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Lords Chamber

Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 20 September 1939

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House Of Lords

Wednesday, 20th September, 1939.

The House met at four of the clock, The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

The Lord Kinross—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.

The War: Russia's Intervention

4.6 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government if they have any statement to make on the present situation.

My Lords, events have occurred in the last week of such far-reaching importance that there has not yet been time to estimate their effect on the fortunes of the war and on the attitude of other countries. In the statement made to the House on September 13 I referred to the relentless German pressure on the Polish Army which had so far been frustrated by the indomitable spirit of the Poles. This pressure and this resistance continued during the week, and is still continuing in many parts of Poland. The tide of German invasion eastwards has reached an approximate north-south line through Brest-Litovsk and Lemberg, though there still remain islands of Polish resistance, such as Warsaw, which refuse to be submerged. On September 17 an event occurred which has inevitably had a decisive effect upon the war on the Eastern Front. On the morning of September 17 Russian troops crossed the Polish frontier at points along its whole length and advanced into Poland. We cannot say that the action of the Soviet Government was unexpected. For some time past Soviet troops have been mobilised and concentrated on the western frontiers of the Soviet Union, and statements have appeared in the Soviet Press and wireless referring to the position of White Russians and Ukrainians in Poland, which bore the interpretation that the Soviet Government were preparing the ground for intervention.

On the 17th September a Note was handed to the Polish Ambassador in Moscow to the effect that Warsaw as the capital of Poland no longer existed, that the Polish Government had disintegrated, and that the Polish State and its Government had ceased to exist. In the same way the agreements concluded between the Soviet Union and Poland had ceased to exist. Poland had become a suitable field for all manner of hazards and surprises which might constitute a threat to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union could therefore no longer preserve a neutral attitude, and the Soviet Government had ordered their troops to cross the frontier and take under their protection the life and property of the population of the Western Ukraine and Western White Russia. The Polish Ambassador in Moscow refused to accept this Note, and has since been instructed to ask for his passports.

A copy of this communication was sent to His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow with a Note staling that the Soviet Government would pursue a policy of neutrality in the relations between the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain. A similar communication was made to the diplomatic representatives of foreign Powers in Moscow. In this situation, His Majesty's Government authorised the issue of a statement on September 18 that this attack by the Soviet Government upon Poland (a country with whom she had a non-aggression pact) at a moment when Poland was prostrate in the face of overwhelming forces brought against her by Germany could not be justified by the arguments put forward, and that, while the full implication of these events was not yet apparent, nothing which had occurred would make any difference to the determination of His Majesty's Government to fulfil our obligations to Poland and to prosecute the war with all energy until those obligations had been achieved.

The effects of the Russian invasion upon the hard-pressed Poles have naturally been very serious. Caught between two vast armies, and with their communications to the south cut off, the Polish forces are still continuing their courageous resistance. According to a communiqué issued on September 18 the Polish Government have requested the Rumanian Government to accord hospitality to the Head of the Polish State and to his Ministers who have taken refuge on Rumanian territory. His Majesty's Ambassador to Poland, who was established in the Polish town of Kuty, near the Rumanian frontier, was advised by the Polish Government to leave Poland as soon as Russian troops crossed the frontier, and he is now in Rumania with his staff. His Majesty's Government would like to say a word of sympathy, with which I am sure that your Lordships would wish to associate yourselves, with Sir Howard Kennard and the members of his staff, as well as His Majesty's Consular officers in Poland. They have had to suffer such an ordeal of anxiety, fatigue and danger as seldom falls to the lot of members of their Services, but they have carried out their duties with the courage, efficiency and disregard of personal considerations which we should all expect of them.

It is still too early to pronounce any final verdict on the motives or consequences of the Russian action. For the unhappy victim of this cynical attack the result has been a tragedy of the grimmest character. The world which has watched the vain struggle of the Polish nation against overwhelming odds with profound pity and sympathy admires their valour which even now refuses to admit defeat. If Britain and France have been unable to avert the defeat of the Armies of Poland, they have assured her that they have not forgotten their obligations to her nor weakened in their determination to carry on the struggle.

