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Orders Of The Day

Volume 116: debated on Wednesday 28 May 1919

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Discharged Soldiers (Employment)

Demonstration At Westminster

On Monday afternoon of this week a large procession of discharged men met outside the House of Commons in order to bring before the attention of the House certain grievances which they felt ought to be brought to our notice, and in the course of incidental circumstances attached to all public demonstrations, coming into conflict with the police, there were certain disturbances with which I am certain most of us are more or less familiar. On that point I do not want to raise any question at all. After all, the psychology of a crowd is a curious study, and if you get some 10,000 to 15,000 discharged men stopped in their progress to this House, whether they have a right to come here or not, and getting into conflict with the police, then certain circumstances ensue which are natural to such an operation, and I do not want to take up the time of the House discussing those incidental happenings. I wish to try, if I can, to concentrate our attention upon the causes underlying the need for any kind of action of that sort on the part of the discharged men. I am perfectly certain that the House will agree that those discharged men did not commit a breach of the peace simply for the fun of doing it, and that there were, as I hope to prove, certain very substantial reasons which actuated the men in the steps which they took.

I can give the House a short narrative of what led up to this position. Earlier on the Monday a deputation of an organisation which is quite well known in the country, and which has a membership of over 1,000,000 discharged and demobilised men, waited on the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Wardle). So far they have been unable to see my right hon. Friend (Sir R. Home), owing to the pressure of other business. They do not complain about that. I am only interpolating that to remind the House that my right hon. Friend did not see them personally, and his capable Under-Secretary was called upon to deal with the question. The House will understand the position much better if I give them a summary of the points made to my hon. Friend. The first of the points dealt with the appeal of the Prime Minister to employers of labour, asking them to do all in their power to secure employment for those men, and the men reminded my hon. friend that, for whatever reason—I am not stopping to discuss that—the appeal of the Prime Minister has been more or less a complete failure. The response of the employers of labour to the Prime Minister's appeal has been practically nil—at any rate, if not quite nil it has been a very small contribution towards the solution of the difficulty. The second point, raised by those men was the question of what is popularly known as the Rother ford scheme. That is the scheme by which employers of labour will take into their employ, pro rata, a number of disabled men in proportion to the total of employés at their works. The third point raised was the promise of the Ministry itself to erect and control factories where light employment could be found, particularly for disabled men. The fourth point was the question of training in all its various aspects. The fifth point was the number of Service men who were unemployed, and in connection with that, what the deputation wanted to know was the schemes of public importance that were coming into immediate operation, the steps that were being taken to expedite works of public importance throughout the country, the view of the Ministry with regard to the continued employment of women in what were men's occupations, the question as to how far married men who were disabled could be sent away from their own homes to other parts of the country to obtain employment. The sixth point raised was the question of the permanent employment of ex-Service men in Government and controlled factories. The seventh point was the contractual obligations of employers who has promised their men. that, if they joined the Colours, their posts would be kept open for them, and the men drew the attention of the Ministry of Labour to the fact that there had been a great discrepancy between the promise and the performance. And the eighth and last point was the question of preference for ex-Service men now employed in Government Departments, particularly men in the-Ministry of Pensions.

The House will agree that the subject matter of that deputation was not only of interest to discharged men as a whole, but to every Minister who is interested in fulfilling the obligations not only of the Government—because, after all, I am quite free to admit that these obligations are not merely Government obligations, but are national obligations. Everyone of us, what ever his politics, is pledged up to the hilt to see that the bill which those men have rendered to us for their sacrifices is receipted. And I should be the last person to suggest that in this discussion, which I hope will result in some good to these men, there should be any party discussion. I want, if it is possible for a hardened politician like myself, to throw off all party. I want to deal with it from the point of view that we all, as Members of this House, are anxious to fulfil our obligations, and, if we can, to stop the repetition of what happened the other day outside this House. I hope that I may keep the introductory remarks on that level, and that everybody will do the same. I have no political animus in the matter.

4.0 p.m.

I have no objection to my hon. Friend's remembering, if he does not become vocal. It is quite true that the demonstration in London was the one which we had experience of, but it was only one of a great number held all over the country. I would like, in discussing this, to remind my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, and also my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, whom we are glad to have with us listening to the Debate, that there are other deep-seated forces which are contributing to the unrest among discharged and demobilised men. Let me run over one or two of those contributory causes, which, I think, every Member of the House will agree are very real. Take, first of all, what I may call the minor grievances of these men. There is the grievance associated with demobilisation. We have heard in Question and Answer to-day references to the fact—every Member of this House knows it—that one feels it almost hopeless to approach the War Office just now on questions of demobilisation. We merely get the usual phrases, which might as well be printed and hung up in the Lobbies. "Owing to the exigencies of military service," it is practically no use approaching them on this matter. These men feel, as is perfectly natural, that they went into the Army through medical boards with a celerity which is incomparable with the delay which takes place in getting them out of the Army, in getting their demobilisation accounts settled with their paymaster, and in receiving their War Service gratuity. It is perfectly natural for a man to say, "In the first place, when you wanted me to fight, you had no difficulty about it; you could provide all the facilities, and I was in the Army before I knew where I was. Now that you are getting rid of me I have the utmost difficulty in getting the things which you say I am entitled to." That is a very large contributory cause of the discontent which prompts such demonstrations as we had hero the other day. A second minor grievance, which I think is worth recording, is as to the amount of the War Service gratuity which is paid to a man on demobilisation. Assuming that a man has served four years—which is a large asumption, most men having served less than that—and assuming that there are no deductions for Service gratuity under the famous 1117/1914, his War Service gratuity is £23. As compared with that figure, the Government is offering a Bounty of £50 to men who re-engage in the Army of Occupation. The average man who has fought throughout the last four years—and many of them have been demobilised with wound stripes—is actually in the position of getting less than half the money—he having fought—than the man who has re-engaged in the Army of Occupation, and will probably not have any fighting to do. That, again, is a large contributory cause to these men's discontent.

The second general heading is the question of housing as it affects the discharged men. There is no doubt that there is tremendous discontent among discharged and demobilised men on account of the fact that they cannot get a roof over their heads, or, if and when they can, it is a very unsatisfactory roof. I have here a dossier of over a thousand cases collected here in London, every one of which is guaranteed and the original of every one of which I can produce if my right hon. Friend wants it. I want to rend only two of those letters in order that the House may realise what is at the bottom of this discontent. Here is a letter which a mother writes:
"We live in two rooms behind a fish shop and there are nine of us. My son is home for two months' leave——"
that is prior to going into the Army of Occupation—
"and it is hard lines he has to sleep out. I have to keep on stamping on the floor to keep the rats away from the bed where my boy sleeps. We have tried high and low and cannot get a house."
A more extraordinary letter relates to the question of the amount of the War Service gratuity. This man says:
"I am one of the poor devils that is now paying for his patriotism by having two rooms. I have been looking for a flat since January last and offered my full gratuity to get a place, hut all the agents tell me that is not enough. I am told that very large sums are offered."
He says now—I do not quote this by way of a threat, but because I think it will be of interest to the House:
"I am out for Bolshevism if a move is not got on soon and some of the West End houses are turned into flats at a reasonable figure."
That also is a contributory cause to the discontent among large bodies of discharged men, and I could at the same time provide my right hon. Friend with a list of empty houses—very large houses—in various pans of London, which could be easily made into accessible flats for these people at a very moderate cost. I myself live in a suburb of London, and I have spoken more than once to the Minister of Reconstruction about the facilities that exist in London alone in the way of large derelict houses which will never again be occupied by people who can afford to occupy a house of that size, but which could easily at any moment be converted, without any expenditure of bricks and that kind of thing. The work could be got on with at once, and, if taken in hand, would make a substantial contribution towards the solution of that problem.

The third point which contributes to the discontent is the existence of the Civil Liabilities Committee and the inadequacy of the provision that is made by the Government through the Civil Liabilities Committee, which is now under the charge of my right hon. Friend, for men coming back from service who want to re-establish themselves in business. I do not know if Members of this House have made themselves familiar with the form which is first of all required to be filled up before a man can get any assistance at all. It is Resettlement form A. It is obtainable at any post office, and I invite Members of this House to ask at the post office on their way home for a copy. It consists of several pages of the most inquisitorial questions that were ever addressed to anybody, and which have to be answered before application can even be made for a grant for restarting in business. The maximum grant, as the House knows—it is never given—is £104.

I admit that he may oven know more than I do, but I happened to be a member of the Civil Liabilities Committee, and happened to be the father of this scheme, except as regards the maximum grant.

The hon. Member suggests that I have been paid. I am never afraid to meet any accusation which is made either in the House or outside it. If my hon. Friend can prove to anybody that I made a single halfpenny out of this War in any service that I have given to discharged men or to serving men, I will pay his election expenses for the remainder of his political career.

On a point of Order. Given an opportunity, I hope I may be able to prove what I have said without my hon. Friend's volunteering to pay my election expenses, which I hope I shall be able to meet, and upon which I hope I may be able to succeed. I am prepared to prove that my hon. Friend has been very well paid for any services he rendered.

These questions have nothing whatever to do with the Debate. They are merely personal questions. Surely, at a time like this, we should devote our attention to the really serious topic, and leave personal questions for a time when we have more leisure.

There is no time like the present for dealing with humbug. I am as much in favour of wounded soldiers and discharged men as anyone. I am pre pared to prove——

I shall confine my attention to the subject we are discussing, but incidentally I may say that if the hon. Gentleman cares to say that outside, he will have a writ for libel served upon him within twelve hours.

I am dealing with the form which these men have to fill up, and I say that it is an extravagant form altogether. These men ought to get, and get speedily, the relief which they are entitled to. On that point it may be rather interesting for the House to understand what actually happens, and for that purpose I will give a summary of a letter written by an officer. We so frequently talk of this matter in terms of men rather than of officers, and I should like the House to listen, if they will, to my summary of this letter from an officer in Liverpool, who attempted to get help through the Civil Liabilities Committee. He went to France in December, 1917. He was wounded, and was in hospital until August, 1918. He never received any money from the Government in the way of wound gratuity, but applied for training through the Appointments Department as a motor engineer. That did not come to anything, and he was advised to turn from the occupation of motor engineering to that of a dental mechanic, but found that that also was overrun, and he was subsequently sent to the Reliance Works at Chester, where he was supposed to get occupation. After all that effort, which took some months, he found that he was to work at that place for two months or more, and if he proved suitable at the end of that time he would become a representative, travelling Europe in order to sell motor cars. His wage in the meantime would be 16s. per week, out of which he was to board and lodge himself in the town of Chester. That is the life story of an officer discharged without a wound gratuity—first, motor engineering, then dental mechanism, and thirdly, the Reliance Works.

Surely any man under training by the Appointments Department would get the allowance of 33s. per week?

This was an officer, not a man. Whatever happened, there is the experience of that officer. It may be right or it may be wrong, but, even assuming for a moment that my hon. and gallant Friend's remark is correct, that man is added to the common crowd with that at the back of his mind. That contributes to the discontent. There is a more serious letter to which I will draw attention. This letter is dated 17th May, 1919. It comes from the Ministry of Labour, of which my right hon. Friend is the chief. It is from one of the branches, of which I will give him particulars later. This is a man who writes about training, and the reply from the Ministry of Labour is as follows:

"Dear Sir,—In reply to your letter I have to inform you that up to the present there are no schemes for the training of ex-soldiers and sailors under the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry of Pensions have various schemes for training disabled soldiers and sailors. If yon are disabled, therefore, apply to your local War Pensions Committee."
My right hon. Friend will agree that, as a matter of fact, he has training schemes, and that they are in operation. Here, in spite of that, one of his own officers, giving information in a letter, says that these schemes are not in operation. It is another contributory cause to the discontent which exists.

On the general question of unemployment, I think the House ought to realise the extent of the problem. I do not know whether we all understand that at this moment, whatever the cost may be, there are 408,000—the last figure which my hon. Friend has—disabled and discharged men out of work, in spite of all the promises given to them by the nation, in spite of everything that has been achieved since the Armistice. This is the very month when the period of the twenty-six weeks' unemployment pay begins to come to an end—I do not say it finishes entirely this month. A great number of men have reached the limit to which they can draw their unemployed pay. They are among that 408,000. They ask themselves quite fairly, I think, what is going to happen to them. Four hundred and eight thousand is part of the total figure of 1,008,192 unemployed for the same date, so you can see what an enormous proportion it is of the total unemployment in the country. It is interesting to look at the analysis of those figures. I have heard a very great deal, for instance, about building and the necessity for houses. I have got the figures here for seven of the chief industries of the country. There are 60,495 men out of work, not necessarily all discharged men, in the building trade. That is 10 per cent. of the total number. In shipbuilding there are 15,000, in engineering 140,000, in transport 120,000, in mines 16,000, in the textile industries 72,000, and in general labourers' work practically 150,000. With these facts in mind as contributory causes to unemployment these men went to see my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Wardle). I have here a transcript of the shorthand note of the interview which took place with him. I do not wish to do him an injustice, but I will give the part of my hon. Friend's reply which disappointed both the deputation which waited on him and those who waited to bear the result of the deputation. The Secretary of the Federation said:
"Your whole answer to this point is that you are relying upon the re-starting of trade and industries re-asserting themselves."
To that the hon. Member replied:
"That is the fact. I have not finished; I am only dealing with one thing at once."
It is only fair to say of my hon. Friend that he did deal with other things. He went on:
"I say for the first part we are relying upon that, and that is the reason the donation pay is given. The Government wish to give the industry a chance to re-assert itself and I say it has made wonderful progress and the re-absorption has been very great. Then there is the question of the housing, which I believe the Government intend to press on, and it will not be their fault if the houses are not built within a reasonable time from now. Then, as you are aware, as soon as the Electricity Bill is through they propose to start on some big electric superpower stations, and that will be a big work for the building trade, and then there is other work they intend to put in hand as soon as the Ministry of Ways and Communications has been formed."
If all that is done, eventually there will be work, but obviously it does not provide work now.

Does my hon. Friend suggest——

I was quite fair. I have the full shorthand note here, but I quoted that part of his reply which contributed to the men's feeling that they were not getting satisfaction. I have not the whole transcript here; it takes time to get these things typed out, and I have only a part typed. He said with regard to this point that the men would require to wait a very considerable time before their unemployment would be absorbed in the revival of trade.

That is exactly the point to which I wish to draw attention. I did not say they would have to wait a considerable time. I pointed out that £6,500,000 had been granted by the Road Board for work to start immediately, and that therefore there was some opportunity for immediate work. But with regard to the other questions, I quite agree that I did tell the deputation the truth—that these other things must wait.

I did not want to do my hon. Friend an injustice. We all want to contribute what we can to the solution of this problem. In addition to what he said here in the portion I have read, he pointed out that £6,500,000 would be available for immediate work by the Road Board. What does my hon. Friend mean by "immediate"? Is that to-morrow, is it next week or next month? Have the Road Board to make plans as to how they are to spend the £6,500,000 before they employ the labour required? It is the kind of thing that cannot be done to-morrow, and the fact remains that 400,000 discharged men are not working, and are not wishing to draw unemployed pay, preferring productive work instead. After all, supposing my hon. Friend promises £6,500,000 from the Road Board, that is a fleabite in the problem which faces him and us in trying to. provide for these men. It is only fair that, having made that case, which I think I have made as moderately as I can, and having pointed out what are contributory causes of discontent, one should attempt as far as one is able to suggest what might be done. The first thing I suggest might be done is that immediately local authorities ought to be encouraged to speed up the work at their doors. I know that there is a difficulty there, and I am prepared to face it. I know one city council at the moment which would get on with a very considerable part of its work if it were not for the fact that materials are so expensive, and that they are afraid to meet the ratepayers and to put up the rates of the locality. Up to a day or two ago the nation and the Government spent £20,000,000 in unemployed pay for no work, and I want to suggest to my right hon. Friend and the Government, would it not be better to spend the £20,000,000 in a subsidy to the local authorities to carry on the work at their doors and to assist them in meeting the increased cost of material in that particular work. We want productive work, and £20,000,000 is a large sum of money. If it is, for instance, a question of the difference in price between setts now and in 1913, a contribution towards that, if the municipality would carry the wages, is an indication of the kind of thing one has in one's mind.

The second suggestion I want to make is this, that we should get to the bottom of our Labour Exchange difficulties. Employers of labour continually tell you that they cannot get men from the Labour Exchanges. Men tell you that they cannot get employment from the Labour Exchanges. The exchange system in theory is excellent. It rather occurred to me to suggest that the time is opportune, not for a formal committee, not for one of your upstairs committees, a select committee or things of that kind, but for a small business committee of this House, and that on that committee there might be some of the men who demonstrated outride the House of Commons. Carry them with you, take some of the responsible discharged men themselves. Take the chairman of the Federation, who is a discharged soldier, take a representative of the Comrades, get them to come on that committee, and to see where exactly it is that the Labour Exchanges break down in forming a nexus between the unemployed and the man who wants men in his particular trade. I throw that suggestion out for what it is worth. It seems ridiculous that we should go on with a system which has been in operation for many years and in which you hear that criticism on both sides. What is it that is preventing these two things from being brough into contact?

The third suggestion I make is with regard to housing. After all, we have got to do the things which are obvious first, and particularly in a city like London with a very small expenditure, but expenditure which would employ a considerable number of men, you could readjust many dwellings into comfortable houses. We have been reading in the Press, for instance, of how members of the Royal Family have been going through London into what are called byeways, and have been rather struck with the nature of the property that exists in London. Those of us who ride on the top of buses notice as we go along a large number of houses which are derelict for want of a little attention. I came in along Kennington Road to-day, and I am sure along it there are from thirty to fifty houses, large buildings untenanted, which with very little amount of work would, at any rate, provide accommodation for men who at the present moment object, when they get an offer of training or employment, to leave their wives and families and go somewhere else for training. If that were done, it would materially help to ease the situation.

The fourth point is one which used to concern the Ministry of Pensions itself but which now concerns the Ministry of Labour, and it is that it would be infinitely better if it could be arranged, and I think some effort should be made to bring it about, to have training schemes as far as possible at home, and by that I mean that the men ought to be able to reside in their homes. Men ought not to be asked, as is sometimes the case, to go, say, from Manchester to Leeds or from Newcastle to York, or something like that in order to get a training which will enable them to take up some employment. Lastly, I refer to another suggestion, and that is the question of preferential employment for these men in Government offices. I take the Ministry of Pensions itself, which is familiar to Members of this House, and I will guarantee to say that if a census were taken to-morrow of the employés of the Pensions Ministry, of whom there are from 6,000 to 7,000 at least, not 10 per cent. of them are men who have been discharged or disabled, and a large number of them are men who have been transferred from other Government Departments into those posts. I do honestly think that we ought to mean what we say, and the pressure of this House ought to be brought to bear upon Government Departments to act on it. I am not going to speculate in the last words of my speech in any way that will put the Debate on. a false level. I think I am expressing-everybody's view when I say that everybody in the House would be glad to work together and co-operate in solving this question. If this question becomes political it is going to be hopeless. Personally. I have no desire that it should, and I have taken action which I think proves to my own friends in the House at any rate I have no political ambitions with regard to- what has happened in the past or what may happen in the future. I want us to be in a position to say that this House of Commons, which, whether under Coalition or any other form of Government, saw the War through and called upon these men to serve, is not going to be found lacking in tackling the difficulties which present themselves and in establishing these men securely in life. I would be well content if all of us laying out heads together and resolving to work together in co-operation will achieve this. I am certain we can if we wish. If we did, there would be an end to the causes which promoted the demonstration we had round this House on Monday, and instead of dealing with men who feel discontented we would have the satisfaction which come involuntarily from having attempted to do our duty and from the feeling that we had at length achieved it.

This House has heard the views of the "soldier's friend." So perhaps it would now like to hear the "brutal and licentious" soldier himself. I hope hon. Members will be patient with me, though I am no orator, because my position, formerly as a private soldier in the ranks of the Army, and now as a member of the Discharged Soldiers' Federation, throws upon me a duty which I fee] bound to endeavour to discharge. Only this morning I withdrew my nomination to the presidency of the federation, because I feel I can be of more use to it as an ordinary member than in an official position. Just as in the War there came a crisis in the affairs of this country when nothing but the complete self-sacrifice of individuals, without regard to expediency or common-sense could save the situation, so now, in the affairs of this federation the crisis can only be passed if some. of us go back into the ranks. It is well that members should know what the federation is and what is its policy. At the moment it has no policy, it is in a whirl of excitement, and for the moment the tail is wagging the dog. But I have sufficient faith in the good sense of my comrades to believe that they will soon restore the normal position, which is that of the dog sitting on its tail. It is now a huge, shapeless, menacing mass, without policy and without ideals, a prey to ambitious politicians, and on the verge of a collapse into anarchy. Its membership is supposed to be about 2,000,000, but no one knows what proportion of that number take any interest whatsoever in their association. Members are constantly dropping out and new members joining. The whole thing is chaotic and, I do not say this lightly, the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) is responsible for the present pitiable state of affairs. He is infinitely cleverer than us soldiers and has, therefore, an altogether disproportionate influence upon the policy of the federation. Members will forgive me if I speak with some feeling, for after all, there is some excuse. The federation might, and should, have been a great and beneficial body. It should have been run by soldiers for soldiers' without regard to the selfish interests of professional politicians. It might have had the confidence of the Pensions Ministry, the Labour Ministry, and the War Office. It might have swept away the shadow of Conscription by making possible the finest voluntary Army the world has ever seen. It might have used its power to help in the administration of the Departments concerned, and eventually it might have become the strong and silent guardian of the interests of the soldier, looking after him while he serves, and receiving him back to a place in the ranks of labour when his time with the Army is finished. Above all, it might have saved that antagonism between the ex-soldier and civilian labour which is now imminent. But the political factor has ruined it. May I appeal to the Member for East Edinburgh to consider whether he really is fitted to deal with a mass of ex-soldiers of whom many have most bitter grievances.

I do not even belong to the federation. The moment I accepted my present office and became attached, officially or semi-officially, to a political party I resigned my office of hon. president. I have nothing to do with the federation at all.

The hon. Member is still an honorary member of the federation—an honorary life member. What I am referring to is not the present situation so much as the past, because it is the policy of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh in the past which has brought us to our present position.

I am not ashamed of what I have done in the past. The federation can say if requested.

Is it fair to use us in the way he has done hitherto I fully admit that he is vir propositi tenax—his tenacity is beyond dispute—it is his purpose which makes us soldiers uncomfortable. But, to return to the immediate crisis, you may take it from me that the part of the federation which for the moment has the upper hand means to cause trouble, and, if it can, very serious trouble within the next few days. Remember that, although those who are at the back of the present movement are acting from ulterior motives of a selfish nature, yet a vast number of ex-soldiers are suffering from very grave and real grievances. They had been fed to expect a time of great prosperity and comfort; they come back actually to a country in which industry is almost at a standstill. There is no work for a number of them. There is work for others, but trade union restrictions prevent their benefiting by it. I do hope that hon. Members on the Labour Benches will really set themselves to think how they can help to absorb our soldiers into industry. They can really solve the whole problem if only they approach it in the right spirit, willing to sacrifice their special interests for the good of the commonwealth. They will agree with me that a split between organised Labour and the ex-soldier would be disastrous to all. I beg, therefore, that they will endeavour to override vested interests and give us that help which they, more than any other section of the community, have the power to give. To employers of labour I would also appeal for help towards a solution of our troubles. I am an employer myself, and have done what little I could to assist in this matter. But one cannot serve one's country and accumulate wealth at the same time, so I am unable to do what I might have done five years ago. But you, whose wealth has increased during the War, can you not sacrifice a little of it I Can you not stand the loss of employing inefficient labour for a little time? Can you not help to bear the burden which is rapidly becoming too heavy for people like myself? This War, this great crusade for an ideal, appears to have left the world deprived of all ideals. We soldiers went to battle against materialism, and now we find our country far deeper in materialism than it has ever been. One device of government after another is tried, one trick after another, to dodge inevitable consequences. But always we return to the same point—there is no prosperity but that we make for ourselves and no happiness without self-sacrifice. I must beg the House to forgive me for straying into the abstract. I do not do so by choice and publicly to give vent to idealistic sentiment is repugnant to me, as to all soldiers. But I am convinced that even a humble individual like myself may possibly be of some; use when trouble comes.

