervention of the Court, put into operation very considerable powers to break up a man's position altogether, sell his goods and his property, and practically ruin him. It is very necessary in a case of this kind that you should not give protection to a man who is really a bad payer. The proposal in this case is that these very summary powers should not be exercised without the intervention of the Court. Take the case of a mortgage. Before a man sells up his property he should apply to the Court, which means in this case either a registrar or a master. It does not mean that he should in every case go to the High Court. There should be a summary process by which a man applies to a registrar or a master. There may be a case to be referred to the judge if it is of sufficient importance, but the Court, in its absolute discretion, should decide whether it is a case where summary execution ought to be levied in the circumstances, there is power of that kind vested in the County Court judges now in regard to judgment summonses. Another case I ought to mention is that of ejectment. It is true that the masters now have certain very limited powers to withhold a warrant of ejectment. On the whole, the powers of the masters are of an administrative and not of a judicial kind. I propose that the masters in those cases should have wider discretion. Supposing a warrant of distress is issued against a man who has been a good payer of rent all his life, but who, owing to the War, finds himself in a condition that he cannot possibly pay his rent, I think it is a hard case that powers to sell up a man of that kind should be exercised. I do not think any Court would issue execution under these conditions, but it is a case where the Court ought to have statutory discretion in the matter. The provision made by this Bill is purely temporary during the period of the War. The vast majority of the mortgagees will, I think, act fairly and indulgently, but you may have occasionally a person who for his own interest—I do not wish to suggest that there are many such persons—will exercise his power in order to force the sale of a property, knowing that at that period it would not fetch a very high price. I do not think there are many who would do it, but at the same time an honest person ought not to be in the position of being absolutely ruined by summary powers of that kind when conditions are so exceptional as they are at present.

    The same remark applies to hire-purchase agreements where non-payment of instalments is not due to any question as to a man's honesty, but purely owing to the circumstances of the moment. I ask leave to introduce this Bill, which provides that before one can exercise these drastic powers application should be made either to a master or a registrar. In very important matters he would no doubt refer the cases to a judge, but I think that in most cases he will be competent to adjudicate. Masters and registrars are generally solicitors of considerable experience of business and affairs in their districts, and I am sure they will exercise the power very fairly.

    I am very glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has decided to bring in a Bill of this character. I think it will be generally felt by those who have looked into the matter that such a Bill is necessary. I, of course, have not seen the terms of the Bill which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to introduce, but I think its objects have been sufficiently defined by what the right hon. Gentleman has said. It is to give equitable jurisdiction in those cases, and to prevent the harsh exercise of legal forms or legal process. Legislation of that kind is needed. The number of cases in which it may be used will not, I hope, be very great. The number of cases in which abuse would really take place, if we did not have this legislation, would not, I hope, be very great, but there would be cases where people getting into a wholly unnecessary panic—cruel or unconscionable people—would take advantage of a man's necessities to extort a profit to which they were not entitled, and which under ordinary circumstances they could not expect. That might work real harm unless there was some provision of ibis kind. The Bill, as I understand it, is to prevent that.

    It cannot be stated too clearly at first that, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, the object of the measure is not to protect people who could pay against the obligation to pay. There is always a danger when you give relief in cases of real hardship that people who are not in circumstances of real hardship will try to take advantage, will think that they are as much entitled to share in the relief, and that when there is something going they may as well have a share of it. It is really no kindness to encourage them in that view, or to give them relief they do not need. Take the case of a man who has to pay instalments under a hire-purchase agreement. Suppose that he is not only at this moment working full time, but perhaps may even be working overtime in a trade which is particularly brisk, there is no object in encouraging him to fall into arrears of rent, or of instalments under a hire-purchase agreement, or anything of that kind. That man can pay, and even if it involves a little sacrifice it is better that he should pay. But there will be cases where a man cannot pay, and where great hardship may be caused if the power given by the present law were exercised. I support the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, subject always to its being clearly understood that this is intended for the relief of those who need relief, and not to encourage in any way a bad payer.

    There are so many anxieties just now that one hesitates to make any suggestion, but I would point out that in regard to Bills which are sometimes introduced that the draftsman seems to forget the existence of parts of the United Kingdom other than England. The result was that we had words in Bills which did not meet the case of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has just used the word "registrar," which would be unsuitable for parts of the United Kingdom other than England. I trust that the draftsman in this emergency legislation will bear in mind the difference in conditions in different parts of the United Kingdom. Another thing is very desirable, and that is not to pass the Bill so that it will remain in force "during the War." I think in a case of this kind an emergency Bill should be passed for six months, or for a period, whatever the period may be, so that after the experience we gain during that time, we may, if necessary, bring in an amending Bill. I think it is most undesirable that in passing legislation of this kind we should bring in a Bill on Monday and amend it on Tuesday because we had not thought of some point which should have been dealt with in the original Bill. I therefore think the Bill should not be for the period of the War, but for a definite period. Perhaps I may take the opportunity, as one who has occasionally differed from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to say how glad I was to hear the compliment paid to him to-night by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain).

    I think this Bill should also confer similar powers on the Courts in Scotland, and I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make provision for that being done.