Against the background of these events, Herr Hitler chose yesterday to address another speech to the world. It is not our way in this country to speak with boasts and threats. Perhaps for that very reason the German leaders have difficulty in understanding us, but in such comments as His Majesty's Government have to make on the Chancellor's speech, we shall not depart from our custom of speaking soberly and quietly. The speech which Herr Hitler made yesterday at Danzig does not change the situation with which we are confronted. It gave an account of recent events which we cannot accept as accurate and, as the commentary broadcast by the B.B.C. last night clearly showed, it contained certain assurances of the kind which in recent years Herr Hitler has repudiated when it suited his purpose. Among the many misstatements of fact to which particular reference might be made is the statement that the French Government agreed to Italian mediation while His Majesty's Government refused it. The reply to this statement is contained in the communiqué issued by the official Italian news agency on September 4, which was reproduced in the recent White Paper and which clearly brought out the common attitude adopted by the British and French Governments. A supplementary White Paper which will be issued to-morrow will make plain the true course of recent events so that public opinion may have no difficulty in forming its final judgment.

Herr Hitler says much in his speech about the humane methods by which he has waged war. I can only say that methods are not made humane by calling them so, and that the accounts of German bombing of open towns and machine-gunning of refugees have shocked the whole world. Only one general comment is necessary. Our general purpose in this struggle is well known; it is to redeem Europe from the perpetual and recurring fear of German aggression and to enable the peoples of Europe to preserve their independence and their liberties. No threats will deter us or our French Allies from this purpose. His Majesty's Government did not seek this war. They did, as the published documents show, repeatedly state their readiness for a peaceful settlement by negotiation. They persevered in their attempts to secure this up to and even after the striking of the first blow, but their efforts were set at nought and their hopes shattered by the unprovoked and brutal aggression of Germany upon our Polish Allies.

On the western frontier the French have continued to make methodical and successful progress. The laconic but admirably clear announcements of the French Higher Command indicate that valuable strategic and tactical objectives have been secured and that the ground gained has been held in face of increasingly severe German resistance.

Since the last statement to your Lordships on the war at sea, the situation has been one of intense and continuous naval activity, mainly in the form of attacks on U-boats carried out by destroyers, small craft and the Fleet Air Arm, acting under cover of the main fleets and squadrons. These attacks have been made both by day and by night, and the achievements of the anti-submarine campaign after a little over a fortnight of war have exceeded anything which the British Navy accomplished even over much longer periods in the last war. The great difference between the last war and this one is that, whereas in the last war we were on the defensive against the U-boat campaign, we are now carrying out an offensive against the U-boats and they are continually and relentlessly attacked whenever they disclose themselves. It is frequently impossible to be certain after depth charges have been dropped that the submarine attacked has been destroyed. But there are occasionally quite unmistakable signs that the vessel has been holed and sunk, and I am confident that I am not overstating the case when I say that already six or seven German submarines have paid the full penalty for their attacks on British shipping. In some cases their crews have been captured. I am quite confident that, with the full operation of the convoy system and the rapid increase in the numbers, power and efficiency of our hunting craft, this submarine menace will dwindle with corresponding speed.

We must expect to receive occasional blows, sometimes heavy ones, such as the loss of H.M.S. "Courageous," with its grievous tale of valuable lives cut short. Here perhaps I might interpose the statement which has been made by the First Lord in another place. On Sunday, September 17, H.M.S. "Courageous" was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine. The submarine was immediately attacked by one of the screening vessels, and there is every reason to believe that she was destroyed. The "Courageous" had on board a complement of 1,202 officers and men. This was somewhat less than her full complement, as she had embarked a reduced number of aircraft. A large number of survivors have been picked up by destroyers and merchant ships, amounting in all to 687 officers and men. The Commanding Officer, Captain Makeig-Jones, went down with his ship. The names of the survivors have been issued through the Ministry of Information as soon as they became available.

H.M.S. "Courageous" was one of our earlier aircraft carriers. Built in 1917 as a cruiser, she was converted to an aircraft carrier after the last war. The loss of this valuable ship to the Navy is not one which we should wish to minimise. Since the outbreak of war H.M.S. "Courageous" has rendered conspicuous service in the protection of merchant shipping against submarine attack, and her operations against individual submarines have not been without success. The public have already learnt from survivors the graphic story of the gallantry of the ship's company. I should like to express on behalf of His Majesty's Government—and I am sure your Lordships would wish also to associate yourselves with this—their profound sympathy with those who have been bereaved.

A loss such as this is the inevitable toll of a fleet in being and in active control of the sea in time of war. It is, however, already clear that the Navy and the Merchant Service by their unceasing efforts will be able to maintain essential supplies of raw materials and food for our population and our industries. In April, 1917—the peak month of action by enemy U-Boats and mines in the last war—the average weekly sinkings of British tonnage amounted to 127,000 or 39 ships. During the week ended September 12 it was 95,000 tons or 17 ships, and for the week ended 19th September 45,848 tons or 13 ships. Undoubtedly this decrease has been partly due to the working of the convoy system, now increasingly in operation. So far as our information goes, 139 lives, both British and neutral, have up to now been lost from submarine attack, excluding the losses incurred by the sinking of H.M.S. "Courageous"; there are, in addition, forty-four persons reported missing.