I rise to intervene in this Debate, and in doing so I address the House for the first time. If it were not that I am pledged up to my eyes, I may say, on a subject like this, I would much rather remain silent. I ask for that patience and tolerance which it is customary to extend to a new Member. I intervene in the Debate for a reason that was mentioned by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), namely, that there are something like 400,000 men at the present moment in receipt of out-of-work donation. I maintain that at least 80 per cent. of those men would much rather be earning their own living than eating the bread of idleness. I may say I am not one of those who at the General Election made extravagant promises on the subject of larger and ever larger pensions. And I am not going to join that competition which the Prime Minister so strongly deprecated to secure ever increasing grants from the National Exchequer, because I do not believe that therein lies the solution of the problem of the discharged soldier and the demobilised man. Furthermore, I believe that too exorbitant demands of that character can only in the long run hamper the cause which we all wish to advance. But I am pledged up to my very eyes to secure these men employment, and hitherto the State has done very little to help them. True, it has placed the Labour Exchanges at their disposal, but with regard to the value of the Labour Exchanges as a means of procuring work, there are certainly two opinions. They have also appealed to employers to find these men work. Although I do not say for a moment that those appeals have fallen upon deaf ears, the fact that there are still 400,000 men seeking jobs shows that at any rate there is still a great deal to be done. I do not suggest for a moment that all these men are good workers. As I said before, possibly 80 per cent. are genuinely on the look-out for work, and of the others a certain percentage, no doubt, would just as soon go on drawing unem- ployment donation as not, while of the others there are some, no doubt, who are actually unemployable. But we must not forget that for that the State is in a large measure responsible. Three or four years of active service does not as a rule improve a man's value in the labour market. Nobody knows better than I do that the qualities which go to make up a gallant soldier, and the qualities which go to make up a worthy citizen are as diametrically opposite as the two Poles, and probably a great many very excellent soldiers are very indifferent civilians. But that is one of the facts that we must face, and furthermore, the Army, as a general rule, is not a good training for civilian life. I am speaking now of the armies in France. I know nothing of Army conditions anywhere else, and out there it certainly was not a good training for civilian life. Among other things, there was too much waiting about. It could not be helped, I know. It was part of the game, but the fact remains that it was not good for the men. Half one's time over there seemed to be spent in waiting for somebody else to do something. You were either waiting for someone to go, or you were waiting for someone to arrive; you were either waiting for it to get dark, or you were waiting for it to get light; you were either waiting for the enemy's shelling to cease, or you were waiting for our own guns to start; and all that time Tommy sat around, smoked innumerable cigarettes if he was allowed to do so, and cursed his luck. All that sort of thing may be a very excellent training for the gentle art of wasting time, but wasting time is not an asset of any great value in industrial life, except perhaps as a pre-war practice in certain trade unions.

The soldier was not a perfect civilian when he went to France, and he is probably a good deal less perfect now, but for that the State must accept the responsibility. We must remember that he has deteriorated in serving his country on active service, and the employer, when he finds a discharged soldier smoking a cigarette when he ought to be at work must remember that the man learnt that habit serving him in France, or on some other of the numerous fronts; and when Tommy comes into conflict with the police, as he unfortunately did on Monday afternoon, we must remember that we have spent the best part of the last four years inculcating in him the offensive spirit, and if anybody wants to know how apt a pupil he proved to be I can refer him to the occupants of any of the numerous prisoners of war camps. But it was not the demobilised soldier who caused the disturbance on Monday; at any rate, it was not the soldier that I knew out in France. He, at any rate, had had enough lighting to last him for a lifetime, and all he wanted was to get home. He was quite ready to go back to pre-war conditions of employment if he could only get home. He was not going to hold up the reconstruction of the country by demanding higher wages than the industries of the country could afford. No, it is the man who skulked at home who is responsible for this, the man who sheltered himself behind the white ticket and behind his medical category, and who is now using the demobilised soldier as a stalking horse for his Socialistic and his Bolshevist schemes. That is the man who is responsible for the outbreak that occurred on Monday, and that is the man who is now encouraging the discharged soldier and leading him. on to give all the trouble he possibly can. On the other hand, if I may say so without offence, I think that ever since the demobilisation started some six months ago there has been a lack of sympathy on the part of the Government in dealing with the demobilisation. They have been too official and not sufficiently human. I know it is difficult for a big Government Department to be human, and the bigger that Department grows the less human it tends to become. I know that, and I think a great deal of the difficulty has been that the Government have tried to do this demobilisation on too scientific lines, forgetting that they were dealing with men and not with mere test tubes of chemicals. They have not put enough sympathy into their work, and, again, if I may say so without offence, I think that lack of sympathy is very largely due to the fact that they have lacked knowledge of the conditions under which the men fought out there.

I was just an ordinary Infantry soldier, and it is the cause of the Infantry man that I claim to represent. I know nothing or very little of other branches of the Service, and my experiences were confined to the Western Front, but I am sure hon. Members with Infantry experience will agree with what I say. How many there are in this House I do not know. I could not fail to notice that during the earlier sittings of this House there was a considerable display of khaki uniform upon the beaches, but in the majority of cases those uniforms were, shall we say, defaced by Staff tabs. Now, driving about France in a Staff car may be magnificent, but it is not war. I know my remarks on this subject are largely actuated by envy, because I am perfectly ready to admit that there were cases when I would cheerfully have given ten years of my life to have been driving about the back areas in a Rolls-Royce car, or even a Ford, in preference to being where I was. But the point I wish to make is this, that those who have only seen this War through the wind screen of an automobile may easily be lacking in sympathy for those who have had a closer and more intimate acquaintance with the Hun; and it is only those who have lived amongst the men in the line, as opposed to only having visited them very occasionally, who can know what a magnificent creature the British private soldier is, and how thoroughly deserving he is of everything we can do for him. Tommy did not have a good time in France, you know. In fact, it is very difficult to make people understand over here how bad a time he really did have, but there is one means by which I usually succeed in making people understand the sort of life he had to load, and that is the fact that the military authorities considered it a severer punishment to send a man to rejoin his unit in the line than it was to sentence him to ten years' penal servitude. One scarcely ever saw a wounded man coming down without a smile on his face, and why did he look so cheerful? Because he was out of it. For a few weeks, at any rate, he would be out of the wet and the cold and the mud, and from my experiences there was mud in Flanders from September until June, and as often as not in July and August as well. For a few weeks he would be warm, and well fed, and well looked after, and safe from the ever menacing presence of death.

I shall never forget an occasion during the winter of 1916-17 when my battalion was holding a line of shell holes to the East of Beaumont Hamel. I hope you will allow me, Sir, to relate this incident as a means of softening the official heart. We were holding, as I say, a shell hole line a short way to the East of Beaumont Hamel. The British position had been successfully advanced two or three days previously, and there had been no time to consolidate the line properly. Per- haps some hon. Members may never have seen a shell hole which has been organised for defence, so perhaps I may be permitted to describe it. Hon. Members who have served on the Staff of course know that a shell hole is a yawning cavity in the road which holds up their ear and which they curse the Infantry for not having filled in. For the rest, I might explain that any large high explosive shell of a calibre of six inches or over on striking the ground digs a hole six, eight, or even ten feet in depth, and the advantage of using that as a basis for your defensive line is that when in it you are comparatively safe from rifle and machine-gun fire and you stand a much better chance from artillery fire than you would if you were in the open. Having chosen your shell hole, usually by the simple expedient of falling into it in the dark and deciding to stop there, because it seemed safer than it was outside, you next proceeded to organise it for defence. You put up a few strands of barbed wire on the enemy's side, so as to give you a slightly better chance should they attempt to rush you in the dark, you carried up a couple of duck boards, as we called those long wooden gratings, six feet long and eighteen inches wide, and fixed them across the bottom of the hole, and there you stayed, usually three or four of you, a non-commissioned officer and two or three men, and there you waited, possibly twenty-four hours, but probably very much longer. If it came on to rain the water from the surrounding country drained into the shell hole.

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You tried to bale it out with a mess-tin or an empty meat-tin. If you worked very hard, perhaps you succeeded, but if it rained at all heavily, the rain usually went over your duck-boards and perhaps they got shifted, and in the end you and your friends and rations were precipated into two or three feet of mud at the bottom of the hole. In the most favourable circumstances, you came out of a position like that soaked to the knees and probably to the waist. That is the sort of line my battalion was holding in the winter of 1916–17. Fortunately, I had sufficient men to relieve the garrison in the shell holes every twenty-four hours, when these men came out soaked to the skin, half-frozen, thoroughly exhausted to the shelter I had to offer them, or some shallow hole scraped in the hill-side, where the men sat and shivered with a sheet over them to keep oft the frost, because no sooner the sky cleared than the thermometer went down to eight, ten, and even twelve degrees of frost. After twenty-four hours of that kind of rest, they changed places once more with the men in the shell-hole, and so on. That is not an isolated instance, and it is not an exaggerated case. That is the sort of thing that went on in France every night for four long miserable winters, and no one who has not been through the sordid misery of a winter in the trenches can realise what those men had to put up with.

That is why I am appealing to the Government for more human treatment. I just ask that they should sympathise a little with the men, that they should endeavour to be less official and more human. I want them to remember that. I want them to remember, also, that it is much more amusing to stand on an English golf link than to be one of the men crouching along the foot of the Messines Ridge, hungry, cold, and, in some cases almost paralised with terror, waiting for the signal to be given to advance and carry that Ridge, knowing perfectly well the whole time that, should the mines fail in their effect, and should there be an error only of thirty seconds in the barrage, your chance of reaching your objective was absolutely nil, and even at the best, when they had captured and consolidated their position, they would be exposed to counter-attack after counter-attack, bombardment after bombardment, for twenty-four hours at least, and probably for very much longer, during every minute of which they would be exposed to the danger, not so much of death, because that did not matter, but of being mutilated out of all semblance to the human form, and still left living. That is why I appeal to the Government to do all they can. I am not asking for enormous grants, or asking them to spend huge sums of money, but I am just asking them to consider the case of the demobilised man as it comes before them, humanly and sympatheticlly. In endeavouring to put forward the case of demobilised soldiers, I have trespassed much too long on the time of the House—[Hon. Members: "No ! "]—and, in conclusion, I beg to thank you, Sir, and hon. Members for the kindness, for the patience, and the courtesy with which you, Sir, and they have listened to me.

Before I deal with the questions which underlie the unrest among discharged sailors and soldiers, may I say how much I regret the attack which was made on the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) I The hon. Member for East Edinburgh and myself frequently disagreed in the past on matters of military policy and matters of political importance, but I think it is in the recollection of the House, or it was in the recollection of the last Parliament, that the hon. Member for East Edinburgh was one of the first men in the House of Commons who took up the cudgels on behalf of discharged sailors and soldiers, and therefore, whatever opinions I may have with regard to his federation, I think it is only fair that Members of this House should be informed, and learn, that the hon. Member did all he could for the discharged sailor and soldier, when they were not so much in the limelight. I will only say two things with regard to that unfortunate demonstration on Monday, which was organised by the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers. I feel perfectly sure—and I think I shall carry the House with me when I say—that the vast majority of that organisation are just as good, sound patriots as anyone in the House at this moment. There is in that body, as in all bodies, a certain minority who are out to create disturbance, to ask unreasonable things, and who will have to be dealt with very strongly; but they are largely men who have been led away by people we all know of, who are out to use them for political motives, for Bolshevik motives, and it is up to the Government to see that those people are properly dealt with under the Defence of the Realm. The other point is this: It is unthinkable and impossible that any Government can permit any procession of discharged soldiers or any other body to come down and demonstrate near the House of Commons, as that would do away with the liberty of the House of Commons and democratic Government in this country.

Having dealt with what I consider, after all, are minor subjects connected with to-day's Debate, let me turn to what is really the most important and the only important thing, namely, what are the grievances of discharged men and how can they be remedied I It is far easier to state their grievances than to propose a real and satisfactory remedy, because some of the grievances can only be gradually put right, when building is taken up, and other matters of trade solve themselves I think the hon. Member for East Edinburgh and the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken—and to whose speech we listened with so much interest—put their finger on the right spot when they said unemployment is the root cause of the trouble at the present moment. When you have 400,000 discharged men unemployed—most of them unemployed because they cannot get employment, although there are a small minority who prefer the out-of-work donation to doing anything—but when you have that situation, you are faced with a position which, unless it is very carefully and tactfully handled, may result—and I think will result—in some of the big towns in very serious civil disturbance, which may even necessitate the intervention of the military. No Member of this House could contemplate such a thing with a light heart. The problem of the partially-disabled man is one which presents the most difficulties. The partially-disabled men who was demobilised during the War, or in the early days of the Armistice, have nearly all been absorbed into light employment, but the fact remains, according to my information, that there are very few light jobs available for the considerable number of partially-disabled men coming into civil life, after being retained in the Army on clerical work, and the great difficulty is to know what to do with them. It is easier to state that difficulty than to suggest a solution, and I do not think I can offer a complete solution, but I do say there are, in many Government Departments, jobs which are now being filled by young women—light jobs, which could be perfectly well filled by disabled or partially-disabled men.

I was down in Durham only last week end, and talked to two or three discharged men employed in the post office. They may be wrong, but I do not think they are. They were intelligent men, and put their case very fairly, and they said that not only are there a considerable number of jobs in the post office which could be filled by partially-disabled men, but that the post office is now taking on girls and training them for those jobs, which could be done by discharged men if they were equally trained. I put that to the Minister of Labour, if he would inquire into that point and see, if that is so, whether the Post Office cannot be induced to do all they can to employ partially-disabled men. There is a question, which I am sure hon. Members who have spoken in this Debate, and especially the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, would agree with me, is one which is causing a great deal of ill-feeling among discharged men all over the country, and that is, the persistent attempts, and often successful efforts, of the Local War Pensions Commitees to employ as their officials women or men who have not served instead of the discharged men. The House will remember that last year we passed a Bill, which definitely laid down that the Minister of Pensions should make a scheme so that the discharged man and his direct dependents should have a preference in all employment under these Local War Pensions Committees. May I say, in passing, that I personally, and the organisation with which I am connected, have always found the Minister of Pensions, and his Department, most willing and most anxious to help the discharged men in every way? I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington Evans) has fully justified his appointment. He is straining every nerve to help the Pensions Department, and if there are any defects, as, of course, there are in every institution, I am sure every effort is being made to remedy them, and the discharged man, when he puts up his case to that Department, always receives a sympathetic hearing. But there are cases here by the half-dozen which I could quote where the County War Pensions Committee or the Borough War Pensions Committee has, without advertisement, without giving the discharged men any chance, appointed a woman to the post of secretary at a salary of £200, £250, or £300 a year. When the discharged men see those appointments in the papers, they are very indignant, and hold indignation meetings in the locality, and such meetings have always a bad effect. Luckily, when these matters are brought to the attention of the Ministry of Pensions, they are, as far as possible, put right.

I give only one instance. In my own county town, the other night, I was informed that on the Local War Pensions Committee there a woman had been appointed at a salary of £200 a year. I rang up a friend of mine, the chairman of the Local War Pensions Committee, and said, "You are an ex-Service man yourself. why do you appoint a woman to the post of secretary to the Local War Pensions Committee?" He said, "I have nothing to do with it. The appointment was made by the County Committee sitting at Winchester. We can trace how that came about. The secretary of the County Committee is a woman, and she, apparently, without consulting anyone, has made this appointment." That affects actually a small number of appointments, I agree, but the effect on the locality -and the cause of discontent is widespread. Everybody knows the secretary of the local war pensions committee. The local ex-Service men see this woman there and see that they are being done out of appointments which were expressly reserved to them in Parliament last year.

There is a point to which one would draw the attention of the Government: that is the continuance or otherwise of the "Raafs," "Wrens," and "Waacs." I 'understand that the "Raafs," who are the women's branch of the Air Ministry, are going to be continued for all time. I am quite content to admit that there are many jobs in that Department which can better be performed by women than by men, such as, for instance, the repairing of aeroplane wings. It is quite right that women should do that work. Generally, however, in the War Office and in the War Department, there must be many cases of partially disabled men who could drive motor-cars equally well with the women who we now see driving them about. I cannot see why in this Department men should not be given preference over the women who are still employed there. Never a day passes without I get five or six complaints from discharged ex-officers and men who are being discharged from some Government office while, they say, men who have never served and who sheltered themselves behind the Government certificates during the War are kept on. This is so constant that really it is becoming a public scandal. Let me give an instance of an officer in the Records Office of the Ministry of Aircraft Production—a man who is receiving a salary of £400 a year. He is under notice of discharge. He is to be replaced by a man who has never served, and in the course of two or three months that man is to be succeeded by a woman. I submit, whether the pre-sent officer to whom I am referring is an efficient officer or not—I have no means of judging this, and it may be quite right to discharge him—in a case of this kind, where a discharged man is to be turned out, another discharged man ought to be put in his place and not a woman. It means that in that well-paid office of £400 a year you are taking the bread out of the mouth of an ex-Service man.

There is another case at the Ministry of Food. There is a Mr. In fell, who is of foreign extraction—though that has nothing to do with the case at the moment. We have been in correspondence for several months in regard to his being kept on there, because he was of military age and never went to the War. He is going to be kept on in a position at the Ministry of Food, while in the same office—and almost, I believe, the same room-there is a Captain Duncan, a discharged officer, whose services are going to be dispensed with. On what ground of justice do you keep on this man of foreign extraction, who has never served in the War, and discharge Captain Duncan, who has served I Surely, in cases of this sort the Government ought to be a model employer. How on earth can they expect private employers to do the right thing when we see on all hands that the Government are doing the sort of thing that they ask private employers not to do? Then there is the question of the North-Eastern Railway. I understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that this matter was raised at Question Time to-day. I am sorry to trespass upon the attention of the House, but I do not very often speak. Let me give an instance: It is no use talking in generalities.

There is the question of the holding of plural appointments, the question of holding two offices, and thereby keeping a discharged man out of a job. Let me read this extract from a letter I have received in reference to this new Ministry of Ways and Communications. My informant says:

"Many officials and men of the North-Eastern Railway Company avoided military service by being sent 'on loan' to various Government Departments at very great profit to themselves in all cases. Now these self-same men are being sent to Sir Eric Geddes' Ministry of Ways and Communications 'on loan.' That means they have their North-Eastern Railway salaries plus a Ministry salary, termed an 'allowance.' They hold both jobs at the same time."
That is, the men who have not served during the War.
"One man receiving £350 per annum from the company, commences in the Ministry on 1st June at £550, still holding his place at York."

:I am not quite clear on that—whether the £550 includes the £350 or not. My point is this: I do not see how it is that you cannot have a discharged officer or man filling one of these jobs, or why you should give two jobs to a man who has never served. My informant continues:

"From the secretary and solicitor and goods manager downwards there are many cases of these duplicate appointments."
The writer sums up in this way:
"There are hundreds of men capable of taking either jobs; men belonging to other railway companies, and men who have had military service."
I may say that my informant himself is an ex-Service man whose services will be dispensed with at the end of this month simply because—well, I do not know—but because those are given appointments there who have never served, and these very largely look after others who also did not serve during the War.

May I draw the attention of the House for one moment to the position of the ex-service men in Ireland. His prospects of employment and of a happy life in many parts of the country are gloomy in the extreme. Remember that every man who went from Ireland was a volunteer! He not only risked his life and limb in fighting for his country, but on his return he risked his popularity in the distirict, and the happiness of his wife and family; also he risked the fact that when he returned in many parts of Ireland he would be accounted an outcast. The Sinn Feiners are running the Employment Exchanges and the local war pensions committees. I do ask the Government—it is not easy, I know—to see if they cannot do something to assure the future of the ex-Service man in Ireland. Remember that in many parts of the country the ex-Service man is the only man you have to rely upon to support the British connection and the British flag. He finds his position very difficult. His loyalty is great, but you can overstrain it. If he goes back to his countryside and finds that the only way to get employment and have a peaceable life is by renouncing his loyal sympathies and becoming an anti-Britisher and a disloyalist, he is almost bound to do so, not so much for his own sake, but, as may happen in many cases, for the sake of providing for his wife and family. Therefore, I do appeal to the Government to do all they can to look after these discharged ex-Service men in Ireland, especially by giving them employment. If you give him employment you will have half-solved the difficulty of looking after him. One other question of unemployment before I leave it. Why is it necessary to have so many women employed in important positions at the War Office and in other Government Departments? Before the War very few women were employed in the good salaried positions in Government Departments. I have the greatest respect for the intelligence and the excellnt work that has been done by the women. I have not a word to say against it. But surely—and I am sure that the women themselves would be the first to admit it—if you can get a discharged officer or man, especially if he is disabled or has been wounded, to fill these jobs, especially at the War Office, you have no right to fill these places with women.

The sufficiency of the war gratuity was raised by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh. I confess that I think the war gratuity ought to be increased. Going up and down the country and talking to discharged men, there is a very unanimous wish—I quite understand everybody wants more money—but when you consider the comparative value of money at the present time to the time following the South African War, I think it will be found that the war gratuity now payable after this War is not as large in comparison with the gratuity after the South African War. The same thing applies to pensions. They are not adequate, especially in view of the cost of living and the difficulty of finding lodgings at present. We have had some reference to housing. You cannot, of course, build at once all the houses that are needed. We all understand that. The housing question does not only press upon the ex-Service men, but it also presses hardly upon all sections of the population. I put this matter forward for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman, who will reply: I do think that other things being equal where there are two applicants for one house we should lay down a rule that the ex-Service man should have the preference for these newly-built houses over the man who had not served. Such a rule would not be asking too much. In reference to the disposal of surplus Govern- ment stores, I would put in a claim for the ex-Service men to have a preference over civilians. The. ex-Service man during the "War has had no opportunity of making big wages or big profits as have so many civilians. Therefore, when it comes to competing in the open market for Government stores he finds himself very often outbid by the rich munition worker who made large sums during the War. I would ask the Government whether they cannot see their way to give a preference in some way to the ex-Service man starting a new life in the purchase of some of these Government stores.

I would only bring forward two more cases, one concerns the Officers' Employment Department. I believe the right hon. Gentleman below me has charge of it. I do not suppose he will claim that that Department is anything but a dismal failure. I understand that 150,000 applications were received for training and employment, and only some 5,000 were satisfied. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh, I am sure, will agree that that is a very deplorable state of affairs. The cost of that Department is very great, and I would like to mention the case of Captain Hark ness, which came before the Appointments Department last October. This case was taken up with a view to obtaining training in poultry farming, and this officer suffered from very severe injuries to his head. Therefore it was essential that all unnecessary worry should be avoided, and the head of the Intelligence Department, at 99, Queen's Gate, was personally interviewed, and he gave an assurance that the case should be dealt with without any delay. Then there was a delay of a fortnight, and even for weeks after that nothing was done. Later Captain Harkness was informed that his papers had been lost. By the end of March of this year again nothing had happened, and this in spite of personal letters addressed to the Minister of Labour on the 1st April, and to the Board of Agriculture on the 22nd May.