    I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer one question. Does this Bill include rents? The right hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that many large companies own thousands of houses, and they have the right to deduct rent from the wages of their workers. In a case where works are working short time, say two or three days a week, are the companies to have the right to deduct the full amount of the rent in cases of that kind? It would cause very great hardship if they did. I think companies should fix a scale under which rent should be charged in proportion to the wages earned. If men are working only two or three days a week they are making a great sacrifice, and they should not be in the position of having to pay the whole rent.

    May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have this Bill sent round with the papers in the morning? Some of the Bills which were introduced last night were not sent out with the papers in the morning. In the case of a Bill of this kind, details are exceedingly important. You may make a Bill of this kind, desirable in itself, simply a gigantic engine of oppression unless you have it correctly drafted in details. It is desirable that as many as possible should have an opportunity of reading the Bill before it is brought forward for discussion in the House.

    I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer refer just now to the rights of mortgagees, and I was very sorry to hear that he proposed to make any statutory interference with the enormous amount of money involved in mortgages, or with any of the rights which mortgagees possess. Mortgagees' rights are fairly well understood. If interest is a long time in arrear, the mortgagee can sell the property. Of course, he must sell it in a proper manner. If he has given notice in the statutory period that the money is not paid, he can sell. These are the only rights that could be used oppressively, and I cannot imagine any mortgagee under existing circumstances attempting to work the ruin of a poor man who is unable to pay. What I am so afraid of is that, if we include mortgagees and mortgage interest in the moratorium, or in a Bill of this description, you will have the mortgagors all over the country declining to pay their interest, and that would be a very serious matter indeed. Some day that interest will have to be paid, even if it is not paid when the instalments are due. It seems to me that this is one of those Bills that we should have full opportunity of considering as regards its exact terms, because it touches the community on most important points. They are not matters with respect to which legislation should be rushed through without full consideration, and without knowing exactly what it is intended to pass into law.

    I should like to support the suggestion that this Bill should not be proceeded with further to-day, and that we should have an opportunity of making ourselves familiar with the details. There are scores of thousands of holders of small houses which are held as investments by working men and widows—[An HON. MEMBER: "And societies"]—and by societies. There are many people who are getting out of these houses a small existence upon a low and narrow margin. If a man is able to make an appeal which would justify him in sitting down as a tenant withholding rent, I can easily imagine that many very thrifty people in the population would suffer enormous harm. I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has carefully safeguarded one thing, and that is foreclosure by the mortgagee. That, however, does not answer the whole of the difficulty. I wish to see something done by which a tenant who cannot find money for rent should, not under compulsion of distress, be required to quit the tenancy, so that the person to whom the property belongs may be able to say, "I will let you go, take your goods with you, but I, at any rate, shall enter into possession of my property, and so be able to meet my obligations to mortgagees, and to meet the payments required for the maintenance of my own home out of this property."

    The Bill which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has outlined is a general one, but the moratorium was not altogether general, because in answer to a question put to him at the time the moratorium was passed—he said he did not propose to include rent—meaning, I think, by the observation which he made, industrial rents. I want to know whether or not, industrial rents not being included in the moratorium, there is any necessity to apply this Bill to anything that was excluded, so far as the powers of enforcing judgment by the operation of the moratorium is concerned? A judgment always concludes a period of time, from the taking of the proceedings under which it is signed. Therefore the creditor before the War had endeavoured to insist upon his rights. There had been an actual pressure of the creditor to the extent of obtaining his judgment. Therefore, in that case, there has been an opportunity over and over again, under that pressure, for the debtor to have paid, if he could have paid, before ever the War arose to embarrass him or cause him difficulty. I assume that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought those matters over. It may be that the registrar or master, as the case may be, will take those facts into consideration, but I think that that is a case in which the War has not been responsible for non-payment. I think that this Bill should be confined to those matters which were within the moratorium where the creditors' rights have been suspended.

    I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered another class of payments by working people—the payments of instalments on life policies? I did not gather from the terms of the Bill whether it would extend so far, but it is not only in the interests of any institution, but in the general public interest, that the Government should take it into account. I heard, to my great horror, that in one barrack alone last week over seventy life policies lapsed for one company. Anyone can see that if that goes on to any-large extent it will affect recruiting. Already I have had representations from several places that the point must be considered, in making an appeal for recruits, of including also the insurance payments, or possibly policies of some value may be lost. I am not ready at present with any suggestion. My own view is that the societies and the companies concerned will have to make some sacrifice and be prepared to make it. But it may be that a suggestion from the Government to them, suggesting united action on their part, might secure a substantial concession from them in the interests of the very poor policy holders.

    I trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in drafting the terms of this Bill will remember that the moratorium already adopted does not oblige those who have been bad payers to go before the registrar. Although some registrars at a time like this would undoubtedly take into consideration the exceptional circumstances, there may be others who would be rather hard. I would further point out, although a workman may have been a good payer, still the exceptional circumstances might tell on him in such a way that however good a payer he had been, he would still have recourse to whatever arrangements might be made under this Bill, and that he is perfectly entitled to the benefits of whatever measure may be passed. I do not think that there is any more equity in examining into the past of a working man who applies for some consideration at such a time as the present than there is in the case of the commercial man, whose case is not inquired into, but whose immediate needs only are considered.

    I would like to know whether it is intended that the Bill shall be limited, as the moratorium was, to debts incurred before the War, or whether it is intended to apply to debts which accrued after the War?