The primary aim of British policy at sea is to destroy or render ineffective the warships of the enemy, and as a result to prevent the enemy augmenting their warlike resources from overseas, whilst at the same time protecting our own and neutral commerce. The interests of neutrals are, indeed, the same as our own. In war, as in peace, we depend for our life upon the uninterrupted flow of trade, and it is our fundamental policy to preserve, as far as possible, the conditions of normal trading. The suppression of traffic in contraband of war must, of necessity, cause some inconvenience to neutrals. It is the intention of the Government to reduce this to a minimum. Our control is only exercised in accordance with the well-established principles of International Law. It is used only in cases where there is good reason to suspect the presence of contraband cargo, destined for the enemy. A neutral's normal requirement of goods for self-consumption is not interfered with. And, of course, the exercise of control over contraband destined for the enemy is subject to the lawful arbitrament of the Prize Court. The strict adherence of His Majesty's Government to the rules of law is in striking contrast to the policy pursued by Germany. No loss of life has been caused by the exercise of British sea-power, and no neutral property has been unlawfully detained. Germany's method of submarine warfare, and the laying of mines on the high seas, has already resulted in the death of many innocent victims, regardless of nationality, and in the unwarranted destruction of neutral property.

In the building up of our land and Air Forces immense preparations are being made both in this country and in France. It must, however, be remembered that in all military preparations a great initial advantage rests with the aggressor. No country without aggressive intentions can be as quick off the mark as one that has kept only one set purpose continually in view, and that a purpose of aggression. Nevertheless, our resources are being steadily and surely marshalled. We must not be impatient because results do not become immediately apparent. We have been at war for less than three weeks. Already, as is natural, there are many people who have offered their services to the country and are disappointed because they have not yet been accepted. I would remind them that to enrol recruits wholesale, and without previous preparation, would completely dislocate our plans and would lead to inevitable waste of effort. Our advance must be orderly, but the pace of the advance will steadily quicken. I can assure the House that the effort of this country will be the utmost of which it is capable, and therefore, of course, in no whit inferior to that made even in the most strenuous days of the Great War, though the developments in modern warfare must necessarily affect the distribution and employment of our various resources.

Similar considerations apply to the Civil Defence Services. Our civil forces have not, as yet, been called into action, and so, not unnaturally, suggestions continue to be made that in the absence of actual aerial attack we are unnecessarily keeping mobilised, whole-time, a number of men and women who might be employed to greater advantage on other and more productive work, and that still larger numbers of part-time volunteers are freely giving long hours of service at considerable sacrifice. For the purpose of dealing with an immediate and intense emergency which, it was anticipated, might have to be faced on the outbreak of hostilities, our mobilisation of volunteers on a considerable scale was clearly necessary. But it does not follow that the organisation as it now stands will prove best adapted to new conditions or to the uncertainties we may now have to face. His Majesty's Government are not suggesting that we can afford for one moment to relax our vigilance, but the problem with which we have to deal is to determine what adjustments are necessary to enable us, with the minimum of dislocation to our civil life and to our industrial war effort, and with the least burden upon the finances of the country, to provide over a long period for the needs of home defence. The necessary readjustments, which of course must take into account the widely varying circumstances of different localities, are being carried out as rapidly as possible. In the meantime, the fact that during these first weeks of war we have not yet experienced the ordeal of aerial bombardment, affords no reason whatever for any over-hasty or wholesale dispersal of our Home Defence Forces.

That difficulties, sometimes serious difficulties, have been experienced in carrying out the evacuation scheme is well known. The scheme as a whole has been operated with remarkable smoothness and the proportion of cases in which real difficulties have been encountered is certainly less than 10 per cent. Prompt action is being taken to cope with the difficulties which do occur, and the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, through their Regional Staffs, are in regular contact with the work of the local authorities, who are continuing to give devoted service to this difficult problem. Finally, let me say on this subject that whatever troubles there may be however much good will may be necessary to overcome them, it is, in the Government's view, of the greatest importance that the mothers and children who have been evacuated should not now return home. It would be foolish indeed to cast aside the safety which dispersal brings through reluctance to endure some temporary inconvenience or inability to conquer a sense of strangeness in new surroundings.