Now comes the climax. This morning a communication was received by myself from Captain Harkness to the effect that his papers had been lost for a second time. I think that is really a perfect disgrace. No less than seven and a-half months have been spent by this Department in looking into Captain Harkness' case, and the only thing they have done is to lose two sets of papers, and this officer is no nearer getting an appointment than he was eight and a half months ago. What has he got to live on? Only his war gratuity, and but for his friends he would have been in the workhouse. There can be no excuse for losing two sets of papers, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will himself look into this matter and see what can be done. We know that this Officers' Employment Department is very expensive, but the Government ought to be able to find employment for these men aft a much quicker rate. In an institution with which I am connected we have found 557 men employment since the 1st January, and surely if that can be done by a private institution it ought to be done by a Government Department. I could give many other instances, but all I want to say is, and I am sure it is the experience of all hon. Members of this House, that 99 per cent. of the discharged men are eminently reasonable beings. They are getting very unrestful and very discouraged because they do not find that the Government or the Departments concerned, with the exception of the Ministry of Pensions, are really carrying out the policy they ought to do. We have had officials spending weeks and months in Paris, and I am sure they could get along very well with a quarter of those people in Paris, and they should have the other three-quarters of the, staff here looking after the soldiers, the sailors, and the airmen.

This is the first time I have attempted to address the House, and therefore I ask the indulgence of hon. Members. The subject under discussion is one about which I feel very deeply. I have had the honour during the War of serving with both the Navy and the Army, and therefore I have been in touch with the men of both forces, and both the Services which are being discussed at the present time. I consider that the chief reason for discontent among the demobilised sailors and soldiers is the off-hand and dilatory manner in which many of the Government Departments treat their just claims. I do not think that the Government really take into consideration what these men are, who they are, and what they have done. A previous speaker referred to what these men have done, and I wish I had his eloquence in putting their case before the House. But I should like to point out that all the men whom we are dealing with under demobilised soldiers and sailors are volunteers. The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down pointed out to the House that, all Irishmen were volunteers, but the same thing applies to all the men who are entitled to demobilisation in the Army or Navy at the present time, and therefore all the men with whom we are concerned at the present moment are volunteers, because they voluntarily joined the Navy or the Army, and they are entitled to just treatment on those grounds.

I should like to point out the class of men they were. They volunteered from every section of the community and from every walk of life. I remember very well when I was serving with the Royal Naval Division in Gallipoli the drafts of reinforcements we got in the middle part of 1915, and the bulk of them were married men. We were always struck by that fact, for most of the drafts contained perhaps 60 percent. of married men who had sacrificed everything, and who had given up their means of livelihood and left then' wives and children because they felt that they could not remain at home, but must go and do their best for their country. Many of these men were miners, and were getting what in those days was considered a high rate of pay. They were receiving, perhaps, £2, £3, or £4 a week, and they gave it up to take all the risks of war on the mere pittance that was allowed them by the Government.

I maintain that these men are entitled to just treatment now that they have come home. The hon. and gallant Gentleman gave some idea of the work they did over in the trenches. During those two years I was with the Naval Division I was an Infantryman, and I served in that capacity in Antwerp, Egypt, Gallipoli, and France, and I know some of the hardships which those men had to put up with. We know that day after day and month after month those men would be under shell-fire practically within range of the enemy's guns for the whole of that time, and they knew full well that they were face to face with death and might meet it at any moment of the day or night. Those men, in my experience, went through all the hardships and risks with the greatest cheerfulness because they were fighting for their country's cause as volunteers. They did not mind what they did and they did it with a cheerfulness which was perfectly astounding.

What have they done? I claim that these men are the men who won the War. We have been told of certain Ministers and groups of politicians who have won the War, but it was no politicians who won the War. It was the officers and men of the fighting forces who won the War, in spite of and not because of the politicians. There is not a single Member of this House, inside or outside of it, who had the privilege of fighting alongside the men either of the Navy or the Army, but who are absolutely proud to have been allowed to have any connection with them. They have given not mere lip service but heart worship to these men who have done so valiantly. We have all thought of the lives which these men led before they came out in pre-war times, and we know the hardships which they have had to put up with, and every man alongside of them made up his mind that when the War was over he would do everything he could to see that justice was done to them. Any man who had the privilege of fighting alongside them would have given the shirt off his back to do any one of them any good.

It is not right that the Government should forget what these men have done, and yet what do we find when they come home and have been demobilised? There is great discontent amongst the men who are not demobilised, who are still out there in France, Gallipoli, Egypt, and else where, and who went out in 1914 and 1915, and who are still being retained in the Service either on the cadres of their battalions or looking after a few stores which are not worth the amount of pay given to the men to look after them. Those men, after having done excellent fighting in the Infantry and other branches of the Service, have been transferred to the R.A.M.C. or the R.A.S.C., and other work, and they are being retained while other men with far less service are being released. That is one very great cause of discontent, and if these men are discontented before they come out of the Army, it is much harder to make them contented when they are demobilised.

The right hon. Gentleman went into the details of the causes of complaint in regard to the procession and the meeting on Monday last. I will not go into the details. I think it is universally agreed that there was good and just cause for the discontent which these men feel. I would only like to put it that these men are not saints. One of the things I have learned from this War is that I became a convert to the belief that crime, as we know it, or as it was before the War, was not inherent in a person. Crime is largely due to superfluous energy, which, if a man has no other proper outlet for it, becomes what we know as crime. Every man who has the energy mentally or bodily, or who has sufficient energy, is a potential criminal. Right hon. Gentlemen who come to this House perhaps by the accident of birth or position, if they did not work off that energy here, under other circumstances might have been criminals. I put it that they have a very grave responsibility at the present time in regard to these large masses of men who are being demobilised. They are being turned adrift without employment. These men have the energy, as has been shown throughout the War, in its very highest form. It is extremely dangerous to allow these energetic men to be roaming about without any proper outlet for their energies. I will only make one suggestion, if I may. There are various groups of Members of the House formed for a variety of purposes. At the present time we have an Army group, an Air Service group, a Navy group, and a Housing group. I think it might be worth while that all Members—and it does not matter whether they are Service Members of Members of the Opposition, or Members of the Labour party—who have this question at heart should become members of a group in this House, not to strengthen the hands of the Government, but to be in a position to think out and discuss the best means of dealing with these men. Such a group would be in a position to keep the Government up to the mark, and see that the Government Departments concerned in the demobilisaton of men do full and proper justice to those who have served their country so faithfully.

I am sure the House will desire me to utter a word of congratulation to the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down upon his very successful and interesting maiden speech. But perhaps the hon. Member will forgive me if I pass a word of criticism upon it by saying I am quite unable to apply to the Government the doctrine of criminology which he has expounded. The burden of argument in the House this afternoon has been that the grievances of the soldiers are not likely to be removed until the Government has shown much greater energy, for it is not an excess of energy on the part of the Government which accounts for its crimes in relation to the grievances of the hundreds of thousands of men who have now come back from the War. I should like also to say in relation to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member that his description, like that of other soldiers who have spoken, of what our men have had to endure proves clearly that this manifestation of discontent has close relation to what the men endured and to the sacrifices they made, and is not due in any degree to the mischief of agitators or the energies of any sprinkling of Bolsheviks which may exist in this country. It is no use trying to find excuses for this very real outburst of discontent on the part of such a large number of men. Those of us who have not served in that way and who have only had opportunity to hear at home of the trials of the soldier know quite well that the whole of the experience of modern military life has inevitably altered the attitude of mind of these men towards their country and towards the responsibility of the State. Therefore, we shall not assist each other in finding a solution of these grave problems by making implications either against each other in this House or against certain energetic people outside. The grievance is real, and it is due to the way in which these men are being treated in this country now. Indeed, this phase of the unemployment question to-day is forced upon us by a consciousness on the part of the Government of the reality of these grievances; and any attempt to force this House in the manner in which the discharged soldiers did on Monday would not have driven the Government to consent to such a Debate as this were they not conscious how serious the situation is, and how real the grievances of the men are.

I am certain that the House and the country will look to what the right hon. Gentleman will have to say later in the Debate rather than to anything which anyone else may say, no matter how long the discussion may last. Men are little interested in what we, who have no authority, may be inclined to say by way of criticism of the Labour Minister or of members of the Government in relation to this matter. I. therefore, hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Labour will be able to say something to the House much more consoling and much more substantial in what it promises than his colleague the Parliamentary Secretary was able to say to the deputation which met him on Monday last. I have no doubt that the deputation which met him felt not only disappointment, but was incensed almost to encourage some stronger form of protest than they had previously shown in the hope that some further action would be prompted thereby. I agree that so far as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary could say anything, he has said it; he expressed himself in terms of the greatest sympathy with the deputation. I am sure, too, that the House recognises that those who are at the head of the Ministry of Labour at this moment are not responsible for the situation. I am confident the Minister for Labour would do much more to meet the serious situation if he had power and authority, and it is for those of us who, for the moment, are in the position of critics to urge upon him to insist on his colleagues in the Government facing the realities of the situation.

The Parliamentary Secretry during his speech to the deputation on Monday stated that the Government were of opinion that it would be unwise to pay subsidies to private employers or to enter into competition with private employers by setting up State factories to produce goods of a kind ordinarily produced by the private employer. I take that to be the settled policy of the Government. They think it would be unwise to do either of those two things. But is it wise to leave things as they are? Is it wise to go no further than was indicated in the speech of my hon. Friend on Monday last? Would it not be less unwise to subsidise employers if that were necessary, or even to enter into State competition with employers in the hope of enlarging the opportunities for work which these men are seeking? It would be less unwise to do that than to leave these men so much to chance as they are being left at the present moment. There are many employers who have failed to carry out the assurances which they gave to their men when they left their work to go to the War. I must qualify that statement, of course, by adding that there is a considerable number of employers who have done straightforward, patriotic and manly service for their country by keeping full faith with their men, and according to them the most generous treatment. And inasmuch as it is the main function of the law to discover the wrongdoer and to apply some correction or punishment, it might well be the business of the Government to identify if possible all those employers who have failed to keep their promises in this regard. Soldiers who have come back naturally look upon the Government as the custodian of the interests and rights which they left behind them when they joined the Army in defence of their country. And in regard to those employers who are not keeping faith with either their country or their former workmen, everything possible should be done to compel them to reinstate the men in their service. Adjustments may be necessary, but on the broad principle I submit the Government could easily exercise a condition of control over any employers as they did while the War was on and for the purpose of war output. It ought not to be too big a job for the Government now to apply a form of control to any such employer, and make him do what morally is his duty, and what be verbally undertook to do when his men left to join the Army.

6.0 P.M

We are faced with a most humiliating and deplorable situation. We were all saddened by the news of a march upon the House itself by men who hitherto have done their marching for their country under the most arduous and dangerous conditions. It is humiliating to the country to realise that these unemployment processions are largely composed of those men who, when they left their country to go to the War, left good jobs with good wages. There were some 5,000,000 of these men who joined up before any Military Service Act was passed, and many of them abandoned good prospects in order to do so. I am speaking not only of the rank and file of the Army. I speak also of that class of officer, the lieutenant or the captain, who gave up his civil pursuit, with all the advantages of personal ease, and did so in order to lead our men. A very large number of these men have come back and are smarting under the lack of that Government support which has been referred to by some of the Members. Individual cases have been cited, particularly by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), but in thousands and thousands of cases there is a feeling of bitter personal experience. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. It was easy to get men into the Army. They volunteered without loss of time, but they are now smarting because of the delay—the un- necessary delay which is taking place in the payment of their gratuities. I have had personal knowledge during the past week of a case of an ex-officer, whose gratuity is now more than five months overdue. These things, felt by individuals, talked of amongst friends and neighbours, travel far and create a measure. of real discontent which ultimately falls on the shoulders of my right hon. Friend, whose Department is not in any way to blame for many of these features of the present discontent. These individual cases are numerous enough to require some speeding up. it is no answer to say—if it be said—that the Government is doing all it can. If the staff in any Government Office is not equal to dealing speedily and humanely with these reasonable claims, then there is a large body of unemployed persons who can be called in to deal with them and get them off the books. At least the Government ought to show willingness, and make it impossible for any grievance of this kind to remain, which seems in a sense to indicate almost a callousness, certainly a serious neglect on the part of the Government and only feeds the discontent which already exists. Although we are seeing from week to week some improvement in the direction of taking off the embargoes which have rested upon trade and which have thereby done a great deal to restrict enterprise and the development of industry, I would urge that the right hon. Gentleman should make it definitely part of his policy as Minister of Labour absolutely to sweep away all these restraints which have done a good deal to narrow opportunities for employment. These are grievances felt not merely by the working classes and by the returned soldiers, but by a large number of commercial and business men who, in the uncertainties of the industrial and commercial situation, are not doing what they might individually be able to do to lessen the severity of the unemployment difficulty and to improve the general state of trade in the country.

Let me turn for a moment to what the Government does in cases where it has a real opportunity to lessen the unemployment problem and not only neglects that opportunty, but does a thing which increases it. I have here a report on a gun factory that was in course of erection during the War at Burton-on-Trent. This factory was brought into existence, I am told, about eighteen months ago, and has been in course of erection until quite recently. The cost, I hear, is something like £1,000,000. Gun-repairing work was going on there for some time with a steady increase in the output, when suddenly, my report says, it was decided to stop work altogether and to use the place as a dumping ground or as a mere storehouse for certain machines. That factory was capable of employing at least 1,500 workers. It would have made, I am told, a splendid motor works. I have information from a competent authority, an experienced man in motor manufacturing, who expresses this opinion:
"In my opinion it is an ideal works for a. motor repair factory. It is all on the ground floor, the shops are of large area, all big spans; there is a railway siding into the works to-enable the lorries that are unfit to come on their own wheels to be delivered by rail, and there is plenty of room on the land adjoining the works for storing lorries and parts that are unfit for use or repair."
In face of that quite valuable opinion, I would like to know whether the Minister of Labour can tell the House why, in this instance, a step has been taken which has increased the number of unemployed in face of the opportunity offered to diminish the number? I have also a case of an opportunity given to the War Office to do its little bit in lessening the number of the unemployed. It is the work of renovating the barracks and married quarters at Aldershot. That work, I am told, is curtailed in consequence of an insufficiency of money, as the report goes. That, I understand, is the reply given by the War Office for the step they have taken. Very little repair work has been done during the War in that particular quarter and there is now certainly much need for it. These instances show that the Government is rather falling back upon a policy of letting time alone afford the country a solution of this problem, when really the case is so urgent that the masses of men and women outside this House will not patiently wait. I submit to the Minister of Labour that the ex-soldier has a special claim, which he is entitled to put even before the claim of the civilian worker, I know that this is challenged by some who regard men as having a right to equal opportunities for earning their daily bread. But let me put the case as I see it. The man who left his work voluntarily, or who was required by the law to join the Army, was a man picked out of many hundreds of thousands of men who still remained at their peaceful pursuits, still earning their wages, and often good wages in comparison with the pre-war wages. Just as it was right for the Government to call upon that man to face the rigours of the War, that man now regards it as his right to call upon the Government to put him back again in his proper industrial place and give him a sphere for useful civil service. Indeed, he has a claim, by virtue of what he has sacrificed and by virtue of the particular task which as a soldier he faced, that is prior to that of the civilian worker who was not called upon to leave the country at all, but who remained here under comparatively good terms of personal advantage to himself. Any step which the Government can take, even to depart from the ordinary practices and conditions of industrial service, ought to be taken to keep faith with these men and to give them the least of the rewards which any returned soldier has a right to expect, that is, the reward of finding an honourable and useful place in our industrial and social system to earn himself his daily bread.

I should like to express the astonishment with which I heard the speech of my hon. Friend for the Mossley Division of Manchester (Mr. A. Hopkinson), who followed my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), and levelled, against him an attack which I am sure was a surprise to all of us who recall the extremely useful and, I believe, totally disinterested service which my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh rendered to the cause of the soldier during the years of the last Government. My hon. friend the Member for Mossley has a record him self as a private employer which is among the best. His nobility of motive is known to all who are personally acquainted with him, and I therefore could not understand the fury with which he turned upon the hon. Member for East Edinburgh for having only narrow, personal, or political interests to serve in the interest he has taken in relation to the organisation of the soldiers of this country. I suggest that, subject as we all are to these weaknesses of Debate, this is too high and serious a question for importing into it, to any great degree at any rate, these charges of unworthy motives against any of us. I reject the view that my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh has not as high and worthy a motive in the public service as any other man in this House who may take part in this Debate.

Reference was made—I cannot close without some reference to the point—to trade union regulations or customs being one cause of some of the unemployment which exists. I should like some hon. Member to adduce, either openly in the House or privately, or in any other way, some grounds for this repeated statement. It is not true. I myself, speaking sometimes as the mouthpiece of the least skilled or unskilled workers of this country, have had cause to complain of certain trade union practices and customs which tended to keep the labourer in the position of a labourer and not give him the wider opportunities for individual advancement which ought to be common to all men in all spheres of existence. But I am not in any way aware of a ground of complaint against trade unions in regard to the just and reasonable claims of the soldiers. It is true that trade unions in quite a number of cases have taken steps to defend wage rights, and to prevent employers taking advantage of the labour which has returned from the War, but that is a different thing from alleging that by any measure the trade unions have excluded from employment soldiers who otherwise would have been able to secure it. I reject totally the imputation that trade unionists by their present regulations or customs have done more than to seek to defend the wage standards which, indeed, it is their proper duty to defend. It is only quite recently that the Bill has been introduced to restore to trade unionists their rights as they existed during the course of the War and before it. I suggest that the very delay in introducing that measure has in no small degree irritated and incensed trade unions and made it difficult, if not impossible, for them to make provisions which might further help the peaceful return of the soldier to ordinary peaceful pursuits. In other words, if that Bill had been introduced and passed into law months ago, there would by this time have been opportunity for the trade unions to accommodate workshop conditions to the pressing needs of the soldiers still outside. They have been kept in a state of doubt and uncertainty, and have got into a frame of mind which has made them think that the Government never meant really to restore the trade union privileges or to keep the word which was given to organised labour during the course of the War. We do not want to limit our service to that criticism in regard to this very pressing problem. We have already made in this and in other Debates suggestions of some substance which can be carried into practical effect. It is about time now that the Government should cease to let this question try to settle itself. It is not the job for time; it is the job of statesmen. Inasmuch as the claim of these men is so well grounded upon the sacrifice and the service which they have rendered, I hope that this House, the country, the employers, and the State Departments will show themselves willing to make any sacrifice to repay the men who have done so much for their country.

The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Clynes) has certainly in full measure conformed to the test which the hon. Member (Mr. Hogge) set up in opening this Debate. The hon. Member said he wished to keep it entirely free from political feeling, and that we all might give some helpful contribution towards a solution of this great; question. Every speech that has been delivered has been helpful in some way or another. The Government welcomes help. Personally I am grateful to all hon. Members who have spoken, and I am glad an opportunity is given me to state what the position of the Government is upon this matter. The topic is one of supreme importance. Upon its adequate solution there depends the peaceful readjustment of our social and industrial life and the happiness of the great mass of men whose courage, endurance and patriotism saved the State, and to whom we in our turn owe the best the State can give. While I am sure everyone appreciates the importance of the issue, I am not perfectly certain that all hon. Members who have spoken quite understand the formidable character of the task which is imposed upon the Government in connection with it. If in time of settled peace you had abstracted some millions of men from the industrial life of the country and at the end of six months had proposed to restore them to the industries from which they had been taken, you would have found your task even then one of such difficulty that you could not have compassed it within the space of many months. If you reflect upon the conditions which were created by the War you will see that the difficulties became enormously increased. Nearly all the great industries of the country were turned from the manufacture of articles of commerce to the production of war material. They became newly equipped. They took in different types of machines. Their shops and factories were converted, to purposes for which they were never intended, and when hostilities ceased it became a matter of urgent necessity to reconvert these shops to the purpose for which they were originally intended. I am sure the House realises that that is a. matter which cannot be accomplished within a short space of time, and that the months which have passed have not, indeed, been too much for the accomplishment of that task.

But I have only half stated the difficulties of this problem. Men manufacture goods not to keep them, but for markets. Our market is the whole habitable globe. Russia is at present in the agonies of a convulsion which make it entirely impossible for us to do any trading with her. All the territories of our enemies are closed to us, and even the countries of our Allies are so busy in performing their readjustments after the War that the normal course of trade has never begun to flow again between us and them, and accordingly the marvel is not that we find a large number of people who cannot obtain a job, but that unemployment has been kept within such narrow proportions. I wonder if the House realises that we have demobilised 2,800,000 soldiers since the Armistice. I wonder if the House appreciates that, for example, in the. month of February men were being demobilised at the rate of 170,000 per week, and in March at the rate of 106,000 per week. Is it conceivable that you could have all these men reabsorbed at once into industry? And yet we have almost accomplished the impossible, for of the men who have come back from the Army, actually 81 percent. have been reabsorbed into industry, and of the other 19 percent some are in a position which makes them quite unfitted for the industry which they previously carried on. It makes it far more difficult for them to get a job. And with regard to some of them, unless human nature has become suddenly angelic, I think it must be true that they are more anxious for a time to draw unemployment donation than to find work. I do not say that applies to many, but of a certain proportion of the remaining 19 percent. that undoubtedly is true. Accordingly, I think the House will agree that that record is. not one which gives us any reason for despair, though it may give some reason for anxiety.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how that figure is arrived at? What are the sources of information upon which it is based?

The sources of information are the numbers which the War Office report to us to be demobilised. Then you deduct from these numbers those whose furlough has not yet expired, and then, of the remainder, who would be either on unemployment donation or in work, you get a total—I am speaking from memory—of 1,700,000, of whom 408,000 arc still out of work. I think the figures are entirely accurate, and the House may accept them with confidence. They show that at least many of the comments which have been made are not entirely justified. I have no doubt it is true that a certain number of employers have not completely conformed to all the pledges which they gave at the beginning of the War, but they cannot be many. Indeed, their number must be infinitesimal, otherwise you would have had a far larger proportion out of work than we find to be the case. You can test it in this way. If you take the number of soldiers who are unemployed as compared with the number of civilians you find the civilians are twice as many as the soldiers—19 percent. of soldiers as against 36 per cent. of civilians—and accordingly it would appear that throughout the country employers have been taking back the soldiers and have been dismissing the civilians in order to give them their places. Further, it has been suggested that in many cases women have been kept on in positions which soldiers have previously held. In regard to that matter, as early as February, I succeeded in making an agreement both with the Employers' Association and the Trade Unions, and a strict code was entered into for the purpose Of arranging how discharges should take place of dilutees in order to make room for the men coming back. As the result of that agreement I do not think I have more than half a dozen cases of complaint where it is suggested employers were failing to keep that bargain. One of the cases, which was not unnatural, occurred in connection with a factory owned by a lady who entirely refused to discharge her women employés. But that is the only serious case we have had. The others have been cases of very trivial importance, and I therefore think the House is entitled to take it that the returning soldier has been on the whole well treated by the employers, and that his place has been given back to him when he has asked for it.

There are certain other complaints which have been made. It has been complained that Government Departments are slack in dealing with applications to them for necessary aid for returning soldiers and officers. I have no doubt there are cases of that kind. I cannot answer for the individual cases which were cited, because it is obviously impossible to be provided with notes with regard to every person whose name has come before a Government Office, but I can at least give this assurance on the part of the Government that it is anxious that no case of that kind should occur, and that every possible opportunity will be given for redressing the cases which hon. Members can bring before us. With regard to some comments made upon the Appointments Department by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Lieut.-Colonel Ashley), I should like to utter one word of correction. Instead of there being, as he said, 120,000 applications by officers for training there have been 34,000.

That, again, is an erroneous figure. The number of names on our books to-day seeking employment at the Appointments Department is 10,731. So that I am afraid the figure the hon. and gallant Gentleman has asked for is even worse than the one I was able to give him on the other branch of his complaint.

The right hon. Gentleman said, on 14th April, that 139,000 applications for training or employment had been received, but he could not state exactly in how many cases they had been successful, but 4,130 had been placed in appointments. I thought, therefore, that if I took the present date in May, and I knew the average number of cases was 200 a week, I should not be wrong in saying there were 150,000 applications and 5.000 placed.

The matter is easily explained. The figures have been somewhat misapprehended. There were applications on the part of 139,000 officers in the period of which I speak for appointments. They were passed through by the Appointments Department to various employers named in these applications. All we know is that over 100,000 officers have been demobilised, and presumably the officers got the appointments to which they were referred, because, as I have stated, there only remain 10,000 upon our books to-day desiring appointments. I hope that is clear.

The office does not take credit for having obtained all these appointments. I do not claim that the office is doing much more than the work of a post office, although, in many cases, it had to make inquiries; but at least we must do them this justice, that they passed through all these cases, and presumably the appointments have been obtained, judging from the numbers on the books to-day. The hon. Member made certain other complaints which I shall certainly be very glad to look into if he will give me the particulars. Now I come to a much more important matter, and that is, the general remedy for unemployment, which was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Clynes). I gathered that this suggestion was that it was the duty of the Government to provide employment in national factories, and I understood him to ask whether that was the settled policy of the Government. My reply is, that the Government, some months ago, made up its mind quite clearly upon that subject. My right hon. Friend read a passage which seemed to indicate that there was some fear of interference with private enterprise, and that was the cause of delay on the part of the Government. The truth is that the Government was guided in this matter by no other test than this: How shall we best prevent unemployment? That the Government have no prejudice in the matter, the House will readily judge. It is perfectly true that if you ask me whether I am in favour of private enterprise or industry carried on under national control, I should answer that my belief is that in normal circumstances, and in the case of most industries, you will always get better results out of private enterprise than out of national. But we are not in normal circumstances. The circumstances to-day are as abnormal as they were during the War, and the Government which interferes during the War, in order to carry on national factories, was just as ready to interfere at the present time to carry on national factories if they believed it would prevent unemployment.

I have never heard yet a really practical suggestion as to what we were to do with these national factories. It is perfectly obvious that if you are going to make in these national factories goods which the market wants, you are only making goods which are being made in some other factory at the present time, and you would only find employment in the national factory, and dislocate employment in some other factory. You would do worse than that. So far from preventing unemployment, you would in my judgment increase unemployment, because the fact of the State interfering and carrying on ordinary industry in the country in national factories, would have this result, that the individual trader, who knows that the State will make at any cost and sell at any sacrifice, would know that he had a competitor with whom he could not compete, and you would drive enterprise out of industry. For these reasons, we came deliberately to the conclusion that no advantage would be gained by starting national factories. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the case of the gun factory at Burton-on-Trent. It may very well be that you can make motor cars in that particular factory. In point of fact, that factory is amongst the list of "A" factories, which the Government requires to keep against contingencies, and so far it has only been able to keep it in its own hands for the purpose of a national store, which is much required. The general considerations of which I have spoken have been sufficient to determine the Government action in regard to these national factories.

The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) made some suggestions for remedies. He asked that the Employment Exchange system should be inquired into by a Committee. At the present time there is a Committee inquiring into the administration of the unemployment donation, which, incidentally, will raise the question of any improvement that can be effected in the mechanism of the Employment Exchanges. But I would beg the House not to run away with the assumption that there are people wanting employés, and employés wanting employers who cannot be got together by the mechanism of the Employment Exchanges. There is not to-day any large body of vacancies throughout the country. They only amount to 27,000 throughout the country. If you take a great trade like engineering, there are over 100,000 people out of work, and only 2,963 notified vacancies throughout the whole country. As every one knows there is always a floating number of people who are shifting from one job to another and who register their names at the Exchange. Therefore, I do not think that whatever be the result of any committee of inquiry it is going appreciably to affect the great problem with which we are dealing to-day. Another matter with which the hon. Member dealt was the Civil Liabilities Department. I do not suggest that the form which applicants have to fill up is by any means perfect. It may very well be that no form that issues from a Government Department ever is perfect, but this is the form that has been in existence since the Civil Liabilities Department existed. It is the form that was in existence when my hon. Friend was a member of the committee, and so far as I know, he never made any complaint at that time, and he has reserved his criticisms for his speech on the floor of the House.

I turn now to what the Government is in point of fact doing. The request is to provide work. This Government will be providing work within a short time to a greater extent than any Government in this country has ever done. The housing scheme which it has launched involves the building of 100,000 houses in the first twelve months, and 200,000 houses in the second twelve months. I know that this scheme has not gone very far. We are all perfectly well aware of that. To-day there have been approved sites for 76,000 houses, and the matter now rests with the local authorities to get on with the building. My hon. Friend suggested that it was our duty to stir up the local authorities. That suggestion has already been met. A strongly worded circular was issued by the President of the Local Government Board, pointing out the great importance of the building of houses, not only in relation to accommodating the working classes of this country but also in relation to the provision of employment for those who are unemployed. I can only tell my hon. Friend that there is an appreciable change in the amount of unemployment, and I am glad to say that it is on the decrease. During the last week for which we have figures, the number of unemployed is less than it has been at anytime during the last ten weeks. It is now under the number of a million, over which it stood for some time. In the building trade I notice that in that particular week 5,000 people who have been unemployed have been absorbed into their proper industry. I find a similar decrease in the general labourers who assist in the building trade. While I should be foolish to predict anything too strongly, I do believe that we have reached the turn in this matter, and that the number of unemployed will gradually go down, that the Government schemes will increasingly take up a number of men who to-day can find no job, and that by the end of the summer we shall be in a very different situation from what we are to-day.

Let me refer to another matter. The Road Board has made grants of £7,500,000 already for the repair of roads. Some hon. Members asked whether anything had actually been done on the roads. I am glad to be able to say that in connection with these grants a considerable amount of work has already been begun and that many other schemes are ready to start. You can take my assurance that the Road Board is fully alive to the necessities of the situation, and that they are prepared to use all their energies to get the work carried forward with great expedition, in order to assist us in this matter of unemployment. That does not cover all that is in being or in prospect. Within the last few weeks, in connection with local work, gasworks, waterworks, and so on, schemes have been started costing £2,500,000, and other schemes are already sanctioned costing £15,000,000. Therefore, I think the House will see that the Government is already in the way to providing employment in the most effective way possible. I have heard to-day several hon. Members deprecating useless work. If the unemployment bonus is demoralising, nothing, is more demoralising than useless work. Everybody who has read the history of the revolution in France in 1843 knows the conditions which were created in Paris under the system of the Paris industrial works. Nothing ever so demoralised a population as the useless works started at that time by the French Government, and I hope that under no circumstances shall we ever be induced to take up similar schemes. I only wish to say, in conclusion, that I am grateful to the hon. Members who have spoken for the useful help they have given to the Government by way of criticism and suggestions. I am perfectly certain that this Debate has been valuable not only to the Government but to the country, and I hope that one of its results will be to enlist the co-operation of every loyal citizen with the Government in pushing on the measures by which schemes may be started and carried through, and which will take up large numbers of the unemployed who at present unfortunately exist in this country.

I am glad that the Government have given this opportunity for the discussion of the relation between the discharged soldier and the State. It will give many of us the opportunity which we have been wanting for some time of unburdening ourselves. The story, in so far as it is a sad story, is a story of that want of imagination which from time immemorial has been characteristic of Government Departments. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Home) has made a strong defence of his own Department. I believe that so far as his Department is concerned he stands in a strong position. I accept everything he says. I think that his Department and his actions have been almost heroic, as I think has the work of other Departments, but I would ask hon. Members to take their minds back to the time of the Armistice, just before the General Election. Bolshevism was rampant in Europe, and the monster was sending out its tentacles to get within its clutches anything good or evil with which it might nurture its vile body. In this country there was a small handful of men who, it was known, had tendencies in that direction. Then it was put to the people of this country, "Which will you have—Government of the people, for the people and by the people, or a bloody tyranny such as has devastated Eastern Europe?" And the reply given was unanimous. There was not a Bolshevist in this country who did not bite the dust. I do not believe that there is a Member of this House to-day worthy of the name. If there is any who has such tendencies, he must have concealed them from the electors, as otherwise he would not be here. Had anyone ventured at the election to talk about indirect government he would not have been returned to this House.

The danger was that the monster of Bolshevism was still alive, and the reasonable thing for the Government to do was to turn to the Army over the seas awaiting demobilisation, that Army who had proved its courage and its chivalry. The Government should have said, "Whoever else is against us, whoever else has grievances, these men must have none." As reasonable men they had a right to say, "They are going to be to this country the source of the greatest strength, or else we frankly acknowledge that they are potential revolutionists." You must recognise that, having read history and in view of the difficulties of the times. Then came the demobilisation. It was carried out, I acknowledge freely and in spite of any criticisms that are made, on the whole with energy and skill. But in dealing with soldiers the first essential thing is to understand the psychology of soldiers, and it is here that the Government fail. If at the time of the demobilisation the Government had been in a position to say, "The hurt men, the crippled men, your comrades, are receiving not only just treatment but generous treatment. The wounded men, the widows of the men in action, are being looked after as a good father would look after his children. The mothers of men who died are getting generous treatment. The pledges which we made to you when we wanted something are now redeemed when we no longer want anything," then the Government would be in a stronger position than it is to-day.

I do not attack the pensions scheme as a, whole. Most certainly I do not attack the present Minister of Pensions, whom I regard as a gentleman of the widest sympathy and the greatest energy, but I may give some instances of what has occurred. How did you keep your promises, and show imagination and foresight? Soldiers see the widow of a comrade receiving 15s. 6d. per week. The widowed mother of a man who died gallantly fighting is put off with 5s. a week, and—this is the worst thing I have got against the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War—almost with tears in his voice he told us what a splendid thing it was to have 5s. a week for life. That is the kind of thing soldiers see. Again and again, public men in this country said to soldiers when they wanted men that neither they nor those dependent on them would, within reasonable limits, be in a weaker financial position owing to the fact that they had served their country, and you carried out your promise by an alternative pensions scheme, and based your scheme on pre-war earnings. And so you have a broken pledge, a want of generosity, a want of imagination, and dissatisfaction among the soldiers, and then just a little want of determination.

Would it have been unreasonable for the Minister of Pensions to have taken up this attitude? The Ministry of Pensions was brought into existence by the sorrows of soldiers, and whatever was to be got from it should go back again to soldiers. This is the kind of thing which would have been evidence of sympathy and determination—if it were said that By December, 1920, every man employed in the Ministry of Pensions shall be a discharged soldier, and, if possible, a disabled soldier. Possibly it is a little dramatic, but it is the kind of thing that appeals to the psychology of soldiers. When soldiers see jobs advertised at 25s. a week, and see written underneath, "Preference to be given to discharged soldiers," and at the same time see another advertisement for a job at £750 a year in which not only is there no reference to soldiers, but incidentally in one case it is given to a man whom they knew to be a skrim-shanker, I think that that is a legitimate argument. It indicates the kind of thing that is in my mind. I know the sympathy of every hon. Member towards the soldiers, but I do say that we have possibly not given the full evidence of it that we should have given. We have not impressed the mind of the soldier as we ought to have done.

7.0 P.M.

Just one other case which I think will illustrate my meaning, because I feel very strongly on this matter. I do not think it would have been impracticable to appeal to the great leaders of industry throughout this country to co-operate with the Government in solving this problem. When we realise that if 4 percent. of the men in industry were disabled soldiers employed at the full minimum wage your whole disabled men problem would be solved, I cannot help thinking that we have got a scheme worthy of consideration. My remedy is simply a redemption of pledges. Let the Government look through their files. They fought the War on a sound financial principle. They said, "This War is on. We have got to see it through. We will count the cost afterwards." They were perfectly right. Will not the same thing be said in regard to the men who saved their country? Whenever the Government is in a position to say, "We have searched through our pledges, and there is not one we have not redeemed," then I think that it will stand in a stronger position before the people. Let me, for fear of being misunderstood, make myself finally clear. I detest and abhor with all my soul any exploitation of the grievances of soldiers. To my mind such a thing as happened on Monday last is detestable. Any exploitation of federations of soldiers would, to my mind, spoil everything. It would spoil their splendid record. I have the greatest possible sympathy with the present Government in its difficulties, and at the present time I am not so much criticising what they have done as what appears to me to be wanting in their mental attitude in regard to this subject.

As a new Member I rise with some diffidence to intervene in this Debate, and I crave your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House. I have the cause of the discharged soldier very much at heart, and I spent last evening with 1,500 discharged soldiers. I heard their grievances at first hand. I went down to speak to them, but they spoke to me instead. I listened to their grievances and answered questions, which was all I was allowed to do, from half-past eight until well after eleven, so that I may claim to know a little of what is in the discharged soldiers' mind at the present time. One hon. Member this afternoon said that the Discharged Soldiers' and Sailors' Federation was on the verge of anarchy and that they did not know what they wanted. The branch that I visited last night knew exactly what it wanted. It wanted work and not unemployment benefit. So far from being in a state of anarchy, they were far more orderly and far more ready to listen to reason than they were when I visited them some six months ago. They recognised, with a few exceptions, that the Government was honestly trying to do its best for them, and the Bolshevist element which had been in existence some six months ago is absolutely non-existent among them to-day. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh gave us a long list of soldiers' grievances. Last night I did not have any long list, but I heard a few individual grievances. There were a few cases of personal hardship. There was great discontent about a soldier's wife who had been evicted from her house, and had received, it was alleged, very harsh and inconsiderate treatment. But they had one grievance which over-shadowed everything else, and that was that the men wanted the women to give them back the jobs which they laid down when they went to the War. It was suggested by speaker after speaker that women clerks in Government offices who had only been clerks since the War started should stand down and let the discharged soldier come and do the work. It was suggested that women ticket collectors on railways and women who acted as bus and tram conductors, and did many other jobs so well and efficiently during the War, should now hand those jobs back to the men. The discharged soldier thinks that those women should stand down and let him have a chance now. That is what he wants done, and I suggest that there is no finer way in which the women of England can show their gratitude to the soldiers than by voluntarily resigning many of the jobs which they have kept warm for them during the War.

Like the hon. Member who has just spoken, I have tried to find out at first hand what last Monday's demonstration was, and I talked to a number of men who seemed to have been connected with the meeting in Hyde park. What they told me was rather interesting. I never expected for a moment that there would be many discharged soldiers and sailors looking for employment, and I found that these men were not looking for employment. They could get employment, but at a certain price. It was a question of wages. I have been hoping to find a number of these men corning along to work on the land in Leicestershire, where there is a great shortage of agricultural labourers at the present moment. It is a serious matter for farmers there. People have an idea that Leicestershire is a big farming country—that there are big farmers there—but that is not the case. Ninety percent. of the farmers in Leicestershire farm under 100 acres, and a lot of the land cannot be worked now for want of labour. If the Ministry of Labour would send a few of those 10,000 men down to us in Leicestershire to work on the land, it would be a great help. We cannot get them out of the War Office. They have put Leicestershire under the York Command for the distribution of soldiers to work on the land, but the conditions in Leicestershire are not the same as those in Yorkshire. I was talking to a man who. I think, had a good deal to do with Monday's meeting. He was a young soldier, and what he said about hit the nail on the head. I said, "You could get as much employment as you wish." He said, "Yes, at £2 a week, but we are not going to work for that." He was not a bad class of man. He said, "I have a wife and two children, and I am not going to work for £2 a week. It is not equal to 18s. before the war." That was the line he took, and it is the line taken by a number of others. They say they must have better wages. If, however, the Government were to insist on a wage of £3 a week—this man said he would not work for less—it would not better the condition of things in the least. It is only making the sovereign of less value. It would not prevent profiteering; in fact, I venture to say there would be more profiteering than ever. The only possible way of meeting this difficulty is to make the sovereign worth more than it is worth at the present moment. I suggest that the Government should do something to stop the profiteering that is going on. We know it is not only the rank and file that suffer, but all classes suffer in the same way. Clothes cost us more—a suit of clothes now costs about £18 and a pair of boots £5; and only the other day, at the Carlton Club, a small portion of whisky cost 3s. 6d. Only the other day a gardener sold some cabbages at 1d. apiece, and those same cabbages were sold in a shop in London for 7d. When soldiers are only getting £2, which is equal to only 18s. before the War, and when they find that prices have gone up to such an extent, I think it is a wonder that there is not more grumbling. It is a wonder that we are not all demonstrating. Probably there is hardly a Member of this House who is not suffering in the same way. I venture to say that the Government should try and cut down the cost of the ordinary necessities of life and make them as cheap as possible. It is for the Government to know how that should be done.

I think that, to those on this side of the House at any rate, the speech delivered by the Minister of Labour was one of the most disappointing and unsatisfactory speeches that has ever been delivered in this House. He commenced by reviewing his difficulties. In the first place, he said that the difficulties had been accentuated by reason of the fact that demobilisation had gone on at such a very rapid rate. One has a right to recall the fact, however, that prophecy after prophecy during the progress of the War was made by Members of this House, or by distinguished statesmen who arc not in this House, that after the War we were bound to pass through a period of trade depression unless the Government foresaw the possible difficulties and undertook to grapple with them before they arrived. The Government set up I do not know how many Committees of Reconstruction. Those Committees have sat and have been supposed to formulate definite schemes which were to be put into operation as soon as ever war ceased, and it was thought that if those schemes were put into operation we should avoid a great many of the difficulties that we have at the present moment to face. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen present here today know, but I scarcely know of half a dozen of those schemes that the Government have attempted to put into operation. Whatever difficulties the Government are facing at the present moment owing to demobilisation are difficulties that ought to have been avoided if the Government had had any adequate scheme to put into operation when war ceased. Therefore the Government cannot hide their head in the sand and say that the difficulties we have to face arc such as were not contemplated, because statesmen in this House, or at least members of the Government, had foretold that we were going to have those difficulties, and they set up Committees to formulate schemes to avoid them when they came. Now that they are coming upon us like an avalanche we find that the Government have made no adequate provision to meet them.

Then the Minister told us that, in addition to the difficulties due to demobilisation, there were difficulties due to the fact that we are not able to trade with many of our Allies or with the enemy or with Russia. To whom belongs largely the responsibility for that? Is it not due to the fact that the Government have kept tight the blockade and have refused to allow trade to flow in its natural channel? The remedies that have been suggested from this side of the House, the Minister sought to deal with in a very light-hearted manner. He tried to make out that they were not remedies at all, that there was only a certain amount of work to be done, and that if you transferred that work to national workshops rather than to private enterprise it would not solve the difficulty at all. I would suggest that there is far more work in this country than the Minister is aware of. We all know that many of the goods we require for domestic pur- poses are not available, or that owing to the general shortage of these things they have reached extortionate prices. The Government are refusing to go into competition with private enterprise, because they are desirous of keeping extortionate prices at their present level. We have been told that if the Government entered into competition with private enterprise and decided to go on irrespective of sacrifice and cost, the consequence would be that the private trader would be driven out. That is a statement made to-day by a responsible Minister, and he draws the deduction that because that would happen we must not enter into competition with private enterprise. What of the people who pay the extortionate price? What of the unemployed and the discharged soldiers? As against private enterprise they are not to be taken into consideration. It is the duty of the Government to consider not only the employing classes, but the needs of the community and the right of the discharged man to employment. In the answer we have had from the Minister this afternoon he has adopted the attitude of Micawber over and over again—something will turn up; it is hoped that in the scheme for building there may be absorbed a great amount of unemployed labour. If that ideal were to fructify to its fullest extent it could absorb only a certain amount, but if the Government had made use of their national factories for the purpose of manufacturing the doors and windows and other materials required for houses they would have taken into employment a far greater number of men. It means that as far as the housing scheme is concerned it is going to be an Eldora do for the private enterprises engaged in the erection of these cottages. Very few men would say that the prices we are to pay for the erection of cottages are inevitable prices. The prices can be lowered if, and only if, the Government enter into competition with private enterprise. But the Government refuse to do that.

It is a very pet argument of many hon. Members that some of the unemployment is due to the fact that the trade unions will not relax their rules in relation to dilutees. It is said that they are keeping men out of employment because their rules are so stringent. There is another side to that question. Very often it is the employing classes that will not take men back again when they come broken and maimed from the front. I happen to have had some experience of that. I am pleased to say it is not an extensive practice, but here and there one meets with it. Only the other day there was a case in connection with the re-employment of a clerk. He had returned broken from the War. He had been at the colliery two years, but the employer said, "He has been here only six months training, and I cannot give him the same wage as other people." One could enumerate other cases of that character. Men who come back who cannot actually go right away to the coal face and do the task that they did before, there is scarcely any room for. In an industry of that character, especially to the coalfield to which I belong—one of the richest in this country, one that generally speaking, pays the highest dividend—there are cases where employment cannot be found for these men when they come back maimed and broken. This very week one has had to investigate the case of three men having notice to leave. The three men happened to belong to the joiners' and blacksmiths' shop. There were other men making overtime, but they did not desire it, and they begged the company to start a night shift or a supplementary shift so that the three men could continue work rather than be discharged.

Will the hon. Member not mention the cases of those other employers who paid the full wages of the workmen from the time they went to the front?

I would not attempt to cast reflect ions on all employers. I am giving a few cases that have come within my own experience

If they are only a few cases, why mention them and waste the time of the House?

If there are a few cases in one particular district and a few in another, the aggregate may be great. I was mentioning that here you have an employer giving notice to men to leave when other men employed by him wanted overtime stopped so that those under notice could be kept on. These are cases which indicate that unemployment to-day is not always due to the fact that there is a shortage of work.

When the hon. Member gets up to speak he may indicate whether it is due to the rise in the price of coal. The miners are not responsible for the rise. They demanded that there should be strict limitation of prices and that the cost of living should not go up by leaps and bounds. It would have been better if the policy of the Government from the first had been that the whole of the profits made during the War should have gone to the Exchequer. The replies of the Government to the speeches made this afternoon are totally inadequate to meet the present crisis. We do not want doles or charity. What we do require, in a nutshell, is simply this: that the schemes which are supposed to have been thought out by committees in relation to reconstruction should be put into force. The greatest source of employment would have been the land. What has the Government done? The present Prime Minister was a great leader in land reforms and in relation to valuation. But this Government, led by the Prime Minister, has deserted its own policy. It is said that the rich landowners are not to-day demanding their pound of flesh. The Members on these Benches at least say that, had the Government been serious in relation to the discharged soldier they would have had a great land policy for the soldier to have returned to. Building would not have been left to the last ten minutes, and the programme would have been such that a great many of these returning men could have been transferred to the land and provided with houses properly equipped.

I do not intend to follow the hon. Member on all the questions he has raised, but on one or two points I should like to reply at once. First of all, I would say that he is quite incorrect in stating that the Government are not carrying out one by one the plans which they have—plans which Committees of this House and other committees have put before them in regard to reconstruction. Those who think it is possible to get all these schemes carried out in a moment are not living in the ordinary world in which others live.

If I have got wiser it may not prevent the hon. Member also from getting so. I have never held the view that it is possible to create Utopia in. a day. If hon. Members will reflect upon the number of schemes which the Government have put into operation and the number of Bills which have been brought before the House this Session with a view of carrying out the schemes to which the hon. Member has referred, they will see at once that the Government are attempting to redeem the pledges which they gave.

There is one thing I must say, that neither he nor any Members on that side of the House have any monopoly of the desire to see justice done to discharged soldiers and sailors. [An HON. MEMBER: "We did not claim so."] There was pretty nearly a claim for it. I think in the last speech there was almost a claim for such a monopoly. I know the hon. Member would not put it so high, but in the speech which he made he did almost make that claim. Let me take one case, which is a very ordinary case, and which is very often made. It is said, Why do not the Government turn the national factories into making doors? The Government have ordered bricks and doors, and taken practically all the steps that arc; necessary to get material for the houses which are to be put up. But if they did so, who would be the first to complain if the national factories were to be set up with all kinds of unskilled or semiskilled men to make doors? There would probably be a strike of those who were entitled to say that they ought to be employed in making these doors. There are only so many skilled men in the country, and the amount of joiners out of work at present is not sufficient to warrant putting them at work in national factories making doors. If you go into details, in practically every one of these cases it will be found to be one of the real troubles that there, is not enough of a particular kind of man to do work in factories which would enable the Government to man those factories, and run them in the way suggested. That is one of the practical difficulties.