In the Dominions overseas His Majesty's Governments continue to press on with the preparations which will enable them to take their full share in the great struggle that lies before us. Your Lordships will have read with great gratification the accounts of the part which has been played by individual Dominion members of our Services in the operations which have already taken place. The courage and resource which have been displayed on these occasions are a happy augury for the future. The whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations and Empire is indeed at this moment intensively engaged in mobilising strength under the cover of our naval, military and air forces—forces which in the aggregate are stronger and more powerful than at the outset of any past war.

Thus the extent of our effort is rapidly increasing in every direction A word of warning, however, is necessary. We, as a Government, will not be rushed into courses which our military advisers, with whom we work in the closest possible contact and mutual confidence, do not approve. There is no sacrifice from which we will shrink, there is no operation we will not undertake provided our responsible advisers, our Allies and we ourselves are convinced that it will make an appropriate contribution to victory. But what we will not do is to rush into adventures that offer little prospect of success and are calculated to impair our resources and to postpone ultimate victory. One lesson which military history teaches is that that road leads to disaster. Strategy is the art of concentrating decisive force at the decisive point at the decisive moment.

No accurate forecast can be made at this stage of the war as to when or where the decisive force will be assembled or when the decisive moment will arrive. That must depend upon events which no one can foresee. But the scale of our preparations, and the fact already announced that we are basing them on the assumption that the duration of the war may be at least three years, ensures that our strength will increase progressively to meet whatever we may be called upon to do.

4.32 p.m.

My Lords, I do not propose to ask your Lordships to take part in a discussion on the statement we have heard to-day, but, as some of your Lordships may wish to make comments upon it, I propose to put down a Motion for to-morrow which will enable that to be done. It would be helpful if the noble Earl the Leader of the House could intimate at what time he suggests we should meet to-morrow, and, if he could at the same time tell me whether the forthcoming White Paper will have information respecting Russia, that would also be helpful.

My Lords, I suggest that we meet to-morrow at three o'clock, if that is suitable to your Lordships. As regards the second part of the noble Lord's question, I am not quite sure as to what the White Paper contains, and I am not able to give him any further information at the moment.

Control Of Employment Bill

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

4.34 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time. The object of the Bill is to secure that the available supplies of labour are used to the best advantage in the national interest. It is not a Bill for the conscription of labour, or to force employers to engage workmen they do not want, or workmen to work for firms for whom they do not wish to work. The Bill is designed, as my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour and National Service stated in another place, to secure that the man-and woman-power of the land is used to the best advantage, and that where there is a shortage of essential labour, and the work for which these workers are wanted is of vital importance, any labour and knowledge not engaged at the moment shall be directed to the employment most useful to the nation in this struggle.

Clause 1 gives the Minister power to make an order prohibiting, unless with the Minister's consent, an employer to whom the order applies from advertising his wish to engage, and from engaging or re-engaging, any employee to whom this order applies. With the outbreak of war there is a reduction of activities in many branches of industry and simultaneously a largely increased demand in others, for example, the manufacture of aircraft, munitions and all other materials and stores required by the armed forces. It is necessary from the outset to discourage the wasteful and ill-directed movement of certain classes of essential workers, and to direct them to places where their services are urgently required. In the first instance it is proposed to deal only with a limited number of skilled occupations in which there is likely to be an immediate shortage of labour.

Subsection (1) of Clause 1 enacts that the measure shall be brought into operation only by orders made by the Minister, and, by the proviso to subsection (1), which embodies a very important Amendment moved by the Opposition in another place, to which my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour most readily agreed, the Minister is required to refer a draft order to a Committee appointed by him, consisting of a Chairman and equal numbers of members representing respectively organisations of workers and organisations of employers which appear to him to be affected by the order he proposes to make. This will ensure that the branches of industry concerned have a full opportunity of representing their views to the Minister before the order is made, and noble Lords will realise that they will have full time to consider the order while it is in draft and to make any suggestions in regard to it. Subsection (1) (a) makes it illegal from the date specified in an order for an employer to whom an order applies to advertise a vacancy for an employee to whom the order applies, unless with the Minister's consent. When there is a shortage of a particular class of labour the employer naturally resorts to advertising in various forms. Unregulated advertisements, however, for essential classes of workers only have an unsettling effect; but consent to the publication of advertisements will not be unreasonably withheld. Subsection (1) (b) requires consent to be given by or on behalf of the Minister to any engagement or re-engagement covered by an order. The Employment Exchange officials will ordinarily give or refuse consent in accordance with instructions based upon decisions as to the relative priority of work upon which employers are engaged.