I really rose not to deal with what has occurred in the Debate to-day, but because I was the person who received the deputation of discharged soldiers and sailors. The hon. Member who introduced this Debate was very fair in what he said with regard to that deputation. He did not quote so far as he might in some respects, but I agree that the limits of time were such that he was quite entitled to take the line he did. I have not a word of complaint to say about it. I do want to correct one or two misapprehensions that seem to be spread about, and particularly those which appear in this morning's "Daily Herald," and which I think I have a perfect right to correct. One of the deputation which was received by me on Monday made certain complaints to the "Daily Herald" which reflected severely on myself. I do not think anyone in this House who knows me and has known my reputation for many years will ever believe that I attempted to sneer or to receive a deputation of discharged soldiers in an unworthy manner. As a matter of fact, this deputation was received by me, and for three hours I gave them every opportunity to put their case, and if there is anyone who would have received them more sympathetically than I did, I would like to see that person. What does this member of the deputation say? I do not want to characterise it too strongly, but when you read in a newspaper which should have a reputation for accuracy and truth that there were eight members of this deputation and that the deputation was received at the House of Commons, and when, as a matter of fact, the person who makes that statement does not know of how many the deputation consisted or where it was received, then it does not give much for his credibility as a witness. This man does not know the difference between six and eight, and between Montagu House and the House of Commons, and really under those circumstances it is very difficult to treat this matter at all seriously were it not for the fact that it might give a false impression in the country as to my reputation. I feel I have the right to protest against a man who comes on a deputation and then goes outside and makes statements which are certainly not only untrue but as far from the truth as possible. Some of the things which he mentions in his letter were not even mentioned at the deputation and it is very strange that some of the points put by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh to-day were not matters which the deputation raised in front of me on that occasion. One of the points which was made even in the demonstration in the park when they got outside, strange to say, was not put in front of me, and that was the point that they wanted an increased unemployment donation. It is very difficult to deal with these matters under such circumstances. I would like to say, on behalf of myself, I received this deputation with an entire desire to do jus- tice to it and to give them all the assistance which I possibly could in securing what they had a right to expect.

My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh made a suggestion about Converting some of the houses in the London area into residences for poorer people. I think there is a good deal to be said for that, and I will certainly inquire as far as I am concerned if there is any possibility of work of that kind being carried out. Let us come to the real crux, and that is the question whether the Government are to deliberately make work for the settlement of this problem. I said to those men, and I say to the House, that the Government believe that the fructifying of the schemes which are now immediately coming into operation will be such that in a very short time the seriousness of this problem will have decreased to such an extent that the rest of it will be of quite manageable proportions. That was what I said to the deputation, and that is what the Minister said to the House to-day. What is it proposed we should do? If it is not sufficient that we have taken steps which are immediately fructifying, and which we believe will be quicker than anything else to absorb these men who are unemployed, what, then, is it we are to do? If there are other people who are left after those are absorbed, they will be quite a manageable proportion. I do not believe there is any kind of work which can be started quicker than those schemes which the Government are carrying into operation at present. If the local authorities will assist in a much quicker way than they have done, I venture to think this problem will very largely be solved within the next few weeks.

I made a definite suggestion to-day that, instead of spending £20,000,000, which has been paid up to date in unemployment donation, and which is absolutely unproductive, the Ministry of Labour might get our great municipalities up and down the country to start work which they could do, and are afraid to do now because of the cost of materials, by contributing some of that sum of £20,000,000 towards that work, and so occupy these men and distribute it over the country, instead of scattering it as we do to-day.

Surely my hon. Friend will see that that really does not alter the position. In the Housing schemes the Government are bearing just that part of the expense which is extra over the cost of what it would have been in normal times.

Take the repairing of roads. The Government are doing the same there. They are offering the local authorities money to help them to carry out the repairs because of the extra cost, and they are offering to provide the extra cost if the local authorities will get on with the work at once, that is the stipulation. There is no other kind of work which the hon. Member has suggested. Even the suggestion now does not make it any quicker in operation than the plans which the Government are operating to-day. May I say quite frankly, it is impossible for the Ministry to divert money voted for one purpose, as the hon. Member knows, to another. I still maintain, with all this Debate has revealed, that there has not yet been put forward any more practical suggestion than the work which the Government themselves are carrying out, and I venture to give as a proof of it the actual facts in the industry of the country, and as I told the deputation. Out of 4,500,000 people who have been demobilised either from the Army or some other occupation over 3,500,000 have been reabsorbed in industry. I do not want to deny that the Government should do all it can in every way, but I venture to say that if hon. Members will look at it and if the people will look at it they will agree that the fact that the Government has achieved so much is something which has never been equalled in the history of the world.

I understand that a large amount of delay in building operations is due to a shortage of raw material in timber and other things. I think, if the Government would take steps to secure freights in order that timber and other raw material might be brought here it might do a great deal to reduce unemployment. Then, again, possibly a large number of men might be employed in reafforestation. This country has been largely divested of timber, and that might afford an avenue of employment for a large number of people. I do not know whether this is a proper time or not for such employment, but it seems to me that it would be preferable to paying men for doing nothing. On one occasion I had to meet a similar unemployment trouble, and we replanted a lot of wood, with the result that it proved very reproductive and is at present a very big asset. Anyone who has gone through the country recently must have been disturbed to see how the country has been divested of its timber, and it seems to me that there should be some machinery of the Government to take advantage of this unemployment for remunerative work of that kind. It is distressing to see all this unemployment about, and it seems to me that the organisation of the Government does not compare favourably with that of private enterprise. I am associated with an industrial concern where they had 2,500 men at the front, who received a certain allowance right through, and at the present time we have agreed to provide employment for these 2,500 men, which necessitates the discharge of some of those who have been temporarily employed, girls and otherwise. Why cannot the Government do exactly the same in the public Departments? That is all we ask, and the Government can learn something in this matter from private organisations. They might have a Civil Service Commissioner or some official in a Government Department to see it carried out properly. It is no good voicing platitudes here. I think it is the primary duty of this country to look after the soldiers who have been discharged. I speak as a member of the Discharged Soldiers' and Sailors' Federation, and I am in complete accord with what the hon Member who introduced the subject to-day has said, and, although he has been criticised, I must say that I realise that he did very excellent work in the early days of the demobilisation, and I think it is only fair, as a member of a branch consisting of about 1,500 men, to say that those services are appreciated. An hon. Member, who made a maiden speech, and said that he had attended a meeting last night of demobilised men with the object of ascertaining the position, hit the nail on the head, I think. when he said that the women were taking the jobs which should be given to the men. We know that some of our wives have had to sit in registry offices and that not a single girl will come along to take domestic service, and that on the other hand discharged soldiers and sailors will come along asking for domestic service. That is not a proper state of affairs, and what the women of the country have to do is to honour their obligations and to realise that, as far as the discharged soldier is concerned, he has the first claim on the country and the private individual.

We heard something from an hon. Member who hoped nothing would be said to lower the tone of the Debate. I hope nothing I shall say will lower the tone of the Debate, but at the same time I trust that any Debate in this House will always be entirely apart from any humbug. The Speaker has been good enough to rule on one occasion that an hon. Member was justified in calling things by their proper names, and that found general acclamation in the House, and on this occasion I think it is only fair to say that, although it may be polite and nice to say the nicest things, and to create no unnecessary ill-feeling, yet there are times when one must speak out and say what one thinks is right. This evening we have heard statements made to the effect that hon. Members were shocked to learn that there were any charges that the trade unionists wore opposed to the re-employment of our discharged men. I do not think most people are very surprised at that. It is common knowledge to most people that there has been a determined attempt to prevent the re-employment of our boys who went out to fight. The very fact that they volunteered to fight for their country condemns them, in the eyes of a certain section of their fellow trade unionists. The general body of trade unionists arc certainly not of that way of thinking, but that there are a certain number who hold the reins of the trade union movement, and who would practice their Bolshevistic methods of victimising these men who fought for their country is, in my opinion, and I have been a prominent trade unionist and a fighter all my life, a fact that can be substantiated. As one who has supported the Government, not always believing in all they did, or loving them for what they may do, but as one who felt that they had a mighty job to carry through. I have felt it my duty, whatever their shortcomings, to stand by and support them. I have heard and read, and I know many things which to-day have changed my opinions somewhat, but nothing has changed me sufficiently yet to realise that the Government, if they had had the assistance instead of the condemnation of a number of the Members of this House, would not have had a better chance of doing something. The hon. Member who spoke last for the Government stated that he treated a deputation with courtesy, and knowing him, I venture to say he would not know how to do it otherwise. If anything, he would be more courteous than such a deputation would really deserve, excepting that we should remember that it was formed of our wounded and discharged men, for whom everyone must have consideration, and for whom anyone would put himself out of the way to oblige them.

If the Government are not doing all they can for our wounded and discharged men, it is up to every Member of this House to help them, and to see that they are doing it. These men were our safeguards in the nation's hour of danger, they were the men whose bodies were the bulwarks of our safety, and of the honour and chastity of our women. They prevented the great threat of German militarism overwhelming the world. I think it is our duty to help, to assist, and to cooperate with the Government, and instead of finding fault with what is done by a Minister or a Department, I think the trade unions and the Labour party of this country, who are, in my opinion, no more posted up as to the actual difficulties and troubles of the men than are any other party in this House, should help the Government. If there was less fear of the Bolsheviks, if there was more inclination to do all that is best for the people, I do not think there would be the difficulties that there are just now, but may I say, that in my honest opinion it is because certain people have got hold of the reins of industrial government, and are doing all they can to provide election expenses and to control the whole thing, that our friends on the Labour side and I am speaking very likely most daringly and raking up some little amount of trouble for myself, which I have no fear of, because I believe that speaking the truth you can do it shamelessly and shame the devil. I have no desire to set anyone to a great shame, but I have a desire, as far as I can, to purify the air. I want the Labour party to realise their obligations. They have realised more during this War than they could have done during a hundred years of peace, and is it too much to ask for the co-operation of the people who wield such power in this country, and that they shall realise the difference between serving their people honestly, straight forwardly, progressively, industrially, and politically, and playing into the hands of Bolsheviks or lending themselves to cries which are anything but patriotic, and which will lead them to a position which will make the position of the people they represent infinitely worse that it ever was before?

We want to help the boys who have fought 'during the War and who have helped to win the War, but I must enter my protest against certain people who never tried to win the War, who did not help anybody to join up in order to save our country, suddenly becoming great patrons and friends of the discharged soldiers and sailors. Now they are using the soldiers and sailors, and the police, too, setting the one lot against the other, and creating that wretched trouble the other evening, hoping and praying for the revolution which some of these people gloriously pray for. It is up to those who are sober-minded and honestly patriotic-some of my hon. Friends are smiling. I wonder whether they at any time dare confess their patriotism, whether they dare admit that they are British, whether they dare admit that it is what our boys fought and died for that they and their children will enjoy in the future? If that is so, and if the Government s shortcomings are so clear, is it not their duty to set around and see how the matter can be improved and amended? If that is so, I would join with them to endeavour to get these conditions bettered, but I am going to do it in a straightforward manner. I propose to do it as a Britisher, to support and back the Government to bring about substantial peace terms in order to glorify the sacrifices our boys have made; and if there are shortcomings on their part, and they forget Torn, Dick, and Harry, who went out to fight, if they are going to pander to your well-organised trade unions, to the detriment of these men who volunteered and fought for their country, then I shall be opposed to you and to the Government. On the other hand, let them play the game, and you play the game, and we shall not disagree very far. I apologise for talking even this length of time, but I feel this Debate would warrant a very much longer period, so that we could say all that we believed, and hang Parliamentary humbug, not merely stating "Let us not say anything to lower the tone of the Debate," and at the same time making untruthful statements which the hon. Member himself knew were untrue, and wicked, and vile, and liable to create disruption and trouble in the future.

8.0 p.m.

The Under-Secretary told us that he thought the fructifying of the Government schemes would absorb all the unemployed labour, but I cannot help thinking that that is rather too optimistic an idea. At any rate, we know that we have at the present moment 480,000 demobilised soldiers out of employment, and we also know that there will be another 600,000 or 800,000 coming back when peace is settled. We know there are only 27,000 vacancies at the present moment registered for employment, and the probability is that the majority of those vacancies are for skilled workers. The soldiers who come back are not for the most part skilled men. Four years in the trenches have not rendered them better skilled, but probably worse, and therefore the only schemes, as the Minister of Labour has put before us to-night, are road-making and housing. Road-making and housing may take a certain number of labourers, but the number for these employments cannot run into many hundreds of thousands, and I do think that something more than that will have to be done to meet what may come upon us before the winter. I was much struck by hearing the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester urging on the Government the necessity of finding more work before the commencement of the next winter. I thought over that, and put down a question asking the Minister in charge whether he would not consider the question of taking up some big national work such as the making of the Forth and Clyde Canal. I only mention that as one work which is very urgently required and very important. The making of the Forth and Clyde Canal would not only mean the digging of the canal—and it is the spade work we require for all these unskilled labourers—but it has also enormous possibilities with it of housing schemes, and town-planning schemes. There is work for everybody upon that. It has been advocated for years and years, and it can be easily started. The Government have an enormous number of huts which will be available very shortly when the Army is demobilised and the camps in England broken up. All these huts could very well be put between the Forth and Clyde and the work easily put in hand before the winter. The men, with their wives and families, could be housed in those huts, and I do urge the Minister of Labour to take this scheme of the Forth and Clyde Canal into consideration, or any other big scheme by all means, but this does seem to mo a practical scheme, and one which will give much employment. I ask if he will take this into consideration, and see if he cannot get the surveys completed at once and the route settled and put down huts on the route so that men coming from the Army can be given employment there during the coming winter.

I think my right hon. Friend did not fully appreciate the point that was made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge). I cannot help thinking that there were at the outbreak of this War a number of local government schemes, either before the Board or approved by the Board, which were held up as a result of the War—drainage schemes and other schemes of that character—and I think, seeing that the question is one of immediate employment, the records of the Local Government Board office could be examined, and the local authorities could be urged to carry out those schemes with the assistance of the Government, having regard to increased cost. In this way much might be done to assist employment amongst our discharged sailors and soldiers. Then I want to know what is being done by the German prisoners. I myself at Easter saw German prisoners in Sussex engaged in repairing highways. If we are making grants to local authorities to assist them in doing this work, surely we ought to insist that German prisoners are not employed in the work. I ask the same question with regard to agriculture. I have seen in Kent a number of these German prisoners still employed on the land. Why is it our men are not given like opportunities and like facilities? These prisoners are well housed, are driven to and from their work, and I gather that they and the Government between them get the full agricultural rate which is paid to the agricultural labourer. Surely something might be done in that matter for the employment of our discharged sailors and soldiers.

No doubt the greatest question at the moment is that of housing, and I realise that the Government, under the Bills now before the House, are hastening in every way they can the construction and building by local authorities of new houses, but I cannot help thinking that the Government might assist this question of building so as to enable the soldier to settle in the neighbourhood of his choice, to settle there with his wife, from whom he may have been separated for some years, instead of his having to go and work at a distance from his own home. Private persons know that building must cost them more than it did before the War and that it would scarcely be profitable if yon look at it in the form of interest, and they do not care whether it costs them more or less, but they are confronted by two great difficulties, one material, and the other transport. I suggest to the Minister of Labour that if he could formulate a scheme whereby anybody who, bond fide, proposed to build houses for the working classes, could, through the local authority, make application either for transport in the form of lorries, paying, of course, a proper charge for them, or for timber—of which I understand the Government hold large stocks—of course, paying proper prices, it would enormously help the builders in different parts of the country. The great difficulty is that, until you get to the end of June, at any rate in Kent, there is no stock of bricks to be had at all, and meanwhile all you can build with is concrete. That could be done, but the difficulties are transport, and timber for holding up your walls until the concrete sets. A man who proposes to build two cottages cannot afford to buy this timber, but, if provided at a reasonable rate through the local authority, I believe much might be done to assist this question of the provision of houses, which, to my mind, is a matter largely at the bottom of the whole of this question, and one of the greatest importance. I would ask the Minister now temporarily in charge of the Bill——

Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted; and forty Members, being found present—

I want to refer to a Department of the Government which is creating a feeling of great discontent amongst the discharged men. The Admiralty always seem to offend with regard to regulations which are thought good for the country generally. For instance, they gave a promise that men who joined up with consent should be reinstated on their return. They have absolutely refused to re-enter men on the ground that they are not taking on any more moulders at the present time. That is a distinct breach of faith on the part of the Admiralty with regard to an undertaking they gave. The second thing is that men who were brought back from the front, owing to the shortage of shipbuilders, are actually being discharged from the dockyards, and we have before us to-day a Bill to assist employers in employing men who have been invalided in the War. They are absolutely refusing even to examine men who have been invalided in the War. Therefore, in all these respects the Admiralty, which is a great employer in the Government, is guilty of a breach of faith in regard to these men. Criticism has been made of the War Office and their appointments. I only desire to call attention to that to point out to the Government that they ought to see to it that they themselves are not to blame in this matter, because it reflects more than anything that can be done by anyone in this country.

Many hon. Members have suggested that work should be found for men in the workshops in various parts of the country; but at a meeting of soldiers which I attended last Sunday very strong objection was taken to soldiers being sent away from home to work in another town just after they had got home.

It being a Quarter past Eight of the clock, further Proceeding was postponed, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4.

Secret Party Funds

I beg to move,

"That this House is of opinion that the system of secrecy in connection with the sources of funds for party purposes has debased our political system and is inimical to the best interests of the country, and calls upon the Government to introduce a Bill to make the publication of the particulars of such funds compulsory; and further is of opinion that recommendations for the bestowal of honours in recognition of subscriptions to such funds should be discontinued."
The question which I have the honour of raising in the House to-night is not a party question, but one which affects all parties in the State equally. For that reason I hope very much that hon. Members will feel that it is a free Debate and that a free decision can be come to. I do not propose to expose the conduct of any individual Members or to cite individual cases of corruption unless I am absolutely pressed to do so, because it seems to me it would be far preferable to discuss the whole question in order that we may look at it from its highest standpoint and thereby be able to redress its wrongs. I ask the House to reform a system the evil effects of which have not only been felt in our political life, but which a flect the power and the prestige of Parliament itself, and therefore the nation. The services which we in this House give ought to be regarded as the greatest honour which can be conferred upon any of our countrymen. Under the growth of the party system it would be idle to deny that a seat in this House is not always considered ample reward for the confidence of the electors, but frequently is a stepping-stone to honour and preferment. I do not think, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I am exaggerating when I say that there is no single Member of this House whose pride is not wounded by the fact that the name "politician" has become one of opprobrium in every part of the country. As individuals, possibly we are not responsible for this state of affairs; collectively there is a grave burden of responsibility upon the shoulders of this House. I propose this Resolution with a passionate desire to see this House re-elevated to those heights which caused the fame of the Mother of Parliaments to ring throughout the world, which was the envy of the older civilisations, and which the younger communities have endeavoured to imitate.

The House of Commons has lost power. That much has been admitted by the Leader of the House. The right hon. Gentleman attributed the loss of this power to "the growth of the party system which caused Members to sink their individual feelings in the fortunes of the party to which they belong." I think hon. Members will admit that this is a most important statement, and one which requires to be looked into. We frankly recognise that parties there will ever be. Men will combine in order to achieve the causes in which they believe. That is perfectly obvious. But we do feel, in spite of all, that we can defend ourselves and our country against the strangling effects of the party system—for it is the system which is at fault. We lay special stress upon the question of secret funds and the sale of honours. Frankly, we admit that to end these twin evils will not be to end all abuses. We do, however, claim that the abolition of this system would be a means of striking at the root of the corrup- tion. Until we have grappled with this question we do not believe that we shall have any real measure of reform.

I want to deal, first of all, with the question of secret funds. Why are they vicious, dangerous, and subversive of the freedom of this House? First of all, I should like to deal with the question of foreign money. Money from foreign sources can be spent in this country in order to influence our political movements. I would remind the House that the Bolsheviks are spending enormous sums of money in foreign countries. We know that very large sums have gone to Sweden. There is every belief that that money has come on into this country. If that is so, surely the people of this country ought to know which political institution that money has come to. [An HON. MEMBER: "Name !"] I will give an. instance which will probably satisfy the hon. Member who puts that request. Lenin himself has confessed that ho has diverted very large sums of money from Bolshevik coffers into furthering the aims of the Sinn Feiners in Ireland. That being a fact, I say it is desirable—to put it mildly—that we should know what are the sources of the funds of these various political movements in this country. Take another case. Foreign money can at this present moment, unknown to the public, be used to influence the commercial or financial policy of this country. There are some Gentlemen in this House who, no doubt, would tell us that if, for instance, we had a real policy of tariff reform, a real protection of British industry, that that would destroy every British manufacture. If that is destruction for the British manufacturer, it follows that it would be an advantage to our principal competitors on the Continent. It is not, therefore, a great stretch of imagination to come to the conclusion that some German Machiaveli who desires to destroy the industry of this country would, if his belief was the Free Trade point of view, subscribe to tariff reform in this country so as to bring that into force. That might not, or would not, dispose of the tariff reform side of the question, but it is equally true that foreign money might be used to assist the Free Trade movement in this country.

I believe that if wages in this country are continued at their present level, as I believe they will continue, it is absolutely impossible that the industries of this country can continue unless we can have some form of tariffs. That view may be shared by gentlemen in foreign countries. If so, it is quite likely that they might support the Free Trade Union. I have already exposed the danger of Tariff Reform in this connection. I happened to take a cursory glance at a document which fell into my hands in regard to the funds of the Free Trade Union in 1911. Perhaps I may be allowed to give some of the names of gentlemen who subscribed in that year. They were as follows: Koch, Brandt, Idiens, Tenbosch, Hrapie, Holzapel, Otto Levin, Teichmann, Salomans, Rosenfeldt, Geidt, Zimmer, Schncisar, Bernemann, and Frischer.

They were not published so far as I know. I do not for a moment suggest that there were not disinterested Englishmen who also subscribed to that Union. I am quite sure there were. But I say that we may be pretty sure that the Germans considered other points of view.

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that all these distinguished people whose names he has read out were alien enemies?

Not at all. I only stated that it was rather remarkable that these gentlemen of foreign origin subscribed to one party in order to retain a certain system.

I will deal with what my hon. Friend says in a moment. In 1911 a Circular was sent out to various Free Traders in this country. It was marked "private and confidential." A copy was sent to a friend of mine by an indignant Free Trader. This is what the Circular:

"I should like to state that an anonymous friend of Mr. Winston Churchill has subscribed £1,500; Sir Edgar Speyer, Bart., £1,000; Mr. H. G. Kleinworth, £1,000."
That must have been a terrible name if it could not be mentioned in such company. I am trying to indicate the desirability of large subscribers to any political institution being known to the general public if they so desire. I think it would be grotesque in this House to suggest or deny the fact that subscribers to party funds are more likely to gain safe seats than those whose qualifications are more of brains than of cash. Those associated with me would not suggest that aspirants to political honours should not subscribe to party funds. That is most fit and proper, but our contention is that if they are large subscribers likely to unduly influence that particular party, the fact should be known. Such a policy has been proved to be possible by the small party to which I belong, for we have laid down that anybody subscribing to the funds must be of British birth, and if he subscribes more than a certain amount it is possible for anybody to go into our office and ask to see the list of subscribers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is it published?"] If that is not publication I do not know what is.