Subsection (2) ensures that workpeople required for vacancies of a high order of priority are not engaged for less important work. It is expected that a worker would ordinarily have a wide range of choice of employment on priority work. Subsection (2) requires the Minister to be satisfied that there is a suitable alternative job available before he refuses consent to an employee's engagement, and gives the employee the right to appeal to a Court of Referees, if he is not satisfied that a suitable alternative job in fact exists. Subsections (3) and (4) enable the employee, if the referee so approves, to accept the job which had been vetoed and to receive compensation, if that is thought fit. Subsection (5) is an important subsection imposing the penalties which may fall upon those who disregard this Bill. Your Lordships will see that they are extremely heavy—up to a fine of £100, and, in addition, a fine not exceeding £5 a day on which any employee is employed against the veto of the Minister.

Clause 2 means that if arrangements made between an employer and a trade union have been approved by the Minister subsection (1) (b) of Clause I shall not apply. Clause 3 gives power to appoint inspectors. Normally these inspections will be carried out by inspectors appointed under the Unemployment Insurance Acts. Clause 4 defines the inspectors to be employed, and gives them the usual powers to visit premises, to ask questions, and to inspect documents. Clause 5 provides that the orders or regulations made under the Act shall be laid before Parliament with the greatest possible speed, but, as they will be used under emergency conditions, it is also necessary that they should come into force at the earliest possible moment. For this reason the orders are exempt from the scope of subsection (4) of Section 1 of the Rules Publication Act, 1893, which provides that orders shall be published in draft in the London Gazette for forty days before they come into force. Under subsection (2) it is laid down that orders may be annulled by a vote of either House of Parliament within the forty days beginning with the day on which it is laid before Parliament, without, however, invalidating any action which may have been taken in the intervening period.

There is here a very important Amendment which has been made since the Bill was first introduced in another place by which, when an order is made, a copy of any report made by the Committee to which the draft of the order was referred, and which is the Committee referred to in the proviso to Clause 1, shall be laid before Parliament with the order. This ensures that Parliament will have the report of the Committee before it in any case in which a Resolution to annul the order is proposed. If both Houses are adjourned for more than four days, the period of the adjournment is not counted as part of the statutory forty days.

Clause 6 makes any officer of a body corporate who is proved to have connived at or consented to an offence, liable to prosecution as well as the body corporate itself. Clause 8 is the definition clause, and, as your Lordships will see, the definitions are in very wide terms. Clause 9 gives power to the Government of Northern Ireland to legislate for Northern Ireland on matters similar to those contained in the Bill; and Clause 10, besides stating the short Title, provides that the Bill shall continue in operation until an Order in Council is made declaring that the emergency which occasioned the Bill has come to an end. This is a Bill of great importance, but it received almost unanimous approval in another place when the Amendments to which I referred had been made. I hope your Lordships will give it an equally favourable reception to-day and give it a Second Reading forthwith.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a .—( Earl Stanhope.)

4.43 p.m.

My Lords, as the noble Earl has said, this is a very important Bill, and it is also remarkable in that it received a practically unanimous reception in another place. The reason for that is very interesting. The noble Earl perhaps felt a little delicacy about explaining to your Lordships exactly what happened, but I am under no such inhibition. It is interesting and valuable to know the history of this very important measure. It was proposed to introduce it, and the Trade Union Congress were very naturally consulted. They did not have the details of the Bill before them, though, after consideration, they agreed in principle with its objects. I may say here that at any other time than the present such a Bill would have been received with great apprehension by the trade union movement and the Labour Party generally, and indeed might have been resisted. But the times are abnormal, and we have given our word that we will see this thing through and support the Government in all necessary measures for the prosecution of the war to victory. We intend to keep that pledge. We therefore agreed in principle, but when the details of the Bill appeared there were certain matters and safeguards omitted which aroused some alarm.

The Trade Union Congress had met at Bridlington for their annual conference, and it was difficult for them to go into details in London on these matters. The Minister of Labour was requested by the Parliamentary Labour Party, who were in consultation with the Trade Union Congress, as always, to postpone the Bill until we could get agreement. This was done. The Bill, though urgently required, was wisely postponed long enough for the trade union leaders to return to London, examine its provisions, consult their various branches, and suggest further Amendments. The Amendments which the Minister of Labour, on behalf of the Government, has, at our suggestion, put into the Bill, and the Amendments we moved ourselves, have now removed certain doubts and fears on the part of organised labour. I take this opportunity of stating these facts as history. I have had little to do with them myself; but it is a good example of how legislation of this sort should be passed through Parliament and also of the great advantage of doing as I am glad this Government have started to do—of taking the Labour Party, and especially the industrial side, into consultation on all important matters. It is in this way that the measure has reached your Lordships as an agreed Bill.

We consider this Bill necessary for the same reasons as those explained by the noble Earl. This, even more than the last war, will be an engineer's war. I believe the calculation now is that it requires ten workers to retain one fighting man in the battlefield or at sea. Although at the present time there is a dislocation of the supply of labour, on which I propose to say one word presently—this is a matter which is very important—there will soon be need for the most economical utilisation of all our available labour, especially our skilled labour. In that connection I hope the Government are proceeding with their plans, which I understand they are considering, to utilise alien and refugee labour in this country. There are a great many people in this country who are officially classed as enemy aliens but who, in fact, owe us a great debt of gratitude, which they are willing to pay, for our hospitality and sanctuary, and who are just as much opposed to the evil forces we are fighting as any British subjects can be. They can play a very great and useful part, particularly when there is a shortage of labour, and those of them, especially skilled workers, will I hope be made use of.

Since this Bill passed through the House of Commons certain things have happened in the country. There have already, in the last few days since Parliament adjourned, been heavy dismissals in practically every industry in the country by nervous employers—in some cases inevitably due to the dislocation of a great war; in other cases, I am afraid, brought about only by apprehension and uncertainty and in a rather precipitate way. This matter has aroused attention and caused disquiet in many parts of the country. Cannot the Government issue immediately an appeal to employers suggesting that they should go slow on dismissals? They may be sorry soon that they have got rid of their good men; they may be anxious to get them back and be unable to do so. There have been numbers of unnecessary dismissals of all kinds, and an appeal from the Government would be helpful.

This is a Bill to control employment. I wish it had clauses to enable the Government to bring pressure to keep men at employment where it is in the national interest they should be kept. We regret that that was not foreseen. I must give one example to show the absurd state of affairs in which we find ourselves. Coal miners have been released from the Army. They have no desire to be released, but they are being told it is their duty to doff their uniforms and go back to the pits in Cumberland. I had this from one of the Cumberland miners' leaders, a member of another place, and a man of great experience and responsibility. These soldiers have been released from the Army to go back to the pits, and there is no work for them. There is obviously something wrong there which needs to be put right, and put right with energy and without a lot of red tape and bureaucratic chinoiserie and obscurantism. I must warn the Government that presently the Labour Party will have to begin to make constructive criticisms in more plain language on some of the things going on up and down the country. This is only one example of lack of foresight and in some cases lack of energy, and we consider it our duty to draw attention to these things. That is one particular example.

Now I have one question to ask of the noble Earl of which I gave him somewhat short notice. We understand that it is intended to discontinue issuing the unemployment returns. We think that is a mistake. We think it is the duty of the Government to the country to issue the unemployment returns as they have done in the past. We see no valid reason why they should not be issued and continue to be issued right through. I thought it my duty to make those few remarks partly because there have been some developments since Parliament adjourned last week and this Bill reached your Lordships' House. But to the principle of the Bill my noble friends would wish to give the same support that it received from our Party in another place.

4.52 p.m.

My Lords, my noble friends on these Benches will, I am sure, give this Bill their cordial support. I am very glad that I can speak also I think for the Federation of British Industries and for the Confederation of Employers' Organisations when I say that they thank the Government for the way in which they have heard the views of employers as well as the views of members of the Trades Union Congress. But the point to which I wanted specially to draw the noble Earl's attention is relevant to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, made about the unemployment of miners. It is quite true that at the present moment a certain number of men usually employed at the collieries in this country are not now fully employed. The main reason for that is that licences have not yet been given in sufficient numbers by the Government for the export of coal to countries which are in need of it. Having conferred with mining interests, I can say that those who are responsible for the conduct of our collieries realise that it is most important that men should not be taken away from them at the present time, although at the moment they may not be fully employed. The output of coal in this country is much less than the anticipated demand even during the next few months, and at the end of the year there is going to be a very great shortage of coal having regard to the demands that will be made, are being made, and have been made already by France to secure the necessary fuel in- order to ensure the production of war munitions and to keep going her industries.

That being so, it is essential that men should not be induced to leave our collieries and go to other work, as, unfortunately, they have been in many instances. I am not now speaking of the men who are being recruited for the Army from the collieries and who may have to be returned. Unfortunately that happened during the last war, when many men had to be returned from the trenches into our mines in order that the country could carry on its collieries in proper condition to supply the country's need for coal. My complaint and that of a number of colliery owners is that during the last two or three weeks, owing to the great activity of the A.R.P. authorities, men have been induced by higher remuneration, up to £3 a week, to leave the collieries and to take up what is no doubt regarded by a great many of them as more patriotic work—that for A.R.P. purposes. I am not questioning the need of men for A.R.P. work in any way, but I say that it is more important for this country to have a reserve of miners retained in their occupation, and not only miners, but also those employed in iron and steel works as well as in chemical works and at coke ovens, where most important things are being produced.