Under our present system the most amazing candidates turn up in constituencies which they have never seen, and they meet about a dozen members of the local caucus and are selected. It may happen in the safe Unionist or Liberal agricultural constituencies of East Blank shire that some cosmopolitan gentleman may appear on the scene. He may be of foreign origin with a guttural accent, and he may not know the difference between a turnip and an onion, and yet he will be selected. I suggest that he would be a subscriber to the party funds, although the central office has not even the grace to send down an interpreter to explain his, utterances to the electors. A candidate of this kind may get a coupon. Indeed it is almost inexplicable why some of these gentlemen got coupons at all unless it is the fact that they were very large subscribers to party funds. At any rate he is. returned having invested in his party system, and he is naturally reluctant to-receive further preferment, and to that extent he becomes subservient to the party system. Not long after he has been in this House, his wife having mixed freely with the nobility becomes obsessed with the desire to become m' lady, and the husband becomes still more enslaved to-the party system. He avoids black marks in the Division Lobby, and he is a faithful servant of the Party Whips in order that his next instalment on the hire purchase system may be as small as possible. The tendency I have indicated is common knowledge in this House. In the case of a man who has served ten, fifteen or twenty years doing constructive work on the Committees of this House, or has made notable contributions on the floor of the House, or has taken part in winning great causes in the country, such as housing reform. Imperial Preference, old age pensions, health reforms or any great policy of that description, I am the last to suggest that such a man has not earned the honour of this House, and has not earned a place to be regarded amongst those who have really contributed to our political life.

In those cases where men desire honour they have every right to be rewarded. They have contributed their zeal and energy to the country according to their lights, and they have helped to carry out that policy. But the man in the street cannot understand why someone in this House, who, as far as we know, has never done any of these things, and who has never even caused a ripple in the political pool, should be suddenly elevated to the ranks of chivalry. There is no explanation of this unless he has contributed to the party funds or contributed to the Press, or has shown his fidelity by silent voting. No less than 290 members at the last Parliament either received titles or jobs or preferment. I am the last to suggest that a very large number of those gentlemen did not fully earn that recognition, but I ask the House to think it out. If you eliminate those eighty Irish Nationalists whose presence we miss so much, and the forty Members of the Labour party who only received two or three Privy Councillorships, it will be seen that an actual majority of this House received rewards during the last Parliament.

No one will argue that under such a system you cannot fail to create an unhealthy attachment to parties. Perhaps I have been too moderate in this matter, because I have not included in the category all those who have a dutiful regard for the Whips and a bright expectancy of favours to come. There may be some who will say that the House of Commons has not received more than its just share, but let us test that in the reality of the War. Let us compare those who have received honours because they have offered their words and those who have offered their lives. Since 6th December, 1916, up to 29th April of this year, no less than 155 gentlemen received hereditary honours and 154 went to civilians, a very large proportion of whom were Members of these two Houses of Parliament or backers of political systems in the constituencies or backers of the Prime Minister in the Press, while one went to the fighting Services. I think 154 to I are rather long odds. The men who attacked the Navy Estimates in 1914, exposing our country to disaster, were honoured even in the Privy Council, but the men who went out to fight the Germans on sea and land received no hereditary honours but the one I have mentioned The men who positively saved thousands of lives do not even receive a baronetcy, and not a single one of these victors of war have been permitted to enter the Privy Council. Ought we not to hang our heads in shame when real honour has been won in this time of our greatest trial to see honours rain in fulsome showers upon this House, which only twice heard the distant rumble of an air raid!

There is another side to this question: It is the character of the recipients of the honours. It am told, and I think it is generally recognised, that in the recent Honours List gentlemen received titles whom no decent man would allow to enter his house. According to a most distinguished journal, which I do not always fully agree with, several of them would have been blackballed by any respectable social London club. In this connection I heard an amazing story, probably not true, of the present Prime Minister. A friend of his said to him, "Do not you think we have gone far enough in this direction?" The story is that the right hon. Gentleman responded, "My dear fellow, I am not worse than Walpole." Be that as it may, if you want to create Bolshevism and revolution in this country you will continue this practice and allow these scandals to go on. Hardly less invidious has been the bestowal of honours upon the Press which has supported the Prime Minister. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) who has consented to second this Motion, I believe almost suffered a nervous breakdown when he read the last Honours List, because he realised that under the law of averages no distinguished journalist such as he could possibly be excluded from the next list, and then he might have been bodily removed into the Upper Chamber where he could no longer compete with the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. It is quite true that Fleet Street went into mourning for a period because no further honours came to Carmelite House. But the Press was not entirely ignored in the last list, for we find that among those honoured were people connected with the "Daily Telegraph," "Daily Mirror," "Sunday Pictorial," "Leeds Mercury," "Glasgow Daily Record," "People," "Evening Standard," "Daily Sketch," "Daily Dispatch," "Evening Chronicle," "Sunday Herald," "Sunday Chronicle," "South Wales News," "Cardiff Times," and a well-known news agency. This is not bad, considering that this Honours List was published only a week after the Prime Minister, amid the plaudits of his admirers in this House, had told us of his supreme disregard for a good Press. He can compensate himself with the thought that, in the higher ranks of hereditary honours, the Press did not come off so badly. They had a fair proportion—amongst the viscounts 100 percent., and of the baronetcies 20 percent. These are hopeful proportions, which encourage us to think that the future is indeed rosy for the few remaining journalists in this country who have not been honoured. How true it must be that the pen is mightier than the sword!

May I ask what is the reason for the flood of honours given to the Press. Is it because these gentlemen, these proprietors of newspapers, are patriotic? Surely! But so are the cocoa and soap manufacturers, the chimney-sweep, and the rag-and-bone man. They have all been engaged in business throughout the War, and have played their patriotic part. No one would suggest, of course, that any of these great newspapers have played the German game. It seems to me that there is no other explanation of this than that the men who wear the laurels must in future be confined to a select coterie made up of the House of Commons and of the ranks of journalism. These being the facts, I ask the House to consider whether we have not really passed the limit, and if it thinks so, I ask it to bear with me for a few moments while I suggest the constructive reforms which I think necessary in this state of affairs. Let the House declare this evening that all party funds shall in future be audited by a chartered accountant, and that such accountant should vouch for the substantial subscribers—those over £500—and see that a list of them is lodged in some such place us Somerset House, where anyone who desires to know where these funds come from can ascertain the facts. If you adopt that policy you destroy at one blow the germ of corruption. I know the party Whips and I hope the party Leaders will rise in their place, and I have a shrewd suspicion they will say that they have nothing to hide. If that be so, then why do not they end the distrust and the suspicion and the secrecy which has caused that mistrust amongst the people of the country? I believe they can only advance one argument against such a proposal, and that is that it would be difficult for some gentlemen who have subscribed largely to the party funds to become the recipients of honours. But if such a gentleman believes that the cause he is subscribing to is just, whether it be a political party or a hospital, surely there is no reason why he should hide the fact? I submit that a man who has not the courage to subscribe to a cause in which he believes and to let it be known, but desires his contribution to be surreptitious and clandestine ought never to be the recipient of a title. If we bring about this reform we shall not judge men by their contributions to party funds; we shall judge them by their services to their country.

With regard to the Honours List recently issued by Prime Ministers, surely the right hon. Gentlemen cannot have been informed of the character of some of the gentlemen whom they recommended for the honours, otherwise they would have been deliberately polluting the fountain of honour by presenting such names to the Sovereign. It seems to me that the remedy for all this is quite simple. We should have an examining body, preferably a committee of the Privy Council and not of Members of this House who are deeply connected with political headquarters. They should inquire into the character of those proposed to be recommended and should be informed of the real reasons why the recommendations are made. And, after all, when a great and proud Dominion, like Canada, petitions His Majesty not to grant any further titles to Canada we must have come to a sorry pass. It is clear that the time has come for the House to examine into this question. It is inconceivable that the patronage of the Prime Minister be interfered with by such a solution as I am suggesting. It seems to me that the only effect would be that his advisers would take scrupulous care that they did not submit any name for a title or honour unless they were quite sure that the suggested recipient was deserving, and they would thus protect not only the honour of the Prime Minister, but what is more important, the honour of the Throne One ought to have regard to the freedom of. this House which is very much linked up with this question Again I say the remedy is simple. Let us agree to get rid of the evils off snap Divisions. After all, we are not school boys—this is a serious assembly. If the Government is defeated on some chance vote, let them submit the same question to the House shortly afterwards, say a week or a fortnight later, and then if they are again defeated let them abide by the opinions in the House, and having suffered such a defeat let them immediately coma to the House for a Vote of Confidence on their general policy. In that way the private Member would not have to vote any longer for a measure which is obnoxious to him, and he would not feel that in abstaining from voting he was imperilling the fate of the Government in which he believes.

These reforms are, in my belief, the most urgent of all reforms. No legislation can prove successful unless we in this House as administrators have the confidence of our fellow-countrymen; unless the roots of the tree of legislation are pure and disinterested the fruits thereof will not ripen, and the Government will not inspire that respect and authority which it has a right to demand. Some of us feel this subject very keenly—so keenly that we decided to sever our connection with old colleagues and old friends in order that we might go out and fight the battle in the country. We could not honourably have remained parties to a system which we were of opinion it is imperative that we should attack. The House must realise that we did not do that without very real regret, and, indeed, great pain. If we believe that these reforms are essential in the reconstruction of our country and the rebuilding of its institutions, it must be agreed that we were right to seek such a means of trying to end the evil. The well-being of our country and the honour of Parliament were more important than our party careers or even our party friendships. It is because I believe that the vast body of opinion of the country desires to see a change in this connection, and that the vast majority of this House would like to see this scandal ended, that I urge His Majesty's Government to assent to the Resolution. If the Government cannot agree to that Resolution, I ask them at least, in the eyes of their countrymen, to allow a free vote on a question which is not a party question, and to let every Member of this House vote according to his conscience to-night.

I beg to second the Motion.

In view of certain observations which fell from my hon. and gallant Friend in moving this Resolution, I should like to say at once that I am perfectly disinterested. We are here speaking of party funds and honours. I have no party, very little in the way of funds, and I seek no honours. Indeed, so much do I regard it as one of the privileges of which a British can now be proud that I emphasise it by printing the word "Mr." on my visiting card in red ink, to indicate that I am still uncorrupted. I have among my least valued possessions a letter from one famous leader of society, who suggested to me that certain public services I was pleased to have rendered were worthy of recognition, and that, after certain formalities of the kind the Noble Lord has been referring to had been com plied with, then a great honour would be conferred upon me. That is some years ago. I congratulate the House of Lords on the narrow escape it then had, and I congratulate myself that I am privileged to be on the floor of this House instead of the other. I approach this, matter from the point of view of an unattached, unofficial Member of the House. I have no Whip; I owe no allegiance to any section of the House; I recognise only-one political master, that is my Constituency, and I am on the very best of terms with it, and I do not think we are likely to quarrel. Looking at the matter from that detached standpoint and mixing as one does with people of all sections of the community, I assure the House that, whether there be any ground for it or not, there is a deeply-rooted suspicion in the minds of the general public that what goes on in this Assembly is to a large extent a great game, worked by complicated, well-balanced machinery, that the average Member of Parliament comes here not even as a. delegate for his own constituents but as a mere little integral portion of the great party machine, that he has to leave his political conscience in the Whips room before he enters the House, and that there is really no independent criticism and judgment exercised at all in our Debates. I am far from saying that I think it is true. One advantage of the existing Coalition system is that the average Member of the Coalition party feels that he may, except on vital occasions, unburden himself of his real, honest opinion, because it cannot do any harm to his party. It is only when you come to dose quarters on vital questions, such as the payment of indemnities, that the frown of the Leader of the House calls them to their senses and they have, to toe the line. As regards honours, the figures given by the Mover speak eloquently that it is the politician who gets the vast majority of the honours. Some times he is a politician in the negative sense that he simply supports the political machine. I support the practical suggestion of the Mover, that it is essential, whenever an honour is conferred by the King upon anyone at all; it should be officially stated for what reason that honour has been conferred. The mere statement of "public service"—a phrase we see a great deal now a days is too vague and indefinite. Let us know what particular service has so attracted the attention of His Majesty as to induce him, on the advice of his advisers, to confer some honour upon one of his subjects. On another aspect of the question, there is another source of revenue awaiting the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the form of a tax on titles. If we are going to introduce finance at all into the question of honours, do it directly and have a scale of charges, beginning with knighthoods and going right up to the top of the scale, whatever it may be—I do not profess to know, because I have not studied the different degrees. An overwhelming case has been made out at least for obtaining from the Government a declaration that money is not taken for party purposes with any kind of understanding, however remote and vague it may be, that the donor should be rewarded by being recommended to the King for an honour.

There is a suspicion that money is welcome to the parties from whatever source it comes. I mentioned once in this House year ago, in connection with a suggested source of revenue, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that connection should not be too particular as to the source of the money. It does not apply in the case of titles. The old Roman Emperor, when up raided for taking money from a tainted source, took a handful of it and put it to his nose, saying, "Non o let"—it does not smell. That is the principle which governs the secret funds of the different parties. One wonders, as one looks round the present House and thinks of its constitution, where those funds are to-day, and how they are controlled. I do not know whether there is a Coalition secret chest, I do not know whether the Unionist chest has been opened and made common property with that of the other side. I do not know whether Mr. Asquith has handed over the Liberal chest to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) who seems keenly interested in this subject and who, contrary to his usual custom, remains in the House for some private Members business. I do not blame him, because he is a very busy man.

I am nearly always in for public or private business. I have missed my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

My eyes must have misled me. One is getting old and has to wear spectacles sometimes. I apologise for having done an injustice to my right hon. Friend. I do not know, one is not very much interested in knowing, how the present funds of these various parties are controlled, but that they exist and always will exist is obvious. It is no good my hon. and gallant Friend thinking he can abolish party funds. Men, as he says, will combine legitimately for definite settled policies and purposes. Let them have their funds by all means, and I am not anxious to inquire into the identity of the subscribers, provided always—after all we still accept the word of responsible Ministers as sufficient—we can be assured by the Leader of the House that there is no ground for suspicion that any bargains are ever made connecting party subscriptions with recommendations for office. That is the whole essence of the discussion.

9.0 P.M

We shall shortly have another Honours List. It seems to me rather a cynical way of heralding its arrival to state in the Press, as I read yesterday, that some Whip, I think, of the Government had gone over to the Prime Minister with a draft list in his pocket. I could not help reflecting on the irony of that piece of information, and I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will make a due note of it, that one of the Patronage Secretaries, or Whips, has gone over specially to Paris to submit to the Prime Minister a list of people to be recommended to His Majesty in connection with the birthday honours. It is only a side issue in this question, but it bears upon it that it is quite safe to predict that there will not be one name in that list whose elevation to the other House would involve a by-election. It is an illustration of the fact that honours have to be considered, having regard to certain political and party considerations. If this House is to regain its lost ascendancy over the imagination and minds of the people, if it is to be regarded more seriously than it is to-day by the man in the street, if you are going to get the typical citizen to believe that we meet here for honest independent work and constructive legislation, it is absolutely essential that there should be a declaration either that if the system has existed in the past it has come to an end, or that it does not exist at all, and that there is nothing to hide, and if there is nothing to conceal why not let us have access to some list of the principal subscribers to the party funds? I think it is called the tea room where these things are exhibited. I do not know where that room is, although I have been a Member for eight or nine years, but I believe there is some place where the documents might be inspected. If the right hon. Gentleman will not do that, I ask him to believe that this is not a personal political party move of any kind. I was going to say the hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Croft) represents the smallest party in the House, but that would not be true. It is twice as large as the one I was thinking of. But we small parties have no party funds, and we do not want them, and we have nothing to gain. We are here because we are independent, and there is no other motive actuating me in supporting this Motion than to be able to go back to my Constituents, and to different parts of the country as one does, and say to them, "This is a new Parliament. A new spirit has come over it. The old party shibboleths have gone. The old party scandals have gone. The old party machinery is rusty and is scrapped on the great waste heap of the War, and they may rely on it that now everything is clean, honest, and above board."

I was in the Courts last week for something I said about the gentleman on the other side, and, as Mr. Gladstone once said, now I am unmuzzled I want to relieve my mind of certain things. First, may I say how? much I agree with what has fallen from the last speaker. If he refers to the Debate that took place in the House of Lords and the Resolutions which were passed then, he will find that his case is true of many others. The Resolution, which was accepted by the Government, said:

"(1) That when any honour or dignity is conferred upon a British subject, other than a member of the Royal family or members of the naval, military or permanent Civil Service under the Crown, a definite public statement of the reasons for which it has been recommended to the Crown shall accompany the notification of the grant.
(2) That a declaration to the Sovereign be made by the Prime Minister, in recommending any person to His Majesty's favour for any such honour or dignity, that he has satisfied himself that no payment or expectation of payment to any party fund is directly pr indirectly associated with the grant or promise of such honour or dignity."
That seems to meet the question raised by the hon. Member, but that is not the case that is before the House. The case before the House is the underlying assumption that there is a traffic, a trade, in the sale of honours, but when it conies to the floor of the House, not a single case is brought forward. It has not been given in any single discussion that has taken place up till now.

:You did not move the Motion. You can come along later. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Brigadier-General Croft's did not give one single instance of honours being con ferred where payment had been made. He took the last Honours List and poured innuendos upon the honour and character of men in it. The House has the right to ask who these men are. We do not want to shelter anyone-. It seems to me he-wants to get his nose in any kind of smelly mess. He spoke about Canada having passed a Resolution against accepting hereditary honours. The reason was simply that Canada did not want to be-saddled with a hereditary aristocracy.

:If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to do the proper thing, if he will move that hereditary titles in any shape or form have to be abolished, I will second it. Do not let us play with this thing. If there is a traffic in titles, as he says, the only way to-abolish the traffic is to abolish the titles. Is he prepared to do that? There was cir- culated in my Constituency, and I suppose in other constituencies, the National party programme, written by the Whip of the National party, with a preface by its leader. I notice that instead of the party consisting of twins on the bench opposite they are now triplets. I do not know whether the greater includes the lesser, or who is the leader. This kind of thing makes one feel you would like to smack somebody:

"The National party further regards the whole political machine as a dangerous and corrupt instrument which tends to foist upon the country a class of men who prostitute the public service for personal advancement and gain."
That was brought up in my Constituency.

I suggest to the hon. Member for Christchurch that probably he gets information about honours from his Friend on the left(Sir R. Cooper). The members of the National party appear to me to be the most stupid set of men that ever walked. I had a con test going on, and I had a Liberal against me and a National party man, and during the progress of the contest I had an application from the Nationalist party for a contribution towards their funds to enable him to fight the election. Are you not a stupid lot? If that is the kind of way you carry on business you would make. a mess of it. You talk about the con science of the country. When this party began I remember that in the Constitutional Club two years ago they were going round telling about it. They came to me and asked me if I would like a safe seat. I said "Whom is it for?" The reply was "The National party." I replied "No thanks. Who are the National party?" I was told, "They are the party that have nobbled the Tariff Reform movement; they are going to be the party of the future, and their leader is a future Disraeli. He is forming a party now, and you will find that he is going to control the Unionist party in future."

:I assure the hon. Member that nobody in authority would ever think of asking him to contest any constituency.

Probably the hon. Member's agents went beyond his authorisation. That offer was made to me.

I can tell you. No, I will not. I do not want to get the man into trouble, because he probably should not have done it, but he did it. That is what happened. That is the line they were going to take up, and this gentle man of military age came back from the front, in the middle of the War. That was a curious thing. An able-bodied man, physically fit, like our Friend who moved this Resolution, throws up his job at the front and conies back. For what'! [Hon. MEMBERS: "Name! "]

:I had the honour of serving in the same Division as the hon. Member opposite (Brigadier-General Croft), and I deny what the hon. Member said.

I thought the hon. Member was speaking about some person who was not a Member of the House.

:I am not speaking about a Member of the House. The person who came to me is not now a Member of the House.

I am attacking, him because he deserves to be attacked. Now let us come to the party funds. I agree with what fell from the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley), that there ought to be no connection between the payment of money, directly or indirectly, and any honours. I go even beyond him in saying that if there was the slightest shadow of suspicion of anything of this traffic going on I should be prepared to move or to second a Resolution in: favour of the abolition of honours altogether. That is the only way to stop it. You speak of the character of the men who get honours. In my young days we used to go into the characters of the men who held high positions. I do not want to insult the living by saying that their forefathers did not get their positions in a very credit able manner. I do not want to insult the living or the dead, but the hon. Member wants to insult the living now. So far as my experience of the House goes, I do not know that I did a good thing in coming here. There is certain disillusionment about it, a certain amount of indefinite-ness about what we are doing, a certain lack of something to get on with, but so long as I am in this House, if there is any thing shady, underhanded, or unsavoury, my vote and influence will be used to put it down. I am not going to go by mere innuendo never accompanied by proof, as is the case in this Resolution.

:As a new Member of the House, I am seeking for information, and I would like to know on what system are honours granted I The hon. Member who has just sat down has said that no case has ever been brought on the floor of this House or of the other House where a man has been granted honours through his subscription to party funds. In making that challenge he must know that there are cases, although it would not be right to give the names. I can toll him, for his information, that in this House to-day I was told by a Member that some years ago he was approached by an emissary of the Government of that day to know what he would contribute to the party funds if a baronetcy were conferred upon him.

I have gone through every OFFICIAL REPORT of this House and of the House of Lords, and I cannot find any record of anything of this sort.

How can the hon. Member expect a record of a case like that? It is absurd. This is not the only case, and it is absurd for the hon. Member to think for one moment that honours are not granted in a great many cases for subscriptions to party funds, whether it is right or whether it is wrong. I should like to deal with the last list of honours that came out. When we in Manchester read that list in the papers it was the universal opinion that the Gov- ernment had achieved one object—that they had brought into prominence names of men who were never heard of before. One of those gentlemen, who had a baronetcy conferred upon him, was so unknown that the Press was telegraphing from London to know who he was and in desperation, not being able to find out, they put in the paper a photograph of his cousin.

With regard to a gentleman who is very well known there, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if the Government had inquired into his record they would never have conferred a knighthood upon the Chief Constable of Manchester. I would like the Government to have inquired what the record of that man was with the German Consul before war broke out and what his record with him was after war broke out. I would like them to have inquired as to the way he dealt with the Germans in the city of Man Chester who were not interned but should have been interned, and I would also like to know if the Intelligence Department in the War Office have any record with re grad to that gentleman that would put him outside the pale of any honour what so ever. It seems to me that honours are granted to gentlemen who bear names which, to say the least of it, are not English, while gentlemen living in those same districts, Englishmen to the back bone, who have done good service to their country, arc passed over. And when you ask what is the explanation the in variable answer is that the alien is a wealthy man. Whether it is correct or not, that is the answer you get. And so it is the alien who gets his honour while the Englishmen go without. During this War there has been an amount of work done by men who have sacrificed thousands of pounds and sacrificed their time, and their interest in their business, in a wholly honorary capacity, men who have not done it for a title and who I do not suppose would have a title if it were offered, but the fact remains, that those men—I am speaking now from definite knowledge of their work—not only have never been offered a title but have never even been thanked by the Government Department they work for, while these rich men of alien birth who have never been heard of are getting titles. It is all very well for the hon. Member opposite to talk about assumptions, but I put it to him that even if I had not given these facts, which I know to be correct, what other assumption can any Member of the House draw from the fact, except that those men who can pay handsomely get the honours and those men who remain in the background and really do the spade work of this country are passed over.

I do not desire to detain the House for any great length, but it is rather important that this question should not be regarded as merely an expression of opinion by men like the Mover and the Seconder of the Motion, men who, notwithstanding their personal ability, do not command a very large amount of confidence of the ordinary public. I think it ought not to be merely an expression of their opinion. I am not very much in love with the proposal of an Act of Parliament to regulate these matters, but I am very strongly convinced that public opinion upon this subject is in such a state that everyone who wishes well to Parliamentary government will have to ask the question seriously what can be done to calm the uneasiness that exists, for it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a large body of opinion in this country which has lost faith in Par liamentary government. We hear of direct action. We hear of a still larger body of opinion, which gives expressions to views more or less contemptuous of both Houses of Parliament. There is certainly growing up a disposition to Believe that Parliamentary government has played its part, that no one now much believes in it, and that you must look to something else though no one knows quite, what. These doctrines make not for judicious reform, but something which might easily end in an attempt at any thing, though I am quite confident that the party of order in this country is strong enough to resist anything in the nature of an anarchical revolution. But still, if there is an attempt it would be mii unspeakable calamity, and we do most earnestly desire that the reputation of Parliamentary government should be placed as high as possible.

The importance of the question to which the hon. and gallant Member for South Hackney called attention is really that whether reasonably or unreasonably there is not the least doubt that Parliamentary government, and the two Houses of Parliament are discredited to some extent and exposed to very damaging imputations, because it is thought that the party funds are discreditably recruited and are corruptly used. That is really what it comes to, that the honours are, used to get funds for party purposes, and that when the funds are got they are used really in effect to secure the return of Members of Parliament, not of course by direct bribery but by ways and moans, by which not the best men or the men most chosen by the constituencies, but the men most accept able to the party managers are chosen, and that the party funds are really the most important part of a mechanism which corrupts public life. That is the suspicion. I am never disposed to believe that the truth is anything like so bad us the suspicion suggests. We know that there are always people going about who are afraid of the Jesuits and there are others who are afraid of Jews, and there is a class of people who have a similar obsession about the dangerous influence and corrupt recruitment of party funds. What usually happens in all these cases is that there is a small measure of truth behind a great deal of suspicion, and it is exceedingly important that whatever is really is should be put right, and still more important that the matter should be so ordered as to convince all reason able people that, whatever may have happened in the past, in the future proper safeguards will be taken against corruption or the danger of it. Part of this question affects this House and part affects the other House, and, of course, directly the matter is debated everybody is asked to give instances of corrupt bargaining. I should have thought it was obvious that such instances must be very difficult to adduce, even if there be such corrupt bar gaining. Things are not done by naked, shameless bargains. People do not go about in the manner suggested by such stories as we all of us have heard and which, I believe, that they are much exaggerated. As a matter of fact, it is under stood that honours are given for party services, and among party services liberal contributions to the party funds are reckoned. But there is nothing put into a word which indicates any shameless bar gain or corrupt tender of money. A person who gives liberally to party funds has it reckoned to him as an advantage when his claim to some honour within the gift of the Crown is under consideration. I do not think that anything of that kind is easily proved. When people appeal for cases, they, of course, expose themselves to the rather damaging question whether they would consent to an. inquiry, say before the Privy Council, into the gift of honours and into contributions to party funds; whether they would allow an impartial committee of the Privy Council, of the highest judicial eminence and of unblemished character, to call before them all the recent recipients of honours that might be open to suspicion, and to call before them the party Whips and other party managers and ask them to swear upon oath that nothing corrupt had passed, and to produce their records in justification of what had been done; in short, to have a thorough inquiry into the whole matter. I do not know what my right hon. Friend may say, but my impression is that the Government would never consent to such an inquiry—not, probably, because anything very bad would come out, but because something might come out which they would rather did not I am sure that it is impossible to put aside the whole matter as the cry of a few cranks and suspicious persons who wish to discredit Parliamentary government. I am sure it must be met, and that we must do our best to place Parliamentary government above this sort of attack. I would remind my right hon. Friend, although I am sure he knows it very well, of the tremendous effect that the sandals of the diamond necklace produced upon the French Monarchy before the Revolution. That was an untrue suspicion. Marie Antoinette was not in the least mixed up with it, as a matter of fact, but the scandal arose, and her name was brought in merely in order to dupe one of the other persons concerned. But all the public in France at the time believed her to be guilty, and there is not the least doubt that the squalid discredit of the scandal was one of the causes which subverted the prestige of the French Monarchy. Something of the same kind is in danger of happening to us here. The hon. Member behind me (Mr. Lane-Mitchell) said that he would be quite in favour of abolishing hereditary titles. There is, of course, a great deal to be said against the. reasonableness of an hereditary title, but it does correspond, apparently, to a desire in the minds of a large number of human beings; it does appeal to a very strong human instinct; and therefore it has been maintained in this country, and I think that probably no one seriously proposes to abolish hereditary titlesal together. If we are going to maintain anything of the kind, if we are going to maintain what is called an aristocratic- element, or at any rate the ceremonial part of it, let us be sure that it is kept as chaste as snow. Otherwise it would be spoilt entirely.

You may get rid of it, but if you do not, then keep it clean. It is no use saying, we want to get rid of it, and therefore do not care how dirty it becomes. I think it will be found that the number of people who wish to retain it is really much larger than of those who wish to abolish it, but if it is to be retained, it must be kept clean and seemly as an adornment of the Constitution, and not a blemish on it. What precautions can you take for that? I will say quite frankly that I do not want to go about raking up and exposing to public criticism transactions which I do not believe are seriously scandalous, but which might, perhaps, by exaggeration be represented as corrupt. I do not want, therefore, to have a searching inquiry into the past, although I dare say such an inquiry may sooner or later be provoked unless something is done to allay public uneasiness on this subject. But I would like to make it impossible for such a suspicion to arise in the future, and I think the Government would be well advised to accept the suggestion which has been more than once put forward of establishing a Committee of the Privy Council, of high standing, which could easily be done, and submitting to it honours before they were submitted to the Crown, so that there could be no suspicion whatever that those honours were corruptly recommended. As I conceive it, such a Committee would intervene between the Prime Minister and the other Ministers with whom, naturally, the recommendations for honours would originate. I do not think it is at all improper for a party openly to reward those who have worked for it, but I would allow all such honours to be laid by the Ministers concerned before the Committee of the Privy Council. That Committee would in quire into the matter, and any Minister who made a recommendation would be required to justify it. If the recommendation were accepted, it would go forward to the Prime Minister, who, of course, would be constitutionally responsible for submitting it to the Crown. It would be improper to allow anyone to interfere between the Prime Minister and the Crown in respect of his constitutional responsibility. In that way there would be a protection to the Government. It would be a complete answer to suspicions of the kind that have been raised. The Government could definitely state that they did nothing which was not submitted to a careful and impartial scrutiny by people whose character was beyond suspicion, who were not partisans, and would have no motive to play a party game and do unseemly jobs for party advantage. They would be impartial persons of high reputation, and the Government would be able to say that they had justified their recommendation to them. If the Committee of the Privy Council rejected any recommendation, the Minister would either have to be prepared to justify it before Parliament after controversy—which generally he would not be prepared to do—or to drop the recommendation and say no more about it. In that way the whole matter would be put beyond suspicion. Secondly, I think that party funds, as things have gone so far, should be submitted to some form of public audit. The intense secrecy that surrounds them is, I think, open to criticism. I know that there are quite good reasons against disclosing the names of those who make large contributions to party funds, because it gives an appearance of influence, often a quite untrue appearance, to rich contributories who con tribute, very likely from perfectly patriotic motives, to them. Nevertheless I think the time has now come when such secrecy is likely to do far more harm than any that could arise through the publication of the names of contributories. I do not suggest that anything should be done in respect of the past. There is a celebrated Act for putting down corrupt practices which was passed in 1883 by Sir Henry James, afterwards Lord James of Here ford. He had the reputation of having carried methods of making himself popular very far in his own constituency, and it was noticed with some amount of amusement that a strict Clause was in seated in that Act which prevented any retrospective inquiry into past cases. Such was the procedure in 1883, and I do not think it is a bad precedent. But I am sure that, however you deal with the past, it ought to be made perfectly clear that the thing has come to an end. I do not think that there has been anything that could properly be called corruption in the past, or that the tremendous suspicions that exist are really well founded. I do think there has probably been a good deal of the influence of money in the giving of honours, more or less openly and consciously recognised, but still real. I am quite sure it ought to be brought to an end. I am quite sure that suspicion of it ought to be immediately done away with, and that we ought to make on the one side hereditary honours or any honours in the gift of the Crown per featly pure and clean, and on the other hand, we ought to destroy the secrecy of the party funds, which gives an impression of some obscure influence behind the Government, which discredits its character and diminishes its force. I am sure we ought to do that now, because of the necessity of maintaining interest in Parliamentary Government, and of training people to believe that Parliamentary government is the true source of reform and the true security against anarchy.

I should like to endorse what the Mover and the Seconded and my Noble Friend said, in regard to this question. The most helpful suggestion they made was, that all honours should be submitted to a Committee of the Privy Council. I think, if the right hon. Gentleman comes to consider that proposition, he will see it is a reasonable one. I would also like to endorse what my Noble Friend said with regard to the element of suspicion. I think that probably all this talk about party funds is very much exaggerated, but there is a great element of danger. My Noble Friend mentioned the case of prejudice against the Jews. This prejudice had an element of truth sometimes in it, but it led to great massacres of innocent men, and I am not at all sure that the prejudice which exists now in Russia in regard to the Jews will not lead to massacre in the future. But in the case of the party funds the charges levelled all over the country must help the cause which we describe as Bolshevism in this country. Therefore it is very important, that we should get rid of that element of suspicion. The criterion which can be roughly adopted in these matters is to take, in regard to the honours which the hon. Member for Bournemouth spoke about, such a test as this: Nelson got a baronetcy for St. Vincent, and a peerage for the Battle of the Nile. Compare with that the honours which have been given in this House alone—baronetcies and peerages It will be very difficult to mention any ser vices at all commensurate with those which Nelson rendered. Sometimes hon. Members have got a baronetcy merely for con testing seats—forelorn hopes. I have here what I feel sure will impress my right hon. Friend—a quotation from a colleague of his, the late Lord Rhondda, when be was Mr. D. A. Thomas, in 1912.In this speech he pointed to another danger, and that was the inducement to Members to cross the floor of the House. He referred to those who had crossed the floor in 1903, and he said:

"Then there were the inducements that were given to men to come over from the other side."
This speech was made in what the Prime Minister would regard as God's own country, Wales:
"Between 1900 and 1906 some ten or twelve men crossed the floor of the House from the Conservative to the Liberal side. He knew only one of these men who had not received some kind of title or honour or position. Of course, that was done in order to induce others to follow their example. Then there was another case not one hundred miles from South Wales, where a gentleman has changed over several times. He had a peerage. In other cases, not only one man, but the whole family changed. He believed that even the little cats and dogs about the house had the ribbon round their necks changed from blue to red. The result was a Cabinet Minister, two members of the Government, two peers, and a couple of Privy Councillorships."
In regard to the statement that no particular case is mentioned, Lord Rhondda stated
"He knew one South Wales peer, who was paying for his honour on the hire purchase piano system, but ho died before finishing the instalment; of the executors refused to conclude the payments, saying they had no further use for the title."
I submit that there have been far too many honours given lately, far too many political honours, and I suggest to the Prime Minister that ho should go back somewhat to the scale that Sir Robert Peel practised in the forties. During the four years and ten months of his Ministry, he gave only two peerages. In the time of Queen Elizabeth, not a single peerage was given, and no one will contend that the country was not then great. Had that system continued, there would be only about seven or eight peerages left, and that would be a great mistake. Apart from the incentive to people to do their best, I think there is a distinct marketable value in the Peerage, not in the sense meant by my hon. Friend below me, who put forward the suggestion of raising revenue, but undoubtedly many peers marry American heiresses, and they have brought a great deal of capital into this country in consequence One danger we do escape. In the time of Queen Anne, and years later in the time of George 111, peerages were made in order to secure a majority in the House of Lords. We escape that simply because the House of Lords is the Mecca of Liberal dreams, where the Liberal groundling merges from his chrysalis and becomes a Tory angel. So the result is a tremendous Tory majority in the House of Lords.

I do feel this, that if we provided machinery by which the best elements of the nation are assigned to the House of Lords, we must somehow devise machinery by which the least fitted elements in the House of Lords climb downwards. Other wise, the system which Lord Throes described as the accident of an accident must continue—hereditary privileges in the House of Lords, where men succeed and re main in the House of Lords and the Peerage, who are obviously quite unfitted, and bring no honour to themselves, to the country, or to the Peerage. I do not know how such a system could possibly be devised, but we ought to endeavour to obtain it, and then we may get a House of Lords, where every Member is endowed with a conscience but not with a constituency, just as every Member of this House is endowed with a Constituency but——! The party fund is the centre of the party system, and the party caucus which could not exist without the party fund. When John Stuart Mill said that democracy always showed to greatest disadvantage at its fringe I submit he could not have had in mind the party fund of to-day. It is impossible to say that men do not subscribe very large amounts to party funds, and I am speaking of both parties, without some interested motive. They hoped for reward. As my hon. and gallant Friend said they may wish to assist the cause of Free Trade or Protection and may have interested motives, or they may wish to assist the licensed victuallers' trade and they may think the party stands for that. There is a core of self-interest in the matter. We want to see this purified as far as possible, and I do not see what the objection is to granting the request of the Motion that the larger subscriptions should be opened to the public so that they can be criticised, if thought necessary, in the Press of the country. I do not know what line my right hon. Friend is going to take, but I do think we might get rid of that alliance of the two Front Benches on this question which has always existed, and, just to inform my right hon. Friend, the Liberal Leader of the Opposition, and the chair man of the other Liberal party as to what is the view of the House of Commons on this matter, why does not my right hon. Friend, just by way of experiment to night allow us to go to a Division with out putting the party Whips on.

It is very interesting to one of the real aristocracy of this country to sit and listen to this Debate to night. I happen to belong to that aristocracy. The only real aristocracy in the world are the people who produce its wealth. We cannot of course claim any blue blood, and consequently we cannot enter into competition, with some of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in this Debate. I have been surprised to learn that the pure and immaculate Governments of the country in the past have been prepared to sell positions for money, and it seems that the Resolution before us means that there have been times in the past history of Great Britain when guinea pigs could buy seats in the House of Lords, and other titles which might be convenient to their dignity. Even some of my hon. Friends who have moved this Resolution seem to be under the impression that the new aristocracy is something worse than the old aristocracy. After all I admire the man who is prepared to pay in money for what he gets, and I have less respect for the old aristocrat who could not very often tell who his mother was. If the history of this country is going to be seriously considered we ought to have the opportunity of knowing what really denotes aristocracy. Is it intellectual equality; is it physical equality; is it the quality which serves the nation in times of great need. If it is so, then every man who has won the V.C. in the War deserves to be in the highest ranks of the aristocracy, but, as most of those men are poor, it is physically impossible for them to become aristocrats in the new dispensation. Therefore, how ever noble they may be in person, they are barred from occupying positions of nobility merely because of their poverty. Party funds—I want to know what is meant by "Party." We have all sorts of new organisations being started every day. We have people's leagues and other kinds of leagues, and we have national parties which are not national, but are limited by their parochial interests I could form an organisation, to-morrow morning and possibly by that means be able to masquerade in this-House as the leader of a great party. I cannot even lead myself on occasions.

If we are going to have the publication of subscriptions to the national political parties as at present understood, then every political organisation ought to be registered, but that is not in the Resolution. The National Socialist Party, or the Independent Labour Party, or any other organisation that goes in for political activity ought to be registered and ought to be compelled to make public a statement through the proper channels as to the source from which its income comes. I am prepared to support a Resolution of that kind, but our new found democrats simply want to blind themselves to the past, and only live in the present. I happen to have the capacity of expressing my own opinions even although they may offend my friends, and I want to say that this Resolution, whilst declaring for political purity, does not necessarily ensure it. Supposing a political party is prepared to sell titles, and titles have been sold, are we to agree that titles should be given merely because the parties desire to recompense people who have given them service. I believe in no titles. The greatest title of all is common citizenship. "He who would be greatest amongst you let him be the servant of all." If we are going to have recognition of particular ser vices rendered where are we going to end. Does not the smallest and poorest man in this community who delves and digs and works and toils render as great a service according to his capacity as the most intellectual and those who have had the greatest opportunities I If we are going to have titles it will be a mark of distinction not to have a title, because the greatest work of the community is done by the people who have had the least opportunity. So far as some of us are concerned we protest against nobility in the sense of giving men handles to their names, and we demand real nobility that is a nobility of service with all of us doing our fair share of public service, and taking the reward which that service gives.

While supporting the desire to find out why city guinea pigs are able to get titles whilst useful workers may work themselves to death and get no recognition whatever, I ask who is going to reward the women who all these four and a half years have sat silently at home looking after the children while the husbands were out fighting Who is going to ennoble them by seats in Legislative Chambers which give them the right to hand on to those who follow them the opportunity of doing the same? I know the right hon. Gentleman opposite when he gets up will say it is impossible to tell us what we want to know. Some of the people who have got titles to-day would have a doubtful possibility of explaining to the House where they got the money from. Some of them who have been ennobled lately would have a difficult job to say they have not got some German money that they have paid over to the State in order to get ennobled. We have no desire to emulate their example. The common people of this country have rendered services without hope of reward, and therefore we cannot understand why it is that there should be all this trouble about giving us the information we desire. We think that secret party funds ought to be altogether destroyed, that every political organisation ought to be registered, and that public service ought to be made public in every possible sense of the word.

10.0 P.M

If it had been left to me to select a subject on which I was to speak I should not have selected this one, and I am sorry that the exigencies of the ballot have given me the opportunity at a time when the Prime Minister obviously cannot be here. So far as it affects the Government, it is a question which primarily affects the Prime Minister, and I am sure of this, that whatever views may be held about the Prime Minister by anyone in any quarter of the House, they will agree with me when I say that he is never afraid to defend his action when it is challenged, and I am sure he would be very ready to take his part to-day. In the few remarks that I am going to make, I admit that I am in more of a dilemma than usual, and for this reason. I do not want to treat this as if It were a matter of no importance, for if the statements which are frequently made, not in this House to-night especially, but constantly, were true, if there was any solid foundation of truth in them, it would represent a state of things which would be discreditable to the Government and to the House of Commons which permitted it. On the other hand, I am a party leader. A great deal of this opposition is based, not upon the giving of honours, but upon the strength of the party system I remember very well that my Noble Friend below the Gangway (Lord H. Cecil) before the War used to give us frequent and interesting dissertations on the vices of the party system as practised in this country. I never agreed with him then, and I do not now. This is certain, that wherever there is a democratic country carrying on its government by democratic institutions, there must be parties. There always have been, and there always will be, and the only choice really in this connection is between what in the past has been the system in this country of two large parties, or great groups of parties. I think the organisation of the National party was started not entirely on this 10.0 p.m. system of honours, but it was started, I think, main lyon the badness and wickedness of the party system. My hon. and gallant Friend (Brigadier-General Croft) took a curious way to cure that evil by immediately starting another party, and it is not his fault that he is entitled to give the excuse, "It is only a very little one." I really do not think that that attitude is justified, and I believe we have had the best proof of it during the War. When the War started there was a party system in full blast in this country. A great danger came, and I am sure I am only expressing what every Member of this House feels when I say that as a whole the Members of the parties rose superior to party and used their parties in the great, national emergency.

At this moment we are in an unusual condition in this country. We are trying to continue the War system more or less in the period of uncertainty which has followed the War. I do not know how it will work. It is not easy to work, because the moment the pres sure disappears the forces which drive us to form parties become stronger and stronger. But I do know this, that as a party leader, which I am for the time being, it is far easier to run the Government or the Opposition without this attempt to act on something more than party lines. And this at least is certain, that in this House of Commons, as well as in the last, during the period to which I refer, the Government were under this necessity, of producing measures which they could defend and justify because they knew they could not rely on the party support, but must depend on the way in which they could make what they brought in acceptable to the House as a whole I have said that for this reason, that so far as all this is directed against parties I do not believe it is effective, or can be. I do not believe it is a disadvantage that parties should be reasonably strong and reasonably coherent. Let us come down to the sort of statements which have been made to-night. First of all, the hon. and gallant Member for Bourne mouth (Brigadier - General Croft) put figures before the House which I think were entirely misleading. He spoke of the number of honours given to civilians and those given to soldiers, but nobody knows better than he 'chat there are immense numbers of honours of the kind that soldiers have always been accustomed to and that soldiers appreciate, infinitely greater in numbers than the honours which have been given to civilians, which have been given to soldiers, among them the C.M.G., K.C.B., D.S.O., not to speak of the D.C.M. and the Military Medal. So it is wrong to suggest that in point of numbers civilians have been treated much more favourably than have members of the fighting forces.

How many would like them? I do not think they ever thought of them, and I am certain, from my knowledge of soldiers, that they would appreciate a K.C.B. quite as much as or more than the offer of a baronetcy. So it is quite wrong to raise the argument that there has been any special favouritism of civilians as against members of the fighting forces.

There is another point to which I would like to direct attention. My hon. and gallant Friend's Motion has really very little to do with his argument. His Motion is to the effect that this evil is to be cured by auditing party funds, and by giving no honours as a reward for money. But what was the bulk of his charge? It was that a tremendous lot of honours are given to Members of the House of Commons and to the Press. That may or may not be right, but no one who has been any length of time in the House of Commons would allege that Members of the House of Commons or members of the Press give money for the purpose of getting titles. The object of my hon. and gallant Friend's Motion is to prevent the giving of honours being influenced by money. Yet in the particular cases to which he refers of a large number of Members of the House of Commons and the Press, as everyone knows, they have never given money to any party fund. It was for other reasons they were given. I remember a little "cave" formed in this House, and my Noble Friend below the Gangway, as I understood him to say a few minutes ago, was the leading spirit in that "cave." He never, of course, received any reward, partly because he would not have wished it, and partly because, although he was willing to oppose the Government on particular points, in principle he agreed with them. Another charge made by my hon. Friend is that rewards are given in this House purely for obedience to the party Whips.

Whoever made it, it was not true. I will instance the case of my Noble Friend, who was given the highest honour, in my opinion, it is in the power of the Prime Minister to recommend, that of a Privy Councillor. No one will suggest it was because of the dutiful way he obeyed the Whips. I have said that I do not wish to treat this as if it were a matter of no importance. But I would like the House to consider the case of the honours bestowed on Members of this House. It seems to be a fact that a great many people like honours, although it has been suggested that only their wives like them. There are not many people who take the view of some famous man in the ancient world who said that when he went to the Forum, he did not want to see his statue there, but he wanted people to ask, "Where is his statue?" That is not an example of humility, but I can say I would prefer it if that were the spirit which actuated all the members of my party in the House and out of it. I do not know whether I will take the disease first or the remedy, but I think I will take the disease. It has been asserted to-night that there has been a widespread belief—I believe it went further—that it is the fact that honours are in effect bought and sold. T say that if it were true that the party Whips either go to individuals and say to them, "If you will give such and such a sum to the party fund, you will get an honour," or—and this, in my opinion, is equally bad—if when a man is selected as suitable for the honour, he is then told by the party Whips that he must pay a certain sum of money—I say if that is true it ought to be put an end to by the House of Commons. I do not believe that it is true, and on this point I think I can speak with more know ledge than probably anyone else in the House at this moment. It is, of course, the Prime Minister who recommends these distinctions to His Majesty; but since the Coalition Government was formed I think it is generally known that it has been understood that I, as Leader of our party, should, as a rule, recommend to the Prime Minister members of that party who ere qualified to receive political honours. I wish to say at once that, so far as the suggestion is concerned, that there should be a clear statement, if the actual traffic in honours has not taken place, it has already been made, not on my own behalf, but in behalf of the Government. I was asked a question about it, and I gave this answer, after consultation with the Prime Minister:

"I do not believe that any Government would be prepared to admit the principle that subscriptions to party funds should debar sub scribers, who would be otherwise suitable for recognition at the hands of the Sovereign. The Prime Minister has made, and will make, no recommendation to His Majesty as a reward for contributions to party funds."
I wish now, so far as the distinctions which are disputed are concerned, to say not only do I not know of any such bargain, direct or indirect, but I have asked the Whips, and they have told me there has been, and there will be, no such bargain.