The fact remains that in my district, and I believe in other districts, 10 per cent. and more of our men, many of them skilled men very necessary for the carrying on of our industries, have been induced to undertake A.R.P. work. I see nothing in this Bill which would enable the Government or the Minister to undertake the responsibility of bringing these men away from A.R.P. work and putting them back into the industries which are of more vital importance to the country. I think this matter is one of sufficient importance to call the attention of the Minister to it, because I believe that if representation were made to the A.R.P. authorities, who are offering these inducements to men to leave the collieries, that would restrain them from continuing to offer these special inducements and the men then would naturally go back to their own industries. Many of the men who have been induced to go away are skilled men, and are really required in the industries to which I have already referred. I think they ought to be induced to go back to their proper work, which is really of more vital importance than that which they have taken up for A.R.P. purposes. That is the only point to which I desire to call the attention of the Government. It is one to which some other people have been calling the attention of the country by letters to the newspapers. I refer particularly to one by Vice-Admiral K. G. B. Dewar, in The Times, in which he points out how many of the most vital industries are suffering owing to the special inducement in the matter of pay being made by A.R.P. authorities.

4.57 p.m.

My Lords, I am much obliged to the two noble Lords who have spoken upon this Bill, but really I think their remarks fall outside its scope. This Bill is merely for the control of labour between one industrial employer and another. The point that was particularly raised by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, came under the Bill which deals with enlistment in the Army of people in reserved occupations. Colliery workers and those employed in the iron and steel industry are definitely in reserved occupations, and how they got into the Army was in this way. They had joined the Territorials, some of them many years ago, and it is only latterly in the Militia Bill, as it is called, that reserved occupations have really come into being. Now that reserved list, or at any rate an adaptation of it, is being applied to all the Services, and men who are already in the Territorials, if they belong to reserved occupations, are being combed out and sent back to those industries. That is going on now day by day.

I think it applies, though I am not quite certain, also to the A.R.P. personnel who are employed whole time, but I will certainly refer the matter raised by my noble friend Lord Gainford to the Minister of Mines and the Minister of Labour, and ask them particularly to take notice of what he has said. I know that he is entirely right in saying that the demand for coal is going to go up very greatly, and although there may not be full work at all the mines at this moment, there is no question that any amount of coal will be required and that soon, both for export and for our home industries, particularly having regard to the increase in munitions, which we shall be turning out at a rapidly increasing rate as the months go by. Therefore I am certain that my right honourable friends will bear in mind the point which has been raised, but I will refer the matter to them again and ask them to take special note of it. I am much obliged for the way in which the Bill has been received by your Lordships, and I now ask you to give it a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read 2a , and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Administration Of Justice (Emergency Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Bill

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

5.0 p.m.

My Lords, I have to ask your Lordships to give this Bill a Second Reading. It is the counterpart for Northern Ireland of the Administration of Justice (Emergency Provisions) Act recently passed as applying to England and Wales. Similar legislation has also been passed applying to Scotland. As your Lordships are familiar with the pro- visions of those measures I can summarise very briefly the proposals of this Bill. The first five clauses enable variations to be made in the arrangements for sittings of the Courts. The next three clauses deal with the juries that may be required to try civil cases and to serve on inquests. Clause 10 provides that no vacancies need be filled in the Judiciary of the Supreme Court unless the Lord Chief justice certifies that it is necessary having regard to the state of business. The last clause of the Bill limits its duration to the present emergency. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a .—( The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read 2a , and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Universities And Colleges (Emergency Provisions) Bill

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

5.2 p.m.

My Lords, I have to ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill. It is a Bill which is in two main Parts. The first Part applies to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and Durham and the colleges of those universities. The Bill amends the first part of the Universities and College Estates Act, 1925, and the purpose is to enable the colleges to raise and to apply capital for the purposes of making good revenue deficiencies in the present emergency. It is obvious that these institutions may be faced with some financial embarrassment having regard to the probable or almost certain fall in revenue. The second Part deals only with Oxford and Cambridge and the colleges in those universities. In normal times any change in the Statutes of the universities and colleges requires to be made by a somewhat lengthy procedure before the Privy Council involving a large expenditure of time and of money. The clauses contained in Part II of the Bill will enable those necessary changes to be made without any undue expenditure of either of those two valuable matters. The Bill provides for no charge on public funds.

It in substance re-enacts the Act of 1915 which was passed in similar circumstances and the only alterations in this Bill are drafting differences. Your Lordships may possibly ask whether similar provision will be made for other colleges and universities. I perhaps may be allowed to say that attention is being called to the desirability of the other universities having similar legislation to deal with their cases, and I have no doubt it will be found necessary to ask your Lordships in due course to pass appropriate measures to give other universities and colleges like powers to those which I am asking your Lordships to give by passing this Bill. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill he now read 2a .—( The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read 2a , and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Patents, Designs, Copyright And Trade Marks (Emergency) Bill

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

5.5 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a Second time. This is a Bill which makes certain emergency provisions in connection with patents, industrial designs, copyright works and trade marks, and it is intended to bring into line with war conditions the Patent, Designs, Copyright and Trade Marks Acts. One of the main purposes of the Bill is to provide for the working or use in this country, in suitable cases, of inventions patented here, and registered designs and copyright works owned here, by enemies or enemy subjects. For this purpose, in the first place, by subsection (1) of Clause 1 of the Bill, licences which, before the war, had been granted to persons here by licensors who have become enemies, for working or using such inventions, designs and copyrights in this country, are continued in force so far as is necessary to allow the manufacture, or whatever it may be, to be continued here, but under restrictions which prevent the paying over of royalties to, and other unallowable dealings with, the enemy licensor during the war. Then, by subsection (2) of Clause 1, the Comptroller of the Patent Office is given power to revoke or vary any such licences already granted. This power extends not only to licences granted by persons who are "enemies" within the meaning of the Trading with the Enemy law because for example they are resident in enemy territory, but also to licences granted by enemy subjects resident outside enemy territory, so as to give some control over licences granted by such subjects.

In the next place, the important Clause 2 of the Bill gives power to the Comptroller to grant, to persons who are not enemies or enemy subjects, licences in respect of patented inventions, registered designs and copyright works, owned wholly or partly by enemies or enemy subjects, in cases in which it is in the interests of all or any of His Majesty's subjects that the invention should be worked here, or the design or copyright work should be reproduced or used here. Royalties payable under licences so granted will go to the custodian of enemy property. Clause 3 deals with trade marks owned by enemies or enemy subjects, but is concerned only with the comparatively rare cases where the trade mark constitutes the only practicable means of describing the article or substance in connection with which it has been used. In such a case, where a person in this country desires to deal in the article or substance, the Comptroller is empowered to suspend the trade mark rights in favour of that person so as to enable him to refer to the enemy-owned trade mark while he is establishing some other name or description for the goods in question.

In order that these provisions may apply to inventions, designs and trade marks in respect of which patents or registrations have been asked for in this country by enemies or enemy subjects but not at the time granted, Clause 4 enables such grants to be made in suitable cases. The resulting patent or registration will of course be subject to our law relating to the property of an enemy. Clause 5 makes corresponding provision for bringing enemy-owned copyrights into existence here during the war, in accordance with arrangements previously made under the Copyright Act, but it ensures again that any such copyrights shall be subject to our law as to enemy property.

The other main purpose of the Bill is dealt with in Clause 6. Under the Patents and Designs Acts and the Trade Marks Act, time limits are prescribed for doing various acts at the Patent Office in connection with the grant and renewal of patents, and the registration or renewal of the registration of designs and trade marks; and this clause enables the Comptroller to extend those times in cases where the doing of the act within the time prescribed was prevented by war conditions, or would be contrary to the interests of the person by whom the act is to be performed or to the public interest.

The remainder of the Bill is concerned chiefly with the machinery for carrying out its main provisions. Clause 7, for instance, lays down certain rules for ascertaining for the purposes of the Act the country of residence and the nationality of the person concerned. Clause 8 requires the Comptroller to give any person interested in the application of an order under the Act an opportunity of being heard before he arrives at a decision on the application, if he considers that it would be desirable to do so. Clause 9 enables the Board of Trade to make rules under the Act and, with the sanction of the Treasury, to fix fees. Clause 10 is the interpretation clause, and Clause 11 contains the short Title and brings the Act into operation as from the third day of this month—that is, the day of the declaration of war—and extends the Act to the Isle of Man and to Northern Ireland. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a .—( Lord Templemore.)

On Question, Bill read 2a , and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House Of Lords Offices

Fourth Report of the Select Committee made; to be printed, and to be considered to-morrow.

House adjourned at ten minutes past five o'clock.