:I am perfectly ready to accept that part of the Resolution. It has already been accepted on behalf of the Government in the House of Lords If the hon. and gallant Gentleman chooses to put his Resolution in some form like this

"That the House is of opinion that any re commendations for the bestowal of honours should not be given directly or indirectly as a reward for subscriptions to party funds"
I will accept it at once on behalf of the Government. I wish to say a word or two more about that aspect. Do my hon. Friends who dislike this system think that political rewards should not be given for party services? If they take that view, then it really means that all these honours, at a rule, which are given to Members of the House, ought not to be given. I do not take that view. I consider that, so long as we have, a party system—and that has very much been recognised in this country, for the Opposition has been de- scribed as "His Majesty's Opposition"—so long as we have a party system, if men believe—as I believe they do—that the party to which they belong, for which they are willing to give their services, is the party which is aiming at the things which are good for the country, then I think to the best of their lights they are serving their country, and it is proper that their services should be recognised. Look at that in connection with money. I think it would be a great mistake to say that giving money for such a purpose is some thing that is almost reprehensible. I do not think so in the least. I know in my own experience I have listened to many men of the kind who do not give money. I am talking now of the time when the other party was in power. They were always grumbling about what was being done, and that the country was going to be ruined. I have often said: "'What are you doing to try to prevent it 1" Whether right or wrong, men who take the other view that I have indicated are really acting more patriotically than the men who grumble and do nothing. I am bound to say that giving generously for objects in which a man believes is, to a certain extent, a service of which a man ought to be proud. But it is not a service which in itself entitles him to be recommended to the King for honours; T quite agree with that. For this country, at this moment, of all forms of what is termed aristocracy, a plutocracy would be the worst. Still, money plays an important part.

Now I come to another charge made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth, which was that the people who contribute to the party funds are chosen for that reason as candidates. That was said to me by him once before. I thought it incredible, and I at once went to the Whips of our party and inquired whether that was done. I was told it was never done. It is common sense that it should not be. The party Whips wish to win the seat, and they wish to select the best man they can get for that purpose. Instead, therefore, of these party funds being a disadvantage from that point of view, they are from that point of view a very real advantage, and for this reason: If you do not allow them, the inevitable result will be that the constituency will select some man because he can pay all the expenses. It is bad for the party as well as for yourself, unless you have some central system of getting good men who are able to pay their way but who are not able to pay all the expenses of the election. From that point of view, therefore, I do not think the party system is a bad system. I say at once that if it would be useful to those concerned to have a Resolution affirming the principle that traffic in honours is wrong I shall gladly accept it on behalf of the Government.

Let me come to other suggestions. One is that party funds should be audited. I am not in favour of that. I do not think I should take other than that view if I were the leader of the party. It is rather difficult to judge of a proposal of this kind. Let me put my reasons against it. In the first place it would be utterly ineffective. Anyone who knows how the political life of this country is carried on knows that you could not get any system of the kind that would not be evaded. It would be easy enough if the ordinary party funds were to be audited, but when you also say that the funds of the Free Trade Union or the Tariff Reform Society should be audited, how in the world are you to prevent people who feel strongly about any question Home Rule, the Education question, or any other—forming associations and organising in the constituencies to help those objects, and at the same time helping the candidate? To interfere in any thing of that kind could not be done. It is not practicable. You could get round it in some way. Then as to this evasion in the matter of party funds. You get some- body who contributes a large sum. Is it suggested that the party funds in every constituency should be audited? What is easier than making arrangements, instead of giving the money to the Central Fund, which a certain amount shall be given to, say, the Conservative Associations of Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, and so on? It is an absolute certainty that if you attempt anything of the kind you will only invite people, to evade it.

If they successfully evade it they are not liable to prison. But I think the matter goes a great deal further than that. If you set up a system which is not accepted, and which is open to evasion, you simply give a premium whereby those who would be most strict would be handicapped, as would the party which endeavoured to play straight. I do not think that anything of the kind is practically possible. No reference has been made to-night to what is happening in America. I confess I have no intimate knowledge of how it works. There is there a policy of party funds. I wrote yesterday to a friend of mine who happens to be in London and who has some little acquaintance with American politics. I am only giving the information I have been told to give about it, and it came from a person in America, who said the rule is to give an account of all the money which is spent at the election, but that gentlemen friends of his who did not form an association of any kind pay money which does not come under any law and of which he ostensibly knows nothing, and I am told that the name which is given to this system in America is called "fat frying." The real truth is that you cannot cure an evil of this kind by attempts like this, but only by public opinion.

I would like to say this much to the House. It is undoubtedly a very bad thing that there should be this kind of suspicion. I quite recognise the force of what was said by my hon. Friend and others, that you cannot easily specify particular cases. I think that is true, but I must say that I listened with surprise to what my hon. Friend below the Gangway the Member for Bournemouth said about the last Honours List. He implied that there were any number of people there who were discredited. I quite understand that there is a great deal of feeling in the House, and people do not like to select individuals and pillory them, and I think it is just as well. There arc others who say that there are whole categories who are discredited persons, and who ought not to be in the Honours List. I admit that the mere fact there is so much of this talk shows that it is a great evil. I used to hear a great deal about it in former days. I think it is a great evil that all this sort of talk should go on, because it does a great deal of harm. This giving of honours is apt to be treated at least carelessly and indifferently by the Prime Minister of the day, but I think any Prime Minister who ever lived would like to have as little to do with it as possible.

I say that it is a good thing that public opinion should be directed to this question, and that the Prime Minister should feel in giving these recommendations that ho is doing something for which he is responsible, and then I think that it is bound to have it's proper influence It is no use trying to adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend that you should have a Com- mittee to judge these matters Is the Prime Minister to make the recommendations for honours himself or is he not? If he is does the House of Commons suggest for a moment that any Prime Minister who has ever lived would allow the recommendation which he had deliberately made to be turned down by any Committee that could be appointed by any body? It must be the responsibility of the Prime Minister. He is responsible for many things which more concern the House of Commons. The House must trust the Prime Minister to exercise his responsibility with the same sense of duty in this as in other matters.

I fear that any intervention of mine in this Debate may lay me open to the charge in connection with the historic party of which I have the honour to be a, member, of "sour grapes," but the opportunity which would come if I were the leader of the party of making recommendations to His Majesty is such century distant to make it perfectly justifiable for me to speak. First of all, I am very glad indeed that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has treated this question seriously. It is a matter of really serious public import. There is no doubt a tall that the discussion of the question of the bestowal of honours has in the past and is at the pre-sent moment exercising a largo measure of public concern, and no precautions which could be taken with regard to the maintenance of the sanction of authority should be omitted so as to see that no section of the public has any just cause for making a charge against the Executive responsible for advising His Majesty in these matters that they have been improperly moved in the exercise of those functions. There are two points which have obviously been kept perfectly clear—the first, that the prerogative of the Sovereign should be carefully safeguarded, and the second, that the practice of the recommendation coming through the channel of the Prime Minister should also be safe guarded. Of course, in the end, the responsibility is his. What we have to do, of course, is to deal with the public position and there is a very marked measure of public uneasiness with regard to this matter. What we have to suggest is this. Would the mere passage of the latter part of this resolution meet that? A pious opinion expressed by the House of Commons, that it is undesirable that the gift of honours should have any connection at all with gifts to party funds—would that meet the case? Would that satisfy the public mind in this matter?

The Debate which took place in the House of Lords in March, 1918, had this outcome—a determination on the part of the Government that a declaration should be made as to the reason for the bestowal of the honour. Has that allayed public anxiety and uneasiness with regard to it? I think not. There still remains this public dissatisfaction which it is to the interest of all of us to remove. How can it be done? It is extraordinarily difficult, I agree, but along the lines suggested by the Noble Lord lays a feasible solution of the difficulty, namely, that the Prime Minister of the day should be fortified in his recommendations by the advice tendered to him. by a Select Committee drawn from the Privy Council. In the Privy Council there are men of all parties. The whole range of our party system is reflected in the Privy Council of the day. Some such body as that, set up to deal with this quite important matter, would go a very long way to solve the problem with which we are faced. It might not be necessary for it to deal with the whole range of military, naval and Civil Service recommendations, but all questions of the bestowal of honours outside them might very well come before a select body drawn from the Privy Council, and the Prime Minister would be guided and fortified in his re commendations in that respect. These are the only remarks that I can profitably add to the Debate.

:May I say to the Leader of the house that those of us who support this Motion regret that we cannot for a moment consider the offer which he suggested we should accept in place of the Motion on the Paper, be cause it only amounts to what the Government promised in the Upper Chamber in October, 1917, and what it is understood is actually put into practice. That we are entirely dissatisfied with, for the simple reason that since that date honours have been conferred on people in this country, a very large proportion of whom the public cannot recognise as having contributed in any large measure any special services to their country. As the Leader of the Opposition has just said, the unfortunate fact is that there is grave unrest in the minds; of the public, largely, I suggest, because they see honours given to people whom they cannot recognise as having done anything whatever to merit them. It is an extremely important matter indeed, both for the dignity of this House and in the interests of the purity of public life in this country that His Majesty's Government should, without delay, remove any evils which can be proved to exist.

There were two points in the right hon. Gentleman's speech with which I entirely agreed. I should like to refer to them, especially the first. He pointed out to the House that during the War parties rose superior to their party claims. I appreciated that reference, because in 1915, at the end of May and the beginning of June he will be perfectly well aware that there was a large number of his own most devoted Friends in this House—of whom I was very proud to be one—who never could understand his action in making the enormous sacrifice which he apparently did. We knew it was done at the moment solely from his desire to sink everything to obtain unity between all parties in this House in order to carry the War to a victorious conclusion. I want to take thisopportunity—I have never had one before—of saying that I always recognised that, and naturally I most warmly concurred in the sentiments which actuated the right hon. Gentleman then.

The second point to which he referred is that it is very unpleasant indeed to be forced to pillory any particular individual in this matter of the sale of honours when, in reality, we are dealing only with a sys tem, or as I prefer to describe it, a great nation al evil. Not only my right hon. Friend, not the hon. Member (Mr. Lane-Mitchell), the only other Member who opposed the Motion, doubted whether the situation is as bad as one represents. The hon. Member asked specifically: Where arc the cases? He had searched the OFFICIAL REPORT of both Houses and he could not find a case. I walked across the floor of the House and took him a copy of the Debate of 1917, where Lord Selborne gave five cases. He said he had read it, but they were not representative cases.

There is not one case of payment having been made for an honour given.

:One of those cases was that of Sir George Kekewich, who was offered a knighthood by the party whips on condition that he stopped his opposition to the Government Licensing Bill and contributed £ 5,000 to the Liberal party funds. If that is not a fair and straight forward case in support of the principle with which we are dealing I do not know what can satisfy the hon. Member.

But the Leader of the House said if the principles enunciated in this Motion were true it was a state of things discreditable alike to the Government and to this House, and later on when speaking explicitly on the disease with which we are dealing he said that if the Whips offered honours for money it was an evil that ought to be put a stop to immediately. I avow that, at any rate up to recent days—I cannot say they are doing it at present—honours have been sold by party Whips, and I am prepared to bring forward a man who has acted as agent for a party Whip in days gone by and had to approach people and bargain for the sale of knighthoods and baronetcies. I can bring definite cases, I am sure no hon. Member wishes me or anyone else to pillory individuals when we are dealing with the system as a whole. It is idle for my right hon. Friend to pretend that there is not generally a good foundation for the principles which my hon. and gallant Friend has brought before the House. There is a foundation. I would remind him of something ho must have forgotten. On 29th August last a letter was sent to the "Times," signed by twenty-five of the-best known and most respected public men in this country. Sixteen of them were members of the Upper house, and the other nine were well-known public men who were thoroughly respected in every section of this House. In that letter there are one or two references of which I must remind my right hon. Friend, as being as good a support of the principles enunciated in this Motion as I am sure he him self could desire. In the first place, it says:
"When the discussion came on, the scandal was neither denied nor defended."
and later on that
"The root of the evil remained." while the third paragraph says:
"Unless the bestowal of honours and titles is protected from the danger of a peculiarly mean kind of pecuniary corruption, and reserved for real merit, honours may come to be regarded as place honours, leaving no way out except their complete abolition."
In the next paragraph these twenty-five-responsible men refer to the disgraceful traffic in honours, and at the end is the suggestion which the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University made to the House to-night, that the one practical way—and I advocate it here again—to remove the evil, which the Government itself admits ought to be removed if it exists, is that the Prime Minister should have the assistance and advice of a Committee of the Privy Council, who should go over all names recommended before the Prime Minister assumes the great responsibility of laying them before His Majesty. Let me say to my right hon. Friend that we recognize—I am speaking for my hon. and gallant Friend and myself, and those who are associated with us—we recognise that there have to be party funds. No hon. Member of this House has ever heard either of us say anything different from that, and let me impress upon those who seem to find some amusement in this view of public life that I am trying to take, that we are actually practising what we preach. We have funds. They are, unfortunately, very small, but the name of every person who has contributed to those funds is published, and it is open to any hon. Member of this House to know the name of every one of them. There is nothing hidden: all is absolutely above-aboard. All we arc asking is that what we have done ourselves, and what, I admit, has created enormous difficulty in the task we have undertaken, shall be done generally. That is the right standard of public and political life for all parties in this country. I want to see all parties compelled by law to publish the names of the large subscribers to their funds. It is significant that in no other direction that I know of in this country does anybody subscribe £ 5,000, £ 10,000, or £ 50,000, "unless his name appears in almost every London paper, and in most provincial papers as having given that money. It is only when it is connected with our political system that this matter becomes one of the most pressing secrecy. If there is nothing dishonourable, if there is nothing in the insinuations which we do not hesitate to embody in this Motion, what is the objection of the Government and of all other parties in this House to accepting the principles which we are asking the House to give effect to? The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the responsibility of the Prime Minister in making recommendations for honours. We do not suggest, and never have suggested, that any Prime Minister has knowingly made a recommendation which it was not fit for him I to make. What we complain of is that Prime Ministers and the leaders of all parties are deliberately and avowedly kept in ignorance of these facts. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Unionist party does not know anything whatever of the funds of the Unionist party. I say that he is not allowed to know. I say he docs not desire to know, and if he should be Prime Minister in the days to come, ho will go to His Majesty with a perfectly clear conscience in making such recommendations as he may feel bound to make. It is not right that the leaders of a party should be deliberately kept in ignorance of where the funds which support it come from. The very fact that it is deliberately done—nobody can deny it, and it has never been denied—surely suggests that there is something dishonourable if such a peculiar state of affairs is necessary.

The right hon. Gentleman said that if he took steps to bring about a publication of the party funds it would be evaded. I admit frankly that he is practically right—there would be evasion. I admit that we are asking for something which in practice could never be absolutely assured, but if a principle is right, why refuse to adopt it on that ground I Make it a penal offence to evade it, and that fact would prevent many people from practising something which they ought not to practice. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the United States I can make some claim to know a little about affairs in that country. Everyone who knows any thing about that country knows that a quarter of a century ago in that country there was in municipal and public life a, great deal of corruption. The United States Government from time to time took steps, such as passing a law for the publication of funds, which no doubt were not entirely effective, but nevertheless, during the last quarter of a century public life in the United States has proceeded from a bad condition gradually to a better and better condition, and political life in the. United States to-day is vastly more pure than it was a quarter of a century ago. In this House the very opposite has taken place. There was a great sense of honour among most of the old nobility referred to by an hon. Member on these benches, but since then the other Chamber in particular has been flooded by a number of peers who, as we know, in this House never did any- thing of outstanding merit by way of ser vice to their country—many a one, as we know, was sent there because he was an awkward customer, and the Government had to get rid of him. A principle like that if accepted and supported not only by the Government, but by other Members of the House can only have the effect of leading this country down in the mire of corruption of which I do not hesitate to say during the War we have not a small amount of evidence.

We cannot accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. Let him, as Leader of the House, take some steps on his own account to satisfy himself whether there is any truth in the principle which we enunciate, and which we ask him to inquire into. Will he make that inquiry, and if he finds that we show a primâ facie case, will he take steps similar to those laid down in this Motion or others to the same effect which the wisdom of his advisers may suggest? We do not care one into for the particular letter of this Motion. What we do care about is the general principle underlying it which is perfectly well known to the Government and to every Member of the House. We have made every sacrifice that men can make to accomplish this excessively difficult task, but in pro portion as Members ascertain the facts and realise that there is justice and honour in what we are trying to attain they will support us, until the House takes steps to remove one of the greatest blots on the public life and political system of this country.

I desire to support this Motion briefly. Although I think that it in deserving of a much more lengthy period of Debate at the same time it has served to promote a very healthy interest throughout the House. Although I have heard an explanation from the Leader of the House in regard to the party system, I admit at once that I have very much to learn with regard to the political system of this country and though I have made it my business to try to understand it since I was old enough to read anything with any interest, yet what it really is I have not quite discovered. I have discovered that all sorts of things are wrong, and I have tried in my simple way to put them right, and my hon. Friends opposite who are making this Motion, and who have greater experience than I have, are entitled to the full sympathy of the House. I am not in agreement with the Leader of the House when he declares that there must be parties. There have been parties. We have had them here and at the street corners, but immediately our great Empire was threatened with the greatest danger that has ever threatened her, you discovered that it was necessary to drop your silly old party game and go in for Coalition—a national party. My hon. Friends opposite were twitted by the Leader of the House for setting a rotten example by attacking partyism and then forming another party. You have to form something, but there are parties and par ties. There are parties calling themselves Liberals, Tories, Labourites, or something else; and there is another crowd who declare for the State and the State only, and who declare for a united Parliament. I am entirely in sympathy with the people who declare that they will set on one side party and work for the good of the country. That has been realised during the War with the Coalition. It was argued during the last election that Coalition was necessary, not the old party game, but Liberals, Radicals, Tories, Labour men, and some who are called Socialists joining together to play the game for once. Are we to end that? I hope not. As to the question of party honours, nobody has made any direct charge against certain people. Hon. Members will admit that that is a dangerous thing to tackle. I heard what, was said about the late Lord Rhondda, who was a personal friend of mine, and he told me something in regard to this question. I knew Lord Rhondda long before he became a lord and he held fine democratic views. I may appear to be a Bolshevik by shouting "Away with titles," but it is not a new idea on my part. It is an old-established view- of mine. I find myself in agreement with my Friend the hon. Member for Silver town (Mr. J. Jones) who declared that the real aristocracy is the aristocracy of service to the community and the State. I feel that we should realise that without discrediting many of our great noblemen and those who by accident of birth have been placed where they are. I have no desire to besmirch, belittle or decry them. Many of them are great and good. But that does not alter the fact that there are people who have no greatness but in their money—people who secure their wealth, their ill-gotten gains—if I may use the expression—and use it not for any party which they admire, but to serve their own purposes and to get honours. On the other hand there are distinguished and honest men who secure their position by-honest service to their country.

You discredit every man and woman who has rendered honest service to the community and has been honoured by His Majesty, by granting even one favour or distinction to a person entirely unfitted for that distinction—a mere money-grubbing person who has secured his money by evil means and uses it further to prostitute party or principles. The sooner the Rouse realises that we have to set up a new order of things the better it will be. We want to do it now. We appeal to the Leader of the House, to the Government, in this period of change and reconstruction, to set about the task. Do not let us hark back to the dirty old game of partyism or allow anyone to have the chance of twitting us with the charge that honours were granted because money was given to party funds.

I have but two things to say. I listened with great pleasure to the right wing of the National party and to the left wing of the National party, but I suppose I shall have to attend

Division No. 38.]


[11.0 p.m.

Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamGritten, W. G. HowardRanisden, G. T.
Ainsworth, Capt. C.Grundy, T. W.Richardson, R. (Houghton)
Arnold, SydneyHartshorn, V.Stanton, Charles Butt
Astbury, Lt.-Com. F. W.Hayday, A.Taylor, J. W. (Chester-le-Street)
Barker, Major R.Holmes, J. S.Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.Hurd. P. A.Tillett, Benjamin
Bottomley, HoratioJones, J. (Silvertown)Waterson, A. E.
Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)Wignall, James
Cairns, JohnKen worthy, Lieut-CommanderWilliams, A. (Consett, Durham)
Campbell, J. G. D.King, Com. DouglasWilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Capt, TomLunn, WilliamWinterton, Major Earl
Casey, T. W.M'Lean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Yate, Col. Charles Edward
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.);Moore, Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.Young. Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)
Clay, Capt. H. H. SpenderMorgan, Major D. Watts
Clough, R.Murray, John (Leeds, W.)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)OGrady, James


Gould, J. C.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Gen. Page Croft and Sir Richard Cooper.
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)Perkins, Walter Frank
Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)


Amery, Lieut-Col. L. C. M. S.Dockrell, Sir M.Howard, Major S. G.
Atkey, A. R.Doyle, N. GrattanHudson, R. M.
Bagley, Captain E. A.Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)Hurst, Major G. B.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Fell, Sir ArthurJephcott, A. R.
Barnett, Captain Richard W.Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Johnson, L. S.
Barnston, Major Harryforestier-Walker, L.Johnston, J.
Back, Arthur CecilFraser, Major Sir KeithJones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
Bell, Lieut-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)
Bennett, T. J.Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamKnight, Capt. E. A.
Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.Gilmour, Lt.-Col. JohnLaw, A. J. (Rochdale)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Glyn. Major R.Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)
Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Lelc, Loughboro')Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)
Brown, T. W. (Down, N.)Hailwood. A.Lewis, T A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)
Burton, Sir J.Hall, Capt. D. B. (Isle of Wight)Lindsay, William Arthur
Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)Lloyd, George Butler
Coats, Sir StuartHenderson, Major V. L.Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)
Conway, Sir W. MartinHerbert, Dennis (Hertford)Lyon, L.
Cory, J. H. (Cardiff)Milder, Lieut-Co). F.M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)
Court hope, Major George LoydHope. John Deans (Berwick)M'Lean, Lt.-Col. c. W. W. (Brigg)
Davies, T. (Cirencester)Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)
Dewhurst, Lleut.-Com. H.Horne, Sir Robert (Hjilyhead)Macquisten, F. A.

a debate in another place if I wish to hear what the centre of that party has to say. The hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall asked a question. He said, why was it that the names of those who had sub scribed to the party funds were not published? I will supply him with an answer. It is to save the feelings of those who have not subscribed. I sadly confess that I am one of the latter, and I look to the Leader of the House to protect me and many others, since I consider that we are probably the majority of people in this country. With that sincere hope, I trust that the Leader of the House will not give away the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth.

Question put,

"That this House is of opinion that the system of secrecy in connection with the sources of funds for party purposes has debased our political system, and is inimical to the best interests of the country, and calls upon the Government to introduce a. Bill to make the publication of the particulars of such funds compulsory; and further is of opinion that recommendations for the bestowal of honours in re cognition of subscriptions to such funds should be discontinued."

The House divided: Ayes, 50; Nose, 112.

Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lanes.)Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.
Mitchell, William Lane-Rodger, A. K.Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Moles, ThomasRoundell, Lt.-Col. R. F.Waring, Major Walter
Molson, Major John ElsdaleSamuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)Weston, Col. John W.
Moreing, Captain Algernon H.Samuel, S. (Wands worth, Putney)Whaler, Col. Granville C. H.
Mosley, OswaldSanders, Colonel Robert ArthurWhitla, Sir William
Munro, Rt. Hon. RobertSeager, Sir WilliamWild, Sir Ernest Edward
Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)
Heal, ArthurShortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, W.)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)Stephenson, Col. H. K.Yeo, Sir Alfred William
parry, Major Thomas HenryStewart, GershomYoung, Sir F. W. (Swindon)
Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)Strauss, Edward AnthonyYounger, Sir George
Perring, William GeorgeSugden Lieut. W. H.
Pownall, Lt.-Col. AsshetonSurtees. Brig.-Gen. H. C.


Pratt, John WilliamSutherland, Sir WilliamTalbot and Captain Guest.
Purchase, H. G.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Renwick, G.Turton, Edmund Russborough

The Orders were read and postponed. Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now Adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Ten minutes after Eleven o'clock